New Use for Game Cameras
BY JOSEPH GERBYSHAK, ALPENA FWCO
removal. Credit: USFWS
For the past two field seasons, biologists from the Alpena Fish and Wildlife Conservation Office (FWCO) have used a game camera to monitor habitat improvement projects. Using the game camera to take daily images from a fixed location has proven to be a useful tool for documenting project progression and capturing ecological responses to restoration actions over time. The game camera also has GPS transmission capabilities, allowing biologists and interested partners to view daily photos from their desktop and remotely monitor the status of the project in real time. This allows biologists to oversee the development of a project, alert them to complications, and determine when a site visit is warranted, saving countless trips to the project site by both biologists and interested partners. This is a time saving feature since most of the aquatic habitat restoration projects the station is involved with are located a distance from the office. Once the project is complete, the daily images can be easily made into a slide show or time-lapse video with free software available online, resulting in a concise synopsis of the project activities.
During the 2011 field season, the game camera was used to document a small dam removal on Miller Creek, a cold-water tributary to the Thunder Bay River in northeast Michigan (MI). The camera documented the dewatering and revegetation of the impoundment, channel formation, dam removal, and installation of a fish friendly culvert. One unanticipated benefit of the game camera was that it captured many different species of wildlife using the former impoundment and newly formed riparian zone. Over the 2012 field season, the game camera was used to remotely monitor a culvert removal and bridge replacement project on the Black River in Alcona County, MI. Biologists and project partners were able to monitor project status and document removal of an undersized culverts and the assembly of a new timber bridge. Throughout the 2013 field season the camera will be used to monitor the installation of a rock ramp (designed for fish passage) at the Frankenmuth dam on the Cass River, MI. The game camera is an ideal tool for monitoring this project because the construction will take place over several weeks and is located a great distance from the field office.