Wildlife cams will study NC animals, and you can help

Friday, March 3, 2017
Candid critters
New wildlife cams have cool yet practical applications. This bear leaned in for a better look.

RALEIGH, North Carolina (WTVD) -- The North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences is undergoing a huge project to map wildlife all across the state.

It's using motion-sensor camera traps to snap pictures hoping to capture wildlife roaming the area.

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The study hopes to have hundreds of cameras ready to snap a photo of anything that gets close to the lens - with some of the project's early pictures showing a bear coming in for a close-up and a fox on the run.

"We want to look at bears in the east and the west, look at elk that seem to be expanding in the western part of the state, red wolves that seem to be decreasing in the eastern part of the state," Roland Kays, head of biodiversity research lab at the museum, said of some of the animals his team is hoping to study.

The lab will spend the next three years placing these cameras in tens of thousands of different sites, hoping to capture millions of pictures, with each picture revealing information about the state's wildlife.

"Managing these animals to be at sustainable and healthy population levels is really important to the economy," Kays said. "It's also important to the ecology to the health of our state."

Check out how to become a part of the project here

The camera is camouflaged and the museum has 500 of them in libraries across the state. They're hoping folks will take a quick online course on how to use them and set them up as part of the study.

Local schools plan to use them too. An eighth-grade teacher at Wake Forest Middle School is using this opportunity to get her students interested in science.

"My students as you move the traps are actually looking at the different variables in the environment that would affect what's going to be there," Rachael Polmanteer said.

And the element of surprise keeps them focused on the study.

"There could be all kinds of crazy things, animals interacting, so it's kind of like if you're an animal lover, if you like nature, it's kind of like Christmas every time you check a camera trap," Kays said.

"It's very important for the kids to realize that what they're doing is important and matters to real life science," Polmanteer said.

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