Category Archives: Field Skills

Volunteer Opportunity: Cascade Pika Watch

Cascades Pika Watch has been monitoring the distribution and abundance of pikas throughout the Columbia River Gorge for four years, based on local research results dating back to 2011. Citizen scientists have been hiking to talus slopes and reporting on presence/absence of pikas, giving us a baseline understanding of where pikas live in the Gorge. Because of the severity of the Eagle Creek fire last summer, it is more important than ever to get an accurate picture of how pikas are doing in the continentally unique context of the Columbia River Gorge. Thanks in part to a grant from the Forest Service, they are planning to extend our depth of data collection in the Gorge and conduct more-detailed abundance surveys over the next two summers. Data to be collected include counting numbers of pika individuals present, identifying the five dominant plant species and their approximate percent cover in a transect, and estimating percentage of fire damage to the talus. The protocol involves carefully walking transects across the talus patch, thus requiring volunteers who are physically capable of doing so safely.

Due to the more-technical nature of these surveys, they are looking for a more-experienced group of volunteers to help us collect these data. All volunteers for this project would need to attend one, four-hour field training with Dr. Johanna Varner during June 22-25 inclusive, though they may consider a Plan B, if these dates are absolutely out of the question for you. Each more-experienced volunteer would then be assigned a small handful of sites to complete in their own time (during the summer season).

If you are interested in participating, please complete this form and they will contact you directly:


Photo Credit: Dr. Johanna Varner

Why abundance, and not just are pikas present Y/N?: 1) going from 10 pikas to 1 pika is a 90% reduction, but the patch would still be considered “occupied” and totally unchanged — i.e., abundance is a much more-sensitive measure that is more likely to detect changes from before the fire, given how much time has elapsed since the fire, at this point; and 2) this is probably a once-in-several-decades event (we hope !!), so it’s better to get a more-complete understanding of what happened, because that will better help us understand why.  For 2), having abundance data means that we can answer any question more powerfully, without having to visit as many sites (because Poisson models are more powerful than logistic models, for a given sample size).



Vaux’s Swift migration monitoring opportunity for citizen scientists!

Vaux’s Swifts are migrating south now and diving into chimneys at dusk in large groups throughout Oregon. Audubon has a website and citizen science program to monitor the western population during migration. People can learn about swifts, review the data, and find a site near them to monitor here:

Trapping Matters Workshop

Modern wildlife management was born from hunting and trapping needs, and trapping today is still needed for wildlife research, population management, and as a recreational activity that gets people outdoors and interested in wildlife. But times, they are a’changing, and controversies are arising around trapping. Many wildlife professionals shy away from trapping-related discussions because it is considered a controversial wildlife management technique. Yet, it is essential that wildlife professionals understand the diverse ways that regulated trapping provides environmental & social benefits.

This workshop will help you understand trapping in today’s times, learn to utilize trapping, and also how to talk about it with other wildlife professionals and the public. Participants will leave with scientifically sound information & be trained in skills that will make them effective communicators on this subject.

When: July 13 9-5

Where: Deschutes National Forest Supervisor’s Office, 63095 Deschutes Market Road, Bend, OR 97701

To register, log in to your member account! The event should be listed for you after you log in. You can also go directly to the registration page. This event is FREE thanks to a grant from the Max McGraw Wildlife Foundation. Spots are limited, so sign up and secure your seat!

Note! Travel grants are available! Contact Bryant White ( for details!

SAVE THE DATE: Marking our Territory 2016 Annual Meeting

The 50th Anniversary of ORTWS Annual Meetings is happening in 2016! “Marking our Territory” will take place February 3-5, 2016 at the Seaside Convention Center.

Expect lots of great throwbacks remembering our history. There is rumor of a crab feed and a past-presidents’ luncheon. Call for presentations should come out soon, with a focus on field notes in addition to research. Registration will open December 1-ish.

Note that ELECTIONS will happen, so if you’re interested in serving on the Board and helping to steer our ORTWS ship, contact us!

ORTWS at the 7th Annual “In the Woods”

In the Woods 2014


On September 25 and 26, ORTWS attended the Pacific Logging Congress 7th “In the Woods” show. The show is an educational outreach program put on every year to teach school-aged children about sustainable logging in the Pacific Northwest. The show regularly plays host to over 2,000 children in 2 days. The Oregon Chapter of The Wildlife Society teamed up with the land owner (Port Blakely) to put on a display on wildlife and research.

We spent two mornings talking to kids from elementary to high school about wildlife management in Oregon, and how managed forests are a vital component to maintaining wildlife habitat. Using a collection of wildlife monitoring equipment and a skulls, antler and pelt collection, kids learned about local fauna and the wildlife management profession.


In the Woods 2014

 Photos courtesy of Jordan Benner, Oregon Forest Resources Institute