Eric C. Hansen - Consulting Environmental Biologist

Our Team

Rachel Bennett

Rachel earned her B.S. degree in wildlife conservation and applied vertebrate ecology from Humboldt State University. Ms. Bennett has a strong interest in fisheries and large river ecology which led her to spend 8 months conducting field work on the Lower American River for spawner escapement and juvenile emigration surveys for Chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha) where she gained experience habitat assessments, scale sampling, juvenile fish ID and rotary screw trap operation and maintenance. Upon graduating, Rachel spent two years working on the CDFW’s Nerodia eradication project, which aimed to eliminate invasive northern and southern watersnakes (Nerodia sipeon & N. fasciata) from Sutter and Sacramento counties. Rachel also served as the data manager for CDFW’s quagga/zebra mussel program that tracked watercraft entering California to limit the spread of invasive mussels.

In her current role as a staff biologist, Rachel works with state and federally endangered Giant garter snakes throughout the California Central Valley. She works with this species conducting presence/absence surveys, population monitoring, construction monitoring and eDNA sampling. In addition to GGS work, Rachel has also has experience Northwestern pond turtle surveys for Beale Air Force Base, plant surveys for Valley Elderberry, pre-construction surveys for central valley sensitive species (GGS, Swainson’s Hawk, Burrowing Owl). This position has allowed Ms. Bennett the opportunity to become well-versed in sensitive species safety and handling practices.

Zach Cava

Zach is a wildlife biologist with a strong interest in reptile and amphibian ecology and conservation. He received his B.A. from Ithaca College in 2009, and completed his M.A. in biology from SUNY Buffalo State in 2016. Zach’s work has taken him throughout the United States and abroad. He has worked with government agencies (USGS, USFWS), non-profit organizations (Great Basin Institute, The Orianne Society), and within the private sector. Zach has experience with a variety of species, many of which are state and/or federally protected; these include diamondback terrapins, western rattlesnakes, Blanding’s turtles, desert tortoises, gila monsters, hellbenders, flatwoods salamanders, spotted turtles, and giant garter snakes. Zach is proficient in various research and conservation techniques such as radio-telemetry, mark-recapture, drift-fence surveys, visual encounter surveys, nesting surveys, videography, and head-starting.

Zach believes strongly in the value of public engagement and education, which he considers to be one of the most rewarding aspects of his work as a biologist. Throughout his career Zach has strived to convey the value of biodiversity to a wide audience creatively by using writing and photography. He is an accomplished technical writer, with experience preparing reports, management assessments, presentations, and peer-reviewed publications (Journal of Herpetology, Herpetological Review). However, he also enjoys writing for more general audiences (The Wildlife Society, The Lower Merion Conservancy). Zach is excited about using photography both as a research tool, and as a way to share his enthusiasm for the natural world—while hopefully inspiring others to protect it. His images have been featured in books, magazines, websites, news articles, and wayside panels.

Moving forward, Zach is interested in pursuing opportunities that promote a more harmonious relationship between humans and our environment. Although his focus is herpetology, Zach’s interests are ever-growing, and he feels this large knowledge base is especially valuable when tackling complex conservation issues at large spatial scales. When living in Buffalo NY, Zach prepared a feasibility assessment for the enhancement of vernal pool habitat at an urban nature preserve. This report was subsequently included in a grant proposal that resulted in the preserve being awarded $147,000 for the multi-year project, which is now well underway. Zach looks forward to getting involved with similar projects that allow him to apply his skills in developing broad, strategic conservation plans that seek to maintain biodiversity across an increasingly developed landscape.

Kyla Garten

Kyla graduated from Humboldt State University in 2014 where she received her Bachelors of Science in Wildlife Biology and Bachelors of Arts in Spanish Education. Kyla is interested in wildlife conservation with a focus on reptiles and amphibians and wants to dedicate her efforts to working with these often under-appreciated taxa. Since graduating she has worked on herp-related projects across the country which has exposed her to a wide range of biomes and species.

Kyla has worked in both terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems with native and invasive species most of which were state and federally-listed and special concern species. She has worked for state universities, government agencies and in the private sector including military bases (Barry M. Goldwater Air Force Range and Beale Air Force Base). Specifically, Kyla has worked across the Great Plains surveying for terrestrial reptiles (, CSU), in the Florida Everglades catching invasive reptiles (USGS), in Yuma Arizona tracking Flat-tailed horned lizards (UAZ) and flown in helicopters conducting point-counts for Lesser Prairie chickens in Kansas (WEST).

Kyla’s interests and ability to speak spanish has led her to volunteer with Arizona Game and Fish conducting demography and occupancy surveys for Flat-tailed horned lizards in Sonora, Mexico. Additionally, she holds a biomonitor certification for Flat-tailed horned lizards (Dept. of Interior) and can identify suitable habitat for and visually track lizards. She currently resides in the California Central Valley working with state and federally-threatened Giant garter snakes and Northwestern pond turtles. Much of the work she does focuses on collecting morphological data and monitoring populations in historic or otherwise suitable habitat. Kyla has experience collecting environmental DNA  for use in identifying presence/absence of organisms in water systems. She also works as a biological monitor on a variety of construction projects, ensuring compliance requirements are met and providing environmental awareness training to employees.

Kyla wants to broaden her understanding of complex ecological systems and study wildlife’s response to a rapidly developing world. She grew up in Southern California and recognized that increased urbanization led to a decrease in wildlife density and diversity. Observing these changes on a landscape-scale is what sparked her interest in how anthropogenic disturbances influence species decline and how wildlife can persevere in altered environments coupled with climate change. 

Evan Griffiths

Evan Griffiths is a Staff Biologist with an interest in wetland ecology and water issues. His experience includes biological monitoring and surveys, geographic information systems (GIS), and land management implementation. He received is B.S. in Mathematics from California State University, Long Beach in 2015 and earned a certificate in FieldEcology shortly thereafter. Evan has experience with a variety of threatened and endangered species including California Tiger Salamander, vernal pool crustaceans, and Giant Gartersnakes. He has worked with government agencies (USACE, USFWS, CDFW), private firms and developers, and non-profit organizations Evan’s focus is on helping clients their project needs while ensuring responsible management of environmental and biological resources.

Prior to joining Hansen Biological Consulting, Evan held the position of Land Stewardship Director with a local land trust, the Sacramento Valley Conservancy, where he was responsible for the management, mapping, and biological monitoring of over 17,000 acres of land. He was awarded an ESRI Conservation Grant to create and implement a GIS unit within the conservancy for land analysis and cartographic mapping. He also worked as a Vernal Pool Field Guide with Sacramento Splash, teaching students and the public about California’s unique vernal pools and native grasslands. His love of wild landscapes and preserving natural resources for all is what drew him to his career.