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Theft of trail cameras at Fort Shepherd undermine wildlife study

Letter to the Editor from Karen Trebitz
Elk captured on a trail cam near Fort Shepherd. Photo: Submitted

I am a Trail resident, the co-owner of a small environmental consulting business (Ravens Bluff Consulting), and a member of Trail Wildlife Association.

I am conducting a multi-year wildlife study at the Fort Shepherd Conservancy, using image data from and array of wildlife cameras.

My work involves downloading and processing many thousands of images.

The resulting data give us a real, on-the-ground understanding of wildlife species and abundance on the property, and how the animals use the landscape.

Results from my research are meant to aid future management decisions.

Visitors to the Fort Shepherd Conservancy are, of course, also on the trail camera images.

I am trained as both a biologist and a social scientist, and am especially sensitive to privacy issues.

Adults are represented in my spreadsheets only by gender, perhaps a colored item of clothing, and their activity (e.g. biking, walking, riding).

Children are only marked as “child” (no description at all).

In this way I can report how visitors use the property while preserving their anonymity.

Unfortunately, some disrespectful visitors to the Conservancy are undermining my research by stealing the SD cards, and even the wildlife cameras themselves.

The camera equipment is collectively owned by the Land Conservancy of BC, Trail Wildlife Association, and Ravens Bluff Consulting.

The loss of the cameras is frustrating and expensive.

Stealing this equipment is directly hurting your local citizens and non-profit organizations.

Much worse, however, is the big data-gap that results from those thefts.

Thefts usually occur during the winter months, while Fort Shepherd is closed to the public.

The theft of one camera and four camera cards during the winter of 2021-22 represents a loss of five times six months of data!

If you have any of my cameras, or data cards, please consider returning them.

You can drop them at Parslow Lock and Safe, in a box or envelope labeled TWA.

You can also mail anonymously to Trail Wildlife Association, PO Box 266, Trail, BC V1R 4L5.

Thank you,

Karen Trebitz, PhD

Ravens Bluff Consulting