Conserve Wildlife Blog

January 13th, 2017

2016: A Good Year For NJ Bald Eagles

216 Young Produced from 150 active nests. 

Larissa Smith & Ben Wurst: Conserve Wildlife Foundation of NJ

The Conserve Wildlife Foundation of NJ in partnership with the NJ Endangered and Nongame Species Program has released the 2016 NJ Bald Eagle Project Report and the new and improved Eagle Tracking Maps. In 2016, 172 eagle nests were monitored during the nesting season. Of these nests 150 were active (with eggs) and 22 were territorial or housekeeping pairs. A record high of 216 young were fledged. The success of the NJ Eagle Project is due to the dedicated Eagle Project Volunteers who monitor and help to protect nests throughout NJ. Read the rest of this entry »

January 12th, 2017

Princeton Seventh-Graders Protect Bats through Hands-on Research Project

Students partner with nonprofit Conserve Wildlife Foundation to design better bat houses

By Stephanie Feigin

Although bats have a reputation of being dangerous and scary, these flying mammals are something to be coveted, and the students at Princeton Day School know why. Seventh grade students Albert Ming, Arjun Sen, Martin Sen, Dodge Martinson, Kai Shah, and Samuel Tang teamed up with Conserve Wildlife Foundation to design a better construction plan for bat houses. The students hope to promote better conditions for bats living in Central Jersey.

Bats are in the midst of tragic declines as a consequence of habitat loss and a devastating fungal disease known as White-nose Syndrome. CWF works to preserve bats, which basically provide a free pest removal service. A single bat can consume up to 3,000 mosquito-sized insects in one night! Their value to agriculture is estimated at $53 billion annually in the United States alone. Not to mention they provide mosquito and biting insect control, which are not only a nuisance but also have disease spreading potential.

Many bats in New Jersey have come to depend on manmade bat houses, structures specifically designed and placed for the needs of the bats, and the Princeton Day School students stepped up to help.

First, the students researched the best, most economical type of wood to use for construction. Next, they used an infrared thermometer to see how well heat is absorbed and retained by the different wood types after they were painted and stained using three different colors.

Keeping the inside of a bat house within the right temperature range is vital to the survival of bats, especially the vulnerable young pups. If a bat house becomes too hot (above 95 degrees) or too cold (below 65 degrees), the health of the bats is threatened. Bats move their pups from house to house in search of the right temperatures.

The students used the results of their temperature experiment and high and low temperature readings for Central Jersey over the past three years to design a plan for a bat condo unit that would satisfy bats temperature requirements during their entire six month roosting period.

The x – axis is the number of hours passed during the day and the y- axis represents degrees Fahrenheit.
This graph displays the research for the best type of wood (cedar, pine or plywood) to use for constructing bat houses, along with different kinds of paint (adobe, slate or russet) to determine which combination could retain the most heat for the bat colonies. Heat retention was measured over a long period of time while exposed to the sun.
The research revealed that the bat houses are most successful if they are painted or stained and weather resistant wood like cedar would last much longer than softer wood like pine or plywood. When cedar wood was used the temperature changed the most as the air temperature changed and the least when sunset came. When plywood was used the temperature changed the least as the air temperature changed and the most when sunset came. When pine wood was used the temperature changed moderately as the air temperature and moderately when sunset came.
The conclusion made was that there are differences among wood and paint combinations. Adobe paint on plywood has the smallest average temperature change even though the difference is not statistically significant and adobe paint on cedar had the smallest temperature change between 4 and 6 degrees. They chose adobe paint on cedar or plywood as they are also the most cost effective.

With the results of their research and experiments, the students made informed decisions to design the bat boxes. The final product was three bat houses built using plywood. They painted one of the houses in a black slate color to provide maximum heat during the colder months, and painted a second house in an adobe beige color to provide air conditioning during the hot summer months. Lastly, they chose a russet color to for the moderate months.

CWF Wildlife ecologist Stephanie Feign who worked with the students on the project was happy to see how passionate these kids were to learn and be hands-on. “Their passion and enthusiasm were inspiring. Projects like these not only benefit wildlife, but also benefit surrounding communities and provide experiential learning for students.”

New Jersey is home to nine different species of bats, two of which are listed as endangered or threatened. Six species that do not migrate south for the winter remain in New Jersey to hibernate in a cave or another safe place. When they awake from hibernation in April, the females search for roosting spots to bear and raise their young pups. With so few intact forests in New Jersey, bats are struggling to find places to safely roost.

That is why projects like this one with Princeton Day School are essential for preserving bats. Not only did the projects help bats, but it also helped the students by requiring them to use problem solving and critical thinking skills to protect a creature that they came to value. Wildlife, which kids become excited and passionate about, is a valuable educational tool.

The team is currently working with Princeton Day School facilities to erect the bat condo unit on campus. Hopefully, by next spring, the school will be home to many new, very comfortable bats.


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Stephanie Feigin is a Wildlife Ecologist for Conserve Wildlife Foundation.

January 11th, 2017

New Jersey Gains Another Endangered Species: The Rusty Patched Bumble Bee

First bee in continental U.S. added to endangered list

By Kendall Miller

The rusty patched bumble bee has been locally extinct from the Garden State since the late 1900s. Once a common sight, the species has been eliminated from 87% of its entire range and has been seen only in isolated pockets of its once wide range.

But finally, the long awaited day has come – the rusty patched bumble bee has officially been added to the Endangered Species List.

The Rusty Patch Bumble Bee is found only in isolated pockets of its former range. Photo taken from Xerces Society.

The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation first petitioned for the listing of the rusty patch in 2013. The decision to list was finally reached in September of this past year, and the Rule was officially published on January 11, 2017. The official Ruling brings the species under the protection of the Endangered Species Act, which will enable it to receive much needed federal protection.

Following the listing of seven yellow-faced bees found only in the isolated archipelago of Hawaii this September, the rusty patched is the first bee to join the ESL that is native to the continental U.S. It seems as if it has not been a good couple of months for bees, however this perception is far from the truth. Pollinators are on the decline across the globe as a result of pesticides, habitat loss and degradation, and the spread of pests and diseases. Listing pollinators for the first time means that their plight is recognized, and it empowers those who are working to protect these species from extinction.

Rare find, this is a species that has suffered drastic declines since the late 1990’s. Photo courtesy of Dan Mullen.

The multitude of ways that we rely on pollinators – for food, clothes, ecosystem functioning – means that their peril is our own. In New Jersey, the service provided by *wild pollinators is valued at $43 million; in the U.S. as a whole, it is $3 billion annually. Since the rusty patch (along with other species of bumble bees) is an excellent pollinator of New Jersey crops like blueberries, cranberries, and tomatoes, it is sorely missed from the Garden State.

This listing is another small step for the protection of native bees and pollinators everywhere.

Helping pollinators takes three steps:
1.  Plant flowering nectar sources spring through fall
2.  Provide safe nesting and overwintering habitat
3.  A pesticide free environment

 

*Wild pollinators are native bee species like the rusty patch bumble bee that have evolved with their native ecosystems. Honey bees that are commercially used for agriculture pollination services and honey production are not native to the United States.



Kendall Miller is a project coordinator for Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey.

December 28th, 2016

Tiger Salamander Season

Volunteers Survey For This Rare and Elusive NJ Salamander.

by: Larissa Smith, CWF Wildlife Biologist

Adult Tiger Salamander @ M. Tribulski

On a cold December evening I met up with ENSP biologists and dedicated Tiger Salamander project volunteers to survey for Eastern Tiger Salamanders. The group had been out surveying all day in Atlantic County without spotting any tiger salamanders and were cold but still raring to go. The pool we surveyed has been a successful tiger salamander breeding pool, within a complex of enhanced vernal pools. We weren’t disappointed as we quickly found adult salamanders in the pool and egg masses.

Another great find was a neotenic (gilled adult).  This was a larvae, most likely, from last season that didn’t metamorphose and still had external gills. It had not yet left the pool, whereas most larvae metamorphose and leave the pools in June to July of their hatching year.

Neotenic adult @ M. Tribulski

Surveying for TS@ M. Tribulski

We surveyed a second pool in the complex, but found no sign of adults or egg masses. We found fish in the pool, which is an indicator that there won’t be salamanders since the fish eat the eggs and larvae.

New Tiger Salamander breeding pools have been found by the TS volunteers, in Cape May and Cumberland Counties. It is encouraging to know that these salamanders continue to live and breed in New Jersey and that gives me hope for the future of all NJ wildlife.


Learn More

 

December 22nd, 2016

In season for giving, donor helps wildlife supporters double their gifts

DONATIONS TO BENEFIT CWF WILDLIFE EDUCATION PROGRAMS

By Emily Hofmann

Newark 5th-graders enjoy a day at the beach exploring nature as part of CWF’s WILDCHILD Program for underserved youth.

Connecting kids with the natural world around them does wonders for their health and self-esteem, builds leadership skills, and often fosters a love of science at a very young age.

And nothing awakens that environmental awareness like wildlife!

Conserve Wildlife Foundation’s exciting hands-on programs – classroom presentations, field trips, live wildlife, and webcam lessons – teach children about the state’s rare wildlife and the need to protect it. And while some schools can cover the costs of these lessons, far too many can’t afford programs and field trips.

Through December 31, all donations to Conserve Wildlife Foundation to support our education and outreach to under-served schools will be generously matched by the Merrill G. & Emita E. Hastings Foundation. This will greatly strengthen CWF’s ability to provide equitable opportunities for children in at-risk areas to become environmental stewards.

Thanks to that generosity, a donation of $25 will be worth $50, and a donation of $100 will be worth $200.

Learning about the eagles, ospreys, bats, peregrine falcons, butterflies, and other animals that might share their neighborhood engages kids with their environment,” says Liz Silvernail, CWF Director of Development. “Our education helps open children’s eyes to the wonders of wildlife and nature, regardless of whether their school can pay for our programming.”

This holiday season, CWF encourages supporters to give the gift with an enduring legacy for the next generation of scientists!


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Emily Hofmann is a Project Coordinator and Education Assistant for Conserve Wildlife Foundation.

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