Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Crawling on the forest floor, mouse traps, and more....

Wow! Today was a lot of work but it was a lot of fun. We started out early in the cold! It was snowing when we set out on our trek through the woods of Nova Scotia. The terrain was somewhat rocky and wet in some places. We walked through the woods until we got to a small wooden building named "Robin's Nest" that previous Earthwatch volunteers built. We then had to gather a bunch of grass (not like the grass we're used to) and put it all in a pile. We then had lunch in the small building that does not have a door so we were exposed to the cold all day. It was okay, though, because we laughed and talked a lot. We then set out to do the main job of the day: set mouse traps. These are not the mouse traps we know of. They are humane. They do not hurt the mice. The purpose is not to catch and keep mice. It is to study the small mammals in the area, how many there are, etc. The traps can catch other animals that are small but the purpose is to try to catch mice. We were in 5 teams and were split into grid sections to make the data were are trying to collect valid, as well as to be able to find the traps. They can't just be placed anywhere. There's a system. We each had to fill metal mouse traps (that cost $100 each) with the grass we collected and some grain for food. We then split up into grid areas in the forest. The middle person, Kenta, was the leader and had to make sure we were each staying in line with each other as we moved along the grid. We started in a line with each other and placed the first mouse trap in the forest. We had to make sure it was stable and we had to cover it with grass. The purpose is for the mouse to smell the food and go in. Once they do, the trap door closes and the mice can't get out. They have to have the grass in the trap so they do not get too cold. If they do, they can get hypothermia and die. Remember, we want them to live and release them. Once we placed a trap in the correct way, we had to tag nearby trees with bright pink and orange tape so we can find the traps as we go out each day. Every time we set a trap, Kenta would make sure everyone was ready and we'd have to move 10 yards in front of us to set another trap. Keep in mind, though, that we were in the forest. This meant to move the next 10 yards, we had to battle trees, branches, water, etc. We often had to literally crawl on the forest floor to get to the next area. We had to try to stay in as straight a line as possible. I hope I'm making this make sense but it's kind of difficult to explain. Every 12 hours the traps have to be checked. If not, the mice that we may catch could die from being hypothermia or from not having enough to eat. We have to go back tomorrow morning to check the traps.

All of this research helps the scientists learn about habitats, ecosystems, climate change, and more. Because there are only 2 leaders, they need help. We set 100 traps today. When they do not have volunteers here, they have to do all the work by themselves! It was hard work for the 7 of us so I'm sure it's hard work for 2 people.

Here are some questions you may want to think about:
Would you crawl on the ground in the forest?
Would you pick up a mouse?
Would you touch animal poop?
Would you think it's interesting to learn about animals and how they really live?

This is Cook's Lake. We talked a lot about beavers while we were here. We learned that they are very territorial and that beaver dams are built in flowing water but beaver lodges are built in water that is not flowing. There is no reason to build a dam in water that is not flowing. A lodge is smaller. Beavers sometimes fight for their territory. Males fight males and females will fight females. They only do this when they feel it is absolutely necessary for protection.

This is me picking grass for the mouse trap. It was cold!

This is what I was crawling through! You can see the pink tape tied to the tree. If you look at the bottom of the tree, you can see the mouse trap. The grass covering it helps to hide it and insulate it so the mice do not get too cold.

This is me filling my mouse trap with grass. I have to admit something I learned today. While there are many things I am not good at, I am good at this! There were some mouse traps that had a broken metal flap. I became the expert on fixing these with a small stick! I never knew I was good at something like this. This is one reason we should always try new things~you never know what you may do well.  For me, setting mouse traps is apparently an area of expertise for me! :)

1 comment:

  1. Hello Ms. Webb!

    We are a little behind on your blog posts, because when we looked at it yesterday Mrs. Kovalcik apparently did not refresh the page and it appeared that you hadn't added to it. This morning when we look at it, we see that you have actually added A LOT!

    We would like to answer the questions that you had us think about.

    1. We took a vote, and all of us said that we would crawl around on the ground in the forest. Mrs. Kovalcik thinks that those numbers would change if it was as cold as it is there in Nova Scotia.

    2. Eleven of us said that we would pick up a mouse, and seven of us said "NO WAY!"

    3. Four of us claim we would touch animal poop. Mrs. Kovalcik says, "prove it!" haha!

    4. We all agree that it would be interesting to learn about animals and how they really live.

    Thanks for the great pictures and information. You look cold!! Hopefully North Carolina will be nice and warm for you when you return.

    Talk to you soon!

    Mrs. Kovalcik's Krazies

    P.S. We won our game against Ms. Prichard's class! The score was 9 - 5. Mrs. Kovalcik was proud of our good sportsmanship more than the fact that we won. :0)