A thousand fascinating stories unfold every day on the many hunting trails, trails and meadows that weave through the forests, mountains and wetlands of the Yukon.
A silent and disciplined observer, leaning against a tree, could possibly see the whole troop of characters pass by: a mule deer followed by two fawns, a curious family of river otters, a grizzly bear scratching its back on a tree and many others. others .
For one person, seeing it all with their own eyes would be next to impossible, but with his array of motion-activated cameras, David Troup sees more than most.
Troup installed his first two surveillance cameras in 2018. Equipped with a motion sensor, the cameras he securely locks to trees in the woods of southern Yukon, take a photo or record a short video clip when he there is movement in front of the lens. A few years after pursuing his hobby, Troup now has up to 15 cameras in the field at any one time over a wide area.
When he returns to see what was recorded on the cameras, Troup has found it all, from mundane bits of grass blowing in the breeze filling his memory card to a grizzly bear charging through the frame.
The summer after installing the cameras for the first time, Troup picked up the clips that reinforced the importance of the hobby to him. He said he really enjoyed seeing a young lynx before later identifying the same cat by markings on his forelegs once he was an adult but still walked past his cameras.
Lynx images, which Troup most reliably collects by installing cameras on “lynx latrines”, have earned him some recognition from researchers. Troup said other species of feral cats have been documented scratching piles of forest debris with their hind legs as a form of scent marking. He said he was contacted by a researcher who was unaware of other videos of lynx scratching the ground to leave their scent behind in the same way as other big cats.
The researcher and others can see and enjoy Troup’s videos because he posts them on a Facebook page called Yukon Wildlife Cams which is followed by almost 9,000 people. A video of a grizzly bear posted on the Troup page recently went viral and was shared by websites such as Yahoo and USA Today.
Troup said the Facebook page led to posts from people interested in Yukon wildlife who live as far away as Germany and Australia. With those viewing Troup’s page, he said he is discussing trail cam photography with a community of enthusiasts around the world. He said online forums are a good place to discuss tactics and see what people are capturing on cameras in Africa, Asia and other far-flung places with their own array of unique animals.
While videos of bears, wolves, and big cats seem to generate the most interest online, Troup says much smaller movements have triggered some of his more unique clips. A favorite catch from last year was a squirrel harvesting mushrooms and stashing them on tree branches to dry and cache for the winter. He added that he also hopes to get some good pictures of the little weasel-like fisherman.
For newcomers interested in trail photography, Troup said finding a camera that will meet their needs is important. From there, he said he was willing to find good spots for a camera by drag and mistake.
Learning the tracking and behavior of animals in order to set up and capture images of a particular species is also helpful. A walk in the woods with Troup as he checked a chain of cameras was regularly interrupted as he inspected the claw marks left by bears on the trees, the marks on the ground and the pieces of fur clinging to the under- drink.
While he enjoys talking about what his cameras are picking up with people, Troup said he moves the cameras when he sees people appearing in the footage. This is both to avoid recording strangers without their knowledge and to ensure that its cameras are not in a location where they are likely to be stolen.
As a result, his camera settings tend to be deeper in the bush than most casual walkers will pass, but even on some trails quite close to his home, the diversity of Troup wildlife recordings is impressive.
“As the crow flies, we’re probably less than a mile from the road, probably two miles from the houses, aren’t we? But I got it all here, ”Troup said, pulling a camera out of its protective case.
He said grizzly bears, black bears and wolverines have walked past this camera in the past year, along with the most commonly seen deer and coyotes.
“I think in order to get a wider variety of species at this point, I have to kind of stretch my limits a bit.”
Going forward, Troup said he would like to capture footage of the elk or wild horses that live west of Whitehorse. He said a cougar, Canada’s largest feline but a very rare sight in the Yukon, would be another wonderful addition to his growing album of photos and videos.
Contact Jim Elliot at [email protected]