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Deer hunters needed for offal wildlife research program

Ely Echo - Staff Photo -

by Parker Loew

The Offal Wildlife Watching Program, a research and citizen science project with the University of Minnesota Extension, is looking for Hunters to help with their survey.

The purpose of their research is to understand what and when Minnesota wildlife species use hunter-provided deer gut piles (offal) and how it affects wildlife food webs.

“We ask volunteer hunters to set up camera traps on the offal they leave in the field to monitor and capture images of wildlife visitors for one month,” said Grace Milanowski, Coordinator of the Offal Wildlife Watching Program.

They will also utilize volunteers to help classify and identify wildlife in the many thousands of captured images.

“We’re actively recruiting hunter volunteers before deer hunting seasons start and are also trying to spread awareness of the project so Minnesota residents can follow our results and the interesting images we capture,” Milanowski said.

The program will provide the project cameras for the hunters if they do not have their own.

In past years the project has had success capturing many of Minnesota’s animal species, and some people might not expect.

“There are quite a lot of flying squirrels we have captured. We have a lot of cool images of fishers which people don’t usually see in the woods,” Milanowski said. “A lot of raccoons and possums. Even some interesting animals such as horses and deer are eating from the piles as opportunistic meals.”

Milanowski said one of the motivations for the project which started in 2018 was curiosity.

“It’s a unique combo of science and using volunteers to do something cool. We are all just curious about what is happening in the woods,” Milanowski said.

Funding for the project was provided by the Minnesota Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund as recommended by the Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources (LCCMR).

If you are interested in participating, reach out to Milanowski

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