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‘Trophy camera traps’ were originally designed to provide the sport hunter with information regarding the abundance and distribution of their ‘trophy’ (i.e. game animals). However, the appropriation of this field tool by ecologists in recent years has considerably improved the monitoring efficiency of notable species for conservation purposes; i.e. by minimising cost and effort and providing a non- invasive method of obtaining important ecological/behavioural data.
Baker Consultants’ Ecologist Jake Robinson and external colleague Courtenay Holden are researching ways to further optimise the efficiency of camera trapping in the field. Their research also includes an investigation into the reliability of data collection and subsequent analysis, with particular emphasis on behavioural aspects of British mammals.
“We are investigating potential responsive behaviours (e.g. vigilance/awareness) of mammals, displayed in the presence of camera traps in the field. With remote applications such as Passive Infrared (PIR) camera traps being utilised more and more frequently for wildlife research and ecological consultation, we believe it is important to scrutinise their efficacy; and this lead us to ask ourselves questions such as:

  •  Is the introduction of a foreign item with a novel shape, texture, odour, and sound likely to capture a true snapshot (or video) of natural wildlife behaviours?
  • Does the presence of such an item encourage curious animals to investigate, or hypersensitive animals to display vigilance/avoidance behaviour?
  • Are new interactions being encouraged or facilitated by this novel item, and are our results from camera trap data therefore reliable?”

An article describing their research in more detail will be published in a number of magazines including the next issue of the Mammal Society’s ‘Mammal News’.

Remote video cameras were used by Baker Consultants to monitor a badger sett on a railway embankment needing repair. To read the full case study from Tata Projects click here.

To contact us about site surveys where notable or protected species may be present please email: survey@bakerconsultants.co.uk

 

Badger Cam        Fox Cam

Image of Badger treat, laced with plastic pellets to help track badgers' range across a site.

Badger treat – laced with colourful plastic pellets that helps to find out how far particular badgers range over a site. Picture by Kelly Clark

Baker Consultants used a remote digital camera to monitor a potential sett.

A remote video recording technique has been cited as best practice by Network Rail after a project from Baker Consultants delivered significant savings on a rail infrastructure improvement project in Bedfordshire.

The camera, placed at the openings, recorded constantly for three weeks, only being triggered when movement around the entrance was detected.  All sorts of wildlife was recorded investigating the sett, including a young badger who stayed for three hours before moving on and not being seen again. The foxes, pole-cats, rabbits, cats and other animals all investigated the hole, but no-one took up residence.  We even picked up a tawny owl on site.

The information was discussed with Natural England who confirmed that a licence was not necessary to proceed with works at the site. The sett was closed using one-way gates and the camera used to monitor the site during the works.

Imaging is not the only technique used to remotely track badger activity, Kelly recently sent me some pictures of the lovely treacley mix of badger treat – laced with colourful plastic pellets that helps to find out how far particular badgers range over a site, that is, if you can find their poo!