Seattle's Child

Your guide to a kid-friendly city

carnivore spotter

An image of a coyote is captured on a motion-sensor remote camera through the Seattle Urban Carnivore Project.

Calling all animal-loving families: Be a carnivore spotter for Woodland Park Zoo

Part science, part sleuthing activity: Help researchers track some of the mammals we're sharing our space with; here's how.

Originally published August 2019

Be a carnivore spotter! Do your kids love animals, science, a good treasure hunt — or all of those things?

Woodland Park Zoo wants you.

The zoo, in partnership with Seattle University and the Seattle Urban Carnivore Project, is asking people to record animals sightings through its Carnivore Spotter project.

Here’s what you’re looking for: black bears, bobcats, cougars (aka mountain lions), coyotes, red foxes, raccoons and river otters. And although they’re not carnivores, opossums also are also included in the study.

Here’s what you do: report sightings, interactions and vocalizations using the web-based tool, Carnivore Spotter.  The easy-to-use site asks users for the species and number of animals seen, the date, the time and the location. Not sure what you’ve just seen? There’s help for that, too. Got photo, video or audio? I can be uploaded for researchers to see and hear.

As cities and suburbs continue to grow, there’s more and more interaction between people and carnivores.

“The citizens of the greater Seattle region can help us expand our knowledge of urban carnivores and promote coexistence,” said Robert Long, a carnivore research ecologist at the zoo.

Katie Remine, another zoo researcher, emphasizes that carnivores are not the enemy and are not necessarily something to fear. “Through this study we want to raise awareness about the carnivores that share habitat in our urban areas and that they belong in those areas as much as humans do,” she said in an announcement about the Carnivore Spotter project. “Many of these animals often get a bad rap and are feared because of misperceptions about the extent of their risk to people and their pets.”

Still, be sure to keep a safe distance when attempting to record carnivore sightings for this project.

Now, study up on your carnivores, grab a camera and get ready to be a scientist!

More on the animals around us:

14 great animals you can spot in your own back yard