Conserve Wildlife Blog

March 2nd, 2021

Attention NJ High Schoolers: Entries Are Now Being Accepted for the 2021 Species on the Edge 2.0 Social Media Contest!

by Ethan Gilardi, Wildlife Biologist

CWF invites high school students from across the state to submit an original social media campaign showing why it is important to protect wildlife in New Jersey!

The fun and educational Species on the Edge 2.0 Social Media Contest capitalizes on high school students’ expertise with social media platforms and provides them with the opportunity to showcase their talent, creativity, and love of nature.

Students will create their own original content (for example: video, text, photograph, computer graphic) or utilize existing Conserve Wildlife Foundation content to create a series of posts focusing on one of New Jersey’s vulnerable species that CWF helps protect.

Best of all, it’s free – and gives students the chance to win prizes!  

1st place wins $1,000

2nd place wins $500

3rd place wins $250

This is a wonderful opportunity for high school students to learn about and advocate for New Jersey wildlife, while also earning the chance to win a scholarship! Moreover, the students utilize social media for purposes of this contest!

Please note that entry forms must be received by Saturday, March 27, 2021.

A special thank you to contest sponsor PSEG Foundation.

March 2nd, 2021

Join CWF Biologist Todd Pover For Special Screening of Acclaimed Piping Plover Documentary, “Monty & Rose”

by Ethan Gilardi, Wildlife Biologist

The titular Monty of the duo Monty & Rose.

Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey is proud to present a special event screening of Monty & Rose: The Story of Chicago’s Piping Plovers.

Join us on March 18, 2021 at 7pm, for a virtual presentation of the 23-minute documentary hosted by “Monty and Rose” director Bob Dolgan and CWF Senior Biologist Todd Pover. This will mark the film’s first screening on the East Coast!

Written and directed by Bob Dolgan, “Monty and Rose” tells the story of a pair of endangered piping plovers that nested at Chicago’s Montrose Beach in the summer of 2019, becoming the first of the species to nest in the city since 1955. With a music festival scheduled to take place within feet of the plovers’ nest site, volunteers, advocates, and biologists get to work in order to protect the vulnerable pair. The documentary follows these efforts, including interviews with those there to help this special pair nesting on one of the busiest beaches in Chicago.

The screening will include an introduction to “Monty and Rose” provided by the director prior to the film screening. After the film, Bob Dolgan and Todd Pover will host an audience Q&A and conversation about the film, piping plovers, and beach nesting birds!

One lucky participant will also be chosen at random to win a Piping Plover Prize Pack! Prizes include a newly designed CWF PIPL hat and other assorted beach nesting bird goodies to be shipped right to your home.

We hope you’ll join us for an evening celebrating piping plovers and those who work to protect them.

About the Hosts:

Bob Dolgan is a life long birder and filmmaker from Chicago. He’s the founder of Turnstone Strategies, author of the This Week in Birding newsletter, and a past Board Member of Chicago Ornithological Society.

Todd Pover has been involved in research, monitoring, and management of beach nesting birds for over 25 years in New Jersey and other portions of the flyway. He heads up the CWF beach nesting bird project and leads our Bahamas piping plover wintering grounds initiative.

Watch the Official “Monty and Rose” Trailer:

February 19th, 2021

Wild New Jersey Revisited: A Predator Returns to the State’s Rugged Northwest

by David Wheeler

Fisher photo by Josh More via Flickr Creative Commons.

Wild New Jersey Revisited is a monthly series of excerpts from Conserve Wildlife Foundation executive director David Wheeler’s 2011 book Wild New Jersey: Nature Adventures in the Garden State. Today we focus on the surprising return of a rare predator to New Jersey, and the late field biologist who foretold it – then documented it.


Excerpt from Chapter 2:

The Carnivore Corridor of Stokes State Forest

On a frosty winter morning, I join a fellow adventurer for a sunrise hike into Tillman Ravine. This cold is the kind that takes your breath away, the kind that makes it hard to notice anything else – until I descend into the ravine. The rushing mountain stream twists and turns, crashing over jagged boulders and toppled hemlocks. Patches of ice coat the surfaces of riverside boulders, some icicles growing upward from the waterfall mist. Heavy recent snows and rains have the stream flowing higher than normal, overrunning some of the trail. This is one wild place.

It is easy, on this early morning, with no sound but the crashing torrent, to imagine the wildlife that lives here. A mother bear warily leading her cubs down the steep mountain slope for a drink. A mink slinking stealthily along the boulders in search of its next meal. A river otter family tumbling in the currents downstream.

One visionary wildlife researcher is doing a lot more than imagining that. Charlie Kontos is seeing it all. Through his motion-detector cameras and wilderness tracking, through his exhaustive historical research and coordination with wildlife geneticists, he is leading the charge to ensure that the species we nearly lost are still welcome here in the wilds of northwestern New Jersey. For Kontos, that safe haven cannot be some isolated pocket of land. We must restore the active wildlife corridor that connects to the Catskills and the Appalachians and the Adirondacks, all the way up into New England and the great boreal forest of Canada.

Read the rest of this entry »

February 17th, 2021

“Wild New Jersey” Celebrates 10 Years with Monthly Blog Adventures in 2021

Book excerpts each month to be accompanied by timely wildlife updates

by David Wheeler

Growing up in suburban and coastal New Jersey, I was fascinated by wildlife from my earliest days. Whether catching frogs in the neighborhood, or collecting safari cards and watching Nature specials on Komodo dragons, wildlife both local and global captured my imagination like nothing else. My studies and early career focused on other areas, such as writing and communications, but the great outdoors was never far from my thoughts.

When the time was right, I decided to write what would become my book, “Wild New Jersey: Nature Adventures in the Garden State.” I spent time with many of the top scientists and naturalists in the state, as I devoted all my free time for a year to undertaking a whirlwind journey around New Jersey, experiencing its wildlife, nature destinations, and outdoor activities first-hand.

It has now been 10 years since “Wild New Jersey” was published. In those ensuing years, I became the Executive Director of Conserve Wildlife Foundation, the dynamic organization that had featured so prominently in my book. Many themes I covered then resound even more today. The across-the-board impacts of climate change on New Jersey’s wildlife. Escalating land development, particularly in suburban areas. An even greater emphasis on protecting wildlife corridors and contiguous habitat. An increasing awareness of many species thriving in urban areas against daunting odds.

For better or worse, the populations of most of New Jersey species I highlighted 10 years ago have continued on the same trends of recovery or decline. That’s good news for bald eagles, peregrine falcons, and ospreys, along with bobcats and coyotes. It’s more worrisome for many bat, amphibian and reptile species, as well as many songbirds, shorebirds, and pollinators.

Sadly, a few of the wildlife pioneers and conservation heroes with whom I was privileged to spend time or enjoy conversations while writing my book have since passed away, including field biologist Charles Kontos, Len Soucy, founder of the Raptor Trust, and Dery Bennett, founder of American Littoral Society. Their legacies carry forward today as strong as ever.

David Wheeler and his son on a more recent “Wild New Jersey” adventure in Barnegat Bay. Photo by Ben Wurst

With our past year marked by serious restrictions on both our interaction with others and the activities we can enjoy, many New Jerseyans may have a building list of adventures that we are considering once safety permits. Thankfully, these options haven’t changed much at all over the 10 years since I wrote “Wild New Jersey.” With the right timing and guides, we still can go out and enjoy dog sledding, birding on the open ocean, mountain hikes in bear country, and nighttime treks through a cranberry bog – or, on the more serene side, pontoon boat wildlife tours, river floats, seining, and bird walks led by top experts.

Those kinds of adventures are still out there for the taking in every corner of the state. Some of it can be done right now, while other trips may have to wait until we get further along in our fight against COVID-19.

In the meantime, I am excited to celebrate 10 years of Wild New Jersey with you. For the next year, Conserve Wildlife Foundation will run a seasonal excerpt each month, along with updated commentary giving context to a featured species, habitat, or locale.

Join me on Friday in kicking off our series with a book excerpt and update on the unlikely return of a predator to New Jersey’s wilds.

David Wheeler is the Executive Director of Conserve Wildlife Foundation and the author of Wild New Jersey: Nature Adventures in the Garden State.

February 16th, 2021

Part 4: Three Bridges Eagles, Return to the Nest Platform

By: Larissa Smith, CWF Wildlife Biologist

The drama continues at the Three Bridges eagle nest. When I last wrote about this pair in part 3 of the blog series, they were busy working on a nest in a tree and had not been sighted at the newly installed tower with the nest platform. Eagle Project nest monitors have been keeping a close eye on both the new tree nest and the platform. The pair had been busy bringing sticks to the tree nest.

February 7, 2021@ Joe Mish

This past week nest monitors saw a pair of eagles on the transmission towers and mating on the platform! The volunteer’s have been trying to figure out if this is one pair or two separate pairs. On February 12th, a pair was seen at the tree nest and in the afternoon a pair was seen on the nesting platform, mating. Since then eagles have been sighted at both the nest tree and the nest platform.

February 12, 2021 nesting platform @ Tom Gunia
Tower with nesting platform and eagle pair perched on arm 2/13/21 @ Mary Ellen Hill

It isn’t uncommon for eagle pairs to build more then one nest and perhaps the Three Bridges pair is deciding which nest to use. But the possibility remains that there could be a second pair in the area. The Three Bridges pair laid their eggs on February 23rd last nesting season, so they should start incubation in the next week or two. Dedicated nest monitors will closely monitor the situation to see which nest is used and when eggs are laid.