Using Trail Cameras to Analyze Wildlife
Sometimes it's truly as easy as pulling over on the highway and snapping a few photos. More often than not though, it takes some serious scouting and camera traps to really know what's out there. I thought I would share some of the photos my camera traps captured! It's fairly clear I need to consider setting up a good quality DSLR trap because most of these great animals wander at night in the true wild.
Wolves are something I have yet to capture great photos of. They are extremely elusive in the areas I shoot and I only tend to see them when I'm completely unprepared for it. I do know they exist though! My trail cameras have allowed me to see exactly whats hanging around my favourite spots. Below is some recent evidence of wolf activity just after dark!
Wolves vs. Coyotes
Below is a wolf to coyote comparison. This is the same camera and the same location with a slightly different angle, but you can clearly see the size difference. Out here though, there have definitely been a few "bush wolves" (this is the term I grew up with) which seem to be wolf/coyote crosses. We've seen huge coyotes and smaller wolves along with domesticated dogs (the black dog in the last photo), so I wouldn't be surprised to see some more combinations of wolf dogs out here as well!
Predators of all kinds are quite interesting and very challenging to find. Black bears, however, are very common in this area, but their super-strong sense of smell helps them to detect human presence long before we even know they're there!
Another really cool thing with trail cameras is that you can set them up to take video, adding some sound and behavioral insight! I have yet to capture an image of a ruffed grouse that I believe is worth hanging, but that doesn't mean they aren't interesting! Here's a male thumping on his log.
Now whitetails are an especially fun animal for me. I grew up hunting them so I am much more familiar with how to move.
Moose and I have a strained relationship. Bears, wolves, coyotes aren't nearly as scary as a rutting bull moose, but they sure make for some interesting photos!
And elk. Oh, this elusive creature (unless I don't have a camera).
There are plenty of ways to utilize a trail camera to better prepare yourself for photographic adventures. If you'd like to learn more please check out this article I wrote on getting the most out of your trail cameras!