I'm sad to report that I am no longer working on the Cascades Carnivore Project, as I tore my hip flexor on the job and have had to resign my position. What a bummer!

I sustained the injury while tracking on a particularly long day, and I mistakenly thought that it was an overworked muscle. Long story short, I did in fact really hurt myself, and the recovery period is six weeks (it's not a complete tear, whew! A severe strain with small tears is a lot easier to mend.). Foxes and wolverines don't wait around for people, so I'm back home in Houston for physical therapy and healing so I can continue working this spring.

I pre-condition for any research position I accept, as the physical demands are often many and being able to keep up obviously means having high cardiovascular endurance, strong joints, and muscle strength. In this field, you have to stay in shape, and jobs will weasel any last shreds of weakness from your body. Since this project involved a lot of snowshoeing, I worked hard in the weeks prior to arriving in Washington to ensure a strong pelvis and high endurance so I wouldn't huff and puff and fall down all the time. Having snowshoed last winter in Montana on the bobcat project, I was not at all concerned that I would hurt anything. Unfortunately, not all things are preventable.

The injury makes for a decent pub story, however, in that I got hurt while tracking a wolverine. Doug Chadwick (author of The Wolverine Way), calls the wolverine an "unmitigated badass" and I couldn't agree more. We followed this guy up and around and he ran and he walked and he loped and he followed fox trails and scaled creeks... but he mostly went up. It took us four hours to follow him three miles, whereas he most certainly covered that distance in less than an hour. In the days following that I worked on the injury, the southern Cascades were covered with almost five feet of  snow, making it difficult to check cameras and track animals (there were no tracks!). Undoubtedly, it made my hip worse, but I'm very fortunate that I didn't post-hole (crashing through the snow on one snowshoe) and tear it completely.

I'm really happy to have had this opportunity... I would have preferred to still be up there, as the season runs through the end of March. I really enjoyed my time in the Cascades learning red fox ecology, tracking the elusive wolverine, and refining my tracking skills. I also loved the snowmobiling! All in all, despite what is a very inconvenient injury, I'd still chalk it up to a good experience.

Currently, I am rehabbing, completing a grant application for graduate school, applying for and interviewing for my next research position, and discussing graduate school opportunities with various professors.

For more information on the Cascades Carnivore Project, visit: