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CWF Supports Efforts to Remove Marine Debris from Barnegat Bay

Wednesday, December 8th, 2021

by Meaghan Lyon, Wildlife Biologist

Debris collected during the 2018 cleanup effort.

CWF and Fishing for Energy are excited to announce the addition of a new port in Waretown, New Jersey, where a bin will be placed to collect marine debris removed from Barnegat Bay. Lost, abandoned, and discarded fishing gear threatens important marine wildlife in this USEPA Estuary of National Significance. Barnegat Bay contributes over $4 billion each year to the regional economy, and is home to 560,000 people, and over 1 million people during summer.

Fishing for Energy is an innovative public-private partnership that provides commercial fishermen with a cost-free solution to dispose of derelict fishing gear or gear that is lost, abandoned or discarded. Fishing for Energy is a nationwide partnership between the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Marine Debris Program (NOAA MDP); Covanta, a world-leading sustainable waste and energy solutions company; and Schnitzer Steel Industries, one of the largest metal recycling companies in the United States.


NJ State Endangered Upland Sandpiper End of Season Update

Friday, December 3rd, 2021

by Meaghan Lyon, Wildlife Biologist

An upland sandpiper looks out from it’s perch atop a post. Photo courtesy of USFWS.

In partnership with the USFWS New Jersey Field Office, CWF surveys a small population of upland sandpipers and other grassland birds at the McGuire Airfield in Burlington County, New Jersey. The upland sandpiper is a state endangered species nesting at only a few locations in New Jersey. Upland sandpiper, like many other grassland birds, require vast expanses of grassland habitat for nesting and caring for their chicks. Airports tend to be favorable locations consisting of maintained grassland habitat and limited human disturbance.

A total of 35 upland sandpiper observations were made at the McGuire Airfield in 2021, with an average of roughly 8 observations per survey. The overall number of upland sandpiper observations was comparable to 2018’s total of 37 sightings, but the average sightings per survey was lower than last year’s average, as well as the averages since 2017. Based on these observations, at least two to three pairs of upland sandpipers were nesting at the airfield this season. This estimation of nesting pairs is also lower than previous survey years.

Locating upland sandpiper nests is difficult due to the expansive habitat and the birds’ behavior. Most upland sandpipers nest in areas larger than 100 acres with relatively short grass heights. When nesting, the birds tend to fly in circles and loudly call from above to draw attention away from nests and unfledged chicks. Upland sandpipers are also easily disturbed during surveys, often taking flight long before surveyors get close to the nest or chicks. Additionally, the upland sandpipers’ song and call, a whistling “quip-ip-ip-ip, pulippulip, or whip-whee-ee-you,” can also be heard over a long distance.

Surveys during the breeding season from May to July have been ongoing over the past five years to determine the presence of breeding upland sandpipers in relation to ongoing habitat restoration efforts. Restoration efforts include the eradication of invasive plants and seeding of native warm season grasses. Restoration efforts will help conserve nesting habitat for grassland birds and help further limit human disturbance by minimizing mowing activities.

Rallying the Troops for North America’s Tiniest Turtle

Thursday, July 22nd, 2021

by Christine Healy, Wildlife Biologist

Female bog turtle basking. Photo Credit: Eric Sambol

I recently found myself walking along a set of railroad tracks in Union County, returning to my car after assessing habitat for an upcoming coverboard study. I stepped off the tracks at the sound of an approaching cargo train and prepared to wait it out in silence, when a gentleman appeared from the underside of a bridge a little way up the tracks. He looked like he had been swimming or fishing, though where- I had no idea. Probably in some secret location known only to lifelong residents, keenly aware of what the landscape has to offer, and the many ways in which its changed. When he learned I was a biologist, he proceeded to tell me about all the wildlife that he sees during his various excursions; coyotes, foxes, eagles—but when he got to turtles, his smile faltered, and he lamented the fact that “the Muhlenberg’s have gotten hard to find”. He certainly wasn’t wrong about that.

Despite early recognition as an endangered species in New Jersey, population estimates for Glyptemys muhlenbergii, more commonly known as the bog turtle, are less than half what they were in 1974 when they were first listed. This is certainly not for lack of trying; conservation-minded groups and individuals have been working hard to reverse this trend for decades. The bog turtle may be North America’s smallest turtle, but ensuring that they stick around to retain the distinction is no small feat. It takes an army, which is why CWF is so excited to be joining forces with New Jersey Audubon, New Jersey Conservation Foundation, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, and US Fish and Wildlife Service in a 5-year Regional Conservation Partnership Program. Through this agreement, funded by the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), part of the USDA, we aim to restore crucial wetlands within the Upper Salem River Watershed, an important stronghold of the species.   

CWF’s primary role in this collaboration will be landowner outreach. This is critical work because much of the remaining habitat for bog turtles occurs within the boundaries of private property, so landowner participation is vital to the conservation and management of the species. NRCS and FWS offer several programs to make initial restoration work and land preservation in perpetuity both feasible and economical for landowners, however, they aren’t always widely known options. Using satellite imagery and historic records, CWF helps locate parcels with potentially promising habitat and educates interested landowners on the possibilities. We’ve had much success with this method, particularly in northern New Jersey, and look forward to expanding our reach. With the public on board, we are optimistic about the future of our state reptile. 

2021 Species on the Edge 2.0 Social Media Contest Winners Honored with Virtual Awards Ceremony

Tuesday, July 6th, 2021

by Ethan Gilardi, Wildlife Biologist

On June 24, CWF staff and PSEG Foundation representatives logged onto Zoom to celebrate the winners of the 2021 Species on the Edge 2.0 Social Media contest. Viewers watched as CWF Executive Director David Wheeler and Wildlife Biologist Ethan Gilardi congratulated the winners, with special comments made by CWF Board of Trustees President Steve Neumann and PSEG Environmental Policy Manager Russell Furnari.

Winners had time to speak about their inspirations, aspirations, and love of wildlife while accepting their awards. Whether they plan to continue onto a career in wildlife conservation/education or not, we are incredibly proud of this group of talented high schoolers.

CWF would like to wish them the best of luck on their future endeavors!

Click on the embedded video above to watch the ceremony on the CWF YouTube Channel.


2021 Species on the Edge 2.0 Social Media Contest Winners

What is Species on the Edge 2.0?

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 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.

Missed the Virtual Awards for

CWF’s Species on the Edge Art & Essay Contest

for New Jersey 5th Graders?

View the ceremony on our YouTube channel now!

CWF In The News: Climate Change Among Factors Affecting the Horseshoe Crab and Shorebird Population

Monday, July 5th, 2021

by Ethan Gilardi, Wildlife Biologist

An overturned horseshoe crab in the tide. Photo by Miguel Martinez and Joseph Bierman.

South Jersey Climate News recently took a deep dive into the relationship between horseshoe crabs and shorebirds on the Delaware Bay, and how global climate change has impacted this already delicate bond between species.

CWF biologist Larissa Smith was interviewed for the piece, providing context about what we are doing to help the horseshoe crabs and shorebirds through the Shorebird Stewards Program.

The article does a wonderful job explaining the precarious position NJ’s summer shorebirds find themselves in, detailing their arduous migration from South America to New Jersey to the Arctic and back, as well as explaining how and why our shorebirds and horseshoe crabs find themselves in peril.

Follow the link below to also find a video of U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Employee and volunteer Shorebird Steward Ariel Poirier, who shares some of her experiences with the program and explains what it means to be a Shorebird Steward.

Read more on South Jersey Climate News.