Camera Trap Surprises

Screenshot of the story as reported by My Modern Met.

By Frank Gallagher, NANPA Blog Coordinator

When photographer Jeff Wirth set up a camera trap near his home in Washington state, he was hoping to capture images of wildlife. When he checked his memory card, he got a big surprise. Among the photos of bobcat and other critters, was one of a somewhat larger critter, posing as if in a fashion shoot, as reported by My Modern Met and multiple other outlets.

Turns out the mystery man was doing invasive plant removal in the area and saw the camera. He couldn’t resist and struck a variety of humorous poses. Through the magic of the internet, Wirth was able to connect with the model and they’ve exchanged a few texts. The camera trap model became a humorous meme across several social media channels and a lot of people got a good laugh.

Anyone who regularly uses trail cams (also known as camera traps), has run into something unexpected.  It might be a photo of a rare and elusive animal, a closeup shot of a curious raccoon’s nose, a bear pooping, or a blowing leaf that triggered the camera. There are webpages and Pinterest boards dedicated to the weird and whacky images captured by trail cams. It’s part of the fun and challenge and one reason why we want to hear from you! Tell us about your trail cam moments—the mundane to the magnificent, from conservation success stories to comical candids.

Phil Riebel wrote about his experiences using a trail cam in the woods of northern New Brunswick, Canada. The photos in his web gallery range from weasels and mice to bears and a lynx. In between, there’s a closeup shot of one very curious raccoon.

Earlier this year, Mark Hendricks talked about setting up trail cams in the Appalachian Mountains in hopes of capturing an image of the elusive fisher. Fishers are slowly reclaiming their original range in the forests of eastern North America, but seeing on in the wild is still very unusual. His camera traps eventually succeeded in photographing a fisher but he also got shots of bobcats, bears and an inquisitive opossum.

The 2021 edition of NANPA Expressions gave a shout out to Luciane Coletti and Josh Asel, who used remote-activated trail cameras to photograph a very cute bobcat kitten and a threatened Western snowy plover, respectively.

Like many pursuits, most of the images taken by trail cams aren’t going to be prize winners. It’s a very hit and miss proposition. However, for every portfolio-worthy image from a trail cam, there just might be a humorous one. For every hundred images of common species, there might be one the captures a rare or unusual animal.

Show us what you’ve got. What’s surprised or amused you when you download the images from your trail cam? We’ll use the best stories in upcoming articles.