Whoever made up that rule clearly didn’t ever try his hand at telemetry.
What is telemetry? It is technology designed to reel you in, pet your ego, then dash your hopes when you feel you’re most accomplished. It is a tool that weeds out those who are not determined, stubborn, and maybe a little crazy. It is an abominable—and completely necessary—practice that involves listening through static for a chirping device that is attached to a (moving) wild animal. It is the most useful skill a wildlife biologist can learn—if you actually think you can learn it—except for maybe map making (which is another thing this rule-maker clearly never tried). It is an addictive practice in the true definition of the word: it brings you up, then drops you so low you think you’ll never recover, but pulls you up and tells you that the only way you’ll get that experience (of success, of finding the animal) is to do it again. And it’s right.
Telemetry is, like I said, the practice of tracking an animal using a device somehow attached to them (a collar with bears, a sub-dermal device with some animals, a glued contraption with sea turtles) that emits a chirp over a radio wave (VHF: very high frequency). This technology has been around since, oh since I don’t know when, and it has been employed for ALL manner of wildlife biology research endeavours. From home range determination, to finding den sites, to tracking movement patterns, to identifying which animal produced which turd, telemetry is your man.
Granted, since its creation (80s? 90s? I should do my research…), collaring and tracking animals has taken leaps and bounds forward. Enter…GPS collars. These devices will still make crybabies out of the burliest of biologists, but more because of their price than their personality. GPS collars can be programmed to send satellite data to the researchers of the tracked animal’s movements. These collars (or other devices, as previously mentioned) will also emit a VHF radio chirp, which is handy because occasionally the GPS units fail (go figure) and they revert to “basic” VHF.
Let’s just take a minute here to say that when you step back and look at it, this technology is AMAZING. I mean, you can stick an antenna up in the air, twirl around in a circle, and listen to a chirp that is coming off the back of a WILD BEAR (in my case, anyway). I mean, WHAT?! So. Cool.
But there’s a difference between marveling at the technology and actually making the technology bend to your will—I’m sure many of you have or will experience this with computers, phones, televisions, cars, GPS units, radios, watches, whatever. Even though it was created by people for the betterment of peoples’ lives, technology seems to have other ideas.
Enter real life factors: back-signal, weather, elevation, gain, frequency, volume, radio towers, cell towers, power lines, car electronics, and imperfect hearing. All these are fancy ways of saying that if you don’t hold your mouth right and have good luck, you might end up chasing a phantom created by the radio wave bouncing off the side of a hill, or getting twisted because your cell phone charger was plugged into your car. Even one of these factors I’ve mentioned is enough to bring quite a few people to tears. Put them all together, and, well, you understand why I think this rule maker is nuts.
Crazy isn’t always wrong, though. Yeah, telemetry can bring tears to many eyes, but so can stopwatches (I suppose, though I tend to feel superior when I know I could smash it—have we really evolved that far? Anni smash watch, Anni feel better), or cell phones. But I guess a crybaby would have cartoon tears spouting from her eyes, creating twin puddles on the ground, then curl up on her couch and say she can’t. Believe me, I was [ ] this close to doing that today. As much as I wanted to, deep down I knew that what I would actually be doing is letting my “boss” (for lack of another quick term) down, inconveniencing her by asking her to take time out of her schoolwork to come “do this for me,” and saying that man’s creation, technology, was better than me, bigger than my God and me.
Needless to say, I may have cried today, I may have felt (and probably acted) like a baby, but I didn’t quit. Could quit. So maybe the rule maker was right, but I’d like to add an amendment: There may not be crybabies, but there are tears.
Oh, and I found the bear.