Results of Multiyear Wildlife Camera Study in Irvine

Results of a multiyear study of activity in a wildlife corridor connecting the Laguna Coast Wilderness Park to the Cleveland National Forest are now available for public view. Since the late 1990s, progress has been made on completing the 6-mile-long corridor, aimed at providing safe animal movement through the urban landscape to adjacent conservation areas in Laguna and Inland hills. This study has been done to examine how well the existing corridor is working and to identify improvements for enhanced wildlife passage. Laguna Greenbelt Inc., a local environmental organization, planned and executed the study, using 21 cameras to examine wildlife movements in the Coast to Cleveland Wildlife Corridor (also called the Irvine Wildlife Corridor and Orange County Wildlife Corridor). Data was collected by dedicated volunteers over nearly two years.

The study cameras were motion-triggered and automatically took pictures and videos of animals as they passed by the cameras, day and night. The resulting data set contains thousands of photos and showed bobcats, coyotes, raccoons, rabbits, many smaller mammals, and even people. 

After data collection, Kevin Clark, Director of Biological Services for the San Diego Natural History Museum, analyzed the findings and authored a report. 

“Most camera studies are three to six months long, but this study has almost two years of data,” he said of the study. “I’m really impressed with what this group did.” 

Images revealed a variety of surprising trends, such as human use of the wildlife corridor that discouraged animal activity and a concerning lack of animals in places where they had previously been more plentiful. Clark also noted that compared to a study published in 2007 by USGS in the same area, the data show that fewer target species are now frequenting the areas near road crossings, indicating a worrying trend toward fewer animals in our fragmented urban landscape. 

The final section of the report gives a list of some low-cost measures that can encourage the use of road crossings to a variety of animals. The full report can be found and downloaded free of charge here.

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