“What we did to protect animals actually protected roads,” said Vermont Agency of Natural Resources secretary Deb Markowitz at a general session at the Northeastern Transportation and Wildlife Conference this week (Sept. 21 – 24) in Burlington, Vermont. In places where culverts had been resized to allow wildlife to walk along the banks during low flow periods, the culverts have held during floods like the one caused by Tropical Storm Irene in Vermont.
A documentary on the Highway Wilding project that built wildlife passages along the TransCanada Highway in Banff National Park said that the cost of hitting a moose with a vehicle averages $30,000. Hitting a deer averages over $1,000. It doesn’t take many wildlife collisions to cost-justify a wildlife crossing, the documentary said, and some highway locations are the scene of hundreds of collisions.
Photo: Camera fail. None of my photos of Markowitz speaking even made it onto my camera’s memory card. Here’s her official portrait off the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources website.
Black racer snakes are rare in Vermont, so when highway construction was going to introduce drains with holes big enough for the snakes to fall into, the Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife asked for a fix. Drain covers with smaller holes were not possible. So the Vermont Agency of Transportation fashioned snake-sized ladders and attached them to the drains. It turns out that black racers are excellent climbers, so it is expected that the snakes will rescue themselves if they fall into the drain. A poster on the unusual solution was presented at the Northeastern Transportation and Wildlife Conference, being held this week (Sept. 21 – 24) in Burlington, Vermont.
In other news from the conference: Now that fish and wildlife departments and transportation agencies are getting along so well together, what is the next step? Bringing urban and land-use planning into the fold. This will be trickier, because while transportation and wildlife function on the state level, planning happens at the local level. In Vermont, several speakers noted, just two percent of all development was subject to state review. (And Vermont has a strong state-level development law.)
The Northeastern Transportation and Wildlife Conference is taking place in Burlington, Vermont this week (Sept. 21 – 24). The technology of the hour is the game camera. It’s cheap, it’s non-invasive, and it’s cheap. One presenter confessed that there were probably better tools for his project — radio collaring, for example — but that it was better to have some data for his project now than waiting around for funding for better technology.
The next step is to become more adept at using game cameras. In that same presentation, there was a problem with smaller animals not being picked up by the cameras. At least one of the conversations after the session was about how to better place and aim the cameras to pick up all the species included in the study (which can be difficult if it includes both weasels and moose).
Another aspect touched on by a poster from the New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife, is processing all those photos. This poster suggested using software that lets analysts pick descriptions from a pull-down menus to standardize the interpretations for better data crunching.
Photo: You never know who you will meet at a conference. Harvard researcher Richard T.T. Forman, known as the “father of road ecology,” was one of the NETWC attendees. Here, he adds his thoughts on a documentary that he appeared in as an expert.
I’m in the middle of moving this website to a new server. The new server will get rid of the ads, which were never a part of this blog, but something added by WordPress. If you have this site bookmarked as “wildliferesearchnews.com” there should be no change. There will also be no change if you get a weekly email through MailChimp.
The move is taking longer than I expected, but it is not taking a month and a half. The big gap in posts is due to other things, and I took advantage of the hiatus to make the server change. I will start posting again as soon as I’m functional on the new server.
Also as soon as the site is functional on the new server, I’ll work on getting the people who have email subscriptions through WordPress moved. There are just a very few of you.
Thanks for your patience. Looking forward to seeing you on the new server.
On April 10, both the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources announced confirmation of white nose syndrome in bats in each of their states.
The Michigan DNR press release said: “Five little brown bats (Myotis lucifugus) showing disease characteristics were collected in February and March during routine WNS surveillance by Dr. Allen Kurta and Steve Smith, researchers from Eastern Michigan University.”
In Wisconsin, a DNR press release said: “Results from visual inspection and genetic and tissue tests completed earlier this month showed that 2 percent of bats in a single mine in southwestern Wisconsin had the disease, named for the characteristic white fuzz on their nose, wings and tails, according to Erin Crain, who leads the Department of Natural Resources Natural Heritage Conservation Program.”
More details are available in this article in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.
The Minneapolis Star-Tribune also did a story.
Here’s the Michigan DNR press release.And here’s the Wisconsin DNR press release.
Photo: Bat skulls and bones on the floor of Mount Aeolus Cave in Vermont, courtesy of Michigan DNR, photo by Ann Froschauer, USFWS
It’s been a good year for lead levels in condors in Arizona and Utah. While last year saw the second worst levels on record, this year saw the lowest level in a decade, says a press release from the Arizona Game and Fish Department.
“The ups and downs of lead poisoning over the years demonstrate that any single season does not make a trend, but our test results are encouraging,” said Eddie Feltes, field manager for The Peregrine Fund’s condor project in the release. “If this ends up being the beginning of a trend, we hope it will continue.”
Arizona Game and Fish, as well as the Peregrine Fund, which also distributed the release, believe that voluntary lead ammunition measures in the two states has contributed to the lower lead levels in condors there. Another factor may be the unseasonably mild winter, the release says.
In an article in the Salt Lake City Tribune, Chris Parish, condor program coordinator for The Peregrine Fund is quoted as saying, “The half life of lead in blood is a very short period. That gives us a relatively good indication of where and when exposure may have happened.”
The Tribune article also says that 78 percent of hunters in condor country who were contacted were voluntarily using non-lead ammunition. In 2011 the number was 10 percent.
More details in the Arizona Game and Fish press release here. (Halfway down the page.)
The same press release is here on its own page at the Peregrine Fund website.
The Salt Lake City Tribune article is here.
Photo: Courtesy Arizona Game and Fish Department
Wildlife crossings are expensive. They can add hundreds of thousands of dollars to a highway renovation project — and that’s the cheapest option for creating them. However, a new study from Utah State University has found that by preventing expensive vehicle accidents, wildlife passages pay for themselves in three years.
An article in the Deseret News described the research and the findings.
The way the math works is this, according to the article: wildlife collisions cost an average of $7,000. Collisions were reduced by 90 percent by the passages in the study.
Read the report itself, here. (You can also go to the UDOT website and search for “Report UT-12.07”)**
Read the Deseret News article here.
**Thanks to Susan, a subscriber, who knew where this was even though I couldn’t find it.
This week’s newsletter will go out on Christmas Day. While there has been plenty of wildlife research news this week, I’m going to have to catch up next week or in the new year.
Wishing you the best of the holiday season.