By: Ryan Borgmann
It's 97 degrees Fahrenheit and we have been pacing back and forth through a field on the top of North Table Mountain for about an hour and a half. The only sound, other than our breathing, is the constant static coming from the radio receiver. We are about to give up, when we suddenly hear a faint "bloop" from the receiver. We all pause and hold our breath, there it goes again! "Bloop" As we start walking in the direction of the "bloop" it gets louder and louder. Once we locate the general area that the sound is coming from, we start searching the ground. And there, a few feet in front of us is what we were looking for! A beautiful Prairie Rattlesnake, coiled up, using its camouflage to blend in with the grass. We than record the GPS information, take some photographs and move on to find the next snake.
The "Bloop" is 1 of 20 radio transmitters that have been implanted in Prairie Rattlesnake that inhabit North Table Mountain. I am a volunteer, and each week I have the honor of helping Adaptation Environmental Services track these amazing creatures. I have had a passion for Reptiles and Amphibians all my life and grew up catching snakes and frogs, as well as keeping many as pets. But having a purpose for finding these rattlesnakes is incredibly rewarding. Being able to help track the movements of the snakes across the mountain, in order to help keep both the rattlesnakes and the park visitors safe is extremely satisfying.
Along with tracking the Rattlesnakes, I also get to interact with the park visitors and help educate them on the importance of rattlesnakes. Not all visitors are interested, and some think what we are doing is a waste of time and resources. But when you start talking to someone who is genuinely interested and you can help them see how incredible these animals are, it is just as exciting as tracking the snakes.
Not only do I get to help educate, but I am also being educated. Being out in the field with the knowledgeable people of Adaptation is an experience in of itself. Rattlesnakes are the main focus but not the only item discussed. I have also learned about the predators and prey of Rattlesnake, other wildlife that shares this habitat, as well as the local plant life.
It has been an honor to be a part of this fantastic project. My advice, if there is an opportunity to volunteer with a project that you are passionate about, do it. Don't hesitate. Jump in, get involved. The friends you will create and the experiences you will have will change your life! I cannot thank Adaptation Environmental Services enough for letting me be apart of this wonderful project!