Student stories

Tracking garter snakes to assess environmental change

Chloe Swabey


"In this photo I am taking the head width of one of our telemetry snakes during her end of summer check up. We have been tracking 9 common garter snakes this summer to assess their habitat use as well as the impact of local energy projects.

I was assisting a UVic masters student who was researching the common garter snakes in Valemount BC. We had 7 snakes in which radio telemetry trackers had been implanted that we would go out and find every few days. We would note the habitat they were using, how far they had moved from their last position and their general behaviour. We also did some work for BC hydro surveying ponds around the Kinbasket Reservoir for the presence of reptiles and amphibians. The purpose of this work was to determine how/if the presence of the reservoir was effecting the lives of these animals."

  • Co-op position: Assistant field biologist
  • Employer: LGL Ltd. in Valemount, BC
  • Favourite part of my co-op: "Working outside every day in the same areas gave me the chance to observe how the environment changes as it passes from spring to summer and eventually approaches fall. It's really a humbling thing to observe the world at work."
  • Most important thing I learned: "You need to respect every creature, no matter how big or small. Even mosquitos, as frustrating as they can be, have a role in maintaining the health and balance of our ecosystems."

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