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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
Sports >  Outdoors

Remote cameras provide ‘a special look’ at Washington wildlife

By Jordan Tolley-Turner For The Spokesman-Review

The walk into the mountains amongst the tall cedars and ferns. The constant chirping of birds. The sun glimmering through holes in the canopy or drops of rain falling from shaggy limbs.

Sure, the idea of encountering a bear, mountain lion or moose may be a frightening one, but the scariest thing you’re likely to meet here is a ruffed grouse that loves to hide in plain sight and explode into a ball of enormous wing flaps; just about scaring the soul from your body.

Usually, it’s beautifully calm. And a little box wrapped around a tree with a motion-sensor camera inside can give you a special look into the secret world of Washington wildlife .

As long as I can remember I’ve been fascinated by wildlife, their habits, and their way of life outside the human view. Once I found out that a camera that didn’t need a person to operate it could shine a light into their personal world, I was hooked.

I may have first discovered and read about camera traps in books on the African Serengeti and tigers of southeast Asia, but my interests have always focused on the Pacific Northwest and in particular the forests of Northeast Washington where I have been fishing, camping and hiking more times than I can count. So when I received my first trail camera (probably as a birthday or Christmas gift) about six or seven years ago, my ultimate photography goals became wolves, whose intricate pack dynamics continue to captivate me.

After a couple of years at random locations, including my own backyard, and capturing deer, skunks and my own cats, me and my mom, Kimberly Tolley, went to a small, relatively untouched valley in Pend Oreille County that is mostly public land.

To say we struck gold is an understatement.

Two years in the lower valley led to countless moose, bobcats and black bear. The past two years on a game trail on one of the surrounding mountains, especially in 2021, has led to even more, such as elk, mountain lions and the pack of wolves I was in search of.

But the ability to capture the amazing wildlife of Northeast Washington isn’t the only reason I love this “hobby” of mine. In fact, there’s so much more.

Spending time in the forests surrounding Spokane – or even the drive to wherever you choose – is one of the reasons I enjoy spending time outside.

There are plenty of beautiful wooded areas, secluded meadows and snowcapped mountains to enjoy around Spokane , a fact that sometimes goes underappreciated by those who don’t venture far from the city.

The hike and drive also create great time with family and friends, especially given that tight work and school schedules limit time together and keep some stuck within city limits. Whether it’s spending the time in conversation, bonding over the excitement that comes with an awaited capture, or simply being with good company, camera trapping is a great avenue for quality time with loved ones.

All in all, camera trapping has brought me priceless memories of wildlife and time in the beautiful forests of the Pacific Northwest. And with plenty of cameras for under $100, anybody can do it. I urge you to give this more than fulfilling hobby a shot.

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