Wildlife researchers want your old socks

Dec 20, 2011
A Pacific fisher, captured by researchers with a motion-detecting camera, grabs at a bait-filled sock.

(PhysOrg.com) -- A University of California wildlife research team working in the Sierra Nevada is asking the public to donate clean, gently used socks for research on a rare weasel called the Pacific fisher.

The team is part of the Adaptive Management Project  (SNAMP), which is examining the effects of forest thinning, as currently done by the U.S. Forest Service, on the health of local , the forest and water resources. The U.S. Forest Service implements these thinning treatments out of concern for excessive fire risk.

But what kind of research could go through hundreds of socks a month? After years of experimentation, the research team has determined that socks are the ideal receptacle for hanging fisher bait in trees. The baited socks are hung in trees in view of motion-activated cameras. As the animal moves, climbing the tree and chewing on the sock, the camera takes photos that allow the scientists to identify the species.

The researchers are going through 250 pairs a month, at a considerable cost, to create the “chicken in a sock” bait stations to survey the distribution of Pacific fishers in a 500-square-mile area of forest near Bass Lake.

Besides the cost, Rick Sweitzer, UC Berkeley wildlife biologist and project leader. is spending time in the Wal-Mart checkout line with a cart full of socks when he could be doing research. The scientists don’t need new socks; they would prefer old, unmatched, non-holey ones,something everyone has cluttering up their sock drawers.

In an effort to reduce, reuse and recycle, the SNAMP wildlife research team is putting out a call for lost and lonely socks. may be delivered or mailed to 40799 Elliott Dr., Oakhurst CA 93644.

The Pacific fisher is a small, nocturnal carnivore that perches and dens in large, old-growth pine and oak trees. Once widespread across the high elevation forests of the Sierra Nevada and in the coastal mountains of northwestern California, fishers are now only found in two small isolated populations. One group lives near the California-Oregon border. The others are in the southern Sierra Nevada.

Data being collected by UC scientists about the movements, habitat preferences and survival of fishers in the southern Sierra Nevada will be used to aid the multiple agencies, academic institutions, environmental groups, and mountain residents who are working together to ensure that long-term wildland management promotes health, wildfire control and wildlife conservation.

Explore further: Yale journal explores advances in sustainable manufacturing

More information: To read more about the research project visit the SNAMP website at snamp.cnr.berkeley.edu

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Sierra Nevada red foxes are more common than once thought

Sep 26, 2011

At least half a dozen Sierra Nevada red foxes, a species once believed to have been nearly wiped out in the 1920s, roam the high country wilderness south of Yosemite, U.S. Forest Service biologists said Thursday.

Fox spit helped Forest Service confirm rare find

Sep 03, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- Three weeks ago, when U.S. Forest Service biologists thought they had found a supposedly extinct fox in the mountains of central California, they turned to UC Davis for confirmation.

Recommended for you

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Isaacsname
not rated yet Dec 20, 2011
" gently used socks "....gently used for what ? o,O
-------------------------------------------

I do like the idea, but I wonder if folks living in the area who have chicken coops are going to be having more attacks when they really develop a taste for chicken.