Conserve Wildlife Blog

Posts Tagged ‘wildlife’

Spotlight on Brooke Maslo, Women and Wildlife Education Award Winner

Monday, October 20th, 2014

Rutgers Professor Dr. Brooke Maslo Honored for her Contribution to Wildlife Conservation

As a Rutgers University professor, 2014 Women & Wildlife Inspiration Award Winner Dr. Brooke Malso has impacted the lives of many students by demonstrating the value of wildlife conservation. Through her scientific research, she has also uncovered valuable findings that have positively impacted conservation efforts in New Jersey.

 

Brooke Maslo Education Award Winner

Brooke Maslo Education Award Winner

In her course “Wildlife Ecology and Conservation,” Brooke creates a first-hand experience in conservation for each of her students by assigning them to work with a wildlife professional to create and execute a management plan for a species of their choice. An avid scientist, Brooke’s current research on beach-nesting bird habitat focuses on the challenges of both protecting breeding habitats to conserve threatened wildlife and protecting coastal infrastructure for severe storm resiliency. Brooke also investigates the role of bats in the control of invasive agricultural insects, encourage New Jersey agriculturalists to provide suitable habitats for the species, and educate New Jersey residents about bats.

 

Join us to honor Brooke and the three other 2014 Women & Wildlife Award Winners on Thursday, October 23rd beginning at 6pm. Purchase events tickets and find more information.

 

CWF asked Brooke a few questions about what working in wildlife rehabilitation means to her:

 

What is your favorite thing about your job?

“My favorite thing about being an academic researcher is that I am constantly learning. Conservation issues are complex and require solid understanding of the mechanisms that drive both the conservation threat, as well as the species’ response. In order to develop strategies to deal with new conservation issues, we must use what is known to explore how we can manage what is poorly understood. That requires a multidisciplinary approach, and it is often daunting to move out of one’s comfort zone to learn another branch of the field. However, arming yourself with the knowledge that can truly combat a conservation threat is incredibly rewarding.”

 

What do you find most challenging about your profession?

“Time management. Between teaching, advising students, conducting research, and engaging in public outreach, I often find myself staring at my to-do list, unsure of where to begin. When I am home, my mind is usually still on work, and I have to make a conscious effort to focus on relaxing and enjoying recreational time with my family. I succeed in that for the most part, but it is certainly a challenge.”

 

Do you have a New Jersey wildlife species that you like best? Why?

“That’s a tough question. I conducted my PhD work on piping plovers, which are probably about the cutest birds in the world. They will always hold a special place in my heart! But I am also quite happy working with little brown bats (and find them pretty cute, too!). I think my passion for little browns is driven by just how intelligent, adaptive, and social these animals are! The more I learn about them, the more intrigued I become.”

 

What is your favorite thing to do when you aren’t working?

“When I am not working, I enjoy spending time with my family outdoors… boating, swimming, going to sports games, etc. Doing any activity is great if you make it that way!”

 

Name one thing you can’t live without.

“Anyone who knows me knows that I cannot live without my NY Giants football Sundays. Obsessed might be an understatement.”

 

Please join us on Thursday, October 23, 2014, from 6:00 – 8:30 p.m. at the Trenton Country Club to honor the contributions that Brooke Maslo, Cathy Malok, Jeanne McArthur-Heuser, and Meghan Wren have made to wildlife in New Jersey.

 

We are excited to recognize the leadership and inspiration they provide for those working to protect wildlife in New Jersey. Women & Wildlife will also celebrate the timeless and inspiring journeys of wildlife migration in New Jersey and beyond.

 

 

Spotlight on Cathy Malok, Women and Wildlife Inspiration Award Winner

Thursday, October 16th, 2014

Cathy Malok: Inspiring Others to Care for New Jersey’s Wildlife

Over the last 27 years, 2014 Women & Wildlife Inspiration Award Winner Cathy Malok has made innumerable contributions to wildlife rehabilitation in New Jersey. She has played a role in the rehabilitation of tens of thousands of birds native to the state, shared her knowledge and experience with others, and inspired countless young women to follow a path similar to her own.

Cathy Malok Inspiration Award Winner

Cathy Malok Inspiration Award Winner

Cathy is currently the Vice President of the New Jersey Association of Wildlife Rehabilitators(NJAWR) and also serves on its Board of Directors. NJAWR, a recognized non-profit organization since 1991, has become an invaluable resource for information and educational opportunities for wildlife rehabilitators throughout the state. Cathy passionately serves as the Infirmary Manager of The Raptor Trust, one of the premier wild bird rehabilitation centers in the country, which treats nearly 3,000 injured birds with state-of-the-art medical facilities each year.

Through her rehabilitation efforts, Cathy has not only made outstanding contributions to wildlife conservation, but has also educated and inspired others to become involved. She is truly an inspirational leader, giving assistance and advice to local wildlife professionals daily with enthusiasm, compassion and skill.

Join us to honor Cathy and the three other 2014 Women & Wildlife Award Winners on Thursday, October 23rd beginning at 6pm. Purchase events tickets and find more information.

CWF asked Cathy a few questions about what working in wildlife rehabilitation means to her:

What motivates you to get out of bed each morning and go to work?

“The dozens or sometimes hundreds of animals that we care for at the Center; they need our help.”

What is your favorite thing about your job?

“There is always something new to learn.”

Name one thing you can’t live without.

“Time in the woods.”

Do you have a New Jersey wildlife species that you like best? Why?

“Peregrine Falcon. They are incredible; to watch them fly is amazing.”

What is your favorite thing to do when you aren’t working?
“Hiking.”

Please join us on Thursday, October 23, 2014, from 6:00 – 8:30 p.m. at the Trenton Country Club to honor the contributions that Cathy Malok, Jeanne McArthur-Heuser, Brooke Maslo, and Meghan Wren have made to wildlife in New Jersey.

Bloodsuckers and Blind? Hardly – Exploding the Myths of Bats

Wednesday, October 15th, 2014

Hard to believe, but October is already here! And that can only mean one thing — bats! Everyday throughout the month of October, follow CWF on social media and our blog to fly high with these incredible creatures of the night! Each day we will have fun facts, quizzes, and beautiful photos highlighting these amazing animals and the work CWF does to protect them.

The first week we gave an overview of bats in New Jersey with a news article written by CWF Wildlife Biologist MacKenzie Hall. Last week we discussed some threats bats face today. Today we will debunk myths about bats, later this week CWF Wildlife Ecologist Stephanie Feigin will share some stories from the field, and later this month we will give examples of ways you can help!

Make sure to follow us everyday on Facebook and Twitter and read our blog every Friday for our #31daysofbats!


 

by Sarah Bergen

A bat emerges from its summer roost site. © MacKenzie Hall

A bat emerges from its summer roost site. © MacKenzie Hall

Bats tend to have the reputation of being mysterious creatures of the night. The extent of most peoples’ interactions with bats is limited to a fleeting glimpse in the dark of the night. Because we do walk amongst these species, there is often a lack of understanding and even fear surrounding bats.

So let’s clear up some myths and misconceptions that are often associated with these creatures. Despite common beliefs that bats are blind, rabies-ridden bloodsuckers, they are actually an extraordinary mammal that is valuable to eco-systems all over the world. All bats in the United States are insectivores, and can eat up thousands of bugs in a single night. Because they control the populations of many pests, they are a priceless factor in agriculture, only to be replaced by harmful pesticides. A recent study published in Science magazine estimates that bats’ insect-eating services may be worth as much as $53 billion to US agriculture alone (click here to read about it).

  • “Blind as a bat.” Not exactly. The assumption that all bats are blind is completely false. Many bats primarily use echolocation to locate their prey, since it can give them a much more accurate picture of objects and pray in complete darkness. In reality, most bats have very good vision, possibly even as sharp as a human’s 20/20 vision.
  • Bats are not flying blood-suckers that may sweep into your bedroom and leave you lifeless in bed! In fact, the bats that inhabit the United States are completely harmless. Americans should not fear the bite of a bat or the contraction of rabies from the creatures because North American bats live off of insects and have no interest in sucking your blood. Studies show that less than 1% of bats contract rabies; rabid bats tend to become solitary and die quickly, and unlike raccoons, cats, dogs, and other animals, they rarely become aggressive.

In the countries that are inhabited by vampire bats, there are only three sanguivorous, or blood-drinking bat species, that inhabit Mexico, South, and Central America. Vampire bat species include the common vampire bat, the hairy-legged vampire bat, and the white-winged vampire bat. These three species are the only mammals on the planet that survive solely on blood. The rarity of this characteristic surely contributed to the fear that now surrounds them, which is only magnified by the many popular films that feature vampires.

Vampire bat photo credit: National Geographic

Vampire bat photo credit: National Geographic

But even those bloodsuckers do not usually target humans as their food source. These three species tend to prey on birds and sleeping cattle and horses. Contrary to how vampire bats are portrayed in films, they do not suck blood out of their prey, but instead lap it up with their long tongues for about 30 minutes. These species do not take enough blood to cause any harm to their prey, but they can spread rabies and other diseases and the development of infection is a possibility. Cattle industries in these countries are being negatively impacted, and scientists are working to find a solution.

Since the 1970s, efforts to control the spread of rabies through bats have focused on culling, or killing bats through the use of poison and even explosives. A poisonous paste is applied to a captured bat, which then spreads the paste among its colony through grooming after it is released. However, poison has been found to be unsuccessful by numerous studies because it only targets adult bats, many of which have developed immunity to rabies, and fails to affect juvenile bats, which are less likely to groom older bats, as well as develop immunity. A better alternative practice that does not involve the killing of innocent bats is the immunization of livestock. It has even been found that the revaccination of cows during pregnancy allows an immunity to develop in the calves.

Bats have developed a reputation as being creepy creatures of the night, but are, in reality, valuable to our eco-system and agricultural economy. As communities celebrate Halloween, and bats with sharp fangs decorate homes, be sure to remember the bright side to bats.

Sarah Bergen is a communications intern with Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey

Spotlight on Jeanne McArthur-Heuser, Women and Wildlife Legacy Award Winner

Tuesday, October 14th, 2014

Jeanne McArthur-Heuser’s Long-lasting Beach-Nesting Bird Legacy

2014 Women & Wildlife Legacy Award Winner Jeanne McArthur-Heuser has dedicated herself to protecting Sandy Hook’s natural resources and the species that call the area home for over 30 years.

When Jeanne began her career at Gateway National Recreation Area three decades ago, Sandy Hook was home to few pairs of breeding Piping Plovers. By 2012, there was a record high of 50 pairs, which is currently the largest population of breeding Piping Plovers in New Jersey. Jeanne’s conservation efforts on Sandy Hook have benefitted the entire ecosystem, causing increases in the populations of Osprey, American Oystercatchers, Least Terns, and Black Skimmers in the most densely populated state in the country.

Join us to honor Jeanne and the three other 2014 Women & Wildlife Award Winners on Thursday, October 23rd beginning at 6pm. Purchase events tickets and find more information.


Jeanne McArthur-Heuser

Jeanne McArthur-Heuser Legacy Award Winner

CWF asked Jeanne a few questions about what working in wildlife conservation means to her:

What motivates you to get out of bed and go to work?

“I have the best job in the world with the National Park Service. I do not consider what I do work. I have been working for the NPS for over 30 years. It never gets boring.”

What is your favorite thing about work?

“Every day is different and I love what I do. I get to mentor High School kids and share my knowledge with Student Conservation Association interns. I truly try to make a difference every day.”

What is your favorite thing to do when you are not working?

“I love going to auctions and bidding on antiques. It’s all about finding treasures and getting a good deal.”

What wildlife lives in your office?

“I have many animals that pass through my office. I have a holding cage for tagging box turtles and hognose snakes. I have transported an immature bald eagle, ospreys, great horned owls, baby raccoons, baby skunks, and baby opossums. I have not had a cat that could reproduce in 40 years but every year I find a litter of kittens. It is a running joke in the office that if I am carrying a box you should run otherwise you will become the proud owner of kitten.”

Do you have a wildlife species you like best and why?

“I have dedicated most of my career to improving the habitat and increasing the productivity of piping plovers. When I first started working at Sandy Hook, we only had 7 pair. Today my highest number of Piping Plover is 50. I hope someday they will be delisted.”

Please join us on Thursday, October 23, 2014, from 6:00 – 8:30 p.m. at the Trenton Country Club to honor the contributions that Jeanne McArthur-Heuser, Cathy Malok, Brooke Maslo, and Meghan Wren have made to wildlife in New Jersey.

We are excited to recognize the leadership and inspiration they provide for those working to protect wildlife in New Jersey. Women & Wildlife will also celebrate the timeless and inspiring journeys of wildlife migration in New Jersey and beyond.

 

Shedding Light on Threats Bats Face Today

Friday, October 10th, 2014

Hard to believe, but October is already here! And that can only mean one thing — bats! Everyday throughout the month of October, follow CWF on social media and our blog to fly high with these incredible creatures of the night! Each day we will have fun facts, quizzes, and beautiful photos highlighting these amazing animals and the work CWF does to protect them.

Last week we gave an overview of bats in New Jersey with a news article written by CWF Wildlife Biologist MacKenzie Hall. Today we discuss some threats bats face today. Later this month we will debunk myths about bats, and share ways you can help!

Make sure to follow us everyday on Facebook and Twitter and read our blog every Friday for our #31daysofbats!


by Stephanie Feigin

Despite the many environmental and economic benefits bats provide, bat populations around the world are still declining. Bats face many threats today, including habitat loss and destruction, human persecution, disturbance of hibernating bats in caves and mines, wind energy development, and White-nose syndrome.

(c) MacKenzie Hall

Red Bat (c) MacKenzie Hall

Human activity and persecution are among the biggest factors in bat population declines worldwide. The forests bats use to roost and forage in have been destroyed at an alarming rate for timber, new farm land, cattle pastures, or housing developments. In the last 50 years 17% of the forests in the Amazon have been destroyed and converted to cattle pastures. Bats are also being driven out of their roosts in caves or mines due to careless tourism. Today, the most important caves and mines are now gated to keep tourists out and protect the bats from any human disturbance.

In winter, large numbers of bats gather to hibernate in the relative warmth of caves and mines. The bats go through incredible metabolic changes during hibernation.  Their heart rate slows from 1,200 beats per minute (in flight) to just 15-20 beats per minute, and their body temperature drops roughly in half to match the temperature underground. A little brown bat in torpor can actually go 48 minutes without taking a breath!

By slowing down, bats are able to conserve energy during the long winter without food.  But they’re very vulnerable during hibernation – a single arousal can cost a bat 2 weeks worth of fat reserves.  Too many disturbances can jeopardize their survival. Since bats reproduce slowly, usually only giving birth to one pup a year, disturbance to maternity roosts can also be very harmful to bat populations and it takes a long time for these populations to recover.

Tri-colored bat covered in water droplets while hibernating (c) MacKenzie Hall

Tri-colored bat covered in water droplets while hibernating (c) MacKenzie Hall

Bats have been misunderstood by humans for many years, and are still among the most persecuted animals on earth. In many parts of the world, bats are killed due to fear or harmful myths making bats seem scary or even dangerous. In Central America there have been numerous accounts of people destroying caves with the use of dynamite in attempts to kill vampire bats. However, many fruit-eating bats are also killed in the process by people who mistake them for vampire bats. Reportedly, 40,000 caves in Venezuela have been destroyed, resulting in the loss of large populations of other bats as well as other cave fauna.  In Australia, flying foxes, primarily the Grey Headed and Spectacled flying foxes, are shot by farmers to keep the bats from eating their fruit trees — even though there are more effective alternatives. Both the Grey-headed flying fox and Spectacled flying fox populations have declined by at least 95% in the past century. In certain locations, bats are also hunted for food or folk medicines.

(c) MacKenzie Hall

(c) MacKenzie Hall

Wind energy development poses a growing threat to bats. As wind farms crop up along the ridgeline corridors used by migratory bats, the number of bat fatalities grows. Hundreds of thousands of bats are killed each year in the United States from collisions with the spinning blades of wind turbines or because of rapid pressure change at turbines which can rupture their blood vessels. In the east, studies have found that an average of 46 bats are killed annually per wind turbine. Fortunately, research is showing that bat deaths can be tremendously reduced by simply shutting the turbines down during seasonal low-wind periods, when power generation is minimal anyway.

Perhaps the most significant cause of declining bat populations in our region is a disease called White-nose syndrome that continues to spread across the United States and Canada. White-nose syndrome was first discovered in upstate New York in 2006, and has since spread to 25 states and 5 Canadian provinces, killing over 6 million bats in the process.

White-nose syndrome on hibernating bats

White-nose syndrome on hibernating bats

The disease is caused by a cold-loving fungus called Pseudogymnoascus destructans or Pd. It attacks hibernating bats, disturbing them during hibernation when the bats’ immune response is low, and preventing them from conserving enough stored energy to survive until spring. White-nose syndrome also causes dehydration and unrest as well as severe wing damage that can prevent bats from flying.  At some sites, the mortality rates are 100 percent. Much is still unknown about White-nose syndrome, its spread, and its consequences. The federal government, states, several universities, and organizations like ours are working hard to track and understand this disease.

Though bats face many threats today, Conserve Wildlife Foundation continues to protect these incredible animals and educate the public about ways that you can help. Bats need our help!

Stephanie Feigin is a Wildlife Ecologist for the Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey