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GBI Raven Crew Becomes “Mylar Marauders”

GBI Raven Crew Becomes “Mylar Marauders”

It should come as no surprise that people who enter the environmental field have a deep appreciation for our wild places, their flora and fauna, their balanced ecosystems. We see this clearly when GBI field personnel go above and beyond their job descriptions to engage in volunteer activities, such as was the case with our raven monitoring crew, who for a time came to be known as “The Mylar Marauders.”

This team, consisting of Jamie Cooper and Zack Johnson, has been supporting the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service by conducting fall raven surveys which involve assessing raven presence and absence through conducting point counts. As Jamie explains, “a point count is where you stand at a fixed location for a specified amount of time while identifying and documenting birds by sight and sound. We had a list of GPS coordinates to find in the desert where we stood at for 10min each, and we also deployed game cameras focused on decoy juvenile tortoises to see if ravens came in to take the bait. As you can imagine, that constitutes a lot of walking in the desert.”

When GBI’s associate director for Southern Nevada, Terry Christopher, got wind of the Mojave Max #BagTheBalloons Challenge, he alerted the crew. All the better, the event took place in September and October, when the crew was already out doing fieldwork. For the crew, this was an opportunity to provide support to the ecosystem beyond their monitoring tasks. Jamie doesn’t mince words when describing the damage that this trash can cause: “I despise seeing balloons across the landscape, caught in the flora, left to rot, leaving tiny, shiny pieces of plastic for the fauna to consume. Ultimately, this can lead to the untimely death of animals that are pertinent to keeping our ecosystem intact and in balance. It’s not okay to release balloons for any occasion. There are other ways you can celebrate or commemorate a special person or event.”

So how did Jamie and Zack do in the challenge? Well, since they approached it with the same vigor that they bring to their raven surveys, it’s safe to say that they did well. Says Jamie, “In two short months, Zack and I ended up collecting 50 balloons (only 1 was undocumented because it got left in our work truck), so we won the challenge with 49 total.”

The official flyer for the Mojave Max #BagTheBalloons Challenge

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