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Enrollment now open to:
  • Educators statewide
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  • Private land in:
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    Grant County new!
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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 were deployed by volunteers in 2016. Eventually, Snapshot Wisconsin will reach 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 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 distributions across Wisconsin and how these distributions change over time. Snapshot Wisconsin gives 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 dollars 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, Adler Planetarium, Zooniverse, 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 the camera location (latitude and longitude). We ask that you replace the camera batteries and collect the photos a minimum of four times per year. The next step is to enter data about the camera check in your personal online MySnapshot account and upload the photos to the Snapshot Wisconsin database. The upload process will require basic computing skills, an internet connection, and an SD card reader. Volunteers can participate for as long as they wish, but a commitment of at least one year is requested.

Q: Where can Snapshot Wisconsin trail cameras be placed?

A: Cameras can be placed on private land. Volunteers should either own the property or have received permission from the landowner to place a trail camera there. 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 may be placed on the same property, but must be in different survey blocks and at least one mile apart.

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

A: We are currently enrolling educators statewide and the general public in select counties. You can apply to the program at any time, regardless of whether the county where you wish to participate is open. You will be contacted regarding your application status once enrollment for your county has begun. Potential volunteers sign up online for a particular survey block [PDF] where they own or have access to land. You can sign up for multiple survey blocks, and it is not necessary that your permanent residence to be in the same county as the survey block(s). Applications will be reviewed at the beginning of each month. 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.

Q: How do you protect the privacy of participants?

A: Protecting the privacy of volunteers is a high priority for us. We have several steps in place to ensure any photos of humans are removed before photos are made viewable by the public for classification. The cameras also take encrypted photos so that no one can steal the SD card and see the photos. Additionally, we provide guidelines for avoiding any structures (e.g. buildings, signs) that could make your photos identifiable. Only county-level location information is associated with the photos once they are made available for classification.

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 submit photos from their personal cameras to Snapshot Wisconsin. To get accurate counts of animals, it is important we use photos from Snapshot Wisconsin cameras which are all programmed with the same settings. If you have an interesting mammal photo from a personal camera and would like to notify the Wisconsin DNR, you may submit the observation using this form.

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 WDNR 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. A prepaid shipping label will be provided to you.

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

A: The photos from your camera are encrypted for privacy protection and 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.

Q: I have an interesting photo of wildlife on my property. Who should I send it to?

A:If you have observed a large or rare mammal on your property please use this website to report the sighting to WDNR: http://dnr.wi.gov/topic/wildlifehabitat/mammalobsform.asp

Last revised: Tuesday September 05 2017