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This blog is predominately about camera trapping in California. We camera trap to save our souls and to teach primary school students about biology and conservation. We will also touch on other camera trapping news and musings, sets from afar, mediocre herpetology, sucky birding, and other natural history discussions.

Monday, October 24, 2011

The White Whale (Black Bear slight return)

"Aye, aye! and I'll chase him round Good Hope, and round the Horn, and round the Norway Maelstrom, and round perdition's flames before I give him up."

For the past two years, the infamous Black Bear of Marin has haunted this particular camera trapper, playing the role of Moby Dick to my Ahab.
Several reports have emerged from Point Reyes, across the county border in Petaluma and most recently at Kent Lake.
To capture images of a bear would be truly incredible -- for the species has been missing from Marin/Southern Sonoma for over 100 years!

On the heels of the latest report, I resumed the quest and headed out to Kent Lake.
Two cams were deployed, one focused on a set of boulders, the second in a circle of burned redwoods.

The anticipation was excruciating, but I somehow managed to hold off a check-in visit for 3 weeks...

The Results:
Redwood Cam

This was simply a horribly designed set. No bear and I deserve the results. Just going to walk away from this one.

Boulder Cam

I danced with the devil here, placing an unlocked cam in a location not terribly far from a trail. Perhaps, there is even more Ahab in me than I care to admit...

set view from behind boulder

10.13  10:22 PM

10.20  3:42 PM

I dig the gray foxes and to get an afternoon capture with them just chillaxing on a rock is a treat. Even without the bear, a feeling of success was attained.

However, the quest will continue...


  1. Where the heck did bear lightning come from? That is amazing.

  2. How on earth do you guys manage to keep from getting your cams stolen??!! The second I'd walk away from a camera not bolted and python locked to a tree in a steel security box, it would be stolen. Even with all that effort they get stolen! Private property...remote location...or not...I can't keep the thieves away.

    I'm very hopeful that I can find some sites as secure as yours in the future.

    Good on ya!

  3. Well, we did get one stolen on restricted land. Most other sites are well hidden or restricted. Maybe people actually respect private property a bit better out west?

    But my real guess is the much smaller amount of hunters. Hunters are more likely to be off trail and recognize the value of the camera whereas hikers have passed them, smiled and moved on. Off trail cameras will be much less likely to be seen by hikers too. I have gotten a few people on mine but they were all biology researchers and luckily respected the project.

    The cams in the Yuba Pass area are so well hidden that we usually wander around for 20 minutes looking for them even with a GPS coordinate.

  4. Adding the people we worry about the most about are the people growing pot on public land. They may do more than steal your camera if they find it.

  5. I got lucky with this one, Trailblazer.
    Even though the cam is off trail and cannot be seen from the only real entry point, I learned that a decent amount of activity occurs in the area.
    When I went out to pick up the cam a friend and her husband happened to be hiking out to the lake. While we walked out to the cams it was mentioned to me that a geocache was in close vicinity.

  6. Oh man! Christian, glad you got the cam back un-molested!

    JK: I think you're on to something....I would be shocked if it weren't hunters that stole my cams in the past. Usually young hunters seem to be the culprits. Older hunters are more mature and respect others' property. I also think you might be right in that we probably have more hunting (per unit area) than you guys do out west.....just alot more open area out there for hunters than on the heavily fragmented agricultural landscapes in the midwest.

    The pot growers are another good point. They've got alot to loose and everything to gain by messing up your camera (or you, when you come back to get the cam). In North Carolina...over in the game lands....I was with a buddy herping and he showed us a side road where he came across a make-shit meth factory in the middle of nowhere (containers, a microwave on a table, tin foil....hot plates...the works) just abandoned. He said he was pretty glad it was abandoned when he happened across it and I was glad to have never accidentally found one!