Candid Critters Fall Newsletter

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NC Candid Critters

Fall 2018 Newsletter

The Fall Season is Complete!

Candid Critters citizen scientists and staff at the Wildlife Resource Commission have done a great job deploying cameras and capturing wildlife photos across the state! With your help, we have provided important information about local wildlife whereabouts to scientists all over North Carolina.

So, what did we see from this year’s Fall Fawn Frenzy? Check out the chart below to see the top ten animals spotted on our camera traps: 

The top ten species detected on Candid Critters camera traps during Fall Fawn Frenzy, 2018.


Based on current submissions (keep uploading your fall photos, you awesome citizen scientists!), 68 volunteers set OVER 200 CAMERA TRAPS this fall season! Great job, Candid Critters Team! These traps led to 1,590 observations of 25 species across the state, including many white-tailed deer;  248 doe, 84 buck, and 71 fawn photos were captured!

If you would like to see everything our camera traps have found, eMammal allows you to download data from the project here, or you can view Candid Critters’ favorite photos on our project’s Best Pictures Page.

Wildlife is Coming to Town!

             Many animals, including white-tailed deer, are still active during the winter despite the cold weather.


It’s that time of year again! We’re heading into the winter camera trapping season. We’re looking for citizen scientists to run trail cameras across the state to continue discovering what animals are doing during this frigid time of year.

What should you expect to see this winter? Well, for one thing, you’ll definitely see lots of long, furry coats! Animals shed their short summer fur during the fall, and replace it with a longer, denser coat to help them stay warm in the winter. Numerous mammals go into dormant states, during which they sleep for long periods of time. Many of you may have heard of hibernation, which is a type of dormancy exhibited by mammals in the winter. Interestingly, many species found in northern regions often have shorter, or even non-existent, dormancies in the warm states down south. For example, black bears, who don’t leave their winter dens for up to six months at a time in northern U.S. states and Canada, don’t usually hibernate at all in North Carolina(1)f. Rather, these bears enter short dormancy periods known as torpor. This is similar to hibernation as animals in both states have lower heart rates, breathing rates, and body temperatures, but torpor is much shorter than seasonal hibernation, lasting less than 24 hours.

Most animals in North Carolina do not go dormant in the winter, and will continue searching for food and shelter. Thus, despite the dark and cold, we will still be able to see plenty of animals on camera traps! 

1 Information courtesy of the N.C. Wildlife Resource Commission.

Mouse hibernating - photo by Smithsonian Magazine


Candid Critters truly enjoys seeing the wildlife photos our citizen scientists get from their deployments - even when it’s cold! Remember, you can choose pre-selected sites from our Site Selection Map, or can set a camera at location of your choosing by submitting a Site Description Form. Either way, please make sure you follow the project’s Deployment Schedule when setting your camera.

Also remember that you do NOT need to return cameras at the end of each season - you can hold onto them so you can set up more camera traps for Candid Critters! However, if you don’t plan on using your camera again, please return it to the library from which you borrowed it.

What’s New in Critter Country?

Participate in the Armed Animal Advance Survey!

Armadillos are a tropical species that seems to be slowly expanding their range into North Carolina.  While we know armadillos are expanding into North Carolina, we are trying to collect more evidence of their presence in the state. We have  records from a 19 counties (most of which are road kills). We are on the lookout for armadillos in NC, and we’ll need your help to collect the data! 

You can join the assessment by running a camera trap in the following target counties:

During our Armed Animal Advance Survey, Candid Critters will be needing volunteers to set cameras in a number of counties along the southern border of North Carolina.


You’ll most likely find these animals in forests, fields, and areas with sandy soils or other places where it’s easy to dig. If you’re just as curious as we are about this Armed Animal Advance, set a camera trap with Candid Critters today!

Partner Highlight: The Nature Conservancy

The Nature Conservancy (TNC) is a charitable environmental organization whose mission is to “conserve the lands and waters on which all life depends“. TNC is involved in policy change, youth engagement, organizational outreach, and scientific research involving and promoting environmental conservation around the world. They participate in projects that tackle climate change, protect land and water, provide sustainable agriculture, and build clean, environmentally-friendly cities.

White-tailed deer fawn, Big Yellow Mountain, NC


TNC has been working with North Carolina’s Candid Critters for several years to set camera traps at five different field sites within the western part of the state. TNC has its own set of volunteers that are involved in the process, and helps these nature-seekers learn about the importance of wildlife along the way. TNC’s contributions to Candid Critters has provided invaluable data to the project, and we look forward to working with them for many more years to come.

New t-shirts ARE IN!

Attention Super Volunteers!


Keep an eye out for our new t-shirt design, featuring the red fox - - - - - - - - >


Interested in a Candid Critters shirt? Keep deploying cameras and uploading photos for one whole year, and you’ll receive a t-shirt for being a Candid Critters’ Super Volunteer!

Gentle Reminders

Don't forget to fill out a Site Description Form!

Please return unused cameras to the library!

Critter Catwalk!

Take a look at some of our favorite fall photos!

Wild Turkey, Pender County, September

Eastern spotted skunk, Macon County, August

Northern raccoon, Wayne County, August

Coyote, Wayne County, September

Roland's Graph Quiz

Wild Suburbia 

We’ve all seen the squirrels scurrying around the oak tree in the park, or the cottontails munching the grass on our lawns, but those of you running camera traps with us know that there are a lot more critters hanging around your neighborhood, especially at night.

Using data collected by you, our citizen scientists, we recently published a paper where we describe the “wild suburbia” phenomenon in greater detail. By working with you to run cameras in all levels of development, from urban->suburban->exurban->rural->wild, we were able to make direct comparisons.  We focused on Raleigh and Washington, DC, where we had the most data. Interestingly enough, we found more activity by certain mammal species not in wildlands, but in suburbia!  Developed areas that still had green space were some of the most animal-friendly areas.

But all species are not the same in how they respond to development. We made some graphs to show these differences, and they are the focus of our quiz today.

If you look at Figure 1, you’ll see that there were four levels of development where we measured the presence of different animals: suburban, exurban, rural, and wild. Suburban areas include neighborhoods and other residential areas, while rural areas include places with lots of farmland and houses that are far apart. ‘Exurban’ may be a term you’ve never heard before, and it basically indicates areas that are somewhere in between suburban and rural. Wild areas are places with the lowest levels of housing density.

The graph below is a stacked bar chart. This type of graph allows us to show the percentage (not total number) that camera trap detections for a given species from each of the four habitat types. Each bar is a different species, so check out figure 1a and you can see that coyotes spent a similar (~25% each) amount of time in suburban, exurban, rural, and wild areas, while grey foxes were detected similarly in suburban, exurban, and rural areas but almost not at all in wild areas.

Fig. 1a The percent of detections for coyotes and grey foxes in each development level along the urban-wild gradient in Raleigh, NC, USA accounting for the effort (i.e. camera nights) within each level.


So, on to the quiz, how well do you think you know Raleigh area critters?  Look at Figure 1b and see if you can correctly match up the critters to their bar graph.

Which of these animals do you think match up to the bars in the graph below? Scroll down to the bottom of the newsletter to find out!

a) white-tailed deer

b) bobcat

c) woodchuck

d) red fox

Fig. 1b The percent of detections for species of carnivores and herbivores in each development level along the urban-wild gradient in Raleigh, NC, USA accounting for the effort (i.e. camera nights) within each level.

Citizen Science Spotlight: Tom Bare 

This season, we want to recognize a Candid Critters Super Volunteer, Tom Bare! Tom is a retired financial planner, and was also a charter boat captain running offshore expeditions for catching sailfish, blue marlin and tuna. Tom first heard of Candid Critters from a friend, and he was immediately interested in participating. Tom went to his local library and borrowed four cameras, and has been using them ever since to help Candid Critters capture photos of wildlife. Tom has been extremely diligent about the placement of his cameras, making sure to cut all vegetation away and even taking into consideration things like sun angle. He’s been known to walk for a couple hours around the perimeter of a field trying to find the perfect spot. All of this has contributed greatly to both the variety of wildlife captured as well as quality of pictures.

Some of our favorite photos from Tom: three tom turkeys, two raccoon kits, a regal grey fox, sibling fawns, and a coyote with a prey item.


Tom has always enjoyed farming, hunting, fishing, and beekeeping - in general, he has always loved the great outdoors. Tom believes Candid Critters “is a fantastic program as it reaches down to the grass roots for help, then assembles and analyzes the data that we all can then, and should, pay attention to”. Tom sincerely believes it is paramount that we get true, scientific data as opposed to making decisions based on hunches. Tom has really enjoyed setting camera traps for Candid Critters, and is always really excited to see what he has caught on camera. Tom has seen a variety of animals, but his favorite captures were of a half dozen tom turkeys in full strut, and a doe with her adorable newborn fawn.

Tom continues to enjoy camera trapping, and is always excited to spot a male turkey in his full colors during the spring. Tom first learned to love and appreciate the outdoors from his closest friend and mentor, Chris Hunt. Just like us, Tom is also looking forward to the winter deployment season. We thank Tom for all his surveying efforts for Candid Critters!

About the Project

North Carolina’s Candid Critters is a three-year statewide camera trap survey made possible by a collaboration between NC State University, NC Museum of Natural Sciences, NC Wildlife Resources Commission, State Library of NC, NC Cardinal, Public Libraries of North Carolina, and Smithsonian.

If you would like to join our project and help us learn more about the wildlife in our state, please visit

Funding for the NC Candid Critter Program was partially provided through a Pittman-Robertson Wildlife Restoration Grant. The purpose of this Act was to provide funding for the selection, restoration, rehabilitation and improvement of wildlife habitat, wildlife management research, and the distribution of information produced by the projects. Funds are derived from an 11% Federal excise tax on sporting arms, ammunition, and archery equipment, and a 10% tax on handguns. The program requires the state (NC Wildlife Resources Commission) to cover at least 25% of the project costs; the Grant provides the remaining 75% of the project expenses.


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Northern raccoons, Watauga County 

Thanks again to all of our wonderful citizen scientists!


Roland's Graph Quiz Answers

If you thought the bobcat was mostly found in wild areas and the woodchuck mostly seen in urban habitats, you were right! There was one factor that had a huge influence on the presence or absence of wildlife: the availability of green space! These areas include nature parks and trails that are placed in and around large cities. These areas are especially important, as they are used by species that are less adapted to urban habitats. Green space provides animals the opportunity to navigate around areas that are densely populated by humans, and, thus, travel through cities and suburbs.

This study shows how mammals have grown more tolerant of humans, and how wildlife appears to have adapted to suburban landscapes. However, some species, such as bobcats, are still most abundant in wild areas that rarely see human presence, emphasizing the need to conserve wildlands and minimize our impact on natural ecosystems.

Candid Critters’ future research will concentrate on testing if this pattern of adaptation is seen elsewhere, and provide us with knowledge that could help us to conserve many different species.


If you would like to read more about our findings, check out the research paper, the paper in the news, and a video about the paper!


This study was funded with National Science Foundation and was contributed by North Carolina State University, The VR Foundation, U.S. Forest Service, North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences and Smithsonian Institution also contributed to the work.

Thanks for reading!

White-tailed deer, Craven County


North Carolina's Candid Critters

11 W. Jones St, Raleigh, NC 27601


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