A few shocking (in a good way) things to report on from the forestry journey of late:
Back in the fall, I participated in an annual trout survey, in which my class netted fish while natural resource employees used backpack electroshockers to stun fish by putting an electric current in the water. This is done to take biological data on the fish, and then return them to the water.
Recently, our school acquired an backpack electroshocker of its own, so, during our Wildlife Biology lab a few weeks ago, we were able to do some shocking ourselves, each student getting a try.
We didn’t catch that many fish, but what we did catch made up for the lack of amount with size.
I was able to volunteer to help a woman conducting a trout survey yesterday. She did the shocking, and I the netting. It was great to spend a whole day in the river and learn about different fish species. She allowed me to play inquisitor as I asked probably 500 questions about her life, the work she has done, and everything about fish and the river that we were working in that I could think of. I really enjoyed the work and working with her, and it felt like a further confirmation that I am on the right career path for myself.
Bucket List Beaver
Part of the days work out there consisted of breaking up a portion of a beaver dam to improve the flow of the river which improves habitat conditions for trout. Don’t worry, we didn’t completely eradicate it, and from what I hear, the beavers typically can reconstruct the amount we broke down within a few days time, if not over night…”busy as a beaver” is not a misleading idiom.
Anyways, it was rather pleasant to stand in a mini waterfall (and I do mean very mini, don’t worry mom), with the water flowing around and through my wadered-legs while marveling at the engineering genius of the beavers, who had so patiently and wisely placed each stick and branch to clog up the water flow.
I was speaking to the woman I was assisting about how I’d always wanted to see a beaver in the wild (#3 on my bucket list actually, just behind “see the northern lights” and “see a moose in the wild”…but only just). And she said that if I’d like, she could show me the beaver den she’d found. Which of course “I’d like.”
So we waded over and she showed me how the beavers had built up silt and sticks under water to create a sort of eating platform (I called it their “dining room”) and then showed me where several entrances to their den were, a den which is dug into the hills sides of the stream channel and camouflaged by a dense growth of wild raspberry.
As she was pointing out one specific entrance, I looked behind me into the water and saw a large fish. I had grown so accustomed to looking for fish that day, since that was the project at hand, that I assumed it was a fish. But within a few seconds I realized that it was not a fish, but a beaver! I was in awe and rendered nearly speechless, and this sounds silly when I’m writing it, but I had just wanted to see this creature in the wild for so long, and here I was not only seeing it but in the water with it.
I had no camera to document this, but it would have hardly mattered, because he was gone in a few seconds. But even if I had had time to snap a shot, I don’t know that I would have wanted to waste any “eye time”by looking through a lens at him. To put it in brief, it was shocking to suddenly be given such a gift, but I am so thankful for it.