May 2021 - 29

A male dusky grouse struts his stuff in the spring on a mountain ridge hoping
to get the attention of more than just a trail camera.

would be viewed by humans. In some images, mothers
were seen nursing or nuzzling their babies. In what
looks to be a humorous capture, several deer ran down
a hill with one turned the opposite direction jumping
over the oncoming deer. It appears a doe underneath
the jumping deer closed its eyes and braced for a possible impact. The photo shows something different
than what first meets the eyes, Mong said. Instead of
an accidental tangle, the image shows the hierarchical
nature of mule deer groups with a lead or dominant
doe showing her dominance over the younger doe.
It's not only these rarely seen moments and new
looks at herds that intrigue Mong. It's the potential
these cameras have for future research that excites
him the most.
" There's so much untapped information in these
images just waiting to be evaluated, " Mong said. " We're
on the edge of new ground when it comes to using
trail camera data in Wyoming. "
Mong said it takes time for researchers to find the
best ways to apply new technology in specific situations,
but Game and Fish is developing new approaches each
year. The department has used trail cameras to evaluate
the success of roadway crossings, see how animals react
to fencing and monitor species like black-footed ferrets
and burrowing owls. There's also potential with camera
technology to automatically identify and count animals
within a frame. Game and Fish is also evaluating if
camera data can be used in population models, which
means they could contribute even more when making
recommendations for hunting seasons. Other states like
Idaho, Colorado and Montana also have trail camera
programs and are finding the best ways to use them
in management and research.
" I really think the future is in these cameras and
the information from these completely unbiased observations will only improve wildlife management, and
that benefits big game populations and the people that
enjoy them, " Mong said.
- Tracie Binkerd is the editor of Wyoming Wildlife.

A gray wolf, which was spotted on the same trail camera multiple times during the fall, approaches the camera.

A gray wolf waited until deep snow allowed it to access a camera before it carried out a plan of destruction.
This image shows the eye of the wolf before it damaged the camera.

Life on the migration trail is not only about traveling between summer and winter range. It's also about
keeping order in the herd.

		

Wyoming Wildlife | 29



May 2021

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