A bear walks through tall green grass.
Trail Cam Photo of Bear Trail cam photo of bear in Wilderness Lakes Reserve © TNC

Stories in Michigan

A Snapshot in Time

Explore the diversity of Michigan's wildlife through photos snapped by trail cameras in the Upper Peninsula.

Trail cams. Think of them as nature’s doorbell cameras. They give you an idea of who may be wandering past your... tree. The Nature Conservancy utilizes devices like these to learn how wildlife species are using our preserves in Michigan.

Two black bear clubs play in a forest.
Well Hello Bear Two black bears stop in front of a trail camera in the Two Hearted River Forest Reserve. Approximately 12,000 black bears live in Michigan, with 10,000 residing in the Upper Peninsula. © TNC

Watching Wildlife

While you may have spotted a salamander slinking through the grass or a crane soaring through the sky, it can be difficult to spot some of Michigan's more elusive species. That's where trail cameras come into play.

The lands and waters that we protect serve as vital habitats for a wide range of species including black bears, eastern gray wolves, moose, bobcats, migratory birds and more. By strategically placing these simple cameras on our lands, we can collect data to learn more about the health of an area.
A crane passes through a forest.
Sandhill Spotted A sandhill crane is photographed crossing in front of a trail camera in the Two Hearted River Forest Reserve. © TNC
A moose meanders along a forest path.
Meandering Moose A moose wanders along a path in the McMahon Lake Preserve. Moose are native to Michigan and used to roam across the state. Now, they can only be found in the Upper Peninsula. © TNC
A thin deer walks through a green forest.
Monitoring Wildlife This deer appears to be quite thin given the large amounts of grass nearby. This kind of observation is one we may not get without using a trail camera. © TNC

Trail Cameras in Action

Trail cameras have played a critical role in observing Wilderness Lakes Reserve, a remote area in the Michigamme Highlands. This land is part of a conservation corridor that TNC, along with our partners and forest owners, is working to build in the area.

By connecting a network of protected lands to create this corridor, iconic Michigan wildlife like moose and eastern gray wolves have the room they need to roam. Both of these species used to reside across the state but can now only be found in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. Providing a contiguous stretch of forest is essential to ensure their continued presence in the state.

Night Life

Another benefit of using trail cameras? We can get a glimpse of how some wildlife spend their nights. Some animals prefer to travel incognito while others are escaping the summer heat. Whatever the reason, you can often capture a more diverse array of wildlife out at night. 

A moose wanders past a trail camera at night.
Night Life A moose walks past a trail camera at night. The species continues to rebound after disappearing from Michigan in the late 1800s. © TNC

A Snapshot in Time

There's something special about viewing wildlife through our trail cameras. You get to see them in their most natural state, not distracted or surprised. Just a snapshot in time.

Ready to learn more? Explore the strategies we're using to protect Michigan's land and water for people and nature.