May 2021 - 27

photographs per battery between check-ins by Mong
or game wardens. That adds up to a lot of images
to parse. Mong doesn't mind sorting through them,
though. The suspense is one of the things he enjoys
most.
" It's exciting to sort through the memory card
and see what animals were there and what they were
doing, " he said. " These cameras don't need people
present to trip the shutter, so it gives us the chance to
glimpse animal behavior when they aren't influenced
by people. "
Most cameras are placed along mule deer migration
routes and trails traveled regularly by area elk. Depending on what's documented, wildlife managers can use
the images to verify data collected through traditional
collection methods and to collect new information
as well. The number of young and males in relation
to females in a population is traditional information
collected usually by helicopter or driving roads and
recording sightings.
" With the use of cameras, we are able to check
ourselves, " Mong said. " Sometimes it can be difficult
to get a good idea of a herd's makeup through other
count methods like helicopter flights for elk because
bulls are typically in the timber where they are harder
to count from the air. Migration trails are the great
equalizer for all animals in the population and allow us
to count them before they separate on winter range. "
Mong is developing a method to use images to
evaluate the body condition of each animal. Over the
years, this may show wildlife managers how events like
fire, snowstorms, drought and habitat improvement
projects influence the body condition of animals from
year to year and over time.
These photos show the often unseen lives of wildlife.
It is common for biologists to see elk and mule deer
once they've reached their summer or winter range.
However, even the most observant researcher misses
some of the critical moments as big game moves across
the difficult terrain.
" They aren't just cruising around the forest and
enjoying the birds, " Mong said. " Thanks to our cameras, we can see they're scratching out a living every
moment of their lives. "
Mong's photos reinforce how difficult life can be
for wildlife in Wyoming. Every year, Mong gets images
of deer and elk pushing through neck-deep snow.
The effort of lead animals is evident as they struggle
through the powder and forge a path for the rest of
the herd. Even when the weather is nice, the struggle
is clear. Pregnant deer and elk can be seen crossing
mountain passes and panting from the exertion. Fawns
and calves less than a month old follow their mothers across terrain many humans would be unable to
cross in their prime. Others show thin elk and deer
recovering from a harsh winter. The images viscerally
demonstrate how harsh a life in the wild can be and

A doe mule deer looks toward a trail camera, indicating she may have noticed the camera setup.

" These cameras don't need people
present to trip the shutter, so it gives us
the chance to glimpse animal behavior
when they aren't influenced by people. "

The lead doe in a group of mule deer blazes a path through neck-deep snow in the Absaroka Mountains.

		

Wyoming Wildlife | 27



May 2021

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of May 2021

May 2021 - 1
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https://www.nxtbook.com/wyominggame/WyomingWildlife/october-2021
https://www.nxtbook.com/wyominggame/WyomingWildlife/september-2021
https://www.nxtbook.com/wyominggame/WyomingWildlife/august-2021
https://www.nxtbook.com/wyominggame/WyomingWildlife/july-2021
https://www.nxtbook.com/wyominggame/WyomingWildlife/june-2021
https://www.nxtbook.com/wyominggame/WyomingWildlife/may-2021
https://www.nxtbook.com/wyominggame/WyomingWildlife/april-2021
https://www.nxtbook.com/wyominggame/WyomingWildlife/march-2021
https://www.nxtbook.com/wyominggame/WyomingWildlife/february-2021
https://www.nxtbook.com/wyominggame/WyomingWildlife/January2021
https://www.nxtbook.com/wyominggame/WyomingWildlife/December2020
https://www.nxtbook.com/wyominggame/WyomingWildlife/September2020
https://www.nxtbookmedia.com