Please follow our safety advice to help ensure a safe trip into the field. You will need to attain an 85% or better on a short quiz to be eligible to receive a kit.
Know the rules: Different areas have different regulations so make sure to check these before you head off on your trip. We've provided you with links to the UC reserve webpages where you will find their rules and restrictions.
Register at the Reserve prior to sampling, and increase your safety by sampling with a partner or a group of people. Always make sure that someone knows where you will be hiking and when you expect to be back.
Study your route before you begin the trip and estimate the total hiking time. Sampling a site will take approximately 10 - 15 minutes, so plan for 1 - 1.5 hours of time dedicated to collecting samples. Estimate an extra couple of hours for hiking and observing species also the trail. Plan to finish your hike at least 1 hour before sunset. It’s a lot more risky to hike in the dark!
Check the weather and pack accordingly. Remember that weather can vary dramatically with elevation and change quickly through the day so, whether rain is predicted or not, always pack a raincoat.
Appropriate footwear. Trail shoes or hiking boots are ideal.
Map and compass/GPS. The map provided in the ket should be sufficient for guiding you through your sampling trip. Feel free to bring other up-to-date maps of the area and a compass or GPS unit.
Phone. Make sure you have a full battery when you set off on your sampling trip. You can also download first aid apps (e.g. the redcross) prior to your trip.
Water. Pack enough water for your trip and or know where you can refill your water along the trail. The amount of water required will vary by person and by conditions but packing at least one liter per person is advised.
Extra food & a trash bag. Hikes frequently take longer than planned and extra food will help keep up energy levels. Also remember hike out everything you hike in & follow the mantra "take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but footprints".
Rain gear and extra clothing. Pack appropriately for weather predicted for the day of your sampling trip. Layering clothing allows you to adjust to changing weather but keep your pack light.
Safety items: Flashlight, and a whistle. A flashlight/headlamp is essential in case you are out longer than planned. If lost you can use a whistle to signal for help, in repeats of 3 short bursts.
First aid kit.
Sunscreen and sunglasses.
Back Pack. Make sure you have a comfortable day pack pack for transporting the eDNA kit, light layers, food, water, a first aid kit, and other personal items.
Be environmentally aware. Avoid walking off the path (when you are not sampling) and avoid causing damage to flora and fauna that you may encounter.
Leave no trace. It doesn’t matter whether your trash is decomposable or not, take it away with you. Live by the rule: take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but footprints.
Know where to excrete. Excretion impacts disease, water quality, and an area's aesthetic. Be sure to urinate away from the trail and water sources and for number twos dig a hole and bury it (6 inches). Toilet paper should be packed out.
Be wildlife aware. All wildlife has the potential to be dangerous. Do not approach, interact with, or feed wild animals. Avoid dense foliage and alert large animals to your presence by making moderate-level noise as you walk along a track or collect your data (e.g. talking). For specific info. on avoiding particular wildlife risks, check out these tips:
If visible but not close: alter route so that you will move away from its area.
If approached: DO NOT RUN. Remain calm, group together, face the bear and back away slowly. If the bear continues to approach try to scare it away by shouting and taking an aggressive stance.
If attacked: Use bear spray and fight back using everything in your power (fists, sticks, rocks etc).
Snake encounters: https://www.wildlife.ca.gov/News/Snake
Wear hiking boots;
Stick to well used trails;
Wear over ankle boots and long pants;
Avoid tall grass, weeds, heavy underbrush;
Don’t step/put hand where can’t see, and avoid wandering around in the dark;
Step on logs and rocks not over them;
Check out stumps or logs before sitting down;
Never grab sticks or branches whilst swimming in lakes and rivers;
Don’t handle a freshly killed snake;
Prior to leaving the trail to sample, probe deep leaf litter, grasses, herbs and shrubs with a long stick to verify that snakes are not present.
In the event of a snake bite:
Wash bite area gently with soap and water;
Remove watches, rings etc;
Immobilize affected area - in adults the most serious effect of a rattlesnake bite tends to be damage to local tissue;
Get to a doctor as soon as possible but STAY CALM as frenetic high-speed driving places the victim in more danger;
Keep the bite below the heart.
Ticks are blood sucking arachnids that rest on low-lying brush or grass waiting and attach to passing animals. Ticks are especially prevalent in wooded areas and grassland and may carry diseases.
Avoidance: Avoid tick infested areas. Wear insect repellent. Reduce the exposure of your skin by wearing long pants, pull your socks up high, a long sleeved top (a light shirt is fine) and a hat. It's also better to wear light colored clothing and washing clothing in permethrin will help to kill ticks if they land on you.
When you get home: Check clothing & equipment immediately and remove any ticks and throw them away outside. Put dry clothing into a tumble dryer on high heat for 10 minutes. If clothing is damp tumble dry for longer. Shower and check for ticks especially: under the arms, in and around the ears, inside belly button, back of knees, in and around the hair, between legs and around waist.
Identification: Almost always has leaves of three, alternate leaf arrangement, never has thorns.
Despite all of the inherent adversities that come with working outside enjoy yourself, it's beautiful out there.
Already completed your kit training or need to go back to another step? Use these links ...