Monday, May 1, 2017

MDIFW Regional Wildlife Biologist Intern Week 14

April 24 - May 1 "Righting the Wrongs"

This is it... this is the last week of my internship already. I can't believe it came so fast. It seems like just yesterday when I stopped into the office to grab my uniform and Keel taught me how to tag furs on my way out.

This week, I'd be able to visit Swan Island one last time, which I'm really glad about because I have developed a strong affection for the place. It's such beautiful property and there's so many cool projects going on there - I hope this isn't my last time there ever.

Upon arriving to the newly constructed state parking lot across from the island, we saw John approaching from the island on the new barge that will transport visitors to and from the island. Let me tell you, that thing was really impressive and cool.

We used this barge, as well as a bulldozer, to position and set up docks for visitors to enter and exit the barge from. It was quite a feat of engineering and coordination that only someone like John could manage. The man is truly a jack of all trades, something I recall a sign within the Swan Island employee housing referencing.

Step 1: Use bulldozer to push dock pieces into water using improvised log-chute system.
Step 2: Use barge to push dock pieces around in the water and line them up to the dock. Also, abandon the other intern on the dock piece, floating away at the whim of the Kennebec.

Once those were secure, we mounted up on the ATVs (one of which was outfitted with a water tank that I put together a few weeks ago for a controlled burn happening soon) and took a spin around the island to put some finishing touches on the tour maps to ensure the measurements were all correct. I'm going to miss driving around the island, seeing the deer bounding through the woods, owls swooping down from the branches, porcupines appearing from within the houses, and wood ducks taking off from the quiet pools within.

I'm really fond of these views from the beautiful meadows on Swan Island. I'll miss them.

And then, it was my last day. Keel was the only man in the office, and he informed me that even though it was my last day, it wouldn't necessarily be a fun one because we would be picking up trash around a WMA parking lot in St. Albans (which happened to be the one that Zach and I zoomed around on the first time we got the sleds). This was fine with me, even though it involved picking up anything from condoms to makeshift bowls for smoking marijuana. The place was a pretty bad mess, but by the time we left, we had four or five trash bags full and the place looked pretty sharp.

And then my final task; bringing the dent out of the truck that I left in it all that time ago. I slapped on some goggles, some face protection, donned my hammer, and crawled under the truck. I carefully placed my wacks and did what I could. All in all, the dent wasn't entirely gone, but certainly looked much better. It felt good to get that finally taken care of, even though visitors looked at me like some fool.
And that's it. That's how my internship ended; not with any particular bang or excitement. It just faded out. I only got to say goodbye to Keel and Kendall; everyone else, even the receptionist Heather and my co-intern Zach, were out. There was an ethics class for folks who lost their hunting licenses due to violations going on upstairs, but that was it. I had entered my last page on NED, punched my last push pin onto the map marking a completed duck box location, would never have to struggle to start a half dead snowmobile again, would never enjoy the trails of Swan Island on an ATV, or collar another deer, all while donning the bold red patch.

I want to thank the department and Sidney office for all of their time and efforts to give me something to do; I hope my work benefits them as well. In particular, I'd like to thank the fisheries biologists Jason Seiders, Wes Ashe, and Scott Davis, as well as the wildlife biologists, John Pratte, Kendall Marden, and Keel Kemper. I enjoyed working alongside you all in the field and am thankful for the skills that you facilitated for my development. I hope to work alongside you all again soon!

In closing, here is a picture of a plaque that is beside the front entrance of the office that stands above a taxidermied loon that always caught my eye.

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