Officials Seek Volunteers to Log Photos of Urban Critters Captured by L.A.-Area Wildlife Cameras

A squirrel carrying a piece of pizza, left, and a coyote are seen in undated photos uploaded to the Wildlife of Los Angeles Project.

A squirrel carrying a piece of pizza, left, and a coyote are seen in undated photos uploaded to the Wildlife of Los Angeles Project.

Officials are looking for volunteers to help catalogue critters spotted on wildlife cameras in hopes that the data will improve city planning and conservation in the Los Angeles area.

The motion-sensor cameras have snapped tens of thousands of images over the past year, and biologists need help identifying what they contain — be it a bathing bobcat, preying coyote or even a squirrel making off with a slice of pizza, the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area said in a Facebook post.

Cameras involved in the project are situated within 1.25 miles of the L.A. River, stretching from Simi Hills at the eastern edge of Ventura County to downtown L.A. They’re positioned both more remote, rural areas and spots with more human activity, such as parks and golf courses, so that researchers can get comprehensive data.

Volunteers don’t need a scientific background or degree, they’ll just need to go through the photos and determine what type of animal or other features they may contain.

It’s a chance to see what’s living alongside the millions of humans in the nation’s second-largest metropolitan area, such as mountain lions, bears, coyotes, foxes, opossums and roadrunners.

The collective data will help identify spatial and long-term patterns of urban wildlife, with the goal of using it in city planning to mitigate threats posed by urbanization such as habitat loss, vehicle traffic and human and pet activity.

The project is being led by the Santa Monica Mountains Fund, a nonprofit partner of the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, with help from several other organizations including Citizens for Los Angeles Wildlife, Friends of Griffith Park, Friends of the Los Angeles River, Heal the Bay and the L.A. Conservation Corps.

To get involved, visit the Wildlife of Los Angeles photo collection on Zooniverse.com.

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