Trail cameras, once used mostly by hunters and wildlife researchers, are moving into the suburban back yard. The cameras, which can be attached to trees or poles and set to record images of creatures that pass by, are being purchased both by nature lovers who want a glimpse of the wildlife living around them and by people interested in a little extra security.
"Most hunters already have them these days," said Danny Thompson, retail events coordinator for the Cabela's store in Medford, Minn. "The fun of seeing that a big deer passed by your trail cam in the night is exciting, it keeps you going, even if you never see that deer again."
That same thrill is being experienced by rural and suburban homeowners like Will Weaver, a writer and teacher who lives near Bemidji. He recently posted to Facebook a shot of a couple of otters in his back yard that he'd never seen before, and a nighttime shot of a fox staring right at the camera. But some farmers are buying the trail cams to thwart gas thieves, finding the $300 or more they'll pay for a higher-end camera worth the peace of mind.
"A lot of farmers have a big fuel tank, and with the price of gas, and other people knowing the tank is there, this is a way to deter theft," Thompson said. "Some of these cameras are so sophisticated now they can take a night picture or even video without even flashing, just a barely noticeable infrared lights up, so it can not only ID thieves, but it doesn't spook animals walking by, either. "
The more advanced cameras can take a much more focused, detailed picture, as well, he said. "I have them sent to my phone, and once I got a hummingbird. What are the chances of capturing a shot of something that moves that fast?"
Kristin Tillotson • 612-673-7046