Mount Tamalpais is a beautiful spot to hike, picnic, and generally take in views of the ocean and Bay Area. It is also, of course, home to a diverse population of animals — the exact count of which is rather difficult to pinpoint. Enter One Tam, a conservation group that CBS 5 reports has installed motion-sensor cameras around the mountain in an attempt to document the creatures that call it home.
“Wildlife data is particularly difficult to collect in a meaningful way, so when we learned about this technique it looked like a solution to a long-standing problem,” Janet Klein of the Marin Municipal Water District told the channel. "I think we’ve probably collected more than two million images."
The images, cataloged on the group's website, are stunning.
The cameras work both during the day and at night, and with images downloaded every six weeks, researchers have started getting a better understanding of the animal population's habits. “And as we collect more data, we can start looking at what we have out there and then trends over time,” Golden Gate National Recreation Area wildlife ecologist Bill Merkle told ABC 7.
This is part of a larger project known as the Marin Wildlife Picture Index Project, which "utilizes motion-activated wildlife cameras that are positioned along a grid at regular intervals across a large area [...] to understand wildlife populations well enough to identify what healthy populations look like, identify early signals of distress, and avoid population declines."
In other words, the more animal pictures snapped the more conservationists know, and the better they can work to protect the North Bay creatures. So, basically, these adorable photos are actually good for the animals. If you're interested in volunteering with the group, information to do so can be found on the One Tam website.
Related: SFist photo: Snow Falling on Mt. Tam