Wildlife Monitoring Camera Tips

Wildlife monitoring is a relatively recent activity for many groups and one of the problems is getting the right camera for the job. The most common use is to see which critters are living in the patch you manage and many of these animals are on night shift so motion sensor cameras are an ideal way to capture the activity.

We have been working with groups for a number of years to help them with their monitoring and here are a few tips we have picked up along the way. Our next edition will have a link to a review we are conducting on various types of cameras but first here are the tips:

What to look for in a camera?:

  • Is it made for Australia Conditions? (some cameras are designed for hunting ie deer in the Northern Hemisphere so have an over saturation of white light for things close up and small). Check your range and exposure settings.
  • Get a display screen – I have noticed that some companies are recommending for punters not to bother with a display screen. This makes checking in the field near impossible and it is an extra unnecessary step to processing your photos or checking whether there is anything about, especially if you want to do continuous monitoring (i.e. a card and battery swap).
  • Fixed or Custom settings – consider that some cameras only have fixed settings like video length or photo size (some Moulterie do this but have good presets and other more attractive features)
  • Clarity of image (pixels) – if you are wanting to share what you find with others you need to take decent footage.
  • Flash (red light versus black ops – no shine) – if you are using your camera in a public reserve for example it will be visible.
  • Incandescent flash lights uses a lot more power than the infrared equivalent.
  • Batteries – At the moment AA are the best due to their replacement and rechargeable efficiencies. For rechargeables - Fujistu (formerly Enelop) have the best charge and life above all. Battery World is a supporter of Landcare Tasmania members and will supply the batteries for about $6.50 each.

You can also use Lithium or non-rechargeable heavy duty batteries but they are expensive and in some cases might last a bit longer but still become landfill a lot quicker. (Battery world also recycle used batteries).

  • Price – this varies greatly and there are some expensive cameras out there that aren’t good for what we use them for, but also there are cheaper ones that won’t deliver either – wait for the review of a couple we use in next month’s newsletter or contact us at Landcare Tasmania for more help.
  • Your SD cards – make sure you designate one card per camera, don’t mix them up. Also a 32 GB card is under $20 and will outlast your batteries anyway. NB: There can be a max limit on the size of cards in some cameras. Click Here for more tips on memory cards.
  • Your Data – The most crucial thing is to make sure your images and videos contribute to the bigger picture for both your patch and for Tasmania’s biodiversity management as a whole. The Natural Values Atlas (or NVA) is the most highly recommended place for uploading your data to. It is the only species database used for land management in Tasmania including Roads, Council and Forestry Planning. If you are sensitive about who views your data, put in the request to the NVA team.

Need help in using it call the team at NVA or Landcare Tasmania for directions, it is easy once you know how and we will be running a number of training workshops later in the year.

support@naturalvaluesatlas.tas.gov.au or Phone: (03) 6165 4328 or (03) 6165 4349

Got a camera, consider these things:

  • Where to set up – know your habitat and the wildlife tracks and scats. Setting up on known tracks and areas of diggings seem to give the best results.
  • False alarms – be aware of ferns and branches in the viewing zone. I have certainly returned to a camera to find a couple of hundred videos of bracken fern dancing in the wind, so pick a relatively clear area or if it’s going to be windy be prepared. It will run your batteries and memory card down as well.
  • Using bait – for carnivores and omnivores some use baits such as Tuna Oil, make sure you camera is clean otherwise there is a real chance of it being too tasty to resist and getting damaged. There is also the ethical issue or attracting animals to baits.
  • Take care to avoid damage – for example when positioning your camera make sure the cover is closed until you have it position (fixing it to a tree is typical position) then open again to activate. A carry bag is also good to have.
  • Take a GPS and camera – you might think it will be relatively easy to find later on but sometimes the bush can all look the same, so take a GPS point where you set up just in case or put some pink tape up nearby. Knowing where the footage is taken is also vital information for data capture down the track.

For further enquiries contact Landcare Tasmania for further information on support@landcaretas.org.au.