Fish & Wildlife | Ecotrope

My top 5 fish and wildlife jobs

Ecotrope | July 24, 2010 10:53 a.m. | Updated: Feb. 19, 2013 1:48 p.m.

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I think this list will be updated regularly.

Right now, I definitely want in on this range rider gig, tracking listed gray wolves in Wallowa County (with a four-wheeler AND a horse) and protecting cattle from their predatory jaws.

Range Rider1a

John Cunningham is Oregon’s range rider on the prowl for wolves.

The news of the new wolf range-rider position reminded me of the other wacky fish and wildlife jobs I’ve read and written about. Here are some of my faves:

Sea lion branding: This was a jaw-dropper for me when I first moved to Astoria.

Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife employees mark these 800-pound pinnipeds with glowing-red branding irons. That way, they can track which ones are the troublemakers feasting on threatened and endangered salmon in the fish ladders at Bonneville Dam. The headline on my first sea lion story in The Daily Astorian read: “Culprits marked for life” (or death as the case may be). Later, several agencies got permission to lethally remove the worst offenders. But first they had to get an exemption to the Marine Mammal Protection Act.

Hazing double-crested cormorants: Land this post with ODFW and you get to ride a jet ski all day – with a hand-held firecracker pistol to boot!

Yeah, you have to repeatedly drive the jet ski into the same flocks of double-crested cormorants. Over, and over, and over again. The idea is to scatter them and keep them from eating out-migrating juvenile salmon and steelhead protected under the Endangered Species Act. But I bet the birds would be just as freaked by jet-ski tricks that you could perfect on the job and impress your friends with later. Plus, think of all the fish you’re saving!

Robo-elk: Want to give poachers get a taste of their own medicine? Wildlife enforcement decoys do a pretty good job of it.

These robotic animals are designed to fool poachers who are hunting illegally. They’re set out strategically during closed seasons and in off-limit areas, and according to some 2008 OSP stats, they really get the job done. Out of 225 decoy operations statewide, OSP reported: 1,206 vehicles drove by the decoy and over half took a look at it; 90 vehicles fired at it; 143 citations were issued; and of the citations issued, 136 were for specific fish and wildlife violations).

Rotten fish-slinger: This one is a favorite not because I’d want to do it but because it’s both disgustingly foul and artfully enlightened.

An ODFW employee on Oregon’s North Coast helps a local flyfishing group collect, freeze, thaw and sling leftover hatchery fish into streams that need the protein. It makes up for a lack of nutrients in the upper reaches of Oregon streams that don’t see nearly as many dead salmon as they did in the past. It’s a dirty job, but I’m glad somebody’s willing to do it.

Think you’ve got one that tops mine? Send it in!

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