It’s beginning to look a lot like trapping season

The thanksgiving holiday is just around the corner. As customary to each thanksgiving season, I as well as project volunteers make our way back down to Bastrop TX.

For many years now,  I have been working a fire ecology project in Bastrop. The project focuses on studying the effects of catastrophic fire on wildlife. The area of study is the remains of a Loblolly pine forest destroyed by fire. The regrowth has gotten so thick, it is hard to see a person just yards in front of me or to see fallen trees and sharp, protruding branches in the pathway.  This lack of sight and overgrowth leads to many falls resulting in a huge accumulation of scars and bruises.

These conditions coupled with the array of weather we’ve experienced while trapping(tropical storms, heat and a case of hypothermia) leads us to refer to our time spent in Bastrop as “The Bastrop Beatdown!” The name implies it all. Despite being in great shape, I never leave without bruises to show that I earned my keep. The other volunteers show similar markings.

Each time I venture into the park, I go in with the expectation of high numbers of rodents ( in the hundreds) that we will collect data on, some out of the blue weather event and of course new film.

It was at Bastrop several years ago, that a late night jaunt post trapping, to a pond, lead to Ray and I finding the endangered Houston Toads calling in amplexus, for the first time in years. You can watch our short PBS segment over the Houston toads here. Since then, there haven’t been any reports in the park of Houston Toads calling in such high numbers.

Last trip, we caught a Southern flying squirrel in one of our live traps! Proof that you will truly never know what you will find or film when in Bastrop.

Here I am holding a cotton rat  Sigmodon hispidus

Here I am holding a cotton rat Sigmodon hispidus