From Xplor for Kids
December 2010 Issue

Wild Jobs: Scat Collector Justin Blair

Publish Date

Dec 01, 2010

Revised Date

Feb 01, 2011

It's a stinky job, but someone has to do it.

Justan Blair’s job really stinks. As a wildlife research assistant, one of his tasks is collecting scat—poop—of river otters and black bears. Why would Justan do such a thing? “You can learn a lot from scat,” Justan says. By picking apart bear scat, Justan learns which berries, nuts and other foods bears have been eating. This information helps wildlife managers know which plants to grow to keep bears well fed.

River otters leave scat in the same places again and again. Justan and other researchers canoe from one otter bathroom to another and remove every bit of scat they find. By counting how much new scat is deposited at each site, Justan can figure out how many otters live on that stretch of river. Each bit of scat is tested to learn what the otter has been eating and whether the otter is male or female.

Although Justan’s job is no bed of roses, there are some benefits to being a scat collector. “I spend four months of the year canoeing down some of the prettiest rivers in the state,” Justan says. “How many folks get paid to do that?”

Also in this issue

Photos With Nop and Dave: Frozen Moments

It takes an extreme photographer to capture extreme wildlife. Fortunately, Nop Paothong has the eye of an eagle and the stubbornness of a Missouri mule. Follow Nop’s advice to take great eagle photos.

You Discover

Get out to discover nature coming and going. Here are a few ideas to keep you outside in December and January.

My Outdoor Adventure

Snowflakes fluttered down as the Krumm family launched their canoes into the Current River.

Let's Go Rabbit Hunting!

Earlier that morning, Kelsey and her sister, Lindsey Jo, pull on their rabbit-hunting clothes. Rabbits love briars and brambles. To avoid getting chewed up, the girls tug on thick jeans and boots.

The 8 "Ates"

How do animals tolerate the winter weather that refrigerates the Show-Me State? Humans can relocate to cozy homes and wait for temperat ures to moderate. Wild critters aren’t so fortunate. It’s their fate to operate in winter’s freezing climate. But, wait. Animals have eight great traits to help them compensate.

Outdoor Christmas

Check out these holiday goodies to get you outside.

Xplor More: It's Time to Make Snow Ice Cream

Need a good way to refuel after a long day of playing in the snow? Make some snow cream. Just follow the recipe below to make this easy, yummy treat.

This Issue's Staff:

David Besenger
Bonnie Chasteen
Chris Cloyd
Peg Craft
Brett Dufur
Les Fortenberry
Chris Haefke
Karen Hudson
Regina Knauer
Kevin Lanahan
Kevin Muenks
Noppadol Paothong
Marci Porter
Mark Raithel
Laura Scheuler
Matt Seek
Tim Smith
David Stonner
Nichole Leclair Terrill
Stephanie Thurber
Alicia Weaver
Cliff White
Kipp Woods

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