Last week I participated in FLCC's week-long course called Conservation Field Camp. This is a class that all students going through the Natural Resources Conservation, Conservation Law, and I think Fisheries Technology programs must participate it. I was a student in it last summer, and this spring I applied to be a student technician this time around. I was hired to be a "wildlife tech" under conservation professor John Van Niel (wildlife expert), and biology professor (cell bio expert) Clinton Krager. My friend/future roommate, Mady, was also a wildlife tech.
The four of us were in charge of exposing students to camera trapping, small mammal trapping, bat mist-netting, track identification, using track boards, and GPS/telemetry.
There is SO much I could write about, and I have a ton of pictures...but I don't have the time to write about it all. We caught flying squirrels, red squirrels, chipmunks, deer mice, and jumping mice in the traps, and I have some awesome pics of critters in the hand. And I hope that John at Backyard Beasts posts some of the camera trap pics we caught. Some AMAZING first "traps" for me personally, but he has all the pictures :)
What I'M going to write about is the bat mist-netting. This was a first time experience for me personally, so I was super excited to see what we caught. Because bats are nocturnal, we couldn't set the nets 'til about 8:30-9pm. The students were technically done with class at 9:30, and the days were long...so by the time bats came out, many were ready to head to bed.
So, on Monday night: John and I set the nets while Clinton gave a brief lecture on what bats live in our area, some natural history, winter adaptations, and some information on bat-related diseases.
Before I continue, I must add that John and Clinton both received intensive training in mist-netting and handling bats. It's not something that anyone can just do for fun. They also both received the full round of rabies vaccinations as a precaution, and then on top of that, they wear leather gloves covered by vinyl gloves that get swapped out between each bat.
Ok, so the net was set...and we walked away from it for 15 minutes. Checked it: nothing. Waited 15 minutes, checked it: nothing...and onwards for about 45 minutes. Student numbers were dwindling, all four of us were losing patience and interest...and so we called it a night, bat-less.
Tuesday night, we has a new group of students, and so Clinton went through his schpeel again, while John and I set nets up. I think Mady was napping... :)
We waited a few sets of 15 minutes...and then: