Oral Presentation- Symposium 12th International Mammalogical Congress

The scientific consequences of stolen camera traps (#208)

Paul D Meek , Jess Sparkes 1 , Brad Nesbitt 2 , Guy Ballard 1 , Mark Robinson 3 , Greg Falzon 4 , Peter Fleming 1
  1. VPRU, NSW Dept. Primary Industries, Orange, New South Wales, Australia
  2. NSW NPWS, Dorrigo, New South Wales, Australia
  3. Local Land Services, Coffs Harbour, New South Wales, Australia
  4. University of New England, Armidale, New South Wales, Australia

The theft of scientific equipment from the field has long been the bane of a scientist’s life. Often the theft of such equipment is fruitless because most thieves can’t use the equipment they steal. However, with the rise in use of camera traps globally, such a general piece of technology has wide appeal to thieves and criminals because they are perceived as a threat to illegal activities, or be potentially valuable to them through on-sale or anti-social personal use. Despite going to some extraordinary lengths to prevent and reduce theft of camera traps, our research team has suffered some serious financial and data losses over the last 7 years. In 2016-17, we conducted a survey to quantify the significance of camera trap theft globally. In this paper, we will provide an overview of the survey results from >300 practitioners, the financial losses, methods used to avoid theft and importantly the effect of theft on the deployment of camera traps and data collection. Moreover, we will outline the potential effects of theft on experimental design and propose some options to address this impact on wildlife surveys.