For more than a month, dozens of motion-sensitive infrared cameras were posted along the Trail corridor in Virginia, West Virginia, and Maryland, to capture images of wildlife and provide better information on the animals that call the A.T. lands their home. The project involved the impressive collaboration of the National Park Service Appalachian Trail Park Office, the U.S. Geological Survey, National Geographic, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, and the Smithsonian Institute.
Volunteers also played a key role in the study, as a total of 50 cameras were distributed and placed. By project completion, more than 350 sites will have been monitored, and volunteers will upload the images about once a month to the National Park Service Web site. Volunteer Master Naturalists have also lent their expertise to the program.
Counting large mammals and especially predators is one way of determining the health of the East Coast’s ecosystems, which are increasingly affected by sprawl, air and water pollution, and invasive species. To date, animals captured on film include the elusive bobcat, as well as red foxes, wild turkeys, white-tailed deer, and even a few curious human beings.