Small Mammal Fieldwork

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Late September in the Rockies is always beautiful with that crispness to the air and brilliant colors as the aspen change. Last week, curator of mammals, Dr. John Demboski took advantage of the season and headed out to the Snowy Range in Wyoming to conduct some small mammal fieldwork. He was accompanied by dino paleontologist Dr. Scott Sampson, vice president/chief curator of the Museum’s Research and Collections Division, and Rick Wicker, the Museum’s photographer.  

The weather did not disappoint, though it was cold at night close to 10,000 feet. Many small mammals including voles, chipmunks, gophers, shrews, and mice were surveyed.  

Unlike more visible birds and larger mammals, most of the small mammals in the mountains are nocturnal and rarely seen by campers. Besides the secretive small mammals, a highlight of the trip was seeing a marten, a cat-sized relative of weasels and badgers, up close and personal but alas, no photograph.  

A group of fearless gray jays, aptly known as camp robbers, also hung out in camp managing to make off with sandwiches when no one was looking.

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All in all, it was a great way to wrap up fieldwork in 2015.

Images by Rick Wicker.

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