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So you want to be a wildlife biologist?

So you want to be a wildlife biologist?

Many DWR biologists (including me!) started off as university students working on projects funded by the DWR, and that led them to a career with the agency. It’s a great path if you are truly serious about becoming a professional biologist.


Ptarmigan genetics in the Uintas and beyond

Ptarmigan genetics in the Uintas and beyond

Although ptarmigan were not confirmed to be present in the Uintas prior to the 1976 release, additional reports of ptarmigan in the Uintas from before they were released has called into question whether or not Utah’s ptarmigan population is entirely introduced.


Grabbing geese from airboats

Grabbing geese from airboats

Instead, I’ll simply say that the procedure is a lot of fun – a lot. Much like birdwatching in the wetlands, you can detect a capture operation by attentive observation. A long train of DWR trucks with trailers in tow can be spotted slowly driving along dikes in the wetlands.


Nest boxes boost duck population

Nest boxes boost duck population

Artificial nesting boxes have been used by people all across the county to provide nesting habitat for wood ducks. Nesting boxes have also proven to be very successful in Utah.


Water for wildlife

Water for wildlife

The use of guzzlers provides water to all types of wildlife in areas where water sources are few and far between. One of the great benefits of this is the ability to attract animals to areas with abundant forage and little natural water…


Chasing owls in Utah’s west desert

Chasing owls in Utah’s west desert

Last week, I had a delightful experience that made me giddier than my wedding day. I was invited to join biologists and researchers as they banded burrowing owlets. Tiny, downy, newly hatched baby owls? Count me in!


Tagging toads at night

Tagging toads at night

Boreal toads are more active at night, so we’ll be surveying breeding sites after dark using headlamps. Food and sleeping arrangements at one of our remote cabins in west Box Elder County will be provided! The work typically does not end until after midnight.


Picking up pelicans on Gunnison Island

Picking up pelicans on Gunnison Island

When the mob of chicks came back to my edge of the fence, I just reached in and picked one up. That, of course, left its beak free to protest by pecking the top of my head. I got the little guy under my arm quickly and was able to hold a hand over his eyes, which calmed him down.


See Salt Lake’s peregrine falcons from a different point of view

See Salt Lake’s peregrine falcons from a different point of view

Thanks to the web cams in the nest box, we’ve been able to watch (in high def!) this year’s lone peregrine falcon chick grow from a tiny fluffball into an almost-adult predator preparing for life outside the box. But what’s even better than seeing falcon action in high definition? Seeing it right in front of you!


Hanging out on rooftops with peregrines

Hanging out on rooftops with peregrines

I knew my job with DWR would provide me some cool opportunities, but never could I have guessed I’d end up on top of one of the tallest buildings in Salt Lake, holding a box with a peregrine falcon inside.


Bear denning in the south Book Cliffs

Bear denning in the south Book Cliffs

Crompton found mama bear awake, watching him as he entered. As she saw the biologist pull himself inside, she retreated toward the rear wall. With only one chance to shoot, Crompton took careful aim and fired the dart into her haunch.


Nesting habitat for wood ducks

Nesting habitat for wood ducks

Because these ducks are cavity nesters, nesting habitat was mostly unavailable at the pond. Cavities are most commonly found in stumps and dead trees, which are almost always removed from city parks. It was obvious that lack of nesting habitat limited population growth for wood ducks.