Gregory Pulda first began monitoring a Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources trail cam when he was only 8 years old.

Monitoring a trail camera full of surprises for Hawthorn Hollow volunteer Gregory Pulda

Wisconsin DNR's Snapshot Wisconsin program helps track wildlife


Hawthorn Hollow grew out of love for the land. As a nature sanctuary and arboretum, Hawthorn Hollow has been connecting people and nature through environmental education for more than 50 years. Hawthorn Hollow is owned and operated by the Hyslop Foundation, Inc., a non-profit 501 c3 organization formed in 1964.

SOMERS — Kenosha may not be known in particular for its wildlife, but a Christian Life School fourth grader is working to change that.

Gregory Pulda first began monitoring a Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources trail cam when he was only 8 years old, and has been working in partnership with Hawthorn Hollow Nature Sanctuary and Arboretum to track wildlife in the area for the last two years.

Gregory Pulda monitors his findings

The Wisconsin DNR provides volunteers with trail cameras to monitor wildlife through their Snapshot Wisconsin program. Volunteers then send their camera’s SD card to the Wisconsin DNR to be analyzed.

Gregory has seen some amazing wildlife at Hawthorn Hollow through his camera, including coyotes tracking their prey, hawks gathering sticks for their nests, raccoons, muskrats, opossums, and even a 10-point whitetail buck that “seemed to be posing for the camera,” he said.

He’s able to recognize certain animals that keep showing up on his camera, even giving a few of them names.

“It’s really fun because you never know what you’re going to see,” Gregory said. “Every time the camera is triggered, there’s something different.”

Gregory’s mother, Amanda Pulda, is happy because the project gets Gregory outside, but keeps him close to home.

As an added benefit, he’s gotten to know many of his neighbors quite well by having conversations about what he’s found.

One of the times Gregory really enjoys his work is when the snow is deep. When that happens, he has to strap on a set of snowshoes to reach his camera, and he’s learned to use landmarks and counting his steps to find his way through the woods.

Gregory Pulda checks his camera in the field.

Once, he even brought his little sister along, pulling her in a sled through waist-deep snow only for her to decide she was cold and wanted to go home.

Gregory’s findings, along with the work of hundreds of other volunteers, help the Wisconsin DNR to accurately determine populations of species throughout the state and help inform DNR management decisions.

The cameras also allow staff at Hawthorn Hollow to ensure their ecological restoration efforts are benefitting wildlife by providing adequate food, shelter and water sources.

For more information about Snapshot Wisconsin, please visit HERE.