By Madelyn Arrenholz – Student Conservation Intern, Summer 2023

Myself and Robert Brinkman (Assistant Property Manager at LaSalle FWA) preparing to launch the canoe to go take out beaver dams. Photo Credits: Jayme McLean

Throughout these past two months, I have been a part of some incredible experiences. I spent the summer as a student conservation intern stationed at LaSalle Fish and Wildlife Area. Every day has been exciting, different, and full of growth and learning. Below are just a couple of highlights from what has been an unforgettable summer.

Clearing out beaver dams is a regular task throughout the summer. Beavers build dams to block up running water that could destroy their home. However, some of these dams need to be removed because they flood fields or block up water structures that flood offsite properties or drain areas that we want to have as water for the waterfowl. While removing beaver dams might not seem ideal for an afternoon, one trip gave me a great memory. One stretch of beaver dams is only accessible by canoes. This stretch gave me a behind-the-scenes look that is typically only seen in the fall during waterfowl season, which is when the area is flooded to serve as a resting point for migrating waterfowl. Canoeing through a rarely seen part of LaSalle was an incredible experience.

At the end of June, I also had an opportunity to make a difference in waterfowl tracking and hunting. For two days, I was able to help trap and put leg bands on Canada geese. It was such a neat way to learn firsthand how to put bands on geese and, most importantly, why we put bands on all types of birds. This entire process is done nationwide to obtain estimates of how many of one species of bird are present. The information helps determine hunting limits, and when a band is turned in by a hunter or civilian, we are able to track where the bird traveled and how long it survived, even if it was hunted. This process is done on numerous bird species, including many types of ducks, geese, hawks, and eagles. I contributed by putting leg bands on over five hundred Canada geese in only two days.

Every experience, large and small, from my internship this summer has helped teach me more about wildlife conservation and the people who help keep and improve these areas. I have learned so much that will be incredibly useful throughout my life and future career. I will be attending Hanover College in the fall to study environmental science. From there, I will use all of my experiences to find a career that best suits my needs and passion for conservation.

I am safely holding a Canada goose as a leg band is being attached and the information is recorded. Photo Credits: Zack DeYoung

I am securely holding two Canada geese as they are waiting to have leg bands and attached and then released. Photo Credits: Zack DeYoung

I am recording band and geese information such as bird age, bird sex, and band number before they are released. Photo Credits: Zack DeYoung

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