Wildlife Animal Cams: More than Cute Critters

River otters. Photo courtesy of Friends of the Mississippi (FMR).

River otters. Photo courtesy of Friends of the Mississippi (FMR).

It’s hard to resist a romp of otters.

Our park’s recent animal cam videos have gotten about a hundred and fifty thousand views, but there’s more to the story than adorable otters acting playful. Otters aren't your everyday LOL cats.

The videos show that our urban national park is home to many kinds of animals, including some wildlife most of us never get a chance to see close up. As Ranger Allie notes, “For coyote and river otter, two very intelligent and elusive carnivore species, seeing them in the wild is very rare since they usually avoid humans at all cost.”

Rangers study the videos to learn more about where and how animals live within the park, and see how animals interact with one another. As Ranger Allie explains, otters may rely on beavers to keep water open. The beavers shape the environment—building dams and lodges—and the otters take advantage of that beaver-improved environment.

Sometimes, trail cams offer clues about mysteries in the park, like a deer carcass or recently killed fox. Rangers Jordan and Neil set a trail cam to scope out what happens next with the fox.Watch this fox trail cam video

To rangers, the animal cams are remote infra-red motion triggered cameras. By any name, the animal cams require some skill and luck. Rangers have gone weeks without capturing any signs of wildlife. Other times, the cameras are spot on. Watch this heron video

Like the DNR’s popular Eagle Cams, our park’s animal cams connect people to wildlife. Maybe the videos will inspire you to get outside and explore. But if you go scouting for wildlife, take a tip from Ranger Allie and don’t get too close. “We try to interact as little as possible (with wildlife) and not return for a couple of weeks. We give them their space.” Watch this coyote video

From otters to heron to coyotes, it’s hard to resist seeing wild animals caught on camera. So we’ll keep the cameras rolling, and hope you keep on clicking.Watch rangers set up trail cams