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UC wildlife research team looking for single socks

A Pacific fisher, captured by researchers with a motion-detecting camera, grabs at "chicken in a sock."
A University of California wildlife research team working in the Sierra Nevada near Oakhurst, Calif., is asking the public to donate clean, gently used socks for research on a rare weasel called the Pacific fisher. The team is part of the Sierra Nevada Adaptive Management Project (SNAMP), which is examining the effects of forest thinning, as currently done by the U.S. Forest Service, on the health of local wildlife, the forest and water resources. The U.S. Forest Service implements these treatments out of concern for excessive fire risk. Eighty years of fire suppression, reductions in logging and drought conditions have left the forest increasingly overcrowded and excessively flammable.

But what kind of research could go through hundreds of socks a month? After years of experimentation, the research team has determined that socks are the ideal receptacle for hanging fisher bait in trees. The researchers are going through 250 pair a month, at a considerable cost, to create the “chicken in a sock” bait stations.

Besides the cost, chief scientist Dr. Rick Sweitzer is spending too much time in the Wal-Mart checkout line with a cart full of socks.

The scientists don’t need new socks; they would prefer old, unmatched, non-holey ones, something every American has cluttering up their sock drawers. You know the ones!

So, in an effort to reduce, reuse and recycle, the SNAMP wildlife research team is putting out a call for lost and lonely socks. Socks may be delivered or mailed to 40799 Elliott Dr., Oakhurst CA 93644. For more information contact Anne Lombardo at amlombardo@ucdavis.edu. To read more about the research project visit the SNAMP website.

Other wildlife are also attracted to the bait stations:

A bobcat trying to get the chicken in a sock.

A fox at the sock bait station.


Posted on Wednesday, December 14, 2011 at 7:20 AM
  • Author: Anne Lombardo

Comments:

1.
Wow, this is so interesting -- and those photos are great!  
 
What do you bait the fishers for? Is it to take photos, or for populations counts? Or... something else entirely? Curious to hear more!

Posted by Brenda Dawson on December 14, 2011 at 9:16 AM

2.
We use the bait to determine whether there are fisher in the area. We are studying the population dynamics of the local fisher prior to and after forest thinning activities in the area to determine their affects on them. Please read more about our work at http://snamp.cnr.berkeley.edu under the fisher team. Thank you for your interest!!

Posted by Anne Lombardo on December 19, 2011 at 8:09 AM

3.
Are you still collecting single socks?

Posted by Melissa on August 10, 2013 at 9:05 AM

4.
The program is no longer collecting socks. They received enough in the initial drive to finish the research. Thanks for asking.

Reply by Jeannette E. Warnert on August 12, 2013 at 10:04 AM

5.
Do you still need old socks? Those without holes. I volunteer at a charity thrift store where I sort donations as they come in. We get lots of socks but we do not sell them so they are discarded. Do you still need socks? I can get lots. I have a bag at home that I got yesterday. Let me know. I will be camping at Fallen Leaf Campground next week at South Lake Tahoe. Where are you located? They would be easier to deliver vs. mailing. Dorothy

Posted by Dorothy Terrill on July 19, 2016 at 12:18 PM

6.
We are no longer collecting old socks, but we appreciate your interest and generosity.

Posted by Jeannette E. Warnert on July 19, 2016 at 12:55 PM

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