For Immediate Release
April 10, 2014
Contact: Michelle Smith, Communications & Marketing Manager
(207) 781-6180 x209
mobile: (207) 838-0511
Citizen Scientists Needed to Help Endangered Species in Maine
Maine Audubon seeks “road watch” volunteers in Cumberland and York counties
FALMOUTH – Maine Audubon seeks volunteers to survey roads in southern Maine for signs of endangered species road crossings. Information collected by volunteers about where, when and how many animals cross our roads is the critical first step in identifying ways to reduce wildlife road mortality. Unless changes are made, Maine Audubon biologists report that Blanding’s turtles and spotted turtles are likely to become extinct in Maine due to road mortality.
Maine Audubon’s Endangered Species Road Watch program began in 2012; forty volunteers surveyed 22 routes throughout southern Maine. The organization’s goal is to have at least two volunteers per route this coming season. “We know there are areas in southern Maine where endangered species are severely impacted because of roads,” said Doug Hitchcox, Maine Audubon staff naturalist. “That’s the goal of this program – to identify those areas and figure out what can be done to improve the conditions for Maine wildlife and Maine drivers. We can’t do it without our team of trained citizen scientists.”
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 Maine Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife will use the information gathered by volunteers to work with town planners and the Maine Department of Transportation to reduce road risks to rare wildlife and improve conditions for drivers. Other endangered species of interest in the study include the black racer snake and the New England cottontail rabbit.
“Maine has a unique mix of wildlife and well-traveled roads,” noted Hitchcox. “We find that people are genuinely interested in taking care of our wildlife, especially our endangered species.” Volunteers are asked to survey their assigned one-mile stretch of road once a week in April and once a month in May-August. “It’s a minimal time commitment and a great opportunity for families to learn about wildlife together. It helps to get families outside and walk a mile on a regular basis in the spring and summer months.”
A volunteer training workshop will be held on Sunday, April 13, from 10:30 am – 2 pm at the Wells Reserve at Laudholm (342 Laudholm Farm Road, Wells). To learn more about the Endangered Species Road Watch or to RSVP for the training workshop, contact Doug Hitchcox at Maine Audubon at (207) 781-2330 x237 or [email protected].
About Maine Audubon
Maine Audubon’s science-based approach to conservation, education and advocacy advances wildlife and wildlife habitat conservation in Maine. Our citizen science programs connect Maine people to engaging volunteer opportunities that make meaningful contributions to conservation research. The largest Maine-based wildlife conservation organization in the state, Maine Audubon has eight centers and wildlife sanctuaries and serves over 50,000 people annually, with 15,000 members and 2,000 volunteers.
Conserving Maine’s wildlife. For everyone.
Please visit www.maineaudubon.org for more information.
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