Wildlife cameras set up in the Point Reyes National Seashore are offering glimpses of rarely seen animals in the park that often move under cover of darkness.
The cameras first went into place as part of a U.S. Geological Survey project after the 1995 Vision Fire that scorched 12,354 acres in the area to determine how wildlife fared.
Since then, the cameras have snapped more than 13,000 pictures of 58 species of wildlife, including 26 species of mammals and 30 species of birds. Biologists were particularly interested in seeing how medium-sized and larger mammals were faring after the big fire.
"We were able to determine that they survived the fire quite well," said
Gary Fellers, research biologist with the USGS who heads the wildlife camera program.
The photos -- as well as video -- from as many as six cameras triggered by infrared motion detector sensors have captured mountain beavers, spotted skunks, long-tailed weasels, bobcats and mountain lions among other rarely seen creatures.
"It has become a long-term data gathering project that helps us learn more and document what is out here," said John Dell'Osso, chief of interpretation at the national seashore.
There are a few species known to be in the park, porcupines and ring-tailed cats among them, that have escaped the cameras' lenses.
And when a bear was reported to be in the park in late 2010, Fellers set out a camera in hopes of getting an image.
"No luck with that one," he said.
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