Designed to blend in with their surroundings, you’ve probably never noticed the trail cameras that NCLT uses across our preserves. Yet these cameras are a critical tool in land management, and one that we’ve been using for years. NCLT maintains a small fleet of Browning trail cameras, which are specifically designed for outdoor use by wildlife biologists, land managers, and hunters. These compact cameras easily mount to a tree or post, and are motion activated. With settings that allow us to capture sequential images, video clips, time-lapses, and even night-time imagery, we use the cameras to see what animals are living on our preserves, estimate visitation numbers on our trails, and more.

This year, we are working with Willemijn ten Cate, a rising senior at Princeton University and Westport, CT native, to do scientific research using trail cameras.

Willemijn writes: “My research project intends to look at how human traffic – on foot or in vehicles – affects wildlife movements on landscapes shared by humans throughout the Covid-19 pandemic. By choosing a series of open parkland type reserves in the New Canaan area, I hope to capture animal movements, by species, across times of day with camera traps. From these observations, I will be able to correlate the intensity of human activity on the abundance of different wildlife species using the same area. I hope to get a range of human activities from some to much while human activity and gathering is restricted during this lock down period.”

We are very excited to learn from Willemijn’s research, and to get more photos of the wildlife that call our preserves “home”. Some photos that our cameras have captures in the past are shown below, and include fox, raccoon, coyote, and plenty of deer.

If you happen to come across one of our cameras while visiting a preserve, we ask that you please not touch or tamper with the camera. Feel free to smile and wave into the camera, though. We love seeing your smiling (sometimes confused) faces!