As a biological technician for the monument, Sonja gets to help out with all sorts of cool research and management projects. One of these involves trying to capture the two species of turtles that live in the Well, Sonora mud turtles (native to the Well) and red-eared sliders (pet store turtles that people released into the Well). One of the techniques they have begun to try is to set up "have a heart" live traps, which are essentially wire cages with a spring-loaded door that snaps shut when an animal (hopefully a turtle) climbs into the cage. They're hoping to catch some of the invasive sliders so they can be removed from the well.
So, yesterday was the first time they tried this technique, and it was Sonja's job to wake up early and check to see if the traps had caught anything.
Well, it did. But it wasn't what they were intending to catch.
Instead of a turtle, they accidentally caught a hog-nosed skunk (here's a link to a simple, but interesting page from Tonto National Monument's website on the four species of skunks in Arizona). Now, releasing any other small mammal from a live trap would be a relatively simple procedure, involving nothing more than opening the hatch and letting it out. But skunks require a level of care and patience way beyond other furry little guys. That is, if you want to avoid getting sprayed.
Sure, the video's a little boring, but it gives a neat insight into some of the things Sonja gets to do on a daily basis.
On another note, I had an interview for a job at the Crown of the Continent Research Learning Center, which is located in Glacier National Park, yesterday morning. I think it went pretty well, but I won't know the results for at least a week and a half. I'll keep you all posted!
**FYI -- No skunks were harmed in the making of this post. The little guy eventually walked out of the trap and waddled away into the wilds.