Changing Planet

Camera Trap Top 10

Gregg Treinish and his team at Adventurers and Scientists for Conservation bring us stories from around the world about adventuring with purpose. Here, ASC’s Alex Hamilton compiled our favorite 10 camera trap videos. Watch prairie dogs wrestle, an elk lick the camera lens, and ASC volunteers photo bomb the camera. 

By Alex Hamilton

ASC collects a lot of video which won’t ever be edited or published. For projects like Landmark and our Olympic National Forest Pine Marten Survey, we work with a diligent team of videographers. They stay immobile, day and night, recording at the slightest hint of movement.

Our team receives little recognition and no credit when their film is actually watched. They don’t mind, though—they aren’t human.

The last decade has seen an increase in the use of automated camera traps in ecology and conservation biology. Camera traps are motion-activated, either firing off photos or recording a certain length of video when movement enters their frame. Sometimes they’re set off by nothing but wind rustling through the grass; other times it’s an entire herd of bison.

ASC crews regularly check camera traps and sort through what sometimes amounts to hours of video. Of the hundreds of one-minute videos we’ve collected, here are some of our favorite moments, in no particular order:

1. Who’s watching whom?

2. Camera trap bait in the Olympic National Forest frustrated this bobcat for a whole ten hours…

3. …It wasn’t any easier for the coyotes.

4. The prairie isn’t always all fun and games—only sometimes.

5. Elk will lick rocks for salt and occasionally find creative alternatives.

6. Sometimes we see just a snippet of something that’s usually hiding underfoot.

7. Landmark crews use camera traps to monitor fence interactions. For some wildlife, the fences aren’t a big deal.

8. For some, it takes a bit of strategizing to make the crossing.

9. For others, it’s just not possible. Videos like this help inform the development of wildlife-friendly fences.

10. And some mysteriously have made their way across.

Of course, we can’t ignore some of the wildest creatures that our camera traps capture: ASC volunteers.

Alex Hamilton is the Media and Partnerships Intern at Adventurers and Scientists for Conservation. Learn more about this and other ASC projects on our website, the Field Notes blog, and by following us on FacebookTwitterInstagram and Google+.

Read More by Gregg Treinish and His Correspondents

Gregg Treinish founded Adventure Scientists in 2011 with a strong passion for both scientific discovery and exploration.National Geographic named Gregg Adventurer of the Year in 2008 when he and a friend completed a 7,800-mile trek along the spine of the Andes Mountain Range. He was included on the Christian Science Monitor's 30 under 30 list in 2012, and the following year became a National Geographic Emerging Explorer for his work with Adventure Scientists. In 2013, he was named a Backpacker Magazine "hero", in 2015, a Draper Richards Kaplan Entrepreneur and one of Men's Journal's "50 Most Adventurous Men." In 2017, he was named an Ashoka Fellow.Gregg holds a biology degree from Montana State University and a sociology degree from CU-Boulder. He thru-hiked the Appalachian Trail in 2004.

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