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We examined the effectiveness of simulated underground utility cable markers in hiding infrared cameras along a roadway. Our study took place in the summer of 2014 and winter of 2015 as part of a survey to determine whether swift fox (Vulpes velox) were present along the route of a planned highway expansion project in western Nebraska. Camera covers were constructed of square vinyl posts modified to conceal and camouflage the camera, and used in conjunction with a scent attractant. Camera stations were placed approximately 1.6 km apart and ran for 5 nights along a 200 km stretch of the planned construction site. There were 2,135 trap nights in the study. No camouflaged cameras were taken or disturbed in any way. The only camera placed along the roadway during the survey that was not placed in one of our covers was cable-locked to a utility pole. It was stolen within 3 days. By allowing cameras to remain in the right-of-way (ROW), obtaining access to place the cameras was greatly facilitated in many areas. The cost per camera cover was approximately $20. We conclude this method of disguising cameras is an effective one for roadside use.
The authors think this data will be useful for wildlife biologists. Here we describe the effectiveness of vinyl fence-post covers for trail cameras. The cameras were used for assessing wildlife movement across roadways in western Nebraska. The data on camera disturbance are observational, but the statistical likelihood of 565 trap nights with no disturbance to covered cameras while 2 trap nights with a trail camera locked to a utility pole being taken by unknown persons would seem to support the hypothesis that these camera covers were highly effective. Unfortunately, purely methods papers are not published by many journals, we hope this this method of publication will help disseminate our findings.
Raw data from all camera stations surveying 200 miles of roadway
Each row of this table shows the date, location, and results from 5 days and 4 nights of trail camera placement at the location given. The columns give information about how many images were taken and the identification of animals captured by the cameras. These cameras were placed on right-of-way or private land along the roadway scheduled for expansion to 4-lane divided highway.