Sunday, October 25, 2009

"like bacteria on a plate"

The  words making up this post's title (from my Rawlins friend Hillary) adeptly describe the urban sprawl of Vegas/Henderson.  The only difference between a growth of bacteria and the mindless sprawl of Henderson is that you can describe bacterial growth as a "culture". 


Here is the complete list of street names in the gated community next to mine:

Dow Jones St.
Commodity Way
Day Trade St.
Investment Way
Capital Gains Dr.
Large Cap Dr.
Stock Option St.

Now you have the evidence:  this town was built by crazy people.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Tortoise Show

 

A photo collection depicting some of the aspects of my work here in the Mojave Desert.  Pictures were taken around Ft. Irwin, near Barstow, CA, and east of Las Vegas.


A tortoise in his burrow.  You can see the radio transmitter on his carapace.


This is my friend Rob performing the "tortoise tap".  He is trying to tap on the tortoise's shell with the tape measure so that it comes out of the burrow.  Besides tracking tortoises by their radio transmitted signal, we spend a lot of our time fruitlessly trying to get them out of the burrows this way.


Perfect tortoise footprint.


We found these tortoises right after they had finished mating. 

She walks away, tired of the business, and he hides in his shell because he knows we are going to fuss over his electronics.

A black tailed jackrabbit that I was very close to!



A tarantula!


The strange and sharp Joshua Tree (Yucca brevifolia).  They are the closest to trees out here.   I would call this a joshua tree forest.  I miss real trees so much.

Very sharp.  I try hard not to trip and fall onto joshua trees.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

A Post that is about living in Las Vegas.

Folks,

I started this post almost a month ago now and it never saw the light of day because I lost internet mid-publication.  So fed up by this turn of events, I abandoned writing and in the meantime had given in to adjusting to my DRAMATIC and DAZZLING new life in Nevada.  I am now adjusted. 

I live now in Henderson, NV, a big-box bedroom community nestled neatly to the southeast gut of Vegas.  My travels leading up to my re-settling were improved by the presence of my father, who wished to make the journey with me.  We had a fantastic time visiting Zion NP on the way.  It is a stop I wish to make again, even having been there twice already.


First impressions (from the first day):

Tortoises are cool!  I met some babies today as well as a large male (~60 yrs old).  There were all friendly and wanted food, except one baby that bit my latex glove as I pulled him out of his "burrow" (buried tube).

The office and USGS scientists are all really nice and seem like they will be excellent to work with.  I am excited to be working on some very research based projects and learning some statistics and experimental design.

Las Vegas really doesn't seem like it should be here.  Its not a very nice city.  I saw part of it that seemed  a bit dumpy, and the Strip was pretty gross.  Like dirty gross, even though it looks extremely expensive.  Its like somebody purchased a Rolls Royce, plated it in gold, covered every inch of window with flashing rainbow neon lights, and them promptly vomited nicotine tar all over the whole shebang. It is hardly worth visiting again, unless I find some outrageous eating deal or ironically fun and affordable entertainment.  Maybe white tigers.


There is a street named after Roy Horn.


[Since I wrote this, I have visited it again, but only to investigate the giant black pyramid where Carrot Top lives, as well as to collect "escort" cards from the strip-side Latinos who snap them at you.  Later on, my co-interns and I decorated/defaced my roommates bed and walls so he would have a nice surprise when he arrived back from his 2 week wilderness survival training in Utah.]


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I have met many tortoises, but most of those I track end up being deep underground in their burrows.  We are told to "tap" them with tape measures so that they will come out to be probed by us scientists.  This "tapping" hardly ever works, I think I have had a 1/20 success rate so far.  This lack of success is probably because the tortoises are running out of juice and are about to pass out in their burrows for the winter.  I can't blame them. 

This job is pretty frustrating at times, and resists being interesting to me because I'm not included in the planning and we aren't told much about the studies we are working on.  This is much different than my last job, and I feel like I enjoy it less so far.  The living situation is fine, but the job is hardly more than physically challenging. 

I really appreciated being put at the helm of a research project that was largely designed and executed by Brandon and myself.  Now that we are jumping into a project halfway through, and because we are very temporary interns, I don't feel that same ownership and interest in what we are doing.  Besides this, I miss the beauty of Wyoming.  The Mojave is at times very beautiful, but is less comfortingly lush than the sagebrush I came from.  I know that the desert can bloom unbelievably in the spring.  Sadly, I probably won't see that.  We'll see what winter has in store, but the weather has been fine and always sunny.

Overall, I haven't disenjoyed my time here so far.  I really liked visiting my girl in Hollywood, and I look forward to future adventures in the West.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Wolves Post Addendum

So I am in Barstow, CA right now on a two day tortoise tracking campaign.  I have been in Vegas for about two weeks now and I will be updating regarding that shortly.  I started a post last week, but my internet was so bad that I lost half of it, which caused me to give up.

Anyway, for the time being here is an article detailing a greater biological issue regarding the extermination of wolves and other SCARY predators like mountain lions.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Pre-Workweek Pep Rally



Very touching, very hilarious.

From the blog, Biologically Curious.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Some Thoughts

I had an interesting day yesterday:

+ Drove around swabbing leopard frogs fro chytrid fungus testing
+ Snipped toes from leopard frogs for DNA testing
+ Found a dead Clark's Nutcracker in a spring.  I have never seen this bird before, and it is too bad that the last one I will probably ever see was expired.


All in all, it was a bit morbid, but I had fun.

Today Brandon and I finished our killer report to the BLM state office on our study.  It looks good! 

Brandon leaves on Thursday for grad school.  He is going to become an expert on Pacific giant salamanders and road-crossing ecology.  He will be missed.  We had an excellent summer.


Here in Rawtown the deer are all about.  This weekend on a final jaunt to the hot springs of Saratoga we saw a whole gang of bucks wandering through town together.  Can't catch a break from these guys!  I think they are "hiding" in town to avoid being killed by all the hunters in the hills.  Good for them!

And finally, in other news, I have decided to start a new blog, Idiotscape, in which I will complain about the current state of affairs as I see fit.  I realize that I have been griping far too much on Bachelor Diner.  I do feel like there is a whole world of stuff to gripe about, but that this is a place for my exploits of various types.  Now you will have an option to read about what bothers me.  I'm sure most of you are here for the fish stick sandwiches, anyway.  Too many links?  I guess I should probably start a new blog full of links since I love them so much.  Just kidding.  But I'm not kidding about this blog I found.  Check out this guy, he's nuts!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Good News?

Big news! Apparently a researcher at James Madison University has isolated a bacteria that may combat and inoculate against the chytrid fungus. This fungus is contributing greatly to the decline of amphibians worldwide, and it is also the reason why I need to swab the toads when I catch them. Combating the fungus has hitherto been considered unlikely. Good luck to him! Here is a link if you are interested in reading more.

Also, today I accidentally kicked a duck in the head. I was looking for frogs in some marshy grass and as I was walking I hit something small and alive with my boot. It was a duck that was hiding. I stared at it for a while and it pretend not to exist. Seeing how frightened and helpless it was, I really ALMOST reached down to pick it up. I wanted to take it home. I rationalized this by telling myself that my boot-strike had permanently damaged its brain. I decided against capturing it when I came around to the fact that it would never treat me with respect. When I stepped back a little, it ran away and flapped its wings frantically, expressing its desire to not be my pet/food.

Later on, as I was walking to a pond I stepped over a clump of grass and heard the telltale rattle of a pit viper (Crotalus viridis viridis (the prairie rattlesnake)). Hearing this, I leaped a few feet away and spun around to see if it was going to strike me, but it was just a dead flower that had some rattly seeds in it.


Bye

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

More Bad News in a Sea of Bad News

Can nothing go right in this country? Today I read that Idaho has officially announced a wolf-hunting season. There are thought to be 850 wolves in the gigantic state, and there will be tags for taking about a quarter of them. Wolves are less than six months off the endangered species list, and in my opinion, the population is not yet, nor will become, as out of control as the article suggests. There is in my mind no sound argument for taking so many wolves so soon.

Here in the west, the topic of the long-finished wolf reintroduction (and the endangered species act in general) is a very popular one. The western predator-management ethic is incredibly old-fashioned and not at all based on modern science. Rather it is based on irrational fear and an archaic man vs. wilderness paradigm that fell out of fashion starting with Aldo Leopold's "Land Ethic", which I beseech all of you to at least read about. Here in Wyoming, for example, there are species classified as "varmints" that may be legally shot on sight without a hunting permit. These popularly include coyotes (I have seen several dead in Rawlins itself) and prairie dogs (the destruction of entire towns is a popular pastime for people with automatic weapons) and the list goes on.

To many subscribers to this belief system, wolves fall squarely in the varmint category. The primary talking point for anti-wolf westerners is that the predators take a disproportionately large share of valuable game species. Those who are anti-wolf would like to believe that if wolves did not exist, elk and deer would be so abundant that hunters could take as many as they pleased. This understanding of ecology lies dead at the feet of one hundred years of well-documented scientific experience proving exactly the opposite.

Varmint killing was long ago a government policy, and wolf hides demanded a bounty. They were enthusiastically killed until they were effectively extirpated from the lower 48. In the early 20th century, Aldo Leopold himself killed wolves for the Forest Service in Arizona, until he saw how ecologically detrimental removing top predators from an ecosystem is. What he saw, and what was soon to become the inspiration for modern ecological thought, was that when top predators were removed, deer soon became so abundant that their herbivory quickly limited food availability in the ecosystem. This caused massive outbreaks of deer starvation and disease which would amount to die-offs and a loss of hunting revenue for state game agencies as well as many tears for those deprived hunters. In some cases, an absence of wolves works, as in Massachusetts, but only because of rampant suburban development limiting habitat, and with the case of the Quabbin Reservoir, a highly organized culling. In the boundless-by-comparison open space of the west, this does not work. Hence the reason why wolves were reintroduced to Yellowstone, where the elk population had skyrocketed to the point of near-collapse.

I would say that I am less mad about the wildlife management decision-making in Idaho as I am about the ignorance of people like Edmund Zeigler which drives this decision-making. This quote from the article is probably one of most paleolithic understandings of nature I have ever heard:
"They'll kill them and let 'em lay," Ziegler says. "They're a pack of dogs and they'll chase stuff down for the fun of it. They might only take a couple of chunks out of it and let it go for a while because they're already so full from all the other animals they've been eating."
I do not think that wolves hunt for fun. The same understanding of "savagery" and joyful slaying of innocents was a popular impetus for the genocide of Native Americans. It is sad to see this example idiotry persist into our time. Appropriately, it takes its rightful seat next to the fallacious and insane reasoning that has been undermining so much progress in our country recently. I can hardly take any more.

However, chances are good that few wolves will be killed by hunters this upcoming season. I do not think they are as stupid as elk and mule deer. Needless to say, there are plenty of stupid people who are bizarrely good at killing things, so who knows.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Toad Story


The austere Mortenson Lake, Albany County, Wyoming

I was absolutely amazed to see this article on the NPR website today. I highly recommend you listen to actual recording rather than only read the article.

NPR talks about the wyoming toad reintroduction project we've been working on.

This is about the work we have been doing with the wyoming toads (Anaxyrus baxteri) at Mortenson Lake. Brandon and I have helped conduct surveys with Jason Palmer, mentioned in this story, who is running the reintroduction efforts for the US Fish and Wildlife Service. He is famous now in public radioland. Good for him! I don't think I've written about the wyoming toad work we've been doing, but I guess I should... After all, it is the reason that we have our jobs: Shawn, our boss, managed to get funding for a BLM amphibian monitoring program by coordinating with Jason. Basically, we are employed because we helped Jason out performing the surveys discussed in this article for 3 weeks this summer.

When Brandon and I helped out two weeks ago we unfortunately saw no NPR reporters (I admit it - it is my disgustingly liberal public-radio-listening nerd-dom that makes being interviewed on NPR a secret fantasy.), but we did work with some great zoo interns who had been shipped in from Toronto and Michigan.To my knowledge the zoos' representatives who were interviewed are participating in the breeding program to a certain extent, but Jason's Fish and Wildlife lab in Laramie is planting the bulk of the toads larvae. There is a widely distributed network of zoos providing assistance, but most aren't doing more than 1000 larval contributions each. Also, I was kinda bummed that Jason's seasonal assistants, our pals Billy and Meaghan, weren't mentioned or interviewed at all. They were fun to work with and were doing a helluva toad-raising/ tadpole releasing job.

So the story is really good, considering how obscure the subject matter is. One thing I would like to rudely correct is the statement by herpetologist Val Hornyak: "Once you've seen one, your eye kind of adjusts to that," Hornyak says. "You know what it's going to look like in the territory it's in."

My counter-statement is,"yes, the wyoming toad does stick out in its territory, but its not because they are poorly camouflaged. One easily senses a toad's presence because its awkward and noticeable attempts at escape draw a lot of attention to its whereabouts." This behavioral flaw has caused Brandon and I to joke that they are "bad at existing".

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Searching for the toads has been very enjoyable. With all the endless pacing around in thigh-waders, finding a toad is rewarding. We captured several the last time we went out. Brandon was lucky enough to tag one, as described in the article. We learned how to surgically implant the PIT tags back in early summer at Jason's toad-rearing laboratory.

Our capture sequence goes like this - we scan the toad for a PIT tag (using AVID RFID tech I learned how to use at the Cat Hospital), swab it for chytrid fungus, weigh and measure it, determine its sex, and do a little photo shoot. All told, it is very fun. I have included some photos from the first survey we did on June 24th, and when I get a chance I will include the more interesting recent survey photos we have in which we do toad surgery and find lots of big daddy-o's (as they say)!

Little toadlet "hiding".

Toadlet attempting escape by water.

Another seasonal employee holding a "large mama".

Hisself, swabbin' a toadlet for fungal infection.


I just love swabbin' toads.

T-Bone.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Oh man, so goth. So much bad hair.




I have been painfully afflicted by a fixation with Goth music recently. I am sorry to those of you who aren't lucky enough to be learning this for the first time. I'm sure my ramblings on the matter have been very annoying.


Excellent use of imagery in her lyrics. I feel like I am really being killed by Mt. Vesuvius:
Cities in Dust

Love the intro (+1 on the sunglasses and ties):
She's in Parties


Oh man, so goth. And I must say it is very disturbing for a low-budget, early 80's music video:
The Hanging Garden


The animal is a primate from Madagascar known as the Aye-Aye. Addie and I saw one at the Denver zoo, and I was thrilled to see one because I have been fascinated/terrified with them for many years. Because they are nocturnal, the specimen at the zoo was in its own cave-lyke display light by a single red bulb. Once my ayes adjusted to the darkness I beheld the horrendous lemur scurrying like quasi-modo to and fro within its habitat. Suddenly it would pause. And stare me down.

Even if you are uninterested by the music I posted, you must watch this.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

How does one anesthetize a mollusk?

Here is another interesting fact I learned today. It is about animal cruelty laws and mollusks.

Octopus Law:

In some countries, octopuses are on the list of experimental animals on which surgery may not be performed without anesthesia. In the UK, cephalopods such as octopuses are regarded as honorary vertebrates under the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 and other cruelty to animals legislation, extending to them protections not normally afforded to invertebrates.

Octopodes


The Source: Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986, UK.







Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Bird or Mammal?

Bird or Mammal?

Here is a link to a very interesting NYT article on the nature of TAXONOMY, which is the naming and categorization of life. The article was adapted from the book Naming Nature: The Clash Between Instinct and Science by Carol Kaesuk Yoon.

There appears to be such profound unconscious agreement that people will even concur on which exact words make the best names for particular organisms. Brent Berlin, an ethnobiologist at the University of Georgia, discovered this when he read 50 pairs of names, each consisting of one bird and one fish name, to a group of 100 undergraduates, and asked them to identify which was which. The names had been randomly chosen from the language of Peru’s Huambisa people, to which the students had had no previous exposure. With such a large sample size — there were 5,000 choices being made — the students should have scored 50 percent or very close to it if they were blindly guessing. Instead, they identified the bird and fish names correctly 58 percent of the time, significantly more often than expected for random guessing. Somehow they were often able to intuit the names’ birdiness or fishiness.
It is certain that we are losing touch not only with nature and what it is to be a part of ecological systems, but with the part of our minds designed to process, understand, and label the components of our environments. Will we soon be more proficient at naming technological processes?

No wonder so few of us can really see what is out there. Even when scads of insistent wildlife appear with a flourish right in front of us, and there is such life always — hawks migrating over the parking lot, great colorful moths banging up against the window at night — we barely seem to notice. We are so disconnected from the living world that we can live in the midst of a mass extinction, of the rapid invasion everywhere of new and noxious species, entirely unaware that anything is happening. Happily, changing all this turns out to be easy. Just find an organism, any organism, small, large, gaudy, subtle — anywhere, and they are everywhere — and get a sense of it, its shape, color, size, feel, smell, sound.


Sunday, August 9, 2009

Smartfest

Dogs are smart.

Crows are smarter.

The verdict is in: Babies is dumb.

I think that a dog/corvid team would be unstoppable. The two would make an excellent pet unit. Bird-pets tend to become too attached to their human caretakers, but if I could somehow infatuate a crow with a dog, then I would be in the clear. If that worked, then I could pursue human relationships without avian jealousy getting in the way, and everyone would be happy.

Brandon said that he found a baby raven one time and gave it to his friend. His friend's dog befriended the raven. The raven rode around on the dog's back. One day the raven flew away and never came back, which was uncommon, given that it took to flight frequently. Brandon thinks that given the raven's affinity for canines, he tried to socialize with one and was subsequently MURDERED.

Thanks to Chuggans for the link to the WIRED article on rooks and their amazingly spontaneous problem-solving ability.

I wish to work with corvids. I tried to get an internship with a research team that was studying population ecology and behavior of Island Scrub Jays on Santa Monica Island, CA. I didn't get it, but I still have hope for something similar. If anyone knows of similar opportunities on the west coast, or of any opportunities with California condors, drop me a line and I will owe you one. I've said it before, but condors are so GOTH.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Musical Mishappenings

As some of you may unfortunately know, I have been delving into making music electronically. I have only made about 5 tracks on my own, ever. My musician alter-ego is Boss Rhino and he has been on myspace music for years just resting on his laurels. You can hear the sum of my artistic output by visiting www.myspace.com/bossrhino. I would recommend the track "Step Dance". "Rants" is a sample from that song, if you just want a taste.


My co-intern Brandon and I have also created a few tracks under the name Prongho Deth. This music is abrasive. It is our artistic vision of the kind of sounds and thought processes that occur within the heads of pronghorn antelope. After watching this educational video, you may agree with us that they are up to something. Whatever it is sure is sinister. Enjoy:

video

We have done a couple of other tracks within the same "range metal" genre, but they are too inappropriate and disturbing to share online.

Friday, July 31, 2009

GRAND Explorations (Post 25)

Opuntia sp., Prickly Pear


For any of you diners who may be have been curious and/or faithful enough to check in on the blogue over the past month: I thank you! I am very sorry that there have been no updates.

I have been engaged in all manner of extravagant adventures over the intervening weeks and this post should really have been published in installments along the way. Forgive my ineptitude.

The excellent Chicago Botanical Garden program that I am interning with (Conservation and Land Management Internships) sent myself and the other five interns working in Rawtown to the Grand Canyon for a week of workshops with government scientists. It was great week of socializing with other animal and plant nerdkids like myself and I was fortunate enough to befriend several of them. Along the way to the AZ we took the liberty of enjoying some of the national parks in Utah. By the way, southern Utah is surprisingly gorgeous.

As for the GC, if you have not yet had the fortune to experience it, I strongly encourage that you do. In classic American style, the place's size was beyond compare. Compared to the numerous human-made wonders I have been awed by, the awe aroused as I approached the canyon rim came from a different place. Cathedrals and Eiffel Towers inspire a cerebral awe from an appreciation of beauty wrought by art and genius while the Canyon's is a primal reaction - first contact with a thing beyond one's comprehension, beyond what one would conventionally consider possible. I don't want to hype it up, so I won't post too many pictures. Also, I hardly took any. I felt there was an overwhelming futility in attempting to record my experience in fotos.
Presenting the gorgeously goth California Condor.

We had a surreal experience when we hiked to a mountain lion kill site populated by one (1) rotting elk. This was right at the canyon rim in the midst of a burned forest.





Canyon elk abound.

We drove up to the canyon listening to Queen, which became an impressively perfect mood setter. We later repeated this technique with great success by listening to "Bohemian Rhapsody" as we drove into Zion NP:



Of course, we involuntarily sang along.

Arches, near Moab, UT and where the opening segment of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade was filmed, we visited on our way down. It was astounding and a nice warm up to the wonder that was to come.

Arches.



Zion.



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My beloved Girlfriend brought me great joy when she came to visit a couple of weeks ago. Another reason besides laziness for not updating this blogg was caused by my reluctance to become too deeply involved in anything besides her (and, of course, my work).

We had 0urselves a glorious visit. During her western-tyme, we enjoyed many western-style things together. We found wild horses in the desert, went fossil hunting, shot guns, and went on a wilde roade trip into the western mountains. There we visited Grand Teton park and Yellowstone. Grand Teton was beautiful, and Yellowstone was great. We camped out and had fun! We looked for animals and saw bison and elk and tourists! No bears. Yellowstone has its own Grand Canyon, through which flows the iconic Lower Falls of the Yellowstone. Beautiful. Classic. I want to go back next time and adventure in the backcountry a bit.

Family portrait.

Beautiful girlfriend.

It hurt to take my girlfriend back to the airport. I was filled with sad. But I will see her soon! I will be taking her to Los Angeles soon for her internship. We won't be far apart this winter because

There is Great News:

I was offered an internship to follow up this one starting Sept. 28th. I will be working with the US Geological Service (USGS) on their socal/sonevada desert tortoise recovery projects. I believe that it will primarily consist of driving atvs around the desert in search of radio-transmitting testudos. Also looking at plants and caring for tortoise hatchlings.

I will be living in Henderson, NV. It is a part of this city.


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As far as science is concerned, we have been having great luck finding our uncommon amphibian quarry. In the past few weeks we have been helping the Fish and Wildlife Service with the recovery study of the endangered Wyoming toad, finding spadefoot toads in the process of maturation, and hunting for the hopefully soon-to-be protected Northern Leopard Frog.
Giant Leopard Frog.

Spadefoot toadlet, just metamorphosed.

Clinging to life in desiccating earth.

Spadefoot tadpoles do not always metamorphose ahead of evaporation, but some made the incredible transformation and may survive to overwinter underground.

Remarkable spadefoot survivors in a tiny mudpuddle.

Spadefoot tadpoles taken from the teeming mass (Spea intermontanus).

Hawklings.

Hat recovery operation from a mineshaft.

Brood parasitism - the cowbird lays its eggs in a redwing blackbird's nest. The cowbird hatchlings hijack the nest and the care of their involuntary surrogate parents by ejecting the redwing hatchlings and eggs.

The endangered Wyoming Toad (Bufo baxterii) - bad at existing.

Wyoming Toad Habitat - Laramie Plains lake, lightly grazed.

Swabbin' Toads


Sage grouse taking flight; North, to the future.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Post 23

Where have I been? It all started when a couple weeks back I had to engage in the mind dumbing boredom of BLM "orientation". A week of sitting in a conference room, falling asleep to people rambling about proper radio etiquette. It actually got worse than that, but now is not the time to lament the past! That week of torturous tedium did indeed limit my inspiration to blawg, but here I am again.

In my news:

1) We got mired in the truck and had to spend the night out in the field. It wasn't all that bad, and I survived, so I will probably do it again. Mud here is unlike anything back home. The bad stuff acts like an oil-slick quicksand bog when it rains and floods the roads.

2) During the week preceding, we had our hands full with Tiger salamanders. Check it, blawgdawgs:
Salamander hunting shotA couple-year-old juvenile. Also called a metamorph. They are fully aquatic and gilled at this stage. When they decide to become adult, their size generally halves.

The things that look like star wars dreadlocks on its neck are gill structures.
THE SALAMONSTER. An adult female. Docile but gigantic when in hand, she tried to bite me (I think) when I was taking her out of the net.
Salamonster waves for the camera.

Then last week we searched for the endangered Wyoming toad. We did intensive transect surveys around two ponds that were release sites in the past for the nationwide captive breeding program. We were working for the Fish and Wildlife Service with some other seasonals. Plot transect surveys are time consuming and for the most part pretty boring. They are much more regimented than the work Brandon and I are used to conducting. He and I had little luck finding anything besides a handful of toadlets who had been born the previous year and overwintered. The other team found three adult females, which is like finding a big gold nugget. Really, though, each toad is probably worth more than my car.

The past few weekends I've been trying to get out and experience the state. Last weekend I went to the Lander Beer Fest with some of my compatriots. It was enjoyable. We hiked the Sinks Canyon and I had my picture taken with a Bighorn sheep. This weekend I went camping in the Medicine bow national forest. Forests, with trees and no dust. So nice!

I miss you guys!