Tuesday, August 11, 2015

WMNF Bear Patrol: Week Eleven

Tuesday (08/04) we were invited to go electrofishing with the Forest Fisheries Biologist on a survey section of the Wild Ammonusac River. We caught 83 fish in total, out of which I caught two! Because this was such a low sample count and also because we didn’t have enough battery power to keep a consistent voltage, we only completed two runs instead of three. Fortunately, the population estimate curve from this depletion sampling would be significant enough to provide data. Out of the many Brook Trout spawn, we also collected two Brown Bullheads, which are freshwater catfish. They have barbs along their dorsal fin and pectoral fins that they erect for defense. We were told not to handle any of the fish, mainly for the technicalities of the bullheads but, to develop better netting skills. I held the bucket that collected all the specimens and followed the shocker down a 100 meter corridor in hip waders. It wasn’t as successful a sample as expected but interesting data was still collected and I gained a lot more knowledge about fisheries surveying methods and techniques.

Wednesday (08/05) our last opportunity to do some bat work for the N. Long-eared with one of the bio techs. We travelled 1.5 hrs to one of the stands located in N. Chatham, ME. Part of the White Mountain National Forest flows into a portion of Maine just west of Fryeburg. We had to travel down a forest service access road and realized that the culverts were washed out so we decided to park the vehicle and walk in. On our trek in through high grasses and ferns, we had to be careful of the tiny toads that were everywhere. Once we entered the woodline, we used the GPS, map and compass to navigate towards the two sites (34 & 37) within stand 25. Where we mount the Pettersson detector can be anywhere within the stand but the two sites must be 200 meters away from each other. We found two suitable down sloping corridors with dense, low canopy. We recorded the orientation details, took our set-up photos and made our way out, counting 13 moose calf scat piles as we went.

Thursday (08/06) was All Employee Day held at Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest. The SCA, YEL crew, and interns were all acknowledge for our diligence this season. We were showed multiple videos about professional careers. During the awards ceremony, those working under the federal government (5yrs, 10yrs, 15 years etc.) received recognition, a certificate, a pin, and a sweatshirt! Then we had mini workshops for “Resume building” and “Taking your career to the next level”. Many people shared their stories about how they began their career with the Forest Service, which was a great perspective to consider in my own professional journey. Then we had a huge barbeque with lots of food. Following the cook-out we had district jeopardy that showed everybody’s competitive side and actually, how much each district depends on one another to complete similar goals.

Friday (08/07) was our last day with the White Mountain National Forest Service. In the morning, our supervisor went over our resumes with us and gave us advice about navigating through the hiring process with federal careers. We received a Forest Service mug and “Bear Poop” chocolates as a parting gift and then we had pizza for a goodbye lunch. As I was giving everybody their cards, I hit a wall of realization and gratefulness. Departing is definitely a reality check and helps with the internalizing process. With everyone’s goodbyes and sincere recognition, I realize now how important of a role I had for the forest, that I was a great outlet for not only the success of the Forest Service, but for the public and also the Black Bears. This time last year, they were trapping a bear in Hancock Campground and I had just completed my first actual hazing procedure to deter and safe a juvenile bear. I am filled with gratitude and a heavy heart for having to leave my mentors and such a beautiful place. 

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