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  • *Urgent* Seasonal White-tailed Ptarmigan Field Technician: northern New Mexico

    Guest James Lee (he/him/his)
    • Employer: New Mexico State University
      Location: Northern New Mexico
      Country: United States
      Last Date to Apply: 04/14/2023
      Open Until Filled: No

    We are seeking to employ  a seasonal field technician to aid a graduate student and another technician with data collection of a reintroduced population of White-tailed Ptarmigan between mid-May and mid-August. The White-tailed Ptarmigan is a high-altitude specialist species of grouse distributed throughout western North America, with the mountain ranges of northern New Mexico considered the southern boundary of their distribution, where they are listed as a state-endangered species. In attempt to reverse observed population declines and to better understand the limiting factors for this species in New Mexico, the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish (NMDGF) translocated ptarmigan from Colorado to the Pecos Wilderness Area of Carson National Forest in 2021. This project will involve data collection for multiple concurrent studies, including habitat-selection, nest-site selection, foraging ecology and survival. Salary is $15.00 per hour for 40 hours each week.

    Technicians will perform radio-telemetry, collect plant and invertebrate samples, and assist with captures of adult and juvenile ptarmigan in a high-elevation alpine landscape (nearly all data collection takes place > 12,000 feet above sea level). The technician will aid with all aspects of data collection, but the successful applicant will have a greater role in performing plant and invertebrate sampling. will This position involves backpacking and extensive hiking over difficult terrain at high-altitudes with decreased oxygen, with an expectation of camping in the backcountry wilderness. All fieldwork will take place in a remote setting, so practicing backcountry safety while performing fieldwork is paramount. Technicians should expect to hike a minimum of five miles per day while carrying a heavy pack, and should be prepared to hike up to 12 miles in a day when necessary. Weather conditions are highly variable, including the potential for snow and icy weather in late Spring and severe mid-afternoon thunderstorms during the summer monsoon season in July and August. Temperatures may range from sub-freezing temperatures to up to 80◦ F, although temperatures seldom exceed 60◦ F in summer. Technicians should be prepared to work and camp in all potential weather conditions, including snowy conditions.

    The technician should expect to spend six days in the field (camping in the backcountry wilderness) at a time with a subsequent three days off, although this is subject to change based on project needs or by extreme weather. On days not spent in the field, technicians are expected to perform data entry, process plant and invertebrate samples, and aid with project logistics. Cellular service at both the field site and trailer location is limited. Technicians will be compensated with a salary of $15 per hour paid biweekly, as well as housing in the form of a trailer with occasional access to bunkhouse facilities. We will provide a 4WD work vehicle to access field sites (to be shared amongst the field crew) and all necessary field gear. Technicians will need to provide their own food. A personal vehicle is not required but is strongly recommended. This position is ideal for those with prior field experience in remote, rugged, and challenging terrain. Unfortunately, we cannot recommend this position as an introductory field position. Persons from underrepresented backgrounds in STEM are encouraged to apply and should note as such in their application.

    Minimum Qualifications:

    •    A minimum of two prior experiences performing biological/ecological fieldwork.
    •    Strong work ethic and ability to work well both individually and as part of a team, with clear communication skills and the ability to work with individuals from different backgrounds.
    •    Demonstrated ability to record field data in a precise and meticulous manner.
    •    Ability to navigate landscapes and record geospatial using a handheld GPS unit.
    •    Ability to work in a remote and challenging field setting where inclement weather is frequently encountered during all seasons.
    •    Ability to hike with a 70-pound backpack for several miles to access base camp in study area, and ability to hike upwards of 15 miles off trail per day while performing field work in a high-altitude environment.
    •    Flexibility in work schedule and a willingness to learn new skills and techniques.
    •    Valid driver’s license with a clean driving record.
    •    Knowledge of CPR and other first aid techniques.
    •    Ability to live in close-quarters with other personnel.
    •    Comfortable working in areas inhabited by black bears, mountain lions and other big game species.
    •    Proof of COVID-19 vaccination.

    Preferred Qualifications:
    •    Bachelor’s degree in wildlife, conservation, biology, natural resource management, or related fields from an accredited university.
    •    Extensive prior experience performing biological/ecological fieldwork in backcountry wilderness areas AND/OR in high-altitude/alpine environments.
    •    Active Wilderness First Aid certification or equivalent qualification.
    •    Prior experience surveying wild birds, performing radio-telemetry, and handling birds.
    •    Experience towing trailers.

    To Apply:
    To be considered, compile and send a single PDF document comprised of a one-page cover letter, resume (maximum of two pages) and contact information for at least three professional references (including a direct field supervisor) to the email address jlee97@nmsu.edu. Applications will be reviewed in the order in which they are received.

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