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From the December 2010 Conservationist

Briefly and Review

By Jenna Kerwin and Eileen Stegemann

White Nose Update

A bat with white nose syndrome clings to a cave wall
Photo: A Hicks

Surveys conducted by DEC in 32 caves and mines in New York indicate that white nose disease continues to decimate hibernating bat populations. At the Main Graphite Mine-the state's largest bat hibernation site, and the largest documented winter colony of little brown bats in the world-populations continue to decline, with little brown bat numbers down from 185,000 before the disease to just over 2,000 now. In addition, northern and Indiana bats are completely gone from the site, and biologists found only one tri-colored (eastern pipistrelle) bat. Further afield, previously uninfected caves are now contaminated, with the disease found as far west as Missouri and Oklahoma. On the positive side, numbers held steady for the second consecutive year in Howe and Haile caves, though infected animals are still present. Biologists continue to work toward developing a strategy to reduce the impact of the disease. A newly discovered cold-loving fungus, Geomyces destructans, invades the skin of bats, and scientists are exploring how the fungus acts and searching for a way to stop it. For more information on white nose disease, visit the USFWS white nose page.

Counting Turkeys

For the past few years, DEC has conducted a statewide Winter Wild Turkey Flock Survey to monitor trends in turkey populations. The survey relies on volunteers to record the numbers of wild turkeys they spot. Snow and cold temperatures can significantly affect wild turkey populations, particularly young birds (jakes and jennies). Data collected from the survey helps DEC get a handle on the numbers of wild turkey prior to the spring breeding season. If you would like to participate in the survey this winter, check out the winter wild turkey flock survey.

Turkeys aren't the only species that DEC relies on volunteers to count. DEC also runs an eastern cottontail survey and a ruffed grouse hunting log survey in the fall, a grouse drumming survey in the spring, and a summer turkey survey. For more information on these and other cooperator projects, visit DEC's Citizen Science page.

Interim Climate Action Plan Released

The New York State Climate Action Council recently released its Climate Action Plan Interim Report for public review and comment. The Council will identify actions that must be taken to reduce New York's greenhouse gas emissions 80 percent below 1990 levels by the year 2050. The public is invited to review and comment on the Interim Report through February 7, 2011. For a copy of the report, and instructions for submitting comments, visit www.nyclimatechange.us. The final Climate Action Plan is expected to be released in 2011.

Mags to the Troops

A member of the USO holds up a copy of Conservationist magazine
Photo: Fort Drum USOAt

the Conservationist booth at this year's State Fair, two recently returned soldiers from the Gulf War were talking to staff about the magazine. While renewing her subscription, one soldier described how she had the Conservationist forwarded to her in Afghanistan and that reading the magazine helped remind her of home and what she was fighting for. She went on to say that she looked forward to receiving each issue, and that after she read it, it was passed around and fought over by the rest of the troops who also loved reading it! This story prompted Conservationist staff to donate magazines to the troops. Staff contacted the USO at Fort Drum and ended up sending five boxes of various past issues to be distributed to our troops based in Afghanistan and Iraq.

New York's Big Game

IThe head of a black bear
Photo: USFWS Steve Hillebrand

If you would like to receive information about deer and bear biology, management, research, regulations and hunting in New York, then join the New York Big Game e-mail list. It's easy to sign up-simply go to DEC's deer and bear hunting page and click on the link under "Big Game Email List."

Easy to Be Green

A new law that limits phosphorus makes it easier for consumers to be green. An ingredient used in detergents and fertilizers, phosphorus reaches our waters through wastewater and stormwater runoff. When too much phosphorous gets into our ponds, lakes and streams, the effects can be devastating. More than 70 New York waterbodies are experiencing problems due to phosphorus, including Lake Ontario, Lake Champlain, Onondaga Lake, New York City drinking water reservoirs and the Chesapeake Bay Watershed. The new Dishwasher Detergent and Nutrient Runoff Law makes it easier to help keep phosphorus out of our waters by requiring household detergent to be phosphorus-free starting in August 2010, and requiring all commercial detergents to be phosphorus-free by July 2013. In addition, after January 1, 2012, fertilizers containing phosphorus will only be allowed to be used under specified conditions. More details about the new law.

Calling All Writers

The DEC Universal Access Program is searching for writers to share short stories about connecting to nature. The Universal Access Program provides recreational opportunities and access for everyone, including children, seniors and people with disabilities. Anyone can submit a story to the program as long as the text relays positive experiences about connecting to nature in New York. These kinds of stories illustrate that inspiration from nature is universal and that everyone can find a way to enjoy the great outdoors. Stories must be a maximum of 650 words. Monthly winning stories will be featured on DEC's website, and prizes will be awarded. For more information, see "Great Stories from New York's Great Outdoors" .

More Moose

A moose standing in the woods in winter
Photo: USFWS Ronald Laubenstein

Northeastern New York's moose population continues to grow rapidly. Now numbering close to 800 (up from 50-100 in the 1990s), the increase is largely due to influx from an increasing population in New England and Canada, as well as from continued reproduction occurring in New York. While this influx is cause for celebration, a growing population can mean a growing concern for motorists. During the course of their day, moose may travel many miles, crossing roads in their search for food, new territory, and mates. And although the peak time for wandering is during their fall breeding season, DEC warns motorists to be alert for moose year-round on roadways in the Adirondacks and surrounding areas. The animals are most active at dusk and are often difficult to see due to their dark coloring and height. For more information about moose, visit DEC's moose page.

Book Review

A selection of Pocket Naturalist Guides

By Jenna Kerwin

Dura Guides™ and Pocket Naturalist® Guides

DuraGuides™ and Pocket Naturalist® Guides
Soft cover $7.95; $5.95
Waterford Press
www.waterfordpress.com; 602-681-3333

Waterford Press's DuraGuide and Pocket Naturalist Guides make great additions to any outdoor enthusiast's library. Two of several different series released by Waterford Press, both DuraGuide and Pocket Naturalist Guides cover topics from camping to plants, and are pamphlet-sized, fitting into any backpack or deep jacket pocket. They're also waterproof and durable, so you can be sure they'll be around for a while.

The Naturalist Guides cover a wide array of topics and states. Two that are specific to New York are New York State Wildlife Pocket Naturalist Guide and New York State Trees and Wildflowers Pocket Naturalist Guide. Both include species names, scientific names, measurements, very brief descriptions and colored illustrations. The Wildlife Pocket Naturalist Guide is a primer of the basic animals you might see in the Empire State, and includes birds, sportfish like smallmouth bass, mammals such as raccoons and bobcat, and various reptiles and amphibians. The Trees and Wildflowers Pocket Naturalist Guide covers a variety of plant species, from trees like the northern red oak, to flowers like the morning glory. Illustrations of tree leaves and plant stems help in identifying each species.

Perfect for taking outdoors with you, DuraGuides are sturdier and more flexible than the pocket naturalist guides. The Freshwater Fishing DuraGuide is a great introduction to fishing, and covers information about game fish species, equipment to bring, and tips about catch-and-release. There is also a section on hooks and bait, as well as casting and fishing methods. Colorful illustrations enhance the guide, making it interesting and informative. However, some of the fish illustrations are not accurate representations of New York's species and so should be used as a general guide. Freshwater Fishing also contains fishing etiquette reminders and a discussion of what environments to fish for different species.

Similarly, the Camping 101 DuraGuide presents helpful tips and guidelines for campers. It offers a checklist of items to bring along on a camping trip, including camping gear, first-aid items and other optional paraphernalia. Sections on types of campsites, how to build a fire, and favorite camp food are helpful and fun information to make any camping trip enjoyable and successful. There are also sections about weather concerns and potential dangerous animal encounters (such as bears), as well as information on wilderness first-aid.

Though they are not comprehensive and sometimes lack specifics or technical information, the Waterford DuraGuides and Pocket Naturalist Guides will make you want to go out and explore New York's great outdoors. And with such a wide range of topics covered, there's something for everyone.


Jenna Kerwin is the staff writer for the Conservationist.

DEC artist Bob deVilleneuve on a sailboat

With this issue, the Conservationist and DEC wish a happy, productive retirement to long-time Conservationist art director and designer Bob deVilleneuve. A passion for making the page both handsome and understandable has made Bob a respected teacher and mentor, colleague and friend, not only to Conservationist staff, but to members of the Division of Public Affairs and Education, and to staff of every DEC division. Bob is fun to work with-smart, wry and committed. And there is also the designer's hand and eye that would reveal even mundane subjects as fascinating, beautiful and significant. For nearly 30 years, this talent has been Bob's gift to DEC and the readers of our publications. The magazine will miss his professionalism, skill, knowledge and humor-and we wish him the best of luck in the next chapter of his life.