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Inventorying and Monitoring Wildlife in Your Woodlands

Posted: August 17, 2015

Inventorying and monitoring wildlife populations enable you to see what habitats are favorable to certain wildlife and how your habitat management efforts affect the species living on your land.

Wildlife is an integral part of woodlands. Landowners are often interested in monitoring wildlife on their property for a variety of reasons. You may want to assess the effectiveness of habitat management plans by monitoring various wildlife species’ responses. Surveying habitat can provide you with a measure of your land’s potential to attract and hold wildlife. 

As a landowner, you probably already spend a great deal of time observing and thinking about your land. You might benefit from taking your observations a step further using a more deliberate, systematic approach. Understanding the relationship between wildlife and your woodland will help you improve both. With planning and management, you can favor certain habitat conditions and plants for wildlife using your property.

Here are two educational resources to help you understand how to conduct a more systematic wildlife inventory. One is the University of New Hampshire Extension publication, "A Landowner’s Guide to Inventorying and Monitoring Wildlife in New Hampshire." Another is the Penn State publication, "Woodlands and Wildlife."

The “Woodlands and Wildlife” publication provides information on different Pennsylvania wildlife and habitats. “A Landowner’s Guide to Inventorying and Monitoring Wildlife in New Hampshire” provides inventory checklists and data sheets to use with birds, mammals, amphibians, reptiles and insects. It also includes examples of data sheets for use during different seasons. For example, there is a snow track survey data sheet. These publications can help you create an inventory of habitats on your property, which is fundamental to creating a plan to develop or improve habitat conditions. The inventory links woodland conditions to wildlife use by guiding the user through a systematic process of where, when, and how to look for wildlife use on the land.

Not all animals are easy to observe. Many are secretive or nocturnal, making them difficult to detect. Indirect methods such as identifying tracks, scat, or burrows serve to help determine the presence of some animals. Remote cameras can also assist in the identification of hard-to-view wildlife species. A good source of information on using remote cameras is the Ohio State University Extension Factsheet, "The Basics of Using Remote Cameras to Monitor Wildlife."

Inventorying and monitoring wildlife populations enable you to see what habitats are favorable to certain wildlife and how your habitat management efforts affect the species living on your land. It may not make you an expert naturalist, but it can help you become an expert on your own land.