Caught on camera: rare and elusive animals

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Caught on camera: rare and elusive animals

Post by pawnee » Sat Dec 06, 2008 8:24 am

Caught on camera: rare and elusive animals

SEATTLE -- A lynx sighting is rare in Washington, and rarer still are any of resident gray wolves, once thought to have disappeared from the state in the 1930s.

But citizen wildlife monitors have snapped rare photographs of these and other elusive animals using remote cameras placed in forests and valleys throughout the Cascade Range, adding to the knowledge of little-seen and threatened wildlife.

"There was a great diversity of species recorded on our cameras," said Marlo Mytty, a coordinator with the Cascades Citizen Wildlife Monitoring Project. "You don't realize or think about all the wildlife that's out there that you're not seeing."

Volunteers monitored wildlife using 43 tree-mounted cameras that were triggered by motion sensors and captured thousands of photographs of wildlife this year.

The report released Wednesday documents more than 16 mammal species, including bobcat, elk, black bear, cougar, porcupine and marten, a rare member of the weasel family.

But the biggest stars, by far, were gray wolves.

Cameras in Okanogan County's Methow Valley caught the first image of an adult wolf in May, and later six pups in July. A pup rolls on the ground in one shot, while an adult wolf carries off a leg bone with hooves in another.

The project also produced rare glimpses of a Cascades red fox in Kittitas County's Teanaway area and the long-legged lynx in the Pasayten Wilderness. Lynx, the rarest of the cat species in Washington, were once widespread but now number only a few dozen.

More than 50 volunteers worked on the project. They mounted cameras on trees close to trails and forest paths where certain wildlife were most likely to be found. They set out lures, monitored cameras and sorted through thousands of digital images and some video clips.

"It was really amazing to see an engagement of volunteers," Mytty said. "People got excited about wildlife in the Cascades."

Confirming the presence of wildlife also helps inform land management decisions and wildlife recovery, she said.

Along Interstate 90 near Snoqualmie Pass, seven project cameras have helped transportation planners and others get a better picture of the wildlife that inhabits the area.

A $1 billion project to rebuild parts of I-90 near Snoqualmie Pass will include wildlife bridges and underpasses to lure animals away from the road when construction starts next year.

"The case for the proposed over- and underpass was made clear by the photographs of elk and deer that we kept getting," said Jen Watkins, project director of the I-90 Wildlife Bridges Coalition and for Conservation Northwest, which has been operating cameras in the state for years.

The Wilderness Awareness School was also involved in the project.

Watkins said the project engages and educates citizens in wildlife science while documenting rare and sensitive wildlife in the Cascades.


see the slide shows and pictures with the original article below ... cking.html
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