Conservation Field Diaries

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December 17, 2014
Tag, You're It!

Since the launch of Chicago Wildlife Watch, almost 250,000 tags have been committed to the first season of available data. This is a huge amount of information, and Urban Wildlife Institute researchers thought it was about time to start visualizing it! As a first pass, it’s probably a good idea to take a look at what people have been tagging.

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September 5, 2012
Documenting Raptors in the City

We’ve just returned, sweaty and tired, from retrieving our wildlife cameras positioned throughout Chicago as part of the Wildlife Biodiversity Monitoring Project.

Trying to build the most thorough collection of urban wildlife data ever means that our Urban Wildlife Institute team is always out in the field—rain or shine, heat wave or snowstorm.

August 16, 2012
Using Special Tasks to Gauge How Chimpanzees Think

“Ooh, ooh, ooh ooh!” Ellie, a petite chimpanzee with an intense demeanor, food grunts loudly to show her excitement over seeing fruit cereal being dropped several feet in front of her enclosure. She anxiously grabs the tool provided by the keeper that allows her to reach the colorful cereal. Then she quickly begins shoveling the tasty treats toward her, eating them with delight.

August 13, 2012
How Much Ground Would a Woodchuck Cover?

A nuisance woodchuck being released to the wild after translocation.

We are more than halfway through our summer field season and have been quite busy so far!

August 3, 2012
Guam Rails Back from the Brink and Into the Wild

As vice president of animal care at Lincoln Park Zoo, I’m used to thinking about lots of different animals representing a wide variety of species during the day. For the next 10 days though, I’m concentrating all my efforts on one critically endangered species—Guam rails.

July 18, 2012
Working with the Community

Participants in the Upward Bound program make prairie dog observations at Montana's Northern Cheyenne Reservation.

Today we took the Upward Bound students to do behavioral observations on prairie dogs and horses. I think it was the first time most of them just sat and took time to watch wildlife.

July 16, 2012
Upward Bound

Some of the public art Rachel sees while collaborating with Montana's Northern Cheyenne Reservation on black-footed ferret conservation.

Today was our first day with the Upward Bound program, which helps high school students prep for college. The Northern Cheyenne chapter has around 20 students from high schools in and around the reservation.

July 11, 2012
A Smoky Arrival at Northern Cheyenne Reservation

Part of the beautiful landscape around Montana's Northern Cheyenne Reservation.

I’ve been visiting the Northern Cheyenne tribe in Montana since October 2009 as part of the zoo’s partnership with the community to conserve endangered black-footed ferrets. The region’s beauty never ceases to amaze me.

May 25, 2012
Planning the Future for Eastern Massasauga Rattlesnakes

In addition to searching for massasaugas in the cattails and mud puddles of southwest Michigan recently, the Eastern Massasauga Rattlesnake Species Survival Plan® (SSP) committee that coordinates zoo management of the species also held their annual population planning meeting.

May 22, 2012
A View from the Lab

Our recent fieldwork with eastern massasauga rattlesnakes in southwest Michigan had most of the attendees slogging through cattails and mud puddles in search of this shy and elusive snake.


The eastern massasauga rattlesnake Lisa spotted in Michigan--her first in four years of looking!
May 15, 2012
What It’s Like to Look for Rattlesnakes

I was lucky to be able to join the eastern massasauga rattlesnake survey team in southeastern Michigan a couple weeks ago, part of Lincoln Park Zoo’s efforts to save the species, which is endangered in Illinois. I arrived excited to search, but as a novice, I was first shown photos to get the “search image” in my mind of what a snake looks like with its cryptic coloration hidden among vegetation.

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