Fish & Wildlife July Highlights

Most of this month was spent doing mussel surveys, which is easily my favorite thing so far. The Klamath Basin is home to one of the healthiest Western Ridged Mussel populations, however this species is proposed for listing due to losing much of its range elsewhere. For these surveys, we floated the Sprague River in kayaks, watching the bottom for mussels. The intention was presence/absence reporting for data about the ranges they occupy. Nearly every section of the river we explored had healthy populations, which was an exciting find! Spending the day on the river, watching fish, and finding mussels is just about the best thing to get to say you do for work!

Mussel surveys on the Sprague River, featuring Maddie.

Another adventure we had the opportunity to take was to Ashland, OR, which is the home of the National FWS Forensics Lab. This lab investigates all international FWS crimes and holds an impressive collection of species samples used for identification in other cases. We toured the building learning about the different lab departments including morphology, genetics, chemistry, and more. We even got to participate in sample organization. The tour was an amazing experience, but bittersweet to say the least. While learning so much and seeing many species samples was a great opportunity, we also had to face the fact that many of those samples are obtained through illegal, unsustainable, and unethical trade practice.

The month was filled with more electrofishing as well! Brook trout removal is a never ending job, but one we have so much fun doing. Towards the end of the month, we also assisted in an inventory project on Five Mile Creek, recently recovering from the Bootleg Fire. This opportunity offered a different set of species to work with including redband trout, sculpin, lamprey, dace, and minnows.