Eleora McCay '26

Monitoring Furbearing Species in New Hampshire
UNH student Eleora McCay in the woods

Eleora McCay is a wildlife and conservation biology major from Bedford, New Hampshire.

COLSA: Tell us about your research in as non-technical language as possible.

Eleora McCay: My work focused on collecting and managing data for the UNH Wildlife Modeling and Management Lab. I worked mainly on collecting and analyzing data for a project monitoring the populations of furbearing species, but the data is also used for several other projects. This project uses game cameras set up across the state of New Hampshire to count and calculate estimated populations to monitor the growth and decline of furbearing species over the course of several years. The species being monitored include deer, moose, fishers, red foxes, gray foxes, porcupines, raccoons, snowshoe hares, cottontail rabbits, bobcats, coyotes, red squirrels, gray squirrels, martens, ermine, and several other species.

COLSA: What challenge/issue does your research seek to address?

Eleora: The current methods used by New Hampshire Fish and Game for monitoring furbearing species rely on counts made by hunters and trappers and may not be able to estimate an accurate representation of these species. The cameras used by the lab are an alternative to the traditional counting methods and should create a more accurate estimate of the population sizes.

COLSA: What has your experience conducting undergraduate research been like so far?

Eleora: It has been so enriching and enjoyable. I love being a part of this research and growing in the skills necessary for working in my field of study. Though some days were very difficult and exhausting, I grew a greater appreciation for field work in general. I learned how to better navigate through the woods via maps, contour lines, and a compass, I learned proper field safety, and I learned how to come up with more creative solutions to problems. When in the woods, any number of issues could occur, so I learned how to be prepared and how to improvise as needed. After traversing through nearly every ecosystem in New Hampshire, I have an even greater appreciation for the state which I already love so much.

COLSA: Are there funding sources and/or collaborators we should acknowledge? If so, please list.

Eleora: Hamel Center for Undergraduate Research for creating this opportunity, Professor Remington Moll my mentor, Mr. Dana Hamel for funding, Dr. and Mrs. Arthur G. Rand for funding

COLSA: What do you love most about UNH?

Eleora: I love that there are so many opportunities whether in research or extracurriculars. When I'm not in classes or doing work for the lab, I can be found in the College Woods, playing intramural sports, or hanging out with friends. I love having the ability to explore any area that interests me from wildlife biology, to sports, to art.