By Ashley Fortney and Marla Anderson
Although we haven’t caught much in our mouse traps or pit fall traps at Sask Landing, we have seen some pretty cute little critters. Mostly deer mice and meadow voles, but we have also had some Olive-backed Pocket Mice and Western Jumping Mice, which are really cool. Unfortunately, we haven’t been able to record the elusive Western Harvest Mouse at our site yet.
Our first catch...in the name of science
We are currently doing some night surveys for Ord’s Kangaroo Rats at the Webb Sandhills, but have only been able to spot a Deer Mouse with our flashlights so far. I must say, the stars are amazing!! You can’t get this kind of a view from Regina! The ambiance of Great Horned Owls hooting, nighthawks hawking with that crazy zooming buzz you hear as they dive for insects, toad trills, and coyotes howling really makes it worth braving the damp cold and dark. Along with the kangaroo rats, we are also looking for scorpions, and some rare nocturnal dune moths...but so far all we have found is this ghost.
One of our crafty ways to catch moths at night!
We are also helping out with a great U of R project headed by Dr. Chris Somers. The project is to design a DNA test to identify Walleye, Sauger, and their hybrid offspring, the Saugeye. We check a filleting shack for leftovers (actually we check the 3 bins of garbage presents for discards *plug your nose*) to collect the fins for DNA analysis, and the heads to determine the age of the fish. Most days the bins are empty. Here and there we have gotten the odd walleye, and the Parks staff have been generously donating fins if and when they catch one during their fishing trips. However, it would appear that a mighty angler had been camping near the fish shack recently because we walked up to the bins, expecting nothing as usual, and there were 20 fish in there!!! Well over half were walleye...a few very big walleye I might add. There was also the largest perch I’d ever seen!! Dear fisherman, whoever you are, thank you for providing a great project with some great samples (regardless of the smell)!
Poster to differentiate between Walleye, Sauger, and the hybrid Saugeye.