Travis W. Taggart, Executive Director at The Center for North American Herpetology and Associate Curator of Herpetology at Fort Hays State University, along with 120 other participants including his wife, Sarah Taggart, Travis’ children, members of the Kansas Herpetological Society (KHS) and many more spent Saturday, April 30th and Sunday, May 1st at the Clark State Fishing Lake and Wildlife Area to conduct a hands-on survey of reptiles and amphibians. Three local land owners allowed the group access to over 28,000 acres of the beautiful Red Hills. Travis researches different areas regularly to expand the variety of specimens to explore. Most specimens were released while select specimens were collected by individuals and kept for deposition in research collections at accredited institutions for ongoing studies and to make available for future research.
As rocks and logs were turned over, the group discovered 59 Eastern Collared Lizards, 325 Ring-necked Snakes, 25 Plains Leopard Frogs and 21 Western Tiger Salamanders just to name a few. These organized field trips have been coordinated since 1974. Three field trips are now held for the spring, summer and fall every year. Some individuals travel from other states to participate in this fascinating journey. This particular trip included folks from Colorado and Illinois. Sometimes the number of participants can reach as high as 180. Most people bring their camping gear, while others choose not to be exposed to the elements the entire weekend and stay at a nearby hotel.
So, if you’re driving along a dirt road, in the state of Kansas, and you see a caravan of 50-70 cars, it may not be a procession. It may be Travis and his entourage of explorers!