For two years, my lab has had a miserable time trying to get scientific collecting permits from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) to conduct scientific research in Washington. For example, the WDFW prohibits us from collecting a single amphibian from the Olympic or Cascade Mountains. Apparently, our research and collection activities at the Burke are not in sync with the protection mandates of the WDFW – but this only applies to amphibians and reptiles (birds and mammals are still okay to study.) This is a strange state of affairs, and the situation makes no sense whatsoever. The lack of WDFW support is a big disappointment to everyone in my lab, because we all have aspirations to conduct exciting research projects in Washington.
What are we supposed to do with all our free time now that we can’t do research in Washington? How about research in Arizona!
There are tons of interesting research questions to pursue in Arizona (as there are in Washington), and I have fond memories of research trips to Arizona with people like Tod Reeder, Jay Cole, Lars Bell, Jon Richmond, Manna Warburton, & Tom Devitt. But, would the Arizona Game and Fish Department grant permission to my lab to conduct scientific research, or has the mood shift that has hit Washington made it all the way to Arizona as well?
The verdict: I was able to obtain a Scientific Collecting Permit for Arizona in four working days, and the permit was free! Compare that to Washington – the permit cost $117 and it took over 2 months for a permit that specifically denies our research activities.
It’s official, our lab is taking a summer road trip to Arizona! Our goal is to study a lizard hybrid zone, which requires us to catch about 160 lizards. Trying to accomplish a study of similar scope in Washington, under the current WDFW restrictions, would take approximately 32 years. Thanks anyways, but I think that we’d rather go to Arizona.