Colorado student chapters new and old celebrate busy fall semesters

This article originally appears in the Colorado Chapter of The Wildlife Society’s December 2018 newsletter. Photos of student chapter activities are also available in the newsletter.

Colorado State University Student Chapter of The Wildlife Society

The Colorado State University Student Chapter had a busy semester. One of the executive board’s goals was to increase retention of members and it definitely succeeded. The student chapter also had incredible attendance at its events. It took a group of 27 students to Rocky Mountain National Park to view the elk rut in late September. Another group of 15 members helped on a research project in Badlands National Park in South Dakota in November. And a group of over 20 students volunteered for a bighorn sheep count in December. The officers are excited to see such an interest in the student chapter this year.

The student chapter’s biweekly meetings have been fun-filled. The student chapter had a presentation from the W.O.L.F. Sanctuary, where students learned about the difference between wolves and wolf-dogs and were able to have a wolf ambassador present at that meeting. The student chapter also hosted Find-it Detection Dogs with Greg Davidson, who talked about the use of conservation dogs for wildlife management. Mark Viera, a big game manager for Colorado Parks and Wildlife, gave a presentation on managing bears and mountain lions in Colorado. A presentation from Dr. Larissa Bailey about herpetology gave students a look at the reptile and amphibian side of wildlife research. Officers led hands-on meetings where students learned radio telemetry skills and Microsoft Access skills.

Fifteen members traveled to South Dakota and gained experience in field work, learned some camera trap knowledge and many even checked Badlands National Park and Mount Rushmore off their bucket lists. The student chapter was able to assist a CSU graduate student in taking down three of her fladry plots and one control plot. The fladry was placed around areas of high black-footed ferret populations as a way to non-lethally deter coyotes from the site. Camera traps were also present in all of these plots. Many of the member experiences this semester are invaluable and the officers were thrilled to have such a great turn out at all of the events and meetings.

Colorado State University-Pueblo Student Chapter of The Wildlife Society

The Colorado State University-Pueblo Student Chapter was just approved as a new student chapter of TWS this fall and is already very active on campus. The student chapter helped with other biology clubs in the annual haunted house, which takes place in the university’s life science building. They also had a petting zoo at the haunted house with mammals, reptiles and amphibians as well as two members on horseback attracting people to the event. Members also created a display for the winter wonderland on campus, which included a caribou on the tundra with a snowy owl in a tree along with the student chapter’s name. This was a great way to help get the organization’s name out on campus and recruit students from other disciplines. The group is currently coordinating with Colorado Parks and Wildlife to help clean up the Valco Ponds on Pueblo Reservoir this spring and also established a bug zoo with native Colorado bugs to use for an educational outreach program. Four members and their advisor, Dr. Claire Ramos, attended The Wildlife Society’s Annual Conference in Cleveland, where they had a great experience and made a variety of connections and ideas of how to run their student chapter. The students presented posters and Dr. Ramos did a presentation, as well.

Western Colorado University Student Chapter of The Wildlife Society

The Western Colorado University Student Chapter invited numerous guest speakers, engaged in volunteering opportunities and had some fun social events this fall semester. Kevin Blecha, a big game biologist for the Gunnison District of Colorado Parks and Wildlife, presented on mountain lion predation and talked to students about his life as a graduate student monitoring mountain lions on the Front Range. His presentation was full of real-life biology skills such as setting up game cameras, GIS skills, educating the public and tracking skills. District Wildlife Manager Brandon Diamond presented on the history of hunting and fishing in Colorado and his time tracking down poachers. A local graduate student and student chapter member Clarinda Wilson spoke on her experiences working for private and state wildlife agencies and important topics such as starting a retirement account, fidelity to returning to a previous job, and learning as much as possible about the job you are working towards. Jeff Ewert, a local falconer, brought in his peregrine falcon, Lichen. Theresa Childers from the National Park Service at Currecanti educated student chapter members on acoustic bat monitoring, from the practical set up of recording bat sounds to analyzing the data through software. Russ Japuntich conducted a USA Jobs workshop to help prepare members for jobs with federal government. Matt Vasquez, a wildlife biologist with the USFS, discussed Canada lynx and an ongoing internship opportunity for students to track lynx in the Gunnison National Forest.

Members went to a local headwaters conference hosted by the university and attended a tracking workshop. They were invited by the Western’s Backcountry Hunters and Angler’s chapter to participate in a weekend workshop called Hunting for Sustainability. On the weekend retreat, members learned about the history of hunting; how hunters factor in the births, deaths, and compensatory model of hunting and how hunters contribute millions of dollars to help protect and provide for wildlife. Members also participated in a mule deer hunt.

Students attended the annual BLM Public Lands Day and planted sagebrush seedlings and grass seeds on a recently burned site that was vulnerable to cheatgrass invasion. This project also benefitted habitat of the threatened Gunnison sage-grouse. They participated in plant propagation with their sister club Tri Beta from the university’s greenhouse and were part of Western’s homecoming parade where they piled into the back of pickup truck dressed as wildlife biologists and enthusiasts. For social events, the student chapter had monthly trivia nights at the university’s Overlook Cafe.

Header Image: A mule deer appears in Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge. ©Tony’s Takes