Who's Been Visiting the Cutblocks?

In 2018, field crews took to the gravel logging roads that thread through west-central Alberta and began setting up camera traps in cutblocks. The goal: document which animals visit cutblocks, and relate that to features in the cutblock. This will hopefully help the forestry industry design their cutblocks to be less favourable to prey species like moose, deer, and elk, thereby reducing the number of predators prowling caribou ranges.

By September 2020, we had a rough tally:

  • 8 field technicans
  • 3 broken trucks
  • 4 caribou ranges
  • 119 cutblocks
  • 36,110 days of photos
  • 107,200 wildlife photos
  • 1,000,000,000,000 mosquitos detected

Over the last fall and winter, several very tired eyeballs scanned every picture and catalogued all the wildlife visits. Here’s how many times animals posed for our cameras:

Skunk: 2
Bat: 3
Cougar: 4
Bee: 6
Horse: 6
Butterfly or moth: 8
Human (not field crew): 22
Wolf: 30
Fox: 51
Grizzly Bear: 96
Lynx: 179
Elk: 257
Red squirrel: 504
Coyote: 551
Black bear: 579
Moose: 893
Bird: 982
Deer: 1,513
Snowshoe hare: 3,581

The next step is to analyze this data and see which cutblock features influence the appearance of predator and prey. We’ll also see what we can do about the mosquitos, for the field crew’s sanity.

Two black bears in the woods
Night photo of a pine martin with a stick
Night photo of a moose
Night photo of a skunk