A Dallas-based company has come up with a tool to help wildlife biologists keep an eye on birds and animals from a distance and under most weather conditions.
The "Thermal-Eye" technology made by L-3 Communications Infrared Products lets biologists set up a video camera in a remote location, turn it on, and leave it there. Powered by solar and wind power, the cameras have night vision capabilities to monitor wildlife round-the-clock.
At Guadalupe Mountains National Park in Texas, for instance, the cameras are being used to collect data for an environmental impact statement on a proposal to return desert bighorn sheep to the park. "The thermal camera offers night vision capability to monitor the sheep's competitors, such as the exotic aoudad, and noctural predators, such as the mountain lion," says Larry Griffing, a Texas A&M professor.
The cameras can keep an eye on wildlife through dense vegetation and even in rainstorms, as there is a built-in "wiper and washer" to keep the lens clean. Additionally, the camaras can monitor heat loss and the general condition of animals' bodies And the images can be relayed to most locations by satellite, so researchers don't have to spend as much time out in the field, where they could run the risk of disturbing the animals they're monitoring.
You can check out some of the camera's results by visiting See More Wildlife.