After a few years of fieldwork experience, I have seen a lot of wildlife in truly wild places. In a more urban setting, like my place on the West Bank, I was curious how wildlife can exist while navigating the evolving challenges inherent in the landscape.
I was originally inspired to set up a game camera because of a set of muddy raccoon prints on the side of my cabin as if the raccoon was trying to Spiderman up the wall. I hadn’t seen any sign of raccoon other than those perfect paw prints, and I was curious what else was frequenting the property under the radar. Initially, I set up a game camera in a few locations with zero results.
As a stewardship associate for the Jackson Hole Land Trust, I have been privileged to visit numerous conservation easements around the valley. These conservation areas help retain a mosaic of protected wildlife habitat and open spaces, existing in perpetuity, that benefit our native fauna while they navigate the challenges posed by our increasingly convoluted and developing landscape. In conversation with landowners out on monitoring visits, I’ve enjoyed talking about wildlife sightings and migration corridors, whether formal or just patterns of movement across any given property.
Back at my cabin, I noticed a tree had fallen across a buck-and-rail fence and thought that might be an ideal location for wildlife, as it was an easy fence crossing. Within the first week, I had captured the raccoon sneaking across the log in the middle of the night, and since then have captured footage of an ermine, fox, skunk, moose, mule and white-tail deer, chipmunks, red squirrels, songbirds, and even a bee. I have my favorite photos and videos saved on a folder on my computer, and I will compare different species phenology (when the deer pass through, when new fawns/calves are seen, etc.) to next year’s data.
On behalf of the local critters, I would like to thank our community for their efforts in protecting, conserving, and valuing wild landscapes. And, for anyone interested, the game camera set-up only cost around $50 and has been incredibly insightful – I try to check it every weekend and stay informed on how my local wildlife is doing, all while respecting the animal’s space. Watch the footage!
-Zach Andres, Stewardship Associate