A check for wildlife
In a poll
of Georgia Wild readers last fall, a greater percentage of respondents indicated they were more likely to support nongame conservation through the state income tax checkoff, compared to percentages of those most likely to buy or renew a wildlife license plate or make a direct contribution. Well, it's time now to put intentions into action. Since 1989, the Georgia Wildlife Conservation Fund tax checkoff
has provided an easy and effective way to support DNR's Nongame Conservation Section. The section receives no state appropriations
to conserve Georgia's endangered and rare nongame wildlife, native plants and natural habitats. By filling in any dollar amount on line 26 of the state's long income tax form (Form 500) or line 10 of the short form (Form 500-EZ), you "give wildlife a chance." (Tax forms online.
) Checkoff contributions have played a part in many conservation achievements, from the restoration of bald eagle populations in Georgia to land acquisitions such as Paulding Forest and Silver Lake wildlife management areas.
Even if you’re not
a biologist, you can help monitor bird population health. How? By participating in the 15th annual Great Backyard Bird Count
! Sponsored by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, the National Audubon Society and Bird Studies Canada, this citizen science event runs Feb. 17-20. Just count birds from a favorite place (perhaps your yard or a nature center) for at least 15 minutes. Record the highest number of each species you see at any one time. Then enter your checklist at www.BirdCount.org
. By combining your count information with other nationwide data, the Great Backyard Bird Count provides an early warning system for birds in need of conservation help. Watch this video introduction
Nongame Conservation Section
environmental outreach coordinator
Speaking of birds
, registration is open for the 2012 Youth Birding Competition, set for April 27-28. In this fun and free competition, teams of like ages count as many species of birds as they can in Georgia for 24 hours. The birdathon is capped off by a banquet and awards ceremony packed with prizes at Charlie Elliott Wildlife Center near Mansfield. There's also a T-shirt Art Contest! Full details here
: Cpl. Michael Crawley is gaining a reputation for making Washington and Johnson counties inhospitable territory for would-be wildlife violators. Crawley, who represents the counties, was recently named DNR Investigative Ranger of the Year
for his tenacity and excellence in pursuing poachers, including one case involving 18 violations varying from poaching to trespass.
: Owners and operators of three large commercial vessels paid a high price for violating speed limits
designed to protect North Atlantic right whales. Fines ranged from $11,500 to $92,000 after the vessels exceeded the 10 knots-or-less limit set in some areas along the East Coast. The limits shield the endangered whales from being hit by large ships, a significant source of right whale deaths. The alleged violations occurred between November 2009 and January 2011 outside of New York City; Charleston, S.C.; Mayport, Fla., and -- in Georgia -- Brunswick, King’s Bay and Savannah, Ga. One vessel was charged with 16 counts of speeding. Cases against six other vessels are still open.
This raptor with pointed wings and wingspans of up to 44 inches is widely recognized as the world's fastest bird, diving on prey at speeds estimated near 200 mph. Peregrines migrate through coastal Georgia en route from and there are two nests sites on tall buildings in Atlanta -- SunTrust Tower and Four Seasons Hotel -- that are consistently used. The last and only natural peregrine nesting site in the state was documented at Cloudland Canyon
in the 1940s.
Read more about peregrine falcons and other wildlife in DNR's rare species profiles.
Your top 5 stories
, we listed nine top Georgia Wild stories from 2011 and asked you to pick the ones you found most interesting. The top five favorites from last year, starting with the most popular:
New rules to protect
"Hunting for hellbenders"
"Shorebird with Georgia ties weathers Irene"
"Survey maps way to monitor indigos"
"Dolphin rescued (and videoed)"
"Rockcress makes comeback at Black’s Bluff"
all of Georgia's native freshwater turtles from overharvest were approved by the Board of Natural Resources in late January. The regulations will allow the DNR to monitor and reduce the harvest of wild turtles, while also accommodating turtle farmers in the state. News coverage: Macon's WMAZ-TV; Georgia Public Broadcasting.
Winter is the season
for white-nose syndrome surveillance. Although this disease deadly to bats has not been detected in Georgia, it has been confirmed in Tennessee and North Carolina, and anyone caving in Georgia this winter is encouraged to report the presence or absence of bats and any signs of WNS (here’s how
). As always, practice clean caving, and decontaminate between sites! More updates: Estimated deaths top 5.5 million; $4 million to combat WNS.
A North Atlantic right whale
trailing fishing gear proved too elusive when Nongame Conservation Section staff and conservation partners tried to disentangle the adult female off Little Saint Simons Island Jan. 19. The good news: The whale looked in good shape, and the line running through her mouth did not appear life-threatening, giving biologists hope she’ll be able to shed it. News coverage: Savannah Morning News.
Frog call surveys as part of the North American Amphibian Monitoring Program
began this month in Georgia. As part of the national effort to monitor amphibian population trends, three times a year more than 40 people – including volunteers and 12 Wildlife Resources Division employees – document the frog species they hear along set driving routes across the state.
A Wildlife Resources Division program
to help hemlocks
on Dawson Forests Wildlife Management Area survive the wooly adelgid treated 18,321 trees last year. The Mountain Stewards
, a partner group, spent 1,185 volunteer hours on the project, and the plan is to treat more areas on the Dawson County WMA this year. Also see: “UGA study offers hope for hemlocks."
About 95 sharp-tailed
sparrows -- including Nelson's and saltmarsh sparrows -- and nearly 170 seaside sparrows were banded as part of Nongame Conservation Section research into wintering sparrows at Georgia saltmarshes. Thirty-six of the birds caught had been banded last year, underscoring the high site-fidelity of these secretive sparrows. Also see: “Saltmarsh sparrow beats banding odds" (October 2011).
In the news
: Nongame biologist Jason Wisniewski
collaborated on an 84-page mussels publication used as a Florida Museum of Natural History bulletin
and the foundation for an upcoming book on Florida’s freshwater mussels.
, a Nongame herpetologist, received a U.S. Forest Service Regional Forester Partnership Award for helping reintroduce federally threatened eastern indigo snakes at Conecuh National Forest
in Alabama. Jensen and Nongame Program Manager Matt Elliott
helped Alabama’s state wildlife agency acquire permits and collect 24 gravid indigos from Georgia (all returned to the capture sites after laying eggs and clearing a health check). Charles Seabrook
, the longtime Atlanta Journal-Constitution environmental writer, has a new book with UGA Press, "The World of the Salt Marsh
By the numbers
75 – How many years the Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program has been in existence (a yearlong celebration is planned).
8,000 – The number of longleaf pine trees Nongame’s Nathan Klaus and Ashley Harrington planted on Fall Line Sandhills Wildlife Management Area.
$30,000 – Georgia Ornithological Society’s award to DNR of almost that much for habitat management including dike repairs at Altamaha Wildlife Management Area and controlled burns at Paulk's Pasture Wildlife Management Area and Moody Forest Natural Area. (Another $14,000 went to Georgia Audubon's Important Bird Area program for work on Altamaha WMA, Joe Kurz Wildlife Management Area and Panola Mountain State Park.)
"Claxton rattlesnake roundup gets a makeover
," Savannah Morning News
"Georgia officials limit turtle harvest with permits
," The Associated Press
"Savannah River named 'endangered place
,'" Savannah Morning News 127
"Buckhead attorney tracks rare falcons from the perfect perch
"Roundup ends in Claxton
," The Statesboro Herald
"Nature Conservancy protecting 304,352 acres in Georgia
," Columbus Ledger-Enquirer
"Turkey vultures invade neighborhood
," Thomasville Times-Enterprise
"Sea level rise raises marsh concerns
," The Brunswick News
"Feral hogs damaging property near Fort Benning
," Columbus Ledger-Enquirer
"Georgia Aquarium opens frog exhibit
," WXIA-TV (Atlanta)
"Comedian Jeff Foxworthy puts 1,000 Harris County acres in conservation plan
," Columbus Ledger-Enquirer
"FAA grants waiver allowing ultralight-led migration to continue
," U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
"Tree Top Excursions at Charlie Elliott Wildlife Center
"Turtle rules limit harvest
," (coverage of public hearing) Georgia Public Broadcasting
"Sign up now for Georgia’s 2012 Youth Birding Competition
"Psychological warfare tactics fight a vulture infestation
," WALB-TV (Albany)
"Disappearing diamondbacks relocated to longleaf woods
," The (S.C.) Post and Courier
"Congress funds white-nose syndrome fight
," Georgia Public Broadcasting
"Thurmond Lake toxin again threatens eagles
," The Augusta Chronicle
"First right whale calf of season spotted off the Georgia coast
," Savannah Morning News
* Masthead: A crew banding sharp-tailed sparrows along the U.S. 17 causeway includes, from left, Brandon Noel of Georgia Southern University, Nongame's Tim Keyes, Georgia Important Bird Areas Program Coordinator Charlie Muise and Nongame's Nathan Klaus. Robert V. Horan III
* Eastern diamondback rattlesnake. Dirk J. Stevenson
* 2011 Youth Birding Competition T-shirt Art Contest winner -- a red-breasted nuthatch by Rosemary Kramer.
* Swamp pink seedlings. Carrie Radcliffe
* Swamp pink flower. Alan Cressler
* Right whale entangled in fishing gear off Georgia's coast. Georgia DNR, NOAA Research Permit No. 932-1905
* A Nelson's sparrow caught, banded and released on the Jekyll Island causeway. Robert V. Horan III
* Eastern chipmunk. Terry W. Johnson
* Rachael Wallace with a large eastern indigo snake. Mark Wallace
Georgia Wild is free, monthly and focused on rare, endangered and other nongame wildlife. Nongame includes wildlife not legally trapped, fished for or hunted, plus native plants and natural habitats.
Volume 5, issue 1
Georgia Wild archives