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From the Fall 2013 Conservationist for Kids

Karner Blue butterfly

Creature Features

By Gina Jack

Peregrine falcon populations in New York State are recovering. Peregrine falcon populations were in decline, but are now recovering. The pesticide DDT was widely used in the US from the 1940s through the 1960s. It had the unwanted side effect of causing eggshells to become thin, especially among birds of prey. Fewer young hatched successfully, and peregrines nearly disappeared from New York State. Laws banning DDT and programs to raise and release peregrines have helped. They have adapted to urban life and now nest on tall buildings in our major cities, as well as in their natural habitat on cliff-sides in rural and wilderness areas.

Karner blue butterflies are endangered. Adult Karner blues feed on nectar from different kinds of flowers, but the caterpillars eat the leaves of wild blue lupine only. Mowing and prescribed fires (fires planned and monitored by professionals) keep lupine habitat from becoming overgrown with competing plants. Lupines are also planted in areas where they are likely to thrive. Supporting lupine habitat helps Karner blue butterflies. Species with very specialized needs, such as eating only one kind of food, are more at risk when the things they depend upon are lost.

Hellbender salamander

Hellbenders are getting a helping hand. Hellbenders are large aquatic salamanders. They grow to more than two feet long. In New York State, hellbenders live in only the Allegheny and Susquehanna River drainages. They are sensitive to changes in their habitat, including pollution.
DEC is working with the Buffalo and Bronx zoos to release captive-hatched and reared hellbenders into the wild. DEC also works with the New York State Department of Transportation, among others, to improve stream habitat for hellbenders.

New York State has the only known population of Chittenango ovate amber snail on the planet. We have a special responsibility to ensure this species' survival.

New York State is home to North America's largest and smallest mammals. Blue whales can be more than 100 feet long and weigh over 200 tons. Pygmy shrews are only 2 inches long and weigh less than an ounce!

Seven species of dolphin are found in New York's marine waters.

New York has more dragonfly and damselfly species (92) than any state except Texas.

Photo: NYS DEC Walley Haley