March 21, 2018

Naturalists learn more about predators

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Clermont County Park District Lead Naturalist Jana Marshall, left, and Naturalist Alyssa Rooks pose at the base of an enormous sycamore tree on a break during the Ohio Wildlife Diversity Conference March 6 at Ohio State University in Columbus.

COLUMBUS – Conventional wisdom says you learn something new every day. Some days, you learn a whole lot of somethings.

Clermont County Park District naturalists had one of those days when they attended the recent Wildlife Diversity Conference presented by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources’ Wildlife Division.

The conference theme – PREDATORS: Never Late for Dinner – covered everything from bats to coyotes, from birds of prey to dragonflies.

“If we’re going to offer excellent programs to the community, we have to have the best information available,” said Park District Director Chris Clingman. “Sending the naturalists to a conference like this gives them the opportunity to expand their programs and exchange ideas with other naturalists around the state.”

Naturalist Alyssa Rooks agreed.

“It’s useful information we can use to supplement some of our existing programs, especially as biologists continue to learn even more about the unique behaviors and adaptations of our local wildlife,” she said.

“We made a lot of new contacts with people who are experts in their fields with whom we can continue the conversation of engaging the public and stay up to date on the many conservation and education efforts under way.”

About 1,000 people attended the March 6 conference at Ohio State University.

“I thought it was interesting to hear about some of the research these people are conducting,” said Lead Naturalist Jana Marshall. “Especially some of the bat research. The academic side of the natural sciences is fascinating.

“Learning about coyotes, it gave us some tools for dealing with the negative stereotypes we always hear about them. A lot of people advocate for shooting all of them because they might get a neighborhood cat, but they have an important function in nature.”

One thing to look forward to from the naturalists is a new dragonfly survey later this year to augment state research.

“It’s a great way to introduce citizen science to our community,” Marshall said. “People can do this with us in the parks or on their own at their homes. Either way, it’s regular people making a contribution to high-level research. That’s pretty cool.”

The Clermont County Park District offers a wide range of naturalist programs for all age groups. Visit here for a current listing or call Marshall at 513-240-2615 to learn more about available offerings.

Mark D. Motz is the Community Relations Manager for the Clermont County Park District. A native Cincinnatian, he has worked for more than 25 years as an award-winning journalist and public relations professional. Away from work, he enjoys photography, theater and spending time with his nine godchildren.

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