Every day, scores of animal species furtively scurry across Boulder landscapes to search for food and to find resting places. Most often, no one – not even City of Boulder Open Space and Mountain Parks (OSMP) staff – ever sees them.

But sometimes OSMP staff is fortunate enough to get an up-close look at local wildlife thanks to a system of motion-detecting cameras that passively capture snapshots and videos of animals residing in their natural state. Currently, OSMP has 9 cameras across its 46,000-acre land system. Watch a a short video of recent footage these cameras have captured!

“The motion-detecting cameras provide us a unique opportunity to learn more about how local species use the landscape around us while minimizing our presence in sensitive habitats,” said

Will Keeley, senior wildlife ecologist for Open Space and Mountain Parks. “These cameras play an important role in helping OSMP staff identify important wildlife areas. The information we collect from them is used to recommend habitat-protective measures to help protect sensitive natural areas.”

OSMP wildlife cameras come to life when an animal steps in front of them. When that happens, the cameras snap a still photograph. The cameras then have the ability to capture video for 10 to 30 seconds. At night, the cameras use infrared light to create photographs that minimize disturbances to nocturnal wildlife.

OSMP places its cameras in corridors where animals are likely to travel, such as road underpasses. The department also places cameras in areas where there are signs of wildlife activity, such as footprints in snow or game trails crossing fence-lines.

“Sometimes we put cameras in locations where we think we’ll encounter enigmatic fauna like American beavers or black bears,” said Christian Nunes, a wildlife ecologist with OSMP. “We are fortunate to live in an area with a rich diversity of wildlife species, and these cameras help us to learn what animals are really out there, and what they are up to over the course of a day, a week, or even years.”