Posts Tagged With: cameras

Tracks, Hairs, and Bears, Oh My!

Tracking fishers using VHF telemetry is an extremely useful method for obtaining lots of different information about the animals, it’s also pretty fun! However, in order to implement this method, fishers must be trapped, handled, and fitted with a collar. As biologists, we love having the opportunity to work so closely with a species, but we also love the idea of gathering quality data without ever having to touch an animal. We call this type of data collection “non-invasive”, and it is the eventual goal of this project to use only non-invasive methods to monitor the fishers here on Stirling. In order to reach that goal, we recently ran a pilot study to test how well non-invasive techniques would work in collecting the information we need.

In mid-September, I ran this six week pilot study using track plate boxes fitted with hair snares (see “Field Methods” tab), as well as remote cameras. I placed 45 boxes and 15 cameras in the woods, spread throughout the western half of our district. I checked each box once every 6 to 8 days, collecting tracks, hair and photos that were left behind during that time. The baited boxes attracted lots of different visitors! Bears were especially fond of them; I commonly found the boxes ripped open and dragged away from where I placed them. Gray fox, squirrel, wood rat, ringtail, spotted skunk and even mountain lion are some of the other species I detected.

The most important visitors were the fishers, of course. Adult and juvenile animals, both male and female, investigated my boxes regularly. It appears the non-invasive methods will be a very useful tool for monitoring the fisher population here, and we plan on continuing the pilot study later this year. We are very excited to see what the data will tell us!

Below is a slideshow of images I captured using remote cameras during the study.

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Categories: Field Day, Updates | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Fisher Motion Pictures

Over the last few months, our cameras placed around fisher dens have captured loads and loads of pictures (over 18,000).  We often post some of the better photos to the blog, but there are many that don’t make the cut.  The main purpose of these cameras is to document kits, but in addition they collect all sorts of other information.  We often see various predator and prey species around the dens, males visiting during breeding season, mom bringing back food items, as well as many photos of females simply entering and leaving the den on their daily travels.

We sift through all of these photos, recording what is in each one.  Doing this gives us a little insight into life around the den.  When all the photos from a specific camera are strung together and played like a movie, they are pretty cool to see.  I’ve put together 3 short “motion pictures” from a few of the dens that we collected photos from (the links will take you to a Youtube video):

21392 – Over a month and a half of pictures from the natal den of this two-year-old fisher.  She is a native Stirling born fisher, believed to have had one kit this year.

21FB6 – Pictures from a maternal den of one of the year-2 translocated females.  This spring was her third time denning on Stirling.  This den was one of her maternal dens she first used back in 2011.

23955 – These photos are from a maternal den / rest tree found in mid-July, when the kits were pretty mobile.  23955 is also a native born fisher and this was her first time denning.

Enjoy!

Categories: Updates | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Dens!

It’s hard to believe that 2013 marks the 4th year that we’ve had fishers on the Stirling district denning and giving birth!  Over the last couple of weeks we have been busy trying to locate dens.  As of today, I am happy to report we have confirmed that 9 of the females we are tracking have settled into behavior consistent with denning (using the same tree over multiple days).  So far we have located dens from 4 of the year-2 translocates, 2 from year-3 translocates, and 3 from fishers that were born on Stirling.  We found the first den this year on March 18th, the earliest recorded over the 4 years!

As Colin pointed out a few weeks back, this year marks the first time that we are able to document fishers that were born on Stirling giving birth to kits of their own.  It is very encouraging to find 3 of these individuals in dens!  We are hoping that within the next week, we will have a fairly complete picture of denning throughout the district (well, those we are tracking).  There are still a couple of fishers that seem to have not settled yet, or that we haven’t been able to get to.

As we are starting to collect pictures from the remote cameras, we have been seeing a lot of males visiting the dens.  In fact, we have documented males at each of the 7 dens that we have retrieved pictures from, with many having multiple males visiting!  Included in these are a few males which have no collar, or collars without any transmitter.  We definitely missed a few during the fall trapping!

I’ve included a slideshow with some of the more interesting photos we have collected so far.  Hopefully it won’t be too long now before we start seeing some kits!

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Kits, Part Deux!

We’ve recently got some more pictures back from den cameras and verified a few additional kits!  Thus far, we have seen kits from 5 of 9 denning females, for a total of 9.  The other females have either not moved dens yet, or made it past our cameras without triggering them.

714C2, Kits 1,2, &3.

First came pictures of three kits from female 714C2, who was released last fall.  She moved these kits back into her first den (though possibly a different cavity) for a few days, which was something we hadn’t seen before.

Next we saw two kits from 2189C, an animal who was also released last fall and has since made her way to the northeast side of the property.  She has denned up fairly high at ~5500 ft., and interestingly there was a marten that came by her den!

Some of the coolest pictures (in my opinion) from this denning season came from cameras on 182F4’s den.  She brought her kits down the tree and allowed them to explore for a few minutes before they headed off to the new den (only about 50m away).  It appears that females are beginning to spend less time in dens and more time out foraging, which makes the task of finding new dens more difficult.

Anyway, here’s the pics.  Enjoy!

 

2189C’s Kits 1 & 2.

 

182F4 letting the kits explore.

Keeping a lookout.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

182F4’s kits playing.

Categories: Updates | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Den Update

As of today, we believe 9 of the female fishers which we are currently tracking have denned up.  These include all but one of the animals released in year two (5 of 6), and all but two from year three release (4 of 6).  During our trapping effort from last fall, we captured 5 juvenile females that were born on Stirling.  None of these appear to be denning yet, but this is not too surprising as they are all young (1 or 2 years old).

714C2 returning to den with prey.

It is still a little too early to say that there aren’t any more dens out there that we haven’t found.  Some of the fishers we are tracking are in remote areas, which we cannot get to as often as we would like.  Additionally, many times we get out and locate them, they are out foraging.

We are starting to get some more pictures back from the remote cameras we aimed at the dens.  Already we have documented males visiting many of the dens, females returning with prey items, and other species besides fishers at the dens.   Here are some recent pics:

Raccoon descending den tree of 21FB6.

Male at den tree of 182F4

21FB6 returning.

Natal den of 20058.

 

 

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Red-tailed Peril

To add to my previous post I thought I’d share one of the more impressive series of images from a den thus far;

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We believe the Red-tailed Hawk you can see entering and exiting the upper left of frame in this series was attempting to steal the prey item being carried by female 199B9 (center frame) to her natal den in April 2011. Whatever the reason, she survived unscathed and went on to occupy 2 maternal dens through the 2011 season before her VHF transmitter finally failed.

-CAB-

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The Great Kit Debate

In a somewhat desperate bid to up my posting rate I’m going to revisit old ground in this post and return to a brief email debate from last April.

And so a brief background is in order…

As we build up to this years denning season we have begun the task of collating and analyzing our camera data from the first two denning seasons on Stirling. As many of you may know the season really begins to heat up in early April as we confirm natal dens (a natal den is the den in which a female gives birth to her kits) by performing walk-ins on stationary females. It is usually on the second walk-in to a given tree that we consider the female has indeed denned. At this point we set a series of remote cameras around the den structure in order to passively monitor the females activities. Through the denning season a female Fisher will usually progress from her natal den through a number of maternal dens (a maternal den being any den occupied after the natal den). Thus one of the most exciting things we see on our cameras is the female carrying her kits out of the den, this gives us a great opportunity to count the number of kits.

So here the debate arises. While going through our pictures of female 17582’s natal den from the 2011 season I came across some familiar images, the first image is of 17582 moving her first kit from the natal den to her first maternal den roughly 100 yards away. Nothing too contentious there.

The picture below was taken 20 minutes later and appears to show her moving a second kit, or potentially a second and third kit at the same time, as the wily Roger Powell contended.

And here is the same image expanded;

So I ask your opinion,

-CAB-

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Creatures of the night

With the belated and thus far underwhelming winter storms making an appearance recently a few of us have found ourselves with time on our hands away from the field. In light of this situation the ever industrious Aaron has, among other assignments, set us to work organizing a digitalized mountain of trail camera pictures.

As a (more?) naïve youth I used to quite enjoy going through these pictures, then I came to work in bear country…needless to say, the novelty has worn a little thin. For the uninitiated; it is a favorite pastime of black bears to find, wander around in front of and then try to eat trail cameras, this can become a little tedious to watch the 10th or 100th time you see it. Nonetheless, we do get to see some of the more reclusive local residents going about their business too.

I thought I’d share a few recent favorites to add a little color…then I realized they were all night shots.

Enjoy!

-CAB-

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