Conserve Wildlife Blog

Posts Tagged ‘cape may’

Fight for the Flight: Monarch Butterfly Status Under Review

Thursday, January 22nd, 2015

By: Julianne Maksym, Intern 

A monarch butterfly emerges from a chrysalis in the wild. (Courtesy: US Fish & Wildlife Service)

As the summer leaves turn brown and children head back to school, flutters of black and orange wings flitter through the skies over the beaches in Cape May. As part of its yearly migration from Canada to Mexico, the monarch butterfly passes through New Jersey in search of a warmer climate for the blistery cold winter months. Multiple generations make the trek, leaving in the fall and returning in late spring.


During the summer months, the monarch can be found throughout the United States where milkweed, the species’ host plant, is plentiful. Milkweed provides nutrients to hungry caterpillars as well as space for mature females to lay their eggs. Although an adult monarch may lay up to 500 eggs in its lifetime, it has now been discovered fewer and fewer butterflies make the migration each year.


Losses of habitat and milkweed plants, the insect’s sole food source, are having tremendously devastating effects. According to a petition from butterfly advocates, the North American population has declined by more than 90 percent based on comparisons of the most recent population size estimates to the 20-year average. Numbers of monarch butterflies east of the Rockies dropped to the lowest record ever, signifying a decline of more than 90% since 1995. Monarch numbers west of the Rockies showed a similar decline of more than 50% since 1997. These figures suggest a significant predicament as the North American population represents the vast majority of all monarchs in the world. Without it, the entire species is vulnerable to extinction.


On December 29th, 2014, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced it would be conducting a status review of the monarch butterfly under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The Service has reason to believe a listing may be necessary due to considerable evidence from a petition submitted by the Center for Biological Diversity, the Center for Food Safety, the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation and Dr. Lincoln Brower. The petition stated that habitat destruction and loss of milkweed due to pesticide use are two of the most contributing factors to the declining monarch population. Other factors include disease and predation, overutilization for commercial purposes, and lack of existing conservation procedures.


To begin the status review, the Service is requesting scientific and commercial data and other information through a 60-day public information period. The Service is specifically seeking information regarding the following:

  • Subspecies’ biology, range and population trends, habitat requirements, genetics and taxonomy
  • Historical and current range, including distribution patterns
  • Historical and current population levels and current and projected trends;
  • Life history or behavior of the monarch butterfly that has not yet been documented
  • Thermo-tolerance range and microclimate requirements of the monarch butterfly
  • Past and ongoing conservation measures for the subspecies, its habitat or both
  • Factors that are the basis for making a listing determination under section 4(a) of the ESA


Starting on December 31, information can be submitted via by entering docket number FWS-R3-ES-2014-0056 in the search box and clicking on “Comment Now!” The information collection period will be open until March 2, 2015.


Until a decision has been made, take a moment to appreciate the beauty that is the monarch butterfly. Consider planting a few milkweed plants in your garden or speaking out against the overuse of pesticides. As much as the monarch butterfly’s migration is a group effort, the conservation of these beautiful creatures is even more so.


Julianne Maksym is a graduate wildlife intern for Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey.

Atlantic City Electric Holds Avian Protection Educational Event

Friday, November 21st, 2014

Details Measures Taken to Help Protect Wildlife and Improve Reliability

By: Lindsay McNamara, Communications Coordinator

Photo Credit: Atlantic City Electric. Pictured left to right are Ben Wurst, wildlife biologist, Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey; Ed Kaminski, senior supervising engineer, ACE; Cristina Frank, lead environmental scientist, ACE; and Mike Garrity, senior supervising scientist, ACE.

Photo Credit: Atlantic City Electric. Pictured left to right are Ben Wurst, wildlife biologist, Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey; Ed Kaminski, senior supervising engineer, ACE; Cristina Frank, lead environmental scientist, ACE; and Mike Garrity, senior supervising scientist, ACE.

Atlantic City Electric (ACE), in collaboration with the Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey, recently held an Avian Protection Educational Event to promote a better understanding of how Atlantic City Electric helps protect birds and other animals, while also helping improve electric service reliability for customers.

ACE environmental scientists Cristina Frank and Mike Garrity detailed the various types of migratory and breeding birds that may perch or nest on power lines, including ospreys, which frequently nest on utility poles. They discussed various types of devices placed on wires and other infrastructure designed to minimize the risk of birds and other wildlife from coming in contact with electric wires and equipment.

“Hundreds of thousands of birds migrate through Cape May County each year,” said Cristina Frank, lead environmental scientist, Atlantic City Electric and head of the company’s Avian Protection Program. “We conduct field studies to determine areas throughout Cape May County and our entire service territory to determine which areas are of the greatest risk to birds and other wildlife.”

ACE senior supervising engineer Ed Kaminski explained how avian protection is an integral part of the design phase before constructing any new infrastructure projects or upgrading existing infrastructure.

“We are in constant communication with our environmental team, and, when necessary, we’ll enhance our infrastructure to minimize the risk to birds while helping reduce the number of related power outages to create a more reliable electric system for customers,” Kaminski said.

Atlantic City Electric recently completed infrastructure enhancements in Cape May, Ocean City and Strathmere, N.J., that addressed risks to avian wildlife. As a result, the company has not seen any bird-related incidents since in these areas.

Also as part of the event, Ben Wurst, a wildlife biologist with the Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey, discussed the foundation’s role in helping manage and protect ospreys through man-made nesting platforms that provide a safer nesting alternative than utility poles. ACE partners with Conserve Wildlife to identify and address risks to birds throughout its service territory.

Birds routinely use power line poles and towers as perches to establish territorial boundaries, nest, hunt, rest, find shade and feed. Utility poles often provide perching or nesting opportunities in areas where few natural perches or nest sites can be found. If the configuration and location of utility structures are in areas where birds are attracted by favorable habitat or are in a migratory path, the chance of electrocution and/or collisions increase.

Learn more:

Lindsay McNamara is the Communications Coordinator for Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey.

Volunteers needed!

Wednesday, October 3rd, 2012

Since 2009, we’ve been active in helping to restore wildlife habitat to a former golf course in lower Cape May County. In place of the large lodge on the site we are building a “Backyard Habitat Demonstration Site.” It will feature several different habitat treatments that homeowners can use to provide habitat for wildlife in their own backyards. It includes the creation of scrub-shrub habitat, forested habitat, nectar producing plants, wildflower meadows, a pond, and a brush pile.

The site was designed by landscape designer Jeanne Marcucci with greenjean gardens LLC. Last week the site was prepped by NJ Fish & Wildlife. After the site was plowed we laid out paths that run throughout the site. Next compost will be spread to some areas (wildflower beds) and plants will be delivered on October 9th. The team at Planet Earth Landscaping will be assisting us the the compost spreading and planting.

Volunteers are needed to help plant the many native plants that were ordered on October 10-11th from 10-2pm each day. For more information or to volunteer contact Ben Wurst.

The site where 2,700 native trees, shrubs, wildflowers, and grasses will be planted for wildlife near Villas, NJ.


Friday, August 10th, 2012


By Todd Pover, Beach Nesting Bird Project Manager

Piping Plover with Injured Wing at Cape May Point State Park

There is no way to sugar coat it – this has not been a stellar year for piping plovers in New Jersey. Due to a number of ill-timed severe storms, high tides, and heat waves, chick productivity was low this year. There was some comfort in knowing that these events were largely out of our control, so at least it wasn’t something we could have prevented. At the same time, there is a nagging feeling that years such as this are the new “normal” as we enter an era of climate change where more extreme weather is predicted.

While there were a number of tough moments throughout the season, one incident was especially frustrating for the staff. Several days after a piping plover chick reached its fledge (flying) date at Cape May Point State Park, where it had battled marauding crows for over a month, CWFNJ field technician Sarah Scheffer discovered the fledgling dragging its wing. This is never a good sign – usually it indicates a broken wing. Fortunately, because we monitor the site daily, we caught the problem immediately. (more…)

Photo from the field

Tuesday, September 27th, 2011
Planting trees for wildlife and people!

by Ben Wurst, Habitat Program Manager

Volunteers helped plant over 200 tree seedlings last week at a former golf course in Cape May, NJ. © Ben Wurst

For the past 3 years Conserve Wildlife Foundation of NJ has been working to restore habitat at an old golf course in lower Cape May County. We have concentrated on reforesting many of the old fairways at the site, now known as Cape Island Wildlife Management Area. This past week we planted around 300 native tree seedlings from Pinelands Nursery there. All of the species planted will benefit wildlife by providing food and cover. It will increase biodiversity and reduce fragmentation of forested habitat. We planted white and scarlet oak, pitch pine, gray birch, bayberry, serviceberry, persimmon, beach plum, and tulip poplar. Seedlings are protected by tree tubes (help reduce light browse by deer and rabbits) and weed mats (reduce competition from cool season grasses) to help increase survival rates.

Trees also benefit you and I. They capture carbon dioxide and release oxygen. Planting trees is one of the most effective and least expensive ways to reduce carbon in the atmosphere. They can reduce heating and cooling costs if planted around your home. They can also help increase your home’s property value. Fall is the best time to plant trees. When planting a tree make sure to dig the hole twice as deep and twice as wide as the root ball. Plant to a depth where the collar of the truck is not below ground level. Amend the soil if necessary and only put up to 2″ of mulch against the trunk. Here are my picks for best native trees to plant for wildlife (and you) in your yard:

Shade trees: Sweet gum (awesome fall foliage!), tulip poplar (great pyramidal shape when mature, great shade tree), oak spp. (produce acorns and good shade trees, scarlet oaks have stunning fall foliage). Plant these on the south side of your house to reduce cooling costs in summer.

Conifers: red cedar (good wind break, dense cover for wildlife, provide berries for songbirds), american holly (beautiful red berries in winter, good cover for wildlife from heavy snow). Plant these along the NW side of your house to act as a windbreak from cold winter winds.

Watch a video clip about our work at Ponderlodge that was featured on NJTV on September 22.