Stephen Vantassel here, wildlife control consultant, bringing you another episode of Living the Wild Life for All You Pest Geek Fans out there. So thanks so much for listening. Hey, today I wanted to talk a little bit about trail cameras, trail cameras, now that they’re now that the prices dropped on a lot of them, as well as the size of the cameras and the quality has certainly gone up and certainly undergone a technological revolution. It’s certainly something that you may want to consider when you’re doing your work with pest control, particularly in my field of wildlife control that you may want to add to your arsenal. Trail cameras can do a lot for use.
Advantages of using tail cameras in Wildlife Control
Let’s talk a little about some of the advantages that they can do. Wonder taken cameras, they can pictures for you when you can’t be there. One of the things that’s so true about dealing with wildlife or pests in general is that they’re never doing what you want them to do when you’re all prepared for them doing. Who has time to be sitting in the blind all day waiting for an animal to do certain things? So in that regard, there are some advantages with using trail cameras because they can take pictures during the day and take pictures at night in their motion activated in some of the quality of the photograph. Photos can be quite good. If you want to spend the money for that level of quality in, you have good placement where there’s good action. But even on a lower level, they can be very helpful to identify. Problems that those small number of cases where you’re just not sure what the heck is going on with that particular site.
One of the challenges we have with wildlife control and I’m sure with pest control to look to a lesser extent is that customers lie. I mean, let’s be honest about it. They just lie in sometimes. You were hired by one person, let’s say the manager of a company, and he wants Animal X removed, but the workers underneath him or her don’t because they’re treating it like a corporate pet. This is certainly the case when it comes to things like cats. And so this is a dilemma that we can have where there may be free range cats or feral cats inside of inside of a facility and the manager doesn’t want them there. No one owns them or they brought him from home or you know how these things are. No one really wants take responsibility, but no one wants to get rid of them either. Manager wants them gone. Year hires your company to remove them. You’re setting up cage traps to remove the cats and someone’s and you just can’t seem to catch one. And you know, the baits gone or the traps close, the trap gets moved in and no one really at no one knows who’s doing it. And so what you can do is set up some trail cameras and find that individual or individuals who are messin with your traps because most states have laws against the disturbance of traps.
Now, when it comes to feral cats, as you may remember, a podcast I did earlier about this. You may want to go back to it, but I’m just using that as an illustration of when you have people manipulating your travels. This could be raccoons could have the same problem with raccoons where people are feeding the animals and aren’t wanting you to remove them. If you’re doing with apartment area and the owner landlord wants the raccoons removed, but the residents don’t know where some of the residences don’t. And all of a sudden, your traps are being destroyed, they’re being moved, they’re being disturbed. Animals are being let out in all the sudden.
Now you have a situation where there’s a trap, wise raccoon, and you have to now ratchet things up a little bit to capture that animal. Now that he is educated.
The trail camera can be helpful and you just don’t know what is going on
So other times, however, you find that the trail camera can be helpful and you just don’t know what is going on. What is exactly happening? There’s been some interesting work being done by some people who are doing rodent control like rats and things where they’re actually putting up trail cameras and finding out how are the rats interacting with their traps? How are they interacting in certain places? Are they actually being moving? Are they why are they getting the kind of control that they thought they should be getting in sometimes? It’s used as a learning experience where you’re finding out what exactly is causing the problem. Is it a fact? It is. Is it a rodent? Is it something else? So you can do a lot of different things with these cameras in the sense that, A, they can identify help you identify what exactly is going on, what animal is there and or animals. I should be plural here. We can’t rush to judgment in terms of the specific animal could be more than one. But also to identify and understand better about animal behavior. How are those animals interacting with your equipment? And that can be useful in terms of worker training or when you’re in a situation where animals are starting to break the rules and you’re not following the normal process of how they’re interacting with your traps or equipment.
So let’s reiterate what those three elements are again for the advantages of using trail cameras. Number one, it can help you identify people that are molesting with your equipment. Number two, it can help you identify what he had. A will actually is present at the location. And then third, what that animal is doing.
So you have some tremendous opportunities with the proper use of trail cameras.
Let me give you a fourth element for the advantages of trail cameras. That is, sometimes you can find some glamour shots, you can get some photos, sometimes even some video that can be useful for the marketing of your company. One of my constant drumbeats for the wildlife control community is take photos, take photos, take photos, take photos.
I beg, I plead, I cajole, I try to humiliate anything to get guys to just take a couple of seconds out of their day and take some photos.
You should be taking photos of some of the work you’re doing because of liability issues, particularly when you’re in doing repair type work or you’re working in areas where there’s been rough work done, things that are high liability you should be taking before and after photos, but you should also be taking photos that are going to be helping you advertise and market your business both to your clients and to the larger world around you.
Stop stealing photos off the Internet, use trail camera
There are plenty of people that are willing to sell you users of your photos. Sometimes they’ll even let you use it if you ask. But stop stealing photos from people. This is why I’ve gotten to a point where I’m really starting to watermark a lot of my lot of my photos. But I digress. Get your own photos or take a little bit of time and you find out. One of the things that I hope people get when they’re learning how to take photos is how much work is actually involved. Do you think it’s just a click of a of a shuttered not is a lot more going on?
But using a trail camera can certainly help you get some of that footage. That may be useful for your advertising work. It can also be useful for your internal training work. So what are you going to look for when you’re getting this trail camera? Couple of things you want to keep in mind. What’s your price point as a general rule? Not always, but as a general rule, the more you pay for your camera, the more features you’re going to get. Now, that being said, do you really need the high level end of these trail cameras?
Do you really need research quality trail cameras?
And chances are you don’t. But if you do want that, then you want to be able to spend the price and you may be getting up into two, three, four hundred dollar range of cameras. But for the vast majority of users out there, you can find cameras and games. You can find them on special for couple of cameras for 100 bucks. Couple of cameras. Four hundred and fifty bucks. And get something that’s decent, suitable for your needs. That’s going to get the job done. And if it gets stolen or someone takes a baseball bat to it, it’s not the end of the world now knows I’m not going to be talking about telephone or cell phone capable or wireless cables, trail cameras. We’re just talking about your run of the mill trail cameras that takes the camera and puts photos and puts it on a nasty drive SD disk. That’s what we’re really talking about today. So what are you looking for? Number one, you want to try to find a camera that’s going to be a fast shutter speed you want. Once that motion sensor has been triggered, you want that camera to fire quickly because the animals don’t stay still. A lot of times of nature. A lot of times being still means your means death. You’re going to be captured. You going to be spotted. So you’re going to be moving. So you want something that’s going to be down to about a half a half second or less.
Now, can you get away with other things? Sure. Especially if you’re dealing with a situation where you have a trail camera in front of a trap, for instance. Obviously, the animal is going to be hanging around the trap. You don’t need a wicked fast shutter speed, OK? But if you’re trying to catch animals in motion, they’re going to buy a location and say you’re trying to see if clients are following a particular trail or if raccoons are using a particular route, that you’re going to need some fast because the animal’s not stopping in front of the camera. He’s moving on through. You need a fast shutter speed. Number two, you should be getting a camera that obviously takes color photos through the day and then black and white images at night. As a general rule, that’s a pretty low ask. Most year your cameras, you’re going to have that.
How many megapixels are you going to need?
The question now is how many megapixels are you going to need or want in that particular camera? Now, let’s be clear here. When you’re talking about image size, generally, the more data that’s gathered by that camera, the better the quality of the picture. Because you’re able to blow it up. Think of it like the more piece of the way I talk about it is I talk about an image being grains of sand. Now, if you have 12000 grains of sand, you’re going to make a bigger picture than if you have six thousand grains of sand. But there comes a point when how big of a photo do you really need? Are you looking to make a wall up poster or are you just looking for a three by five? All right.
Generally speaking, a 3 megapixel photo can go a long way for what most people are going to be using a photo for. Clearly, if you have a six megapixel camera, you’re going to be able to do a little bit more and you have a little bit of wiggle room. But remember, megapixels only tell you part of the equation, the quality of the camera itself. What kind of lens do you have? What is the what is the angle of the lens? How good is the flash? How far away will it? Will it shine?
Those are all elements of the camera as well. So you can may have you can get a six megapixel piece of garbage. Right. If the camera lens isn’t very good. So balance that out a little bit and realize that you. Do you really need a 12 megapixel camera and understand the bit more megapixels you’re taking, the bigger the SD card you’re going to need. And so they could they could fill up faster than you think. Consider the kind of weather you need, blackout infrared or not blackout infrared.
Should be your default choice because it’s going to be when it shines at night, when it shines that infrared beam at night to illuminate the subject. The animal won’t see the light. Some animals are able to see that infrared light going off with in humans can sometimes if you’re looking at a camera carefully and you see it flash and times wholesale or red glow from it.
So you want blackout
That is when that’s something you don’t want because it can also be able to. Someone will pick up your camera at nighttime and be able to steal it faster. So you want blackout. If you can but understand, if you know that you’re going to be using your camera inside secure areas like attics, inside, fenced in areas, do you really need blackout because it’s going to pay a little bit more for that. Do you really need it? Chances are, no, you don’t need it. So, again, you may have your your lower end cameras that are going to be, you know, used in maybe higher risk areas and maybe your higher end cameras where you’re going to be a lot more secure. Or you can say, look, I’m going to use my blackout camera in places where it’s more likely to be stolen because it will be less visible to people walking by at night.
Keep in mind those particular elements. And size obviously is going to matter in terms of how its ease. It’s sometimes helpful to have cameras of the same type of brand. Some good brands that may be out there. I’m just one that I’ve heard of as Moultrie is pretty good. I’m trying to remember the type of game camera that I’ve used that I’ve had pretty good success with. But the name of it escapes me. My apologies.
But the reality is, is that there’s chances are you can talk to your friends and you’re going to get into a little bit. You only need a few. I mean, unless you’re going to go hog wild on this, you really only need two or three to get you going. You don’t have to spend a ton of money on doing it. Look for some sales a lot of times around Christmas time, maybe during as the fog is close, you’re going to see some sales and sometimes you can find the used ones at tag sales and garage sales where you don’t read some to play around with. You know, it’s one of those things choose good batteries, the batteries I can speak to, and that is the lithium.
The lithium batteries are really, really good.
I like the Energizer Lithium maxim ultimate lithium batteries like the double A’s. You’ll get the ultimate lithium energizer batteries.
They they’re really good last a long time. You’re paying a little bit of a premium for them, to be sure. But again, you don’t want the thing running out and they can be really good.
How are you going to use this camera?
All right. Let’s talk about camera use. How are you going to use this camera? Well, a couple of things you need to keep in mind.
Number one, you want to place the camera so that it’s not going to be facing the rising sun or the setting sun. Ideally, you want it facing a northerly direction. So it’s not going to pick up. So it’s not going to get blinded by the rising sun or the setting sun. Obviously, that’s not ideal, can’t always happen, but you need to think about where’s that son coming from? Because if the son’s in the wrong place, it’s just going to wipe out your camera. Number two, locate your camera in the place with a clear line of sight. I can’t begin to tell you how frustrating it is to place your camera in location. And all you get is hundreds of images of moving grass. Because I live in windy areas, there is moving grass. There’s a branch there and it keeps firing your camera. And all you do is fill up your desk with a bunch of junk.
Definitely keep that in mind.
Then finally, you need to think about security for your camera. Place it. You want to be sure it’s camouflage sufficient so it doesn’t stand out like a beacon. This is a little hard in the wintertime because people can follow your snow. You’re your snow tracks tool to a camera location.
So definitely keep that in mind. But you want it for most wildlife controllers. You want to put it high so someone has to climb something to get to it or hide it in such a way that it’s not going to be easy for someone to identify. And locate and steal on you. Lock it down. Some cameras come with some pretty good security. And so if someone wants to steal it, they’re going to have to bring some clippers and try to hack hack the way through the cable and that sort of thing. And that can be helpful in reducing that type of that type of a risk.
Think legalities here as well when using Trail Cameras
I haven’t mentioned that yet. Let’s talk a little bit about legalities. Some states, like my home state of Montana, does not allow the use of trail cameras that are going to help you track big game. Now, for most of our purposes and wildlife control, it shouldn’t be a problem, but it’s something to keep in the back of your mind. Can someone accuse you of saying, hey, you’re out here in the woods, you’re taking pictures because you want to get pictures, that big game, so you can then shoot it when it comes hunting season time? That is something you want to keep in the back of your mind, making sure that you have appropriate legalities.
You might want to have a clause in your contract when you’re talking with your client and say, you know, hey, I may be using cameras here. And so you want to be sure that you’re not taking photos of situations and things that could be, let’s say, little awkward for your client. And it’s certainly going to be something when you’re dealing with a criminal activity on your tribe as well.
You know, you might want to just sort of touch make sure your bases are covered on that, because you might get in trouble for that. Because remember, just because something is legal doesn’t make it wise. And sometimes we think something is working, but it may be legal.
So definitely keep keep those elements in mind. Trail cameras can be an important tool in your toolbox. But again, they’re just a tool and they can help you get some photos of interesting animal behavior, interesting video type work in cameras today. I’ve certainly come a long way both in terms of functionality in the lower price.
Something to keep in the back of your mind, particularly when you’re dealing with that job that’s just been a pain in the butt and you’re not sure what the heck is going on. Art.
Trail camera can help resolve the questions that you have in mind.
Hey, would love feedback from you. If you have an idea, a topic that you’d like to have covered here in the while, living the wild life as part of the pestgeek podcast. Drop me an email. My emails.Wildlifecontrolconsultant@Gmail.com
You can get a hold me love to hear from you. Get some feedback. If you have a topic boss looking for individuals and businesses are interested in having an interview. Loved it. Loved the interview. Reach out to me, talk and market some things we’re going to. Otherwise we’ll just keep talking about what I like to talk about.
And that may not be what you need out out in the field. Would love to get your feedback. So definitely think about how you can help move this forward because we’re trying to make this an informative program for you out in the field so we can build that pesky world. Hey, thanks for your time. I’m Stephen Vantassel, wildlife control consultant.
Back to you, Frank.