Q: If I sign up, will I receive phone calls or mail from the Atlas?
A: We strive to keep correspondence to a minimum. A few reasons why we might make contact would be if you found a rare species, requested more information, or we needed to notify all of our volunteers about a change.
Q: Is there an age limit to who can participate?
A: No, anyone is welcome to become a volunteer and submit their mammal observations.
Q: Should I be able to find every mammal in my county?
A: No, there are some mammals in Pennsylvania that cannot be found in each county. A good example would be elk.
Q: How often should I submit a record from the same location, such as my yard?
A: A good rule of thumb would be to submit one picture of the species per season. For example, if you have raccoons that frequent your compost bin, one picture per season would be fine.
Q: Can I submit a photograph if there is a person in the picture?
A: Yes, as long as the person(s) or their guardian(s) give you permission and there are no obscene gestures.
Q: Can I submit a photograph of tracks or scat?
A: Yes, evidence of mammals such as tracks, scat, rubs, and dams will be accepted as long as the photograph is clear enough to identify the species.
Q: Can I submit a photograph if the mammal is deceased?
A: Yes, pictures of an animal you trapped, your cat predated, roadkill, etc. can be submitted. As with any photograph, we reserve the right not to make it visible to the public however.
Q: Can I submit a photograph of a mammal I saw in another state?
A: We appreciate your excitement for wildlife, but we are only collecting data from Pennsylvania.
Q: Can I submit bird photographs?
A: No, we are only collecting data on wild mammals; however there are many citizen scientist bird websites on the internet.
A: Yes, many models of trail cameras take very clear pictures and species can be identified. Trail cameras are also a great tool because many of them record the date so you don’t have to remember.
Q: Why are my night-time trail camera photographs so washed out?
A: This often occurs because the camera is too close to large objects in the field of view. On some models you can adjust the settings to lower the targeted distance. Or, you can apply a piece of painters tape over half of the camera’s LED lights.
Q: Should I include a scale bar in my photograph?
A: Scale is not required, but can be helpful. While most people can decipher a deer from a raccoon, every little bit of information helps when there are similar species or night-time photographs. Rulers, pencils, and camera lens caps can all be used for scale.
Q: What happens if I couldn’t get a photograph?
A: You can still submit the information; however we would not be able to verify the record so it would not be displayed to the public.
Q: Who verifies my records?
A: Your records will be reviewed by a minimum of one qualified biologist. If you submit a species that is more easily confused with another species, we may require more than one qualified biologist to review it.
Q: What if I found a rare mammal, such as a threatened or endangered species?
A: Only the county of mammal locations are displayed to protect the species.