Thursday, May 30, 2013

The Marsh Rabbit Project

The Marsh Rabbit project seeks to understand the underlying causes of dramatic mammal declines that have been observed in Everglades National Park over the past decade. Thirty marsh rabbits in Everglades National Park were radio-collared and tracked over the past year to monitor survival and elucidate the sources of their decline.
Everglades National Park needed volunteers to carry out and assist with setting up Marsh Rabbit traps one half mile north of the Coastal Prairie trail in the Flamingo District on Friday, April 26th and Friday, May 3, 2013. The volunteers were helping in an effort to retrap a rabbit whose radio-collar was malfunctioning. While not extremely heavy, the seven (7) traps were awkward to carry over uneven, wet and muddy terrain, through buttonwood tree snags and knee high brush the rabbits love to call home. The volunteers help allowed the researchers to attempt to recapture the rabbit and continue to collect valuable data from this individual.
Recording the data

On Friday, April 26th, volunteers placed the traps and baited them with apples and apple cider. Afterwards, they assisted with tracking a rabbit known as the Exboyfriend to learn about tracking methods and equipment. They also collected data on the Exboyfriend, the placement of the traps, and the conditions of the area.

Baiting the traps

On Friday, May 3, volunteers checked the traps and removed them from the field. Even though they did not recapture the rabbit, they did capture a marsh rat and volunteers assisted with tracking a rabbit known as Lola, in which they had to get a visual. In the process, volunteers saw two box turtles, several bird species, and explored an area of the park not accessible by the traditional boardwalks.

Although unsuccessful for the researchers, it was a rewarding experience for the volunteers!

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