Become a citizen scientist with Candid Critter Program

Updated: Dec. 29, 2016 at 6:04 PM EST
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PENDER COUNTY, NC (WECT) - Did you know there are more than 59 different species of animals in North Carolina?  Many common in Southeastern North Carolina include deer, fox, vultures and even coyote.

North Carolina State University has partnered with the NC Wildlife Commission and the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences in Raleigh for a new program called NC Candid Critters.

The three-year camera trap project just launched this month, with the goal of finding out where different species live in our state, county by county.

Once scientists receive the data, they can then use it to study how wildlife interacts with the environment and with humans.

Lead Scientist Roland Kays runs the program out of the Biodiversity Lab at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences.

"You don't need to be a scientist to run a camera," Kay explained. "We can now work with citizens to have them run the camera traps, and they get the fun of seeing these pictures and learning about animals."

And best of all it's free and easy.  Just check out the kit from your local library, after taking a quick online course.

Right now the kits are available in Pender and Bladen counties but should be in all 100 counties of NC in the next two months.

Since the launch, the camera traps have netted in more than 4 million photos that are given scientists an up-close and personal look at what's lurking in many citizens backyards.

"We might get hundreds of thousands of pictures on one camera trap, most of them are not that great, but it's all about a game of wait and see," Kay said. "You get plenty of pictures of squirrel butts as they are walking away, and then you get this one awesome up close shot of squirrel staring at the camera with a nut in its mouth you get excited about it and it's so worth it."

Kay says NC's Candid Critters will be the largest camera trap survey ever, with a goal of 20-30,000 active sites over the next three years.

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