Regular wildlife cameras save their pictures to an SD card in the camera that you then need to retrieve to view them. However, if you would like instant access to your pictures, there are several trail cameras on the market offering cellular or wireless transmission of pictures. These are of course more expensive than your basic camera and some require monthly service fees to upload the pictures.
While both are often referred to as “wireless,” cellular cameras work on cell phone networks while true wireless cameras will only function on wifi networks (so require internet service). Cellular trail cameras are extremely useful when you are trying to locate a lost dog or cat that is not close to your home. The camera can also be aimed at a trap, so that you are alerted (via email or text) as soon as an animal is caught in the trap. Using this method you also don’t need to risk disturbing the trap site by checking it every few hours.
There are now a variety of cellular trail cameras available. These cameras will send a picture to your phone or email (almost) every time one is taken by the camera. Some cameras like the Bushnell and SpyPoint Link Evo come with a pre-installed sim card and require purchase of a monthly service plan. Others like the Covert Code Black require you to purchase an AT&T data plan.
For the most up-to-date list of cellular trail cameras, check out Trailcampro.com, which includes comprehensive reviews and detailed specifications on all their cameras. I often do my research here, but then tend to purchase the cameras on Amazon.com. Make sure to read the customer reviews on these products because there is a lot of variability in the reliability of the wireless features.
Covert Code Black Trail Camera
This is an updated version of the wireless trail camera that use, and that one works quite well. Easy to set up when you purchase a Covert Wireless Plan. Learn more here. These are available in both AT&T and Verizon plans.
Bushnell Trophy Cam HD Aggressor Wireless
This camera already includes the sim card and data along with unlimited thumbnail photos for the first 30 days. After that you need to purchase one of their prepaid data plans starting at $9.99/month for 1,500 thumbnails. If you want to view high resolution images rather than thumbnails, these must be purchased separately. You can learn more about the data plans here.
Spypoint Link-EVO Verizon Cellular Trail Camera
This is one of the cheapest wireless trail cameras on the market. It comes with a pre-activated sim card and requires purchase of one of their plans. For more information, check out the SpyPoint Plans. Includes a free plan of only 100 photos per month, and paid plans start at only $5/month.
Moultrie Mobile Field Modem and Moultrie Game Cameras
Moultrie now offers the Moultrie Mobile Wireless Field Modem, which is a cellular system designed to work with any 2015 or later Moultrie wireless-compatible camera. This does require separate purchase of a compatible Moultrie camera, the Moultrie Mobile modem, and a monthly service plan from Moultrie. Plans start at $9.99/mo. For more information, visit the Moultrie website.
These are sold as a home security system and are not wildlife cameras. However, they are battery operated, wireless and water-proof, so can work quite well if you are trapping around your home or someone else’s home that will let you use their internet. I have not personally used these, but I know other pet detectives that swear by them. Arlo is also available in a cellular version (Arlo Go), but this is much more expensive and requires a monthly data plan.
Build Your Own
If you are tech savvy, then you might consider building your own wireless trail camera. Check out these instructions from eHow.com