Scientists are recruiting North Carolina residents to catch the state’s wildlife on camera, from suburban backyards to remote backwoods.
The state Wildlife Resources Commission, Museum of Natural Sciences and North Carolina State University hope to deploy 20,000 to 30,000 camera traps across the state, making it the biggest wildlife survey of its kind.
Motion-activated camera traps collect pictures without disturbing animals. They can also produce thousands of images that can be saved indefinitely, data that can be used to measure how mammal populations change over time.
The project is called North Carolina’s Candid Critters.
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Volunteers can borrow a camera trap from a public library to use on public lands. People who own cameras trap can contribute images from their own property.
One benefit of camera traps is that it’s always known when and where a photo was taken. In addition to helping scientists map where animals live, the data can reveal how wildlife interacts with other species including people.
“Before we can answer all these questions about mammals, we need to collect massive amounts of data,” said Arielle Parsons, research associate with the Museum of Natural Sciences.
“In this case, we’re using camera trap images from across all 100 counties in the state. We really need the public’s help to accomplish this. The more people that participate, the more we can learn about North Carolina’s critters.”