Variation in the efficacy of remote cameras used to monitor wildlife
Wildlife cameras allow conservation scientists to collect robust wildlife occupancy data. However, there are limitations associated with wildlife cameras that must be understood prior to their use. This study compared two wildlife camera models, Spypoint Solar Trail and Reconyx Hyperfire 2, on behalf of Calgary Captured, a collaborative project between the Miistakis Institute and the City of Calgary, that aims to determine wildlife occupancy in Calgary’s Natural Area Parks. Cameras were set up in pairs at 10 sites to compare their efficacy in detecting wildlife. There was no significant difference in white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) or coyote (Canis latrans) detections by the Spypoint and Reconyx cameras, but the Reconyx cameras captured two species, bobcat (Lynx rufus) and deer mouse (Peromyscus maniculatus), that the Spypoint model failed to detect. The Reconyx cameras had fewer trap days because their Nickel Metal Hydride (NiMH) batteries consistently failed due to cold weather, whereas the Spypoint cameras’ solar panel continued to function throughout the study. Nevertheless, the fact that the Reconyx cameras still captured more species than the Spypoint cameras despite fewer trap days indicates that Reconyx Hyperfire 2 is much more effective in occupancy studies than the Spypoint Solar Trail model. Also, the results of this study highlight the importance of choosing appropriate batteries and settings within the model to ensure the successful use of wildlife cameras.
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