CALS forest and wildlife ecology professor Phil Townsend is involved in a project to help count wildlife across the state known as Snapshot Wisconsin. The project, run out of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, is a citizen science effort that will involve placing between 2,000 and 4,000 trail cameras throughout the state. When animals pass in front of the cameras and trigger them, the photos will be uploaded to a webpage where people can identify and count the animals in each frame from the comfort of their home or classroom.
The project has a number of objectives, including just getting a better understanding of where animals live and roam in our state. This information will then be used to help develop maps and computer models showing the distribution of animals over the landscape over time.
“in Wisconsin we’re concerned about the distribution of deer. We’re also interested in knowing [the location of] bear, certainly grey wolves. Bobcats are another animal that we would really like to know where they are. There’ll be lots and lots of cameras out throughout the forest, and whatever animal triggers one of these cameras, we’ll get a picture of it,” says Townsend.
Snapshot Wisconsin will have a limited launch this fall with two pilot projects. It is expected to be fully up and running by late 2015.