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Butterfly photo. Ga. DNR e-newsletter.
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July 2009
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Also in this issue
* Peregrine proposal
* Weird wildlife 
* Elliott Center profile

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Watch DNR's new video on monitoring bog turtles!

This just in
A Fish and Wildlife Service report estimates that in 2006 birders contributed $36 billion to the U.S. economy. One in five Americans watched birds, including 1.2 million birders in Georgia. Download "Birding in the United States."

wildlife tags image
Give wildlife a chance

* Buy a conservation license plate (the eagle and hummingbird designs).
* Contribute to the tax checkoff.
* Donate directly to the Nongame Conservation Section.
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
If you spot a gray dorsal fin sticking out of the ocean along Georgia’s coast, it probably belongs to a dolphin or a shark. But which one? Usually a dolphin’s dorsal fin has a curved tip while a shark’s is more triangular. Most dolphins have only one fin on their backs, but some sharks have a second smaller dorsal fin close to the tail. Also, dolphins move their horizontal tails up and down; sharks move their vertical tails side to side. These differences are good to know, especially if you’re swimming in the ocean, not watching from a boat!
In education
At Charlie Elliott Wildlife Center, birds of prey keep curious watch from their enclosures as visitors are encouraged to inch closer to snakes, ask questions about insects, catch fish and of course get dirty in the process. Dubbed by some the best-kept secret in Georgia, Charlie Elliott is a 6,400-acre wildlife management area, public fishing area and wildlife education center near Mansfield, a hour-and-a-half drive from 60 percent of the state’s population. The Georgia Department of Natural Resources center is open year-round. It logged more than 21,000 visits last year. Program manager Walter Lane said education programs at Charlie Elliott are an excellent way for children, teens and adults to connect with nature. “The feedback ... from our students, teachers, campers and parents indicates that we are providing a valuable learning experience,” Lane said. “For example, the fathers of two of our teen campers asked me what had we done to their kids because all they wanted to do after they came back from camp was spend time outside.” Read more.

D.C. talk
States would receive millions for natural resources adaptation under the House-approved American Clean Energy and Security Act. Georgia’s estimated share could range from $5.9 million a year through 2021 to more than $20 million annually after 2026, as a sliding scale percentage of funding for adaptation increases. The figures are ballpark estimates. How much money the legislation would generate is unknown. Projections of EPA economic models peg the total at $1.7 billion a year for natural resources. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has directed Senate committees to mark up their parts of the bill by Sept. 28. Reid said Democrats want to have legislation to President Obama before the U.N. Climate Change Conference ends in December.
The House also approved more than $52 million for the North American Wetlands Conservation Act, a record high.

From the field
Bat conservation interns Laci Coleman and Michael Blubaugh roamed swamps and bottomland forests from Fort Stewart to Fort Gordon last month. Their search for Rafinesque’s big-eared bats and Southeastern myotis featured  mosquitoes, muggy nights, truck-bogging mud, mind-numbing travel, gators, Gatorade and the magical sight of thousands of bats leaving a southwest Georgia cave at nightfall. Laci writes of that last experience: “We both agree that it was one of the coolest things we have ever done!” Read their diary.

tricolored heron photo
Up close

Tricolored heron
Egretta tricolor
Formerly called: Louisiana heron.
Description: Medium-sized heron with long, slender neck and bill. Named for its dark blue-gray back and neck, white belly, and chestnut-colored throat, a mix that sets it apart from North America’s other egrets and herons. Juveniles are more reddish. Adults are 23-28 inches in length, with wingspans of about 37 inches.
Range: Includes U.S. Atlantic and Gulf coasts, all of Florida, Mexico, Central America, areas of the Caribbean and parts of northern South America. Common along the Georgia coast and – during the breeding season – the eastern lower Coastal Plain. Uncommon to rare in the rest of the state.
Habitat: Wetland areas, including swamps, coastal ponds, marshes and mudflats. Species is largely dependant on coastal environments. Forages only in wetlands, and usually those in or near estuaries.
Eats: Mostly small fish and aquatic invertebrates. Often feeds alone, patiently stalking prey.
Sounding off: Call is a nasal squawk. (Listen here.)
Breeding behavior: In Georgia, nests mainly on barrier islands and along immediate mainland coast. Builds stick nests in shrubs and small trees, usually on islands in estuarine wetlands. Will nest with other herons and egrets. Normal clutch size is three to four eggs. Young hatch in 21-24 days. Parents feed them for about two months before the young become independent.
Status: Once among the most common herons in North and South America, tricolored herons have shrunk in number since the early 20th century. Species is common along Georgia’s coast, but local population declines have been noted. Such declines throughout the bird’s range led to the Southeast U.S. Waterbird Conservation Plan listing tricolored herons as a regional stewardship species. The International Union for the Conservation of Nature classifies tricoloreds as a species of least concern. Georgia’s State Wildlife Action Plan, or SWAP, rates them a high-priority species, in part because of their dependency on isolated wetlands.
Outlook: The top conservation threat is degradation and loss of wetlands to development and intense silvicultural practices. Most isolated freshwater wetlands have no state or federal protection in Georgia. Other threats include changes in water salinity, human disturbance of colonies, predation at colonies, environmental contaminants and even fire ants, which can kill young birds.
How you can help: Promote the conservation of wetlands and land management efforts that benefit coastal ecosystems. The SWAP proposes work such as mapping wetlands and developing a strategy to conserve them statewide.
SWAP contest: The tricolored heron is one species featured in the Great Georgia Photo SWAP, a Georgia Conservancy-led contest promoting awareness of the State Wildlife Action Plan.

Largely adapted from an account by Stefani L. Melvin in “The Breeding Bird Atlas of Georgia,” scheduled for release by the University of Georgia Press in February 2010. Other sources: Georgia DNR, Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Whatbird.com, USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center

www.seaturtle.org image
Sea turtle tracks
A Georgia sea turtle nesting update from www.seaturtle.org.

False crawls: 1,146
Nests: 762 (11 lost)
Relocated: 345 (45.2%)
Estimated eggs: 40,289
Eggs lost: 2,584 (6.4%)
Mean clutch size: 112.6 eggs

Check here for a complete look at real-time data and beach-by-beach reports.

Nongame in the news
WALB-TV (Albany): “Georgia has endangered snakes,” about conserving snakes and identifying venomous species. (July 13)
Savannah Morning News: “Parking lot attracts nesting birds,” about a parking lot killdeer nest and a least terns colony atop Kmart. (July 10)
Al.com: “Effort to save the Alabama sturgeon gets under way,” about critical habitat plan for endangered fish taking effect. (July 7)
The Macon Telegraph: “Annual Macon butterfly count keeps tabs on ecosystem,” about North American Butterfly Association’s annual butterfly count including Bond Swamp NWR. (July 7)
Examiner.com: “Rainy nights in Georgia give rare frogs a leg-up on life,” about improved release rates for gopher frog project at Williams Bluffs Preserve. (July 6)
Savannah Morning News: “Web site tracks Georgia turtle data,” about www.seaturtle.org listing sea turtle nests, nest losses and egg totals via Georgia's Sea Turtle Cooperative. (July 6) Also:
Georgia Public Broadcasting.
Chattanooga Times Free Press: “Tennessee: Climate game changer,” about Tennessee and Georgia wildlife officials’ outlook on climate change. (Includes audio clip from Nongame Assistant Chief Jon Ambrose.) (July 2)
Atlanta Journal-Constitution: “Group saves native plants,” profile of Georgia Native Plant Society. (July 2)
Florida Times-Union: “Beach Week celebrates coastal Georgia animals and plants,” about annual DNR public awareness program held on St. Simons, Jekyll islands. (July 1)
Coosa Valley News: “Long-term conservation at work,” DNR release about successful Cerulean warblers project as evidence of research that requires years for results. (June 30)
Savannah Morning News: “Bamboo poles divert marsh wrack,” about citizens’ efforts to use bamboo “fence” to protect marsh. (June 29)
Florida Times-Union (and others via AP): “Training range OK for whales, Navy says,” about environmental report saying anti-sub training range off Georgia-Florida coast poses no significant impact on wildlife, including right whales. (June 28)
Florida Times-Union: “Research vessel's high numbers of juvenile turtles good sign for species,” about increase in juvenile sea turtles seen by Research Vessel Georgia Bulldog monitoring populations. (June 28)
The Island Packet (Hilton Head, S.C.): “Want to track loggerhead turtles? Click here to find out how,” about sea turtle nest updates at www.seaturtle.org. (June 27)
Savannah Morning News: “Sea turtle found dead at dock,” about carcass of juvenile Kemp’s Ridley, an endangered species, found at marina. (June 27)
Athens Banner-Herald: “War being waged against destructive foreign plants,” about training volunteers to remove invasive plants, particularly in Athens-Clarke County’s North Oconee Greenway.
Augusta Chronicle: Rob Pavey’s outdoors column including mention of Linda May’s WILD Fact on daddy-longlegs. (June 21)

July 18: Winged Wonders Butterfly Festival, 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Birdsong Nature Center, Thomasville.
Aug. 25-26: Georgia DNR Board of Natural Resources committee meetings, monthly meeting, DNR board room, Atlanta.
Aug. 26-28: 4th Annual Georgia Environmental Conference (Georgia Chamber of Commerce event), Hyatt Regency, Savannah. Sept. 17: Agroforestry and Wildlife Field Day, Georgia Experiment Station, Griffin.
Sept. 19: International Coastal Cleanup Day.
Sept. 22-23: Georgia DNR Board of Natural Resources committee meetings, monthly meeting, DNR board room, Atlanta.
Sept. 26: National Hunting and Fishing Day (details soon at www.georgiawildlife.com).
Oct. 8-12: 7th Annual Colonial Coast Birding & Nature Festival, Jekyll Island.
Oct. 30: 13th annual Georgia Outdoor Classroom Symposium, Chase Street Elementary, Athens.
Submit events.

Photo credits (from top):
* Close-up of male black swallowtail (masthead). Todd Schneider/Ga. DNR
* Sturgeon release. UGA Sturgeon Research Team
* Researchers checking large Atlantic sturgeon. UGA Sturgeon Research Team
* Peregrine falcon. Jim Ozier/Ga. DNR
* Tricolored heron on Savannah River. Jason Wisniewski/Ga. DNR
* Yellow-bellied sapsucker eating jelly. Terry W. Johnson
* Hairy rattleweed. Hugh Nourse
* John Damer of DNR Region 1 Fisheries at Paddle Georgia display. Brett Albanese/Ga. DNR
* Gopher tortoise floating in Altamaha. Jason Wisniewski/Ga. DNR

Georgia Wild
volume 2, issue 7

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 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 depends for funding 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 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.
sturgeon profile image
The state of sturgeon

Studies show state's significance for species
   Where sturgeon are concerned, Georgia can make a strong claim as a key state for the primitive fishes.
  Four of the nine species that occur in North America are – or in the case of Gulf sturgeon were – found here. Georgia has the largest populations of Atlantic and shortnose sturgeon south of Delaware, according to Doug Peterson of the University of Georgia’s Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources. And lake sturgeon have been reintroduced in northwest Georgia.
   sturgeon research imageSturgeons are an ancient fish valued for caviar and depleted by overharvest in the late 19th and 20th centuries. Water pollution and dams that block spawning runs have undermined habitat. Sturgeons are priority species in Georgia's State Wildlife Action Plan.
   With bony-like plates and sloped noses, they certainly look prehistoric. Some also grow big. Peterson’s crews have netted Atantics that tipped the scales at 300 pounds.
   The resource and its rarity – shortnose are federally endangered, Gulf sturgeon are threatened and Atlantics are a candidate for listing at least in some areas – have spurred studies by UGA, the Georgia Department of Natural Resources and others. Peterson, an associate professor of fisheries, is point man for projects that run the gamut of sturgeon research. Here’s an overview:
   ** A three-year project ending this fall used telemetry and estimates from recaptured marked fish to assess the Ogeechee River’s struggling population of shortnose. Bottom line: Some Ogeechee shortnose are apparently spilling over from the Altamaha River.
   ** A by-catch study is monitoring numbers of sturgeon netted in the commercial American shad fishery on the Altamaha. The work includes recapturing marked adult Atlantics and providing brood fish to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
   ** There’s a telemetry study of juvenile Atlantics in the Altamaha. The sturgeon spawn in rivers. The young stay two to four years before swimming to the ocean to spend most of their adult lives. “We think the key part is understanding habitat use in the estuaries and (assessing) recruitment,” Peterson said.
   ** Sampling for shortnose in the Satilla and St. Mary’s rivers has not turned up shortnose in either river but did reveal a remnant population of Atlantics in the Satilla. The St. Mary’s suffers from low dissolved oxygen levels. The Satilla is little better. “Water quality is a real issue in both rivers,” Peterson said.
   ** Researchers are also exploring the upper range of water temperatures that lake sturgeon can survive. Peterson said the maximum is about 93.2 degrees Fahrenheit. The Coosa River in northwest Georgia sometimes hits 91.4. Lake sturgeon -- one of North America's largest freshwater fishes -- respond by hunkering down, feeding and becoming active again only after summer fades. One lingering question is how climate change may further limit a species already at the southern tip of its range.
   The role of the DNR Wildlife Resources Division varies from restoring lake sturgeon through stocking and habitat restoration in the Coosa River system to collaborating with Peterson’s projects. And there is good news, according to Peterson and Joel Fleming, a former Wildlife Resources diadromous fish coordinator who returned to the division last year as an assistant regional fisheries supervisor.
   While cautioning that data must be parsed carefully because sturgeon are long-lived, Fleming said, “It certainly appears as though the sturgeon population, particularly in the Altamaha, is doing very well.”
  • Anyone who observes a lake sturgeon in Georgia, finds a dead one or accidentally catches one should contact Wildlife Resources' Fisheries office in Calhoun, (706) 624-1161 or CalhounFM@dnr.state.ga.us. FYI: Lake sturgeon are only in the Coosa River system in this state.
  • Next door: In Alabama, researchers lost touch last month with the only known Alabama sturgeon in the wild after the battery in the fish's implanted sonic tag failed. The Alabama sturgeon is federally endangered.
peregrine falcon image
DNR eyes peregrine change
Flyway leaders OK limited catch for falconry  
   Need more evidence of the peregrine falcon’s recovery? The Georgia Board of Natural Resources is considering a regulatory change to allow the capture of no more than five migrating juvenile peregrines along the coast this fall.
   The allotment is among 36 northern peregrines – so-called “passage” birds that breed in northern Canada and Alaska and southern Greenland and winter in South America – the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Atlantic, Mississippi and Central Flyway councils approved for take in the eastern U.S. Qualified falconers would be allowed to capture the juvenile birds from Sept. 20-Oct. 20 for use in falconry.
   The science-based plan foresees no negative impact on the peregrine population.
   “Biologically, there’s no reason we can’t do this,” said Jim Ozier, a Nongame Conservation Section program manager with the Wildlife Resources Division. “Falconers are a legitimate, passionate and responsible user group, just as are those who hunt and fish.”
   Falconers prize peregrines for their hunting skills. The falcons are considered the world’s fastest bird, with dives clocked at 200 mph-plus, speeds worthy of NASCAR’s fastest track. But in the U.S., trapping wild peregrines for the millennia-old sport has been illegal since Falco peregrinus was listed under the Endangered Species Conservation Act in 1970. Populations hit a DDT-induced nadir in the ’70s before winging their way back. Falconers contributed expertise and captive-reared birds to the resurgence.
   Peregrines were federally delisted in 1999. The Fish and Wildlife Service allowed the limited take of nestling peregrines in the western U.S. earlier this decade and has since approved the take of 5 percent of northern juveniles trapped as passage birds in the east. The flyway council allotment of 36 birds will be less than 1 percent of annual production, far shy of the 13 percent of juvenile peregrines that population models indicate could be taken for falconry without affecting the breeding population.
   Because the species remains state-listed as rare in Georgia, primarily to conserve the very few pairs that nest here, the DNR board will decide in August a proposed amendment by which the department would issue limited capture permits to experienced falconers. About five falconers who favored the change made the only comments on the amendment during a July 14 public hearing in Jesup.
   Ozier said the combination of a brief trapping window in autumn and the coastal location is designed to avoid resident peregrines and help ensure the capture of migrants. Nearly 60 percent of peregrines die in their first year, a statistic that makes the falcon’s rebound even more amazing.

Making comments
  • Submit comments on the proposal before close of business Aug. 7 via www.georgiawildlife.com or by mail to: Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Wildlife Resources Division, Nongame Conservation Section, Jim Ozier, 116 Rum Creek Drive, Forsyth, Ga. 31029.
  • The Board of Natural Resources will consider the proposed changes and any comments at 9 a.m. Aug. 26 in the DNR Boardroom at 2 Martin Luther King Jr. Drive S.E., Suite 1252, in Atlanta.
  • Call Jim Ozier at (478) 994-1438 to receive a copy of the proposed changes by mail.
  • The USFWS and flyway councils approved the take of 36 northern peregrines, but the states involved will account for only 18 (Georgia, 5; Maryland and Virginia, 4 each; N.C., 3; S.C., 2).
  • To receive a permit in Georgia – issued by random drawing – applicants must be a licensed master falconer or licensed general falconer with at least five years experience.
Peregrines in profile
  • “Peregrine” means wanderer, a fitting name. Peregrines that nest on the tundra winter in South America.
  • There are two known peregrine nests in Georgia, both in downtown Atlanta.
  • Three peregrines fledged from the nest on SunTrust Plaza this year. One of the banded birds was later found injured in the road and has died.
  • The only documented Georgia nest outside Atlanta was in Cloudland Canyon in the 1940s.

Out my backdoor

Black bluebirds and more
By Terry W. Johnson
   When it comes to wildlife, I’ve learned to never say never. For example, several years ago I received a call from a woman in Henry County. She wanted to know if it was unusual for a male bluebird to feed young Carolina chickadees. I told her it most certainly was. Intrigued, I made the trek to Henry County the next day.
   There, she led me into her backyard and pointed to the chickadees' nest in a red ceramic nesting structure. The parents made trip after trip to try and satisfy the tiny birds’ hunger. But every 10 minutes or so, a male bluebird carrying food also arrived at the nest. In one instance, he brought a large walking stick insect.
sapsucker eating jelly image   After several tries at maneuvering the long insect into the entrance hole, he succeeded, only to find the chickadees unable or unwilling to eat it. To swallow this meal a young chickadee would have to possess the talents of a sword swallower.
   Failing to coax any of the nestlings to eat his super-sized meal, he flew off, carrying the walking stick. I am sure the youngsters were glad to see him leave.
   Speaking of foods that don't seem to fit -- like jelly and sapsuckers (above) -- a Monroe County resident told me of a great blue heron dining on an unusual meal. The man’s backyard was next to a small lake the heron frequented. One day, the man watched as the tall bird walked from the pond to his bird feeders 40-50 feet away. There, it stood motionless. In a few minutes, an eastern chipmunk dashed up to fill its cheeks with sunflower seeds. Suddenly, the heron speared the chipmunk, swallowed it headfirst and returned to the pond.
   I have been fortunate enough to see one albino bluebird in my life. While such a bird is a rare find, it doesn’t compare to a black bluebird. Consequently, when I got a call reporting such a bird nesting in Carroll County, I didn’t waste any time getting there.
   The bird was nesting in a blue bird box. That’s right, a box painted blue.  At a distance, this bluebird appeared totally black. However, through binoculars I could see streaks of blue feathers in its charcoal-colored plumage.
   Rare birds show up in backyards quite often. A man in Houston County was surprised to find a black-headed grosbeak at his feeder. One winter morning my wife and daughter spotted a yellow-headed blackbird at on one of our feeders. Knowing that I longed to see a yellow-headed blackbird, they immediately called the golf course where I was. The man on duty at the pro shop caught me on the first tee. I convinced myself the bird would still be there when I finished and played 18 holes.
   You guessed it: When I returned home, the bird had left. I have never lived that one down.
   The point is you don’t have to travel to the Galapagos Islands or the Grand Tetons to see something very special. Truly amazing things are seen in Georgia backyards every year.
   When you spot something that seems out of the ordinary, contact the Nongame Conservation Section. Don’t assume what you’ve seen is common. You may spot a behavior never witnessed by biologists. Or, it might be the first time that animal has been seen in that part of the state. Remarkably little is known about the distribution of many wildlife species in Georgia.
   Summer is a great time to spend more time watching the wildlife in your backyard. When you do, you will be astounded what is going on just outside your backdoor.
   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.

Outreach sows see 'n learn
   A frogs exhibit at Georgia Southern University. A bird-watching program drawing young and old through Columbus State University’s Environmental Learning Center at Oxbow Meadows Environmental Park. Georgia Wildlife Federation’s new online guide to host plants for butterflies and moths.
   All of the above share an obvious emphasis on wildlife and education. What’s not obvious: The Nongame Educational and Watchable Wildlife program helped fund each of them.
   Travelers around Georgia this summer can enjoy the fruit of seeds sown through this decade-old Wildlife Resources Division program. Check out the new diamondback terrapin exhibit at Tybee Island Marine Science Center. Enjoy the wildlife attracted by bird feeders and other enhancements added along the city’s Riverwalk by the Woodbine Woman's Club. Scan the marshes of Glynn from a wildlife-viewing platform opened last fall on the Jekyll Island causeway.
   Educational and Watchable Wildlife funding supports efforts to enhance wildlife education and viewing opportunities statewide. The program, sidelined temporarily by budget cuts this year, is administered by the Nongame Conservation Section and supported by donations and fundraisers such as conservation license plate sales.
  An Altamaha spinymussel with a knack for timing? Just before being returned to the Altamaha River, the sole gravid spiny found this spring in a DNR/University of Georgia study released viable glochidia. Researchers quickly “infested” about 10 fish species at the UGA lab (most mussels propagate by attaching larvae to fish gills). No glochidia survived, meaning the fishes weren't suitable hosts. Determining which species are spiny hosts is the study's focus. The exercise did trim the list of some 90 fishes to consider in the Altamaha basin, project co-coordinator Jason Wisniewski said. This summer and fall he hopes to find more spiny sites and collect gravid arcmussels for similar research.
   Plant work involving Nongame Conservation Section botanists turned up a new site for the state-threatened floodplain tickseed (Coreopsis integrifolia) and only the second known locations in Georgia for bottomland post oak (Quercus similis, in Camden County) and Cassia deeringiana (in Early hairy rattleweed imageCounty). Botanist Tom Patrick and Jimmy Rickard and Ben Dickerson of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service also toured all 44 known sites for the hairy rattleweed (Baptisia arachnifera) in Brantley and Wayne counties, weighing in part the potential for timber site prep techniques that could benefit the federally endangered plant.
   Using a $430,000 grant from The Open Space Institute's Northwest Georgia Land Protection Fund, the Georgia chapter of The Nature Conservancy has acquired conservation easements for 572 acres on Lookout Mountain in Walker County. The wooded property encompasses the headwaters of Little River, rates as a State Wildlife Action Plan high-priority area and connects with more than 2,500 acres of target habitat (McLemore Cove and Camp Adahi) preserved last fall.
   Georgia Outdoors won another Emmy, this one for the episode “Fire Ecology,” which explores prescribed burning, fire’s beneficial role in healthy forests and the fire-dependent longleaf pine ecosystem. Producers Kelly Walker Muse and Brandon Arnold were presented the award at the 35th annual Southeastern Emmy Awards on June 27.
   Make that three marbled godwits that have returned to Georgia after a three-month migration to the Dakotas. The transmitter-toting birds now spending time on Wolf Island National Wildlife Refuge and Little Egg Island Bar Natural Area were tagged this winter in an effort to better understand the species’ migration patterns ("Tracking godwits," January 2009). Marbled godwits are found along Georgia’s coast from July to March, but until recently it wasn’t known where they went when they migrated.
fish tank image   About 100 Paddle Georgia participants got a fish’s-eye view of the upper Coosawattee River system. Nongame senior aquatic zoologist Brett Albanese set up a 29-gallon aquarium stocked with native fishes. Nongame biologist Jason Wisniewski added mussel shells and a live washboard mussel, and senior biologist John Jensen displayed native turtles. Staff from Wildlife Resources’ Fisheries staff (above) had a large tank stocked with bigger fish, including lake sturgeon, longnose gar and smallmouth buffalo.
   Five-year status reviews are planned on 15 endangered and eight threatened species in the Southeast, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The reviews, intended to vet species information and provide updates, will include the Etowah and Cherokee darters and Tennessee yellow-eyed grass.
   Here’s something to chew on: Pollinators account for an estimated one out of every three bites of food we eat. With that in mind, the National Wildlife Federation encourages boosting pollinator populations by using native plants, hanging hummingbird feeders, building a bee house and planting a butterfly garden
   To help with your garden, the Nongame Conservation Section is offering free packets of native wildflower seed designed to attract nectar-feeders. To receive a packet – one per family, please – send a first-class, self-addressed, stamped envelope (No. 10 letter-sized) to: Nectar-feeder Native Wildflower Seed Packet, DNR/WRD Nongame Conservation Section, 116 Rum Creek Drive, Forsyth, Ga. 31029.
   Western utilities giant PacifiCorp pleaded guilty in federal court July 13 to killing golden eagles and other migratory birds in Wyoming. A Fish and Wildlife Service investigation faulted the electrical distribution and transmission system of Rocky Mountain Power, PacifiCorp’s working name in Wyoming, for electrocuting 232 eagles since January 2007. The company, which released a statement saying it is committed to meeting terms of the settlement, faces $1.4 million in fines and restitution and $9.1 million in equipment upgrades.

Parting shot
gopher tortoise in river image

This gopher tortoise probably didn't mean to take a float trip down the Altamaha River, but that's where Nongame staff and others found him. They placed the tortoise -- which appeared no worse for its summer swim -- in sandier, more appropriate habitat.

Got an unusual Georgia wildlife photo? E-mail us a copy, along with permission to post it on Wildlife Resources' Flickr site. We'll send those who submit the most intriguing shots a hummingbird license plate shirt!


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