Summer 2018 Newsletter!

Newsletter Archive

NC Candid Critters

Summer 2018 Newsletter

The Summer Season is Complete!

Candid Critters citizen scientists have done a great job deploying cameras and capturing wildlife photos across the state! With your help, we have provided important information about wildlife whereabouts to scientists all over North Carolina, allowing them to learn more about local wildlife than ever.

So, what did we see from this summer? A little bit of everything! From bobcats to opossums, we saw many species from Candid Critters’ camera trap surveys. Check out the chart below to see what animals we’ve observed so far during our summer review:

Based on current submissions (keep uploading your summer photos, you awesome citizen scientists!), there were over 25 citizen scientists from 17 counties involved this summer season. There were 28 cameras placed, leading to over 500 wildlife observations - very impressive! At least 12 species were seen across the state, including the elusive yellow-crowned night heron. Good job, Candid Critters!

 Yellow-crowned night heron, Robeson County


If you would like to see for yourself what our camera traps have found, eMammal allows you to download data from the project! You can take a look at what’s available using this link. You can also view photos on our project’s Best Pictures Page.


Fall Fawn Frenzy!

White-tailed deer, Craven County


It’s that time of year again! We’re heading into the Fall Camera Trap Season as well as our Second Annual Fall Fawn Frenzy. We’re looking for citizen scientists to run trail cameras in ten specific counties so we can get an overall understanding of North Carolina’s deer population. Starting now and going through February, we will especially be looking to correctly identify deer, and will take extra care to detect fawns! You can use this field guide to ensure you are correctly identifying deer based on their age.

More pre-selected camera trap sites have been added to the Site Selection Map, so take a look soon to pick a place to set up a trail camera for Fall Fawn Frenzy!

Remember, if you do not wish to participate in Fall Fawn Frenzy but still hope to run cameras for Candid Critters, you are more than welcome to set up a camera in a county not participating in FFF. We can always use more data, and truly enjoy seeing the wildlife photos our citizen scientists get from their deployments. However, we do hope you plan to participate in FFF so we can better understand the state’s deer population! Please make sure that no matter where you deploy your cameras that you follow the project’s deployment schedule.

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 in later seasons! However, if you don’t plan on using your camera again, please return it to the library from which you borrowed it.

Please return unused cameras to the library!


What’s New in Critter Country? 


Volunteers can now check out multiple cameras!

That’s right! Have you been loving the project so much that you just can’t wait to get your photos back from your wildlife camera? If so, checking out more than one camera at a time can shorten that wait! Just call up your local library and ask about their current camera availability. If you are assigned to borrow from a more secluded location, you are more likely to be able to borrow multiple cameras! Thus, if you would like to change the library assignment you chose during sign up, please let our Volunteer Coordinator, Monica Lasky, know at so we can reassign your camera borrowing location.


Have you tried Zooniverse?

You may be wondering how you can stay involved in the project between scheduled deployments, and, luckily, we have the answer: Zooniverse! This web portal allows citizen scientists to access information, discussion boards, and identify photos submitted by other project volunteers. Ever wondered what NCCC citizen scientists are catching on their cameras?  Here’s a chance to see those photos and help identify them!

Click on the link below and start sharpening your skills in animal identification, connect to other volunteers, and find some interesting wildlife photos, all through the Zooniverse portal:

Your participation on Zooniverse will promote higher quality photo identifications for the NC Candid Critters Project!

New t-shirts coming soon!


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

Keep vegetation out of your camera’s line of sight

Turn off your camera’s flash before setting up your trap

Don’t forget your set up and take down #selfie!!!

Critter Chat LIVE Webinar August 1st @ 7PM!!!

We have our next biennial live stream webinar next Wednesday, August 1st at 7:00pm! During Critter Chat LIVE, you can post your questions on Facebook and YouTube to have them answered in real-time! We will also be going over some cool results from the Summer Deployment Season. As a reminder, if you are unable to join us live, you can also view all of our archived videos on the Candid Critters website.

We hope you listen in!


What can we expect to see this fall?

As the weather gets cooler, expect animals to start growing long, fluffy winter coats. We will also see increased activity as critters prepare for the cold season - animals will be searching around for food to help store up on fat preserves in order to make it through this tough time. Thus, many animals will also begin gaining weight to offset lower food availability during the colder weather. 

As many other species concentrate on storing up for the winter in the next few months, white-tailed deer have something else on their minds. Female white-tailed deer, known as does, will become sexually receptive around late October to early November. During this breeding season - known as the rut - both males and females become more active and less cautious. So don’t just watch out for deer on your critter cameras, but watch when you’re driving too! There tend to be more deer-automobile collisions during the rut, so be sure to be extra cautious. Nonetheless, male deer, or bucks, will be attempting to mate with as many does as possible, and so you may see a couple of the boys sparring later in the fall to see who’s the boss of this town! 

White-tailed deer, Wake County


Citizen Scientist Spotlight: Misty Barnes

This season we want to recognize a Candid Critters Super Volunteer, Misty Barnes! Misty is a full-time employee of the Pender County Public Library, which is where she first heard of Candid Critters. Misty and her family have always enjoyed spending time outdoors - hunting, fishing, and hiking in their spare time. Misty loves how the program has helped introduce kids to the idea that science is not just something done in the classroom, but is also used in the “real world”. Misty has really enjoyed setting camera traps for Candid Critters, and is always really excited to see what she has caught on camera. She and her family have seen a variety of animals, and they’re favorite capture was of 5 black bears playing in front of the critter camera!

American black bears, Pender County


Misty continues to enjoy camera trapping, and is always excited to spot the elusive bobcat. Just like us, Misty is also looking forward to Fall Fawn Frenzy. We thank Misty for all her surveying efforts for NC Candid Critters!


Critter Catwalk!

Take a look at some of our favorite summer photos!

Stately coyote, Dare County

Picturesque eastern grey squirrel, Nash County

Handsome white-tailed deer buck, Moore County

Nosy white-tailed deer, Pender County

Swamped northern raccoon, Robeson County


Roland’s Graph Quiz

A Quick Dip into the Data Behind the Photographs from the 2017 Fall Fawn Frenzy

To a poet, a picture says a thousand words; to a wildlife scientist, they represent a thousand data points. While we enjoy looking at awesome animal pictures submitted by Candid Critter citizen scientists, our favorite part comes when we get to dig into the numbers and see the bigger picture of the behavior and ecology of animals in the state. The first thing we’ve notice when studying project photos and numbers is that we see a lot of deer. We are up to 31,171 detections of deer so far, making them the most photographed species in the project. Our job now is to explore these data, look for patterns, and test hypotheses. In this quiz, we’re going to take a look at some questions we’ve derived from deer observations during the 2017 Fall Fawn Frenzy.


Question #1: Where are deer most often seen in North Carolina?

Graph 1. Within the 466 camera traps deployed during Fall Fawn Frenzy, there were very high proportions of wildlife detections that were of deer. This graph specifically looks at these deer detection rates within the three geographical regions of North Carolina: the coastal plain, piedmont, and mountains. There was variation in deer detection between these three regions, with one region possessing a very high proportion deer detection, 92%. The other two regions have lower and more similar detection rates, 62% and 44%.

One interesting result comes when you compare how often a camera does or does not get a picture of a deer across the state. North Carolina has three main geographical regions: the coastal plain, located in the eastern part of the state; the piedmont, or hilly area in the center of the state; and mountains, which are located in the western section of NC. When looking at our data, we noticed that deer were seen at different rates between these three different geographical regions. Graph 1, seen above, shows that cameras in one of these regions detected deer at a rate over 90%, while another region has deer observed in less than half of wildlife detections. Can you guess which of these bars represents deer detections within the coastal plain, piedmont, and mountain regions of North Carolina? Go to the last section of the newsletter to find out!


Question #2: What is the makeup of local deer herds?

Graph 2. The number of does, fawns, and bucks observed across the state of North Carolina on Candid Critters camera traps during the 2017 Fall Fawn Frenzy. As you can see here, there is definitely a higher number of one of these groups than the other two groups. One group is detected fairly rarely.

During late summer and early fall, bucks have antlers and fawns have spots. Thus, it’s pretty easy to distinguish bucks from does and adults from fawns, which makes autumn a great time to get a detailed look at the makeup of local deer herds. Thus, this is the time of year when we hold our annual ‘Fall Fawn Frenzy’ and ramp up data collection in ten representative counties in addition to our normal statewide camera trapping. Graph 2, seen above, shows the total makeup of deer found in camera trap pictures from our 2017 Fall Fawn Frenzy. Can you guess which bars represent the number of bucks (adult males), does (adult females), and fawns (young) seen throughout the state? Check out the last section of the newsletter for the answer!


Question #3: What is the doe to fawn ratio?

Graph 3. The proportion of solitary does, solitary fawns, and fawns with does during the 2017 Fall Fawn Frenzy.

The overall ratio of does to fawns is important for managing the local deer herd because it helps us get an idea of their reproduction. But, what exactly is “normal” for this ratio? This is something we hope to find out! See if you can guess which slices of the pie graph above represent does photographed without fawns, does with fawns, and solitary fawns. Again, check out the last section for the answer!

These graphs give you a peek into what we are finding in our research. We will explore each of these questions in more detail later on in this project by comparing this information to local habitat type, predator densities, road maps, etc. to see if we can explain the causes behind these patterns. We are also gearing up for 2018 Fall Fawn Frenzy, which will allow us to start looking at temporal changes from year to year in our wildlife populations. When analyzing our data, we will make sure to take into account differences in habitat, effort put into data collection, and anything else that may have an effect on the data and, thus, how we will interpret our results. With your help keeping the camera trap pictures flowing in North Carolina, we are getting more and more animal pictures for the pleasure of poets and scientists alike!


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

Please follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter!!

 Northern raccoons, Watauga County 

Thanks again to all of our wonderful citizen scientists!


Roland’s Graph Quiz Answers


Question #1: Where are deer most often seen in North Carolina? 

Graph 1. Within the 466 camera traps deployed during Fall Fawn Frenzy, there were very high proportions of wildlife detections that were of deer. This graph specifically looks at these deer detection rates within the three geographical regions of North Carolina: the coastal plain, piedmont, and mountains. There was variation in deer detection between these three regions, with the piedmont possessing a very high proportion deer detection, 92%. The mountains and coastal plain have lower and more similar detection rates of 62% and 44%, respectively.

Deer are most frequently detected on our cameras in the piedmont, where over 90% of cameras get at least one deer photo. Cameras in the mountains obtained deer photos at a lower rate (61%), and only 44% of our cameras on the coastal plain detected deer. Deer numbers as well as things like habitat cover or effort in data collection could influence the frequency deer detected at camera locations. Nonetheless, we hope to look further into this phenomenon and study deer population patterns across NC.


Question #2: What is the makeup of local deer herds?

Graph 2. The number of bucks, does, and fawns observed across the state of North Carolina on Candid Critters camera traps during the 2017 Fall Fawn Frenzy. As you can see here, there is definitely a higher number of does observed than observations of bucks or fawns. Fawns are detected the least, with only 2,432 detections within the 2017 Fall Fawn Frenzy.

Does are almost always the most common age/sex class in a deer population, which is exactly what we find here in NC. We get nearly twice as many doe photos as males and about a quarter as many fawns. Future work will explore how this makeup changes across the state, as well as the reasons behind this phenomenon.


Question #3: What is the doe to fawn ratio?

Graph 3. The proportion of solitary does, solitary fawns, and fawns with does during the 2017 Fall Fawn Frenzy. There was a large number of solitary does observed during this time, which may be due to fawns of these does not observed due to camera angle or that the fawns were bedded down by the doe at a different location. There were also very few fawns observed alone, and about a fifth of the observations included does with their fawns.

Most does are seen without fawns. It’s possible the fawn walked behind the camera in some cases, and fawns are also often bedded down by does and hidden at locations that are often outside the camera’s point of view. However, many of these observations may represent does that reproduced earlier in the year but have since lost their fawn. Nature is tough on young fawns, as they are exposed to lots of unforgiving things like parasites and predators, and survival rates of ~25% have been documented in areas across the Southeast. Either way, our data suggest that there are enough fawns making it through the dangerous summer and into the fall, a time when they are mobile enough to avoid predators better – now if they would just learn to watch out for those cars!

Thanks for reading!

White-tailed deer, Craven County


North Carolina's Candid Critters

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