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Wildcat Hills Bioblitz identifies 141 species

Young "citizen scientists"
Young “citizen scientists” show off specimens they collected during the bioblitz at Wildcat Hills State Recreation Area. (Photo by Amber Schiltz)

GERING, Neb. – Participants of the Wildcat Hills Bioblitz at Wildcat Hills State Recreation Area near Gering observed 141 species of plants, animals and insects Friday night and Saturday morning, July 7-8.

About 70 volunteers became “citizen scientists” in taking a survey of the area from 1 p.m. Friday to noon Saturday.

Amber Schiltz of the Bird Conservancy of the Rockies said good fortune came to the event from the start as a wild six-lined racerunner, a small lizard species, entered the event’s headquarters – the Wildcat Hills Nature Center. Other highlights included sightings of animals ranging from bighorn sheep to a hummingbird. Some participants camped, being treated to the sound of coyotes howling at night.

“One highlight that I loved was that we found close to 40 blooming wildflower species, which speaks to the amazing forb diversity of the area,” Schiltz said.

The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission and the Bird Conservancy have teamed up to present bioblitzes in the past, but this was the first based at the newly renovated and expanded Wildcat Hills Nature Center. The event was funded by the Nebraska Environmental Trust.

To view all the observances from the event, visit the following website:

http://www.inaturalist.org/projects/wildcat-hills-bioblitz-2017

About Justin Haag

Justin Haag has served the Commission as a public information officer in the Panhandle since 2013. His duties include serving as regional editor for NEBRASKAland Magazine. Haag was raised in southwestern Nebraska, where he developed a love for fishing, hunting and other outdoor pursuits. After earning a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Chadron State College in 1996, he worked four years as an editor and reporter at newspapers in Chadron and McCook. Prior to joining the Commission in 2013, he worked 12 years as a communicator at Chadron State, serving as the institution’s media and public relations coordinator the last five. He and his wife, Cricket, live in Chadron, and have two children.

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