SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) –The Outdoor Campus in Sioux Falls has debuted a new tool to bring nature into sharper focus.
The staff installed a video camera on the grounds, joining a still camera that’s already been snapping away photos of wildlife for several years
A barred owl has been hamming it up in front of The Outdoor Campus’s new video camera.
“We’ve got a little log that they can cross and it sits there and kind of looks around,” The Outdoor Campus Director David Parker said.
The video camera has already yielded some surprising finds.
“The ones that surprise me the most are otters. But yeah, they come travel the river and forage around,” The Outdoor Campus Naturalist Derek Klawitter said.
Video provides a moving perspective that a still camera just can’t capture.
“Obviously, if you get a picture of an animal just walking by a camera in a still photo, but actually to see him sniffing, jumping, do what he does in nature, that’s neat to see,” Klawitter said.
The Outdoor Campus and surrounding Sertoma Park offer plenty of prime vantage points to observe wildlife. But the staff selected a site near the park entrance as the best spot to record animals.
“It’s by a water source, it’s a natural travel area for animals coming and going throughout the area. We look for trails, we look for tracks and signs of the animals and we pretty much set up accordingly,” Klawitter said.
The high-definition video camera is very low-maintenance.
“As long as you keep batteries in them and a full SD card for the most part they are pretty self-sufficient. Cold weather will affect the battery life. But for the most part, turn them on, and let them go, and check them periodically,” Klawitter said.
The Outdoor Campus’s trail cameras are motion-activated. And that means even rustling leaves, and people, can trigger the record button.
“I always have to filter through the ones of me going out and picking up the camera,” Parker said.
Sometimes the trail cameras capture images of animals staring-down one another. Other animals aren’t shy about roughing-up the electronic “paw”-parazzi.
“We’ve also had a raccoon that’s actually come up and grabbed the camera and pulled it down. So they’re pretty interested in it when they notice it,” Parker said.
With the arrival of winter, the animals are a little less active now. But The Outdoor Campus’s video camera will keep its eyes open and be ready to record whatever’s walking in front of the lens.
“Some animals, like raccoons and skunks aren’t quite as active. They’re active on warm days. But for the most part, they’re going to be tucked-away,” Klawitter said.
The trail cameras also allow The Outdoor Campus staff to keep track of the development and well-being of the animals throughout the years. The pictures and videos also provide an eye-opening, candid view of the diversity of wildlife right in the heart of the city.