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Camera thefts steal glimpses of Thompson-Okanagan wildlife

A cougar peaks down the lens of a wildlife camera in a screen capture of video caught north of Kamloops Lake.
Image Credit: FACEBOOK/Wildsafe B.C.
April 13, 2017 - 6:30 PM

KAMLOOPS - It may not be what you expect to see in the forest, but if you happen to pass a camera in the backwoods, it should stay there.

To get a glimpse of life in the woods when no humans are around, people, like B.C. Wildlife coordinator and outdoorsman Frank Ritcey, leave cameras with motion sensors on them. Triggered when an animal is nearby, the cameras capture little moments of wild animal behaviour, but sometimes the cameras themselves are captured.

“I belong to a number of wildlife camera groups,” he says. “It’s a big problem.”

B.C. Wildsafe lost a camera this month to theft, taken from its nook in the woods, and he says its a common complaint and a hurdle for govement agencies using the cameras for studies. The theft is a financial one, but also means footage and information is lost.

The stolen cameras are a disappointment, Ritcey says.

“Unfortunately there are people who see something and take it,” he says. “You think people would understand you don’t take other people’s property.”

Ritcey was able to figure out where one of his stolen cameras ended up.

“It had rained the night before and the ground was nice and muddy,” he says. “I tracked them along this trail, about 1.5 km, from camera to hangout.

Once he located the camp and spotted his camera he alerted the authorities. The RCMP were able to deal with the situation and returned his camera.

“You let the professionals do that,” he says. “They rousted the people, got my camera, and found out they had some outstanding warrants.”

The cameras provide information and images used in a few different ways. Some wildlife organizations use them to keep track of animal numbers and ranges. For B.C. Wildlife, they use the footage to make short videos to share on social media, giving the wider population a view of wildlife impossible on a hike. Recently one of those cameras caught a cougar north of Kamloops Lake in extreme close up.

“That latest clip, you don’t get to see that otherwise,” he says. “The images we collect are a great way to bring the home the idea of keeping wildlife wild.

“If people can see this is what a bear is supposed to do out in the wild, it brings it home, that as much as anything can help people appreciate wildlife out in the wild.”


To contact a reporter for this story, email Brendan Kergin or call 250-819-6089 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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