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‘There’s so many great moments’: Trail cam video series captures vibrant forest community

A Vancouver Island forest is standing out to a videographer in a series capturing much more about the wildlife in the area.

Trail cams were set up in the Morrison Creek area outside of the Comox Valley during the last few years by Bennett Whitnell and Grant Callegari of the Hakai Institute.

Working to capture wildlife in the area, Whitnell says the goal initially was to capture bears rubbing up against trees and see animals passing through the area through the seasons.

However, Whitnell says it quickly grew to much more than just documenting a backyard forest.

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“We were a little bit surprised when we saw quite a bit more deer passing through, cougars coming through, pine martens,” said Whitnell. “We really got the idea that there’s so much happening in this tiny little corridor in this inconspicuous forest that it would be an interesting story to share.”

Whitnell and the Hakai Institute have taken the footage, compiling it through the yearly seasons to create Field Notes. The series and its videos can be found on YouTube, and they showcase a variety of animals.

Not only were the number and types of animals a surprise, but the series allows people to enjoy intimate moments with animals that otherwise would pass under the radar.

“There’s so many great moments. The bears scratching the tree is always fun because they do their little dance,” said Whitnell. “Coming across pine marten was interesting because they are a sign of a healthy, mature forest.

“Another great moment was seeing deer in rut, and they go a bit crazy during those months of the year and hearing them vocalize is something you don’t get too often.”

The reality of seeing all these animals in the area shows Whitnell that life is happening all around us, in an even greater degree than we could imagine.

“Morrison Creek is just outside of town and that was one of the great discoveries was that there’s so much life happening whether we knew it or not,” said Whitnell. “So I think it made me realize how much we need to respect even small pieces of green.”

Season two of Field Notes will be coming soon, exploring a different habitat. More information, video links and photos can be found on the Hakai Institute’s website.

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