New England News
12:35 pm
Thu July 5, 2012

MassWildlife Citizen Scientists Program Looks to Public For Help

The State of Massachusetts is looking for its residents to take part in monitoring populations of local animals. WAMC’s Berkshire Bureau Chief Lucas Willard reports…

MassWildlife is launching its Citizen Scientists campaign, calling for help from state residents to report populations of 3 animals – wild turkeys, rabbits and bats.

Marion Larson, Outreach Coordinator from MassWildlife, says that by reporting sightings of wild turkeys, which are numerous throughout the region, is part of the state’s  annual Turkey Brood Survey.

Massachusetts residents are being asked to monitor rabbit populations – to help the state with it’s goal of finding out more data on the  New England Cottontail. Larson said that the New England Cottontail – a species which is vulnerable to endangerment in Massachusetts – is extraordinarily difficult to tell apart from the very common Eastern Cottontail – the one that is usually seen chewing plants in the garden. Larson said that because the two are so hard to tell apart, Massachusetts residents are being asked to bring any dead rabbits to their regional MassWildlife office.

Carcasses in any condition are valuable to the study, but the head of the rabbit is essential towards identification – that includes skeletons. New England Cottontails often inhabit thick vegetation.

And lastly, bats.

Massachusetts residents that may have knowledge of breeding bat populations are encouraged to report their findings.

 Bats in the Northeast have been suffering a large decline in populations due to white-nose syndrome – a disease that affects the bats ability to hibernate through the winter – which leads to death.

Tony Gola, a Western District Biologist from MassWildlife, says that more information on bats is very important to the state.

Bats are migratory and many that spend the winters in the Northeast are being affected by the white-nose syndrome. The state is looking for information on bats in summer colonies with numbers of ten or more. Marion Larson warns though, that people shouldn’t handle the bats and that reporting them by telephone is just fine. She also mentioned that bats reproduce with only one pup a year, so if and before any work is done to relocate bats – it’s important to make sure the young are old enough to survive.

Turkey survey form:

www.mass.gov/dfwele/dfw/wildlife/facts/birds/turkey/turkey_brood_survey.htm

District Offices for rabbit samples:

www.mass.gov/dfwele/dfw/facilities/contact_us.htm.

To report bats:

Call (508) 389-6360 or email mass.wildlife@state.ma.us

Information on bats in homes:

http://www.mass.gov/dfwele/dfw/wildlife/living/living_with_bats.htm

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