Conservation Issues in New England

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Endangered Timber Rattlesnakes in Massachusetts

The New England Chapter of TWS sent a letter to Secretary Matthew Beaton, Executive Officer of Energy and Environmental Affairs in Massachusetts, on April 19, 2016 supporting the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife’s (MassWildlife) initiative to introduce endangered timber rattlesnake to Mount Zion Island, located within the Quabbin Reservoir. Read the support letter here. More information on the initiative can be found here and here (via MassWildlife).

White-Nose Syndrome affecting bats

From Northeast Region USFWS:

Hundreds of thousands of hibernating bats have died since New York Department of Environmental Conservation biologists documented white-nose syndrome west of Albany, N.Y., in early 2007. Biologists with state and federal agencies and organizations across the country are trying to find the answer to this deadly mystery.

We have found sick, dying and dead bats in unprecedented numbers in and around caves and mines from Vermont to Virginia. In some hibernaculum, 90 to 100 percent of the bats are dying.

While they are in the hibernaculum, affected bats often have white fungus on their muzzles and other parts of their bodies. They may have low body fat. These bats often move to cold parts of the hibernacula, fly during the day and during cold winter weather when the insects they feed upon are not available, and exhibit other uncharacteristic behavior.

Despite the continuing search to find the source of this condition by numerous laboratories and state and federal biologists, the cause of the bat deaths remains unknown. Recent identification of a cold-loving fungus could be a step toward an answer.

State and Service biologists are:

  • Conducting a biennial survey of Indiana bat hibernacula throughout the species’ range to assess numbers and apparent health.
  • Surveying additional caves/mines to track known WNS-affected sites and identify additional sites.
  • Revisiting current protocols to ensure we have the most up-to-date recommendations.
  • Holding regular conference calls to discuss WNS monitoring, research and management.
  • Developing contracts with researchers to investigate WNS (Service activity).

For more information please visit USFWS Frequently Asked Questions.