Call for citizen scientist volunteers!

Call for citizen scientist volunteers!

Do you have 1 to 5 hours a month for at least 3 months to help us improve our understanding of interactions between outdoor cats and wild birds?

To improve the information about the size of the outdoor cat population in Canada and the impact on wildlife, more research is needed to provide better data about the abundance, density and distribution of cats in relation to bird populations, habitat and human population density. Obtaining these data will help us gain a better understanding of both the animal welfare issues and the wildlife conservation issues around roaming cats and will help support decisions about strategies for cat management and mitigating their impact on wildlife.

Researchers from the University of Guelph, in collaboration with Nature Canada and Bird Studies Canada, are starting a project to assess the abundance and density of roaming cats using trail cameras run by citizen scientists across urban and rural areas. For the initial phase, we‘re seeking citizen scientists in Guelph, ON and Wellington County, ON to either allow land access or to deploy and run trail cameras starting in May 2018. The footage generated from the motion-activated cameras will be analyzed by the researchers to provide data on the numbers and locations of outdoor cats and wild birds.

Beginning in July 2018, we plan to scale up our estimates to cover other regions, and will be looking for volunteer citizen scientists from elsewhere in Canada to help deploy and run trail cameras on their property or in their neighbourhood beginning in July/August 2018 or later.

Time and Effort Commitments:

For volunteers offering access to their land, the only time commitment is getting in touch and letting us know you’re willing to help.

For citizen scientists prepared to set up and monitor trail cams, the time commitment is 1 to 5 hours per month for a minimum of 3 months (and a maximum of 12). The process involves deploying one to five cameras, depending on the scientist’s available time and the size of the property. Each volunteer will be asked to do one 72 hour period per month per camera location, and to visit each camera each evening prior to dusk to set up a lure (a small amount of canned fish). This will take 5 to 20 minutes per day depending on the travel time to each camera. We have a limited number of cameras available to loan out, or volunteer scientists can purchase a trail camera to keep at a reduced rate.

Contact: We would love your help with this research. If you are interested in helping, please contact Dr. Elizabeth Gow at