30 July 2021

Additional Opportunities

Written by: Cole Bleke

This past week marked my halfway point through my DFP internship here at Rio Mora National Wildlife Refuge working on a grassland assessment and bison. A few words come to mind thus far and those are; fortunate, community, and career. I feel incredibly fortunate to be given this opportunity for the summer. This internship has been eye-opening how much of a community-like feel there is within the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. It’s become very apparent how much supervisors and beyond are invested in our future careers and hopeful that us interns develop an interest in working for the service after schoolwork is completed. The most powerful part, in my opinion, is that all of this has held true with every service member I have met or been introduced to thus far. Everyone stresses how much this internship is similar to the golden ticket into the service. It really sparks motivation to complete all tasks I’m asked because I am convinced that the service is a good spot for me.

Earlier this week some employees from the Albuquerque field office in Ecological Services visited the refuge to set up a small project investigating whether or not New Mexico meadow jumping mice, an endangered species, call the refuge home. To do this, we set up track plates designed for a mouse to enter a plastic box lined with sticky paper on the bottom. In the middle of the “trap” is an ink pad with food. The goal is to have the mouse enter the trap and step on the ink pad to grab a free meal and leave its tracks on the sticky paper. No harm no foul. These jumping mice have a unique hindfoot print which makes it easy to distinguish their tracks compared to other rodent species. I was given the opportunity to lead this effort on the refuge and get a chance to conduct some fieldwork. As I write this we are on day five with no jumping mice tracks, but there’s still a couple days for that to happen. Given the status of this species, these small mice have the potential to become the face of habitat conservation in the area. Approaching landowners at a common ground is always a key to establishing a good relationship, but mice don’t always have that charismatic effect compared to another species, like bison, but how cool it would be to find out they also call Rio Mora National Wildlife Refuge home.

Agency: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Program: US Fish & Wildlife Service - DFP

Location: Rio Mora National Wildlife Refuge and Conservation Area

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