Border Wildlife Study Needs Virtual Volunteers To Help Identify Species

By Kendal Blust
Published: Friday, July 24, 2020 - 3:02pm
Updated: Friday, July 24, 2020 - 3:03pm

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coati
Sky Island Alliance
A coati is caught on camera as part of the Sky Island Alliance Border Wildlife Study.

An Arizona nonprofit is calling for virtual volunteers to contribute to a binational wildlife study documenting the animals crisscrossing the Arizona-Sonora border in areas where new sections of border wall are being built.

In the first 90 days of its Border Wildlife Study, the Sky Island Alliance detected 71 species of birds, reptiles, insects and mammals in the Patagonia and Huachuca Mountains — from black bear and mountain lions to elf owls and the raccoon-like coati.

The project started to collect data about the species that live and move through the Arizona-Sonora borderlands in areas where new border wall construction is planned, or has already started.

Now, project leaders are asking for the public’s help with the identification process as photos continue to roll in from the study’s more than 60 cameras on both sides of the border.

“We are working to get each one of our detections validated by multiple experts and amateurs, to make sure we have out identification correct," said Emily Burns, program director and lead scientist with Arizona’s Sky Island Alliance. "We have created a project online in partnership with Zooniverse.org where you can log on and help us corroborate or offer a new identification for unknown species in our wildlife photos.”

During a virtual presentation Thursday, Burns said volunteers will use an online platform to identify either mammals or birds as the study continues documenting animal diversity in the borderlands. Sky Island Alliance will host a virtual introduction to the species identificaiton project on July 30 at 9:30 a.m.

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