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Enrollment now open to:
  • Educators statewide
  • Tribal members/affiliates on tribal lands
  • Private land in:
    Dodge County
    Iowa County
    Iron County
    Jackson County
    Manitowoc County
    Marinette County new!
    Racine County
    Oneida County new!
    Sawyer County
    St. Croix new!
    Vernon County
    Waupaca County

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For information on this project, contact:
DNRSnapshotWisconsin@wisconsin.gov

608-572-6103

Snapshot Wisconsin FAQ

The Snapshot Wisconsin graphic

Project background

Q: What is Snapshot Wisconsin?

A: Snapshot Wisconsin is a year-round, statewide effort to engage citizens and students in monitoring wildlife populations through the use of motion-activated trail cameras. The goals of Snapshot Wisconsin are to:

  1. Provide data necessary for wildlife management decisions by monitoring wildlife more consistently across the state and throughout the year.
  2. Increase public engagement with Wisconsin's natural resources and the DNR.

The first cameras will be deployed by volunteers in 2016. Eventually, Snapshot Wisconsin will reach thousands of volunteers across the state.

Q: How can I participate in Snapshot Wisconsin?

A: There are two main ways to get involved. First, you can apply to host a trail camera. These volunteers will complete training and set up and monitor a trail camera provided to them. Second, you can view and classify photos on Zooniverse, the internet's largest collection of citizen science projects.

Q: What do you use the pictures from Snapshot Wisconsin for?

A: The success of this project depends on volunteers to help identify and count the animals in Snapshot Wisconsin photos. We use this information, along with where and when each photo was taken, to understand wildlife population distribution across Wisconsin and how their use of space changes throughout the year. Snapshot Wisconsin will give us a consistent way to monitor all types of wildlife throughout the year.

Q: What happens if there is a photo of a person on a Snapshot Wisconsin trail camera?

A: This project is for monitoring wildlife only. It's our priority to protect the privacy of individuals. Volunteers place cameras away from human use areas in order to minimize the possibility that the camera is triggered by a human. In addition, we have a number of processes in place to remove any photos of humans before photos are classified.

Q: How is Snapshot Wisconsin funded?

A: Snapshot Wisconsin is primarily funded through Pittman-Robertson project money dollars from fiscal years 2014 to 2018 provided by the Federal government to Wisconsin DNR. Other funding is provided by a grant from the NASA Applied Science Program through the University of Wisconsin – Madison. Other partners include UW-Extension, the Adler Planetarium, the National Parks Service, Wisconsin Society of Science Teachers, and the Wisconsin Environmental Education Board.

Q: How do I get more information about Snapshot Wisconsin?

A: To get the latest Snapshot Wisconsin updates, sign up for our mailing list. You can also request information via DNRSnapshotWisconsin@wisconsin.gov.


Participation in Snapshot Wisconsin

Q: I want to volunteer to monitor a Snapshot Wisconsin trail camera. What will be expected of me?

A: Volunteers will be provided a trail camera and expected to deploy the camera within the survey block [PDF] for which they were approved. As a volunteer you will be expected to report camera site information including camera location. Ideally this would be coordinates collected with a smartphone or a GPS and compass. We ask that you replace the camera batteries and collect the photos a minimum of four times per year. The next step is to upload the photos to the Snapshot Wisconsin database. The upload process will require broadband internet and a computer with Microsoft Windows (XP, Vista, 7, 8, or 10) with an SD card reader. Because this project is brand new, we will be looking for your feedback along the way. Volunteers can participate for as long as they wish, but a commitment of at least one year is preferred.

Q: Where can Snapshot Wisconsin trail cameras be placed?

A: A: Volunteers deploying trail cameras must have access to land and permission from the landowner to place a trail camera on the property. The minimum acreage required for a property is 10 contiguous acres. Property less than 10 acres will be considered on an individual basis. Cameras should be placed in a natural area 100 yards from buildings, paved roads, or baiting for wildlife. Two cameras placed on the same property but in different survey blocks need to be at least one mile apart.

Q: How and when can I sign up to monitor a trail camera in a survey block?

A: Beginning in spring 2016, we will accept applications from educators statewide and from the general public in select counties. An open application date will be designated for each county. After the application period has opened, you can sign up online for a particular survey block [PDF] in that county where you have access to land. You can sign up for multiple survey blocks, andit is not necessary for your permanent residence to be in the same county as the survey block(s). Applications will be reviewed on a monthly basis. If there is more than one application for a particular survey block, then the selection will be made by randomly choosing among the applications that meet the criteria. Tribes have preference for any survey blocks with tribal land and educators have preference on any other survey blocks. In order to receive the most up-to-date information on sign-up, please subscribe to our email list

Snapshot Wisconsin trail cameras

Q: What type of cameras do you use for Snapshot Wisconsin?

A: Snapshot Wisconsin trail cameras are manufactured specially for the project by Bushnell. These cameras are pre-programmed so that settings will be the same across all cameras. Volunteers will receive training on how to use this camera.

Q: Can I use my own camera?

A: At this time we do not have a way for participants to use their own camera and submit the data to Snapshot Wisconsin. While we are still getting Snapshot Wisconsin up and running, it is important to have as much consistency as possible. In the future, we hope to explore options that allow participants to submit the photos from their own trail cameras.

Q: Can I buy a Snapshot Wisconsin trail camera to participate in the program if the sampling block that I wanted to monitor is already taken?

A: At this time, Snapshot Wisconsin trail cameras cannot be purchased. In the future, we hope to explore options that allow interested participants to purchase a trail camera, so that multiple cameras can be placed per block.

Q: Am I liable for the Snapshot Wisconsin camera in case someone steals or vandalizes it?

A: The Snapshot Wisconsin cameras and all accessories lent to volunteers are property of Wisconsin DNR. Volunteers are not liable for Wisconsin DNR equipment that is stolen or damaged.

Q: Do I get to keep the Snapshot Wisconsin camera?

A: Once you exit the program, you will need to return the camera and equipment to the Wisconsin DNR.

Q: Will I be able to view the pictures from my camera immediately?

A: The photos from your camera are only viewable after they have been uploaded to the Snapshot Wisconsin database and placed back on your MySnapshot personal profile page. The photos go through an automated process that makes pictures viewable and removes images with humans. This helps to protect your personal privacy. You will get the first look at your photos on your MySnapshot page within 2 days of uploading. After our initial pilot work, we hope to make this turnaround time faster.

Last revised: Monday February 22 2016