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Wildlife Monitoring on the Irvine Ranch Natural Landmarks

PictureHidden camera image of a mountain lion

​While the Irvine Ranch Natural Landmarks are known for beautiful outdoor settings and diverse flora and fauna, they are also the native habitat and home for many local wildlife species throughout the Orange County region. By working alongside landowners including OC Parks, the City of Irvine and City of Newport Beach, Irvine Ranch Conservancy constantly strives to accommodate the needs of wildlife while also considering the recreational needs of the public.
 
One of the key programs the Conservancy uses to observe various native animal species is the Wildlife Monitoring Project. This project employs camouflaged cameras throughout the Landmarks to gain close looks at our native wildlife, including rare and protected birds and mammals. Heat and motion trigger sensors in the cameras, which then allow Conservancy staff and volunteers to gather images that indicate the health, movement, and distribution of wildlife. These data inform the work of staff and the landowners to protect important species, but the images also provide the public ways to explore the Landmarks.

​Wildlife monitoring also helps scientists and landowners understand the habits and behaviors of local wildlife, especially since wildlife activity can change in response to seasons, rainfall levels, wildfire and the amount of human activity on the land. For example, some of the native species that are usually more sensitive to these factors include mule deer, bobcats and mountain lions. The hidden cameras, also known as camera traps, even help document injuries or diseases that the animals might have.
 
As the Conservancy’s longest-running data-gathering program, the Wildlife Monitoring Project has collected more than 900,000 photos of everything from golden eagles to skunks. The cameras have also been helpful in capturing other valuable information about unauthorized human access and destructive behavior that disturbs wildlife or increases fire risk, which is passed on to law enforcement agencies.
 
Nature enthusiasts can admire local wildlife in their natural habitat through Irvine Ranch Conservancy’s Wildlife Social Media Takeover from December 11-18. During this week, a different photo from one of our 57 wildlife cameras will be featured daily, along with information about the animal and its territory. Experience the spectacular virtual Wildlife Takeover by tuning into each of the Irvine Ranch Natural Landmarks social media pages including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
 
The next time you visit the open spaces and discover a wildlife monitoring camera, keep in mind that the camera is there to help maintain both wildlife and nature! To learn more about wildlife monitoring on the Landmarks, visit www.LetsGoOutside.org.