Making it monthly
This issue marks Georgia Wild's switch from bi-monthly to monthly delivery. We'll keep the quality up and the news coming. Let us know
what you think. WILD Facts
Those who love the outdoors
welcome cooler weather after a hot, humid summer. Hiking is more pleasant, and autumn's colors inspire nature photographers and artists. Birdwatchers search for unusual species during the fall migration. Hunters relish the chance to harvest game. These groups need not conflict with each other. Simply be aware of others and know what activities are allowed wherever you go. Considerate non-hunters will wear bright colors and stay on trails and roads so as to not disturb sportsmen deeper in the woods. Likewise, ethical hunters will exercise safety and properly identify their target.In educationStarting in October,
a new residential program at Charlie Elliott Wildlife Center
will offer two- and three-day field trips with lodging for 5th- through 12th-graders and their teachers. Students will be immersed in wildlife and ecology through outdoors activities taught by staff and visiting environmental education professionals. "The goal is to provide an experience that will nurture students' awareness of self as part of the interconnectedness of all things, and foster a sense of cooperation, responsible action and stewardship toward all wildlife and natural resources,” program Director Julie Duncan said. Classes at the Mansfield center meet state education standards. Teachers can choose topics and take part with their students. Details
* The Bush administration's proposal
to let federal agencies, not U.S. Fish and Wildlife or National Marine Fisheries scientists, decide whether projects pose harm to endangered animals and plants caused an uproar
among Democrats and environmental organizations. Seven senators asked Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne
to withdraw the proposal
, saying it violates the Endangered Species Act
and legal precedent. Kempthorne said the changes
will ensure the act is not used as an end-around to limit gases blamed for global warming. Some groups want to extend
the public comment period.
* On another front
, Kempthorne announced the recovery crediting system
, describing it as a tool to help federal agencies conserve imperiled species on private lands. Agencies can bank credits for conservation actions on non-federal property and use the credits to offset impacts to the same species on federal land. The model is a Fort Hood, Texas, program
benefiting the endangered golden-cheeked warbler.
* NOAA Fisheries
is seeking public comment by Sept. 29 on proposed regulations to reduce ship collisions with right whales. Check here
to comment or read the final environmental impact statement involving these imperiled whales, which calve off Georgia’s coast.
: One of 34 pocket gopher species
, all found in the Western Hemisphere.Home on the plain
: Historical range includes coastal plain of southern Georgia, southern Alabama and northern half of Florida.Looks
: 10-13 inches long. Small ears and eyes. Large upper incisors, forefeet and claws. Sensitive whiskers serve as guides in dark tunnels. Status
as threatened and a high-priority species in the Georgia Wildlife Action Plan
: DNR-funded survey
confirmed declines across Georgia. Pocket gophers were documented in only 18 of 41 counties where previously recorded. Isolated populations were found in suitable habitat.Niche
: Pocket gophers favor longleaf pine savannas
and vegetated sand hills
. They need loose soil for burrowing and groundcover for foraging.Threats
: Development and intensive agricultural and silvicultural practices.Digging in
: Pocket gophers live mostly 6-26 inches underground and feed on plant roots. They are solitary and territorial except during mating time. Males' burrows run up to 200 feet long. Pushed out soil forms small mounds. Surface holes are plugged to foil predators. Keystone mammal
: Burrows shelter invertebrates and reptiles like Florida pine snakes
(which eat gophers). Burrowing circulates nutrients. Mounds promote seed germination. The survey found that gopher populations usually coincide with pine forests that mimic historical conditions: open canopies, diverse groundcover and frequent burns, which renew the fire-dependent ecosystems.Next
: Researchers need to check the health of existing populations, verify the survey's GIS modeling of likely habitat and explore re-establishing pocket gophers in areas. The state's Wildlife Action Plan priority on restoring fire-maintained pine savannas will help.Why pockets?
Pocket gophers use pocket-like, fur-lined pouches on the outside of their mouths to carry food. Mounders?
Though not to be confused with gopher tortoises, pocket gophers are sometimes called salamanders, possibly referring to their sandy mounds.Quotable
: Considering the stubby creature's claws, teeth and feistiness, UGA student and survey researcher Jason Scott joked, "When it comes to wildlife, you don't want to be in a death match with pocket gophers."
Sources: Georgia Wildlife Resources, Alabama Department of ConservationAsk a biologist
and Natural Resources
Q: What problems do erosion and sedimentation pose for aquatic species?
Biologist Brett Albanese and fisheries technician Jamie Dowd replied ...
The erosion of fine sediments is a leading cause of habitat degradation in streams. After rainstorms, sediments in streams can damage fish gills and interfere with respiration. Murky water also spells trouble for sight feeding and many visually oriented reproductive behaviors. Sediments settling onto the stream bottom can smother fish eggs and aquatic insects, stifle the water movement some fish eggs need, and even raise water temperatures (darker water absorbs more heat), affecting sensitive fishes.
Try this: Go to a local stream and try to pull out a large rock (about the size of your foot). In most cases, fine sediments have embedded the rock into the stream bottom. The space underneath the rock probably was once important for cover and even spawning. One of Georgia's endangered fishes in the Toccoa River, the wounded darter
, spawns in cavities beneath large cobbles and small boulders. When sediment fills these spaces, the species loses important spawning and cover habitat. What can you do? Learn more
.E-mail us your nongame questions.
Your money at work
are small yet strikingly colored songbirds with a critical connection to scrub/shrub, maritime forest and salt marsh habitats along Georgia’s coast. The Southeastern population, one of two in
North America, breeds along the seaboard from North Carolina to Florida. Data since 1965 shows painted buntings in decline. Habitat loss, cowbird parasitism and threats such as house cats compound pet trade impacts the birds face in Latin American and Caribbean wintering grounds. After a pilot survey with Florida and the Carolinas in 2007, Georgia Wildlife Resources again surveyed distribution, habitat preferences and breeding densities this spring. Preliminary observations from routes run mostly by seasonal biologist Chris Depkin and volunteers showed expected occurrences on barrier islands and along the coast. What was unexpected was the extent of painted buntings' inland distribution along the Savannah River drainage, as well as the habitat types singing males use. Results of the Eastern Painted Bunting Population Assessment and Monitoring Project
will increase understanding of the role habitat types play and help managers enhance or create breeding areas. Georgia's survey portion is partly funded through nongame wildlife license plate sales
and the Give Wildlife a Chance income tax checkoff
Where there's smoke
: Sgt. Mike Barr was leaving Lake Allatoona in June when he saw two men burning wire by a house. Burning wire -- in this case to remove the plastic covering -- is illegal. Barr called for help from the Bartow Sheriff's Office and Ranger 1st Class Byron Young, spoke with the men, and received permission to search the property. The check turned up drug paraphernalia and suspected drugs. The men face felony charges of drugs and unlawful dumping.Nongame in the news
* Florida Times-Union: "Fay leaves more than usual deposits from sea
," about litter in storm wash trashing marshes. (Aug. 29)
* The Monticello News: "Local man helps create helpful book
," about biologist John Jensen's role in "Amphibians and Reptiles of Georgia." (Aug. 28)
* Florida Times-Union: "Fay leaves most turtle nests intact
," about storm loss of loggerhead nests. (Aug. 26)
* Savannah Morning News: "Birders flock to Georgia coast
," on Colonial Coast Birding & Nature Fest. (Aug. 19)
* Atlanta Journal-Constitution: "Scientists fish for the truth about endangered species
," about Nongame survey on Toccoa River. (Aug. 15)
* Georgia Public Broadcasting: "Record year for sea turtles
," about loggerhead nest totals. (Aug. 6) Associated Press version circulated as far as the UK.
* The (Bainbridge) Post-Searchlight: "Silver Lake opens
," about opening Silver Lake WMA to the public. (Aug. 1)
* Athens Banner-Herald: "New book is all about the reptiles
," profile of "Amphibians and Reptiles," edited in part by Matt Elliott and John Jensen. (July 29)
* The (Cartersville) Daily Tribune (and others via AP): "Etowah Indian Mounds prepares for native grass project
," about Wildlife Resources-led project to replant site with native groundcover. (July 25)
* Macon Telegraph (and others, via AP): "Search for rare big-eared mammal yields bonanza in midstate
," about DNR-funded survey of Rafinesque's big-eared bats and habitat. Video
(July 24). AJC on Rafinesque's bats
. (Aug. 1)
* Savannah Morning News: "Eggs crack turtles' identities
," about genetic study using loggerheads' eggs. (July 21)
* The (Dalton) Daily Citizen: "TERN: Since '92, crucial friend to nongame work, DNR says
," about the Nongame Conservation friends group (July 21)
* Chattanooga Times Free Press: "Georgia: Specialty license plates help support wildlife conservation
," about the nongame tags program. (July 21)
* Macon Telegraph: "Butterfly drought: Weather partly to blame for fewer butterfly sightings
," with video
, about drought's impact on annual butterfly count numbers. (July 12) Coming to Outdoors"
"Georgia Outdoors" is shown on GPB channels at 9:30 p.m. Fridays, noon and 6 p.m. Saturdays and 7:30 p.m. Tuesdays (except when preempted by other programming).
* Sept. 10: "Held in Trust" (historic sites)
* Sept. 16: "Georgia Getaways"
* Sept. 19, 20, 23: "Held in Trust"
* Sept. 27, 30: "Georgia Getaways"More online.
* Sept. 6
: 2nd Annual Butterfly Symposium
, Callaway Gardens, Pine Mountain.
* Sept. 27
: National Hunting and Fishing Day. Georgia events
* Sept. 27
: National Public Lands Day
: Rivers Alive clean-up month
* Oct. 7-10
: 6th Eastern Native Grass Symposium
, Columbia, S.C.
* Oct. 2-5
: Gopher Tortoise Council annual meeting
, Jekyll Island.
* Oct. 4
: CoastFest 2008
, Ga. DNR Coastal Resources Division, Brunswick.
* Oct. 9-13
: Georgia's Colonial Coast Birding & Nature Festival
, Jekyll Island.
* Oct. 16-17
: Georgia Plant Conservation Alliance
meeting, John Tannner State Park, Carrollton.
* Oct. 25-26
: Georgia Reptile Expo
, North Atlanta Trade Center, Atlanta.
* Oct. 27-29
: Environmental Flows: Water for People and Nature in the Southeast
, Classic Center, Athens.
* Oct. 28-31
: Longleaf Alliance regional conference
, Sandestin, Fla.Click here to submit items
.Photo credits (from top):
* Reticulated flatwoods salamander. John Jensen/Ga. DNR
* Canoochee River at Fort Stewart. Fort Stewart
* Southeastern bat in hand. Kristina Summers/Ga. DNR
* Trina Morris using Anabat and a PDA. Kristina Summers/Ga. DNR
* Pocket gopher. Jason Scott
* Gray catbird feeding on American beautyberry. Terry Johnson
* Painted bunting. Bob Churi
* Building nest boxes. Ga. DNRGeorgia Wild
volume 1, issue 5
Georgia Wild is an e-newsletter produced by the Georgia Wildlife Resources Division and focused on conserving nongame species, those not legally trapped, fished for or hunted. The newsletter is delivered free. Subscribe or see archive issues here
Wildlife Resources' Nongame Conservation Section conserves and protects Georgia's diversity of native animals and plants and their habitats through research, management and education. The section receives no state funds, depending on grants, donations and fundraisers such as nongame license plate sales
, the Give Wildlife a Chance state income tax checkoff
and Weekend for Wildlife.
Call (770) 761-3035 for details on direct donations. The nongame plates -- the bald eagle/U.S. flag and ruby-throated hummingbird -- are available for a one-time $25 feet at all county tag offices, by checking the wildlife license plate box on mail-in registration forms or through online renewal.