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Sunday, November 13, 2011

Camera Trap Results Wayland, NY November 2011

Berna and Sasha
(Wayland, NY 10/11)
WARNING! Let me warn you that this is a very comprehensive post (aka LLLLOOONNNGG) however I think it is worth the effort as we got some great pics and video to share. :)

As I mentioned in a previous post, we set nine additional cameras out on my father's property in Wayland, NY. Dad's and my camera were also out for a total of 11 cameras. All cameras were Cuddeback brand. We had three of the new Attacks (purchased through an NSF grant) and four each of the Capture IR and normal flash. I set out the cameras with two Technicians from the Conservation Department at FLCC. Neither Berna or Sasha had ever seen my father's property before, so in addition to creating the sets, we conducted a whirlwind tour of the 75 acres. Dad has a mixture of hardwoods, pine plantation, old field shrub and younger forb fields. It makes for a nice variety of species, but the ultimate purpose of this endeavor was to try and capture photos of bears for my Black Bear Management class.
On November 11th, we retrieved the cameras during an optional field trip with my students. The cameras had been out for a minimum of eight days (two were out for a few days longer...) and we were very happy with the results. We totaled 10 species of mammals and one species of bird. Not bad for our neck of the woods!
From left to right: Jack (my Dad), Sasha, Eric, Shellie,
Alyssa, Don and Andy
(Wayland, NY 11/11)
We arrived at my father's property just as the cold precipitation was letting up (not quite rain, not quite snow) and the sun was making a brief appearance. After some quick introductions, we headed down the trail to retrieve all 11 cameras. Anticipation ran high among the group as my Dad had seen two bears only two days earlier. Did they walk in front of one of our cameras?
Ten-point buck
Our first set was an IR camera on a well worn wildlife trail. We expected mostly deer. In fact, we captured ONLY deer on this set. The only photo of note was this large ten-point buck. Compare this new photo with this previous buck pic and tell me if you think it is the same deer or not. Camera set #2 was my own personal Cuddeback Capture and it was set directly on my one of my Dad's mown trails. We use the trails as footpaths and for his ATV. When setting this camera, I aimed it at a new deer scrape and further seeded it with red oak acorns that my Dad had collected. As expected, we got deer visiting the scrape and gray squirrel collecting the acorns. But we also got a wide range of other species (in fact, it turned out that this set produced the greatest diversity of species) including red fox, opossum, and....
Striped Skunk
Raccoon
Coyote
and BLACK BEAR!
Wounded black bear
(Wayland, NY 11/11)
Our excitement at getting a black bear photo (the first on my own personal camera btw) was dampened by the realization that the bear in the photo was injured. We could clearly see blood and I surmised that perhaps the bear had been shot by a hunter. We are in the midst of archery season for deer and bear and it is entirely possible that a hunter on a neighboring property wounded this bear. Given how far bears can travel, we may never solve the puzzle. We never got a photo of a hunter trailing behind, following a blood trail. But I am told it is difficult to follow blood trails on black bears given that their thick fur collects the blood rather than letting it fall to the ground. And it is entirely possible that this bear was injured some other way. Who knows? Camera set #3 was in a stand of small maples growing up under 30 year old pines. We managed only a few photos but added Eastern cottontail to our tally of species (for those that are counting, we are up to eight species....). Set #4 was another IR camera but we tried something different here. I had read that you can attract bobcat and fox to a set (camera or more traditional trap) by dangling a feather from a string to entice the predator to investigate. We had no luck with my turkey feather set per se but did get some deer photos as they wandered by....
Set #5 was also set on the aforementioned ATV trail, about 300 yards away from set#2 and directly on the edge of my father's border. We added one new species here (feral cat) and got some great photos of
Opossum
 Red Fox
and BLACK BEAR!
Injured black bear
(Wayland, NY 11/11)
This photo was taken only a few minutes before the previous one. We now know exactly where the bear entered my Dad's property and we can now see the injury more clearly. I have enlarged it below, but before you scroll down, take a look at exactly where the injury is located. A bow hunter will typically aim for the chest cavity in hopes of piercing the lungs and going for a quick kill. This is consistent with the injury shown here; the source of the blood is a bit higher and distal (forward) than optimal.
Close-up of injury to black bear
(Wayland, NY 11/11)
Again, I am not certain that an arrow made this injury but that is my opinion. We spent some time looking for blood at both camera sets and found none (the bear had passed by on Nov. 5th, and we were checking cameras on Nov. 11th. One final note: I wish this bear well. I never like to see an animal suffer. Bears are tough critters and perhaps this is a superficial injury that can be recovered from.

White-tailed Deer
(Wayland, NY 11/11)


Camera set #6 was not too far away and was set under an apple tree. This was one of our new Attack cameras and we had it set to obtain both still and video images. We only captured Eastern cottontail and white-tail deer, but I posted videos of both on YouTube. The deer video is of a little spike and the Eastern cottontail is only 16 seconds and shows a turn and a hop. :) There is nothing particularly exciting about either video, but I am thrilled at my new toy -- the Cuddeback Attack cameras. I have always avoided the video cameras in the past but am happy with this model because of several features, including the ability to capture a still photo before the video starts rolling. It was starting to get dim so the group hustled over to set #7. This was the set I had anticipated checking all week long. It was near the location where Dad had seen the two bears only two days earlier. And in addition, we had used a commercial bear scent here to try and lure bears in. The scent had the smell of black licorice (anise) and I was hoping for the best. We got to the Attack camera and found our scent rag was still in place. We took out the SD card to preview the photos and saw that there were only two photos. One was a massive flock of common grackles and the other was..... BLACK BEAR! This time, it was two bears, the same bears that Dad had seen on Wednesday and most certainly the same bears photographed here. In that previous post, I opened the discussion as to whether this was a mom and cub or two lone cubs. I am now more convinced that these are two lone cubs. Watch the video here (watch all the way to the end!) and let me know what you think. 
Two black bears
(Wayland, NY 11/11)

Camera set #8 was my father's camera. We were a bit disappointed with only a few deer photos. However, we took the opportunity to search for bear claw marks. Back in June, my Dad's camera captured two photos of a mother bear and her cub. I have those photos posted here. In the first picture, the cub is in a tree. We inspected that tree and found the marks from the bear's claws. We all took photos and by now, it was getting so dark that we were using our flashes.



Claw marks from black bear
cub climbing
(Wayland, NY 11/11)
Black bear scat
(Wayland. NY 11/11)
On the way to our final three sets, I took the students to a hop hornbeam tree that I found in October 2010 (no photo). There are two bear bites and several scratches on the tree. The amount of healing on this tree in just the last year is impressive, and gives me a good feel for how difficult it is in some cases to find older bear sign. It will be interesting to see what the cub claw marks look like next fall. Set #9 produced only some deer photos, leaving us hustling to the last tow sets. But Dad had a surprise for us. Just the day before, Dad had found some bear scat. It was older scat, but exciting none the less. We picked the scat apart a bit and found hairs that appeared to be squirrel and scales from pine cones. Sasha made the correct dentification though -- the "pine scales" were really beech nut husks.
Bear claw marks
(Wayland, NY 11/11)
Set #10 was a complete bust with not one single photo (need to check that the camera is functioning properly), however the location of the camera gave us a chance to inspect some more bear scratches on a pine tree. These scratches go rather high up the tree and appear to be from a climb rather than as a marking. Thanks to Sasha for finding this tree on the day we set cameras out! By the time we got to set #11, we had nearly completed a large circle. We added one new species at this set in the hemlocks: red squirrel. Not a bad haul! We COULD have gotten a few other rodents (such as Eastern chipmunk), gray fox, wild turkey and perhaps even a bobcat (although they are still uncommon in this area). But I want to focus in the positives. The students that were able to come saw bear habitat, a wide variety of sign and retrieved some amazing pics and video. 

6 comments:

  1. Very interesting post.The striped skunk looks cuter to me than the black and white variety....

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  2. This is my favorite posting you've done, kudos JVN! And this just furthers my motivation to get my paws on some Cuddeback Attacks for the MFS, I am loving the video! I have watched that bear clip probably 20 times, and it doesn't get old. Close second, or tied for first though is the grackles. It's mystifying to see so many birds in one place. It makes me think of what we learned in CON 100 about conservation history, and what it must've been like to observe flocks in the millions. If you haven't seen this, watch it:

    http://lightbox.time.com/2011/11/03/murmurations-spectacular-starlings-signal-winter-is-on-its-way/#1

    Thanks for inviting me, and thanks to Jack for having us!

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  3. What a successful day! It sure looks like the same deer in both photos to me. Is it possible that the wounded bear is the mother of the two lone cubs??

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  4. Also, do you think that the mother and cubs from the first pics in June could be the same as the ones you just seen?

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  5. After re-looking at the pics, in June, there is only one cub, so it's probably not the same family... but it is still possible that the wounded one is the mother of the 2 lone cubs.

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  6. I sure hope the wounded one is not the mother. It is illegal to shoot a bear from a group of bears in our part of NY so that protects moms with cubs as well as the cubs. But my Dad has a photo showing only the two cubs about 10 days earlier than my video, so they MAY have been running along for a while. But I say MAY because you never know what is happening off camera. Like the lone cub pictured in June, you don't know for sure that a sibling isn't there just too far to the side to be photographed... :)

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