UBC Forestry & BC Parks Foundation’s WildCAM Research Network Extending Its Reach

Have you ever wondered what animals are up to when people are not watching?

Many don’t realize there are researchers with an eye in the wild! WildCAM (Wildlife Cameras for Adaptive Management) is a network of researchers that use remote cameras to monitor wildlife. It came from a need to link independent camera trapping efforts for greater benefit and to tackle large-scale challenges in wildlife management.

WildCAM Beginnings

A cow moose (Alces alces) and her twins walk through a recently burned, partially harvested forest northeast of Williams Lake.
A cow moose (Alces alces) and her twins walk through a recently burned, partially harvested forest northeast of Williams Lake.

WildCAM was initiated in 2018 by academic researchers, government biologists and managers (from federal, provincial, and municipal agencies), First Nations biologists, and researchers from non-governmental organizations. It is co-led by the BC Parks Foundation and the Wildlife Coexistence Lab at UBC’s Faculty of Forestry.

The vision for WildCAM is of a grassroots network driven by the needs and desires of our members, with an eye toward helping projects become more effective at generating, sharing, and synthesizing reliable wildlife information to guide management solutions.

The community is robust and works hard to create and share knowledge within and beyond the network. To date, there are over 150 members running 60 projects that use almost 6,000 cameras across B.C. and Alberta. Projects range in location and scale, from urban wildlife projects in Edmonton and Vancouver to caribou monitoring in northern Alberta Caribou monitoring, to a Bear-Salmon-Human project on the Central Coast of British Columbia.

The network brought together nearly 200 camera trappers for a conference in May, co-led with the Columbia Mountains Institute. The event inspired a discussion board for continued conversations and group problem-solving.

Future Direction for WildCAM

In 2021, WildCAM is emphasizing new relationships with First Nations Guardians Programs and citizen scientists, to ensure that remote camera traps are accessible by multiple groups for the benefit of improved wildlife monitoring.

“We are thrilled to have the opportunity to work with First Nations Guardians and other groups who will help us ensure that wildlife monitoring using remote cameras continues to improve and has a positive influence on wildlife management and conservation,” says Dr. Cole Burton, UBC Faculty of Forestry associate professor and Canada Research Chair (Tier 2) in Terrestrial Mammal Conservation.

WildCAM will be bringing camera trap training and engagement to local communities, working regional biologists, First Nations and citizen scientists who are running innovative camera trapping projects. We are also working with different groups to determine what field or analytical tools and resources we can develop that will progress camera-trapping research for all.

A wolf (Canis lupus) moves across the landscape of northeastern Alberta.

To learn more about WildCAM and the WildCAM team visit https://wildcams.ca.

About the Authors

Alexia Constantinou (MSc ’21 and BSc ’18) is serving as Project Coordinator for WildCAM. You can reach her at alexia.constantinou@wildcams.ca. She recently completed her MSc in the Wildlife Coexistence and Belowground Ecology Labs with Dr. Cole Burton and Dr. Suzanne Simard in the Faculty of Forestry. Her work focuses on the relationships between forest harvesting and wildlife, particularly incorporating First Nations partnerships and perspectives.

Emma Griggs (BSc ’19) is the Program Manager of Wildlife Forever at the BC Parks Foundation. If you have questions about the BC Parks Foundation, iNaturalist or Wildlife Forever, you can reach Emma at emma.griggs@bcparksfoundation.ca Emma graduated in 2019 from the Global Perspectives on Natural Resource Conservation program with her BScN.  

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