Tag Archives: Wildlife

Injured Bald Eagle Released Back into the Wild

Injured Bald Eagle Released Back into the Wild

Staff with the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department and Vermont Institute of Natural Sciences released a juvenile bald eagle back into the wild last week at Dead Creek Wildlife Management Area in Addison, Vermont.

The young eagle was injured when it fell from its nest early this summer. A local wildlife photographer notified the landowner and Fish & Wildlife staff that the eagle was injured. The bird was initially treated at the Outreach for Earth Stewardship rehabilitation facility in Shelburne, and then transferred to the Vermont Institute for Natural Science in Quechee to complete its rehabilitation. Biologists attached special identification bands to the eagle’s legs before releasing it to the wild.

“This release is a great moment for eagle restoration in Vermont,” said Fish & Wildlife bird biologist John Buck. “This day would not be possible without the dedicated efforts of the many people who care deeply about restoring the bald eagle to its rightful place among Vermont’s wildlife community.”

Bald eagles declined nationwide due to loss of habitat and the effects of the pesticide DDT. Laws protecting eagles, such as the Clean Water Act, the Endangered Species Act, and a ban on DDT have aided in the recovery of the United States’ national symbol.

According to Buck, Vermont’s bald eagle population is in the midst of a strong recovery. He cites continued support from the public through funding wildlife programs like the Nongame Wildlife Fund and maintaining a safe distance from nesting eagles, in addition to the work of conservation partners, as critical to the species’ continued recovery in Vermont.



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Volunteers Needed for Turtle Beach Clean Up Day

Volunteers Needed for Turtle Beach Clean Up Day


Volunteers Needed for Turtle Beach Clean Up Day

Once again it’s time for the annual spiny softshell turtle beach cleanup day, and Vermont Fish & Wildlife is looking for volunteers to help on Saturday, October 22. Participants are asked to arrive at North Hero State Park between 10 and 11 AM, because the group may move on to another site by 11 o’clock.

Volunteers will help by pulling up vegetation on nesting beaches to prepare the turtle nesting sites for next year. They may also find a few hatchlings that have remained in nests underground this late in the year. In addition to threatened spiny softshell turtles, these nest sites are also used by map turtles, painted turtles, and snapping turtles.


Volunteers Needed for Turtle Beach Clean Up Day Spiny Softshell Turtle

Spiny Softshell Turtle

Vermont Fish & Wildlife biologist Steve Parren will have hatchling spiny softshell and other turtles on hand and will talk about his long-term recovery efforts with the species. Some hatchling turtles will be raised in captivity by the ECHO Lake Aquarium and Science Center while they are small and are most vulnerable to predation. They will then be released back into Lake Champlain next spring.


“This is a great way to help conserve a threatened species right here in Vermont,” said Parren. “It’s also a fun way to learn more about the turtles and to see some recently hatched baby turtles.”


Volunteers Needed for Turtle Beach Clean Up Day Snapping turtle hatchling

Snapping turtle hatchling next to my granddaughter Gabby’s foot.
Photo taken in North Hero, Vermont by Molly McHugh

What You’ll Need For The Turtle Beach Clean Up

Participants are asked to dress in layers of warm clothes and to bring work gloves, a leaf rake, short-handled tools such as trowels, and their own lunch. Families and kids are welcome. The cleanup may run until 4 p.m., although participants can choose how long to help.

“This has turned into a very popular annual event for people interested in conservation,” said Parren. “We’ve had nearly 100 people show up to help in recent years, so we’re glad to see so many people care about wildlife.”

How To Get To North Hero State Park

To get to North Hero State Park, follow Route 2 north past Carry Bay in North Hero. Take a right on Lakeview Drive, just before Route 2 swings west toward Alburg. Follow Lakeview almost to the end until you reach the North Hero State Park entrance sign on the left. Drive to the end of the road always bearing right.

For more information, please contact Eric Lazarus at 802-658-8505 or lazarericus@gmail.com.


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Vermont’s Snakes Are on the Move

Vermont’s Snakes Are on the Move

Vermont’s Snakes Are on the Move

Help biologists document them by reporting a sighting

Fall marks the time when Vermont’s snakes may travel long distances to return to their den sites for the winter. The Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department is asking people to keep an eye out for snakes while driving to avoid running them over and also to report any snake they see while out and about. These sightings will help to document the distribution of different snake species in Vermont.

According to Jim Andrews, coordinator of the Vermont Reptile and Amphibian Atlas, roads can be great places to find snakes in the fall, but they can also be deadly for the reptiles.

“To a snake, a road is essentially a warm and sunny ledge that serves as a perfect place to bask and raise its body temperature,” said Andrews, who is collaborating with the Department to document and conserve snakes in Vermont. “Sadly, this often results in a fatal encounter with a car. We’re asking people to please try to avoid hitting them on the road whenever safely possible.”

Wildlife biologist Doug Blodgett works to conserve snakes for the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department. According to Blodgett, snakes provide important services to people like eating disease-carrying rodents and garden pests. He believes that while some people may fear snakes, the creatures are too often misunderstood.

“Vermont’s snakes are generally harmless. Even timber rattlesnakes, which live only in isolated pockets of western Rutland County, are extremely shy and nearly always try to hide or avoid an encounter with people,” said Blodgett. “Despite their low profile, snakes are extremely important animals in the ecosystem.”

Blodgett and Andrews are asking the public to help efforts to conserve snakes by submitting sightings that document where different species are found. Citizen reports will also be useful in indicating where important road crossings exist so that appropriate road crossing structures can be considered. These sightings might also raise early warning signs, such as if species seem to be absent where they used to be common, or other trends that indicate when additional conservation action may be needed.

“Our knowledge of the current range of snakes is largely dependent on photos provided by citizens who happen to find them during their day-to-day activities outdoors,” said Andrews. “Keep your eyes open this fall and, if you do encounter a snake on the road or anywhere else, please snap a photo and send us a report.”

To send a report, go to vtherpatlas.org, or email Andrews directly at jandrews@middlebury.edu.

New Law Protects Vermont’s Most Vulnerable Species

New Law Protects Vermont’s Most Vulnerable Species

Last May Vermont’s  Governor Peter Shumlin signed into law H.570, a bill that provides a new tool in the effort to prevent state-listed threatened and endangered species from disappearing from Vermont – the protection of critical habitat.  Prior to this law, while the species themselves were protected, the places critical to their survival were not.  Endangered bats often return to the same cave each autumn, and bald eagles frequently nest in the same tree year after year. Thanks to the new law, we have the ability to work with landowners and designate these critical habitats so they cannot be destroyed while the animals are elsewhere.

The bill represents only the first step in protecting habitat for these species and was designed to be limited in scope. While it does not protect large swaths of land for wide-ranging species like Canada lynx, it will protect those discrete, identifiable spots essential to the continued existence of these animals in Vermont. Hard work lies ahead to determine which threatened or endangered species need critical habitat protection, and then to enact those protections through the state rule-making process. But the bill’s passage provides impetus and optimism for the way forward.

How you can helpNew Law Protects Vermont's Most Vulnerable Species. Use the habitat stamp

For wildlife to be conserved, the habitat they need to survive must also be conserved.  It’s just that simple.  And now you can help in that effort through the Vermont Habitat Stamp.
Funds generated by the stamp help purchase lands for permanent conservation and provide funding to work with landowners to improve habitat for a wide range of species from golden-winged warblers to black bears.  The stamp has already contributed to the expansion of the Lemon Fair Wildlife Management Area.

The actual ‘stamp’ is a bumper sticker that is sent in the mail to people who donate online at vtfishandwildlife.com.  The suggested donation is $15, although some donors have chosen to contribute up to $1,000.


Critical Habitat – What is it and why is it critical?

New Law Protects Vermont's Most Vulnerable Species and critical habitatSo what exactly is critical habitat?  Critical habitat is the specific, limited area that a threatened or endangered species needs to survive.

For spiny softshell turtles, that could mean one of the few remaining small stretches of shale-covered beach that the turtles use for nesting.  For a timber rattlesnake, it could mean the south-facing scree fields they use as den sites to hibernate in winter.  Or for the northeastern bulrush, it could entail the few beaver wetland complexes in which they are still found in Vermont.

These small areas have a big impact on a threatened or endangered species’ capacity to thrive in Vermont.  Recognizing their importance and placing protections on these areas is one step in ensuring these species will remain a fixture of the Vermont landscape.


Bald eagles return to their nests

New Law Protects Vermont's Most Vulnerable Species like bald eaglesDid you know that bald eagles often return to the same nest every year?  Building a new nest may take months to complete, so if proven successful one year, eagles will continue to use the same nest year after year.

In the past, department staff have worked with landowners to protect trees with active bald eagle nests.  Vermonters love wildlife, so landowners have generally been extremely cooperative.  But now, thanks to H.570 we have a new tool to ensure that nest trees remain safe as long as eagles continue to use them.


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Now is the Time to Spot Shorebirds in Vermont


Now is the Time to Spot Shorebirds in Vermont

The final weeks of August and beginning of September mark a unique birding opportunity in Vermont. Shorebirds such as plovers and sandpipers are migrating through the state on their southern journey from northern Canada to the Caribbean and beyond.

One of the best places to spot shorebirds this time of year is at Dead Creek Wildlife Management Area in Addison, Vt. The Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department lowers water levels on Dead Creek in late summer to provide habitat for migrating shorebirds and other species. Bird-watchers have also reported spotting shorebirds around Sandbar Wildlife Management Area in Milton, Vt this year.

“The lack of rainfall has led to low water levels this year providing ample habitat for shorebirds, particularly along Lake Champlain,” said John Buck, migratory bird biologist for the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department. “I’d encourage people to grab your binoculars and camera and take advantage of this brief and exciting birding opportunity.”

Anyone interested in donating to habitat conservation for shorebirds and all species can buy a Vermont Habitat Stamp, available at www.vtfishandwildlife.com.


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