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.