Conserve Wildlife Blog

Posts Tagged ‘NJ’

Volunteers help clean up critical habitat along Absecon Bay

Friday, November 3rd, 2017
Preservation of declining habitat is key to survival of high marsh wildlife

by Ben Wurst, Habitat Program Manager

Litter, debris and trash dumped at NJDOT Mitigation site on Absecon Bay.

As the sea rises, high areas on the coastal salt marsh will decline or disappear. These areas are higher in elevation and usually consist of more sandy soil. The sandy soil attracts nesting female diamondback terrapins, like many roadsides throughout New Jersey. As we harden shorelines to hold back floodwaters, terrapins will face more dangerous treks to find suitable nesting habitat, unless these high marsh areas are enhanced and elevations raised. For the past five years we have been surveying Route 30 (Whitehorse Pike) during summer months for the occurance of terrapins on the highway. Adult female terrapins enter the roadway while seeking these sandy areas above the high tide line. Most, if not all, do not survive crossing Route 30. (more…)

NJ DEP ENDANGERED AND NONGAME SPECIES ZOOLOGIST KRIS SCHANTZ HONORED FOR INSPIRATION

Thursday, October 26th, 2017

Kris Schantz, 2017 Inspiration Award Honoree

As a Principal Zoologist for the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection’s Endangered and Nongame Species Program, 2017 Women & Wildlife Inspiration Award Honoree Kris Schantz works with one of New Jersey’s most underappreciated and persecuted species: the timber rattlesnake. She earned her Masters of Science degree from Rutgers University based on a study of the rattlesnake and its habitat in northern New Jersey, and her passion in both learning and developing greater understanding of this species has helped improve its protection.

Ms. Schantz partners with academic and consultant biologists, as well as a number of reptile enthusiasts to accomplish the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection’s conservation mission. Her responsibilities have expanded to include other vulnerable snake species, such as the corn snake, northern pine snake, and scarlet snake. (more…)

Photo from the Field

Thursday, October 5th, 2017
The Lucky 8: Tiny terrapin hatchlings rescued!

by Ben Wurst, Habitat Program Manager

A clutch of eight tiny terrapin hatchlings found beneath one of our X-ING signs. photo by Ben Wurst

While removing our seasonal (better late than never!) terrapin X-ING signs on Great Bay Blvd. in Little Egg Harbor yesterday, we stumbled upon some tiny northern diamondback terrapin hatchlings. These little guys were hiding or trapped under a very large (and heavy) X-ING sign made from old pallets that someone knocked over (I say guys because they hatched later in the season and it was a very cool August, but some could be girls). At first I didn’t see anything, but upon closer inspection I saw several hatchlings in the vegetation. One, two, three, four, five, six. Then I dug a little with my hand and found two more. The sign had been atop a nest. (more…)

Help Ensure Ospreys Have a Future in New Jersey

Tuesday, September 26th, 2017

ACTION ALERT: Support ecological management of the most valuable public resource for our coastal ecosystem and economy

by Ben Wurst, Habitat Program Manager

Menhaden is a common food source for ospreys during their nesting season in New Jersey. Photo by Northside Jim.

The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission is accepting public comment on the establishment of ecological management of Atlantic menhaden (Brevoortia tyrannus), which is a keystone species. Basically, a keystone species is one that plays a large role in the ecosystem where it lives. If a keystone species is lost then the ecosystem would dramatically change or cease to function, causing widespread effects to other species that benefit. In New Jersey, ospreys have largely benefited from a healthy menhaden population as we’ve had relatively high reproductive rates (more than double what’s needed to sustain population) over the past decade. From 2006 to 2016, the population has grown by 30% and above the pre-DDT, historic milestone of over 500 nesting pairs. Around 82% of the state population of ospreys nests along the Atlantic Coast and we observe menhaden at a huge number of nests during our mid-summer surveys. If menhaden numbers drop, then we will likely see osprey numbers follow suite, as reproductive rates will decline, as they are in the Chesapeake Bay.

(more…)

Tracks in the Sand: A Piping Plover Love Affair

Friday, September 15th, 2017

by: Todd Pover, Senior Wildlife Biologist

Piping plover tracks in the sand.

Anyone who has monitored or closely followed piping plovers knows these (pictured) tracks well. They have to. Most wildlife leaves behind distinct clues that reveal their presence, but if you are tracking the well camouflaged piping plover, the best, and sometimes only, clue you have are these ephemeral tracks in the sand.

Finding these tracks, especially the first ones of the breeding season in early spring, makes my heart stir, even after 20+ years of searching for piping plovers. They shout, “I’m here, now find me”. These particular tracks happen to be a late season find, sighted just this past week, special in a different way as they were unexpected and may be my last glimpse of them here in New Jersey this year as most piping plovers have now migrated south for the winter. I followed the tracks like I always do and soon enough I spotted three pale beauties resting absolutely still on a nearby sand hummock.

This blog doesn’t contain any earth-shattering conservation message. It is just about my own love affair with piping plovers. I am lucky to have found that magical something in nature that moves me. I hope each of you has your own version, whether it be a delicate monarch butterfly improbably fluttering thousands of miles in the wind towards its wintering grounds in Mexico or a powerful bison lumbering across a grasslands vista out west. One of the main reasons my colleagues and I are engaged in conservation work is so everyone has the opportunity to experience and be inspired by wildlife in its natural habitats.

Piping plovers will not provide a cure for cancer, they will not boost our economy, and they certainly will not be the key to uniting us politically. They will bring a smile to your face, they will evoke wonder, and they may just make your day. Sometimes that is enough.

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