A comparison of horizontal versus vertical camera placement to detect feral cats and mustelids.
Invasive predators are a threat to biodiversity in New Zealand. However, they are often difficult to monitor because of the animals' cryptic, mobile behaviour and low densities. Camera traps are increasingly being used to monitor wildlife, but until recently have been used mainly for large species. We aimed to determine the optimal camera alignment (horizontal or vertical) for detecting feral cats (Felis catus) and mustelids (Mustela furo, M. erminea and M. nivalis). We deployed 20 pairs of cameras, each pair with one horizontal and one vertical camera. We compared the number of photos of target species, non-target species, and false triggers (i.e. camera triggered with no animal present) between camera orientations. Horizontally oriented cameras captured approximately 1.5 times as many images of the target species compared with vertically oriented cameras, and also detected more non-target animals. Orientation did not have a significant effect on the number of false triggers.