Researcher Seeks Lonely Socks For Rare Weasel Study

Oh, to be that sock with a missing partner, a lonely single destined to float in a dresser-drawer full of happy pairs. Aside from the hope that your owner is suddenly struck with an interest in hand-puppetry, the future must seem pretty bleak. But lo, thanks to an ongoing UC Berkeley study on a rare species of weasel, the most exciting chapter in your unpaired sock's life may be yet to come -- if you'll just give the poor thing a chance.

Alright, what on earth am I talking about? Well, a team from the Sierra Nevada Adaptive Management Project (SNAMP) are conducting research into the scantly seen Pacific fisher, a forest-dwelling member of the weasel family, and they need your socks to help lure them in. "They're very elusive," UC Berkeley fisher expert Rick Sweitzer told KQED News. "Most people have never seen a fisher because they spend most of their time in the trees."

For the last several years, Sweitzer managed to capture some important images of the shy animals by setting up motion-sensing cameras in their habitats and setting out socks filled with food for them to munch on. But why socks?

"It takes them a little bit of time to chew the sock apart to get at the meat, so we get a lot of photographs," says Sweitzer.

Up until now, the researcher has been footing the bill for the 2,000 or so socks he's been going through each year -- not to mention suffering the unspoken ridicule of being that guy buying an obscene amount of socks. That's why he's appealing to the public to send in their lightly-used, unwanted, or unpaired socks. He's tired of seeming like a weirdo:

"My real motivation for this sock drive is so that I don't have to stand in line at Walmart with two or three cartloads full of all the socks I can find. I get a lot of stares and a lot of interesting questions."

If you'd like to donate some socks to Sweitzer and the SNAMP wildlife research team, they can be mailed or delivered to 40799 Elliott Dr., Oakhurst CA 9364 -- or to learn more about the project, visit their web site here.

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