Uncovering mysteries is a big part of the camera trap program created in North Carolina’s wilderness areas, including strange instances where it was impossible to identify the animals photographed.
But one recent sequence of photos captured by N.C. Candid Critters managed to be both mysterious and perhaps dramatic.
A deer was photographed in the dark with all four legs off the ground, as it scrambled from something that didn’t show up in the frame.
However, the motion sensitive cameras continued clicking and seconds later captured ghostly images of what was following the deer: A coyote.
How sequence ended isn’t known, but it comes at a time when the state’s carnivorous coyote population have advanced from the forests into state’s biggest cities, according to the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission.
In Charlotte, groups of coyotes have been spotted on home security cameras, including a “pack” photographed in December outside a home in the Sedgefield neighborhood near the city’s South End.
Coyotes eat deer and family pets if the opportunity presents itself, reports NCPedia.com. There have also been reports of them attacking people in the state, including a father and daughter bitten last year in Davie County, reported the Charlotte Observer.
N.C. Candid Critters did not say where photos of the coyote and the deer were taken, but one of the program’s goals is to document where coyotes have grown most abundant.
“We believe coyotes rarely hunt and kill adult deer,” said Stephanie Schuttler of the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences. “They do kill fawns, but there is little evidence to suggest that they hunt adults.”
Candid Critters cameras are now deployed in all 100 counties in North Carolina, each one set off by motion sensors. The photos captured in the past two years have included everything from fighting bears to animals so diseased they could be mistaken for the mythical chupacabra “devil dog” of Central and South America.
Partners in the survey program include the N.C. State University, N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences, N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission, the State Library of N.C. and the Smithsonian.