I check it every morning, every night before bed, and about two dozen times throughout the day. Each time, I am bewildered by the numbers displayed below the word Temperature.

“No, it can’t really feel like -34 F.”

“It’s how cold?!”

“This thing is totally lying. There’s no way it’s actually -15 right now.”

And then there’s always, “WHAT?!”

But then I step outside and all of my doubts are quite literally blown away by the harsh, biting winds. Take today, February 20th, for instance. As I write this, my phone’s weather app is telling me the temperature is 4 with a “real feel” of -8. That’s actually quite warm for this week.

As a wildlife field technician, the weather is something that constantly plays a role in the work I do. Heavy rains, extreme heat, violent snow storms, and intense cold all affect my ability to accurately collect data. I am no stranger to unexpected days off due to weather. (Heck, at my last job, I survived an out-of-the-blue F1 tornado that destroyed the research building I was working from. And I still managed to get all of my fieldwork done!)

The recent cold snap that has been attacking the eastern U.S. has certainly made my job difficult, especially since I spend about half of my time riding around on a snowmobile. There are only so many layers I can put on before I start waddling like the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man (“GhostBusters” anyone?). My coworkers and I have already taken a day off and ended other days early due to the dangerously cold temperatures we have been experiencing. A person can’t get much done with frostbitten fingers….and toes…and limbs…

The cold doesn’t only affect the technicians, though. The deer we have been trying to trap for the last three weeks are also hunkering down. Ideal places for them in this weather are valley bottoms and areas with thick cover. Our traps are set up along roads on ridge tops and in areas where recent logging has taken place. Naturally, not much deer capture has been occurring. In fact, we have seen hardly any deer sign at all, and at this point we have covered nearly all of the accessible areas of the Susquehannock State Forest.

So here’s hoping the weather takes a turn for the better soon. I just checked it for the 14th time today, and apparently the temperature is climbing back to the 20s tomorrow! (*insert cheering noises here*) In turn, the deer should come out of hiding and our crew will get back to crushing the trapping record for the season.

-Kelsey Wellington, field tech
Susquehannock study area

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