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Trail Camera Contest Winners

Posted Saturday, March 2, 2024
— Connections 2024 Winter/Spring

Captivating carnivore behavior (or animals rubbing against sharp objects) led the pack of entries for Cold Hollow to Canada's inaugural trail camera contest. Our judging panel of CHC board members and staff was delighted at the 55 submissions and had a tough time choosing between them--so much so that we had to resort to tiebreaker rules to choose a single winner between the top two submissions!

Joan Hildreth and the Montgomery Keeping Track team submitted the winning fisher video, which ultimately took top prize for its beautiful framing and rare glimpse of this animal in daylight conditions. The video features two clips, spaced two months apart, of a male fisher rubbing against a scent-marking post to convey messages of his presence, territoriality, and breeding readiness to potential mates and competitors. Fishers often seek out pointy prominences, like the sharp fragment of tree stump visible in the video, to rub against. It looks like it would be painful, but it probably works best for catching and carrying his scent!

Heather Strachan sent in the runner-up video, well worth the four mintues of viewing, of a bear encountering a deer skull (complete with antlers) in early April. Heather stumbled upon the skull herself, lying on the ground in a clearing, and shares: "I figured it had probably been left there by a coyote or some sort of scavenger and decided to set up a game camera to see who would come back and drag it off. Far from just seeing an animal pick the skull up and drag it away, I was lucky enough to obtain some fascinating videos of different species interacting with the skull in different ways--including birds perching, a fox gnawing on the antlers the same way a dog chews a bone, and even a fisher pulling the meat off and scent marking on top of it the skull! But this juveneile black bear provided by far the most entertaining and educational video... As you will see, after he finished enjoying the skull, he put an end to my camera spying by nudging the camera so that it was facing the ground and couldn't take any more videos!"

Three additional submissions also earned Honorable Mentions: David Gottshall's beautifully-lit bobcat video, Jason Michaud's black bear on a log crossing, and Joan Hildreth/Montgomery Keeping Track's sequence of a bear cub climbing a tree.

Joan shares about the bear cub photo sequence: "The series starts with two images of a mother bear marking a red pine. She then appears to be giving her young cub a bit of a boost onto the tree while she’s on all fours. In the next photo, the mother is on her hind legs and seems to be providing support as the little cub climbs further up until... the cub is no longer on the tree, but a piece of bark is missing where the cub was. The little one must have dislodged the bark and fallen off the tree! The mother is looking down, probably at the poor cub who is unexpectedly back down on the ground. The fall obviously didn’t deter the cub from climbing the tree again, though. The last photo shows the little one right back on it, this time without the mother bear’s direct support. (Way to go, little one!) We believe that, not only is this series of photos fun to look at, but it provides a sense of the special relationship between mother bear and cub, and is a reminder to all of us of the importance of caring for others and being cared for as well as the value of resilience and perseverance."

Here is a gallery of additional entries, each of them offering just what we were seeking for this contest: beautiful compositions, interesting behaviors, and/or good stories behind the shot!

We are already making plans to run this contest again next Fall/Winter, and we can't wait to see the results. In the meantime, feel free to reach out to wildlife@ with your wildlife sightings! Our WildPaths program is always looking for volunteers to help us monitor for rare species and identify wildlife corridors. 

Captivating carnivore behavior leads CHC’s inaugural trail cam contest