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The Northwoods River News | Rhinelander, Wisconsin

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home : outdoors : outdoor news August 17, 2017

6/10/2017 7:28:00 AM
Fish like a girl
Helping with wildlife population estimates

Beckie Gaskill
Outdoors Writer

Many people have heard of Snapshot Wisconsin. It is a form of citizen science where normal residents like you and me host trail cameras supplied by the DNR, and upload photos from those trail cameras to the DNR website. From there all of the photos go on to another website called Zooniverse. On that website, anyone can log on and see all of the photos from all of the trail cams across the state. Visitors to the site can identify all of the animals in each of the trail cam photos. All of this information will be compiled and used by the DNR in addition to other methods of creating population estimates to make management decisions regarding a number of species of animals in the state.

I am happy to say I will be one of the people hosting a trail cam for Snapshot Wisconsin. I have a fairly good idea of the type of animals on my property, but I will be interested to see what I might not know is on my property. My trail cam will be down close to a small creek running through the property and I would think there would be more animals and perhaps ones I do not see near the house and yard.

Last week I attended Snapshot Wisconsin training, which was put on at the DNR Service Center in Rhinelander. In that training, the first thing on which we focused was site selection. While I have a trail cam of my own which I put near my deer stand on my property, I suppose I never gave it much more thought than that. I chose a spot where the deer walk through on a regular basis during the course of a normal, natural day for them (although I do have a suspicion a neighbor may still be inviting them over for dinner), and put my stand as well as my camera near that location. Other than that, I did not give much thought to how my camera is positioned or the height from the ground. That may be because I do not spend much time hunting on my property and it is more of a convenience of having a tree to sit in for a few short hours after work than it is about putting meat in the freezer. I hunt other places for that.

I thought the training was very valuable both on the site selection side as well as the technical side, for those who may not be as computer-savvy as others or who may not have experience with a trail cam. The meeting room at the Service Center was packed for the workshop, and, we were told, another workshop the previous evening enjoyed a full house as well. I was excited to hear so many people were getting into citizen science through this program. The crowd for the workshop I attended was a fairly mixed crowd - some hunters and some nature-lovers who just like to watch the animals. Both groups, I believe, have much to gain in helping out with this program. I think we can learn a lot about the habits and movements of the animals as well as get a better idea of how many animals are on our properties.

Oneida County is now open for enrollment and there are still plenty of survey blocks to be filled. The only restriction is a volunteer citizen scientist must have at least 10 acres of land or have access to 10 acres of private land on which they have permission to be. Once the camera is placed, volunteers are asked to check the camera, change out the SD card and upload their photos at least once every three months. Most people I spoke with thought they would do this about once per month. At least in the beginning, I would be too interested to know what was coming through on a regular basis to wait three months to check. My plan is to look at my photos at least once per month. By the time this is published, my camera will be set and I will hopefully be well on my way to documenting the wildlife on my property. As time goes on I will share any interesting photos I am able to acquire through the program. For anyone interested in hosting a trail cam, as I said, there are still more survey blocks open than taken in the county. Those interested can go to the DNR website and enter the keywords "Snapshot Wisconsin" into the search box. This will bring you to the page with all of the information about the program and contact information to help you get started. The program is open to educators across the state already and more counties are rolling out enrollment all the time, so keep checking back if your county is not on the list yet. It will be soon.

Beckie Gaskill may be reached at

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