The Nature Foundation at Wintergreen offers unique and compelling insights on nature and wildlife

eMammal Wildlife Camera Tracking

From April to July of 2013, the Smithsonian Institution worked with The Nature Foundation at Wintergreen on the eMammal project. The Nature Foundation at Wintergreen’s Josh Palumbo and six foundation member-volunteers placed 18 motion-triggered camera traps at predetermined locations around the Wintergreen backcountry, in sets of 3 cameras–one on trail, one 50 meters off trail, and one 200 meters into the woods.

eMammal is a regional project where citizen scientists work in collaboration with researchers at the Smithsonian Institution and North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences to document mammals throughout the mid-Atlantic region, and soon, the entire country. Citizen volunteers place “camera traps”, infrared activated cameras, across the landscape in parks and other natural areas to collect photos of mammals. These photos help researchers answer questions about mammal distribution and abundance and use this information for conservation.

The cameras take a photo every time its sensor detects body heat and movement. The photographs provide a rare look into the animal world. The hope is that the images will spark an interest in the animals, their habitats, and how to conserve them. The cameras were re-deployed to different locations over the course of the project, and all “captured” animals have been identified and submitted to the Smithsonian eMammal database. The Smithsonian will use this data to determine animal population density, and patterns such as whether certain animals prefer trails vs. woods, time of day of appearance, and even day of the week appearance to see whether heavier weekend hiker traffic affected animal behavior.

For more about the eMammal project and pictures from other deployments, see the Smithsonian’s eMammal facebook page and their eMammal website.

Worried about being caught on camera? Don’t be. Each camera trapper signed an agreement that does not allow distribution or publication of any pictures of people. While sometimes animals would show on camera an hour before or after hikers were on the trails, at no time did we see evidence of animals stalking humans, nor did we expect to.