Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Observing (and Reporting) New Jersey's Endangered Species

Is that a bobcat or a feral house cat?

I sometimes get requests here about "where to find endangered species" in New Jersey. Of course, in general, we don't want you to be seeking out and disturbing threatened or endangered species.

We have about 500 animal species in our state and 83 of are classified by the state as endangered or threatened.

No one will stop from birdwatching for endangered birds - peregrine falcons, northern goshawks, red knots, piping plovers, short-eared owls, black skimmers and our breeding populations of bald eagles - but don't approach them or their nests.

There are guides (Endangered and Threatened Wildlife of New Jersey) and places online that can point you to areas where endangered species have been reported, but they are somewhat general.

You would be lucky to spot one of our elusive bobcats. And some other endangered mammals, such as Indiana bats and Allegheny woodrats, are more likely to be avoided by the average citizen.

We have six whale species listed and everyone loves to see them, either passing offshore or while on a whale watch boat that, hopefully, stays the legal distance away from them. The six are blue, fin, humpback, sperm, sei and North Atlantic right whales.

Have you spotted a bald eagle, bobcat, peregrine falcon, bog turtle, corn snake, blue-spotted salamander or southern gray tree frog? The New Jersey Division of Fish & Wildlife's Endangered and Nongame Species Program would be happy to hear from you. Volunteers and "Citizen Scientists" are useful for record keeping on the places where these species are found.

The state's endangered reptiles and amphibians include timber rattlesnakes, corn snakes, bog turtles, Atlantic loggerhead and leatherback turtles, blue-spotted and eastern tiger salamanders, and southern gray tree frogs.

Invertebrates on the list include northeastern beach tiger beetles, gray petaltail dragonflies, Aragos skipper butterflies and green floater mussels.

Two fish, Atlantic and shortnose sturgeon, are on the endangered list.

Last year, citizen scientists reported 465 rare species sightings, which supplemented about 2,000 staff reports.

There were probably a few reports of wolves, moose and other animals that do not live in our state. Some coyotes turn out to be dogs. So, you need to know your species. Look at the list of New Jersey's endangered and threatened animals, at  www.njfishandwildlife.com/tandespp.htm and check out the online field guide to help you identify these species found at www.conservewildlifenj.org/species/fieldguide

How to report spotting a rare animal: Go to www.state.nj.us/dep/fgw/ensp/pdf/rptform.pdf and download a report form which will ask you to filling some information, a map showing where the sighting occurred and, if possible, photos, video or audio recordings.

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