Logan Middle School seventh-graders Tore Washa and Ariel Moe watched a dozen deer move through the woods.
The photographs of the Coulee Region's deer population impressed the girls, and they couldn't believe how many does, fawns - and bucks - walked past the camera.
"It's very interesting to see how many deer there really are," said Washa, 12. "We can really see how deer move and what type of day they do it in."
Teacher Ryan Rieber bought several game cameras with a grant from the La Crosse Public Education Foundation. The cameras allow students to survey deer herd populations from their classroom. Missouri wildlife biologist Grant Woods assisted with the project.
Seventh-grader Johnny Kind and eight-graders Mitchell Schreiner and Garrett Graff, all 13, helped Rieber this summer set up the cameras. The students, all avid outdoorsmen who enjoy hunting, walked wooded trails to find appropriate sites and made sure cameras pointed north so they would not be blurred by the sun, Kind said.
Camera locations were marked by GPS units and deer were attracted with salt, Schreiner added.
The chosen spots yielded many photos for their classmates to use to count the deer and figure out the number of deer per acre and per square mile.
"I like it. It's fun to look at the different kinds of deer," said Alexa Brenner, 12. "There are a lot more deer than I thought there would be." Brenner found a lot of does on the photos she examined.
Elijah Nott and Joshua Stevens, both 12, said the project was interesting because they enjoy being outdoors and learning about nature.
The overall project is relevant, Rieber said, to the seventh-grade science curriculum that has kids learning about life science. "It fits into population and our talk about eco-systems," he said.
The study will continue in January when the cameras are replaced and students again count bucks, does and fawns that pass by.