LRP - Licenses

LRP - Regulations

LRP - Permits

Recreation - Statewide

Recreation - Trapping

Recreation - Fishing

Recreation - Hunting

Env. Protection - Management

Env. Protection - Emergency

Env. Protection - Resources

To sign up for updates or to access your subscriber preferences, please enter your contact information below.

Research publications
Comprehensive archive of our publications from 1950 to today
Former projects
More than 350 research projects have been completed since 1929

Subscribe to email updates about this project:

General updates

Updates for educators

The Snapshot,
bi-monthly newsletter

Newsletter archive

Contact information
For information on this project, contact:
Snapshot Wisconsin team

Snapshot Wisconsin FAQ

Slideshow replacement banner

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 in only two counties. The project grown tremendously and is now open in all 72 counties on both private and public land! Opening statewide has provided a more detailed “snapshot” of Wisconsin’s unique and diverse wildlife and extended the opportunity to participate to volunteers from all corners of Wisconsin.

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 [exit DNR]. These volunteers complete training and set up and monitor a trail camera provided to them. Second, you can view and classify photos on Zooniverse [exit DNR], 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. Project photos are also used for educational and outreach purposes, helping community members of all ages to experience firsthand the fauna of Wisconsin’s wild lands. Finally, Snapshot Wisconsin cameras take time lapse photos each day, which are used for University of Wisconsin - Madison vegetation and wildlife habitat research.

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. Follow along on the project Zooniverse blog [exit DNR] to keep up with science and general project updates. You can also request information via

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 or public land. Volunteers need to either own the property or have received permission from the landowner or public land manager 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: Why is permission needed for cameras placed on public land? Are they required for land managed by the WDNR?

A: Volunteers interested in hosting a camera on public land (including land managed by the WDNR) are required to have a Property Placement Permission Form signed by a local land manager before receiving equipment. This is to ensure that volunteers establish an open line of communication, and to also allow land managers to place any restrictions or ask any questions before the camera is deployed.

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

A: Potential volunteers sign up [exit DNR] 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. Volunteers not selected for their intended survey block will be placed on the waitlist, and contacted if the block becomes available. Tribes have preference for any survey blocks with tribal land. 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. Volunteers are required to place cameras away from human use areas in order to minimize the possibility that the camera is triggered by a human. We provide guidelines for avoiding any structures (e.g. buildings, signs) that could make locations identifiable. The photos from Snapshot Wisconsin cameras are encrypted for privacy protection and only viewable after they have been uploaded to the Snapshot Wisconsin database. This ensures that an individual outside of the project cannot steal an SD card from a camera and view the photos. Additionally, once the photos are made available for classification, only county-level location information is provided.

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 provided 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: If you choose to 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. Your photos will be made available on your personal MySnapshot profile page between 24-48 hours after 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:

This project is a collaboration between the Wisconsin DNR and these partners: Partner organization logos
Last revised: Thursday June 20 2019