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  • Common Loon Technician

    • Employer: Ricketts Conservation Foundation
      Location: Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem: Yellowstone National Park, Grand Teton National Park, Caribou-Targhee National Forest, Bridger-Teton National Forest
      Country: United States
      Last Date to Apply: 02/15/2020
      Open Until Filled: No

    The Ricketts Conservation Foundation (RCF) is conducting comprehensive monitoring, management, and research of the small and isolated population of Common Loons (Gavia immer) located in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (GYE). This study aims to understand the status of loons in the GYE as well as identify and understand threats against the population. Based upon our findings we create solutions that mitigate anthropogenic threats and strengthen the population.   

    The RCF conducts this work with multiple crews operating across the GYE landscape. We have one opening for a seasonal field technician on our crew in 2020. Technicians will be responsible for acting in support of on-going studies involving demographics, management, biotoxins, behavior, and ecology. Fieldwork will often be conducted in pairs due to bear safety regulations, but some individual work may occur. 

    Seasonal technicians will conduct the following tasks with the GYE loon population study including: 

    • Conduct loon surveys via shoreline, canoe, and motorboat to collect data related to demographics, nesting, behavior, habitat, and threats. 
    • Participate in designing and implementing closures of lakes, shorelines, coves, campsites, trails, and access roads to protect nesting loons. 
    • Assist in deploying or maintaining floating nest rafts. 
    • Participate in the capture and banding of loons. 
    • Re-sight previously banded and color marked loons. 
    • Deploy and collect trail cameras for human disturbance and nest outcome monitoring and review photos. 
    • Participate in qualitative habitat data collection. 
    • Participate in data entry and analysis as needed. 
    • Participate in or lead presentations on loons and the GYE loon project. 
    • Coordinate, communicate, and collaborate with state, federal, industry, and NGO researchers as needed to ensure project goals. 
    • Assist with other species work in the GYE. 
    • All other duties as directed or assigned. 

    Hours/Schedule: This is a full-time, seasonal position. Ideally, technicians will begin May 1 and end August 31, with some flexibility in start date. Weather and other factors will determine the work schedule, although a 40-hour workweek is required. We will work some nights and weekends. There will also be overnight backcountry travel up to 4-5 days in duration. 

    Field Conditions:  Seasonal Technicians will endure long hot days as well as long cold days. The majority of the work requires long hikes (2-8 miles one way) as well as long hours in a vehicle to access trail heads. Some work requires travelling by canoe for extended periods of time. Techs will encounter biting insects, including mosquitoes, which at times will be horrible. Weather is unpredictable even in the summer, and techs will work in heat, thunderstorms, rain, sleet, hail, and snow. Some hiking will be off trail and over rough terrain. We encounter bears (black and grizzly) almost annually with this study but take appropriate bear safety precautions (training will be conducted and reinforced) and have never had any issues. Other dangerous wildlife we encounter include bison, elk, and moose. Non-wildlife hazards will be encountered in the field, but we strive to be safe and cautious in our approach to work as well as provide training on backcountry safety. We take a “Leave No Trace” approach to our work in the GYE and use other responsible backcountry practices. 

    Shared housing located in Bondurant, Wyoming and transportation for work is provided. Applicants must be comfortable living in a rural area with few services nearby (at least an hour to the nearest grocery store). Applicants should be able to supply their own field gear for working in this area including, boots for hiking, gear for snow and rain, etc. Some field gear will be provided including bear spray, bug head nets, and safety equipment/gear. Techs are expected to bring most of the gear required to camp in the backcountry. 

    Technicians will need to secure their own transportation to and from the study site (Jackson Hole or Bondurant, WY), but RCF will assist with travel costs. 



    Applicants should have a degree in wildlife biology, wildlife management, biology, zoology, ecology, or a related discipline or be working towards completing a degree program. A valid driver's license is required.  Priority will be given to applicants that show an enthusiasm for the project and species as well as a strong desire to live and work in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (GYE). Prior experience with loons or waterbirds is preferred, but not necessary. Experience working and camping in the GYE, other remote backcountry locations, and/or grizzly habitat is a plus.  Applicants should have a strong work ethic, be a quick learner, have good navigational skills, be a team player, and be willing to do new and often difficult tasks. 

    Preferred Job Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities:  

    • Courses and/or work experience in wildlife biology and conservation, preferably with avian or aquatic species. 
    • Ability to work with a team of other researchers as well as work independently 
    • Ability and willingness to go on overnight backcountry camping trips in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. 
    • Ability and willingness to live and work in close quarters with team members. 
    • A professional and positive approach to fieldwork and interacting with study collaborators and the public. 
    • Ability and willingness to work in adverse weather and environmental conditions 
    • Experience paddling canoes. 
    • Attention to detail and willingness to observe birds for long periods of time. 
    • Excellent note taking and organizational skills. 
    • Boating skill and experience. 
    • Experience using trail cameras for wildlife studies.  
    • A genuine interest in learning about loons and the GYE. 
    • Working knowledge of Microsoft Office programs, including Word, Excel, and Access. 
    • Willingness and ability to work in a study area with the potential for bear encounters. 

    Physical Demands: This is physically demanding work requiring long hours in the field. Technicians must be in excellent physical condition and must possess the ability to tolerate weather extremes, rough water, hiking into remote lakes, long canoe trips, and the company of mosquitoes. Applicants should be able to lift up to 50 lbs, carry a heavy backpack for up to 15 miles off trail in rough heavily-forested terrain, be comfortable working at altitude (6,000 – 10,000’), and have strong swimming skills. Applicants should be able to sit in a vehicle for long periods of time. 

    Pay: $500/week


    To apply, please send a letter of interest, resume or CV, and at least 2 references to Arcata Leavitt (aleavitt@rickettsconservation.org). 

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