MCBC has received emails and comments from bicyclists who are concerned that trailside surveillance cameras are being used for enforcement purposes. They are not!

Cameras that are visible from trails and fire roads in Marin are part of the Wildlife Picture Index Project (WPI), an innovative method combining photos from wildlife cameras and other environmental data that enables land managers to learn about the presence of wildlife and, ultimately, assess the success of efforts to protect wildlife species diversity and populations.

One of the original trail buddies

You can read all about the program at www.marincountyparks.org.

There you will find an FAQ section that includes this excerpt:

Q: Will Photographs Taken by these Cameras be Used for Enforcement Purposes?

A: No. Images caught on camera will NOT be used for enforcement purposes. The purpose of this project is strictly to learn more about wildlife activity on Open Space.

In addition to reports from bicyclists about the cameras on trails, we’ve also learned that some of the equipment is being vandalized, which is likely to result in increased ranger patrols in the areas where the vandalism occurs.

Please leave the cameras alone if you find one and know that they are there to monitor and protect wildlife, not to bust bikers.

Camera setup at an undisclosed location

Here is more information taken from the program website:

What is the Wildlife Picture Index?
The Wildlife Picture Index Project (WPI) is a method that combines statistical analysis of photos from wildlife cameras with other environmental data to help land managers learn about the presence of wildlife in our parks and open spaces. First developed by the Wildlife Conservation Society and the Zoological Society of London and now supported by HP Enterprise Services and Conservation International, this technique is now being used in Marin County to better understand how wildlife use the diverse habitats on Mt Tamalpais.

What is a wildlife camera?
A wildlife camera is a stationary, weatherproof, motion-activated camera that can be left outside for long periods of time. Wildlife cameras do not emit light or use a flash, and therefore are able to gather images without disturbing wildlife. Cameras operate on rechargeable batteries and record photographs onto memory cards.

What is the purpose of this project?
The purpose of this project is to acquire statistically viable wildlife data over a large geographic area on Mt Tamalpais and adjacent public lands. While public land managers are aware of many of the species (bobcats, coyotes, badgers, etc.) that occupy Marin’s park and watershed lands, much is still unknown regarding their abundance, how they move about, and how they use these lands at different times of the year. Understanding trends and patterns in wildlife use and behavior is essential to taking better care of our public wild lands.

How are the cameras arranged?
The cameras in this project are arranged on a grid, which provides a non-biased sampling method that can yield information about occupancy and frequency of wildlife species in different areas. The cameras are placed at regular intervals within a contiguous area on land owned and managed by Marin County Parks, Marin Municipal Water District, California State Parks, and the National Park Service.

Badger on the Trail

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