Conserve Wildlife Blog

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Going nuts for Woodrats!

Wednesday, November 3rd, 2010
Help collect acorns for the endangered Allengany Woodrat

by Maria Grace, Education and Outreach Manager

Allegheny woodrats are sometimes referred to as “packrats” because of their hoarding behavior. © Mick Valent

The Allegheny woodrat is a state endangered species. It was added to the endangered species list in 1991. There is one remaining population of these small mammals left in the state and they need our help this winter.

This season we are going to help the woodrat by providing it with food. We will distribute acorns, beech nuts, hickory nuts or any other nuts from native New Jersey trees in the area the woodrats live. By providing them with food we will help them survive the winter.

Collecting nuts while learning about the habits and habitat needs of the Allegheny woodrat is a great service learning project! Have your students collect native tree nuts throughout the community and help to protect one of NJ’s rarest wildlife residents.

We are collecting nuts now through November 24th to distribute to the woodrat’s location throughout the winter. If you would like to contribute to the woodrat’s winter food pantry, please drop off nuts from native New Jersey trees to  the Endangered and Nongame Species Program’s office in Clinton, New Jersey.

  • Please contact Maria Grace at Conserve Wildlife Foundation at (609) 984-0621 for specific instructions.
  • Nuts will be collected until November 24th.

Mythbusting The Misunderstood Bat

Tuesday, October 19th, 2010

By Maria Grace, Education & Outreach Manager

Bats are incredibly beneficial to humans. © Justin Boyles

Bats get a bad rap – they are blind bloodsuckers that get caught in our hair. But these are all myths and this post is going to bust them!

There are no bloodsucking bats in the U.S. Yes, there are vampire bats in the world (3 species live in the tropics from Mexico to Brazil, Chile, and Argentina) and while they do rely on blood for their sustenance, they don’t view people as a food source.  They usually pierce the skin of livestock such as cows, goats or chickens, and gently lap the blood from the wound (similar to how a dog licks water from a bowl).

Bats are not blind. Most species of bats have very good eyesight but they usually depend on their sense of echolocation to navigate through the world.  They emit high frequency sounds into their environment and these sounds bounce off objects and back to the bat.  The bat is then able to interpret the sounds and create a picture of what their environment looks like.

Bats rarely get caught in human hair. Bats, using their sense of echolocation, can detect objects as fine as a single human hair in total darkness.  They are not aggressive animals but they can fly too close to people while feeding on insects or when flying low over water to take a drink.

Beneficial bats eat bugs. Bats are incredible animals and do a lot for us.  All nine species of bats found in New Jersey eat insects, consuming one-third of their weight in bugs each night.  Bats play essential roles in keeping populations of night-flying insects in balance. Just one bat can catch hundreds of insects in an hour, and large colonies catch tons of insects nightly, including beetles and moths that cost American farmers and foresters billions of dollars annually, not to mention mosquitoes in our backyards.

Bats play a key role in pollination. In other areas of the world, bats are the primary pollinators for many desert plants like the saguaro and organ pipe cactus as well as many species of agave.   Bats also help in the pollination of fruits and veggies like bananas, avocados, coconuts, vanilla, dates, and mangoes.

Bats also help in seed dispersal.  In fact, seeds dropped by bats can account for up to 95 percent of forest regrowth on cleared land.  Bats spread the seeds of almonds, cashews, and chocolate.  Did you read that?  CHOCOLATE!  Bats help us to have more cacao trees, which produces the yummy main ingredient of our favorite Halloween treats!

So instead of screaming and freaking out if and when you see a bat, why don’t you stop and appreciate it and maybe say a little “thank you” for all the wonderful benefits they provide to us.  Halloween wouldn’t be the same without bats and the delicious m&m’s, snickers, and Almond joys are made possible because of the wonderful, now better understood, bats of the world.

Infuse Wildness in the Classroom

Sunday, October 10th, 2010
Enter the 2011 Species on the Edge Art & Essay Contest!

by Maria Grace, Education & Outreach Manager

Open to all 5th graders throughout New Jersey, the very popular Species on the Edge Art & Essay Contest encourages students to think about rare wildlife in New Jersey, not just on television.

To enter the contest, students research a species of wildlife that is rare or endangered in New Jersey.  They write an essay detailing the needs of the species and the challenges to its future existence. They then create artwork – a painting or collage – depicting their chosen animal in its natural habitat.

Over the past 8 years, almost 20,000 students have entered the contest and have expanded their knowledge about New Jersey’s imperiled wildlife.  Hundreds of teachers throughout the state have participated in the contest and have praised its interdisciplinary approach and its ability to create a deep appreciation for nature:

“My students love the Species on the Edge Contest because they enjoy learning about the many endangered animals in New Jersey, which fits into our curriculum.  The contest helps raise their awareness about how humans interact with the natural world. My students take ownership of one species, and through artwork and research, they express their concerns about the environment and how to protect it.”

–Mary Keyser, Maple Road School, West Milford, NJ

A winner is chosen from each county in NJ, 21 winners in all. The winning artwork and essays become part of a statewide traveling exhibit, helping to raise awareness for New Jersey’s endangered wildlife. Finally, the winning entries are published in a beautiful, colorful calendar to help inspire people to conserve wildlife throughout the year!

2011 Species on the Edge Calendar

The contest is free and it’s easy to participate! Download your contest kit today from our website.  The kit contains everything you need to participate – lesson plans, entry forms, and a list of approved resources for research.

The 2011 Species on the Edge Calendar is now available in our store for only $8.  It makes a great gift for friends, family, and co-workers.  Get your copy today!

Immersed in Barnegat Bay

Tuesday, August 24th, 2010
Kids spend a week exploring the natural wonders of Barnegat Bay.

By Maria Grace, Education & Outreach Manager

Earlier this month, 14 kids from across the state, got to spend the week in Barnegat Bay.  They were the first participants in the Sedge Island Summer Field Experience, a week long immersion that took place at the Sedge Island Natural Resource Education Center, a facility run by the NJ Division of Fish & Wildlife within the Sedge Island Marine Conservation Zone.

Participants from the first Sedge Island Summer Field Experience.

This outstanding group of kids spent time clamming, kayaking, bird watching, fishing, fish tagging and even saw diamondback terrapins hatching.  Each day a different activity was organized by our friends and partners in the conservation community and each night, the group reflected on their activities by writing in journals provided especially for this experience.  These kids were privileged to learn from the experts – biologists and environmental specialists who work on various topics like shellfish restoration, bird and terrapin conservation, to oceanography.

On the last day of the experience, the kids welcomed their families to the island and the kids taught their parents about Barnegat Bay and its natural wonders.  All involved considered this pilot program to be a great success that will be duplicated in future years.  If you are interested in applying to attend future Sedge Island Summer Field Experiences, please email