Fall is a transitional time for a biologist. It’s also one of my favorite times of year. The season begins amid a frenzy of fieldwork and ends with days behind the desk. The transition between these two modes of work is anything but gradual and naturally anything but boring.
Having the right tool for the job is important in any profession or trade. Chefs need sharp knives, house painters need high-volume sprayers and plumbers need adjustable wrenches. The same rule applies to fisheries biologists. We often use electrofishing to do our jobs, and it’s just what it sounds like: fishing with electricity.
To most biologists, summer means fieldwork, and lots of it. It also means plans that can change rapidly from one week to the next based on weather patterns and the movement of fish.
Not a single detail could be overlooked, due to the remote location and limited access of the site. One forgotten fitting could have meant a day of lost time and a forgotten heavy object could have stopped the project for months—or even years—waiting for a helicopter to deliver the item.
I took my first pack trip with horses three years ago, and since then, I have been hooked on this great way to see remote areas. Last summer, I went on 12 trips in three states.
Learning to fly is a process, not a single event, and almost all peregrines come down to earth at least a few times. And the downtown area is a difficult place to learn to fly. Everywhere you look, there are hard surfaces: asphalt, concrete, brick, metal, glass and motor vehicles.
The challenges of managing mule deer on the Kamas unit are not much different from those of most other northern Utah locations. Development, highway mortality, depredation issues and increased recreational use on critical winter ranges have all taken their toll on mule deer populations throughout the Intermountain West.
Scofield Reservoir is one of the most popular and heavily used fisheries in Utah. Recently, however, the reservoir has experienced some challenges that have reduced the number of anglers who fish there. The biggest challenge was the discovery of Utah chubs in the reservoir in 2005.
Last year, I worked to restore an abandoned pipeline system. This system provided water to two separate drainages. Accompanied by local ranchers and dedicated hunters, we repaired approximately 15 miles of pipeline and restored water to areas that hadn’t seen moisture for years.
The DWR has been working to identify a pure population of Colorado River cutthroat trout and to develop a broodstock that can be used to repopulate areas in southeastern Utah. Those obstacles have finally been overcome, and we are ready to begin restoration efforts.
My adventure began about a year ago, in March 2010. I’d heard tales from previous years, and I knew the season for bear denning was upon us. For a small-town girl from Mississippi, this was a chance of a lifetime!
I have learned some interesting things during the process of collaring and monitoring deer in northern Utah. The first and most significant thing is that in recent years, deer numbers have generally risen. I have also found that when the deer died — if it wasn’t because of the winter weather — it was often because they were hit by a vehicle.