Conserve Wildlife Blog

September 27th, 2022

Photo from the Field: Another Successful Year for Great Bay Terrapin Garden

by Ben Wurst, Habitat Program Manager

A northern diamondback terrapin hatchling in saltmarsh habitat.
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September 15th, 2022

Beachcombing for Plovers

By Amy Kopec
CWF Beach Nesting Bird Field Technician

People usually go to the beach looking for something; whether it’s shells, sea glass, or just some relaxation and better tan lines. I too am searching for something when I walk Holgate, a three and a half mile stretch of National Wildlife Refuge beach on the south end of New Jersey’s Long Beach Island. And while I do end up with a tan and some old glass bottles, that’s not really what I’m there for. What I’m actually looking for can be quite a bit harder to find.

The author spent most of the summer playing “hide and seek” trying to find these piping plover chicks.
Photo courtesy of Bill Dalton.

Although estimates are hard to come by, a recent NPR segment claimed there are only about 8,000 Piping Plovers left in the world. As a designated endangered species, these beach nesting birds are given certain legal protections, and the states they are found in receive funding for research and conservation. These studies are where I come in. Over the last three summers, I have worked in two different states (Massachusetts and New Jersey) monitoring and studying Piping Plovers as they nest. These little birds are up against a lot of challenges during their breeding season–from habitat loss to flooding to predation. There is no easy solution for the recovery of this species. The variable nature of beaches from one season to the next means these birds have to be carefully monitored. And each year I seem to encounter something new while I’m searching the beach.

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September 14th, 2022

Species on the Edge Contest Winners Celebrate at Awards Ceremony

by Rachel McGovern

Species on the Edge Winners Show Off their Art During the Awards Ceremony

The annual Species on the Edge Art and Essay Contest invites all fifth-grade students in New Jersey to choose a threatened or endangered animal species that lives in the state to celebrate with an essay and original art piece. We received thousands of submissions in 2022, but only one could be chosen from each county. The winners’ extraordinary artistic talent and thorough research secured their first-place positions.

An awards ceremony for those winners was held on August 23rd. The awards ceremony brought the winners, their loved ones, and teachers out for an afternoon at the Mercer County Wildlife Center. The ceremony took place outdoors near animal enclosures that hold non-releasable wildlife- some of the birds were even calling throughout the ceremony! Winners received their certificates and a gift bag to commemorate their achievements.

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September 13th, 2022

Camera Roll Reveal – Summer Bat Surveys

by Meaghan Lyon

The CWF team chose some of their favorite photos taken during their summer bat surveys to share. Enjoy this visual journey into the field to see what a night of mist net surveys looks like.


The CWF Team, Meaghan Lyon, Leah Wells, and Sherry Tirgrath, deploy the mist net at sunset. The long yellow poles are used to raise the net up to 5 meters high.

Leah extracts a bat from the mist net with the assistance of Meaghan. Sometimes crochet hooks are used to help remove the fine netting from the bat. Thick deerskin gloves are always worn to protect from sharp teeth!

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September 8th, 2022

Local Scouts Learn about Reptile and Amphibian Conservation in Pursuit of Their Environmental Science Merit Badge

By Christine Healy

Wildlife biologist Christine Healy teaches the scouts about CWF’s work to protect the federally threatened bog turtle. Credit: Jim Kasprzak.

The classic justification for conserving wildlife is, of course, to protect diversity for future generations. While that’s not my go-to motivation for pursuing this line of work (I believe in the intrinsic value of nature and feel we are obligated to serve as good planetary stewards), I always feel over the moon when kids demonstrate the passion and interest in getting involved in this critical mission early on. When I received a request from Scouts BSA Troop #276 for assistance in earning their environmental science merit badge, I was eager to comply.

Earning a merit badge is no easy feat. It takes time and hard work, which is why attaining the rank of eagle scout, requiring the acquisition of at least 21 merit badges in addition to demonstrating leadership and service to the community, is such an achievement. For the environmental science badge, scouts must  1) study the history of the environmental movement in the US; 2) understand vocabulary relevant to wildlife, pollution, and green energy; 3) complete an activity relevant to seven of the following categories: ecology, air pollution, water pollution, land pollution, endangered species, pollution prevention, pollination, and invasive species; 4) complete a comparative study between two distinct habitat types; 5) practice drafting an environmental impact statement; and 6) research three career opportunities available in the field. Like I said, no easy feat, but Sebastian, Aidan, and Josh are up to the task.

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