Tuesday, April 1, 2014

DNR Plans Snapshot Program, by Danielle Cook

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources is currently planning a program for 2015 called “Snapshot Wisconsin” to capture pictures of local wildlife on trail cameras installed all across the state.

Conservation groups, wildlife students, and volunteers will work to set up 3000-4000 cameras throughout trails in Wisconsin. The more volunteers, the more cameras can be set up, and more wildlife can be spotted and tracked.

“We’re looking to engage the public and get their help all across the state. With data coming in from thousands of sites, the potential of this [project] is huge,” explained Karl Martin, chief of DNR wildlife and forestry research.

Wildlife including bears, coyotes, deer, elk, bobcats and more will be researched, after caught in photos. The pictures will then be uploaded to a website at which anyone can log on and help identify the animals.

Distribution, abundance and variations of Wisconsin wildlife will be studied and recorded by scientists after the program is up and running. Monitoring wildlife populations, such as fawn-to-doe ratios in deer herds, will allow biologists to manage population numbers and draw conclusions about health and other factors.

In late 2014, two test groups will undergo training programs to set up cameras in two counties. Satellite data will be combined with the pictures to help develop wildlife models to assist in Wisconsin natural resources management and even programs beyond just state-associated ones.

The budget for this project rests at $350,000, with funding sourced from the Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act.