Ohio students enjoy a field work filled semester

This update originally appears in the Ohio Chapter of The Wildlife Society’s Spring/Summer 2019 newsletter. Photos highlighting the student chapter’s activities are also included in the chapter’s newsletter.

The University of Rio Grande Student Chapter of The Wildlife Society had a very busy and productive spring semester, which involved attending and presenting at relevant conferences and experiencing hands-on field work. One member attended and co-authored a poster at the Midwest Fish and Wildlife Conference in Cleveland in January. Nine members attended the Ohio Natural History Conference in Columbus in January — seven members were part of six poster presentations; the student chapter provided registration fees and travel stipends to this conference. In April, the student chapter raised funds by selling raffle tickets on campus to win one of four custom, barn-side framed photographs taken by members. In early April, Ohio Division of Wildlife deer management specialist Mike Tonkovich came to campus to talk about his career, the past and current management of deer in Ohio, and insights about how recognizing wildlife management is often largely people management.

Later in April, Rob Ruth, regional representative for the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation visited the university to share information about the regional and national efforts of their organizations. He emphasized the efforts RMEF has made to secure hunting access to public lands — either through leases, easements or purchases of private property adjacent to federal and state lands. At the end of April, 18 students made the student chapter’s semi-annual visit to The Wilds, a private, non-profit safari park and conservation center, thanks to arrangements made by Steve Spear, Director of Wildlife Ecology at The Wilds. The highlights included visiting the rhino and giraffe barns in addition to an extended stop at the carnivore conservation center. Finally, on May 16 members traveled to the Vinton Furnace Experimental Forest to see timber rattlesnakes. Ohio State PhD student and TWS member Andrew Hoffman took Rio Grande students into the woods to find three radio-marked snakes — and one student spotted an unmarked snake along the way. That led to an opportunity for Hoffman to demonstrate hands on — with student assistance — the various aspects of handling, marking (i.e., PIT tag), measuring and collecting samples for lab analysis. Student chapter members also learned a great deal about the research objectives and detailed microhabitat data being collected. In addition to these activities, members participated in the winter southern flying squirrel box checks, treefrog surveys, bluebird box monitoring, and a kestrel nest box study.

Header Image: Eastern bluebird (Sialia sialis) ©Connecticutbirder