Bridget Weed is in her second Summer working with the Wildlife team at Natural Resources and has spent most of her time helping maintain camera traps and analyze the photo data that is collected, but has also had the opportunity to join attempted cougar captures as a part of the Olympic Cougar Project. Bridget says that even when she’s not in the field, she really enjoys looking through the images at all of the different wildlife.
“One time there was a picture of a bobcat looking directly into the camera! I get surprised by how much the animals are actually all around. When I’m out in the field and see all of their tracks, I wonder how they can be so big and get around unnoticed!?”
Bridget says she likes learning about plants and birds too, and has become more confident moving through the woods, finding her own routes without a trail.
When not finding her way in the forest (left) Bridget looks through the hundreds (sometimes thousands!) of images collected by one motion-sensor camera to monitor wildlife activity in the Elwha valley (right).
Javier Hernandez has spent the past three summers working with Natural Resources, mainly helping Raymond Moses and Wilson Wells with Fisheries research and monitoring.
Javier says that when he started, he didn’t realize Natural Resources involved so many things! He has helped with tagging and collecting DNA from fish, conducting snorkel surveys for salmon, seining the Elwha estuary to count and measure fish, and even sorting through sediment samples this year to see what food is available for fish living in the estuary. Javier says one of his favorite parts of the job is releasing salmon after they catch them for tagging.
“I like to see how fast they are, how strong. But really, I enjoy everything and I look forward to coming here every day in the Summer.”
Javier fully suited up to snorkel in the mainstem Elwha to survey for returning salmon (left) and helping Fisheries biologists count and measure fish in the Elwha estuary (right).
Eli Tipler has participated in the Summer Youth program for two years, but this is his first summer with Natural Resources. He and Carter Clifford are working with Allyce Miller to support Revegetation efforts in the Elwha Valley, but have also had the opportunity to tag along for some Fisheries field work. Eli and Carter tell me they have mainly been pulling weeds, specifically an invasive species called Herb Robert or “Stinky Bob” because of its potent, not very pleasant, fragrance. Both of them admit that it’s hard work, but appreciate always getting a good workout in! Carter has spent two Summers working with Natural Resources and says that one of the most surprising things has been learning about all of the cool places that they go and conduct field work.
“I had no idea many of these places existed, like where it used to be a lake. I also can’t believe we’ve been here for 16 years and are just now learning about Herb Robert; it’s everywhere! It outcompetes the other plants, so I like that we are doing work that needs to get done.”
Carter and Eli haul out trash bags full of the invasive plant Herb Robert, which they’ve pulled out by hand.
Text by: Chelsea Behymer, LEKT Science Outreach Coordinator