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Sonoma County parks come alive with wildlife at night

When most of us are cozy in bed, the parks and wildlife preserves we hike during the day are taken over by animals on the prowl for food and water. Increasingly, park and preserve management agencies are using motion-activated night-vision cameras to capture the activities of animals after dark.

Doshia Dodd, Educator at Sugarloaf Ridge State Park in Santa Rosa, uses the photography to teach guests about the different types of animals that occupy the park and emphasize the “leave no trace” principal of quiet and respectful wildlife observation.

“We are not the only ones using this land,” Dodd said.

The Pepperwood Foundation is using these motion-activated cameras around the clock to scientifically study, “the presence, location and viability of species in a region, how they migrate, utilize wildlife corridors, multiply and flourish.”

See video below for a few wildlife animals caught on film around Sonoma County (or click here).

At Pepperwood Preserve, the internationally recognized Wildlife Picture Index is being employed to categorize the images. In 2012, they were the first organization in North America to utilize this classification system and camera network. They have launched indexing programs at Pepperwood and Audubon Canyon Ranch's Modini Mayacamas Preserves. With Pepperwood input, Sonoma Land Trust, Sonoma County Agriculture Preservation and Open Space District and the Tamalpais Land Conservancy have all installed camera arrays.

See the above images of animals in their natural habitats courtesy of Audubon Canyon Ranch, Pepperwood Preserve, and Sugarloaf Ridge State Park, and the Sonoma Ecology Center.

For more information on the Wildlife Picture Indexing program, visit pepperwoodpreserve.org/project/wildlife-picture-index.

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