MARIN COUNTY (CBS SF) — Some breathtaking images are being taken of creatures roaming Marin’s wildlands by a set of motion-triggered cameras stationed up all over Mount Tamalpais.
They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but the photos the cameras have been getting up are leaving everyone speechless.
The motion-triggered cameras were placed by volunteers working for the One Tam wildlife camera project.
The program is being run by a coalition of Mt. Tam conservation agencies that look after local wildlife populations.
“Wildlife data is particularly difficult to collect in a meaningful way, so when we learned about this technique it looked like a solution to a long-standing problem,” said Janet Klein, the Natural Resources Director for Marin Municipal Water District.
The cameras work day and night on trails throughout the mountain. They’ve been placed in a grid pattern to cover a wide area, so conservationists can see what’s moving out there and how many animals or birds there are.
Most common are deer and small animals like rabbits and squirrels, but occasionally there are surprises, like the ghost-like images of a mountain lion, or in one case, a picture of an extremely rare spotted skunk.
The photos also show animal behavior, like one sequence that captured a coyote carrying off its latest meal.
About every six weeks, the photos and video from the cameras are downloaded and volunteers search through thousands of images to spot and identify the animals.
“I think we’ve probably collected more than two million images,” said Klein. “We’ve only processed about a quarter of that.”
“And as we collect more data, we can start looking at what we have out there and then trends over time,” said Golden Gate National Recreation Area wildlife ecologist Bill Merkle.
Those trends will give clues about how well wildlife populations are doing and how well Bay Area residents are doing in our quest to live and let live.
If you’d like to volunteering for the project and helping to look through the photos, you can find more information at the One Tam website.