USU Student Chapter focuses on research

The following student chapter news was included in the Spring 2018 newsletter of the Central Mountains and Plains Section of The Wildlife Society. Photos of student chapter activities are also included in the newsletter.

It’s been an amazing year for Utah State University’s Student Chapter of The Wildlife Society.

The year began with a trip to the Goshute Mountains in Nevada to spend time with the researchers at HawkWatch International. Students were able to assist biologists in the capture, measurements and banding of raptors on their southern migration, including sharp-shinned and red-tailed hawks.

The student chapter’s focus this year has been on research. President Maggie Hallerud has continued her study of cougar presence using camera traps. Vice President Daniel Johnson is working on a professor’s project investigating carnivore impact on aspen suckers in Yellowstone National Park. Secretary Rylee Jensen is studying behavioral preferences within an orca population in Washington state. Historian Kenen Goodwin has been investigating methods for non-lethal aging of endangered June suckers. And Eric Ethington, in public relations, is studying mesocarnivore habitat use in mountain drainages under snow conditions.

Hallerud and Ethington’s research have provided great opportunities for undergraduate members to get field experience. Students have also been able to present their findings, including at the Utah Chapter of The Wildlife Society’s Annual Meeting, where Hallerud won third place for best student talk.

The student chapter has also been working closely with the state wildlife agency this year, participating in deer-check stations, bighorn sheep captures, radio-collaring mule deer, retrieval of mortality collars and the annual bison roundup on Antelope Island. Members also took a trip to the Logan Cave with state biologist Adam Brewerton where he demonstrated how to use acoustic equipment to monitor bat populations and identify calls. Additionally, several students were asked by the state to place bait stations and camera traps around the Bear River mountain range to monitor for possible wolverines coming into the state during the winter months.

The last month of the semester will be as busy as ever! Kenen Goodwin will be leading a group of students to southern Utah to track and capture a variety of reptiles and amphibians in the Mojave Desert and Colorado Plateau under the direction of a local herpetologist. Rylee Jensen will take a group to the Intermountain Bird Observatory, Peregrine Fund, and the Snake River Birds of Prey Conservation Area in Idaho to learn about the conservation of raptors. The student chapter also has their annual Yellowstone National Park trip coming up, where students will spend a weekend with researchers learning about the ecology of the park and native wildlife. There will also be an opportunity to spend some time with Dr. Jim Halfpenny, who will give a field lecture on tracking and species identification.

Header Image: ©Ken Lane