Some good news from AZ...

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Some good news from AZ...

Postby croteseeker » Mon Mar 17, 2014 8:13 pm

As some of you know, I recently moved from the Sonoran desert to a little piece of hell called Northern Michigan. Being above the 45th parallel has it's advantages, but it also means six or seven months of winter. Needless to say, I've been feeling kind of bummed at not being able to do any herping for the past 5 months. Today, though, I got some news from my brother, Ben Jones, that made me smile. He's been checking some of my board lines in my absence, and found them all well-used, still well-hidden, and productive. Even better, he shared some photos with me of what he found at one of the sites that I designed with the specific intention of studying cover preferences of the three local crotalus spp. Here is one of the WDBs he flipped in one of my crote traps.

Image
atrox by crotalus_cerberus83, on Flickr

Image
atrox by crotalus_cerberus83, on Flickr

You gotta love it when a plan comes together. Flipping rattlesnakes in AZ is usually hit-or-miss (hiking and road-cruising are vastly more effective out there), but these lines are showing some very hopeful signs. I take comfort knowing that, even though I can't get out and find snakes out here, at least my previous hard work is helping the people that I trusted with my spots find some. :D
" a squat, scaly worm with, 'don't touch,' on one end and, 'that's why,' on the other."

-Thomas Palmer
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Re: Some good news from AZ...

Postby froot » Tue Mar 18, 2014 8:38 am

Must've been quite chilly, he looks strangely calm for a crotalid after the roof suddenly disappeared. Hang in there, summer's at your doorstep.
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Re: Some good news from AZ...

Postby Westley Price » Tue Mar 18, 2014 8:45 am

Great stuff.

I wish we could "chum" an area with boards for herping purposes, but your boards would be gone in a matter of days, used to build a shack or as fire wood!
"I am dying by inches from not having anybody to talk to about insects." - Charles Darwin
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Re: Some good news from AZ...

Postby Bushviper » Tue Mar 18, 2014 9:14 am

Yip placing boards is a good way to monitor what is in the area. Locally this will never work unfortunately. I did manage to use this many years ago on an offshore island and that was very productive.

Lets hold thumbs your boards are not found by the idiots collecting for rattlesnake roundups.
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Re: Some good news from AZ...

Postby croteseeker » Tue Mar 18, 2014 7:05 pm

Thanks, for the comments, guys. Finding out that my boards were producing has been the brightest moment in a long, dark winter.

Froot, believe it or not, I've never flipped an angry rattlesnake. In the wild, they're pretty dependent on crypsis to hide them. When you flip one under a board, you've usually got a pretty good chance to get some good in situ shots, provided you're careful not to startle them further.

I'll keep my fingers crossed about summer. It's up to -2C today, so we're definitely headed in the right direction.

Wes, how about private property? That works well for me, but I really don't know the situation there. Here, we have plenty of fire wood and cheap building materials, so piles of boards are generally looked at more as unsightly litter than an opportunity for scrounging. (I usually only get permission after explaining the scientific merits of surveying their reptile populations and promising to keep my study areas from becoming an eyesore.)

Bushviper, I would be absolutely heartbroken if one of my board lines was raided by poachers. Luckily, all of my board lines are extremely well-hidden, either on private property or hidden in remote wilderness, and (most importantly) within states that don't hold round-ups. Arizona treasures it's rattlesnakes (even poaching a single 'winder or atrox is punishable by six months in jail), and Michigan's only species is protected.

I did have one board line that started life as a pile of old signs that was located just outside some redneck's fence. After getting tired of finding dead rattlesnakes near these signs (I knew it was him because I've actually seen him stop in the middle of the road and shoot one, not more than a dozen meters from the signs), I "liberated" the old signs and started a heavily-camouflaged line not far away. Immediately afterwards, we managed to record at least one mated pair at the new site. As of this Spring, the big male has returned. Hopefully, the females won't be too far behind.

Image
atrox by crotalus_cerberus83, on Flickr
" a squat, scaly worm with, 'don't touch,' on one end and, 'that's why,' on the other."

-Thomas Palmer
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croteseeker
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