By Jeanette Murry and Alan Tidwell
We graduated from the spring 2012 ARMN Basic Training Course. During the summer and fall, we volunteered on a camera trapping project called eMammal organized by the Smithsonian. We focused on Keyser Run Fire Trail in the Shenandoah National Park for our trapping.
When we saw the eMammal Project advertised through the ARMN listserv, it sounded interesting and challenging, so in August we went along to a half-day training at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute at Front Royal, VA.
Tavis Forrester, eMammal Project Coordinator and a wildlife biologist, describes the project: “eMammal is a large-scale NSF-funded citizen science project using volunteers and remote cameras. eMammal is a further development of SI Wild, an existing project that has pooled camera-trapping images from all over the world and will be expanded to allow volunteers to upload data, and then expanded again to allow visitors to analyze and visualize data.”
Our role, under the excellent guidance of Megan Baker from the Smithsonian, was to deploy 3 cameras – one on the trail at a specified location, the second and third cameras at 50 and 200 meters respectively away from the trail. After 3 weeks, we would collect the cameras, change batteries and SD cards, and then redeploy the cameras to the next locations. We did a total of 4 deployments, finishing on November 10.
The cameras are activated by heat sensing and motion sensing, so they mostly snap only images of mammals, but occasionally a close-range bird will trigger the camera. When the camera is activated, it takes a series of 10 images and in total we had many thousands of pictures which we uploaded to the Smithsonian website. The most common mammal on Keyser Run Trail is the two-legged variety – homo sapien! These pictures are not made public but the other mammals are.
Photos we got off the trail are exclusively of wildlife and we have pictures of plenty of black bears, white tailed deer, squirrels, coyotes, bobcats, raccoon, and one mouse. For the birders, we also captured images of ruffed grouse, downy woodpecker, robins, and a northern yellow flicker.