Camera Trapping

Camera trapping is one of the methods scientists use to keep track of wildlife in New York’s parks. To set a trap, researchers place a hidden camera in a location where an animal is likely to pass by, and sometimes they even leave bait to make the trap extra enticing. The bait in all these photographs is road-killed deer salvaged under permit for this purpose. At NYS Parks, we use infrared-sensing cameras. When an animal passes in front of the camera, the infrared-sensor is activated and the camera snaps a pic. Later, the researcher comes back to the camera to find out what he or she “captured” on film. In this way, researchers can observe and survey wildlife without frightening them or interfering with their natural behavior. It’s also one of the best ways to find out if certain rare, nocturnal, or particularly shy animals are living in our parks, such as bobcats, which are rarely sighted in the daytime.

This trap at Harriman State Park (Rockland and Orange Counties) was set up where golden eagles had been sighted in winter, 2013. We were thrilled to discover that we captured not only the golden eagle, but a coyote and bobcat as well! The observations of the golden eagle from this camera are being contributed to a database kept by the Appalachian Eagles Project, an effort to survey wintering golden eagles.

These next pictures were taken by the Taconic Outdoor Education Center at Fahnstock State Park for the purpose of better understanding the diversity of wildlife and their behavior. For example, we were surprised to capture an image of a great horned owl in our camera trap, as this species is not known to scavenge for meals. Other animals featured in these photos are turkey vultures, red tail hawk, crows, coyote, bobcat and bald eagle.

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