Smile for the camera

Deer caught on trail cam (Photo by NCC)

Deer caught on trail cam (Photo by NCC)

May 21, 2020 | by Megan Quinn

We use a lot of intricate technology at the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC). When I’m out surveying an ecosystem in eastern Ontario, radio waves are bouncing between satellites in the sky and a receiver in my phone, to precisely locate where I am on the planet.

There are many times when I’m in the Frontenac Arch and don’t have enough signal to make a phone call, but I can know — with an accuracy of four metres — where I am. Using technology, NCC's Geographic Information System (GIS) team can analyze an aerial image and give me a general idea of what habitat to expect, before I’ve even set foot on the property.

Technology is really cool! But sometimes, it’s not a fancy gadget that helps me to do conservation work; even simple technology can give me valuable information. A tool that we use a lot in eastern Ontario is the trail camera.

You can get fancy trail cameras. There are ones with high resolutions, camouflaged shells and some can send instant images of what is happening to your phone. Trail cameras are typically used to track wildlife, often by hunters, but at NCC, we have found many uses for them.  

We use trail cameras to track rare and invasive species, catch trespassing or unpermitted uses on our properties and, occasionally, as a source of entertainment. Our trail cameras take a picture every time they detect movement and store the images on a memory card. When we retrieve the cameras and sort through the files, we usually get lots of pictures triggered by leaves, rain or moving grass. There are definitely valuable photos, but we also get some humorous ones.

It’s important to not take ourselves too seriously, and as the following photos show, at NCC we manage to have a lot of fun while doing critical conservation work.

Click to enlarge each photo in the slideshow and find more details in the captions!

  • Is this thing turned on? (Photo by NCC)
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    Is this thing turned on? (Photo by NCC)
  • Or this shot, of the field crew noticing that the trail camera we just put up was falling down (Oops!) (Photo by NCC)
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    Trail camera we just put up was falling down (Oops!) (Photo by NCC)
  • We get ideas for new stewardship fashion statements. Duct tape bracelet anyone? (Photo by NCC)
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    Latest NCC fashion: duct tape bracelet (Photo by NCC)
  • Sometimes we capture fellow NCC staff, who just want to say “hello.” (Photo by NCC)
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    Sometimes we capture NCC staff, who just want to say “hello.” (Photo by NCC)
  • White-tailed deer are commonly caught on our trail cameras. (Photo by NCC)
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    White-tailed deer are commonly caught on our trail cameras. (Photo by NCC)
  • We get deer in the snow. (Photo by NCC)
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    We get deer in the snow. (Photo by NCC)
  • Deer in the fog. (Photo by NCC)
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    Deer in the fog. (Photo by NCC)

 

  • Startled deer (Photo by NCC)
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    Startled deer (Photo by NCC)
  • Curious deer (Photo by NCC)
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    Curious deer (Photo by NCC)
  • Really curious deer (Photo by NCC)
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    Really curious deer (Photo by NCC)
  • Parts of a deer (Photo by NCC)
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    Parts of a deer (Photo by NCC)
  • And some things which aren’t deer at all. (Wait, is that a cow?) (Photo by NCC)
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    And some things which aren’t deer at all. (Photo by NCC)
  • One thing that trail cameras do really well is help us capture elusive animals. We would never be able to get this close to a coyote otherwise. (Photo by NCC)
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    Trail cameras help us capture elusive animals. (Photo by NCC)
  • A rare sighting of a bobcat is another example of a species we would never get close to in real life. A neighbour spotted this feline on their camera that’s pointing toward NCC property, and sent it into us. (Photo by NCC)
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    A rare sighting of a bobcat.
  • Outdoor cats are a major cause of songbird and small mammal deaths. (Photo by NCC)
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    Outdoor cat. (Photo by NCC)

 

A trail camera is a great way to track what’s happening when you’re not around. Why not set one up in your own backyard? You might be surprised by who comes to visit!

Megan Quinn

About the Author

Megan Quinn is the acting conservation biology coordinator with NCC, working out of eastern Ontario.

Read more about Megan Quinn.

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