February: Lynx Tracking/ Exploring

It’s been a great first month up here at the Superior National Forest in Minnesota. I’ve been settling into the bunkhouse and into my internship role as a Hydrologic Technician, getting to know my colleagues and the community of Grand Marais, and exploring this beautiful area. They call this place the “North Shore.” 

I’m really excited about what is to come this year. I’m currently working on the online portions of boat, ATV, and snowmobile operation certifications. In the summer, there will be many times when we will need to boat or canoe to sites to do fieldwork. Sounds fun!!

But for now, I am enjoying winter and the opportunities that come with it. Having lived in Georgia all my life, this is my first winter up north, and I have been so looking forward to it because I love snow and ice. Unfortunately (depending on who you talk to), we are having a super mild and dry winter due to the El Nino. There has barely been any snow this season compared to usual :'( But, even though skiing is off the table, I have gotten to see frozen waterfalls and I also went ice fishing for the first time last weekend, which was awesome! I’m hoping we will have a big snow next month so I can go skiing and bask in winter wonderland. I’m trying to speak it into existence. 

A neat winter project I helped with this month was lynx tracking. My crew partner Hannah, the fisheries tech, has been here for 6 years and has been showing me the ropes. We went out with the wildlife tech to do this project where we drive up the ridge and find lynx tracks in the snow, and get out and follow the tracks for 30-45 mins or until we get to scat droppings. We collect the scat to send it to a lab to do DNA testing. From the results, they can find out about the population of lynx here.  

Following the tracks!
Me collecting the scat sample. Lynx scat oddly smells like fish. But you can't smell it when it's frozen!
Hannah driving us safely through the ice-covered road.
A beautiful fox we saw along the road. The wildlife tech took this pic with a fancy high-zoom camera.
View from a weekend hike - this is the Baptism River emptying into Lake Superior.
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