The first week of the PWA program is behind us, for the crew leaders that is and we have already had a lot of excitement in this first week of the program. We are currently training and preparing before the new Youth Ambassadors join us this upcoming week to begin the actual bulk of the PWA summer program. So far we have had the opportunity to take part in turtle trapping, bird banding, aquatic invasive species education, and setting up a plan to work on the Green Roof at the JCC campus. During our turtle trapping and identification training, we got to learn about five local turtle species that we would be primarily seeing this summer; those being Musk Turtles, Snapping Turtles, Spiny Soft Shell Turtles, Red-Eared Sliders, and Painted Turtles. It was very cool to be able to learn more about these species in our area and to handle them as well during the trapping. In our trapping and subsequent release of these turtles, we managed to catch five Snapping Turtles, eight Painted Turtles, and two Musk Turtles in total. These turtle trappings are essential as they allow us to survey the current species that we have in our area, where they are being found, and in what numbers they are being observed. This helps us in assessing how healthy our current wetland ecosystems are for these different species and sheds light on different protection practices that need to be in place to allow for the continued success and in some instances improvements that need to be made to these habitats for the success of these turtles.
Continuing with our training later into the week, we had the opportunity to conduct bird banding here at the RTPI grounds. After setting up the traps and monitoring them throughout the morning, we were rewarded with a Grey Catbird and a Common Yellow-Throat that were able to take measurements of and band before releasing back onto the grounds of the institute. Along the same lines as the turtle trapping, the bird banding is also an excellent surveying method to see what species are actively using the forest habitat and how healthy they are. These surveys help us in assess how successful the different species are based on the number of birds from a specific species we can band and based on the recapture of birds that received bands in past years. With the data, we collect, we can start to understand the habitat usage of these species and to understand what they need in their habitat to survive and thrive.
Both of these trapping experiences were very exciting as I had not had the opportunity before to learn how to conduct these kinds of field animal surveys. I look forward to getting to do these animal surveys more as the summer progresses with the PWA Youth Ambassadors and having the opportunity to learn more about the local wildlife here in our area. I also look forward to the opportunity to educate the public more about these local species and helping to emphasize the continuing need to protect the environment that serves as their homes.