Jennie Hawkins; Oiled Wildlife Care Network, Karen C. Drayer Wildlife Health Center;;

The Oiled Wildlife Care Network often deploys trail cameras during oil spills to determine wildlife species present in the area, and if they are oiled. To our knowledge, no studies have reported the accuracy of trail camera-based wildlife oiling determination. The purpose of this pilot study was to determine if trail camera photos can be used to reliably assess the oiling status of animals. Crude oil was applied to dark skunk pelts, and diesel to light-grey rabbit pelts to cover 0%, 25%, 50%, 75%, and 100% of the pelts’ surface area. Photos of the pelts were taken with trail cameras at 2m, 4m, and 6m distance from the cameras. Ten individuals familiar with oiled wildlife reviewed 21 photos each and were instructed to identify if the animal was oiled and the percentage of oiling. Observers correctly identified about 50% of the photos as oiled/non-oiled. For oiling percentage, about 23% of the photos were correctly identified (mostly within 2-4m of the cameras and 0-75% oiling percentage). These initial results suggest that using trail cameras to identify oiled wildlife may have limited use. Future directions will explore the use of an artificial intelligence program to bolster oiled wildlife identification accuracy.

Wildlife and Technology - Cameras  Zoom Presentation