Two seasons of Snapshot Wisconsin are now in the books! As you may recall, the first two seasons focused primarily on images from concentrated camera grids located around two focal areas where elk exist.
Both areas are predominantly forested, but differ slightly in terms of climate and vegetation species. Animal-wise, we would also expect some minor differences in community:
…and we find a few things. One surprise is some indication that Cottontail rabbits were photographed more frequently further north. This may be a case of confusing rabbits and hares in their summer coats, but results above have not yet been filtered by any agreement metric. Less surprising: there were more elk pictures at the northern Wisconsin site (elk herds are just getting going in central Wisconsin), and also more bear and snowshoe hare pictures up north as well. (Of course, deer are predominant). Generally speaking, these two areas are fairly similar, and one exciting development (forthcoming next season) is project expansion across a broader extent of the state.
If you’ve been following our project updates, you know that we’re rolling out on a county-by-county basis. This makes it manageable for our small DNR team to recruit and train volunteers to host trail cameras across the state.
Well, as of today, we’re happy to announce that enrollment is now open in four new counties, bringing our county total to six: Iowa, Iron, Jackson, Manitowoc, Sawyer, and Waupaca. Any individual or organization in these counties with access to 10 acres of land is now encouraged to apply to host a trail camera. We are also continuing to accept applications from educators and tribal members/affiliates across the state.
Look for photos from these counties in future seasons of Snapshot Wisconsin on Zooniverse!
Meanwhile, the project continues to get positive press. Here’s Dan Small, everyone’s favorite Wisconsin outdoors icon, giving Snapshot Wisconsin a shout out:
We are so very excited to launch Snapshot Wisconsin, a volunteer-based effort to monitor wildlife using trail cameras. This project is run by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR), with the help of wonderful collaborators and volunteers like you. Those of you who participated in this project’s precursor – Wisconsin Wildlife Watch – will be familiar with the general idea of Snapshot Wisconsin. For the newbies, let’s get you oriented!
The goals of this project are to:
- Increase public engagement with natural resources and the outdoors.
- Provide data needed to make wildlife management decisions.
To accomplish these goals, we are establishing a statewide network of trail cameras. Each camera is hosted by a volunteer who sets up the camera, collects the camera’s SD card at least every three months, uploads photos, and screens the photos. Then, we transfer the photos to Zooniverse where users can identify and count the animals they see in the photos.
This process is immensely helpful to us. Once the project is rolled out across the state, we will potentially be handling millions of photos each month – far too many for WDNR staff to classify on our own!
We are interested in all the wildlife species found in the photos, but a special focus of Season 1 is to learn more about Wisconsin’s elk population. The first set of cameras were set up in two areas of Wisconsin where elk have been reintroduced (more detail here and on our Research page), and Season 1 photos are from these elk reintroduction areas.
Future Snapshot Wisconsin seasons will include photos from different counties around the state as we enroll volunteers on a rolling basis. (If you live in Wisconsin and would like to apply to host a trail camera, please visit our official project page.)
Stay tuned to this blog for updates and feel free to frequent our Talk boards to communicate with researchers and other users.