Plague And Small Mammal Conservation Field Technician

U. S. Geological Survey

Ruidoso, New Mexico

Job Type Paid Internship
Salary Details ~560/month living stipend plus housing
Deadline Feb 01, 2021
Required Experience 0 - 1 years

Plague (a vector-borne disease of mammalian hosts) is causing significant and chronic conservation dilemmas in the western US. We are studying the ecology of plague in the White Mountains of New Mexico.  The Penasco least chipmunk is a species of conservation concern and is currently only known to exist in a few locations within the White Mountains.  Their range has declined with some populations going locally extinct.  We will work with species associated with the Penasco least chipmunk in areas close to or within historically occupied Penasco chipmunk sites. Our questions  include: (1) is plague present in any of the small mammals associated with the Penasco least chipmunk, (2) if plague is present, what is its effect on  demographics of the small mammal community, (3) what is the host flea community (fleas are the main vector of plague) and (4) what tools are most effective for plague management in this study system.   Our ultimate goal is to conserve wildlife and preserve ecosystems.  

We seek volunteer field assistants to help us capture and mark small mammals (mice, voles, woodrats, chipmunks, etc.).  In addition, we will anesthetize and collect fleas from individuals.  We will also use a vaccine to test for differences in survival among treatments.  All participants will gain experience using multiple types of traps, handle and mark multiple species of small mammal, anesthetize individuals, comb fleas, and vaccinate individuals. 

Field work will occur between ~15-May and 25-Septemeber 2021 and technicians must be able to commit to the entire duration of the field season.  Long days and odd hours will be required and work will be physically demanding.  You must be able to lift and carry traps over short distances (up to 300m).  Terrain is uneven and requires being able to maneuver with equipment over rocks, logs, and thorny vegetation.  Furthermore, temperatures do fluctuate between below freezing to over 90 degrees Fahrenheit.  Hours and workdays will change depending on the temperature, weather, and capture rates so you must be willing to work a flexible schedule.  Technicians must be comfortable working at night. 

We provide housing (trailers) and trucks to travel between the trailers and field work.  We will disperse camp throughout the National Forest and move regularly among the field sites.  Hence, there will not be any running water and electricity is limited to powering the refrigerator and lights.  Some locations are more remote than others (distance to town varies from a 15-min to 45-min drive).  Each field assistant will receive a daily stipend (work days only) of $28/day or about $560/month to help cover the cost of food and other daily expenses.

Further information regarding our previous research and PI's involved in this project can be found at the following links:

Required Qualifications: 

  • Commitment to the entire field season
  • Must be able to work under harsh conditions (hot/cold weather, rough terrain, etc.)
  • Have a positive attitude and a commitment to wildlife conservation
  • Be physically fit enough to walk over uneven terrain throughout the work day
  • Ability to pay attention to detail and record data carefully
  • Ability to follow field protocols
  • Be able to work both independently and with a group

Desired Qualifications:

  • Prior field experience is desired but not required
  • Experience living or working remotely
  • Experience handling wildlife
  • Experience hiking and being outdoors
  • Previous experience driving a four-wheel drive vehicle
  • Experience entering data into Excel

Applications will be reviewed as they are received and positions will remain open until they are filled.  Please submit application materials to: Amanda Goldberg ( Please include in a single document (PDF or Word) a brief cover letter, your CV/resume, list of three references, and (if possible and applicable) unofficial/official college transcripts.  Please include the following information in your cover letter: a brief description of why you are interested in this position and any further information that may speak to your qualifications as outlined in the announcement.  Please write “Volunteer Field Technician” in the subject line of the email.

When you apply, please indicate that you are responding to the posting on Conservation Job Board.
Category Wildlife