Wrestling bears, a soaring eagle, and curious fawns are among the 22 million images captured by a first-of-its-kind network of volunteer-run trail cameras in Wisconsin.
The project — called Snapshot Wisconsin — was launched in 2016 by the state’s Department of Natural Resources to monitor wildlife and to help officials track the deer population. But it also provides UW–Madison researchers with an unprecedented, candid look at animals.
The cameras have already provided new insights into wildlife. Weasel-like fishers have been spotted in Marquette County, farther south than reported previously, and the first moose (or its knees, anyway) recently made an appearance.
More than 1,000 volunteers monitor the trail cameras. Recently, officials began accepting applications from residents in all 72 Wisconsin counties and allowing volunteers to manage cameras on public land for the first time.
The statewide expansion helps move UW research on wildlife populations into more ecosystems, says Ben Zuckerberg, a UW forest and wildlife ecology associate professor. That means getting a fuller look at the creatures that call Wisconsin home.