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There’s more than one way to skin a cat…or catch a deer

Posted: September 9, 2015

While seeing, smelling, and touching an animal you are studying is the most fun, the advent of the game camera allows researchers (and hunters) to catch critters with the snap of the shutter.

Several readers have shared photos of deer we have collared and ear-tagged over the years. It’s pretty cool to see pictures of these animals. Like a friend we remember fondly but never expect to see again. Then you stumble across their facebook profile and get a glimpse into what they’ve been up to all those years.

The trail or game camera has become our social media outlet for the wildlife world. To get connected, all you need is a camera and a tree. But one of the things that flusters me is what game camera to buy!

Type trail camera into Google and it returns 20,600,000 results in 0.31 sec. Type in game camera and that number jumps to 202,000,000. Talk about being overwhelmed with the choices.

What is a researcher (or hunter!) to do? Fear not! If anyone knows about wildlife voyeurism, it’s a wildlife researcher.

Camera “traps” are used by researchers worldwide to document, assess, and track wildlife (check out Tropical Ecology Assessment & Monitoring Network for example).

Like I said, wildlife Facebook. To understand what is needed to “follow” these friends, some researchers reviewed what other wildlife professionals discovered using camera “traps” to identify important features they sought in a camera.

While wildlife researchers might have different needs than other users, I still found the info useful. Mostly because I didn’t know all the features available. Who knew I could watch a live stream from my camera from the comfort of my easy chair or that more megapixels might mean a slower shutter speed? Never mind Facebook, it’s just like Big Brother!

So if you’re looking for a game camera to get the inside track on your wildlife neighbors, check out this paper for features to consider when you’re comparison shopping.

-Duane Diefenbach and Jeannine Fleegle

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