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Ga. DNR Wildlife Resources Division e-news masthead; brown thrasher photo
May 2009
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In this issue
* Interstate sandhills work
* Our worthy state bird
* Barring all but bats

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Each option supports the Nongame Conservation Section, which receives no state funds to conserve Georgia’s nongame wildlife, native plants and natural habitats. Details: (770) 761-3035.

WILD Facts
All toads are frogs, but not all frogs are toads. While most frogs have moist, smooth skin and long legs for leaping, typical toads have dry, warty skin and short legs for hopping. Despite common belief, touching toads does not result in warts; only viruses cause warts. But when toads are handled with any pressure, toxins may ooze out from their skin as a defense mechanism. This liquid sometimes causes mild irritation, especially if you rub your eyes or mouth after holding a toad. For this reason, either leave toads alone or wash your hands after handling them.
In education
The Georgia Forestry Foundation is looking for 30 fifth- through 12th-grade teachers for the foundation's annual Teacher Conservation Workshop. “Exploring Forestry and Wildlife in Georgia,” set for June 22-26 at Charlie Elliott Wildlife Center, centers on conservation topics related to forestry benefits, from growth cycles to managing trees for wildlife habitat. Workshop partners include the Georgia Forestry Commission, the University of Georgia’s Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources and the Georgia Wildlife Resources Division. Participants will be certified in Project Learning Tree, Project WILD and Project WET. Three professional learning units (PLUs) are available. Registration is $25. Sponsors cover the rest. Register here. Details: Carla Rapp (478-992-8110; or Walter Lane (770-784-3062; Read about last year's workshop.

D.C. talk
Debate on the lead global warming bill, the American Clean Energy and Security Act, centers on how carbon emissions will be cut. But included is language to dedicate billions to conserve natural resources. The National Wildlife Federation’s Peter LaFontaine explains why dedicated vs. appropriated funding is key. The latter goes through congressional appropriations committees. Dedicated funding “flows directly from the Treasury to state, tribal and federal agencies.” LaFontaine says dedicated dollars benefit natural resource conservation because stable funding is critical for the big investments and long-term planning ecosystem projects need. Crucial inter-agency cooperation is also easier when agencies aren’t competing for funding.

photo of shoals spiderlilies
Up close
Shoals spiderlilly
Hymenocallis coronaria
Also called: Cahaba lily in Alabama;
Catawba lily in South Carolina.
Description: Perennial herb, rooted in soil, standing out of water, growing from a large bulb. The one to three flower stalks per plant may reach 38 inches or taller, each sporting six or more white showy flowers with yellowish centers.
Habitat: Found in major streams and rivers of the lower Piedmont in rocky shoals and in cracks of exposed bedrock. Plants can be completely submerged during flooding, the bulbs anchored among the rocks.
Range: Found mostly near the Fall Line in central Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina. Recorded from eight counties in Georgia; 12 populations known.
Flowering time: Mid-May to early June. Flowers open in late afternoon and wither the next day. They emit a strong fragrance. Usually, one opens per day.
Fruit: Olive-shaped, dark green seeds often germinate before falling into the water, where they quickly sink.
ID issues: The shoals spiderlily is found only in rocky beds of larger streams, its bloom peak is in late-May, and its leaves and stems are more robust than other native spiderlilies. (Those spiderlilies are shorter, have varied flowering periods and are found in swamps, floodplains or moist hardwood slopes.)
Conservation status: State-protected as threatened. Rare throughout range because of significant habitat loss.
Threats: Altered stream flows, such as through damming; runoff that degrades water quality, particularly through sedimentation.
Looking back: Naturalist-explorer William Bartram made the first recorded observation of the shoals spiderlily in 1773. He saw it growing in the Savannah River at the “cataracts of Augusta.”

Sources: “Protected Animals of Georgia,” (Georgia DNR); “Field Guide to the Rare Plants of Georgia” (Linda G. Chafin)

Ranger reports
Strandings response:  With the rate of sea turtle strandings surging this year, rangers have stepped up patrols and trawler boardings to check for compliance with turtle excluder device regulations. Here's a look at strandings for the first 18 weeks of the past five years: 2009 (54); 2008 (18); 2007 (24); 2006 (29); 2005 (10); 2004 (25).
Tortoise stop: A driver pulled over in Effingham County May 14 may think twice before putting a gopher tortoise in the back of his pickup again. Alerted by a Georgia State Patrol trooper, Sgt. William Vickers questioned the driver, who admitted to taking the live tortoise from property being logged by the company he worked for. Vickers advised him of state and federal laws protecting gopher tortoises. He also issued a warning and confiscated the tortoise, releasing it in suitable habitat on state lands.
diamondback terrapin photoTerrapin theft: The heist of five juvenile diamondback terrapins from Tybee Island Marine Science Center ended on a good note, at least for four of the protected turtles. They were recovered minutes after the center’s staff led police to two suspects on the beach. Police noticed the sand moving: It was the turtles, buried near a cooler partly filled with mud and water, according to new accounts. The Hinesville residents each face four felony theft and four cruelty to animals misdemeanor charges. Their motive? “Stupidity,” Tybee Police Chief Jimmy Price said. The suspects had asked at the center about setting up a saltwater aquarium. No word yet on the fifth turtle. The Marine Science Center plans to open a new diamondback terrapin exhibit next month, a project supported in part by a Nongame Educational and Watchable Wildlife grant.

Nongame in the news
The (Dalton) Daily News: “Georgia DNR workers honored,” DNR release about three Nongame Conservation Section employees lauded for work disentangling right whales. (May 20)
Savannah Morning News: “Turtle-napping busted,” about the theft of juvenile diamondback terrapins from the Tybee Island Marine Science Center. (May 19)
The (Columbia, S.C.) State: “Biologist helps bald eagles soar,” about eagle populations in S.C. and retired state DNR biologist who worked to save eagles. (May 16)
The Florida Times-Union (and others via AP): “Manatee found dead in Brunswick creek,” about first manatee death reported in Georgia this year. (May 16)
The (Gainesville) Times (and others via AP): “Birds build second nest on Bolding Bridge,” about osprey pair returning after DOT removed first nest. (May 16)
The Log (alumni magazine, Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources): “Fresh find” (pdf), about Warnell students and DNR biologists finding what may be a mussel last collected in 1958. (Spring 2009)
The Brunswick News: “Boaters urged to avoid manatees,” about DNR cautions about manatees returning to coastal waters. (May 15) (NBC WLTV 12 and ABC WJXX 25, Jacksonville and others via AP): “GA spotters see first sea turtle nests of season,” about discovery of first loggerhead and leather back nests of 2009. (May 12)
The Fishing Wire (and others via AP): “New video warns against illegal feeding of dolphins,” DNR release on new PSA about dangers of feeding dolphins.
Columbus Ledger-Enquirer: “Rare spider lilies bloom on Flat Shoals Creek,” about landowner who opens his property for public viewing of the plants. (May 9) “Country Cuckoos in statewide competition,” about Bainbridge team’s award-winning work in the Youth Birding Competition. (May 9)
WABE PBS (Atlanta): “Photo contest promotes ecology, conservancy,” about start of Great Georgia Photo SWAP project led by Georgia Conservancy and promoting the State Wildlife Action Plan. (May 5)
Atlanta Journal-Constitution: “Kids count birds in DNR’s contest,” Charlie Seabrook column on the Youth Birding Competition and a team including biologist Todd Schneider's sons. (May 2)
The (Gainesville) Times: "Wreck on bridge earlier this year causes DOT to remove ospreys' home," about dot removing osprey nest on bridge for repair work. (May 2)
Monticello News: “Piedmont student wins Charlie Elliott art contest,” about fourth-grader Heidi Cashwell placing first in elementary division of Youth Birding Competition T-shirt Art Contest. (April 30)
Atlanta Journal-Constitution: “Site a bonanza for avid birders,” Charlie Seabrook column about birding at Charlie Elliott Wildlife Center. (April 27)
ugaresearch: “To save a mussel, find its fish,” about DNR/UGA project to find the host fish of the Altamaha spinymussel, among other goals. (Spring 2009)
The Florida Times-Union: “Uncharted: Biologists find rare ecosystem on Jekyll,” about DNR biologists documenting unclassified maritime habitat as part of the Coastal Georgia Land Conservation Initiative. (April 26)
Atlanta Journal-Constitution: “Cars not turtles’ only hazard,” Charlie Seabrook column about commercial harvest threat to freshwater turtles. (April 25)
Coastal Courier (Hinesville): “WILD facts: In the shell,” Linda May feature about turtle shells. (April 20) (blog): “In April, life blooms rich ‘in the pits’ at Piedmont outcrops,” DNR release about granite outcrops. (April 18)
The Florida Times-Union: “Altamaha flooding: It's almost all benefit,” about how high water nourishes ecosystem. (April 15)
WSB radio (and others via AP): “Bald eagle population soars,” about DNR survey results showing an increase in nesting. (April 15)
Sowega Live: “Decatur County ties for highest known eagle nesting sites in Georgia,” about DNR bald eagle survey numbers. (April 14)
Thomasville Times-Enterprise: “Nature enthusiasts fly to Pinewoods Bird Festival,” about seventh annual Pinewoods Bird Festival at Pebble Hill Plantation. (April 11)
CNN: “Endangered right whales appear to be on the rebound,” about record right whale calving season. (April 3)

Resources online

June 13
: Upper Chattahoochee Riverkeeper Revival and River Race, Roswell.
June 6-14: National Fishing and Boating Week. June 6, June 13 are free fishing days in Georgia (no license needed). List of kids' fishing events.
June 20-26: Paddle Georgia 2009 (Coosawattee and Oostanaula rivers). * June 23-24: Georgia DNR Board of Natural Resources committee meetings (1 p.m. Feb. 24), monthly meeting (9 a.m. Feb. 25), DNR board room, Atlanta.
Aug. 25-26: Georgia DNR Board of Natural Resources committee meetings (1 p.m. Feb. 24), monthly meeting (9 a.m. Feb. 25), DNR board room, Atlanta.
Sept. 19: International Coastal Cleanup Day.
Photo credits (from top):
* Brown thrasher (masthead). Todd Schneider/Ga. DNR
* Fishes of Georgia Web site logo. Carrie Straight/UGA
* Georgia nongame license plates. Georgia DNR
* Bud Freeman (left) and Brett Albanese (far right) sample Cane Creek. Kristina Summers/Ga. DNR
* Dwarf oak-evergreen shrub forest at Ohoopee Dunes Natural Area. Mark Del Santro ("With Still Small Voices They Speak")
* Shoals spiderlily. Lisa Kruse/Ga. DNR
* Striped newt. Dirk J. Stevenson
* Brown thrasher. Todd Schneider/Ga. DNR
* Diamondback terrapin. Andrew Grosse/UGA
* Kristin Bobo (left) and others welding gate at Chickamauga Creek cave. Kristina Summers/Ga. DNR
* Group looking at Ohoopee Dunes map: (seated, left to right) Jeannie Buttrum of Georgia Department of Economic Development; Nongame Assistant Chief Jon Ambrose of DNR Wildlife Resources Division, state Rep. Larry "Butch" Parrish, Swainsboro/Emanuel County Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Bill Rogers Jr. ; (standing, from left) DNR Game Management Region 6 Supervisor Chris Baumann, DNR fisheries biologist Bryant Bowen, Chief Engineer
David Freedman of State Parks and Historic Sites, DNR technician Bobby Sanders, DNR RFC Jamey O'Brien and 
DNR botanist Mincy Moffett.
* Biologist Thomas Floyd showing pine snake to fifth-graders in Dacula. Joy Wolfe/Fort Daniel Elementary School

Georgia Wild
volume 2, issue 5

Georgia Wild is 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 to subscribers. Subscribe or see previous  issues.

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 fee at all county tag offices, by checking the wildlife license plate box on mail-in registration forms or through online renewal.
fishesofgeorgia photo
Whopper of a Web site!

New online atlas details Georgia's freshwater fishes
   It’s no fish tale: A new Georgia Museum of Natural History Web site offers the most complete look at Georgia’s freshwater fishes.
   “There has never been anything this comprehensive,” said Brett Albanese, a senior aquatic zoologist with the Georgia Wildlife Resources Division’s Nongame Conservation Section.
   Fishes of Georgia is the work of Albanese, Museum of Natural History Director Bud Freeman and Carrie Straight, a research professional with the University of Georgia Odum School of Ecology. Behind the lists and maps are thousands of hours spent studying records, sampling streams and inspecting fish in jars.
   The results: a Fishes of Georgia Atlas database with more than 159,000 fish records and an easy-to-use Web site that documents the state’s deep lineup of freshwater fish. With some 265 native freshwater fishes, Georgia is in the top three states for freshwater fish diversity. 
photo of fish sampling   Fishes of Georgia users will vary from consultants to city planners, conservationists and schoolteachers. Species are listed by scientific and common names. Maps show where each lives by basin. Viewers can even submit records.
   Twenty-one species have not been formally described or recognized as new species, though many such as the sicklefin redhorse are well known to ichthyologists like Freeman and Albanese. These fish illustrate cryptic, or hidden, diversity.
    Factors contributing to a species being undiscovered vary, Freeman said. “They may be in hard to sample places. They may look exactly the same, at first glance. They may be different only genetically.”
   The site lists “new” bass, like Bartram’s bass, an undescribed species in the Savannah River basin, and a separate strain of redeye bass, based on research Freeman spearheaded.
   Fifty-seven fish are state or federally protected. Six are no longer found in Georgia. Conserving those that remain will require watershed-level measures such as protecting streamside forests, preserving natural areas and managing better the run-off from urban and rural land uses.
   Straight modeled the Web site after the museum’s popular Georgia Wildlife Web. She also avoided flashy features that bank on faster Internet connections. “We tried to accommodate as broad a spectrum of users as we could,” Straight said.
   She is still adding maps and photographs. Scientists’ comments also will likely change the information, which includes common coastal fishes and 23 non-native species.
   The project was funded by the museum, which is part of the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences at UGA, Georgia DNR’s Nongame Conservation Section and a State Wildlife Grant from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
   The atlas, a priority in Georgia’s Wildlife Action Plan, is a key component of a larger effort to publish a comprehensive book on the state’s fish fauna. But keeping the atlas up-to-date is a priority for the authors. Each expects Fishes of Georgia to spur more research and understanding of the state’s fishes.

Sandhills landscape photo
States team up to save sandhills

Feds award $1M to four-state project led by Georgia
   A $1 million federal grant will help Georgia and three neighboring states increase the quality, quantity and connectivity of prime sandhill habitat, benefiting gopher tortoises and some 54 other sandhill species.
   The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced the State Wildlife Grants Competitive Program funding last month. Georgia will join with Alabama, Florida, South Carolina and conservation groups to put up $1.66 million in matching money and work.
   The Multistate Sandhills Ecological Restoration project could help keep gopher tortoises off federal endangered or threatened species lists, while also provide for the long-term conservation of Southeastern sandhill species from southern hognose snakes to Bachman’s sparrows and striped newts.
   One goal is restoring nearly 38,600 acres of priority sites over three years. The focus in Georgia?  Rebuilding habitat, said Nongame Conservation Section Program Manager Matt Elliott of the state’s Wildlife Resources Division.
   "Depending on the area, we’ll be doing prescribed fire, removal of sand pine (and) planting of longleaf pine,” said Elliott, who will coordinate work in Georgia.
   Sand pine is not native to Georgia sandhills, areas of deep sandy soils with longleaf pine and turkey and other scrub oaks in a low, open-tree canopy over drought-tolerant shrubs, grasses and cactus. Rated a conservation priority in each of the states’ Wildlife Action Plans, sandhills range from southern Alabama, across south Georgia’s Coastal Plain, down the Florida peninsula and into the Carolinas. Issues include development, conversion to uses such as timber, and too few natural fires to keep invasive hardwoods at bay and promote the growth of grasses that gopher tortoises and other wildlife need.
   The scope of restoration reaches beyond individual states. The project will target high-priority sites, banking on help from partners such as The Nature Conservancy and Project Orianne.
   Work will include increasing controlled burning, removing invasive species, controlling hardwoods and replanting longleaf pines. At least a fifth of the restoration will be on private land. Surveys of plants and birds will help measure impacts. Gopher tortoise surveys will contribute to management of these long-lived animals.
   Georgia’s state reptile is a keystone species. Healthy tortoise populations are critical to diversity in Southeastern upland habitats. Gopher tortoise burrows are used by more than 300 wildlife species. Yet, the tortoise is federally threatened west of the Mobile and Tombigbee rivers in Alabama and Mississippi, and there are two petitions to list it as threatened in the eastern part of its range.
   Elliott agrees the project is ambitious. But, considering the range of efforts focused on conserving sandhills (below), “It all sort of adds up.”

Science and sandhills
  • The four-state project has roots in the Gopher Tortoise Candidate Conservation Agreement (pdf), formed by the states in 2007 to develop a tortoise conservation of striped newt
  • Georgia is wrapping up a sandhills inventory aimed at assessing conservation needs of rare plants and animals.
  • A Healthy Forest Reserve Program by the Natural Resources Conservation Service is aimed at restoring sandhills along Georgia’s fall line.
  • A Wal-Mart Foundation-funded project within the Nongame Conservation Section will help educate teachers about sandhills.

Out my backdoor
A state bird worthy of the title
By Terry W. Johnson
   Which is Georgia’s state bird: The northern bobwhite, cardinal, northern mockingbird or brown thrasher?
   Times up. If you guessed brown thrasher, you’re right. On March 20, 1970, after a 35-year campaign waged by The Garden Club of Georgia Inc., the General Assembly designated the brown thrasher as Georgia’s state bird.
   Since, many have questioned why, when there are far more colorful birds such as the cardinal and eastern bluebird to choose from. In truth, the brown thrasher was first picked by school children in 1928. I agree with their choice. Here’s why.
photo of brown thrasher   Our state bird should be found throughout the state, and indeed the brown thrasher is, ranging from Rising Fawn in northwest Georgia to St. Marys on the coast.
   While not blessed with eye-popping color, the brown thrasher is a fairly large and handsome bird. Its back and tail are foxy brown. Its creamy white breast is festooned with prominent dark brown streaks. Its wings are marked with two white wing bars. Its eyes are bright yellow.
   The thing that distinguishes the brown thrasher from most other birds is its song. Oh, what a song! More than 1,100 song types have been attributed to this species. The thrasher’s song, including snatches from many of its bird neighbors, consists of a string of phrases usually uttered twice (listen here). The famous writer and naturalist Henry David Thoreau described the call as “Drop it, drop it, Cover it up, cover it up, Pull it up, pull it up.”  The difference from the northern mockingbird’s songs is that the mockingbird typically repeats phrases three times.
   Brown thrashers prefer shrubby habitats like forests with a shrubby understory, brushy fencerows and old fields, and backyards with small trees and shrubs. They scratch the ground and through leaf litter, searching for small insects, worms, spiders and other invertebrates. They also eat fruits, berries and nuts.
   To attract these often-secretive birds to your yard, provide plenty of dense shrubs and fruit- and nut-bearing trees. Consider leaving fallen leaves beneath shrubs and in places near shrubby habitats – brown thrashers love to hunt for food in such sites. Also create a brush pile in a back corner, offering thrashers and other birds a haven from predators and severe weather.
   Another feature that will help attract brown thrashers is a birdbath or small pond. While they will use birdbaths placed on pedestals, one on the ground might be your best bet.
   Brown thrashers will also use feeders. They are fond of suet, particularly if laced with peanut butter, and meal worms.
   I hope you now agree that a handsome bird that is an accomplished vocalist, pest control agent and inhabitant found throughout the state is a worthy neighbor and deserving of the title of Georgia’s state bird.
   Read Terry’s full column.

Terry Johnson is a former Nongame program manager with the Georgia Wildlife Resources Division, a noted backyard wildlife writer and expert, and executive director of TERN, the friends group for Wildlife Resources' Nongame Conservation Section.

photo of bat cave gate
Barring people, for bats' sake
Gate at Catoosa cave a last-resort for conservation
   If you build it, they won’t come. People, that is.
   That’s the motive behind an extreme conservation method that will hopefully bring a maternity colony of federally endangered gray bats back to a northwest Georgia cave.
   The site outside Ringgold on Chickamauga Creek has been used by Native Americans, early settlers, wildlife and now vandals. The most recent set of visitors has meant trouble for the sensitive bats. The cave, marked with spray paint and littered with beer bottles, has become a local hangout for trespassers. Frequent bon fires set at the mouth have sent smoke into the cave’s deeper reaches, disturbing bats and possibly causing females to abandon the site.
   The cave is Georgia’s only known maternity colony of gray bats (Myotis grisescens).
   Enter the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which awarded a “partners” grant that made it possible for the Georgia Wildlife Resources Division to build the gate at the cave entrance, working with the landowner, who requested help. Though considered a conservation method of last resort, the gate will bar people from entering the Catoosa County cave and disturbing the bats. The cave is not a site cavers commonly use.
   “Generally we prefer to use signs or fence a cave, but this location was just too accessible for these to be of much use,” said project leader Trina Morris, a wildlife biologist with the division’s Nongame Conservation Section.
   Before construction began, approximately 5 tons of steel was wheeled down a steep four-wheel-drive trail of rocks and ruts to an embankment. It was then hauled by hand and pulley up the hill to the mouth of the cave. The work required extensive coordination and hundreds of volunteer hours of physical labor.
   Overlooking the swollen creek below, the cave opening yawns 39½ feet wide and reaches as high as 8 feet.
   Every gate is different, determined by the unique features of each cave. Kristin Bobo knows. Trained and certified by Bat Conservation International, a Texas-based organization dedicated to conserving bats and their ecosystems, Bobo has traveled around the country building cave gates for nine years. Newcomer Jason Collard helped her on this project.
   The steel hauled to the mouth of the cave was quickly and expertly cut and welded into place by the team. After one section was finished, movement caught the eye of one of the workers. A small bat had flown through the bars and into the cave. Though not a gray bat, it was a hopeful sign the cave will once again become home for the furry fliers.
   Bobo and the team of volunteers, many of them Wildlife Resources Division staff, finished the gate by mid-May.
   Morris will soon check to see if gray bats roosting elsewhere have returned, signaling that what was once a vibrant maternity colony is a possibility again. This time protected by a gate of steel.

   Wood stork nests numbers appear down this year, incomplete surveys show. A preliminary count of 1,676 nests does not include some sites such as Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay, where surveys of the endangered birds (video) are restricted. The state total last year topped 2,200 nests, a record.
   Charge the camera batteries: The Georgia Conservancy has joined with Wildlife Resources for a photo contest focused on species in the State Wildlife Action Plan.  The goal: Increase awareness of this critical conservation guide and the high-priority creatures singled out in it.   Meanwhile, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is requesting digital snapshots for a photo mosaic project aimed at getting people outside.
   Three new Atlanta falcons are testing their wings. The fledgling peregines, banded by Nongame Program Manager Jim Ozier a month ago, ventured off their 51st-floor balcony nest outside McKenna, Long & Aldridge law firm May 15.
   Sea turtles are hitting the beaches for what could be a busier than average nesting season. The year’s first nest – that of an endangered leatherback – was found on Sea Island May 4, followed days later by a loggerhead nest on Wassaw Island. Loggerheads are Georgia’s primary nesting sea turtle.
   Suwanee's Homeschool Hummers, a middle school team, topped a larger-than-ever Youth Birding Competition with 147 species seen or heard. The April 25-26 event drew about 140 birders ages 4-18 who recorded 200-plus species and raised more than $1,200 for conservation.
   Southeastern American kestrel nest boxes in Taylor County revealed egg counts tying 2008’s total, with expectations of more to come in '09. Two boxes put up by Flint Energies at Fall Line Sandhills Natural Area -- and not along the powerline right of way -- are occupied, and there's even the first known nest at Black Creek Natural Area, senior wildlife biologist Nathan Klaus said.
   The 12 pairs of whooping cranes nesting on or near Wisconsin's Necedah National Wildlife Refuge abandoned their nests, spurring research into why and undercutting efforts to restore eastern populations of the endangered birds. Four "renests" have been documented, one of which failed.
photo of group at Ohoopee Dunes   
   Wildlife Resources representatives including botanist Mincy Moffett and Nongame Assistant Chief Jon Ambrose met last month with Swainsboro/Emanuel County Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Bill Rodgers and state Rep. Larry “Butch” Parrish to consider how the division, the chamber and the county can work to improve access and the educational infrastructure at Ohoopee Dunes Natural Area. The group (above) also discussed restoration and law enforcement issues plaguing Ohoopee. Moffett, who is surveying the area for a 50-year management plan, led tours for Altamaha Riverkeeper and area citizens.
   Georgia River Network's Paddle Georgia 2009 will pack an education in wildlife diversity along the Coosawattee and Oostanaula rivers. Wildlife Resources biologists, among others, will provide educational programs during the June 20-26 event, showing off animals found in what North America’s most biologically diverse basin.
   Nongame biologists Clay George and Mark Dodd and technician Kate Sparks were among nine people honored by the Southeastern Implementation Team for Right Whale Conservation for their work in disentangling right whales this winter (see March "Georgia Wild"). "Successfully assisting five entangled right whales in mere months was extraordinary, but not possible without the expertise and dedication of  our partners, such as Georgia DNR," said Barb Zoodsma, NOAA Fisheries Service right whale biologist.
   The Outdoor Festival and JAKES Day May 16 at Charlie Elliott Wildlife Center attracted an estimated 1,800 people, about 600 more than last year.
    Fort Gordon natural resources biologists Kenneth Boyd, Allen Braswell, Steve Camp and Robert Drumm received regional Fish and Wildlife Service Director’s Conservation Awards for work that helped increase red-cockaded woodpeckers at the Augusta base from none to about 40 and restore 2,000-plus acres of longleaf pine.
   Wildlife Resources' spring birding boot camps in the Piedmont and mountains proved a hit despite some blustery weather, schooling birders for potential volunteer service. The camps featured some "cooperative" Swainson’s warblers, plus the sounds and sometimes sights of species such as Bachman's sparrow, prothonotary warbler, Louisiana waterthrush and golden-winged, Cerulean and chestnut-sided warblers.
   Fernbank Museum of Natural History’s UrbanWatch Atlanta program snagged a 2009 Green Reach Award from the Atlanta Business Chronicle. The program, supported in part by a Nongame Educational and Watchable Wildlife grant, teaches students, teachers and others the importance hands-on of biodiversity.
   A dead manatee was found floating near a Brunswick park May 14, the first manatee known to have died in Georgia waters this season. The cause of death could not be determined.

Parting shot
photo of Thomas Floyd at school
Inspired by the reptile and amphibian posters produced by Wildlife Resources and Georgia Power, Joy Wolfe’s fifth-grade class at Fort Daniel Elementary School in Dacula wrote to Wildlife Resources, asking for copies and posing questions to biologists. In response, Nongame Conservation Section herpetologist Thomas Floyd visited the class. He took a set of posters for each of the school’s seven 5th-grade classrooms. Floyd also brought the real thing: a gopher tortoise, an eastern indigo snake, a pine snake and a small alligator snapping turtle. "He was an excellent speaker and my kids really enjoyed his visit,” Wolfe wrote. “Thank you so much for the posters and for his time and energy."


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