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Critter cams: Natural History Museum's videos of wild visitors

May 10, 2012 | 12:21 pm

The Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County has installed cameras to capture urban wildlife roaming its new North Campus garden
The Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County's new garden employs, as one would expect, a cadre of groundskeepers to groom 3.5 acres. But it also has a senior media producer, a full-time staffer who with the help of motion-activated cameras, or critter cams, documents animals living or traveling through the space.

The Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County has installed cameras to capture urban wildlife roaming its new North Campus garden"They really allow us to get an idea day and night of what animals are hanging out here," said Sam Easterson, the producer for the museum's North Campus garden and nature lab, scheduled to open next year.

Easterson said seven cameras are in continuous operation and have captured thousands of images of animals such as the California ground squirrel, a specific species that Easterson said hasn't been spotted on the museum grounds for 20 years, and a baby opossum born this spring in the garden's opossum den.

Today the museum is launching a dedicated Fickr link to these photos and videos, which highlight the mission of enticing wildlife to the North Campus.

The Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County has installed cameras to capture urban wildlife roaming its new North Campus gardenSo-called camera traps are most often used by conservationists in the wild, Easterson said. Their use in an urban setting, he said, is to "build a case that wildlife lives here. Curators can't be outside identifying birds all the time, but the cameras can."

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-- Susan Carpenter

Photos, from top: California ground squirrel, baby opossum, Cooper's hawk. Credit: Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County

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