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Posts Tagged ‘Endangered and Nongame Species Program’

New Jersey’s Species Status Review Process

Wednesday, January 27th, 2016
HOW A SPECIES BECOMES LISTED AS “ENDANGERED” IN NEW JERSEY

By Michael Davenport, GIS Program Manager

How does the state’s Endangered and Nongame Species Program (ENSP) determine whether a species is imperiled or secure within the state? The process for determining a species’ state status is known as the “Delphi” method of species status review and it is a process which Conserve Wildlife Foundation of NJ (CWF) staff assists the state with.

Monarch adult edit

In 2015, the NJ Endangered & Nongame Advisory Committee approved that the monarch butterfly be added to the state’s list of Special Concern species. Photo courtesy of Thomas Gorman.

The ENSP endeavors to complete a review of all species currently included on the Endangered and Nongame lists every 5-10 years. In addition, other species groups not currently included on those lists may be reviewed for status as well. At any given time, there may be several status reviews being conducted.

The first step taken in conducting a status review is to identify experts and invite them to participate as a member of a review panel. Members of the panel may be comprised of experts within academia, government agencies, non-profits, or private consultants as well as others.

Once a sufficient number of experts have agreed to participate, staff within the ENSP and CWF will compile background material for the species being reviewed. This may include reports, survey data, and data contained within the state’s Biotics database which is the electronic warehouse for all imperiled species data in New Jersey. This background data, as well as a list of the species being reviewed, and definitions of the status options, are then sent to the panelists for Round 1 of the review.

Delphi reviews are comprised of multiple “Rounds”. For each round, each panelist will choose a status for each species based upon that panelist’s expertise as well as the background material. The panelist then sends their selections and justification regarding each species to ENSP or CWF staff who compile the results submitted by all panelists. The review is completed anonymously, so the panelists do not know the identities of the other participants.

In 2016, the NJ Endangered & Nongame Advisory Committee approved that the eastern hognose snake be added to the state's list of Special Concern species. © Thomas Gorman

In 2016, the NJ Endangered & Nongame Advisory Committee approved that the eastern hognose snake be added to the state’s list of Special Concern species. © Thomas Gorman

For each species, the panel must reach consensus of at least 85% of the respondents for a species’ status to be determined. If consensus is not reached during the first round, then that species will move on to be reviewed in Round 2. For each new round, the panelists’ status choices during the prior round, as well as all the comments made, are available to the panel, so that reviewers can consider the weight of evidence and other reviewers’ opinions on status as they prepare to vote again. This continues until consensus is reached for all species under review.

Once consensus is reached for all species or, if after four rounds have passed and consensus could not be reached for some species, ENSP or CWF staff will take the compiled Delphi results to the Endangered and Nongame Species Advisory Committee (ENSAC). ENSAC reviews the results and makes the final recommendations on status for those species for which consensus was not reached by the expert panel. Based upon ENSAC’s recommendations, any changes to the Endangered and Nongame lists must go through a formal rule-making process before those changes can be made official.

The Delphi review process is a science-based, anonymous review by those with the most expertise on the species within New Jersey. A great deal of thought and time go into preparing for and carrying out a review and CWF has played a major role in assisting with the process. From the blue whale to fairy shrimp, each species will ultimately receive a state status, leading the way for conservation action.


The following are state conservation status categories; the last, “Not Applicable”, is used only during the status review and is not a legal status category.

  • Endangered
    Applies to species whose prospects for survival within the state are in immediate danger due to one or several factors, such as loss or degradation of habitat, overexploitation, predation, competition, disease or environmental pollution, etc. An Endangered species likely requires immediate action to avoid extinction within New Jersey.
  • Threatened
    Applies to species that may become Endangered if conditions surrounding it begin to or continue to deteriorate. Thus, a Threatened species is one that is already vulnerable as a result of small population size, restricted range, narrow habitat affinities, significant population decline, etc.
  • Special Concern
    Applies to species that warrant special attention because of inherent vulnerability to environmental deterioration or habitat modification that would result in their becoming Threatened. This category would also be applied to species that meet the forgoing criteria and for which there is little understanding of their current population status in the state.
  • Secure/Stable
    Applies to species that appear to be secure in New Jersey and not in danger of falling into any of the preceding three categories in the near future.
  • Undetermined/Unknown
    Applies to a species that cannot be assigned a status of endangered, threatened, special concern or secure/stable because not enough information exists on which to base a judgment.
  • Not Applicable
    Applies to species that do not occur in New Jersey, including occasional non-breeding strays and transient breeders that fail to persist.

CWF’s Online Field Guide Expands

Monday, January 25th, 2016
23 WILDLIFE SPECIES ADDED TO CWF’S ONLINE FIELD GUIDE

By Michael Davenport, GIS Program Manager

Conserve Wildlife Foundation of NJ’s online field guide, a one-of-a-kind free reference focused on New Jersey’s wildlife, has recently expanded to include 23 additional species. As a result of recent status reviews by the state’s Endangered and Nongame Species Program for reptiles, amphibians, and butterflies, additional species within the state will be receiving an imperiled status of either Endangered, Threatened, or Special Concern. Six reptile species are being added as well as four amphibians and thirteen butterfly species.

Baltimore_Checkerspot_1

The Baltimore checkerspot, a species recently added to CWF’s on-line field guide. Photo courtesy of Eric C. Reuter.

Later this week, two additional blog entries will be posted regarding the status review process and the new listings. The posts will be: “Species Status Review process” (WEDNESDAY); and “How you can help fill-in data gaps” (FRIDAY).

The list of “new” species is below and each species name links to its field guide entry on our website:

REPTILES

AMPHIBIANS

BUTTERFLIES

New Jersey’s Bald Eagle Population Continues to Soar

Thursday, January 14th, 2016
Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey releases results of 2015 State Bald Eagle Report

by Lindsay McNamara, Communications Manager

A bald eagle flies over the Holgate Unit of Edwin B. Forsythe NWR on Long Beach Island. © Northside Jim

A bald eagle flies over the Holgate Unit of Edwin B. Forsythe NWR on Long Beach Island. © Northside Jim

Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey today released the 2015 Bald Eagle Report, highlighting the number of nesting pairs, active nests and nest productivity for the raptors throughout New Jersey with data collected by New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection Division of Fish and Wildlife biologists, CWF biologists and committed volunteers.

 

“With 161 pairs of bald eagles this past year — up from just a single nest in the early 1980’s — the dramatic ongoing recovery of bald eagles across the northeast continues to inspire so many of us,” said David Wheeler, Conserve Wildlife Foundation Executive Director. “The thrill of seeing a bald eagle fly across the sky is unparalleled. This report captures how these eagles are continuing their All-American return.”

 

The report notes that thirteen new eagle pairs were found this season, nine in the south, two in Central Jersey and two in Northern New Jersey.

 

With a wingspan of six to seven feet, bald eagles are larger than most birds. The bald eagle is restricted to North America and is usually found within close proximity to open water. In New Jersey, bald eagles reside year-round, usually remaining in the area surrounding their nest. They begin courtship and nest building in late December and January, adding to their existing nest. Over time, some nests can reach 10 feet across and weigh up to 2,000 pounds.

 

Conserve Wildlife Foundation partners with Duke Farms on a webcam that provides a live look at a bald eagle nest in Hillsborough, New Jersey. This spring, the EagleCam will allow viewers an up close and personal view into the lives of a pair of bald eagles as they breed, incubate, and raise young. Between the general public and classrooms up and down the east coast, the EagleCam has many fans – over 10 million viewers and growing!

 

The federal government removed the bald eagle from its list of Endangered Species in August of 2007, but the bald eagle’s official New Jersey status remains state-endangered for the breeding season and state-threatened for the non-breeding season.

 

“One of our encouraging findings is that the population of wintering bald eagles has grown along with the nesting population over the past decade,” said Conserve Wildlife Foundation eagle biologist Larissa Smith. “This growth reflects the increasing populations in New Jersey and across the northeast, as recovery efforts continue to pay off for eagles. In addition to our fellow scientists in New Jersey and nearby states, I’d like to thank the wonderful eagle project volunteers who make keeping track of all these nests possible.”

 

The Division of Fish and Wildlife’s Endangered and Nongame Species Program (ENSP) bald eagle recovery efforts, implemented in the early 1980’s, have resulted in a steady recovery of New Jersey’s bald eagle population. ENSP biologists, Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey staff, and volunteer observers continue to locate and monitor bald eagle nests and territories each year to analyze the state of the population. The state’s eagle population would not be thriving without the efforts of the dedicated eagle volunteers who observe nests, report sightings, and help protect critical habitat.

 

Highlights of the 2015 New Jersey Bald Eagle Project Report are found below or view the complete report online.

 

2015 Report Highlights

  • The statewide population increased to 161 territorial pairs in 2015, up from 156 last year.
  • Thirteen new eagle pairs were found this season, nine in the south, two in central and two in northern New Jersey.
  • One hundred-fifty pairs were known active (meaning they laid eggs), up from 146 last year.
  • One hundred twenty-two nests (81%) were known to be successful in producing 199 young, for a productivity rate of 1.33 young per known-outcome active nest, which is above the required range of 0.9-1.1 young per nest for population maintenance.
  • One chick, orphaned from a Maryland nest, was fostered into a Cumberland County nest and fledged, bringing the total fledged to 200.
  • Twenty-eight (19%) nests failed to fledge young.
  • The Delaware Bay region remained the state’s eagle stronghold, with 40% of all nests located in Cumberland and Salem counties.

 

Learn More:

 

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

New Jersey’s Field Guide to Freshwater Mussels is Here!

Wednesday, December 2nd, 2015
CONSERVE WILDLIFE FOUNDATION OF NEW JERSEY RELEASE A NEW STORY MAP: “FRESHWATER MUSSELS OF NEW JERSEY

By Michael Davenport, GIS Program Manager

Freshwater mussels are distant relatives of marine mussels with a life cycle which includes a larval stage where they hitch a ride on fish as a parasite. There are a dozen species native to New Jersey and some species are known to live for over 100 years. This is an often overlooked group of species which deserves greater attention since many species are imperiled and because they are indicator species of water quality.

Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey (CWF) has partnered with the NJ Endangered and Nongame Species Program to create and release our latest Story Map, “Freshwater Mussels of New Jersey.”

Musselscreenshot

This Story Map is a web-based field guide to New Jersey’s freshwater mussel species. The field guide explores the diversity of this group of species, how to identify them, their life history, threats and conservation measures, as well as providing range maps for each species. This is the only freshwater mussel field guide specific to the state of New Jersey and developed by state biologists.

Photos and interactive range maps are available for all 12 of New Jersey’s native species as well as several non-native species found within the state. Several short videos are also included which demonstrate different methods of surveying for freshwater mussels.

Funding for the creation of this Story Map was provided in part through a New Jersey Division of Fish & Wildlife grant.

Piping Plover Population Rebounds from Historic Low in New Jersey

Thursday, November 19th, 2015
Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey releases 2015 report

by Todd Pover, Beach Nesting Bird Project Manager

Photo by Northside Jim

Photo by Northside Jim

Conserve Wildlife Foundation today released the 2015 Piping Plover Breeding Report, highlighting the number of nesting pairs, pair productivity, and coast-wide distribution for this endangered shorebird, from data collected by New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife (NJDFW) biologists, CWF biologists, and other partners.

 

“The rebound in New Jersey’s piping plover breeding population and a second consecutive year of robust chick productivity was a much needed outcome,” said Conserve Wildlife Foundation Beach Nesting Bird Project Manager Todd Pover. “We need to continue our intensive management for a number of years to sustain any recovery, but we were very pleased to have finally broken the recent cycle of low nesting success and the record low number of nesting pairs in 2014.”

 

The piping plover – a small sand-colored shorebird that nests in New Jersey as part of its Atlantic Coast range from North Carolina up to Eastern Canada – face a number of threats, including intensive human recreational activity on beaches where they nest, high density of predators, and a shortage of highly suitable habitat due to development and extreme habitat alteration.

 

Federally listed as a threatened species in 1986, piping plovers have since recovered in some areas of the breeding range. Yet piping plovers continue to struggle in New Jersey, where they are listed by the state as endangered.

 

“As a species dependent on natural beach habitat, piping plovers face a particularly daunting challenge along New Jersey’s heavily developed and dynamic coast,” said Conserve Wildlife Foundation Executive Director David Wheeler. “Our dedicated scientists, partners, and volunteers are working tirelessly to ensure piping plovers remain a beloved and healthy presence along the Jersey Shore and beyond.”

 

CWF, in close coordination with NJDFW’s Endangered and Nongame Species Program, oversees piping plover conservation throughout New Jersey. Staff and volunteers help erect fence and signage to protect nesting sites, monitor breeding pairs frequently throughout the entire nesting season from March to August, and work with public and municipalities to educate them on ways to minimize impacts. Although conservation efforts on the breeding ground remain the primary focus, in recent years, CWF has also begun to work with partners all along the flyway, in particular on the winter grounds in the Bahamas, to better protect the at-risk species during its entire life-cycle.

 

2015 Report Highlights:

 

  • The population of breeding piping plovers increased 17% to 108 pairs in 2015, as compared to 2014. Despite the increase, the population still remains below the long-term average (118 pairs) since federal listing in 1986 and well below the peak.
  • The statewide fledgling rate, which includes data collected by partners at 19 active nesting sites throughout the state, was 1.29 fledglings per pair, down slightly from 2014 (1.36 fledglings/pair), but still one of the highest statewide levels since federal listing. Furthermore, both years were above the 1.25 fledgling rate believed necessary to maintain the range-wide Atlantic Coast population of piping plovers.
  • Statewide pair-nest success, the percentage of pairs that successfully hatch at least one nest, was high at 79%, well above the average since federal listing. Although population and productivity are ultimately the most important measures of recovery success, hatch success is an important metric to demonstrate the effectiveness of on-the-ground management.
  • Northern Monmouth County, as a region, continued to account for the largest percentage of pairs in the state (55 pairs or 51%), with Gateway National Recreation Area – Sandy Hook Unit accounting for most of those pairs.
  • The region comprised of North Brigantine Natural Area and the Holgate and Little Beach Units of the Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge accounted for the other significant concentration of breeding pairs in the state (43 pairs or 40% of the statewide total).
  • Holgate had the largest jump in abundance for any individual site, doubling its breeding pairs to 24 in 2015 (up from 12 in 2014). This increase was the result of highly suitable overwash habitat created at the site by Hurricane Sandy and the high breeding success that helped spur.
  • Cape May County, the southernmost region of the state, consisting of Ocean City to Cape May Point, continued its long-term downward trend, accounting for just 8 pairs in 2015, compared to 11 pairs in 2014 and 43 pairs in 2004 at its peak.

 

Learn More:

 

Todd Pover is the Beach Nesting Bird Project Manager for Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey.