Conserve Wildlife Blog

Archive for the ‘Habitat Restoration’ Category

New Terrapin Garden Grows in Little Egg Harbor

Monday, July 20th, 2020

By Pat Johnson

Two year old terrapin. we found on the road shoulder.

CWF Habitat Manager Ben Wurst is known first and foremost for his work with New Jersey’s resident Osprey population. The job of a habitat manager doesn’t stop with ospreys, however. Ben’s work creating gardens for Diamondback Terrapins to safely nest in was recently the spotlight of an article by Pat Johnson of The Sand Paper.

Check out the excerpt below and read more on TheSandPaper.net!


Like tiny air raid shelters, protective cages sheltering the terrapin nests along Great Bay Boulevard in Little Egg Harbor keep them safe from predators, among them crows and gulls from the air and foxes and raccoons on the ground. The Great Bay Boulevard Terrapin Habitat Project site, commonly called the terrapin garden by its founder, Ben Wurst, habitat project manager for the Conservation Foundation of New Jersey, already has at least 50 nests on its sandy beach next to the salt marsh.

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Is that spinach? No, it’s rare seabeach amaranth!

Thursday, July 9th, 2020

By Michele S. Byers

The Conserve Wildlife Foundation doesn’t just work with organisms of the furry, feathered, and scaly varieties, we also work with NJ’s threatened and endangered plan life! Michele S. Byers recently highlighted CWF’s contribution to surveys of the rare and endangered seabeach amaranth on CentralJersey.com.

Check out the excerpt below and read more on CentralJersey.com!


If you are lucky enough to walk on the beach this summer, you may notice a plant that looks like spinach growing in the bare sand, apart from sea grass and other dune vegetation.

Don’t step on it! It could be the rare seabeach amaranth (Amaranthus pumilus) that is making a comeback in New Jersey.

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Beach Restoration Project Shows Promise for Piping Plovers at Barnegat Light

Saturday, July 4th, 2020
Piping plover chick feeding at the restoration-created pond.  Photo courtesy of Northside Jim.

Last winter the Conserve Wildlife Foundation, in partnership with Rutgers University, the United States Fish & Wildlife Service, and New Jersey Fish & Wildlife’s Endangered and Non-Game Species Program, completed the final stages of a beach restoration project in Barnegat Light State Park.

The project, which broke ground the winter before last, aimed to create more ideal habitat for the endangered piping plover away from human disturbance at Barnegat Light’s more recreationally busy beaches. This was accomplished by removing vegetation, grading dunes to be more suitable for nesting, and creating alternative feeding sites (i.e. ephemeral pools).

Now, with the beach nesting bird season at its peak and the final stages of the project complete, we can start to assess the effectiveness of the work that has been done.

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NEW JERSEY’S WILDLIFE IN THE TIME OF COVID-19 – PART 3

Tuesday, June 2nd, 2020

by David Wheeler, Executive Director

COVID-19 has changed our lives in virtually every possible way over the last few months. Our relationship to wildlife is no different. This three-part series explores the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and shutdown on wildlife in New Jersey and across the world. Read Part 1 and Part 2 and check out our podcast on COVID-19 and wildlife.

Part 3 The Threat of COVID-19

No discussion of COVID-19’s impact on wildlife would be complete with its fated beginning and its long-term threats posed by the global economic shutdown. As a zoonotic disease, COVID-19 likely was triggered by a virus in bats that got into a pangolin in a wet market that was then consumed by people, chance encounters made much more likely by a number of destructive human activities.

Clearing primal forests bring people into contact with remote wildlife for the first time, while also changing wildlife behaviors to increase the likelihood of their interaction with humans. Live animal markets offer ideal opportunities for viruses like COVID-19 to emerge. Illegal trafficking incentivizes further habitat clearing and poaching. Trading in exotic wildlife creates a host of problems both to the species themselves and to their ecosystems. (Though underexplored in the popular Tiger King series, the impacts of the exotic wildlife trade could make a fascinating series in its own right).

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Support rare wildlife in New Jersey and make twice the difference!

Tuesday, May 5th, 2020

by Ben Wurst, Habitat Program Manager

You may have seen that a generous group of supporters has stepped forward to provide $20,000 to match any gift Conserve Wildlife Foundation receives to protect New Jersey’s wildlife this season. Your donation – whether $10 or $1,000 – will be worth double the amount you give.

Please consider making a gift today to keep CWF wildlife biologists in the field, protecting our at-risk wildlife when they need us most.

Despite the hundreds of thousands of people sheltering in place over the past six weeks, life outside goes on. Wildflowers are in bloom, bees are buzzing, and hummingbirds are back. Bald eagle nestlings are getting ready to fledge and ospreys are incubating eggs. Wildlife and the environment are thriving in the absence of human activity outside. With your help, Conserve Wildlife Foundation biologists can monitor and manage imperiled wildlife species to ensure they remain in good health.

For those of us who work outdoors in the environmental field, our office is the great outdoors – where social distancing is the norm. Over the past six weeks, I feel privileged to work for an organization with donors who support our wildlife conservation and habitat enhancement projects. While also homeschooling my two kids and supporting my wife working on the front lines in healthcare, I am leading several projects that directly benefit wildlife in this critical period.

Your support will help ensure that we can continue to fulfill our mission to protect New Jersey’s rare wildlife.

Spring marks the beginning of the busy season, where more time is spent in the field monitoring and managing wildlife than behind a computer at a desk writing reports and responding to emails. For me, it is often multifaceted and changes widely from day to day. One day I may be planting dunegrass in the rain. The next day I’m climbing a tower to survey a falcon nest.

Over the past several weeks, I’ve worked on some exciting projects, even getting help from my kids for some.

I’ve successfully repaired several osprey nest platforms which had fallen into disrepair. Had I not been able to repair these platforms, these birds would not have had a home to raise a family.

I’ve monitored several peregrine falcon nests to identify the adults and confirm that they are incubating eggs. Without our role, we would not know if there has been a turnover in the nesting pair and when their eggs might hatch.

And I have led the enhancement of an innovative half-acre terrapin habitat enhancement site in Little Egg Harbor. A big component of the success of this “turtle garden” is making sure we keep the sand in place – and to help with that, I’ve planted 600+ native plants.

As many of our members, fans, and donors know, a big focus of my work with Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey has been aiding injured wildlife. My father was a veterinarian who also cared for wildlife, especially birds of prey, in his spare time, so his philanthropic efforts are in my blood.

A couple weeks ago I accepted a challenge to climb a large tree to re-nest a pair of great horned owl nestlings whose nest was destroyed in a windstorm. After a couple of hours of tree climbing and nest building, the two fuzzy owls were placed in their new nest. Although I was at first concerned that the adults might not return, I was delighted to hear that they were seen in the nest tree a couple days later.

Just the other day, I joined my New Jersey Fish & Wildlife colleague, Kathy Clark, on Barnegat Bay to save an entangled adult osprey that had been dangling from its nest platform for hours before it managed to get free.

Fortunately, I was able to safely trap the bird and remove the ball of monofilament wrapped around her wing. Her injuries were treated, and she was set free.

Like my fellow CWF colleagues, I’m determined to carry out our mission to preserve at-risk wildlife in New Jersey this season. That’s why, even during this pandemic, I must ask for your financial support.

Please donate now, when your gift will be matched dollar for dollar, to support our essential work, if you can. Thank you to everyone for helping me to protect our wildlife in whatever way you can.

Be safe, stay healthy, and enjoy the outdoors where possible.