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From the June 2009 Conservationist

A four-spotted pennant dragonfly on a twig

Photo: Jeffrey S. Pippen, Duke University


By Jenna DuChene

New Dragonfly Found

A new species of dragonfly was identified during the New York Dragonfly and Damselfly Survey conducted last summer. Annette Oliveira, a survey volunteer, saw the four-spotted pennant (Brachymesia gravida) in Greenport, Long Island in late July and early August. A coastal dragonfly species known to occur from New Mexico to New Jersey, it had not previously been seen in New York. The four-spotted pennant is easily recognized by the single dark patch in the middle of each wing, along with a white bar at each wing tip. The new find further emphasizes the importance of survey efforts in documenting the state's biodiversity.

New Osprey Nest

Osprey nesting platform being placed with a crane
(Photo: John R. O'Connor)

Wickham Marsh Wildlife Management Area is home to a new osprey nesting structure. After months of planning, collaboration between DEC Region 5 wildlife staff, New York State Electric and Gas (NYSEG) and the High Peaks Audubon Society, NYSEG erected the nesting structure on top of a 35-foot utility pole. The structure sits at the edge of the marsh in a field, and lies directly across from a universally accessible wildlife viewing platform where visitors can look across the marsh and peer directly into the osprey nest. DEC paid for the nesting structure, the High Peaks Audubon Society arranged for the utility pole to be donated by Lake Placid Municipal Lighting, and NYSEG provided their services for free (see Make Way for Osprey).

Refrain from Feeding Waterfowl

DEC is cautioning people not to feed waterfowl. Last fall, a dozen Canada geese were found dead or sick-the result of the fungus, aspergillosis. The fungus is transmitted to waterfowl through moldy grain, like breads and livestock feed. Though it is not contagious and not a health risk to humans, it has been the cause of large-scale waterfowl mortality. As such, DEC is telling the public not to feed geese, ducks, and other waterfowl to help prevent this disease and other negative impacts on waterfowl populations. Many people don't realize that artificial feeding is actually harmful to waterfowl. It causes overcrowding, unnatural behavior, delayed migration, and it facilitates the spread of diseases, like aspergillosis, that can result in death. To prevent these problems, farmers should keep grain piles covered and everyone should always dispose of any moldy grain or bread. Please report any sick or dead waterfowl to your nearest DEC wildlife office. You can find out more information about feeding waterfowl at DEC's website.

Turkey Sighting Survey

DEC is looking for some volunteers to help with a Summer Wild Turkey Sighting Survey. Every August, DEC conducts this statewide survey to monitor the number of wild turkey poults (young-of-the-year) produced by hens. Volunteers and DEC staff record the age and sex composition of all flocks of wild turkeys observed during normal travel. DEC uses the information to gauge the reproductive success in a given year and predict fall harvest potential. Nest success, hen survival and poult survival depend on a number of variables, including weather, predation and habitat conditions. Volunteer for this important survey. In late July, the survey form will be posted on the webpage for volunteers to download and print.

Don't Move Firewood

To protect New York's forests, the state enacted a new regulation in March 2008 that regulates the movement of firewood. The regulation bans importing firewood into New York unless it has been heat treated (kiln-dried) to eliminate pests, and prohibits the movement of untreated firewood within the state more than 50 miles from its source. The new measures are in response to the fact that firewood may house some deadly, non-native insects such as the emerald ash borer, Asian longhorned beetle, and Sirex woodwasp. These invasive pests, which may be hidden on or under the bark or buried deep within firewood logs, can be extremely detrimental to New York's forests. If you do transport firewood less than 50 miles, you must carry proof of its source, like a receipt, or else you may be subject to a fine. More information on the new firewood regulations.

Business Web Resource

DEC recently launched a new web resource called "Help for Businesses." The new gateway acts as a central point for information and assistance on environmental reviews and permitting, money- and energy-saving practices, and cutting-edge technology. It also contains links to state-of-the-art business assistance programs run by other agencies.

New Fishing Access

Anglers in the Malone area will have a new place to fish. Last year, the Franklin County Federation of Sportsmen received a $14,000 grant from the Habitat Stamp Program to construct a wheelchair-accessible fishing platform on the Salmon River. Located within the City of Malone, the platform overlooks a trout fishing hole and supports the city's efforts to enhance river-based recreation. The grand opening is scheduled to occur in early June.

Ask the Biologist

Q: When I see a turtle crossing the road, I usually stop and move it to safety, being sure to move it in the same direction it was traveling. Is this proper? I read that turtles "mark" their trail with a scent marker on their tail and that picking the turtle up can prevent it from leaving a scent to follow.

A: Thank you for stopping to rescue turtles you find on the road. Roadkill can be a significant problem for some reptile and amphibian populations, with the highest road mortality for turtles occurring between the last week of May and the first week of July, when female turtles move from their winter habitat to nesting areas. Since many of the females are killed before they have a chance to lay eggs, the impact to the population is significantly greater than the death of a single turtle.

Snapping turtle crossing a paved road
(Photo: Susan L. Shafer)

While turtles and other reptiles do use a scent trail, it is not their only method of navigating throughout their habitat. While picking a turtle up and moving it off the road should not disorient it too much, it's best to move it as little as possible; a few hundred feet at most, in the direction it was moving. But remember-be careful and don't put yourself in danger.

One final note-moving a turtle must be done carefully. Some species, such as snapping turtles and spiny softshells, may strike at the rescuer, and the bite can be painful. Also, never pick up a large snapper by its tail. This puts all its weight on its backbone, which can cause dislocation of the vertebrae (or a broken back) from which the turtle may not recover. Some people use a shovel to scoop up large turtles or a broom handle that the turtle can bite and hang onto while being dragged to safety.

-Alvin Breisch, DEC Amphibian and Reptile Specialist.