Tag Archive | Elk

Elk Camera Updates: Fieldwork in Black River Falls

The following piece was co-written by Ally Magnin and Claire Viellieux, with contributions from The Snapshot Wisconsin Team. 

The Snapshot Wisconsin team recently conducted an analysis of trail cameras in the Black River Falls elk reintroduction area. In this analysis, we compared elk collar location data to active cameras. We found that the elk herd range has shifted since their reintroduction in the area and that some of our camera locations are not aligned with where the elk are currently located. To begin to address this mismatch and maintain our grids, we identified cameras that should be removed, replaced, or checked. Below, Snapshot Wisconsin team members share a “snapshot” of their experiences checking cameras in the Black River Falls State Forest.

“While I have helped with elk fieldwork before (check out this blog post!), this was my first experience organizing a trip for the team. It was also my first time heading out into the woods alone – something I never would have been confident enough to do two years ago! Overall, conducting this fieldwork improved my ability to navigate with a GPS unit and made me comfortable with being in the woods alone. The quiet of the forest was a little unsettling at first, but by lunchtime of the first day, I settled in and enjoyed the solitude. I tuned in to the sounds of the forest and felt at ease.” – Ally Magnin

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“Getting back into the field was a great experience this last round of fieldwork. While I am beyond appreciative of the time that volunteers put into monitoring their cameras, I can’t help but jump on an opportunity to get out and contribute to that part of the project. When it came to the luck of the draw for removing elk cameras, I certainly fared well. Although I encountered my fair share of ‘creepy crawlies’ and briars, I was welcomed with beautiful views of the Black River State Forest, including the Pigeon Creek Flowage, and even got to see my first Wisconsin black bear.” – Sarah Cameron

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“What do fly bites and cold toes have in common? They’re both guarantees while doing fieldwork in the extremes of Wisconsin’s weather. While some seasons are more comfortable for meandering through the woods than others, each has its own charm. Summer, for example, is a peak for finding a diversity of flora and fauna. In my two most recent field days, I encountered a doe and a fawn crossing the road ahead of me, was startled by a ruffed grouse that I unintentionally flushed, and enjoyed watching a spring peeper jump through the brush along the path. But the critter that inspired me most was even smaller.

Before finding one during fieldwork, I had never seen a bright red dragonfly. I snapped a quick picture and continued along my way – stopping too long is just inviting the flies to bite uncovered fingers. As I hiked, I thought about all the other brightly colored dragonflies I had seen growing up – blue and green, mostly. I wondered if there were dragonflies for every color of the rainbow. Probably not here in Wisconsin, but perhaps I could find something else to represent every color in the rainbow. This created a fun little scavenger hunt for me and made my time go by almost too quickly!”

Emily Buege Donovan

a photo collage of a red dragonfly, fungus, trefoil plant and bee, heal-all plant, blueberries, katydid nymph.

Clockwise starting at top left: red dragonfly, fungus, trefoil plant and bee, heal-all plant, blueberries, katydid nymph.


“As I was driving to my first trail camera location in Black River Falls, I remember noticing how beautiful and lush all the trees were. It was a clear, sunny day and I was looking forward to exploring an area that I had never been to before. Trying to locate my first camera ended up being a bit of a trial by fire. It had rained the night before, creating swampy conditions. I stepped on a patch of mossy forest floor that I expected to be solid, but before I knew it, I had fallen up to my waist in swamp water! Luckily the field clothes I was wearing dried off quickly. Besides this misfortune, the rest of the day went smoothly. I even saw a mother raccoon and her adorable babies waddling across the road. Unfortunately, they were too quick for me to pull over and snap a photo, but I’ve included a picture of my cheery view as I stopped to eat lunch from the back of my car.”— Claire Viellieux

A gravel road and trees

A view of a trail in the Black River Falls State Forest.


“This July was my first experience doing fieldwork with Snapshot Wisconsin and the timing could not have been better! After transitioning to working from home in March, a trip up to Black River Falls State Forest was a sorely needed dose of the outdoors.

I had a few cameras on my list to find and the first one was a super easy walk through a peaceful campground and low-density foliage. I found the camera quickly with just a few mosquitoes flying around me. Finding this camera so quickly and easily gave me a false sense of confidence as I headed towards my second camera.

I hopped in the truck and drove to my next camera. From my maps, it looked like it was right off the road. I spent some time trying to find an easy path. After a few false starts trying to make my way through the ferns, water, moss, and bushes, I plunged in and started walking in as direct a line as possible to the camera. That line turned out not to be so direct. I got turned around and so did the GPS. In the end, I am pretty sure I spent a half-hour walking through the same 20 square meters. I did not end up finding this camera.

After this long search, lunch in the truck bed was a must. The continual feeling of being lost at that last camera site was foreign to me, but it was also a great reminder to get outside my comfort zone and try new things. It definitely gave me a better appreciation for all of the hard work our volunteers put into this project.

I found my final camera with my teammate Emily. Even though most of our fieldwork was done solo in individual vehicles to make sure we were following all the required health precautions, Emily and I hiked the longest distance of the day together while keeping at least 6 feet apart from each other. I’m so glad we were able to go to this final site together because it gave me more confidence. We tromped through logging tracts, chest high ferns, and pockets of moss that made me very grateful for my waterproof hiking boots before finally locating the last camera.

Thank you elk camera volunteers! These cameras are hard to find but it is so rewarding to see those photos of elk becoming established as Wisconsin wildlife once again.” – Jamie Bugel

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If you’re interested in monitoring a camera in Black River Falls, Clam Lake, or Flambeau River, check out our Elk Camera Monitoring Application!

How Much Do Elk Antlers Weigh?

Snapshot Saturdays are a weekly feature on the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resource’s Facebook page. Give them a Like to keep up with recent DNR news and to view the weekly Snapshot Saturdays. 

This snowy Snapshot Saturday features two bull elk captured on a trail camera in the Black River State Forest. Here’s a fun fact: elk antlers can weigh up to twenty pounds each and reach a spread of four feet! Learn more fun facts about elk here.

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Interested in hosting your own Snapshot Wisconsin camera? Visit our webpage to find out how to get involved: https://dnr.wi.gov/topic/research/projects/snapshot/.

What is a Group of Elk Called?

Snapshot Saturdays are a weekly feature on the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resource’s Facebook page. Give them a Like to keep up with recent DNR news and to view the weekly Snapshot Saturdays. 

What is a group of elk called?

While the common terminology for a group of elk is a herd, another answer may surprise you. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, a group of elk may also be referred to as a “gang” of elk.

Regardless of what you want to call them, check out this herd (or gang) of elk captured on a Snapshot Wisconsin trail camera in Sawyer County!

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Interested in hosting your own Snapshot Wisconsin camera? Visit our webpage to find out how to get involved: https://dnr.wi.gov/topic/research/projects/snapshot/.

Bugling Elk in Wisconsin

Snapshot Saturdays are a weekly feature on the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resource’s Facebook page. Give them a Like to keep up with recent DNR news and to view the weekly Snapshot Saturdays. 

Wisconsin elk may be a marvel to see, but witnessing the sound of their bugling is an unforgettable experience. Elk begin bugling in late August, and you can hear their bellows through the end of September.

This Snapshot Saturday features a bull elk captured on camera in the Flambeau River State Forest. If you’re near one of the elk reintroduction areas this month, be sure to keep an ear out!

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Interested in hosting your own Snapshot Wisconsin camera? Visit our webpage to find out how to get involved: https://dnr.wi.gov/topic/research/projects/snapshot/.

Elk Monitoring Opportunity

Snapshot Saturdays are a weekly feature on the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resource’s Facebook page. Give them a Like to keep up with recent DNR news and to view the weekly Snapshot Saturdays. 

Are you curious to see what Wisconsin elk are up to? Get an up-close look at the elk herds in the Flambeau River State Forest, Clam Lake or Black River Falls areas by monitoring a Snapshot Wisconsin trail camera. Trail cameras provide valuable data for herd management and give volunteers a unique window into Wisconsin’s woods.

No experience necessary, all training and equipment are provided. Volunteers must be able to participate for at least one year and check the camera at least once every three months. Submit a volunteer application today at www.SnapshotWIElkSignup.org.

Snapshot Saturday: May 4th, 2019

Trail cameras offer a non-invasive approach to monitor not only animals, but their surrounding habitats as well. In addition to capturing exciting images of wildlife Snapshot Wisconsin cameras are programmed to take a daily time-lapse image at 10:40 a.m.  As part of the project’s phenology research staff members began measuring the greenness in these time-lapse photos to determine when the different “phenophases”, or significant stages in the yearly cycle of a location’s vegetation, are occurring across the state.

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If you have noticed the vegetation around you becoming a little more colorful, that is because much of the state is entering the “greenup” phenophase. This Snapshot Saturday features a Sawyer County elk enjoying spring greenup from May 2018.

Interested in hosting your own Snapshot Wisconsin camera? Visit our webpage to find out how to get involved: https://dnr.wi.gov/topic/research/projects/snapshot/.

Snapshot Saturday: January 19th, 2019

We are throwing it back to sunny summertime for this Snapshot Saturday featuring a Jackson County elk. Happy Snapshot Saturday!

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View and classify photos collected from Snapshot Wisconsin cameras across the state at https://www.SnapshotWisconsin.org.

Snapshot Saturday: December 29th, 2018

An impressive bull elk captured on a Snapshot Wisconsin camera in the Flambeau River State Forest. Happy Snapshot Saturday!

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Interested in hosting your own Snapshot Wisconsin camera? Visit our webpage to find out how to get involved: http://dnr.wi.gov/topic/research/projects/snapshot/. Classify photos from all the trail cameras at www.snapshotwisconsin.org.

Bugle Days Rendezvous 2018

M2E35L90-90R391B362The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation hosted their annual Bugle Days Rendezvous this past weekend to celebrate the RMEF volunteers and elk in Wisconsin! This year the event was hosted in the Flambeau River State Forest, one of the sites where elk have been reintroduced in the state. Bugle Days Rendezvous offers RMEF volunteers a unique opportunity to partake in a weekend of “elk camp” including exciting field trips, herd updates, comradery, and importantly the sights and sounds of bugling Wisconsin elk.

Snapshot Wisconsin team members Sarah Cameron and Taylor Peltier were granted the opportunity to partake in the festivities this year, and give a presentation about elk monitoring with Snapshot Wisconsin. Although the two missed out on spotting any early morning elk with the rest of the RMEF, they still were able to witness the sounds of howling wolves, discovered several elk tracks along back roads, and even found a sneaky tree frog hiding behind one of the Snapshot Wisconsin trail cameras they visited. It was a weekend well spent!

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Find out more about the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation in Wisconsin, including upcoming events and how you can get involved!

Black River Falls Fieldwork

On our way up north for a recent outreach event, and I swung through Black River Falls to check two Snapshot Wisconsin cameras deployed for the elk reintroduction project. Black River Falls, located in central Wisconsin, is one of the three locations where Snapshot Wisconsin has a dense network of trail cameras to monitor the reintroduced elk populations. Trail cameras support data needed to make management decisions at the WDNR, all while capturing captivating photos of local wildlife.

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A reintroduced elk, Cervus canadensis, captured on a Snapshot Camera in northern Wisconsin

Being relatively new to the project, this was my first time doing fieldwork – and I couldn’t have been more excited! While our amazing Snapshot volunteers do the majority of fieldwork, we never shy away from an opportunity to get out in the woods as well. We suited up and grabbed our gear: a handheld GPS with coordinates entered for each camera site, swamp boots, bug nets, and camera equipment. We replaced one camera at the previously utilized camera site and moved the other to a better location, free of tall ferns and at the intersection of three wildlife trails. This was great opportunity for me to gain experience in the field and I look forward to future fieldwork opportunities!