Conserve Wildlife Blog

Posts Tagged ‘Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey’

New Year brings a new amphibian!

Thursday, February 15th, 2018

by Allegra Mitchell, Wildlife Biologist

 

Each New Year promises an exciting year ahead, and conservation science is no exception! As biologists gear up for the field season, CWF’s amphibian programs are particularly noteworthy.

 

Our Amphibian Crossing Project has made major strides in protecting the frogs, toads, and salamanders migrating to breeding areas, and we’re launching a new program this year to better document the newly discovered mid-Atlantic coast leopard frog. You can help CWF biologists collect data and save these fragile creatures.

 

Read below for more details about each program. In the meantime, if you would like to support CWF’s amphibian programs, please visit our YouCaring page here: https://www.youcaring.com/conservewildlifefoundationofnewjersey-1091698 . Your contribution will help us develop training materials and cover research expenses to protect our most vulnerable frogs and salamanders!

 

Amphibian Crossing: A New Twist on an Old Program

The long-standing Amphibian Crossing Project, established in partnership with the New Jersey Endangered and Nongame Species Program (ENSP) in 2002, has been organizing dedicated volunteers each spring to chauffer migrating amphibians across roads as they trek from their upland hibernation sites to their breeding ponds. This program has saved thousands of frogs, toads, and salamanders from vehicle strikes so that local amphibian population sizes can be maintained, which is especially important for species of concern, such as the Jefferson and spotted salamanders.

 

Seeking a more long-term solution to the amphibian road mortality problem at the Amphibian Crossing Project’s top site, ENSP has finally secured funding to construct crossing structure system for amphibians to move safely across Waterloo Road in Byram Township, Sussex County. This system, including under-road tunnels and guide fencing, will help amphibians avoid problems on the road all season long. CWF is preparing its second year of monitoring along Waterloo Road to track the changes in amphibian vehicle-caused mortality before and after this system is installed.

 

Leopard Frogs: A New Program for a New Species

This year marks the launch of CWF’s Kauffeld’s Calling Frogs program. Similar to New Jersey’s Calling Amphibian Monitoring Program (CAMP), volunteers will listen and document frog calls during the breeding season. Kauffeld’s Calling Frogs, however, will focus specifically on the newly discovered mid-Atlantic coast leopard frog. This frog, named after the late avid herpetologist Carl Kauffeld, had been mistaken as a member of the southern leopard frog species for decades. Only recently was it determined to be a separate species with unique habitat requirements.

 

Despite only being an official species since 2014, it is already considered a Species of Greatest Conservation Need in New York, and may be declining from other portions of its range. CWF biologists are eager to document the current extent of this frog’s range within New Jersey in order to monitor the population for possible declines. Knowing where this species is found is the foundation for future research into its habitat needs and threats.

 

Getting the Public Involved

These amphibian programs cannot move forward without the dedication of CWF volunteers. Over 100 volunteers have been involved with the Amphibian Crossing Project, and a dozen more dedicated at least a day a week for months to monitor Waterloo Road amphibian mortality. With the success of CAMP in mind, this first year of Kauffeld’s Calling Frogs promises to be full of new frog population discoveries.

 

Make sure to follow CWF on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for the latest updates on our amphibian programs as the season progresses!

 

And consider supporting our YouCaring amphibian campaign here: https://www.youcaring.com/conservewildlifefoundationofnewjersey-1091698 .

Ghost Fishing

Tuesday, February 6th, 2018

How CWF Is Fighting This Threat to Wildlife in Barnegat Bay

by Emily Heiser, Wildlife Biologist

 

For many coastal communities in New Jersey, like the Barnegat Bay region, winter is a time for rejuvenation and the preparation of our resources for a busy summer season.  It only makes sense that we also start to prepare the coast’s most precious resource – the bay.  

 

Barnegat Bay is approximately 42 miles of brackish marsh and bay bordering Ocean County.  The bay and surrounding marshlands are rich in vital resources that directly and indirectly support over 60,000 jobs and have an economic value of $2 to $4 billion dollars annually (Barnegat Bay Partnership Economic Report 2012).   

 

Pots are often heavily encrusted with organisms and can contain several different species of bycatch. @ John Wenk

Part of that economic value is attributed to the tremendous blue claw crab fishery in the bay.  The New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife estimates that commercial and recreational crabbers harvest around 6 million crabs per year from New Jersey waters.  Barnegat Bay, along with Little Egg Harbor and the Maurice River estuary comprise approximately 65-86% of the recreational harvest that occurs annually.  Recreational crabbers use a variety of methods, but typically rely on baited pots or hand lines for crabbing.  Regulations exist for the use of pots, but their unintentional loss has created an economic and environmental problem for all portions of Barnegat Bay.

 

CWF, along with our partners, has been diligently organizing and executing what is essentially a cleanup of these pots within Barnegat Bay.  In 2015 and 2017, CWF was granted a NOAA Marine Debris Removal Program grant to support the removal of derelict crab pots, also know as ghost pots, from Barnegat Bay.  Over the course of the last three years, we have removed over 1,300 crab pots that have become a death trap for a variety of marine organisms, including diamondback terrapins and otherwise fishable blue crabs.  

 

Students from the Marine Academy of Technology and Environmental Science assist in assessing pots after they’ve been pulled from the bay. @John Wenk

All of the fieldwork on this project occurs during the chilling winter months when only the hardiest of fishermen can be found on the water.   The blue crab season is open in most parts of the state from March 15th – November 30th leaving the coldest months to head out and collect pots that are not supposed to be actively fishing.  Several partners have made this project a possibility – the Marine Academy of Technology and Environmental Science, Stockton University, Monmouth University, ReClam the Bay, American Littoral Society, and through contracts with local fishermen.  

 

Using side-scan sonar units, crews head out in early December to start looking for ghost pots.  Once a sufficient number of pots have been marked, waypoints are transferred over to retrieval crews.  Retrieving the pots sounds easy in theory, but can be time-consuming and success is dependent on many compounding factors such as substrate, weather, and tidal conditions.  Upon relocation of a surveyed pot, the captain must line the boat up to the best of their ability and with as much accuracy as they can, instructs the crew where to throw the grapple line.  Often you hear them call out, “Five feet – left center” and amazingly, the crew throws the grapple and hooks into a pot!  Depending on the substrate and how long the pot has been on the bay floor, it can be very difficult and dangerous to leverage out.  With the use of just the right amount of engine power, sunken pots can be delicately coaxed out of the water and lifted onto the boat by crews.  Once a pot is on the boat, a rapid assessment is done to look for unintended bycatch, pot design, and encrusting organisms.  Some of the various bycatch that has been found in pots include several species of crabs, lobster, flounder, tautog, and sadly, several diamondback terrapins.  One pot contained the remains of more than 17 diamondback terrapins.  

 

Ghost pots are disposed of by NFWF and Covanta’s Fishing for Energy Program where they will be recycled and turned into energy. @John Wenk

After a day of retrievals, the crew heads back to the marina where pots are placed in a disposal bin.  The bins are provided to the project through the successful Fishing for Energy Program run by National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, Covanta Energy, and Schnitzer Steel.  Gear collected from our port is stripped for recyclable materials at Schnitzer Steel and then non-recyclable material is turned into energy at Covanta’s facility in Rahway, New Jersey.  The holistic nature of this project breathes life into the term, “reduce, reuse, recycle”.

 

Barnegat Bay’s ghost pots exemplify an overarching issue of our environment, human-wildlife conflicts.  The Bay’s vital resources drive the economy and addressing these issues make us better stewards of the Bay and its resources.

2018 NJ Bald Eagle Nesting Season

Friday, January 19th, 2018

Incubation!

By: Larissa Smith, CWF, Wildlife Biologist

NJ eagle pair 12/28/17@Randy G. Lubischer

The NJ Eagle season has officially begun. Nest monitors reported  incubation on January 15th at two bald eagle nests in Burlington and Salem Counties.

Now is the best of time of year to see eagles in New Jersey since there are both resident and wintering eagles around the state.

The Cumberland County Winter Eagle Festival

CWF will be at the festival on February 3rd. There are presentations, walks, viewing sites and exhibitors.  It’s a great way to learn about NJ’s eagles and other raptors.

To learn more about the NJ Bald Eagle Project

Planting For Pollinators

Tuesday, November 7th, 2017

A new pollinator habitat is created in Middle Township

By: Larissa Smith; CWF Wildlife Biologist

The Middle Township Environmental Commission in cooperation with the Conserve Wildlife Foundation of NJ worked to create a pollinator habitat at a recreation site in the township which is located in Cape May County. Commission members had been working to obtain permission to plant a pollinator garden on a township site. The Ockie Wisting Recreation Complex was just officially opened in the end of October. This recreation site will have playing fields, a playground and a wooded trail that leads to a lake and fishing pier.

With funding from Atlantic City Electric volunteers with the Middle Township Environmental Commission and Conserve Wildlife Foundation of NJ  planted 138 native perennials . While it doesn’t look like much right now, come next spring and summer there will be plants for bees, butterflies and birds to use for food and habitat.  Not only will this pollinator meadow be great for wildlife, it won’t have to be mowed.  The Environmental Commission will be in charge of  maintenance and plans another work day in the spring to remove any non-native plants and trees in the area. We also plan to use this site as a demonstration garden for others interested in planting for pollinators.


  • Ockie Wisting Pollinator Habitat: List of Plantings – Fall 2017
    • Common Name             Scientific name
      Yellow Giant Hyssop       Agastache nepetoides
      Prairie Onion                   Allium stellatum
      Common Milkweed        Asclepias syriaca
      Butterflyweed                 Asclepias tuberosa
      Whorled Milkweed         Asclepias verticillata
      Boltonia                          Boltonia asteroides
      Maryland Golden Aster  Chrysopsis mariana
      Purple Mistflower           Conoclinium coelestinum
      Pink Coreopsis                Coreopsis rosea
      Purple Coneflower          Echinacea purpurea
      Rattlesnake Master         Eryngium yuccifolium
      Hyssop-leaved Thoroughwort Eupatorium hyssopifolium
      Showy Aster                    Eurybia spectabilis
      Coastal Joe-Pye Weed    Eutrochium dubium
      Ten-petal Sunflower       Helianthus decapetalus
      Meadow Blazingstar       Liatris ligulistylis
      Cardinal Flower               Lobelia cardinalis
      Scarlet Bee balm             Monarda didyma
      Wild Bergamot                Monarda fistulosa
      Spotted Horsemint         Monarda punctata
      Pink Muhly Grass            Muhlenbergia capillaris
      Calico Beardtongue        Penstemon calycosus
      Hairy Beardtongue         Penstemon hirsutus
      Garden Phlox                  Phlox paniculata
      Obedient Plant               Physostegia virginiana
      Lyre-leaf Sage                Salvia lyrata
      Fire Pink                         Silene virginica
      Compass Plant               Silphium laciniatum
      Seaside Goldenrod        Solidago sempervirens
      Aromatic Aster              Symph. oblongifolium
      Heath Aster                   Symphyotrichum ericoides
      New York Aster             Symphyotrichum novi-belgii
      Upland Ironweed          Vernonia glauca
      Culver’s Root                 Veronicastrum virg.
      Golden Alexanders        Zizia aurea


  • CMC Herald: Shovel’s in Hand: Pollinator Garden Planted at Wisting Rec. Complex:
  • CWF Pollinator Conservation Project

Oceans Deeply Blog: Ghost gear busters save marine animals

Thursday, July 27th, 2017

Conserve Wildlife Foundation’s Barnegat Bay ghost crab pots project is featured in this blog story covering a wildlife threat killing millions of marine animals every year. Read the full story here

Photo by: AFP/NOAA via NewsDeeply Oceans Deeply blog

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