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What did you see? Five fav pics from the Carnivore Spotter Tool

Posted by Kodi Jo Jaspers, Community Conservation Liaison
Photos courtesy of Seattle Urban Carnivore Project / Woodland Park Zoo and Seattle University.

On August 12th, 2019, the online carnivore reporting tool, Carnivore Spotter, was launched. Carnivore Spotter is part of the larger Seattle Urban Carnivore Project, a collaboration between Woodland Park Zoo and Seattle University. Over the last ten months many of our community members from across the greater Seattle area have shared their carnivore sightings. You have uploaded coyote sightings in Queen Anne, black bear reports in Issaquah and everything in between. Many of these reports also included media, such as videos or photos. We are especially excited when we receive reports with media, as it lets us see the exciting sightings you all are seeing in our city, and also allows us to verify the report. Each report is individually reviewed, and those that do include photos, video or audio are verified to ensure that these observations are presenting the most accurate information about urban carnivores. Our team enjoys seeing all of the great footage and photos people are getting in our city, so we thought you might enjoy it as well! After the first ten months we’d like to share with you our 5 favorite Carnivore Spotter photos (in no particular order).

A snapshot from the Carnivore Spotter tool

#1. With the increased use of remote cameras by community members, there is now more opportunity to capture photos of our urban carnivores. This photo shows a sow black bear and her two cubs, seemingly relaxing in someone's backyard. Black bear cubs stay with their mothers for over a year, learning how and where to find food for survival.

A mama black bear and her two cubs

#2. About 11% of the reports on Carnivore Spotter are of bobcats, a small felid, common throughout Washington State. This beautiful photo was captured in the Lake Sammamish area, which if you investigate the Carnivore Spotter map, is a very common place to see bobcats. The majority of the bobcat sightings occur east of Lake Washington.

Bobcats are common in some parts of our state

#3. Coyotes are the most common species reported on Carnivore Spotter, composing about 50% of the total reports. This coyote was sighted along someone’s backyard pool in the Eastgate area. Although the yard is fenced, it is not uncommon for a coyote to jump a 6 foot fence as they wander their urban habitats.

Urban coyotes are regularly spotted in our area

#4. While only 4% of the reports are of river otters, many of these reports included photos or videos. This great photo was captured in the Carnation area. Did you know that river otters can dive up to 60 feet deep and hold their breath for up to 8 minutes?!

A river otter was spotted near Carnation, WA

#5. The second most common report is of raccoons, comprising 20% of the total reports. Outside of the Bothell area, one community member captured this photo of three raccoons taking shelter in a nearby tree. Raccoons are an incredibly adaptable species, which allows them to thrive in the urban landscape.

Peekaboo! A family of raccoons peers out from their perch in a tree

During this unprecedented time, we are all facing changes to our daily activities. So, too, are urban carnivore species. You may be spending more time around your home and neighborhood, which may increase the opportunity for you to spot urban carnivores yourself. We encourage you to continue to submit your carnivore reports to Carnivore Spotter ( and contribute to our Seattle Urban Carnivore research! And you can also explore the observations yourself; if you click on the “List View” icon in the upper right corner in Carnivore Spotter, you can scroll through the posted observations. Continuing to participate in community science projects allows us all to connect to nature, and to each other, during a time when we need it most.