‘Critter Count’ returns to Water Resource Center

Vancouver’s Water Resources Education Center will celebrate its 17th annual Critter Count by seeking and exploring a variety of critters.

It begins Saturday, at 9 a.m., with the counting of critters in their natural habitat.

A live show with snakes, lizards and other reptiles will follow from 1 to 3 p.m. at the Water Center, 4600 S.E. Columbia Way. The public is invited to join in one or both events.

Critter Count begins with a brief training session conducted by a wildlife biologist. Participants will get a quick overview of the identification of local frogs, snakes, salamanders, lizards, and other amphibians and reptiles, then venture out to one of four sites to find and record critters in their natural habitat. A wildlife expert and a site coordinator will be on hand at each location to help.

Participants must provide their own transportation to field sites, and should bring boots, warm clothes, a lunch and, if possible, binoculars.

Training, field guidebooks, equipment, snacks, and water will be provided. All ages are welcome to participate, but children must be accompanied throughout the count by adults. At least one adult chaperone is required for every three students in third- through eighth-grade. Younger children require a one-on-one chaperone ratio.

According to a press release from the Water Center, frogs and other amphibians are extremely sensitive to water quality and changing environmental conditions. Keeping track of the numbers provides a better understanding of the challenges they are facing, and data gathered during Critter Count is available to management agencies.

Critter fun continues in the afternoon, where visitors have an opportunity to get a close view of snakes, lizards and other reptiles. Creature Feature will host two live critter shows, starting at 1 p.m. and 2 p.m.

Children must be accompanied by a parent or guardian. Admission is free.

Critter Count is a partnership of the City of Vancouver’s Water Resources Education Center; U.S. Fish and Wildlife, Ridgefield; Columbia Springs; CASEE Center, a program of the Battle Ground School District; and the Northwest Ecological Research Institute.