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Native Californian, biologist, wildlife conservation consultant, retired Smithsonian scientist, father of two daughters, grandfather of 4 small primates. INTJ. Believes nature is infinitely more interesting than shopping malls. Born 100 years too late.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Camera trapping workshop query

Here's a query from Alistair Fraser in British Columbia about the camera trapping workshop, which he kindly allowed me to reproduce. My response follows. Be sure to check out his website links -- the photos and captioning are outstanding.

Dr. Chris Wemmer


This might be construed as a fan letter---it is, but it is also an appeal.

With a distance of 1700 km, I will not be attending your workshop on camera traps. Sigh, it is one I would attend if circumstances were otherwise.

I have been using a motion-activated camera for a bit under a year now. I discovered your blog last summer through gamecamera-logbook.blogspot.com and now follow both. I look with envy at the images and scour the text for techniques and tips.

Certainly, I have learned a bit on my own merely by using my camera, but there are many techniques you discuss which I wouldn't have had the wit to employ on my own. I particularly enjoy your insightful discussions of natural history---most people offer pictures alone. It is refreshing to have the insights of a scientist.

Among the many images on my hobby Website devoted to Kootenay Lake,


are some from my own motion-activated camera. I have featured some of the better ones on the page,


A rollover of the image presents a larger version and a click takes you to the page upon which the image (and many others) are presented.

A late summer's project, which might amuse you, was to monitor all the visitors to an apple tree,

See http://kootenay-lake.ca/lakeside/appleraiders

Ok, so much for my attempt to feign credentials in this area. Now, what I really want: is it possible to obtain access to your course materials and insights in the absence of attending the course? I (more-or-less) live in the wilderness and so have had to solve problems of nature photography by experiment. Clearly, I seek guidance.


Alistair Fraser
Kootenay Lake, BC

Hi Alistair,

Thanks a lot for the note, and the links to your webpages. They are professionally done, well written,and the photos are excellent!

Are you sure you need help camera trapping? I'd say you have some first class pictures, and you are doing the right thing -- experimenting. The apple tree idea is the way to go. I found a bee hive in a hollow tree last spring, and got all fired up to set up a camera, then couldn't find it again. (I've got to hunt it down and GPS it now that the trees are bare.) Who knows what visits a bee-tree? Bears for sure, but what else?

I am happy to share information with you. Most of it I will post on the blogsite. There will be a bibliography (not complete by any means, but plenty to read if you can find the journals), and I'll make some pdfs of a few general articles, which I can mail to you. I am about to do a blogpost on bear guards for cams, and that will include a link to a pdf with instructions and materials.

Cliff Wheeler is a great camera trapper, and one of these days I am going to look him up. He's a woodsman and he knows his stuff. Bob Ruse in eastern Washington is another dedicated camera trapper I've met in cyberspace (mainly the Pixcontroller Forum).

I've bookmarked your links, and will follow your work.

Would you mind if I post your letter on the blog? It would give you some additional viewer traffic and serve to advertise the workshop.

best wishes,


1 comment:

Owlman said...

Outstanding blog and what a great place to live and camera trap.
Thanks for sharing this Chris.