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Kansas Herpetological Society spring field trip

Public welcome to join experts on scientific expedition


HUMBOLDT, Kan. —The Kansas Herpetological Society (KHS) will conduct its annual Spring Field Trip May 5 through 7 in Allen County. The KHS campsite and event headquarters will be at Camp Hunter, in southwest Humboldt. Kansas outdoor enthusiasts are being asked to participate by exploring various spots within Allen County this weekend with the group.

"Since 1975, KHS field trips have allowed people of all ages an opportunity to aid scientists, teachers, naturalists, and students to search for, discover, and document some of the world’s most misunderstood animals." says Rafe Brown, KHS President. "The events assess the distribution and abundance of herpetological species in the state and gain other valuable data. In addition, participants are given an excellent opportunity to photograph and observe closely many different kinds of amphibians, and reptiles in conjunction with experts from many of the state universities."

The free event — one of three such trips coordinated by the group each year across Kansas — assesses the herpetofauna (amphibians and reptiles) of Kansas, and the public is encouraged to attend. KHS members and others will gather at the Camp Hunter campground; look for the KHS signs as early as Friday, May 5th, although the actual event will begin with off-site field surveys on Saturday and Sunday mornings, leaving the campsite at 9 am.

Folks joining the Allen County field trip should prepare for field conditions and the weather. Long pants and sturdy boots or tennis shoes are advised, and leather gloves, a hat, sunscreen, drinking water, snacks, and a cell phone are good items to bring. Old pillowcases and gallon-sized freezer bags can be used to temporarily hold captured animals. Participants are responsible for their own meals and overnight accommodations. Those wishing to use the campsites’ electrical hookups should contact the City of Humboldt. Tent camping will be $2 per night.

During the excursions, amphibians and reptiles will be captured and brought to a checkpoint for identification and documentation. Unless specially trained to do so, participants are discouraged from attempting to catch venomous snakes. Most animals will be documented and released where they are found although some may be retained for further study.

"Fifty-six species of amphibians and reptiles have been documented in Allen County, and it still holds a great deal of potential for significant herpetological discoveries," says Travis Taggart, curator of herpetology at the Sternberg Museum of Natural History in Hays and longtime KHS field trip chairperson. "It supports great habitat yet no concentrated fieldwork has been conducted there." This weekend, the KHS hopes to discover and document the presence of many new species in this part of Kansas as well as validate some older records from the county.

A species count from the field trip is published in the KHS Journal 'Collinsorum' and is also made available to agencies such as the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks and other conservation groups.

For more information, visit the KHS website at www.ksherp.com or Facebook group (ksherp). Specific inquiries should be directed to twtaggart@fhsu.edu or 785-650-2445.