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Monitoring small mammals on I-90

Posted by Hailey Starr at Jan 29, 2014 10:31 AM |

Kris is an ecologist and Biology professor at Central Washington University (CWU) who is interested in population and community ecology and has a special enthusiasm for pikas. Her team consisted of recent graduates from CWU who love wildlife and the outdoors. Working with the WA Dept of Transportation and Forest Service, their main objective was to gather knowledge of what small mammals current occupy the area near where the wildlife overpass will be going in along I-90 near Snoqualmie Pass. Here's what they found...

Monitoring small mammals on I-90

From left to right: Kyle, Bryant, Amanda and Kris. They are standing by a recently installed pitfall trap. (Photo taken by Hailey Starr)

Kris Ernest and her team of expert small mammal trappers, Amanda, Bryant and Kyle, set out this summer in search of animals!

Kris is an ecologist and Biology professor at Central Washington University (CWU) who is interested in population and community ecology and has a special enthusiasm for pikas. Her team over the summer consisted of recent graduates from CWU who love wildlife and the outdoors. 

Their main objective of our wildlife monitoring was to gather knowledge of what small mammals currently occupy the area near where the wildlife overpass will be implemented along I-90 near Snoqualmie Pass.This project was a collaborative effort between the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT), CWU and the United State Forest Service (USFS).

The crew checks live traps. Photo: Hailey Starr
The crew checks live traps. Photo: Hailey Starr

I was fortunate enough to join them on a couple of their journeys to find small mammals like squirrels, shrews, and mice. You might ask, how do you gather knowledge of what small mammals occupy an area?  Well, we set live traps which safely captured wildlife, making species identification and measurements easy. Once an animal was caught, we identified the species and took measurements. While trapping, the team camped for work! Overnighters were required in order to monitor the traps regularly. 

The reason for this effort is to understand whether the type, amount and genetics of small mammals changes after the wildlife overpass is implemented. Wildlife overpasses are an important mitigation measure used to improve habitat connectivity for wildlife of all kinds when roads are barriers to movement. See what we are doing to improve habitat connectivity for our wildlife along I-90.  

Observing small mammals. Photo: Hailey Starr
Observing small mammals. Photo: Hailey Starr

This group of people was so welcoming and great to work with. I enjoyed getting my hands dirty and gleaning knowledge from Kris. It will be interesting to see how the overpass will affect the wildlife community in this area. 

 

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