The Iowa Department of Natural Resources is offering wildlife enthusiasts the chance to help track some of the important species in our state. Stephanie Shepherd oversees the DNR’s "Volunteer Wildlife Monitoring Program." This fall they have four workshops that focus on nesting raptors and colonial waterbirds, where you will be trained to observe identify the birds and their nesting sites, monitor them, and then turn the information to the DNR.
Your only skill in monitoring wildlife might be watching the Animal Planet channel on cable TV — but Shepherd says they will train you. Shepherd says there’s a six-hour training, usually on a Saturday, with lunch provided. There’s a seven dollar fee to cover the cost of the lunch.
Shepherd says the fall monitoring focuses on a couple of species that are considered indicators of the overall environment. She says colonial waterbirds are associated with water resources and can give an idea if something is happening with our water system. Shepherd says the raptors are at the top of the food chain and their success at nesting in the state is also an indicator of the health of the environment.
The four workshops will be held in Jones County, Burlington, Polk County and Palo Alto County, but Shepherd says you don’t have to live on those areas to take part. Shepherd says you can go back to your home and do the monitoring near your home so you don’t have to drive a long distance to get to the survey sites.
You can sign up for the training workshops on-line at the DNR’s website . Shepherd says you should go to the non-game wildlife link and look for the link to the Wildlife Monitoring program, or you can call 515-432-2823, extension 102.
The workshops are scheduled for: October 20th, at the Jones County Conservation Board Nature Center in Center Junction; October 27 at the Des Moines County Conservation Board Starr’s Cave Nature Center in Burlington; November 3rd at the Polk County Conservation Board Chichaqua Bottoms Longhouse near Maxwell; and November 10 at the Palo Alto County Conservation Board Lost Island Lake Nature Center in Ruthven.