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Indianapolis Skyline and White River
Center for Urban Ecology and Sustainability

Indy Wildlife Watch


The city environment provides a very different wildlife habitat than that of locations with less intense human influence. Urban development often causes rapid and dramatic changes to wildlife habitat that result in habitat destruction, invasive species, air and water pollution, and human-animal interactions. Yet, urban wildlife still utilizes the city as a habitat and, many times, seems to thrive despite the environmental challenges. By understanding how wildlife live and move around Indianapolis, we can gain an understanding of the effects of the urban landscape on wildlife. This knowledge can then be applied to inform the management of urban lands to benefit both humans and wildlife.

To assess wildlife diversity and distribution in Indianapolis, Butler faculty and the CUES have deployed motion-triggered cameras at city parks, forest preserves, golf courses, agricultural land, schools, and cemeteries spanning an urban-to-rural gradient from downtown Indianapolis through the northern suburbs. Cameras are deployed four times per year at more than 50 sites to determine which species are present, what types of habitats they use, and how they are distributed across the city.  Follow us @IndyWildWatch on Facebook and Instagram to get the dirt on the coolest animal sightings in Indianapolis!

This project is part of the Urban Wildlife Information Network, coordinated by the Lincoln Park Zoo, Urban Wildlife Institute.

Get Involved

Butler students. This project offers students an opportunity to get involved through a for-credit academic year internship. This internship is only open to students entering their third or fourth year at Butler. For students interested in volunteering on the project, please contact Julia Angstmann.

Faculty Leadership

Professor Carmen Salsbury, Department of Biological Sciences

Professor Travis Ryan, Department of Biological Sciences

Student Interns


Carly Dobert, Biology ’21

Project Title: Raccoon Activity Along an Urban to Per-Urban Gradient in Indianapolis

Jake Gerard, Biology ’20

Project Title: Butler Wildlife Watch: Understanding How Urban Wildlife Utilize a Campus Environment

Natalie Pegg, Biology ’20 

Project Title: Citizen Science Webstie for Analysis of Indy Wildlife Watch Photos

Connor Riley, Biology ’20

Addison Trapp, Biology ’21

Noelle Grabowski, Biology ’22

Indy Wildlife Watch Volunteer

Samantha Worden, Biology ’20

Indy Wildlife Watch Volunteer


Derek Adams, Environmental Studies ’19

Project Title: Landscape-scale covaraites of urban wildlife occupancy.

Evynn Davis, Biology ’20

Project Title: Vegetation Structure and Urban Mammal Habitat Occupancy

Cindy Cifuentes, Biology ’19

Project TitleVegetation Structure and Urban Mammal Habitat Occupancy

Jacob Reeves, Biology ’18

Project Title: Butler Wildlife Watch

Ugo Udeogu, Computer Science ’18

Project Title: Citizen Science Webpage for Tagging of Wildlife in Camera Trap Photos (Poster 1, Poster 2

Alexi Zaniker, Biology ’18

Project Title: Indy Wildlife Watch: Impact of Vegetation Structure on Presence of Wildlife in Urban Environments (honors thesis)

Community Partnerships

Indianapolis Zoo

Indy Parks, City of Indianapolis

The Virginia B. Fairbanks Art & Nature Park: 100 Acres, Indianapolis Museum of Artx