In Class News

December 7, 2017 at 11:18 am

Sophomore’s Photo Is 2018 Ohio Wildlife Legacy Stamp

Garter snake photo by Ryan Wagner that will be featured on the 2018 Ohio Wildlife Legacy Stamp, showing snake curled up and tongue out.

Garter snake photo by Ryan Wagner that will be featured on the 2018 Ohio Wildlife Legacy Stamp.

A garter snake photograph by Ohio University sophomore Ryan Wagner was chosen as the official 2018 Ohio Wildlife Legacy Stamp photograph.

Wagner snapped the winning photo during summer fieldwork while the harmless garter “glared defiantly” at him.

Wagner is a Biological Sciences-Wildlife and Conservation major.

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources created the Ohio Legacy Wildlife Stamp to raise awareness for both common and at-risk wildlife in Ohio.

These collectible stamps cost $15 each and come with a window cling and a commemorative card. And $14 from each purchase go directly to conservation efforts. The proceeds support habitat restoration, keeping common species common, recovering endangered and threatened species, as well as education and scientific research projects in Ohio, according to the Ohio Wildlife Legacy Stamp website. The Ohio Legacy Wildlife Stamp is a great way to support local wildlife and secure a long-lasting legacy of nature protection in Ohio.

The Ohio Wildlife Legacy Stamp features a different native Ohio creature each year. The theme for 2018 is Ohio snakes, while the 2019 subject will be Ohio owls. The Ohio DNR holds an annual photography contest, and a committee of judges picks the best photo to be featured on the stamp.

Wagner’s photo of a garter snake (Thamnophis sirtalis sirtalis), won first place and will appear on the 2018 Ohio Wildlife Legacy Stamp. The stamp will be featured on the ODNR website, and sales will begin March 1.

Ryan Wagner takes a selfie with a turtle.

Ryan Wagner takes a selfie with a turtle.

Working as Field Assistant in Popescu Lab

As a wildlife photography enthusiast with a passion for reptiles, Wagner placed himself in a unique position to document the diversity of Ohio’s snakes. During the summer of 2017, he worked as a field assistant on a Box Turtle ecology study led by graduate student Marcel Weigand in Dr. Viorel Popescu’s lab in Biological Sciences.

“Most of my waking hours were spent in the woods. My camera was perpetually slung around my neck—easy access in case a speedy racer or sly rat snake appeared,” Wagner said. “I stumbled upon this snake one summer evening while out tracking turtles. Stretched out like a branch on the forest floor…. Another field tech had stepped right over the frozen serpent without even realizing it.

“Garters are a common species, and are infamously nippy (though harmless) and smelly when caught. I am usually satisfied admiring them from a distance,” Wagner continued. “On a whim, I decided to catch it and take a few shots. The snake was a healthy-sized adult with a stunning yellow face and flanks. Its dorsal stripes were broken up into black and blue checkerboard striations.

“As I picked the snake up, it whipped around to glare defiantly at me. I placed the little garter among the leaf litter where it coiled and tongue flicked. I had just a few moments for photos before I had to return to work. I was surprised how nicely the shots turned out, and even more surprised when I received the news that my photo won the Ohio Wildlife Legacy Stamp.”

Wagner adds that the most gratifying outcome is that his photo will help raise money to fund wildlife conservation efforts in Ohio.

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources is the state agency leading the efforts to conserve Ohio’s diverse wildlife. Due to its gradient in climate, from snowy and cold Great Lake area to mild Southeastern Ohio, and its diverse topography and land use, Ohio supports a high diversity of animal species. Think not only of white-tailed deer, bobcat, cardinal, green frog, or garter snake, but also a lot of mollusk, insect and fish species. While many wildlife species are quite common, some are doing rather poorly in Ohio, and are listed as endangered or threatened by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.

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