On the road again

This time it’s just me and Lauren, and we’re heading up to central Pennsylvania. Tomorrow morning we’ll meet up with Eric Chapman from Western PA Conservancy, who is leading the state’s hellbender surveys. I’ve never met Eric, but have heard that he’s a lot of fun to work with, so I’m really looking forward to this trip. It’ll be a quick one – we’re surveying all day tomorrow and driving back in the evening. After talking with Eric yesterday, I’m really eager to get some samples from this population. The surrounding area has been heavily impacted by Marcellus shale drilling (a.k.a. hydraulic fracturing or “hydrofracking”), and Eric has been finding fewer and fewer hellbenders at this site. Assessing the health of the last remaining hellbenders in this creek will be interesting – and hopefully useful from a management standpoint. We’ve got all our gear packed up (including a back-up blood centrifuge!) and are ready to go.

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