The following tips, tricks, and best practices will help you collect good data from your observations, hikes, and fixed cameras.
If you have any suggestions, share them with us!
1) Create an account to keep track of your submissions. You can do this online or when you download the app.
2) Enable Location Services on your phone so the app can obtain GPS data.
3) Wherever you need to enter text, try using the microphone/voice-to-text feature instead of typing .This can be easier and faster than typing with the phone keyboard.
1) Take a photo of your observation. This helps confirm the species that left the sign, and allows us to answer questions you may have.
2) Include something of standard size in the picture for scale. The item can be a hat, coin, phone, pen or pencil, or ruler.
3) Keep observations to a single type of sign. Submit separate observations if you see multiple signs, even at the same place.
4) Only take a picture of a bear if you are safe and not in danger! If you see a bear, move away to safety first. Only return if it is safe later to take a photo of the location (and provide a description explaining the situation).
1) We suggest hikes be at least a quarter mile. Hikes are more accurate when they are a longer distance. Longer hikes are also better because it provides more data.
2) Submit observations where and when you see them during a hike, rather than at the end. This helps iSeeMammals keep the timeline of events straight.
3) Hikes become even more valuable data when repeated over the course of a few months with iSeeMammals . This provides continued monitoring of an area over time, and allows us to be more certain about the presence or absence of bears. If there is a hike you do regularly, that would be a great route to collect iSeeMammals Hike data every time you go.
- Choosing a Location
1) Place cameras in areas that wildlife frequently visit. This can be along trails, field edges, along rivers, streams and ponds, or where logs have fallen over streams.
2) Angle the camera so it captures the length of a trail rather than across a trail. This provides more chances of catching wildlife using different parts of the trail.
3) Consider putting a flag near the site, to easily find your camera again. Do not place it by the camera or in it's field of view to avoid triggering the camera or bringing attention to the camera. Do not put a trail of flags to your camera!
- Setting up the Camera
1) Use the iSeeMammals app set up your fixed camera (and every time you check on or move the camera). This updates its history log. It serves as a easy check list to make sure date and time are correctly logged, and will obtain location of your camera when you set it up and whenever you move it.
2) Select a tree to strap the camera to that is medium size(~6"-18" diameter). Trees that are small can be cut by trespassers. Trees that are too small or too big can prevent cable locks from securely locking.
2) Point the camera to face North. Remove vegetation that will trigger the camera. This will help prevent the camera from taking lots of boring pictures of sun dapples or fluttering leaves. In the northern hemisphere, place cameras facing north. Play around with your camera's Sensitivity setting if it has one.
3) Cameras should be at about knee height (~2-3'), and pointed at a clearing about 15' in front. There should be a clear view in one direction.
4) If you are on a hill, point the camera sideways (parallel to the slope of the hill ) rather than uphill or downhill. If the camera must be pointed downhill or uphill, place a branch/twig between the camera and tree trunk to make it parallel to the slope of the hill.
5) Secure your camera with a metal lockbox and cable lock. Security is important! Avoid damage and theft by animals and possible trespassers.
6) Do a Walk Test before you leave to make sure the camera works. Don't forget to set it to the On setting before you leave! This may involve simply walking in front of the camera and confirming a red light or, depending on the camera brand and make, you might be able to "test" the camera. Refer to your camera's manual.
7) Put a piece of tape across the batteries inside the camera. Batteries can sometimes come loose and cause the date and time to reset. Prevent this by keeping the batteries snug.
- Coming back for photos
1) We recommend setting out a camera for a total of at least 2 months. Cameras provide more data the longer they are set out.
2) We recommend checking your fixed camera every 1-2 weeks. If the camera malfunctions or the batteries die, you will know sooner rather than later! Avoid visiting too frequently as animals can often catch your scent and be wary of visiting.
3) On each visit, bring empty SD cards and spare batteries .To avoid the batteries draining, change the batteries when they are at 50-60%. Don't forget the keys to your lockboxes and cables locks!