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Research Projects: 
Scavengers, Mammals
Successful hunters dot the woods with gut piles and carcasses. By strapping game cameras to trees, we can learn how scavengers use this leftover flesh. Last year, we ran a pilot study asking hunters to put game cameras near the gut piles and carcasses they left in the field. We had so much success and interest from hunters in western Montana that this year we will include hunters from anywhere in the United States.

Check out the video below to see a Golden Eagle interact with a pack of Coyotes.

If you already own a camera, this should be easy. If you leave a carcass or gut pile, deploy the game camera on a tree, fencepost, or stake. Once you’ve retrieved the camera, we will collect data from your photos. Before you get started, please let us know if you plan to participate and we’ll send you a few simple guidelines.

If you don’t have a camera but live in western Montana, please contact us at We may be able to loan you one.

Watch out!

The animals that visit gut piles sometimes have teeth and claws. Although you are unlikely to encounter these predators, we want to prevent unsafe situations.

In areas where bears frequent, please wait at least two weeks before retrieving the camera. If you can wait longer, please do. Waiting until the spring is perfectly acceptable and sometimes provides useful observations. It is best to return with at least one companion. When you are close to the kill site, stop, look, and listen. If the area appears safe, slowly approach while making noise. If you have it, carry bear spray with you. Please do not set up cameras in areas that have dense cover and a high density of grizzly bears.

If you are outside Montana, please check your state hunting regulations to ensure setting up a game camera during hunting season is legal. If you have questions about this, please contact us. If you intend to place a camera on private property, please seek the landowner’s permission first.

If you are interested in helping or would like more information, please contact

About the Author

Mike McTee

Mike McTee is a researcher at MPG Ranch and the author of Wilted Wings: A Hunter’s Fight for Eagles.

Mike shot his first weapon before he could recite the alphabet. Now, understanding weapons is part of his job. His career took this trajectory after Mike gained a B.S. in Environmental Chemistry. Curious about potential pollution at a historic shooting range at MPG Ranch, he earned an M.S. in Geosciences studying the site. Strangely, the sulfur inside the trap and skeet targets posed the main threat, not the lead in the shotgun pellets. Regardless, lead contamination soon grabbed Mike’s focus. Each winter at MPG Ranch, biologists caught eagles that had lead coursing through their veins. Lead can cripple eagles flightless and even kill them. Mike soon initiated studies on scavenger ecology and began investigating the wound ballistics of rifle bullets, the suspected source of lead.

Mike often connects with the public through his writings and speaking engagements, whether it be to a local group of hunters, or a gymnasium full of middle schoolers. He frequently writes about the outdoors, with work appearing in Sports Afield, The Drake, and Bugle. When he escapes the office, Mike explores wild landscapes with his family, always scanning the horizon for wildlife.

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