*phew*

I’m WAY behind on my writing…school has been…crazy. I haven’t had much time to do anything aside from work. Hopefully that will change soon. I’ll be posting in little spurts when I find the time.

FWC Office Trip:

The week after I got back from the ‘Glades, my Wildlife Techniques class took a trip to the FWC office here in Gainesville. The purpose of the trip was to show us some trapping techniques that they use for different species. We looked at turtle traps, amphibian traps, bear traps, and something called a rocket net.

The idea behind the rocket net is that you bait an animal (deer, turkey, etc.) for a few weeks until they’re used to the net being nearby. Then, when the day finally comes, you sit in a blind a few yards away and wait for the animals to show up. When they’ve gotten in the right spot, you fire the net and capture the animal(s). This…works in theory. From what I’ve been told, however, the rocket nets have a nasty habit of decapitating our furry and feathery friends. But, it’s all in the name of science…right? The rocket net has loaded charges that fire an iron tube at an angle over an area. The tubes take with them the rest of the net. After picking one up, I can understand why they sometimes kill the animal…they must way 8 lbs. a piece.

The other thing that I found particularly interesting was the bear leg snare trap. It’s spring loaded and requires the bear to step on the spring to trigger the trap.

Luckily for me, my teachers managed to keep me hostage on a mandatory field trip during my spring break. After raging for only a few days about this, I drove my Jeep out to the Ordway Swisher Biological Station located outside of Melrose Fl. The station is used by UF strictly for research and my Wildlife Techniques class would be spending the weekend out there learning…well…wildlife techniques. What really drove me crazy about the Ordway was the fact that no one is allowed to hunt/fish there. And, of course, there are deer, turkey, and other fun things coming out of the woodwork. So lakes like the one below, will never get to see a lure.

The first evening we spent setting and baiting small mammal (mouse/rat) traps. These were Sherman box traps that simply catch the animal inside by having them step on a pressure plate and a door closes behind them.
Once night fell, we loaded up in a truck and drove around on an owl survey. I didn’t feel particularly well as my spam dinner was disagreeing with my stomach. It was very interesting, however, that we managed to call a Barred Owl to the truck and got to see him fly around the canopy above us.

The final thing we did that evening was ‘shake and bake’ a mouse. This was possibly the coolest thing I’ve ever seen. The company DayGlo makes a powder that glows bright orange when placed under a blacklight. We were able to capture a mouse in the Sherman traps and cover it with the DayGlo powder. We then shut off all of our headlamps and turned on blacklight flashlights. The result was an BRIGHT orange mouse, running around the brush. It looked something like predator and I failed to get any pictures because I was so entranced by it. After letting the mouse run off for about 10 minutes, we were able to follow his little orange tracks and find his burrow. I believe someone in the group got a video of it, so I’ll have to see if I can find it and post it later.

To my surprise, the following day was even more interesting…