Welcome back to more Cook County adventures! This week, our goal was to set up traps for soft shells and hopefully catch a few of them!

On Tuesday, we went out to set traps. Because it didn’t take us long to set them up, Dr. Kaitlin and I got invited to help with fawning! We met up with a team of students and walked through fields trying to catch any glimpse of brown fur in the brush. After about an hour of searching, it looked like we wouldn’t be lucky that day—until BAM! Out of nowhere we see a fawn booking it towards the other side of the tree line! Luckily, we had a few students over there already, so they caught the fawn in no time. We tagged him, took a few swabs, and sent him on his way. Upon release, he tripped over the big bucket of lab stuff that the biologists carried with them. So, naturally, we named this fawn “buckets”.

On Wednesday, we had a HUGE day. We had biologist Sam helping us out with trapping as well. However, we weren’t the only ones trying to find out what we had in our traps today. Two videographers were tasked to follow us around and take footage of me and Dr. Kaitlin’s work. They were filming a documentary about zoonotic diseases—so we are going to be on TV! Alright, back to the turtles. Softshell turtles are known to be VERY hard to trap… but we got 5 in our trap in one day! I mean, usually we get 2-3 turtles in a trap at a time. But get this—one trap had 3 snappers, 3 soft shells, and a painted! How crazy is that? Dr. Kaitlin and I returned to the lab and ran all the bloodwork on them. It was a super busy day, but it was good to know that our traps were set up in the right spot to catch these softshells!

Oops… spoke too soon. On Thursday and Friday, our luck ran out. We caught 1 softshell and found no other turtles in the traps! But one softshell is better than none, right? We are hoping for a good week of trapping next week!