My Secret Life on the Front Lines of America’s Conservation Movement
From tracking wolf-poachers and dodging bears to dissecting deer doodoo, the work of a traveling wildlife biologist isn’t pretty, but it sure is thrilling.
Photo by Jessica Rick
It’s just below zero as our caravan of snowmobiles jets over a trail through Minnesota’s North Woods, snow-laden firs and pines flying by. We turn a corner and see plastic orange ribbons waving in the breeze just ahead, marking the well-trodden path we’ve once again come to scurry over. Each of us slams on our brakes in rapid procession. I shuck my helmet, grab a hatchet from the back of my snowmobile, and dash into the woods. Twenty yards into our sprint, my partner falls victim to an icy patch, tumbling face first. I leap over her and continue running. I pass through a wall of brush and look ahead to the end of the path where a panicked deer is hurling itself against the webbed, cotton walls of a small cage.
“Deer in the trap!” I yell back to my partner, who has recovered from her fall and isn’t far behind. Hatchets still in hand, we sprint even faster, two among thousands of wildlife biologists fighting an endless battle against ecological ruin.