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The Snapshot

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Issue 5: December, 2018

December Science Update

Since Snapshot Wisconsin launched in 2016 the project has grown substantially, and we have been afforded new opportunities to examine data trends as they manifest over time. Unsurprisingly, the sheer volume of photos we acquire each month has increased as we have expanded to new counties and word has spread about the project. Our total photo accumulation is depicted as gray bars in the graph below; in August 2018, over 8 million triggers had been taken. (A trigger is a burst of three individual photos, meaning the project has collected over 24 million photos.)

Triggers by month

Although we anticipated a strong upward trend in total photos in our database over time, one unexpected observation from this graph is that there appears to be some seasonality to when photos are uploaded. The red line at the top of the bars shows a moving average of the total number of photos each month. This line has a distinct wave pattern, with peaks in the fall and dips in the spring.

Photos taken by month

Taking a closer look at this, the graph above shows photo trends by month, broken down by total photos, animal photos and photo upload date. First, let’s inspect all photos (blue bar). More total photos are taken in the spring – especially in March – than in other seasons. We attribute this to the “spring green up” period, when vegetation sprouts quickly and can trigger the camera to fire as it moves in the wind. Examining exclusively animal photos (black bar), we see that the opposite is true. Most of our animal photos are captured in autumn. This is likely associated with increased animal movement in the fall, due to activities such as the annual rut of deer and elk. Finally, we consider photo upload date (red bar). Photo uploads tend to be highest in the middle of the year, with a spike in July. This could be the product of several factors, including increased volunteer activity during the warmer months of the year along with those spring green up photos being uploaded around that time.

Further development in our understanding of seasonality in the data collection process may serve to increase the efficiency and timeliness of data contributions to wildlife management decision support. Additionally, we can use this information to advise volunteers on what to expect as they navigate their role as a Snapshot Wisconsin trail camera host.

December 2018 Volunteer of the Month

December’s Volunteer of the Month goes to Colleen and Jerry from Ashland County! The duo moved up to the Clam Lake area in the early 2000’s to build their log cabin, and love everything connected to the Northwoods. Both Colleen and Jerry work at the local gas station, the Clam Lake Junction, which keeps them grounded and connected to their small community – they even put up a pickleball court there!

Colleen and Jerry were some of the very first volunteers to get involved monitoring Snapshot Wisconsin cameras in the Clam Lake elk reintroduction area. Colleen shared that they joined the project because it was something they could do together that also gave them an opportunity to further explore the area. The two have since played a key role in keeping up with the elk herd.

Thank you, Colleen and Jerry! Thank you to all our trail camera hosts and Zooniverse volunteers for helping us discover our wildlife together.

December Volunteers of the Month: Colleen and Jerry

December Volunteers of the Month: Colleen and Jerry

Trail Camera Host Training and Recruitment

Goal Status by County as of November 2018

Goal Status by County as of November 2018

Our fall training schedule wrapped up on November 13th in West Bend. The last three months have been quite a whirlwind for the Snapshot team as we traveled all over Wisconsin to train new camera hosts. Between in-person training and sending kits to folks who completed online training, we estimate that we have more than 500 new cameras with volunteers. Now that things have quieted down for a bit we are assessing where we need to do targeted recruitment to meet our goal of having 25% of the blocks occupied by a camera in each county. The map to the right shows our progress toward this goal. The counties shaded in blue are meeting or exceeding the goal while those shaded in brown have not yet reached 25%. Over the next few months we will be working on contacting local groups, natural resources agencies and other stakeholders in these counties to help us get the word out about participating in Snapshot Wisconsin as a camera host. If you live in one of these counties and would like to host one of our cameras, please visit [exit DNR] for all the details and to sign up. If you are a member of an organization whose members might be interested in more details please send an email to and we will send you some recruitment materials to be used in an e-newsletter or social media post.

Trail Camera Host Announcements

Snowshoe Hare, Iron County, December 2016

Snowshoe Hare, Iron County, December 2016

Preparations for Snapshot Wisconsin Season 11 are underway, so to ensure that your data is sent to Zooniverse (and ultimately used for wildlife management decision making) please remember to hit the “Review Complete” button on the last page of your photo batches. At a minimum, we require our trail camera hosts to tag any photos of humans. Tagging blanks and animals is optional but extremely helpful to the project.

Recently on the Blog

Coyote, Snapshot Wisconsin

Coyote, Snapshot Wisconsin

There have been several interesting blog posts over the last month. Check the links below and remember to follow the Snapshot Wisconsin blog.

23 Million Photos – “How do you keep up?” [exit DNR]: Learn about the project’s recent work with machine learning.

Wisconsin Wildlife: Generalists and Specialists [exit DNR]: How do our wildlife use the different habitat’s available.

Not Easy Seeing Green… [exit DNR]: How those daily phenology photos are used and compared with the daily satellite images.

Team Profile – Chuck Cross

Chuck Cross

New Snapshot team member, Chuck Cross

Several new team members have joined the Snapshot Wisconsin DNR research team. This month’s team profile is of our new IT Contractor, Chuck Cross. Chuck joined the project part time in July and is starting to chip away at our lengthy back log of IT updates. Chuck will be working on updating and maintaining the DNR Snapshot management system as well as providing associated data management and analysis support. Chuck has worked as a software engineer in the Madison area for several years, working in a variety of fields including aerospace, medical/laboratory automation, insurance and general consulting. In his spare time, he enjoys exploring the Yahara watershed trails, checking out local brew pubs, martial arts and keeping an eye on his new granddaughter. We will be sure to keep our volunteers informed about updates to the Snapshot system that will provide a better user experience for everyone involved in the project. There are several improvements planned to the MySnapshot user interface to improve the classification process.

Snapshot Photo of the Month

The Snapshot Wisconsin Photo of the Month highlights favorite photos shared by our volunteers. To enter one of your favorites from a Snapshot Wisconsin camera, please send the image as a .jpeg attachment with the animal classification, county location, the date it was taken and the reason you love the image to We will include your first name and county location in the newsletter featuring your submitted photo.

This month's image was submitted by Ray, who has been a trail camera host in Sawyer County since July 2016. The image is one from a group of images captured in early October this year and show a pair of bucks sparring. Ray also shared how much he has enjoyed participating in the project. Thank you Ray, and all our dedicated trail camera hosts and Zooniverse volunteers, we couldn’t do this without you!

You can view and classify other interesting photos from our cameras on our Zooniverse page [exit DNR].

December Snapshot photo of the month

December Snapshot photo of the month

Last revised: Wednesday January 02 2019