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Wildlife Camera Study

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Back in December 2019, the Habitat Authority placed several infrared motion-activated cameras along trails in the Preserve to document wildlife presence and movement patterns to better understand what species of wildlife inhabit the Preserve, where certain species are occurring, and what times of the day they are active. This project was designed and is supervised by Ecologist Michelle Mariscal. We were also interested in learning more about how recreational activities on the Preserve might influence wildlife behavior. Little did we know that just a few short months after the study began we would experience a global pandemic and the Preserve would be closed temporarily in response. The cameras continued to roll while visitors sheltered at home. Originally, the cameras were to remain in place for one full year, however, the Habitat Authority continued the study for an additional year to collect data during 2021 that would serve as a comparison to wildlife and recreational use across the Preserve during the unprecedented circumstances in 2020. After two full years of collecting data, the majority of cameras were removed from the trails in January 2022 and our amazing volunteers, who completed a training program, have been busy processing the hundreds of thousands of images taken during that timeframe.

The cameras detected a wide suite of native species including arthropods (such as butterflies and tarantulas), amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals. Reproduction of bobcats, coyotes, and deer were documented within the Preserve at several of the camera locations which is an important indicator of sustainable wildlife populations. Additionally, a pair of gray foxes was recorded along Peppergrass Trail in the Hellman Park area and another gray fox was sighted on Sycamore Canyon Trail. This species had not been previously documented in either of those locations, so these data have improved our understanding of their distribution within the Preserve. Once the data have been processed and analyzed by Ecologist Mariscal, the Habitat Authority looks forward to learning more about wildlife activity and species distribution in the Preserve and sharing that information with the community.

The wildlife camera study fulfills wildlife and habitat monitoring goals and objectives outlined in the Habitat Authority’s Resource Management Plan intended to inform adaptive management decisions on the Preserve. Results of previous similar studies are available by clicking here.

Funding for the cameras and equipment was generously donated to the Habitat Authority in the memory of Judy Hathaway-Francis, long-time supporter of the Habitat Authority and advocate for the Preserve.

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