The end of September is a beautiful time to travel around Wisconsin. This fall we have had a lot of opportunity to get out and enjoy the fall colors as we travel around doing in person trainings across the state. Taylor and I traveled up to Crandon and Merrill for a few days for trainings and gave a talk about Snapshot to the Lincoln County Sports Club. We were fortunate to have Friday afternoon off so we took the opportunity to check out Council Grounds State Park just outside Merrill. We had a lovely walk along the lake shore and as usual found ourselves checking out animal sign along the way. We found bear sign but didn’t see any bears. We did see some late season harebell flowers, lots of fly mushrooms, a white throated sparrow and possibly a migrating magnolia warbler.
Whenever we travel we like to take the opportunity to try the locally owned restaurants. We were fortunate to have a really good Mexican restaurant, Los Mezcales right next door to our hotel in Merrill. We have been keeping a journal of our travels since we started the project back in 2016. It is fun to look back and remember our adventures over the past 2 plus years.
On Saturday, we left Merrill to head to Black River Falls where we met up with Joe to lead a Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin Field Trip out to a couple of our elk monitoring cameras. The fall colors around Black River Falls were even prettier than they were farther to the north. About a dozen attendees met us at the Black River Falls WDNR office parking lot for a preview of our trip and a brief introduction to the elk reintroduction and monitoring programs. There are about 200 or so cameras around the Jackson County Forest specifically for monitoring the elk herd that was reintroduced to the area in 2015. These cameras are all maintained by volunteers with the Snapshot Wisconsin Elk Monitoring project.
After our discussion about the elk we drove about 20 minutes outside of town to reach the camera locations. A short hike into the woods brought us to our first camera location. Taylor showed the attendees how to perform a camera check, which includes recording the date and time of the camera check, the number of photos recorded on the SD card in the camera and changing out the SD card and batteries. We took another hike to a camera nearby and one of the field trip attendees took over doing the camera check. One of the other attendees found some wolf sign in the area, and the camera did have a wolf proximity sensor associated with it. We will have to wait and see if any wolf pictures show up at this camera site.
We plan to host this field trip for NRFW again next year. Folks local to the Wisconsin area should check out the field trips offered by NRFW every year. Many are led by DNR employees or employees and volunteers of other conservation groups across the state. They are a great way to learn more about conservation and get an inside look at what is going on in Wisconsin. Curious to learn more about elk? Check out this page on the WDNR website: https://dnr.wi.gov/topic/wildlifehabitat/elk.html To signup to participate in the Snapshot Wisconsin elk monitoring project send an email to DNRSnapshotWisconsin@wisconsin.gov with the subject line “Elk Monitoring”.
Happy Spring! the Snapshot Wisconsin team in spending the month of May bopping around the upper Midwest for trainings, fieldwork and conferences, oh my! We’ve been checking in on Zooniverse from the road, but we apologize if we’ve been less responsive than usual this season. Here are some highlights:
New elk cameras!
A new cohort of elk will be released into the Flambeau River State Forest (FRSF) in Sawyer County this summer (south of the existing Clam Lake herd). The Snapshot Team traveled to FRSF to train volunteers who will be hosting cameras in this new area. We also got to tromp through the woods ourselves to put up some of the cameras, and came across lots of animal sign, wildflowers and other indications that spring has sprung.
Citizen Science Association conference
We learned a lot about the field of citizen science at the Citizen Science Association conference in St. Paul, Minnesota last week. At our tabling session we met all kinds of wonderful people managing citizen science projects, including other trail camera projects. It was wonderful to hear about all the fantastic work going on in citizen science, and we came home with a list of ideas on how to improve our own project. Team member Christine Anhalt-Depies gave a great talk about what motivates our trail camera hosts to participate in Snapshot Wisconsin.
New counties, new trainings!
This month, we’re providing trainings for our trail camera hosts in St. Croix, Oneida and Marinette counties. Stay tuned for 6 new counties opening for enrollment in the next couple weeks!