Episode 67: Release the Benders!

Hello everyone and welcome to Episode Sixty Seven!  It’s the end of July and I hope all of you remain safe and healthy out there.

As always, I want to thank all of the patrons of the show – we would not be kicking off a third season without you and I appreciate your support.  To others in the listening audience, if you like the show, please consider supporting it via the So Much Pingle Patreon page. You can support the show for as little as three buck a month – less than a fancy cup of coffee!  You can also support the show via one-time contributions via PayPal or Venmo (please contact me via email to somuchpingle@gmail.com).

Many of you have heard my interview with Nick Burgmeier about his work with hellbenders in Indiana.  That was Episode 8, way back in season 1, and I didn’t just pull Nick’s name out of a hat for that interview.  I had the privilege of helping out with hellbender surveys as far back as 2007, with my buddies Don Becker and Greg Stephens, and little did I know that all of that preliminary work would lead to the current hellbender raise-and-release project going on in Indiana.  And to provide just a bit more detail, these are young adult hellbenders that are being released, they are raised from eggs collected in the wild in Kentucky and Ohio.  This is necessary because Indiana hellbenders are in trouble – the state has a small population of adult hellbenders and if there are any eggs being produced, they haven’t been located.   Thankfully these days there’s a lot of cooperation between various agencies in states with hellbenders, so there’s a lot of dedicated work to keep these awesome creatures in as many rivers as possible.

This show was recorded in the field and since I knew we would be spending time in the water, I didn’t use my standard field rig.  I captured everything on my Zoom HN4 recorder, which is my backup recorder these days.  I used the unit’s built-in omni-directional microphone and so I captured everything – water noises, buckets, lots of banter and yakking, and sometimes multiple conversations happening in parallel.  But I was able to record the event as it happened, and there’s a lot of running commentary from Nick and others that help to set the scene, and all of the banter – well, that’s just a lot of happy people taking part in a joyous event.

Acknowledgements:  First of all, special thanks to my friend Nick Burgmeier – Project coordinator and all-around good guy, and Marci Skelton, Nature Nick’s spouse and his number one fan. Shelby Roberts – AKA Bender Baby Mama, thanks for all of your work and for talking with me. Summer Brown, Madison Phillips and Zach Truelock were on hand to make sure everything went smoothly, and let’s not forget Thomas Coggeshall, holding down the fort back at the lab. I want to also thank Jarrett Manek for transporting us around and for the great behind the scenes tour at O’Bannon Woods. Other witnesses for this event include Don Becker, Greg Stephens, Justin Michels, Jeff and May Faircloth, John Burris and Jeremiah Jonothan.  It was great to be there with you all.

Thanks for listening everyone! And as always, please keep the comments and suggestions coming, and please take time to rate the show on your podcast platform! The show email is somuchpingle@gmail.com, and there’s also a So Much Pingle group on Facebook, for discussion, comments, feedback, suggestions, herp confessions, pet names for Hellbenders, tips for herping better, etc.

Cheers! Mike