Reptiles Galore!

Eastern Massasauga Rattlesnake Surveys 2023!

Hi everyone! Joey back again to give updates on the busy month of May I am having! As a remote climate change resource assistant, opportunities to get out in the field are few and far between. My mentor has been incredibly helpful in finding me a few opportunities here in Michigan to get involved in my local national forest. This week I was privileged enough to join the Huron-Manistee National Forest in doing some Eastern Massasauga Rattlesnake Surveys.

Now these surveys primarily focused on Eastern Massasauga Rattlesnakes (EMR) which are a federally listed species, but we also were told to take our time and look for some special concern species. Boy did we find them too! We found 21 turtles that were previously unmarked in just one day! Eastern Box Turtles, Blanding’s Turtles, and Wood Turtles are all of special concern here in Michigan. We also found three EMR that had emerged from their burrows after hibernation. The snakes were only handled by our university partner because they have the necessary permits. They were measured, weighed, palpated to see if they had a recent meal, and if they were new they received a microchip just like you would put in your dog. After this they receive a bit of nail polish on their tail so when we hopefully catch them next year it is easier to tell that they have been caught previously prior to using the scanner to check for a chip.

But wait! There's more!

I was also fortunate enough to attend my very first professional conference at the beginning of this month! I attended the Cross-Boundary Landscape Restoration conference in Fort Collins, CO and had an amazing time. I learned so much more about fire and building partnerships than I ever knew was out there, I got to see some fellow resource assistants while I was there, and eat some amazing food! I also got to meet up with the one and only Katherine Shorten from EFTA and she personally laid down the law with the hotel for giving me a hard time!

That is not all that I have going on this month either! May is my busiest month so far as a resource assistant. I will be traveling to my office in region 3 next week, all the way to New Mexico! There I will be finishing up the Life Zone Tour that I have been steadily working on since my second month in this position. After that I will also be electro-fishing once again with the Huron-Manistee to look for channel darters and that will round out my month! Thank you so much for reading this far, your reward will be even more pictures I took while in the field this week!

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