Champlain Valley Carnivore project
- By Emily Prosser
Mt internship was with the Champlain Valley Carnivore project. This project aims to look at how forest fragmentation affects carnivores (bobcats and coyotes particularly) within the Champlain Valley. About 51 camera traps were placed in different locations within the Champlain Valley. They were baited with dead chicken and skunk lure to draw in any nearby species. The cameras then took continuous photos of anything that passed into its view. The bait is re-hung every three weeks to keep the scent fresh and the photos on the cameras were also retrieved at this time. The photos were then put into spreadsheets in order to better visualize the presence and/or absence of certain species. This project is run by Jed Murdoch and Sara Williams within the Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources. There were also 4 interns and 2 work-study students who helped to collect and organize the data.
This project definitely took a while to get used to. Some of the tasks that I completed were picking up the chicken carcasses from Misty Knoll Farms (our supplier), putting them into bags for easy collection before going into the field, checking the camera traps and resetting them, writing observations on a group blog after each day of field work, downloading the photos and going through and inputting the data into spreadsheets. One of the most difficult things with this internship was getting used to the smell of the scent lure. It was very strong in order to attract carnivores from far distances and took a while to adjust to.
However, there was a lot that I gained from this experience. I was able to practice my tracking skills using a hand held GPS, learn different methods of organizing the data you collect from field work, learn about the many different species that live within the valley and I was able to get outside at least once a week and walk around the woods to each field site. Overall, this internship was a great experience that enabled me to gain experience that I might not have learned in a classroom.
If I could give other students advice on picking and completing an internship it would be this; choose something you like. Not only will you enjoy the hours you are putting into it, but you will also get a lot more out of it than if it were something you were not very interested in. Also, space out your work. Do not leave everything to the last minute. Between finals and trying to finish up the details of your internship, it can become very challenging.