Roads can have a big impact on endangered species by impeding movement and separating populations, as well as killing individuals from collisions. Biologists with Maine Audubon and the Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife will use the information gathered by volunteers to work with town planners and Maine Department of Transportation to reduce road risks to rare wildlife and improve conditions for drivers. Maine Audubon officials say that Blanding’s turtles and spotted turtles are expected to become extinct in Maine due to road mortality unless changes are made. Other endangered species of interest in the study include the black racer snake and the New England cottontail.
“Maine has a unique mix of wildlife and well-traveled roads,” said Barbara Charry, Maine Audubon biologist. “We find that people are genuinely interested in taking care of our wildlife, especially our endangered species. This program makes it easy for people to do just that by delegating one-mile stretches of roads for volunteers to monitor. We’ll give volunteers all the detailed information they need on what to look for and how to report it. It’s good for the environment and good for volunteers because it gives them another reason to get outside and walk a mile on a regular basis in the spring and summer months.”
To learn more about the Endangered Species Road Watch and how to help, information sessions will be held throughout March for members of the public to attend. The first information session will be at 6:30 p.m. on Monday, March 19 at the Alfred Town Hall, 16 Saco Road in Alfred. The second information session will be at 5:30 p.m. on Friday, March 30, at York Public Library, 15 Long Sands Road in York. Both sessions are free and open to the public. Although RSVPs are not required for the sessions, they are encouraged. Please contact Becca Wilson at Maine Audubon by phone at 207.781.2330 ext. 222, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. Refreshments will be provided.
Following the information sessions, Maine Audubon will host two more detailed training workshops for those interested in volunteering April 7 and April 14 in York and Sanford.
Those not living in southern Maine can still help collect data on important wildlife road crossings by recording sightings anywhere in the state and entering the data on the “Maine Audubon Wildlife Road Watch” interactive web site.
Maine Audubon and the Maine Departments of Transportation and Inland Fisheries & Wildlife are partnering on the Endangered Species Road Watch project, which is funded in part by TogetherGreen, an initiative of the National Audubon Society with support from Toyota.