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 work with managing agencies to create solutions that mitigate anthropogenic threats and strengthen the population.
RCF conducts this work with multiple crews operating across the GYE landscape. We have openings for 2-3 seasonal field technicians on our 2022 crew. Technicians will be responsible for acting in support of ongoing studies involving demographics, management, biotoxins, behavior, and ecology. Fieldwork will most often be conducted in pairs due to bear safety regulations, but some individual work may occur.
Seasonal technicians will be responsible for the following tasks:
-Conduct loon surveys via shoreline, canoe, and motorboat to collect data related to loon demographics, nesting, behavior, habitat, and threats to nesting and survivorship
-Deploy and collect trail cameras and review photos
-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
-Participate in qualitative habitat data collection
-Participate in data entry and analysis as needed
-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 (potentially including Long-billed Curlew surveys, MAPS banding, and small mammal trapping)
-All other duties as directed or assigned
Compensation/Schedule: This is a full-time, seasonal position. Pay is $600/week with housing and work transportation provided. Positions will begin April 18 and end September 2, with some flexibility in start and end date. Depending on the COVID-19 conditions at the time, we may ask technicians to quarantine in provided housing before beginning work and/or provide a negative COVID test before arrival. 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 3-4 days in duration.
Field Conditions: The majority of fieldwork requires long hikes (2-8 miles one way, 0-2k ft elevation gain) as well as long hours in a vehicle to access trailheads. Some work requires traveling by canoe for extended periods of time. Technicians will encounter biting insects, including mosquitoes, which at times will be horrible. Weather is unpredictable even in the summer, and technicians will work in heat, thunderstorms, rain, sleet, hail, and snow. Some hiking will be off trail and over rough terrain. Technicians will need to work in marshes that often require wading through water or mud. We encounter bears (black and grizzly) almost annually but take appropriate bear safety precautions (training will be conducted and reinforced) and have never had any issues. Other dangerous wildlife encountered include bison, elk, and moose. We also encounter non-wildlife hazards in the field, but 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.
Housing/Gear: Shared housing and transportation for work are provided. Technicians may live in a shared room for all or part of the field season. Technicians may occasionally use a personal vehicle for work purposes and will have mileage reimbursed. Applicants must be comfortable living in a rural area with few services nearby (~45 min to the nearest grocery store) in a house without internet. There is cell service at our main housing unit. 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 snowshoes, bear spray, bug headnets, and safety equipment. Technicians are expected to bring most of the gear required to camp in the backcountry, though some gear may be shared. Technicians will need to secure their own transportation to and from the study site (Jackson Hole or Bondurant, WY), but RCF will reimburse some travel costs.
Requirements: Applicants should have or be working towards a bachelor's degree in wildlife biology, wildlife management, biology, zoology, ecology, or a related discipline. A valid driver's license and acceptable driving record are required. Applicants should have a strong work ethic, be a quick learner, be a team player, and be willing to do new and often difficult tasks. Priority will be given to applicants that show enthusiasm for the study species as well as a strong desire to live and work in the GYE.
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 early mornings, weather extremes, rough water, hiking into remote lakes, long canoe trips, and the company of relentless mosquitoes while not using mosquito repellant. 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.
Preferred Experience and Abilities:
-Experience with loons or other waterbirds
-Experience working and camping in the GYE or other remote backcountry locations
-Experience working in grizzly bear habitat and/or willingness and ability to work in an area with the potential for bear encounters.
-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
-Willingness and ability to work in a study area with the potential for bear encounters.
-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.
How to apply: Please send a single pdf document containing a letter of interest, resume/CV, and at least two references to Arcata Leavitt at firstname.lastname@example.org with “Common Loon Technician” in the subject line. Applications must be received by January 31, 2022. Interviews may begin before the application period closes and early application is encouraged. The final candidates will have completed at least two rounds of interviews before hiring.