Citizen Science Works in NH

black racer NHLots of state wildlife agencies have residents counting turkey broods, and New Hampshire does too. But, says an article in the Eagle-Tribune, the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department has also been successful getting residents to survey the state’s dragonflies and its reptiles and amphibians.

The dragonfly count has been good news for the scarlet bluet, a rare damselfly that had only been spotted in the state five times before. During the citizen science dragonfly survey, there were 40 reports of the species, the article says.

“It was incredible,” Preston said. “We know so much more about dragonflies than we ever have before,” Emily Preston, a wildlife biologist for New Hampshire Fish and Game is quoted as saying in the article.

Citizen surveys of reptiles and amphibians have also turned up new locations for the endangered Blanding’s turtle and the threatened black racer, a snake.

Butterflies may be next, the article says.

Read the Eagle-Tribune article here.

Photo: Black racer, courtesy of NH Fish and Game

2013: Year of the Snake

YearoftheSnakeLogo_final_transpSo, the Chinese zodiac sign for the year that roughly corresponds to 2013 (starts on February 10), is indeed the snake. And aptly, Partners in Amphibian and Reptile Conservation, the conservation partnership, has designated 2013 to be a year of focusing on snake conservation issues.

The state partners with PARC for the year of the snake are Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Wildlife Division (CT DEEP), Maryland Department of Natural Resources and The Nevada Department of Wildlife (NDOW).

Much like the previously mentioned Year of the Turtle, the PARC program provides resources to promote snake conservation during the year, including a newsletter, a calendar of related events and a poster.

You can find that resource page here.

Florida Announces Python Contest

python challenge logoNon-native Burmese pythons are disrupting the south Florida ecosystem by devouring native wildlife. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) and its partners have used just about every tool in the box to try to control Burmese pythons in the state. Now it is trying one of the oldest wildlife control methods out there: competitive harvesting.

The FWC says, in a press release that the goal of the 2013 Python Challenge is to increase public awareness of this ecological threat. The contest will last a month, beginning January 12, 2013, and will award $1,500 dollars for the most Burmese pythons collected and $1,000 for the longest Burmese pythons in two categories of contestant, the general public and state python permit holders.

Contestants must complete on-line training to identify Burmese pythons and pay a $25 registration fee. The prize money, a Miami Herald article reports, will come from the entry fee and commission partners.

Now for a bit of editorializing: if it works, it will be the best $5,000 the commission never spent. But the risks are alarming. The on-line training appears insufficient (find it here). The better of the many possible poor outcomes is that the prize money won’t inspire enough people to scour south Florida’s public wetlands for what can be a dangerous snake. Part of the contest rules require that you own a GPS device or a smart phone to track your own movements during the python hunt, which is yet another barrier to participation.

At worst, greed and inexperience will mean people are hurt and native snakes slaughtered. Let’s hope FWC got it exactly right. If they did, it could provide a valuable model for other invasive species efforts.

Read the FWC press release here.
Read the Miami Herald article here.
Find the Python Challenge website here.