One of the objectives of Snapshot Wisconsin is to record the occurrence of rare species including: moose, cougar, Canada lynx, marten, jackrabbit, Whooping crane, Spotted skunk, and wolverine. With a statewide network of nearly 1,300 trail cameras, sooner or later we were bound to capture one of these rare Wisconsin species. Two years into the project, Snapshot Wisconsin captured its first – moose (Alces alces)!
Earlier this month, we received an email from a volunteer in Oneida county with the subject ‘Picture of Moose.’ We nearly jumped out of our seats exclaiming “Moose! Moose! Moose!”
From the size and proportions of the animal, it was easy to tell that it was indeed moose. Moose can reach upwards of 1,500 pounds and stand up to 7 feet tall, dwarfing our commonly seen White-tailed deer. When we shared the picture around, our Wildlife Research team leader remarked, “That part of the state is definitely moose-y.” The bogs of Oneida, Vilas, and Iron counties have had the most moose sightings in the recent years, making “moose-y” an apt description.
Upon querying our Snapshot Wisconsin database, we found another moose identified on a camera in Vilas county – this one hosted by an educator. Both of these sightings were from spring this year, and both were correctly identified by the volunteer – hurray, no ‘moose-takes’ there!
Moose are categorized as a species of special concern in Wisconsin due to their relatively low numbers, in 2016 there were only 32 possible or probable observations reported.
Whether you are a Zooniverse volunteer or a trail camera host, please let us know if you see a rare species in a Snapshot Wisconsin photo. If you spot them in the wild or on a personal trail camera, report the observation using the Wisconsin large mammal observation form. In the meantime, we hope you finding these pictures as ‘a-moos-ing’ as we do!
What is a Snap-a-thon you may ask? Take a guess from one of three options below.
- A wildlife photography marathon.
- A classification party with the Snapshot Wisconsin project.
- A marathon for snapping turtles.
If you selected option 2, you are right!
If you read our newsletter or visit our website often, you will notice that the Snapshot Wisconsin project generates a lot of data. We have collected nearly 21 million photos so far. These photos become useful to support wildlife management decisions only when they have a classification tag attached to them and their accuracy is reliable. We have help on hand – more than a thousand trail camera hosts and nearly six thousand Zooniverse volunteers helping us classify these pictures. The idea behind a Snap-a-thon is to spread the word about the project even farther while running a fun competition using the Zooniverse website.
How a Snap-a-thon works is very simple: participants team up or play alone to classify pictures on Snapshot Wisconsin’s Zooniverse page for a set amount of time, typically 20 minutes. Each team is given a checklist of species. During the competition, participants tick off any of the listed species that they see and classify correctly. For uncommon or difficult-to-classify species, participants must raise their hands to get verification from the project team before their classifications are counted. Uncommon species or uncommon occurrences (like multiple species seen together in a photo sequence) also earn participants a higher score. In the end, we tally up the scores and declare a winner. So far, we’ve had 4 such contests and our contestants want to keep classifying even after the time is up. So, it’s pretty addictive!
Pictures from previous Snap-a-thons:
If you’d like to host your own Snap-a-thon, drop us an email at DNRSnapshotWisconsin@wisconsin.gov and we’ll provide you with resources!
It’s time to pick #SuperSnap for the shortest month of the year! This month’s sequence was shared by @Mitch56 and nominated by @cjpope. A beautiful wolf from Sawyer county which appears to be showing it’s funny side!
Continue classifying photos on Zooniverse and hashtagging your favorites for a chance to be featured in the next #SuperSnap blog post. Check out all of the nominations by searching “#SuperSnap” on the Snapshot Wisconsin Talk boards.
In this post, I’ll be talking a little bit about my experiences with citizen science and camera trapping projects prior to joining Snapshot Wisconsin.
Before I decided to become a wildlife conservation professional, I was involved with citizen science projects as a volunteer. I found pleasure in natural history, making observations and collecting data for scientists. This was my contribution to saving the world, I thought! As a volunteer, I have done large mammal surveys in India, from counting tiger prey species to collecting carnivore scat. I learned a lot from participating in these projects. More than anything else, I think they provided a welcome distraction from my day job as a software programmer *chuckle*.
I was also involved with conservation groups in the Western Ghats landscape of India. One project I am proud of being associated with is the Bisle Frog Watch. Every year citizen scientists congregate at Bisle (a tiny village in the Western Ghats) to learn about amphibian ecology and identify them in the wild under the guidance of researchers. What is heartening is that over a period of 6 years, we have made a checklist of 36 species of amphibians!
Apart from mammals and amphibians, I also love bird watching and regularly submit my bird lists to eBird.
Some of these experiences with citizen science gave me the confidence that I too can do scientific research. And, that’s also how I decided to pursue a Master’s degree.
Talking about my camera trapping experiences, I worked on a trail camera survey in Ecuador for my Master’s capstone project. I worked with an Ecuador based non-profit called Ceiba Foundation for Tropical Conservation. We set up a total of 16 camera traps on several private properties and nature reserves in the Manabi province of coastal Ecuador.
Whereas the most common species in Snapshot Wisconsin is the white-tailed deer, in my project in Ecuador it was the agouti. (Although white-tailed deer have been recorded in the study site in Ecuador, they are uncommon in those parts of the world.) Whereas in Snapshot Wisconsin we see bobcats, in Ecuador we frequently recorded wild cats like ocelot, margay and jaguarundi.
In fact, I am even leaving an identification challenge for some pictures from Ecuador. Feel free to leave your guesses( along with the picture number) in the comments below. I shall post the answers soon-ish!
All in all, it is exciting to be working on the Snapshot Wisconsin project – with the many citizen scientists who host camera traps across Wisconsin and many others from around the world classifying pictures – knowing we have something in common.
Picture credits: Frog watch pictures – Deepika Prasad; Camera trap pictures from Ecuador – Ceiba Foundation for Tropical Conservation.