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Wildlife and forestry research
Learn about wildlife and forestry research
Volunteer assisting with a loon surgery.

Volunteer assisting with a loon surgery.

Adult female white-tailed deer and fawn, Operation Deer Watch.

Adult female white-tailed deer and fawn, Operation Deer Watch.

Male elk, photo submitted via Deer Hunter Wildlife Survey observations.

Male elk, photo submitted via Deer Hunter Wildlife Survey observations.

Wildlife and Forestry Research - Citizen Monitoring

Citizens and scientists working together to monitor and evaluate Wisconsin's natural resources is a unique collaboration that improves the efficiency and effectiveness of monitoring efforts. The short-term advantage of citizen monitoring is that citizens are often available to be the daily 'eyes' and 'ears' for the natural resource, providing extra monitoring where the agency cannot supply staff. From a long-range perspective, citizens are personally involved and committed, becoming educated about resource issues and strong advocates for resource programs.

Wildlife and forestry researchers are currently involved with the following projects relating to citizen monitoring research:

Snapshot Wisconsin

Snapshot Wisconsin is a statewide, year-round program where citizens, students and the department work together to monitor wildlife with a network of trail cameras. The data from Snapshot Wisconsin can provide information on a variety of Wisconsin wildlife such as deer, black bear, beaver and bobcat.

This information will help the department with population estimates and setting harvest quotas. Additional methods to measure the wildlife populations will be useful at statewide and county levels. Snapshot Wisconsin provides a systematic method that will contribute information on management aspects such as fawn-to-doe ratios and also deer population trends over time. This information will help counties and the state better understand changes in the herd.

Opportunities to get involved in Snapshot Wisconsin

There are two main ways to get involved. First, you can apply to host a trail camera. These volunteers will attend a training and set up and monitor a trail camera provided to them. Second, you can view and categorize photos on Zooniverse, the internet's largest collection of citizen science projects. Learn more about Snapshot Wisconsin and how you can get involved.

The Wisconsin Lakes and Wildlife Citizen Science Project

This project will further develop the existing Wisconsin Loon Citizen Science Network (75 participants in 2012) to monitor long-term abundance of lake-dependent wildlife in the Northern Highland ecological landscape. Specific objectives include conducting workshops and training volunteers for the Wisconsin Loon Citizen Science Network, producing project reports, informational packets for Citizen Scientists, annual newsletter, and developing additional citizen science monitoring activities on Northern Highland lakes to monitor impacts of land-use and climate change on lake-dependent wildlife.

Project timeline: 2007 - 2014

Lead DNR scientist: Michael Meyer

Operation Deer Watch

Help monitor deer reproduction in Wisconsin. Starting in 2010 the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources asked for summer deer observations from Wisconsin outdoor enthusiasts and hunters. The department is interested in all deer sightings of bucks, does, and fawns. Data from Operation Deer Watch is used with DNR observations to help determine the fawn-to-doe ratio and ultimately deer population estimates.

Operation Deer Watch

Project timeline: 2010 - ongoing

Lead DNR scientist: Brian Dhuey

Deer Hunter Wildlife Survey

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources is asking for your help in monitoring the relative abundance and distribution of deer and other mammalian/avian wildlife species in the state. The wildlife we are most interested in are: deer, raccoon, skunk, porcupine, red and gray fox, turkey, ruffed grouse, coyote, bear, otter, fisher, bobcat, house cat, badger, wolf, opossum, elk, or other wildlife not normally seen in your area. Since deer hunters often spend many quiet observation hours in the woods, you can provide valuable information about species that are often very difficult to measure. Past efforts in Wisconsin and other states (Ohio, Iowa and Missouri) have provided wildlife agencies with valuable information for managing many wildlife species.

Deer Hunter Wildlife Survey

Project timeline: 2009 - ongoing

Lead DNR scientist: Brian Dhuey

Last revised: Wednesday March 16 2016