Give wildlife a chance
Georgia DNR's Nongame Conservation Section
receives no state funding to conserve nongame wildlife, native plants and natural habitats. Instead, we depend on contributions, grants and fundraisers. How can you help?
* Buy a conservation license plate
* Contribute to the Georgia Wildlife Conservation Fund tax checkoff
directly to the Nongam
e Conservation Section, even online
* Use GoodSearch
for Internet searches (enter "Georgia Nongame Conservation Fund" under "Who do you GoodSearch for" and click "Verify").
often is used when referring to a mouse or rat. However, other mammals in Georgia belong to the order Rodentia
, too, including voles, chipmunks, squirrels, muskrats and beavers. These plant eaters have front incisor teeth and rear molars but lack pointy canine teeth on the sides. The front surface of their incisors is made of hard enamel while the back consists of softer dentine. This difference in hardness causes the teeth to wear unevenly and results in a very sharp chisel for chomping. Rodent incisors never stop growing; they get worn down gnawing on nuts, fruits and woody plants.
-- Linda May
about Georgia's protected plants and animals? At www.georgiawildlife.com
, we have answers. The website for DNR's Wildlife Resources Division features a growing list of entries covering state and federally listed species, from Atlantic pigtoe
to Xyris tennesseensis
, or Tennessee yellow-eyed grass
. Accounts include photographs, characteristics, distributional maps and details on ecology and conservation status. Some accounts are in the works, but many are online. Find them here
The CLEAR Act
narrowly passed the U.S. House with full funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund
late last month. H.R. 3534
, the Consolidated Land, Energy and Aquatic Resources Act, also has provisions for oil and gas development on federal lands and waters, including measures for cleanup and restoration of the Gulf of Mexico following the Deepwater Horizon spill. Similar legislation is in the Senate, where Democrats recently abandoned hopes for passing comprehensive climate change legislation this summer. The House bill, passed 209-193, would provide $900 million for the Land and Water Conservation Fund. Created in 1965
to help federal, state and local governments create and maintain public outdoors recreation areas, the fund has never been bankrolled at its target amount of $900 million.
: Member of the sub-order Odontoceti
, or toothed whales. Also part of the larger order Cetacea. Cetaceans
are large marine mammals and include all dolphins, whales and porpoises.
: One of 36 members of the family Delphinidae, which also includes pilot and killer whales.
: All cetaceans have horizontally flattened tails (or flukes), blowholes and no hind limbs. These dolphins also have a distinct, elongated “bottle-shaped” rostrum (nose and mouth). They breathe through a blowhole on top of their heads. They are colored gray to dark gray with lighter shades on undersides (a form of camouflage called countershading
that helps protect from predators). Some may have spots or streaks.
: Varies considerably depending on habitat and breeding population. Coastal animals can be as small as 6 feet long and 330 pounds. Offshore animals tend to be larger, measuring up to 12 feet long and nearly 1,000 pounds. Males are larger than females.
: Found in temperate and tropical waters around the world.
: Bottlenose dolphins
prefer brackish and salt water, but can tolerate fresh water for limited periods. Coastal populations usually prefer warmer, more shallow waters while offshore dolphins can be found in cooler, deeper waters. Some dolphins migrate while others remain in the same areas their entire lives.
: Extremely intelligent; used for entertainment in such places as Sea World
and for work by the military
. Often seen chasing each other, vocalizing, breaching and even tossing seaweed or other items back and forth in what some
researchers call “play behavior.” (Watch dolphins play with bubble rings.
) These social animals are usually found in groups of two to 15. Groups are not necessarily static – some animals leave and others join at different times.
Ties that bind
: Male-female bonding between pairs tends to be short-lived but male pair bonds have been documented to last as long as 20 years. Groups have been observed caring for and aiding injured and sick dolphins, even attempting to keep the ailing dolphin upright so it can breathe.
Friend or foe
: Friendliness toward humans is well documented. Have been known to “rescue” humans from drowning. Not so with sharks: have been observed attacking and killing sharks – even when unprovoked.
: Reproductive age varies. Females may become mature from 5-12 years and males between 10-14. Females give birth to one calf approximately once every three years. Gestation lasts 12 months. Calves are 3-4 feet long at birth and weigh 20-40 pounds. In some cases, a so-called “auntie” dolphin may assist a female during calving.
: A NOAA project involving DNR
found that dolphins sampled in Georgia estuaries had the highest levels of PCBs
yet reported in marine mammals. NOAA says the PCB compounds' signature is consistent with contaminants from a Superfund site near Brunswick. High levels also were found in dolphins near a protected area 30 miles from Brunswick, suggesting contaminants are moving along the coast through the food web. The effect of the contaminants on the local population is unclear.
: Generally common. Worldwide population numbers are unknown, but in some areas numbers have been estimated. Subpopulations, or stocks, can be depleted by disease outbreaks and other impacts. Dolphins are protected by the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972
. It is illegal to approach, feed, touch or harass wild dolphins.
: Industrial and agricultural pollution, particularly along the coast; by-catch in long-lines and gill nets; collisions with boats; entanglement in and ingestion of recreational fishing gear; illegal feeding and harassment; and hunting for meat and blubber in some Asian countries.
How you can help
: Learn about pollution and its causes. Dispose of monofilament line, leftover bait and other fishing gear properly. Never feed or harass dolphins.
Sources include: Sea World, Georgia DNR
Tracking sea turtles
A Georgia sea turtle nesting update from www.seaturtle.org
: 1,740 (38 lost)
: 900 (51.7%)
: 5,335 (3.8%)
Mean emergence success
As of Aug. 23. Here's a complete look at real-time data and beach reports
Gopher frog releases
at The Nature Conservancy’s Williams Bluff Preserve
topped about 1,500 metamorphs and late-stage tadpoles this summer, a marked increase from 2009. Nongame senior wildlife biologist John Jensen said the year 2012 could offer the first solid evidence of finding adult gopher frogs
returning to the pond to breed, signaling that restoration is working.
The Georgia Important Bird Areas Program
is organizing volunteer events that benefit birds
Sept. 25, in recognition of National Public Lands Day
. Contact program Coordinator Charlie Muise
to sign up or learn more about activities from removing invasive plants to marking cavity trees for endangered red-cockaded woodpeckers
Videos of bank-to-bank alligators
at Stephen C. Foster State Park
in the Okefenokee Swamp created a stir. But natural history pioneer William Bartram
documented a similar encounter
more than 200 years ago -- “a prodigious assemblage of crocodiles … which exceeded every thing of the kind I had ever heard of.” (Read pages 122-123
and even some swallow-tailed kites
have been spotted snatching insects on the fly in the Athens-Monticello area. The Georgia Birders Online listserv include a recent report
of more than 30 Mississippi kites
seen at one time in southeastern Clarke County.
This bog turtle and others
hatched earlier this month at Chattahoochee Nature Center. The Roswell center
is a partner in the Bog Turtle Headstart Program
aimed at helping restore this rare species.
A federal judge
has affirmed a 2008 U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service opinion that Army Corps of Engineer reservoir operations will not jeopardize the federally threatened Gulf sturgeon
and three protected freshwater mussel species – the fat threeridge
, purple bankclimber
and Chipola slabshell
– in Florida’s Apalachicola River
. The wildlife agency is working with the corps on a new water control plan for dams on the Chattahoochee River.
Farmers can offer eligible property
for the Conservation Reserve Program
until Aug. 27, the end of a general signup period. CRP is a competitive, volunteer program focused on conserving environmentally sensitive lands.
The emerald ash borer
has turned up in Tennessee
. The ash-eating Asian pest
has spread from Detroit to 14 states, with the discovery in eastern Tennessee’s Knox and Loudon counties spurring a local ban on moving firewood or ash tree products.
The Tennessee purple coneflower
is no longer endangered
, according to the Fish and Wildlife Service. The agency wants to remove the plant
from the list of threatened and endangered species, touting a decades-long cooperative conservation effort and initiating a public comment period that ends Oct. 12.
In a ruling with wide implications
for forest and natural resource management, the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals held that a federal permit is required for stormwater runoff from logging roads
. The Aug. 17 decision reversed a lower court ruling that muddy runoff is exempt from Clean Water Act
The American Bird Conservancy
, the Center for Biological Diversity and others have petitioned
the Environmental Protection Agency to ban lead in hunting ammunition and fishing tackle, citing impacts on birds and other animals. The National Shooting Sports Foundation
and fellow organizations have returned fire, saying there is no evidence such traditional uses not already restricted are adversely affecting wildlife populations.
A new version of Jim Miller's book
"A Field Guide for the Identification of Invasive Plants in Southern Forests” is available. And though enhanced and more thorough, the revised General Technical Report SRS-119 is still free
Reintroduce whooping cranes
in Louisiana? The Fish and Wildlife Service is seeking comment on a proposed rule to establish a nonmigratory flock
of the imperiled birds in southwestern Louisiana.
Housing density will increase
on more than 57 million acres of private forests by 2030, according to estimates in the Agricultural Department report “Private Forests, Public Benefits
.” Atlanta is projected as one of the metro areas most affected.
The Arizona Game and Fish Department
and the Center for Biological Diversity agreed late last month to dismiss the center’s lawsuit
regarding the department’s endangered species permit, a spin-off from the capture and death of the last known jaguar in the U.S. The state’s Game and Fish Commission also fined the private biologist who tried to snare Macho B and revoked his hunting and fishing privileges.
Nongame in the news
: "Congressman searches for endangered snake
," Rep. Jack Kingston joins Project Orianne, DNR to look for eastern indigos. (Aug. 19)
: "DNR arrest for deadhead logging
," two charged with theft of a log from the bottom of Spring Creek. (Aug. 17)
Savannah Morning News
: "Ga. researchers map rare coastal habitats
," spotlight on habitat mapping by DNR botanists Jacob Thompson and Eamonn Leonard for Coastal Georgia Land Conservation Initiative. (Aug. 13) Plus: GPB interview
with Leonard about habitat discoveries. (Aug. 13)
All About Animals
: "Wilson's plover upswing
," first census since 2000 finds triple the estimate of nesting pairs. (Aug. 12)
: "Tides, marshes help build up islands
," Brunswick News describes marsh, beach dynamics. (Aug. 7)
Coosa Valley News
: "Ga. has record year for wood stork nest
," endangered species easily surpasses previous high count. (Aug. 4)
The Florida Times-Union
: "Sea lions and dolphins serve as elite defense at Kings Bay
," animals on watch for swimming intruders at submarine base. (Aug. 1)
The Associated Press
: "Feds, farmers create habitats for migrating birds
," USDA beefs up wintering spots in eight states to help offset BP spill impacts. (July 29)
All About Animals
: "Big season for Georgia's smallest turtle
," DNR biologist Thomas Floyd explains how wet weather, increased trapping and management benefited bog turtles. (July 28)
The (Dalton) Daily Citizen
: "Bat blitz seeks to strip away myths
," inroads to education about misunderstood mammals. (July 27)
Mother Nature Network
: "Researchers find rare Georgia habitats
," more discoveries by DNR botanists in the Coastal Georgia Land Conservation Initiative. (July 26)
: "Hemlocks' mortal enemy spreads
," as wooly adelgids spread through hemlock range, hopes rest on adelgid-eating beetles. (July 23)
Atlanta Business Chronicle
: "Long-term effects of oil spill could reach Ga.
," state Senate committee hears that odds are long but Gulf spill could affect water, air quality in state. (July 22)
: "A rare azalea adds zest to rugged park
," Providence Canyon State Park in southwest Georgia is world's top spot for wild plumleaf azaleas. (July 21)
: "Endangered birds benefit from Wetlands Reserve Program
," insight into new wood stork rookery near Camilla. (July 20)
The Florida Times-Union
: "Sea turtle death a mystery
," rehab loggerhead released from Sea Turtle Center found dead on Cumberland. (July 20)
The (Gainesville) Times
: "Georgia's blessed with a slew of snakes
," DNR's John Jensen discusses state of native snakes. (July 15)
: "Click to conserve
: Donating to Ga. wildlife goes online," highlighting Nongame Conservation Section's click-pledge option. (July)
: Georgia DNR Board of Natural Resources monthly meeting, 9 a.m., DNR board room, Atlanta. (pdf of schedule
: State Wildlife Grants 10th anniversary events
: National Hunting and Fishing Day
: National Public Lands Day
: Eastern Native Grass Symposium
, Knoxville, Tenn.
: DNR Natural Leaders 2010 awards ceremony
, 9 a.m.-1:30 p.m., Loudermilk Center, Atlanta.
: Go Fish Education Center
grand opening, Perry.
: Longleaf Alliance Regional Conference
, Columbia, S.C.
: Outdoor Classroom Symposium
, Zoo Atlanta.
Steve Samoray of Tennessee untangles a red bat from a mist net during the Southeastern Bat Diversity Network’s ninth annual Bat Blitz. The event held last month at Fort Mountain State Park
drew more than 100 biologists, researchers, managers and students to the park. Learn what they found in this account
by Nongame Conservation Section wildlife biologist Trina Morris. (Hint: Two of "them" were endangered.
Photo credits (from top)
* Masthead: Mississippi kite. Todd Schneider/Ga. DNR
S.C. Sea Turtle Coordinator Dubose Griffin with nesting loggerhead in Georgia this summer. Ga. DNR
Amber darter caught in lower Coosawattee. Brett Albanese/Ga. DNR
* Freckled darter from Coosawattee. Brett Albanese/Ga. DNR
* Bottlenose dolphin. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
* DNR's Suzi Mersmann works a prescribed fire at Ohoopee Dunes Natural Area. Carly Monahan
* Bog turtle hatchling. Henning Von Schmeling/Chattahoochee Nature Center
* Two hummingbirds charging up at a feeder. Terry W. Johnson
* Mountain chorus frog, one of the high-priority species identified in the SWAP. John Jensen
* Steve Samoray removing a red bat from a mist net at the Bat Blitz. Special to Ga. DNR
* Common wood nymph photographed during Big Lazer WMA butterfly count. Terry W. Johnson
volume 3, issue 8
Georgia Wild is produced by the Georgia DNR Wildlife Resources Division
. The free monthly newsletter is focused on conserving nongame species, those not legally trapped, fished for or hunted. 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 depends on grants, donations
and fundraisers such as nongame license plate sales
, the Georgia Wildlife Conservation Fund state income tax checkoff
and Weekend for Wildlife
. Details: (770) 761-3035 or (478) 994-1438.
Nongame plates – the bald eagle and ruby-throated hummingbird – are available at county tag offices
, by checking the wildlife license plate box on mail-in registration forms or through online renewal
. Also, check here
for information on TERN, the friends group of the Nongame Conservation Section.
Read more in "Conserving Nongame Wildlife: 2008-2009
," a report on Nongame Conservation Section work.
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