Hunters have long used consumer-grade trail cameras to scout potential game. However, according to Phillip Elden, these night-vision wonders have perhaps a greater use in the world of science and conservation.
Phillip Elden explains that trail cameras are a useful tool in helping to identify wildlife habits and habitats. He points out a 2019 discovery by conservation hobbyist in Seattle. Jeff Layton was the first in the area to record images of a fisher. This large weasel was thought to have left the Central Cascades area nearly 70 years ago. Layton claims to be a backyard naturalist, and he knew exactly what he caught on film the moment he transferred data from his camera to his computer.
Jeff Layton is not the only conservation enthusiast to utilize trail cameras, says Phillip Elden. Many conservation nonprofits invest in this type of equipment to monitor everything from wolverines to grizzly bears. And there are many organizations that crowd source data from hunters.
Phillip Elden explains that trail cameras, which most consumers can find for less than $50, are an inexpensive and yet extraordinary scientific tool. They record around the clock, using motion-activated technology to conserve battery when not in use. This means that scientists and the general public alike can install a camera and then return weeks later to retrieve data without fear of the battery having been drained.
If you are interested in monitoring local wildlife, Phillip Elden suggests doing so on your own land or contacting a landowner for permission. He also suggests caution, and points out that no one should venture into the woods alone.
Phillip Elden asserts that more cameras equals more data, and in the world of environmental conservation, more is never enough.