Smile, you’re on critter camera

courtesy N.C. Candid Critters

Imagine if you could stay up all night in your backyard wearing night goggles: What would you see? Deer? Opossums? Fox? You can find out, and contribute to wildlife conservation at the same time, by participating in a “camera trap” program going on throughout North Carolina. It works like this: Sign up for free online; set up an approved trail camera in your backyard or along your nearby greenway; download the transmission software; sit back and watch. After three weeks, you submit any photographed animals to the Candid Critters project, a statewide collaboration between the N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences, N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission, and N.C. State.

While it’s bound to be interesting to see what sorts of creatures roam your yard, the information gathered will also become valuable data for scientific research. The project’s goal is to monitor up to 30,000 sites for the next three years in the largest-ever mammal survey of its kind. Such a massive number of images, organizers say, will help inform future wildlife management and conservation efforts.

Currently, there’s a lengthy waiting list to rent an approved trail camera from the N.C. State Natural Resources library. But if you don’t want to wait, and if one of the outdoorsmen in your life doesn’t have one you can borrow, an approved model can be had for around $25 from stores like Cabela’s. –J.A.

Sign up, see a list of approved cameras, and learn more here