Tech & Science

Wildlife webcams are part science and part silliness

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This 2013 image from a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service motion-activated video camera shows a bighorn sheep at the Kofa National Wildlife Sanctuary in Arizona. The cams help researchers and provide entertaining images. (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service via AP)

What’s with the pictures of bighorn sheep that appear to say “cheese”?

Some animals captured by motion-detecting wildlife cameras look as though they are striking a pose. However it’s not just show service. As these devices get ever smaller, more affordable and more dependable, researchers across the United States are using them to track hard-to-find creatures like never ever previously.

“There’s no doubt– it is an amazing tool to get data on wildlife,” said Grant Harris, a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service wildlife biologist based in Albuquerque, New Mexico.Remote cameras

have photographed a wide range of wildlife, consisting of small desert cats called ocelots and snow-loving lynx high in the Northern Rockies.This 2011 image shows an elephant seal in the Channel Islands National Forest off the coast of Southern California. The seal appears to be striking a posture for the cam.( U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service by means of AP) Harris discussed pictures of javelinas(noticable ha-veh-LEEN-uhs), which are piglike desert mammals, and coatimundi, members of the raccoon household, taken further north recently. That might indicate worldwide warming is expanding their range, he said.Other scientists who are utilizing remote video cameras include scientists with the Wyoming Migration Effort, who utilize international positioning to map the movements of elk, mule deer and antelope in and around Yellowstone National Forest. They have just numerous collars available to track animals, implying there’s a limitation to the Worldwide Positioning System data they can gather, said Matthew Kauffman, a University of Wyoming associate professor and initiative director.”You see one animal moving, you have no idea if it’s moving by itself, if it’s migrating with a

calf, or if it’s moving with 40 other animals,”Kauffman said.A golden eagle challenges a desert bighorn sheep in an image from Desert National Wildlife Sanctuary in Nevada.

Scientists can track migration patterns with the motion-activated cams.(U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service by means of AP)Remote cams– which can be left in the backcountry for days, weeks, even months– assistance fill in the blanks by demonstrating how lots of animals are on the move over a

offered duration, he said. Where to put them requires cautious thought. Researchers desire good images but likewise good information about the population, Harris stated. Just like all human intrusion into nature, remote cameras have drawbacks. Animals such as wolverines and bears have been understood to assault them, though whether out of interest or aggressiveness is tough

to say.Also, remote cameras have actually ended up being popular tools to assist hunters scout for video game, which has actually led to a debate over whether that is fair. There’s the concept about going into nature to get away from the trappings of the digital

age.But to respond to that original concern: Bighorn sheep that look like they’re smiling probably aren’t saying” cheese,”however curling back their upper lip to sniff aromas. Researchers call it a flehmen (FLAY-men )reaction, Harris said.But would they do it if an individual appeared with a cam? It’s possible, however they might be too sheepish.

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