Thanks to an industrious ATV rider, today we take it upon ourselves to become involved with maintenance rather than our usual naturalist work. We are spending the morning raking over tire tracks engraved upon the desert surface like a giant wound.
Some RVers who volunteer at National Wildlife Refuges never return to the same refuge twice. Others, however, return to the refuges they enjoy year after year. We fall into the second category. This season, I am anxious to inspect the condition of the burro skull we left to the maggots last spring.
“The best use for a snake is to make belts and boots!” That sentiment closely follows, “The only good snake is a dead snake!” Despite the fear and animosity toward them, snakes have a place and a purpose in the natural world.
How do you tell a male from a female snake?
To determine sex, snakes are usually probed with a metal instrument in their cloacal opening (the opening at the base of their tail from which eggs are laid, where the snake defecates, and where copulation occurs). This is a difficult procedure and should only be done by experienced, well-trained herpetologists.
When a tourist at the Jackson, Wyoming, Visitor Center asked what we did there as volunteers, we replied that we were naturalists for the National Elk Refuge. “So, where do you live?” he asked.
We pointed across the mile and a third expanse of the Refuge flatland that lay before us. “We live in one of those trailers you can barely see from here.”