Contact(s): Jennifer Stenglein, Wildlife Research Scientist firstname.lastname@example.org 608-354-6490
An exciting new way to involve Wisconsin citizen scientists in wildlife research - made possible by advances in camera and computer network technology - is being developed by the Department of Natural Resources and the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
The upcoming research program, called Snapshot Wisconsin, will involve a network of thousands of trail cameras set up around the state.
The program will rely on a variety of partnerships with conservation groups, classroom students and individual volunteers to deploy between 3,000 and 4,000 cameras statewide. The cameras will capture a variety of wild creatures including deer, elk, bear, bobcat, fox, coyote and more
Photographs of the Wisconsin wildlife will be later uploaded to a website where citizens from all over Wisconsin and the world can log on and help identify them in the photos using a "crowdsourcing" computer program designed on the old fashioned principal that many hands make light work.
"Snapshot Wisconsin is unique in that it will combine the involvement of school groups and citizen scientists with trail camera technology," says Karl Martin, wildlife and forestry research section chief. "The ultimate goal is to generate new information on the relative abundance, distribution and annual variations of wildlife populations across Wisconsin."
This and other new methods to measure wildlife populations will be useful at both state and county levels. For example, Snapshot Wisconsin will provide a systematic method to contribute specific information - such as fawn-to-doe ratios in the deer herd - to wildlife biologists working with county committees to manage deer numbers.
Once the program is fully operational in late 2015, it will involve half-day training programs for volunteers on trail camera placement and usage. Two pilot programs are scheduled for late 2014 in which school groups in two counties will begin training and then placing cameras.
To find out how to get involved in Snapshot Wisconsin and other ongoing DNR volunteer projects, visit the citizen monitoring page on the DNR website.