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Snapshot Wisconsin team

The Snapshot

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Feb 2019 Science Update

One of the major Wildlife Management implications for Snapshot Wisconsin is the project’s contributions toward a system the DNR uses to calculate the size of the white-tail deer population in Wisconsin. Fawn-to-doe ratios, or FDRs, are found by dividing the number of does by the number of fawns seen during the summer months and is summarized by the (82) management units across the state.

In total, three programs contribute to FDR estimates: Snapshot Wisconsin, Operation Deer Watch and the Summer Deer Observation Survey. An advantage of using Snapshot Wisconsin data in these estimates is Snapshot cameras tend to be placed in areas of more natural habitat, whereas the other two collection methods are opportunistic, meaning they’re biased toward counting deer seen near roadways.

One challenge associated with trail camera data is that the same individual animals may walk by the camera multiple times throughout the data collection period. To account for this, we average the total number of does seen in photos with at least one doe, and then do the same with fawns. We then take the average number of fawns and divide it by the average number of does.

Fawns and does may or may not be in the same photo to contribute to their respective averages. Defining a single camera-level average for each site drastically reduces the amount of data involved but ensures that the FDR is not skewed toward does, which tend to appear much more frequently on Snapshot cameras.

Number of cameras by county for 2017 Number of cameras by county for 2018

2017 and 2018 Snapshot Wisconsin cameras contributing to FDR estimates

The above maps show the camera sites that contributed to FDR estimates in 2017 and in 2018. Photos from exclusively July and August were analyzed. A site only contributes to the estimate if there were 10 doe observations in one of the two months, but can be counted twice if it had at least 10 doe observations in both months. Statewide, 897 cameras contributed to 2018 FDR estimates, a 44% increase from the 622 sites that contributed in 2017.

Foe-to-Doe Ratio for 2017 Foe-to-Doe Ratio for 2018

2017 and 2018 Snapshot Wisconsin FDR estimates

Above are the results of the 2017 and 2018 FDR estimates using Snapshot Wisconsin data. Only deer management units with a minimum of 5 camera sites were included in the analysis. In 2018, the range of FDR was 0.75 – 1.2, which is an overall increase from the range of 0.62 – 1.13 in 2017. Snapshot Wisconsin was launched statewide in August 2018, meaning most cameras in the newly open counties were not deployed until after the data collection period. We expect that the number of cameras in the 2019 analysis will increase again, which would give us even more accurate estimates.

February 2019 Volunteer of the Month:

February’s Volunteer of the Month goes to Mike from Iowa County, one of the first two counties where Snapshot Wisconsin started recruiting volunteers.

Mike was no stranger to trail cameras when he joined the project two years ago—he had spent his career as a biologist in the tropics where he used trail cameras as one technique to study and conserve wildlife.

“Camera trap techniques motivate me because the photos are a fantastic way to learn about wildlife. The pictures are a moment in time of critters’ daily movement that is captured forever,” Mike said.

Birds are among his favorite critters captured at his site, including sandhill cranes, pileated woodpeckers and a great horned owl (who Mike noted doesn’t appear to have caught the squirrel repeatedly triggering his camera). Check out this awesome photo below that Mike shared of a squabbling pileated woodpecker and crow.

In addition to participating in Snapshot Wisconsin, he is also involved with wintertime roosting eagle counts with the Ferry Bluff Eagle Council.

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

Pileated Woodpecker

Pileated Woodpecker and Crow Interaction from Mike’s camera

Trail Camera Host Announcements: Proper Use of a Bear/Security Box Kit

Recently the Snapshot team has been doing some fieldwork in the elk reintroduction areas and found numerous bear box kits that were deployed incorrectly. Each of our bear box kits (also called security box kits) contain a steel box, a cable lock and a padlock. The cable lock is used to secure the box to the tree and the padlock is used to secure the front of the box to the back. When deployed correctly, the volunteer does not have to take the bear box and cable lock off the tree every time it needs to be checked. Please refer to this video [exit DNR] for the correct deployment of one of our bear box kits. Not only does the correct deployment make it easier to do a camera check, it also ensures that the height of the camera and the angle of deployment does not change, which is important for the long-term phenology record of the camera site.

Cable locks

Cable lock use examples

Zooniverse Announcements: Season 11 Finished!

Season 11 of Snapshot Wisconsin finished up recently. We are working on prepping a new batch of photos to load for Season 12, which should be ready within a few weeks. To prepare photos for Zooniverse, a Snapshot team member manually checks each batch of photos to ensure that all human photos have been removed, that there are no human objects in the photos, that there aren’t a lot of blank images and that the overall photo quality is adequate for classification purposes. Overall, our trail camera hosts do a good job of submitting usable photo batches—thank you very much to all our volunteers for their efforts toward collecting and classifying images so we get efficient data for wildlife management decision making.

Walworth county coyote

Coyote enjoying the warm weather in Walworth County, July 19, 2018

Snapshot Wisconsin Headlines

Snapshot Wisconsin Slideshow on USA Today online [exit DNR]

USA Today recently had a slideshow of Snapshot Wisconsin photos on their website, which was titled, “Awesome Trail Cam Images of Animals Wintering in Wisconsin.”

Barron County fisher

Barron County fisher

Team Profile: Steph Kovach

Steph Kovach, Research Technician

Steph Kovach, Research Technician

Steph Kovach joined the project part time in October as a Research Technician, though she also works as a Forestry Research Technician at the Wisconsin DNR on fire-related projects. Steph attended the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design from 2010 to 2013 and has a Bachelor of Science degree from Northland College with a major in Natural Resources and an emphasis in Ecological Restoration. On the Snapshot Wisconsin team, she is involved with various responsibilities from prepping kits to volunteer outreach.

One of Stephanie’s favorite adventures of Snapshot Wisconsin so far was checking elk cameras with her fellow Snapshot team members. Steph’s hobbies for the winter include: reading, whittling, planning a wedding, hurdling snowbanks with her dog, Meeka, and learning the fermented art of sourdough bread making. Welcome to the project Steph!

January Progress Toward Goal Update

Goal status by county

Goal status by county

Each month through 2019, we will be sharing our progress toward our goal of achieving 25% camera host occupancy in each county. For our purposes here, the definition of camera host occupancy is a camera deployed or sent to the trail camera host. Volunteers who have yet to complete training and receive equipment do not count toward meeting our goal. The counties shown in shades of brown on the map to the right are counties where we have not yet met our goal. January is a bit of a slow month for the project, especially with the weather we have had lately, so we didn’t make much progress this month. We have been working on sending out emails and outreach materials to contacts in our highest priority counties, so we expect more progress soon.

We are still accepting applications statewide; volunteers in all counties are encouraged to apply at [exit DNR].

Photo of the Month

Juneau county bobcat

February Photo of the Month: Juneau County Bobcat

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 Scott in Juneau County. The image shows a beautiful bobcat that appears to be posing for the camera while enjoying the warm June weather. Scott shared with us that he thinks the photo looks like it was taken by a professional wildlife photographer with an expensive camera with a telephoto lens.

He said it’s always a surprise to see such a beautiful animal and a bobcat in particular—these cats are secretive and rarely seen in person. We agree that this is a beautiful photo, and that some of the credit is due to a good camera site and a well-deployed camera. Thank you, Scott, 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].

Last revised: Monday May 06 2019