Do you use trail cameras?

I got a trail camera to scout for deer season and it’s got me thinking of putting some of the photos as observations. I feel kinda weird about it since I didn’t see them with my own eyes. What are y’alls thoughts on trail camera observations?


I post observations from my trail camera. There is even a project for these types of observations. It has over 68,000 observations.


Only problem is privacy issues if your put it where other humans might be photographed, or if the trailcam is automatically posting images to iNat, which violates the community guidelines against machine uploaded content

I use a trail camera and post the animals it sees to iNat, it’s completely legit


I created a second account for my trail camera observations because I didn’t want organisms I hadn’t personally seen to be included on my “life list.”

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Uploading trail camera photos is great. One does not need to be there to see the organism for it to be a valid (and valuable!) observation. You installed the camera. It is your device and you know the location. That is enough!

(As others have mentioned, just take the community guidelines into account. But this applies for everyone and everything!)


Having two accounts is only allowed in very specific circumstances, which this wouldn’t meet, so please don’t do this.

You can see previous threads including staff responses here:
though there may be more.

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I posted animals from doorbell cams and security cameras. I believe iNat allows that — as long as you own the camera.


I’d consider both those “trail cams”… it’s the trail to your house, right?!

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Yes, although it a was suburban area, we lived bordering remnants of natural areas. There was a surprising amount of wildlife that used our walkways, especially when we lived near creeks (coyote, bobcats, birds, raccoons, even deer).

Not seeing so much where we live now (squirrels, birds, possum).

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Thanks, I did not know that. Luckily I’m not too active on that account so I’ll just get rid of it.

So do I understand correctly - I can have two or multiple accounts if it’s for different “entities” - e.g. a personal account for all my personal observations globally (everything I’ve personally seen anywhere), and a separate account for each organization or project that I manage - e.g. I manage trail cams for a local reserve and have an account for all their footage where I’m charged with uploading both trailcam and reserve staff provided photos as observations, as well as a project for a specific area where I seasonally have trailcams.

My personal account is fully managed under my profile with my email and real name included, but for the organization or project I might create accounts using their info and emails - since the reserve/organization or project are not individual persons…

Similar to how for example Microsoft allow for Personal vs multiple Work or School accounts.

But when I log in physically under my account, I see it as unethical to comment or ID items in the observations from the reserve or project, and vice versa. But there is no way for iNaturalist to know that the same physical person is controlling multiple accounts… If the site could add basic “Identity Management” functionality to allow for linking a physical person to a single personal account as owner and
owner of multiple “entity” accounts then data could be separated based on ownership, and irregular/unethical cross account IDing and other activities can be eliminated - e.g. you can only ID or comment on observations in the first account where you entered it…

But until Identity Management is added and accounts can be linked/related as a future enhancement, it’s up to individual users’ honesty and integrity to prevent questionable activity.

Please feel free to comment if my assumptions and described scenarios above are NOT allowable and relevan exceptions to the “one account per person” requirement - I cant see any reason why not in the community guidelines?

This sounds like a complex situation, so I might suggest emailing Some organizational accounts are allowed and they obviously have to be managed by some user (ideally one familiar with iNat). I don’t think separate accounts are allowed for “projects” (though I’m not exactly sure what that means), but only for actual organizations. But again, I’d email.

I agree that, if a user does administer an organizational account, they shouldn’t enter more than one ID from any of their accounts on a single observation. This would essentially be double voting (and it’s one of the main reasons I think that multiple accounts are restricted).

I doubt that account management would be a priority for development since iNat is pretty committed to the one person = one account guideline with very limited exceptions (so this functionality would only affect a very small proportion of users), but you can always work up a feature request for it and submit and see what happens.

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With my level of reflexes and coordination, a trail camera is probably the only hope for getting pictures of some animals.


I use them. They’re very good ways to get pictures of the more elusive animals around you (even those you wouldn’t expect, like mice). Because you set up the camera and you know the location and time better than anyone else, they’re just as much your observations as those you make with your own eyes and instant cameras.

In terms of iNat protocol and best practice, trail cam photos are acceptable and encouraged, assuming the location and date are correct and mapped to the trail cam location not your computer. In terms of whether it counts for your personal life list, that’s really up to you. I don’t have a ton of game cam photos but have gotten some neat ones recently of a buck using my yard that i’ve never seen in ‘person’ before, outside of tracks.

here’s a another reason you may consider it valuable to upload trail camera images…a source of identified trail camera images of a wide variety of species is going to be extremely useful to people who are working on various types of strategies for autonomous monitoring of biodiversity. here’s a rabbit hole for those who are interested.


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