Monday, September 24, 2018

Deer and EHD

The NJDEP Division of Fish and Wildlife is asking those who are out in the fields and woods of New Jersey at this time of year to be alert for deer that may be affected by Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease (EHD) and to report any suspected cases to the Division.

Hemorrhagic Disease (HD) is a common viral disease in deer that is transmitted by biting midges belonging to the genus Culiocoides.

Hemorrhagic disease outbreaks in New Jersey typically occur in August through October and end with the first significant frost, which kills the midges. Seven EHD outbreaks have occurred in various parts of New Jersey since 1955, and the first documented case occurred in deer in 2014.

Symptoms of HD in deer may include difficulty standing, drooling, lethargy, respiratory distress, emitting foam from the mouth or nose, and swelling of the face, tongue, and neck. Because the disease causes fever, sick or dead deer are often seen in or near water, after drinking or attempting to cool off. Affected deer may also show reduced activity, loss of appetite and develop ulcerations on their tongue.

Deer exhibiting any of the above mentioned signs in late summer and fall, or dead deer observed in or near water should be reported to any one of the following numbers:

Bureau of Wildlife Management:
Northern Region Deer Biologist - Jodi Powers, 609-259-6965
Southern Region Deer Biologist - Joe Leskie, 609-748-2065

HD is not a public health issue. Neither the EHD nor BT viruses can be transmitted to people, and humans are not at risk by handling infected deer, being bitten by infected midges, or eating infected deer meat -- though the Division of Fish and Wildlife strongly advises against consuming meat from any game animal that appears ill.

EHD virus rarely infects domestic animals, while BT is a known disease of domestic animals such as sheep, cattle, goats, and even domestic dogs. To date, no cases of livestock illness related to BT have been reported. People suspecting HD in domestic animals should have them tested for the virus.

Additional information may be obtained from the State Veterinarian's Office at 609-292-3965.
The New Jersey Department of Agriculture's Animal Health Diagnostic Laboratory (AHDL) can assist in diagnosing suspected BT cases by offering testing and necropsy services. The AHDL can be contacted by calling (609) 406-6999 or e-mailing

More information about the tests offered can be found on the AHDL website:

More Information

Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease (EHD) in Deer in New Jersey (Office of Fish and Wildlife Health and Forensics)
Hemorrhagic Disease of White-tailed Deer (pdf, Southeastern Cooperative Wildlife Disease Study)

Dark colors on the map indicate counties where EHD was confirmed by virus isolation. Light colors indicate counties where there were suspected cases that were not confirmed. Blue indicates infections cause by EHD serotype 1 virus and red indicates infections by EHD serotype 2 virus.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

The Moon and Canoes at Sandy Hook

Here are three outings for this weekend at Sandy Hook.

Fall Equinox Walk
Building #18, Fort Hancock
Saturday, September 22, 6 PM - 8 PM
It is called the equinox because it's one of only two days in the year when daylight and darkness agree to equally share the 24 hours in a day. Truth or myth - can you balance a raw egg on its end? Not sure, but it's a great day for an early evening walk on the Hook. Free, call the American Littoral Society at (732) 291-0055 to make reservations. ♥1 mile

Canoeing on Sandy Hook Bay
U.S. Life-Saving Station Parking Lot (between Lot D and Lot E)
Saturday, September 22, 9:15 AM - 12 PM
Take a two-mile morning paddle to explore Sandy Hook bay from an ideal vantage point-the water itself. Rangers guide a two and a half hour tour of the bayside waters and Skeleton Hill Island. Go to to make your reservation.

Harvest Moon Walk
U.S. Life-Saving Station Parking Lot (between Lot D and Lot E)
Sunday, September 23, 7:30 PM - 9 PM
"Harvest moon" is the full moon closest to the autumnal equinox. Bring a flashlight for this night walk that utilizes the five senses. Call (732) 872-5970 to make reservations. ♥1 mile

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Endangered Plant Discovered in NJ After a Century Missing

A rare and endangered plant species last seen in New Jersey a century ago has been discovered growing north of Worthington State Forest in Warren County.

A botanist with the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection’s Office of Natural Lands Management discovered stalked woolgrass (Scirpus pedicellatus) along the shore of the Delaware River in July. The last sighting of the plant was in Sussex County on July 4, 1918.

Commissioner McCabe said. “The presence of this rare plant and others reminds us to appreciate and strengthen the ecological diversity in New Jersey so that future generations may enjoy these beautiful plants.”

Stalked woolgrass is listed as endangered in New Jersey. Although it had not been seen in a century, stalked woolgrass and many other rare and historic plant species are assumed to exist if the habitat that supports the plant also exists. There are 10 other species of woolgrass that grow in the state, but stalked woolgrass is the rarest, having been observed only once before, by Edwin B. Bartram, a member of the Philadelphia Botanical Club, in 1918.

Stalked woolgrass belongs to a large family of plants known as sedges. It has grass-like leaves that form large clumps and produces flowering stems that grow up to five feet tall. The mature seeds are covered with feathery plumes, which gives the plant its characteristic wooly look. The species is more common in states north and west of New Jersey and reaches the southeasternmost limit of its range in this state. Its habitat is open marshes on floodplains and river shores.

The Natural Heritage Program, part of the New Jersey Forest Service’s Office of Natural Lands Management, identifies and tracks more than 800 endangered and rare plant species as well as rare and unique ecological communities.

More on Scirpus pedicellatus

For a complete list of plant species tracked by the Natural Heritage Program, visit

To view a report on the status and trends of endangered plants in New Jersey, visit

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Saving One of NJ's Last Wild Populations

That title probably suggest to you some wild creature roaming the Garden State. But it refers to an NJDEP press release about trying to save New Jersey’s last remaining wild population of a plant.

The plant is American chaffseed, a flowering perennial herb with highly specialized habitat needs. The species’ last stronghold is in a state forest in the Pinelands of Burlington County.

American chaffseed (Schwalbea americana)

The project is being overseen by the DEP’s Office of Natural Lands Management. This year, the total number of American chaffseed flowers at the Burlington County site is double that of recent years, with the number of stems up 65 percent from last year. All of this points to an increase in the overall number of plants next year.

Resembling a snapdragon, American chaffseed needs open meadows with sandy and acidic soil as well as nearby wetlands. Seeds of American chaffseed also require contact with the roots of a host plant to germinate. Known host plants in New Jersey include Maryland golden aster, inkberry and dwarf huckleberry.

The American chaffseed is listed as endangered by the state as well as the federal government. The biggest threats to American chaffseed across its range include development, mowing and suppression of wildfires that are needed to remove competing understory vegetation.

The species was once found at 18 locations in New Jersey, all in or near the Pinelands. At one time, the species was found in 16 states from Massachusetts to Louisiana, and as far west as Kentucky and Tennessee. Today its range has diminished to spotty populations in eight states along the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico coasts.

Sunday, September 2, 2018

Beach Plum Festival at Island Beach State Park

The 21st annual Beach Plum Festival will be held on Sunday, Sept. 9 at Island Beach State Park in Ocean County. The festival is the main fundraiser for the park’s nonprofit partner Friends of Island Beach State Park, which will use festival revenue to plant American beach grass to further enhance and stabilize dunes, as well as other park needs.

This rain-or-shine event will be held from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Swimming Area 1. An $8 donation is suggested. Visitors may take a free shuttle from an overflow parking lot to the festival area starting at 10 a.m. The shuttle will continue until the festival ends.

“The annual Beach Plum Festival highlights a number of important elements at the Jersey shore,” Assistant Commissioner for Natural and Historic Resources Ray Bukowski said. “It marks the end of a great summer, the beginning of the fall festival season, and brings attention in an enjoyable way to a native seasonal fruit found only in coastal areas.”

“This event is a great opportunity for families to enjoy a day at the shore while tasting beach plums and learning about the critical environment in which they grow,” Parks and Forestry Director Olivia Glenn said. “We invite the public to come to Island Beach State Park and experience what nature has to offer.”

Festival visitors can sample or purchase beach plum jelly and ice cream, enjoy children’s activities such as a magic act and cartoonist, explore exhibits providing information about the environment and various non-profit organizations, among many other activities.

What is a beach plum?

The beach plum is a shrubby tree that thrives in sandy soil and offers dune stabilization for sensitive coastal ecosystems such as those found at Island Beach State Park. The tree is typically found in coastal environments stretching from Maine to North Carolina.

Beach plum plants produce beautiful blossoms every spring and fruit in late summer and early fall. The fruit usually measures less than two centimeters in circumference, and its taste is a mix between a plum, a strawberry and an apricot. Beach plums may be eaten raw, but are often used as a jam, jelly, marinade or dessert sauce.

Friends of Island Beach State Park formed in 1996 to encourage protection of the barrier island ecosystem and to enhance both educational and recreational programs at the park.
In addition to the Beach Plum Festival the group organizes beach grass plantings in the spring and fall, the Conservation Talks lecture series, May Day Pet Expo, the Barrier Island Surf Contest and the month-long wellness celebration on Thursdays in August. The group also prints the park's annual visitor guide.

For info on Island Beach State Park

For info about the Friends of IBSP and the festival