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Kansas Herpetological Society sponsors free spring field trip

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Tuesday, April 17, 2012, at 12:08 p.m.

Anyone with an interest in the snakes, frogs, lizards, turtles and salamanders of Kansas is invited to join the members of the Kansas Herpetological Society on their annual spring field trip. Bourbon County State Fishing Lake near Elsmore is the site of this year’s trip, scheduled for April 27-29. The event is free and the public is invited to attend. Children should be accompanied by an adult.

"The KHS field trips are the traditional way the KHS gets a lot of people out discovering what ‘herps’ occupy these little sections of Kansas and sharing their findings with scientists and other interested folks," said Travis Taggart, KHS president. "They’re fun and educational and do so much to expand our knowledge of our state’s natural history for the benefit of both citizens and wildlife.”

The events assess the distribution and abundance of herpetological species in the state and gain other valuable data. In addition, participants are given an excellent opportunity to photograph many different kinds of amphibians, reptiles, and turtles.

Participants have the opportunity to get as involved as they want. Seines, dip-nets and turtle traps will be in use and made available.

Seasoned herpetologists will help newcomers safely learn basic fieldwork.

Most field trip participants will camp as a group at a preselected spot at the lake; KHS signs will be posted by the evening of April 27 to help direct those arriving. All participants will gather by 9 a.m. April 28 before caravanning to a local site to begin the morning survey. A group of experts will lead and assist interested beginners in one section of the survey site.

The group will survey another preselected site on Saturday afternoon and then again on Sunday morning before adjourning around noon.

Folks are advised to prepare for field conditions and the weather. Long pants and thick boots are advised, and leather gloves, a hat, sunscreen, drinking water, snacks, two-way radios or a cell phone, field guides, a map and a camera are also good items to bring. Old pillowcases and gallon-sized freezer bags may be used to temporarily hold captured animals.

Participants are responsible for their own meals and overnight accommodations.

Non-venomous snakes will be captured and brought to a checkpoint for identification and documentation. Unless specially trained to do so, participants are discouraged from attempting to catch any venomous serpents.

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