|The location of our lab today- a private property |
(that we had permission to use) in Richmondville, NY. 2/4/13
So the course covers a whole gammet of topics that we’ll likely experience as professionals in the wildlife field. This week’s lab focused on non-invasive means of sampling the local wildlife. And I don’t mean served up at Applebees in a sizzling skillet, but taking information down on local species of wildlife found on this property. Haha…. Also, non-invasive simply means that we wanted to conduct research about local animals without having to actually handle the animals. It’s much easier logistically, and less stressful on the wildlife.
The class used 3 different means of data collection: hair snares, camera traps, and track plates. Hair snares, in this case, are a simple set up of making a barbed wire “cage” between trees, and putting a bait (roadkilled deer) in the center. As animals clamber through the wires to get at the carcass, some of their hairs are pulled out and left stuck in the wire. This can tell us not only species, but individuals within a species. DNA can be extracted from the hair samples. This means of sampling will primarily pull hairs from mammals that are large enough to brush against the wires, and won’t slip below the wire undetected. Camera traps (aka: game or trail cameras) were used with bait as well. This is a station that I set up, so I’ll get more into that in a moment. Finally, the track plates are really cool ways to see what species are roaming around. It’s essentially an ink pad that you lure the animal onto and their feet picks up whatever medium you lay down, and then they have to walk on a clean surface to deposit the track. The board is placed within a box to protect the tracks, as well as to guide the animal where you want. At the far end of the box you place a bait or stinky lure of some sort to draw the animal in. Usually this is typically for just small to medium size mammals.
Alright, so my team (myself, Austin, and Joey) chose to mount an infrared Reconyx camera trap. If you’ve been following along with my blog, you know by now that I love to use these cameras. It’s a lot of fun to set the camera out in the yard, leave it for a week or so, and then check it to hopefully find video or pictures on the SD card. Today, for example, I checked my personal camera and came away with 34 pictures of fisher, some cottontails, and raccoon. So cool! We also used bait: our teacher picked up some roadkill deer to use to hopefully lure some critters in.