Goodbye Central OR, back to Jersey

Last winter I was depressed and unemployed, and I jumped at the chance to accept the CLM internship and move from central New Jersey to central Oregon, a strange place I never even heard of, to a town called Bend… a town known for beer (as previously stated) and access to outdoor activities. Although nervous to move to a new place, I was excited that I would get to work outside in remote areas for the Prineville District, but live in Bend, a bustling town of almost 100,000 people.

I cannot say enough good things about the Prineville BLM. My supervisors Cassandra Hummel and Digger Anthony were extremely welcoming and great teachers. I was able to connect with many coworkers and work on a variety of great projects throughout the summer.

Because I have previous experience working with bats, I was made crew lead of a telemetry project with Western Long-eared Bats (Myotis evotis). This was my favorite project and I gained valuable skills using radio-telemetry.
Other projects included wildlife clearances in Westerm Juniper stands that are set to be thinned next year, elk and deer hiding cover measurements in Ponderosa and Lodgepole pine forests, Habitat Framework Assessment for sage grouse, golden and bald eagle nest monitoring, and removing/adding signage to hiking trails.

Not only did I gain professional experience working on these projects, I learned a ton of practical skills which I will now list in no real order – driving extremely large pick up trucks, using 4WD, using a compass, reading a map (I’m from NJ where every road actually has a name), using GIS, using a Juno GPS, how to set up a mist net to catch bats, how to climb a butte in the pitch dark, how to drink enough water in the desert, how to ride an ATV, how to back up a trailer, what a rattlesnake sounds like, how to listen to country music, how to use a radio, etc.

Some random things I learned living in Central Oregon… how to yield to pedestrians (pedestrian yield to cars in NJ), how to react when a stranger is genuinely interested in your well-being, how to react to a mean bull, how to float down a river on an air mattress, how to talk back to coyotes, how to look for arrowheads, how to never trust Yelp reviews because everyone in Oregon is so nice and never tells the truth, how to pack for a backpack trip, how to become known at a local bar, the list goes on.

I highly recommend the CLM internship to anyone that is right out of school and looking for an adventure and practical experience. I’m sad to leave this friendly beautiful land of central OR, but ready to see my family again in NJ. My next step is to probably take a job at Rutgers University working on more bat research. Hopefully I make it back to Oregon somewhere down the line. To everyone with more time left on their internships, enjoy every minute!

Thank you to everyone who makes the CLM internship possible.

-Kathleen Kerwin
Prineville, BLM





Bat burrito


middle of the night telemetry fun


Nightshift Adventures

The last 2 weeks of July I was working night shifts with a crew of 2 other people using radio telemetry to track flying western long-eared bats. This was the most intense experience of my internship so far. A typical nightshift lasted from 7pm – 4am, except for a few nights when I did not get home till 8am.

It was amazingly difficult and sometimes frustrating work, especially when it was impossible to locate the bats. However, we successfully got enough locations to analyze 4 bats.

Luckily, there was almost a full moon for the last week of work! Coyotes, owls, poorwills, and cattle were frequently heard/seen every night.

After taking one day off to shift back to day time work,  I’ve spent the last 2 weeks in lodgepole pine forests measuring elk and mule deer hiding cover….. It’s been a pretty drastic change of scenery but I love the variety of projects I’ve been able to work on.



My future boy-band album cover

Bat Month

This month I am working on a project involving Western Long-eared Bats (Myotis evotis) in central Oregon.

The goal of the project is to learn more about the bat’s roost selection in juniper/sagebrush habitat, specifically lactating females. We use radio telemetry to track where the bats roost during the day, and then locate the bats while they forage for insects night.

I am done with week #2 of day shifts, and tomorrow I start 2 weeks of night shifts.
So far, the majority of bats I have located roost in rock crevices. I feel like a detective with a big antenna looking for hidden treasure in the rocks. It’s been my favorite part of this internship so far.

Some other notable wildlife I’ve seen while working with the bats: family of red tail hawks, 2 juvenile ferruginous hawks, a Cooper’s hawk nest with 2 juveniles and adult, American kestrel,Greater sagegrouse, loggerhead shrike, summer tanagers, and pronghorn antelope.

bat burrito

A ‘bat burrito’ – this bat is patiently getting a radio transmitter fitted to her back

Me, listening for bats


An awesome encounter with a ferruginous hawk

Month 2 in Central Oregon

2 months have flown by in Prineville, Oregon. The last few weeks (besides the CLM Workshop) I have been working on many different projects including eagle monitoring, habitat assessment for sage grouse, GIS training webinars, and lifting wildlife closures on trails.

Every year the Prineville district hosts an environmental education day for Crook County 4th graders, located at a beautiful campground by the Crooked River. Luckily, I got to help run the wildlife station this year. We had pelts and/or skulls from cougar, porcupine, wood chuck, coyote, beaver, badger, and red fox. We taught the kids all about habitat, and what different animals need to survive. Some of the 4th graders were extremely knowledgeable.

Mountain Big Sagebrush glowing blue under blacklight

I’m living in Bend, OR, about 45 minutes away from Prineville. It’s a pretty big town with almost 90,000 people and I’ve been making awesome friends. Weekends have included hiking, birding, camping, boating on Lake Billy Chinook, exploring Bend, and of course watching the Women’s World Cup (GO USA!!)

Go USA soccer!!!

Coming up in July, I’ll be working exclusively on a Western Long Eared Bat telemetry project, but more on that next month.

Rattlesnake in our campsite

First weeks at the BLM in Prineville, Oregon

Hello from the BLM in Prineville, Oregon! So far, I’ve worked about 3 weeks, and Oregon has been quite a new experience for me. I’m a born and raised Jersey girl, and most familiar with deciduous woodlands of the Northeast; transplanting to the high desert of central OR has been a great change of scenery. Everyone here has been extremely welcoming and friendly.  The view of the Cascade Mountains seems to never get old  (although a little unsettling being so close to “The Ring of Fire”… )

In between all the office training sessions, I have been getting a crash course in sagebrush habitat by going out with a greater sage grouse habitat assessment team.  Every time I get in the field, I become a little more familiar with the brand new plant and wildlife species.

I have also gone to monitor a seemingly inactive bald eagle nest on three occasions, situated on the side of a mountain. The nest was empty the first two visits, but on the third visit, two subadults gave me quite a show. They are approximately 4 years old and appeared to be exploring the area around the old nest as a potential new territory.

Subadult bald eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus)

In the near future, my main task will be to conduct wildlife clearances in areas overrun with Western Juniper (Juniperus occidentalis). These areas need to be thinned out to create healthier sagebrush habitat for species that rely on sagebrush, such as the pygmy rabbit (Brachylagus idahoensis) and greater sage grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus).   I’m very excited for the months to come!

Planting trees with wonderful volunteers from the Oregon Hunters Association

Planting trees with wonderful volunteers from the Oregon Hunters Association