Land protection and restoration improves habitat quality for wildlife of all kinds. Some species are far-ranging and needs access to large amounts of land to thrive. While it is not always possible to protect large tracts of land, if wildlife corridors are maintained to connect natural areas then these wildlife can better utilize the open spaces.
A wildlife corridor is a continuous swath of natural or agricultural lands. These open areas connect habitats to maintain ecosystem resilience. These areas allow resources, like water and nutrients, to pass through while allowing safe passage for wildlife.
To help us determine what is living in our watershed, the Estuary Program worked with Dr. John Perrine of Cal Poly’s Biology Department to set up a network of wildlife cameras. These tools allow scientists to collect photographic evidence of rarely species, with little expense, relative ease, and minimal disturbance. They allow for the collection of baseline population data on mammals and birds where only estimates were possible before.
This study used wildlife cameras to determine the distribution and activity levels of medium to large mammals throughout the Morro Bay watershed. Monitoring was conducted in the fall of 2018 and in the winter of 2019. Each season sampled a different site within the Morro Bay Watershed, with each site having multiple stations (camera locations). Cameras were triggered by heat and motion to capture images of animals. The sites were selected after analysis of animal trails, water, and expected high use areas. Both sites had similar species detections, with mountain lions spotted at both sites, and no presence of bears at either site. Non-native feral pigs and red fox were detected at only one station fox. Deer and coyotes were frequently detected.