Wild Cams Draw Fans

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Georgia Wild masthead: Carolina wren

Showing now: Eagle, owls and more

Landings bird cam

While the film industry ramps up in Georgia, an even wilder take on this visual medium -- wildlife cams -- is attracting increasing attention around the state.

Berry College's eagle nest cam, which logged millions of views last winter, is online and the adults are on nest (two eggs). The northwest Georgia school upgraded its setup for this season, even including a third camera.

Also new this year, the world can follow great horned owls nesting in a former eagle nest at The Landings, near Savannah. The cam, sponsored by Skidaway Audubon and others and carried by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, was installed last summer to feature eagles. But only one eagle returned and the owls settled in, prompting project leaders to change plans and providing viewers live-stream of another fascinating raptor.

In north Georgia, starting as soon as February, DNR will begin streaming a peregrine falcons nest on SunTrust Plaza Tower in Atlanta. Meanwhile, viewers hooked on fish can click the underwater cam at the Go Fish Education Center in Perry to check out largemouth bass, longnose gar and other native aquatic life.

Berry College and The Landings share their video streams with Georgia DNR's Wildlife Resources Division, which features the eagles and owls, falcons and fish to help raise awareness of wildlife and conservation.

Watch now!

Highlight reel

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Contests connect youth and outdoors

A first-place poster in 2014 contest

The increasing role of technology in the lives of young people is raising a growing concern about potential negative effects; namely, that the focus is undermining interest in wildlife.

If today’s youth are tomorrow’s environmental stewards, that’s no small concern.

Thankfully, Georgians can turn to DNR events with a track record of connecting children and teens with the outdoors.

Returning for its 10th year on April 25-26, the Youth Birding Competition challenges young Georgians from beginning birders to budding experts to grab their binocs and identify as many bird species as they can in 24 hours. There’s an awards banquet, and even a separate T-shirt Art Contest.

2015 also marks the Give Wildlife a Chance Poster Contest’s silver anniversary. Organized by DNR and the State Botanical Garden of Georgia, this event involved almost 2,500 K through fifth-grade students using art to explore conservation last year.

Check out deadlines and other details for the Youth Birding Competition, T-shirt Art Contest and the Give Wildlife a Chance Poster Contest.

Did you know?

  • The Youth Birding Competition is the model used by Race 4 Birds Foundation, a non-profit formed last year to promote youth birding nationwide.
  • The Environmental Resources Network, or TERN, friends group of DNR’s Nongame Conservation Section, is a key sponsor in the birding competition and the T-shirt and poster contests.

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2014 report reveals nongame ups, downs

2014 report cover

How good of a year was it for Georgia's nongame wildlife?

Find out in the new annual report from the Nongame Conservation Section.

Available in a snappy summary or an in-depth 46-page version, the report explores successes, challenges and statewide efforts to conserve nongame during fiscal 2014. Topics vary from a state record for wood stork nesting to a key law change that will hopefully increase the support that DNR wildlife license plates provide for conservation.

It's a review of work that affects all Georgians, whether it’s acquiring lands along the Altamaha River for conservation and recreation, sizing up the alligator snapping turtle population in Spring Creek or teaming with partners to keep Georgia aster off the Endangered Species list.

The take-home: Conserving our native nongame species and restoring and preserving wildlife habitats are central to making sure Georgia’s natural heritage is available for our children and their children to enjoy.

Read more at  www.georgiawildlife.com/conservation/AnnualReport.

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Out my backdoor: Carolinas come calling

Carolina wren. Terry W. Johnson

By Terry W. Johnson

When I walked outside to retrieve the newspaper on New Year's morning, the sky was gray and temperatures hovered near freezing. This was definitely not the weather I’d hoped to experience on the first day of 2015.

However, before my spirits had a chance to sag, the loud call of a Carolina wren greeted me. As soon as I heard the bird's cheery song, I said to myself, "What a great way to start the new year!"

I’m certain I’m not the only Georgian who was treated to the song of a Carolina wren that day. Here’s why …

Read Terry’s column to learn more about one of Georgia’s most energetic and inquisitive birds!

Terry W. Johnson is a former Nongame program manager with the DNR Wildlife Resources Division and executive director of TERN, the Nongame Conservation Section's friends group. Out my backdoor library.

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Northern long-eared bat. Pete Pattavina/USFWS

Tax checkoff critical for Georgia wildlife

Checkoff logo

Yes, 'tis the season for taxes.

So how to make this special time of the year a little less painful?

One answer: When filing your state income taxes, give to the Georgia Wildlife Conservation Fund tax checkoff.

A donation of any amount on line 26 of Form 500 or line 10 of Form 500EZ helps the Nongame Conservation Section, which receives no state appropriations for conserving nongame, but depends instead on contributions, grants and fundraisers like the Give Wildlife a Chance checkoff.

The checkoff accounted for about 10 percent of revenue for the Wildlife Conservation Fund in fiscal 2014. But, in general, contributions have declined in recent years.

The effect on work involving nongame, from North Atlantic right whales to gopher tortoises, is amplified because the Wildlife Conservation Fund is used to obtain and match grants. Nongame Conservation Section Chief Jon Ambrose said the agency receives about $2 to $3 in grants for every $1 spent from the fund.

“Donations ... are critical for getting additional funding from other sources. Even by giving just a little, Georgians can provide critical support and make a big impact.”

Learn more about the checkoff and other ways to give Georgia wildlife a chance.

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With Georgia’s General Assembly in session, organizations such as the Georgia Wildlife Federation and the Georgia Conservancy offer wildlife advocates a way to follow conservation-related legislation. The assembly is also streamed online, a site that includes bill updates.

Gassing gopher tortoise burrows to capture rattlesnakes was specifically outlawed in Georgia by the Legislature last year. Senate Bill 322 deleted the line that exempted venomous snakes from prohibitions against using explosives, chemicals or other devices to drive wildlife from their homes.

Claxton’s Rattlesnake & Wildlife Festival, set for March 14-15, will feature plenty of rattlers – all on loan from conservation organizations – as well as Duck Dynasty’s Justin Martin and Mountain Man. The former rattlesnake roundup banned wild-caught rattlers in 2012, a conservation-minded move that helped increase the popularity of the annual event, now in its 48th year.

Coyotes are in the crosshairs of a new study in Georgia, Alabama and South Carolina that will explore what resources are important to these predators for establishing territories. The research, involving radio-tracking and genetic analysis, could provide insights that will improve coyote management efforts.

A $1 million National Coastal Wetlands Conservation Grant will help DNR acquire and protect about 2,370 acres of Altama Plantation, near Brunswick. The tract is made up of tidal wetlands, maritime forests and uplands, all part of the lower Altamaha River watershed, a State Wildlife Action Plan priority area.

Georgia also will benefit from new Regional Conservation Program projects led by the Natural Resources Conservation Service and local partners. Projects include $1 million to increase the efficiency of agricultural water use in the lower Flint River basin, $1 million to protect soil and water quality in coastal Georgia watersheds, and $12 million to protect longleaf pine forests, maintain military base buffers and support longleaf and gopher tortoise conservation in Georgia, Florida, South Carolina and Louisiana.

Morgan Lake Tract, an old oxbow lake along the Altamaha River in Long County, is open to public recreation as part of Griffin Ridge Wildlife Management Area. Visitors to the 1,100 acres the DNR acquired last year will need a valid license, one of which is a Georgia Outdoor Recreation Pass.

Invasive hardwoods are being cut around old-growth longleaf pines on nearly 500 acres at Sprewell Bluff Wildlife Management Area near Thomaston, improving habitat for fox squirrels, bobwhite quail and other species at the middle Georgia wildlife management area. On Fall Line Sandhills WMA near Butler, a neighboring landowner is logging sand pine and planting longleaf, upgrading his lands and nixing a sand pine seed source that affected Fall Line.

Pocket gopher mounds

Pocket gophers are making a comeback on Fall Line Sandhills’ west tract. Nongame senior wildlife biologist Nathan Klaus recently found hundreds of gopher mounds (above), the first he’s seen there in five years and possibly a response to growing season prescribed fires that killed many of the site’s invasive hardwoods.

Six red-cockaded woodpeckers were recently caught at Fort Stewart and moved to Silver Lake Wildlife Management Area (video). Silver Lake, near Bainbridge, is Georgia’s first state-owned property with a population of the endangered woodpeckers.

Graduates of the Wildland Fire Academy at Hard Labor Creek State Park last month trained in areas varying from planning a prescribed burn to operating engines and pumps. The Firefighter Type 2 class included staff from DNR, Orianne Society and The Nature Conservancy, as well as prescribed fire volunteers.

Most Pennsylvanians think conserving threatened and endangered species, as well as other nongame wildlife, is important, according to a 2014 survey conducted for the state’s Game Commission. Respondents also favored nine out of 10 funding sources for nongame conservation, with those sources varying from a conservation stamp to a tax on energy development activities.

Python patrol training is in the works in Florida. The state’s Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission hopes to create a network of citizen scientists to help stem the spread of Burmese pythons, a clear and present danger to native wildlife in the Sunshine State. Train online.

The North American Model of Wildlife Conservation is considered the most successful system of laws and regulation to restore and safeguard fish and wildlife and their habitats through science and management. Seven principles, known as the seven sisters for conservation, define this “user pays-public benefits” system, explains this fact sheet by the National Shooting Sports Foundation.

Coming up:
   Feb. 6-7 – Weekend for Wildlife, annual DNR nongame fundraiser, Sea Island
   Feb. 19 – 9:30 a.m., Georgia Plant Conservation Alliance meeting, DNR Wildlife Resources Division Conservation Center, Social Circle
   Bird banding times, dates at Panola Mountain State Park, Stockbridge – Jan. 31, 6:30 a.m.;
Feb. 14, 6:20 a.m.; Feb. 28, 6:30 a.m.; March 7, 7 a.m.; March 14, 6:45 a.m.; April 18, 6 a.m.;
April 25, 6 a.m. For updates, including schedule changes: Charlie Muise, Georgia Important Bird Areas Program.

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   "Sustainable Georgia: Protecting our wildlife" via DNR license plates, Georgia Trend
   "Wildlife tags at lower price offer even greater support to Georgia DNR," Georgia Wildlife Federation
   "Kick in for conservation with Georgia’s wildlife tax checkoff," Fetchyournews. Also: The Lincoln Journal.
   "Georgia DNR awarded $1 million for 2,370 acres of Altama Plantation," U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Facebook)
   "DNR takes over Morgan Lake tract," Coastal Courier
   "Owl cam live-streaming from Skidaway," Savannah Morning News
   "Working with wildlife detector dogs to find indigos," The Orianne Society
   "They see flow: Researchers identify nature of fish's 'sixth sense,'" New York University
   "DNR sponsoring wildlife contest for students," The Moultrie Observer. Also: LakeAllatoona.com.
   "Collaring coyotes: Study in S.C, Georgia, Alabama to focus on predation threat to deer fawns," Times and Democrat (Orangeburg, S.C.), and others via AP
   "Georgia Natural Resources Foundation awarded Walmart grant for $90,000," Canton-Sixes Patch
   "First felony charges filed over Venus' flytrap thefts," StarNews (Wilmington, N.C.)
   "Ocean life faces mass extinction, broad study says," The New York Times
   "Young eagles seen more frequently around Rome," Rome News-Tribune
   "Black bear tally lower than thought, study shows," The (Macon) Telegraph (and others via AP)
   "AMJV partnership receives $8 million award to enhance cerulean warbler habitat on private lands," Appalachian Mountains Joint Venture
   "Research provides a fish's eye view of Wassaw Sound," Savannah Morning News
   "White-nose syndrome initiates a cascade of physiologic disturbances in the hibernating bat host," BMC Physiology
   "Talking about... Sandy West (Ossabaw matriarch),"  Connect Savannah
   "Monarch butterfly eyed for possible U.S. endangered species protection," Yahoo! News
   "Gift tips for giving Georgia wildlife a chance," Snellville Patch


   "Red-cockaded woodpecker later moved from Fort Stewart to Silver Lake WMA," Robert Horan/GaDNR (videoed through spotting scope)
   "Starling murmuration," EarthTouch News Network
   "Rare albino dolphin spotted of Florida's east coast," UPI

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Parting shot

Right whale baleen

Eighteen miles off Cumberland Island, North Atlantic right whale No. 2605 opens her mouth, exposing the baleen plates she uses to filter plankton from the water. Right whales don’t typically feed in the Southeast during the winter months, but No. 2605 -- nicknamed Smoke -- may be opening her mouth in order to cool herself, explains Clay George, DNR’s lead right whale researcher. Also worth noting: Smoke was documented this year with her third known calf (photo). So far this winter, seven right whale calves have been spotted off Georgia and north Florida, the only known calving ground for this endangered species. Ten calves were documented last winter, about half the annual average since 2000. Read about Smoke in this Tybee Island Marine Science Center post.


** Masthead: Carolina wren. Mark Musselman/USFWS
** Great horned owl on the nest at The Landings. The Landings bird cam
** A first-place winner in the 2014 Give Wildlife a Chance Poster Contest. Linda May/GaDNR
** Carolina wren. Terry W. Johnson
** Northern long-eared bat. Pete Pattavina/USFWS
** Pocket gopher mounds on Fall Line Sandhills WMA. Nathan Klaus/GaDNR
** Right whale 2605 showing baleen plates. Georgia DNR, NOAA permit 15488

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