A volunteer places bait on a tree to attract animals into the camera’s range.
Over the summer, an enthusiastic group of volunteers from our community helped the Land Trust with an important project: installing and monitoring wildlife cameras at our Snow Creek Forest Preserve, Valley View Forest, Chai-yahk-wh Preserve, the Quimper Wildlife Corridor, and Duckabush Riparian Forest Preserve.
“Seeing which types of animals are using our preserves helps us learn if we’re providing adequate habitat for them and gain a deeper understanding of the land,” says Cristina Villalobos, Jefferson Land Trust Office and Preserve Assistant, who led the volunteers on this project. “We also want to be able to educate our community about the kinds of animals that are using our preserves.”
With guidance from Jefferson Land Trust staff, the volunteers split into teams and gamely ventured through thick brush to install the cameras at various remote locations on Land Trust preserves in early July. The teams then visited each camera site twice to check the cameras, switch out the SD cards, and replenish the bait that encouraged animals to linger in the camera’s view, before returning to take down the cameras in September.
Volunteer Herb Tracy takes a selfie with Land Trust Office and Preserve Assistant Cristina Villalobos while installing wildlife cameras at Chai-yahk-wh Preserve.
Over the 12 weeks the cameras were up, they captured images of a wide array of wildlife, including many deer, a couple of woodpeckers, a turkey vulture, coyotes, field mice, raccoons, opossums, black bears, and a cougar.
Many folks involved with this volunteer effort had worked with wildlife cameras before, either with the Land Trust or elsewhere. Those new to the cameras were given training — including how to wrap the perfect “burrito” of raw chicken and chicken wire, which is secured in the camera’s range. This design is to ensure that multiple animals get the chance to nibble at the bait, though the cameras caught many creatures trying to make off with the whole burrito for themselves.
“We had an amazing group of volunteers,” Cristina says. “It was great to be out on the land engaging with community members and helping them become familiar with the animals who share this land with us.”
A big thank you to our wildlife camera volunteers!