New brochure on New England Cottontail Rabbits in New

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New brochure on New England Cottontail Rabbits in New Powered By Docstoc
					New brochure on New England
Cottontail Rabbits in New
Malin Clyde, UNH Cooperative Extension

The brochure "New England Cottontail Rabbits in
New Hampshire", published by UNH Cooperative
Extension, is now available. The brochure
provides valuable information to landowners
about this recently listed state-endangered
species. It explains the biology and habitat
requirements of the New England cottontail
rabbit, and provides recommendations to
landowners for managing shrubland habitat for
New England cottontails and a variety of other
wildlife species.

The brochure can be downloaded online, or you
can receive a single set free through the UNH
Forestry Information Center (call 1-800-444-
8978, email

The new brochures were produced by the
University of New Hampshire Cooperative
Extension with support from the Natural
Resources Conservation Service and in
partnership with New Hampshire Fish & Game
Department and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife
New Information about NH Wildlife Available Online!
Malin Clyde, UNH Cooperative Extension

If you are looking for educational information on wildlife species and habitats in
New Hampshire, check out UNH Cooperative Extension’s updated Wildlife
website at The site includes lots of new information about
wildlife species, particularly those species of conservation concern in New
Hampshire. There is also information on critical habitats such as grasslands,
shrublands, and lowland spruce-fir forests, and information about habitat
management according to habitat type.

Are you a landowner looking to learn about the habitats on your land? Take a
look at the section on Habitats of New Hampshire.

Do you want to know about the New England cottontail rabbit? The section on
NE cottontails in New Hampshire provides identification information, current
research, and ideas for how you can help.

Looking for help managing your land to benefit wildlife? The site contains
references and stewardship guidelines for many of New Hampshire’s critical

Do friends want to sign up to receive the e-
newsletter, “Taking Action for Wildlife”? There
is a new button making the sign-up process easy.

UNH Cooperative Extension is collaborating with
NH Fish and Game on the wildlife information
found on both websites. Check the latest
updates on the NH Fish & Game's Wildlife Action
Plan web page. If you have news and ideas for
wildlife content to add to either site, please e-
mail Malin Ely Clyde at UNH Cooperative Extension.
  Effingham’s Wildlife Action Plan
  Emily Brunkhurst, NH Fish & Game Department

  After attending a track of three wildlife action plan workshops at the 2006 NH Association of
  Conservation Commissions annual conference, Effingham was inspired. The next day conservation
  commission chair, Kamal Nath, led an effort to produce a proposal to submit to the Moose Plate
  grant program. The grant application was successful, and the town of Effingham embarked on an
  ambitious project to find the best ways to implement the NH Wildlife Action Plan (WAP) at the town-
  wide level. The goal was to conduct a comprehensive study of the town’s habitats and some wildlife
  species during a two year project from July 2007 to June 2009. Here is a summary of how they went
  about it, and the results of the study.

  The focus of the study, funded by the NH State Conservation Committee’s Moose Plate Grant
  Program, was to create a local wildlife action plan. The project identified the best wetland and
  upland habitats using available GIS data and field surveys; chose some species of greatest
  conservation need as listed in the WAP and did some targeted sampling of those species; and used
  the data to draft a best habitat map.

  The Effingham Conservation Commission hired Dr. Rick Van de Poll to do the surveys and mapping,
  with many commissioners helping out as survey volunteers. The Commission Chair, Kamal Nath, was
  also successful in bringing in other experts from NHFG and NH Audubon to help.

Original Wildlife Habitat Land Cover Map                  Revised Wildlife Habitat Land Cover Map
                                                                      after field work
Previously, Effingham had conducted a complete survey of the town’s wetlands, so this data was
helpful in getting them started. Rick then headed into the uplands to explore the forests of the
town. Using the WAP wildlife habitat map to start, Rick used the data he found to draw more
accurate habitat lines. The WAP habitat maps are based on models, so it is not surprising that he
found some differences. He was also able to show on the maps the forested wetlands separately
from the other forested layers. One nice surprise is that Effingham has more pine barrens habitat
than the models show, and this influenced some of the wildlife surveys.

The list of species that the town wanted to learn more about was based in part on the threats to that
species existence. Using Chapter 4: Wildlife Risk Assessment, a list of 50 moderately or critically
imperiled species was identified for surveys, but that list grew to 92 due to the addition of several
species of dragonflies identified through the NH Dragonfly Survey and moths identified through an
ongoing Nature Conservancy/NHFG pine barrens moth sampling effort. NHFG fisheries biologists
helped by Effingham volunteers sampled Pine River, Wilkinson Brook and Ossipee River as part of
their normal summer effort; NH Audubon trained volunteers to conduct dragonfly surveys; the moth
surveys in the pine barrens had several partners; and turtle trapping required a generous loan of
traps. Other surveys included winter tracking for mammals, breeding bird count surveys, and both
searches and causal observations during filed activities. In all 33 rare species were documented in
Effingham during the two-year effort.

Several key areas were identified as important wildlife habitat in Effingham. These were wetlands,
streams and several kinds of forests, and include the lower Pine River and Heath Pond Bog, Watts
Wildlife Sanctuary, Wilkinson Brook, Pine River State Forest, Province Lake, South River, and Green
Mountain. The final report also lists recommendations of the next steps the Conservation
Commission and town might take to implement protection and enhancement of these areas. The
report is available on the Effingham Conservation Commission website at
UNH Cooperative Extension and Ausbon Sargent Land Trust
Partner Help Towns Take Action for Wildlife
Amanda Lindley Stone, UNH Cooperative Extension

Four towns in the Ausbon Sargent Land
Preservation Trust (ASLPT) region,
Springfield, Grantham, Bradford and
Newbury, have been hard at work this
spring and summer using the NH Wildlife
Action Plan. UNH Cooperative Extension
(UNHCE) staff, working in partnership with
ASLPT staff, helped the conservation
commissions in the four towns incorporate
information from the NH Wildlife Action
Plan into their natural resources
inventories, conservation planning, and
community outreach.

Extension and Ausbon Sargent staff held up
to four meetings with each community.
The actions that these communities have
taken to use NH Wildlife Action Plan data                                            Photo Credit: Amanda Stone
will be documented so other towns in the
land trust region can benefit and learn from these community projects.

Each of the four towns was provided with large scale Wildlife Action Plan maps to work with: Wildlife
Habitat Land Cover and Highest Ranked Habitats.

Springfield identified several areas to work in, including: Incorporating NH Wildlife Action Plan data
on habitats and associated species into their 2008 NRI; using Springfield’s Wildlife Action Plan and
NRI Water Resources maps to identify priority areas for conservation of wildlife habitats and
important water resources; started working on outreach to landowners interested in conserving their
land and protecting wildlife habitat and water resources, and planned a Land Conservation Options
workshop for Tuesday September 22, 2009. Springfield is currently working with the adjacent town of
Grantham on common priorities along the town border.

Grantham worked on developing a community outreach program using their 2009 Critical Lands Index
(CLI) and the Wildlife Action Plan (WAP). They developed a conservation display for the 2009 town
meeting, including CLI and WAP maps, and ASLPT Land Conservation factsheets, planned articles on
the CLI and WAP for the town newsletter and website, is developing landowner information packets
using ASLPT land conservation materials and information from the CLI and WAP, and is currently
collaborating with Springfield on common priorities to protect wildlife habitats.

Newbury’s goals were to educate the community about land conservation and conservation
easements, use the WAP to get the message out, and incorporate WAP information into Newbury’s
Natural Resources Inventory. Newbury plans to host a land conservation options workshop followed
by a walk on a conserved property on Saturday September 12, 2009.

Bradford reviewed the Wildlife Action Plan maps and identified priority areas for conservation of
wildlife habitats, plans to incorporate Wildlife Action Plan maps and data into their upcoming natural
resources inventory, and planned an outreach program that includes getting information onto the
town web site, the town newsletter and the local newspaper, and creating displays for the July 4th
event, the weekly Bradford Farmer’s Market, the public library, and other venues. They are hosting
a natural resources inventory and wildlife workshop for the public on Thursday October 15, 2009.
Carl Wallman: Looking Beyond His Stone Walls
Frank Mitchell, UNH Cooperative Extension

Carl Wallman is a Coverts Cooperator, a former breeder of prize-winning cattle and the Chair of the
Northwood Area Land Management Collaborative (NALMC) Steering Committee. In recent years, Carl
has turned his land management skills gained through years of farming to managing for wildlife
habitat on his 200 acre Harmony Hill Farm in Northwood, NH. As he got more involved in wildlife and
their habitats, Carl realized that “If you’re interested in managing for wildlife habitat, you need to
look beyond your stone walls.” This idea and his interest in land stewardship led him to join with
nearby private landowners and the NH Division of Parks (DRED), NH Fish and Game Department, the
Town of Northwood and UNH to found the Northwood Area Land Management Collaborative (NALMC).
This effort has brought public and private landowners of 3,300 acres together and opened up new
communication about the land, it’s wildlife and its people. NALMC, Carl says, “is just people,
without the ideology, talking about managing their lands. It’s fun doing all these things.”

Taking Action for Wildlife
Carl’s work in support of habitat at Harmony Hill Farm is intended to maintain early successional
habitats (grassland and shrubland) where they currently exist.
   • In 1998, Carl reclaimed 30 acres of land formerly cleared for pasture that had been growing in
        with small trees Some of the cost of this work was offset by the Wildlife Habitat Incentive
        Program, administered by the Natural Resources Conservation Service.
   • Delayed mowing to protect nesting grassland birds, with incentive payments from NH Fish &
        Game Dept.
   • Annual controlled burning to keep some field land open and inhibit invasive species such as
        Autumn olive.
   • Involving students and their teacher at Northwood Coe-Brown Academy in helping to keep the
        invasive species at bay while learning about the farm’s ecosystems.
   • Donating conservation easements on most of the Harmony Hill Farm land to the Society for
        the Protection of NH Forests In 2001 and 2004.

                                                                 Photo Credit: Fred Borman

        NALMC Steering Committee members officially open the link trail between Northwood
        Meadows State Park and Harmony Hill Farm on NH Trails Day, July 2008. Carl Wallman
        is to right of the sign.
 A lot of it’s personal
Regarding his reasons for shifting his attention as a landowner toward wildlife and habitats, Carl
says, “A lot of it’s personal. After selling the cattle (the former use of the farm), I had to do
something with the farm but I was done farming. I cleared these fields, so I didn’t want to let it grow
back to forest. In 1995 or 1996 I met Ellen Snyder (then UNHCE Wildlife Specialist), who came out
and discussed how the land would support wildlife. Ellen suggested a professional habitat assessment
study to identify what wildlife and habitats are here and what might be done to maintain and
enhance wildlife diversity. The outcome of the assessment was very educational – it was fascinating.
Ellen and the habitat assessment consultant both advised keeping the fields open for habitat
diversity.” Carl pointed to Harmony Hill Farm on an aerial photo map of the area around Harmony
Hill Farm. He noted that these are among the few large areas of grassland or other early successional
habitats in the region. These critical habitats support species of concern such as Black racer and
Smooth green snake, American woodcock, Eastern towhee, Northern leopard frog and Eastern
meadowlark as well as other more common species such as bobolinks, swallows and various
mammals. Carl adds, “At first, it was more theoretical and I was skeptical of the predictability of the
results.” Now, stepping out of his office at Harmony Hill Farm on an early summer day, Carl hears an
indigo bunting nearby as a pair of bobolinks fly up from the field behind the house, species that favor
the habitats he’s maintaining here.

In addition to providing critical wildlife habitat, Harmony Hill Farm is central to the NALMC five-mile
hiking trail through public and private lands and the farm hosts a community garden. A value of
opening land to the public this way, Carl says, is that, “if people understand values of land other
than building, they’ll understand the importance of conservation better.”

Connection through the land
Reflecting on rewards of all the work he’s done to manage Harmony Hill Farm and with the NALMC,
Carl appreciates “learning so much about the dynamic of this community here” and “connection to
neighbors through land – we’re recreating the kind of connection that once existed. Once you meet
neighbors and show interest in their land, they respond. Their land is part of them. Everyone’s
learning. It’s basic and it’s exhilarating.”

No “right” answers
From his experience, Carl Wallman has some brief advice to other landowners interested in
supporting wildlife habitats on their land or in promoting it with others. "I learned there are no
“right” answers”, he reflects. “You can’t tell anyone else what to do with their land. But you can
bring people together, connect on their terms, let them discover things and make their own
decisions.” Recognizing that wild animals don’t know or care about property boundaries, he adds,
“You can’t manage for wildlife just on your own land. You need to look at the bigger landscape.”
Whip-poor-will Research in New Hampshire
Pamela Hunt, Ph.D., New Hampshire Audubon

The evening call of the Whip-poor-will was
once a common sound across most of
southern New Hampshire, but in recent years
the number of people who “haven’t heard
one for a long time” is larger than those who
have. Throughout its range in eastern North
America, the Whip-poor-will has been
declining for decades, and in some parts of
the Northeast is now found in only half the
areas where it was found as recently as 20
years ago. In an effort to learn more about
the decline, and what factors might be
behind it, New Hampshire Audubon initiated
roadside survey routes in 2003, and these
have since spread to several other states.
                                                                          Photo Credit: Pam Hunt
More recently, I have begun to study habitat
use by Whip-poor-wills at two sites in New Hampshire: the Mast Yard State Forest in Hopkinton and
the Ossipee Pine Barrens in Freedom and Madison. Management at these two sites varies, with fire
being the important tool at Ossipee and harvest predominating at Mast Yard. In each case, the
management creates the forest openings and edges that we think are important habitat features for
these birds. While Whip-poor-wills nest on the ground in forests, they need open areas in which to
forage on flying insects.

Using a small group of dedicated volunteers, I began “triangulation mapping” at both sites in 2008.
This technique involves two observers taking simultaneous compass bearings (from set points) on a
calling bird, and using the intersection of the two bearings as the bird’s approximate location. Over
many nights, we can build a general map of where at each site the birds spend most of their time (or
at least the singing males!). From this we estimate 10-12 birds at Mast Yard in both 2008 and 2009,
over 20 at an unfinished airstrip in Freedom in 2008, and 4-5 in The Nature Conservancy’s West
Branch Preserve in 2009. The next step will be to relate Whip-poor-will home ranges to habitat
features at these sites.

In 2009 we also planned to use radio telemetry to track birds at Mast Yard, and in the process get a
more accurate picture of their habitat use. Between the weather and unforeseen logistical
difficulties, we only managed to capture a single bird in mid-June – and then his radio fell off
sometime the next evening! Hopefully we’ll get a fresh start with the telemetry project in 2010. Also
in 2009, we collaborated with the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology and placed a total of three
“Automated Recording Units” (or ARUs) at the two sites. These ARUs continuously recorded all
sounds between 8:15 p.m. and 5:15 a.m. from early May through late July, and have been returned
to Cornell for analysis. A computer program will pick out the “whip-poor-will” calls from all the
other noises, and be able to give us valuable information on the daily and seasonal pattern of
vocalizing. This can help inform both the monitoring program and our ongoing habitat research.

New Hampshire Audubon is interested in hearing of additional Whip-poor-will records, so if you hear
one, or want more information on this project, feel free to contact Pam Hunt at 224-9909 x328 or
Headwater Streams Provide Important Wildlife Habitat
Matt Carpenter, NH Fish & Game Department

                                                The term “headwater stream” often conjures up an
                                                image of a babbling brook flowing beneath the shady
                                                canopy of a mature forest. This is one type of
                                                headwater stream, but the actual variety of
                                                headwater streams is matched only by their
                                                vulnerability to human disturbance. A headwater
                                                stream can be a small forested wetland, a series of
                                                beaver impoundments, or a cascading mountain
                                                stream that flows over bedrock. There is no clear
                                                definition for what constitutes a headwater stream,
                                                as opposed to a small river.

                                                Each stream offers a unique set of conditions that
                                                local species have evolved to exploit. Many species,
                                                including a variety of mosses, salamanders, and
                                                invertebrates, are specifically adapted to live in
                                                headwater streams. Other species take advantage of
                                                headwater streams at different points in their life
                                                history. Brook trout are an example of a species with
                                                multiple life history strategies within a single
                                                population. Some individuals can live year round in a
                                                tiny stream, while others may only move into a small
                                                stream during the fall spawning season or to find a
                                                cool water refuge during the summer months.

                                                 Headwater streams can be an important resource for
                                                 species that are not usually thought of as aquatic.
 Photo Credit: Amanda Stone                      The convergence of upland and aquatic habitats
                                                 leads to a concentration of invertebrates around
headwater streams. Insects, such as stoneflies, mayflies, and dragonflies, whose larvae live
underwater, are found alongside terrestrial insects, such as moths, beetles, and grasshoppers. This
concentration of food attracts predators from the surrounding forest. Birds, bats, raccoons, and
snakes are just a few examples of terrestrial wildlife that frequent headwater streams.

Many species take advantage of the relative safety of headwater streams for reproduction. Frogs
and salamanders often lay their eggs in intermittent or fishless streams. Common white suckers and
rainbow smelt are two other fish species that migrate seasonally into small streams to spawn.
Headwater streams can also act as important travel corridors for both terrestrial and aquatic

Headwater streams commonly flood in the spring and fall, dry up in the summer, and are scoured by
ice in the winter. Wide variations in flow and temperature, sometimes over the span of only a few
days or even hours, can make life difficult in headwater streams. These harsh conditions actually
provide native species with a refuge from introduced species, which tend to be better adapted to the
more stable and often more degraded habitats of larger rivers and lakes. Certain New Hampshire
fish species of concern, including banded sunfish, redfin pickerel, and redbelly dace, are examples of
species that occur at low abundance with nonnative fish species, but thrive in headwater streams.

Under the Strahler Stream Order system, stream segments are assigned numbers based on their
position in a watershed. First order streams occur at the farthest upstream reaches of a watershed,
before the junction of any other streams. When two first order streams join, they become a second
order stream, when two second order streams join, they become a third order stream, and so on.
First, second, and sometimes third order streams are usually what is being referred to when one is
discussing headwater streams. If a river network is compared to the circulatory system, then
headwater streams would be the tiny capillaries that fan out from the larger veins or arteries.

Despite their ecological value, headwater streams are often overlooked when it comes to
conservation. New Hampshire’s Comprehensive Shoreland Protection Act does not include 1st, 2nd,
or 3rd order streams. The small size of most headwater streams makes them vulnerable to human
impact. There are numerous examples, throughout the country, of species endemic to headwater
streams that have been extirpated or greatly reduced in number. Groundwater extraction can cause
streams to dry up. Road crossings fragment streams, causing sedimentation and isolating populations.
Runoff from impervious surfaces can introduce pollutants, increase flooding, and cause spikes in
stream temperature. These and other threats are compounded by the tendency to dismiss small
streams, especially low gradient wetland streams, because they do not command the same
recreational and aesthetic appeal of the larger lakes and rivers. However, protecting a headwater
stream may provide more value, in terms of species diversity and water quality, than protecting an
equal area of shoreline on a large river or lake.

The level of protection for headwater streams varies by town and is usually accomplished by zoning
ordinances. The best way to avoid impacts to this habitat is to leave naturally vegetated buffers
along the stream bank with a minimum width of 30 meters, but ideally 100 meters or more. The
wider the buffer, the more species that will use it as a travel corridor and the better protection it
will serve against sedimentation and pollutants. Road stream crossings should be designed not to
alter the natural flow or sediment transport characteristics of the stream channel. Storm water
designs that discharge directly into the stream should be avoided in favor of systems that filter
stormwater into the ground. Taking these steps to protect headwater streams has the potential to
prevent irreversible losses to New Hampshire’s biodiversity as well as save countless dollars by
protecting water quality and preventing flood damage.

       Illustration from: “The contribution of headwater streams to biodiversity in river networks”.
       Meyer, Judy L.; Strayer, David L.; Wallace, J. Bruce; Eggert, Sue L.; Helfman, Gene S.; Leonard, Norman E. 2007. The
       contribution of headwater streams to biodiversity in river networks. Journal of The American Water Resources Association Vol.
       43, No. 1.