Masked Bobwhite

23MaskedBobwhite-caseygirard

About Them: These are a subspecies of the Bobwhite Quail often lumped with the Northern Bobwhite. Their distinctions are really only visible in the males, having a mostly black head instead of the white supercilium and lower white face markings of the Northern. Their differences do seem to go DNA deep and they make different choices for habitat than the Northern Bobwhite. Looking for low shrub and grass and semiarid desert. They have only ranged in the South West now in the Sonoran Desert area in Southern Arizona and into Mexico. By the time they were set apart in description for science in the 1800’s their population was already struggling. They were believed to have gone extinct in the 1920’s. Then a small population was found in the 1960’s and only through captive breeding do they still exist in healthy numbers.

Their plight: Cattle herds graze across the land Masked Bobwhite’s use for habitat making it inhospitable for their needs. This grazing removes the grasses and shrubs that the Bobwhites use for cover and finding food, while leaving space for trees to gain space and time to grow too large. Fire suppression has also lead to plants not maintaining the original habitat Bobwhites evolved to work within.

What we should consider: First how interesting that hunters are part of the group hoping to see these birds gain a healthy population. Bobwhites are a favored game bird and it is in the best interest of hunters to have healthy populations. The more people you can get involved to protect and save a species the more likely you will see it succeed even if you don’t agree with everything they do, within reason. You never know where the seed of similarity will go. 

This is a species that uses land between two countries. It does not understand a border wall. As the population does grow and it wants to expand that range are we really going to have a barrier like a wall in its way to continue healthy breeding? Perhaps it would be better to recognize our continued work with Mexico to help both of our countries even in these small instances and see how in larger venues that may be a better path.

What is being done: A breeding program was set up in Maryland to rebuild the population originally in the 1960’s. After a quota of birds were reached they were no longer an applicable species for this location and the breeding program was moved to the Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge. They now also have begun breeding through George Miksch Sutton Avian Research Center as well as recently partnering with Mexico at Africam Safari to continue efforts to make a wild sustaining population. Having the Masked Bobwhite on the Endangered Species Act helps to bring in the funds to support these breeding efforts as well as habitat rehabilitation that is very difficult. Fires are no longer enough for some Mesquite Trees, they have to be cut back to bring them to the appropriate number for this range.

How to help: Continue bringing awareness. Call into state senators when legislation is being passed that could affect the continued support of policy that protects wildlife and waterways. Support locally.

Support can be:

  • donating to science groups
  • helping to ensure funding to the organizations that creating breeding programs
  • being a citizen scientist through
    • land restoration project
    • trash clean ups
    • species counts
    • bio blitzes
  • getting people you know excited about how incredible our planet’s biodiversity is.

Joining your local Audubon Society or other local conservation group is a great first step into finding activities and ways to become a citizen scientist and environmental advocate.

Further Reading, my sources:

https://fws.maps.arcgis.com/apps/MapJournal/index.html?appid=637adcdb1ae74448aecbf5d35a4db7d4

https://www.suttoncenter.org/conservation/saving-species/masked-bobwhite/

http://sportingclassicsdaily.com/the-masked-bobwhite/

https://abcbirds.org/article/arizona-masked-bobwhite-habitat-to-get-extreme-makeover/

https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Northern_Bobwhite/lifehistory

https://www.encyclopedia.com/environment/science-magazines/masked-bobwhite

https://www.encyclopedia.com/environment/science-magazines/masked-bobwhite

[This is a blog of my opinions. I speak for myself. I am a one person team and if I have misinterpreted a fact or made an error please feel free to get in touch to correct me. I will make edits and updates to post. I would appreciate corrections to be polite. I will not engage in hate.]

Virginia Big-Eared Bat

22VirginiaBigEaredBat-caseygirard

About Them: These are some of the small brown bats that range the East Coast of the US. They are a species that is limited to small regions within of Kentucky, Tennessee, West Virginia, Virginia, and North Carolina. They have large ears that meet in the middle of their face making them look very gremlin like. Even still they are very cute. They can easily be confused with the Rafinesque’s big-eared bat. The difference is the Virginia’s has a darker overall coloring with a buffy chest and dark brown back.

Their plight: A few elements have caused this bat’s population to struggle. First is human disturbance. All cave dwelling species evolved to handle the quiet of a cave, this is a space with very low threshold for change. Human explored and they went spelunking just as if they were hiking. Unfortunately as cave system and the animals within are so sensitive unrestricted access is detrimental. If humans come into a cave while bats are hibernating or breeding the bats will flush causing them to use up their needed fat reserves to get them through the winter or drop their babies as they try to flee. This ultimately leads to bat death. Additionally White Nose Syndrome, a fungus that infects an ultimately kills bats while hibernating, has arrived in North America. It is believe it came from Europe off the uncleaned boot of a spelunker. The Bats in Europe evolved with this fungus and don’t see the wide mortality rates that the North American bats do.

What we should consider: This is the continued argument of “my freedom to do what I please” vs “health and safety of others and wildlife”. We humans have a lot of things we can imagine doing, driving really fast, exploring every space possible, building huge structures, but just because we can think of it doesn’t mean we should. Our actions have huge impacts on our world. What we leave behind even on a small scale can look like an apocalypse and feel like one to native species including other humans. We have evolved to be rational thinkers we should be able to realize where our limits need to be. We should also be able to accept that and not be resentful of animal species sharing this earth with us.

What is being done: Caves where these bats live have been closed to the public, some all of the time and some during the important times that need no disturbance. A small population has been taken into captive breeding to learn how to successfully have an insectivore that catches food in flight in captivity. They are presently on the Endangered Species List however, they are up for review to see if they can be delisted or downgraded as their population has seen some increase. 

How to help: If you are a spelunker take the proper precautions between caves, clean your boots, clothes, and other gear before you enter a new cave. Pay attention to signs and fences that tell you when it not a good time to be entering caves.

Continue bringing awareness. Call into state senators when legislation is being passed that could affect the continued support of policy that protects wildlife, land, and waterways. Support locally.

Support can be:

  • donating to science groups
  • helping to ensure funding to the organizations that creating breeding programs
  • being a citizen scientist through
    • land restoration project
    • trash clean ups
    • species counts
    • bio blitzes
  • getting people you know excited about how incredible our planet’s biodiversity is.

Joining your local Audubon Society or other local conservation group is a great first step into finding activities and ways to become a citizen scientist and environmental advocate.

Further Reading, my sources:

https://www.ncpedia.org/wildlife/virginia-big-eared-bat

https://statesymbolsusa.org/symbol/virginia/state-mammal/virginia-big-eared-bat

https://www.chesapeakebay.net/discover/field-guide/entry/virginia_big_eared_bat

https://www.fws.gov/southeast/pdf/fact-sheet/virginia-big-eared-bat.pdf

https://www.dgif.virginia.gov/wildlife/information/virginia-big-eared-bat/

http://www.ncbwg.org/virginia-big-eared-bat-corynorhinus-townsendii-virginianus/

https://jrava.org/the-virginia-big-eared-bat/

https://www.biologicaldiversity.org/campaigns/esa_works/profile_pages/VirginiaBigearedBat.html

https://www.summitenvironmentalsolutions.com/animal-control/bats-the-skinny-on-va-law/

https://insider.si.edu/2010/03/captive-colony-of-virginia-big-eared-bats-providing-valuable-lessons-in-battle-against-deadly-white-nose-syndrome/

https://fw.ky.gov/Wildlife/Pages/Virginia-Big-Eared-Bat.aspx

Sandra Markle. The Case of the Vanishing Little Brown Bats: A Scientific Mystery. Millbrook Press. 2014.

https://www.whitenosesyndrome.org/

[This is a blog of my opinions. I speak for myself. I am a one person team and if I have misinterpreted a fact or made an error please feel free to get in touch to correct me. I will make edits and updates to post. I would appreciate corrections to be polite. I will not engage in hate.]

Golden-Cheeked Warbler

20Golden-cheekedwarbler-caseygirard-1

About Them: This is a small bird with black, white and yellow coloring. It has yellow on its cheek as per the name. The black is on its wings, around its collar, caps its head, down its tail and in a line through its eye from beak to the back of its cheek. Then it has white wing bars and a white belly with black flank streaking.

They have a very small band of territory. They only come into the US within Texas, using the middle of Texas for their old growth Juniper groves to breed. Then it travels through Mexico to wintering grounds in southern Mexico and through Northern Central America.

Their plight: They breed in highly desirable land for urban development. Texas is seeing a boom in population and they want to build more houses and commercial real estate. Developers are now regularly challenging the warbler’s listing as endangered. There are actually a large number of breeding pairs, over 10,000 many more than the Kirtland’s Warbler, 2,000, which is under discussion of delisting. I believe the reason for the Golden-Cheeked Warbler being kept on this list is because, Texas is being more aggressive in their land use than Michigan and other Great Lake states are (the only place the Kirtland’s Warbler breeds).

What we should consider: Humans often charge ahead in plans without thinking about later consequences. We often will take short terms gains without worry about long term loss also money usually trumps the natural world. The Endangered Species Act is acting as the conscious of these developers saying trust us we know it is frustrating, but you will be glad you didn’t wipe out all of the old growth forest. That is hard for some to see in the face of ‘progress’.

Where I live, I am glad California has a deep system of open spaces and refuges throughout the bay area. It is really complicated with a housing crisis, but the bay area is also the home to hundreds of species. I believe every living thing has a right to the land. Humans are smart and are able to build what we need. I’m sure if we actually tried to reach compromises and sort through the layers of complication that are human made limits we could find answers that would leave the open space for nature and solve the human problems. 

What is being done: The Golden-Cheeked Warbler is on the Endangered Species List in the US and on the Partners in Flight Watch list which includes other countries. There are many people continuing to fight for this bird to remain protected to ensure critical habitat is maintained. They also are benefactors of a cowbird maintenance program that captures and limits the cowbirds’ range of brood parasitism. Cowbirds used to have a more limited range amongst bird species that evolved with them. After we moved in large cattle herds Cowbirds were able to expand and use the nests of birds that can’t handle the extra burden that leads to nest failure for warbler young.

How to help: Support Texas conservationists as they continue fighting for this bird to have protected habitat. Consider what house you are buying, don’t buy into developments that use clear cutting, which is basically an apocalypse on the land for any other living things that were there.

Continue bringing awareness. Call into state senators when legislation is being passed that could affect the continued support of policy that protects wildlife, land and waterways. Support locally.

Support can be:

  • visit local preserves and refuges
  • donating to science groups
  • helping to ensure funding to the organizations that creating breeding programs
  • being a citizen scientist through
    • land restoration project
    • trash clean ups
    • species counts
    • bio blitzes
  • getting people you know excited about how incredible our planet’s biodiversity is.

Joining your local Audubon Society or other local conservation group is a great first step into finding activities and ways to become a citizen scientist and environmental advocate.

Further Reading, my sources:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uuCRLT98pM8

https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Golden-cheeked_Warbler/lifehistory

https://www.audubon.org/news/science-matters-keep-protecting-golden-cheeked-warbler

https://www.audubon.org/news/yet-again-texas-developers-try-delist-endangered-golden-cheeked-warbler

https://www.audubon.org/field-guide/bird/golden-cheeked-warbler

https://ecos.fws.gov/ecp0/profile/speciesProfile?spcode=B07W

https://neotropical.birds.cornell.edu/Species-Account/nb/species/gchwar/overview

https://abcbirds.org/bird/golden-cheeked-warbler/

https://tpwd.texas.gov/huntwild/wild/species/gcw/

[This is a blog of my opinions. I speak for myself. I am a one person team and if I have misinterpreted a fact or made an error please feel free to get in touch to correct me. I will make edits and updates to post. I would appreciate corrections to be polite. I will not engage in hate.]

Casey’s June Beetle

19 CaseysJuneBeetle-caseygirard

About Them: These are burrowing beetles that only come to the surface for breeding between March and June. Males fly while females stay on the ground releasing a pheromone to attract the males. After the encounter the females go back under ground. They live in a very specific location of California, the Coachella Valley just below the Santa Rosa Mountains because the soil is perfect for them. Given their limited population and time above ground not a lot is known about them.

Their plight: The Coachella Valley is in Palm Springs a town that has become a luxury destination and narrow enough that urban sprawl has taken over all of it. These Beetles sadly don’t live on the side that holds Joshua Tree National Park which, I’m sure it why locals would feel frustrated to need to leave any other land of the limited amount they have in the valley for a Beetle. As long as land is protected these Beetles seem to persist, but by the time they got onto the Endangered Species List a very limited amount of acres were left to set aside as critical habitat.

What we should consider: Even beetle’s matter. Generally when you get to a species late like this the land left is near or is somehow more impactful to lower class people. Then the burden of limited land use falls to people with life limits of their own. One of the locations where the Beetles reside is near a mobile home park that is looking for flood relief with a drain pipe being put it. This project is basically stalled because of the Beetle. Is there another pathway to getting needed land for a species survival once we have built up residential and recreational areas? How do you encourage land owners to want to make their land habitable for endangered species? Is it possible in tightly packed residential areas? Native gardens are on the rise would that be enough? Can you make native plant centric golf courses?

What is being done: The Casey’s June Beetle was put on the Endangered Species List in 2011 which allowed Fish and Wildlife to formally allocate land to be saved as critical habitat for the beetle. Now yearly surveys and more research are being done to see what else can help this species recover.

How to help: When you visit a place like Palm Springs, visit the nearest Wildlife Refuge or Preserve and donate a little cash. This is a vote, a check mark saying, people care and it is economical and wanted to save native species.

Continue bringing awareness. Call into state senators when legislation is being passed that could affect the continued support of policy that protects wildlife and waterways. Support locally.

Support can be:

  • donating to science groups
  • helping to ensure funding to the organizations that creating breeding programs
  • being a citizen scientist through
    • land restoration project
    • trash clean ups
    • species counts
    • bio blitzes
  • getting people you know excited about how incredible our planet’s biodiversity is.

Joining your local Audubon Society or other local conservation group is a great first step into finding activities and ways to become a citizen scientist and environmental advocate.

Further Reading, my sources:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/usfws_pacificsw/6153408817/in/album-72157627464944770/

https://www.flickr.com/photos/usfws_pacificsw/34106844045/in/photolist-TXUv32-TXUuYz-TXUuLR-TXUutg-TUhRn1

https://cnlm.org/caseys-june-beetle-surveying-this-elusive-and-imperiled-species/

http://bio227-9.blogspot.com/2015/03/caseys-june-beetle-oscar-rodriguez.html (photo is of a similar beetle)

http://bio227-3spring2015.blogspot.com/2015/06/the-little-burrowing-beetle-caseys-june.html

https://ecos.fws.gov/ecp0/profile/speciesProfile?spcode=I0TG

https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2009/07/09/E9-16282/endangered-and-threatened-wildlife-and-plants-listing-caseys-june-beetle-dinacoma-caseyi

https://www.inaturalist.org/taxa/210770-Dinacoma-caseyi

https://www.desertsun.com/story/news/environment/2017/09/14/palm-springs-has-its-own-endangered-insect-and-its-delayed-drainage-project-years/661906001/

[This is a blog of my opinions. I speak for myself. I am a one person team and if I have misinterpreted a fact or made an error please feel free to get in touch to correct me. I will make edits and updates to post. I would appreciate corrections to be polite. I will not engage in hate.]

Woodland Caribou

This is one of the most complex stories so far this month. This animal is almost extinct in the US. It seems that because Woodland Caribou spend more time in Canada and aren’t money makers for hunting/sight seeing in the US they were not given proper support through the ESA to ensure their survival in the lower 48.

18 WoodlandCaribou-caseygirard

About Them: Woodland Caribou, also called Mountain or Boreal Caribou, are a separate subspecies from the barren land caribou we see in abundance that migrate across Alaska. They are larger, darker, elusive because they live in forests, and don’t migrate long distance. They migrate up into the mountains during winter. They still need a wide range of old growth forest and are very sensitive to disturbance. There is not a sustainable population in the US anymore, it looks like possibly only 3 females are left of the Selkirk group. Their extinction in the lower 48 is eminent.

The Southern Selkirk Mountains group was the last population of Woodland Caribou that ranged into the US between northern Idaho to northeastern Washington.

Their plight: The land Woodland Caribou live on is rich with resource. The region has been mined, explored for gas and oil and clear cut for logging. Roads and snowmobile paths also crisscross the habitat. This fragmented the remaining woodlands as well as limited the density or caused total removal of the trees that are part of the caribou’s cover. This change of habitat additionally made the woods more adaptable for other species, deer, elk and moose. These animals being present and thriving increased predator populations. Woodland Caribou originally adapted to survive by living where other species could not, deep unpassable old growth forest and mountains. As the Caribou population dwindled they were not healthy enough to handle this new predation.

Generally large prey animals will be given good range because they are hunted or make money through sight seers. The Woodland Caribou is considered the ghost of the forest meaning they don’t provide enough economic gain to warrant widespread forest allocation.

What we should consider: Humans live an existence supported by lumber. We are not going to stop logging and using trees for our houses and toilet paper and everything else. Animals also need the trees and to live in undisturbed forest to survive. How do you have both these animals survive and humans get what they need from the land? For human needs to be met do we have to forsake the survival of another species? Is it possible to have healthy resource gathering practices that don’t aggressively change the environment?

Humans are a massive species on this earth and we have decided we want a lot to be comfortable and live the way we have settled as how it is supposed to be. Big house, lots of needed electricity, nonnative gardens, the list goes on. Presently these human goals aren’t sustainable especially as more and more of our earth’s human population wants them. It is unfortunate that it is very hard to grasp what is individually done is also done by millions or billions of others and how huge that impact is.

**One article talked about the difficult decision to cull gray wolf populations when there was some hope of saving the Selkirk Woodland Caribou population. Many people read ‘cull wolf population’ and made an outcry for it to stop. However, at the time it was in an effort to save the caribou species from over abundance of predation. Please do your due-diligence and read all the way through an article before you make a decision to act with a call-to-action.

What is being done: They have tried captive breeding, but the rates of success are almost worse than in the wild. Hopefully with more research they will be able to reverse this trend. We now have to turn our hopes to Canada for this species’ survival, to see if they can see our failure and apply better solutions. They are still building their legislation to protect species and roll out habitat protections. Canada has a population of Woodland Caribou, but they are in decline.

How to help: Consider sending aid to Canada’s research. -> https://www.conservationnw.org/our-work/wildlife/mountain-caribou/

Make daily choices that require the use of less resources. Turn off lights, use less paper, buy second hand, repair and reuse. Do your best to be less impactful on the world in a use way. Obviously be an awesome spirit that impacts others with joy and ideas!

I always go with the Boy and Girl Scout motto, “leave no trace” or how I heard it phrased, “leave it better than you found it.” I wished it was remembered and implemented by more people.

Call out industry that is not using good practices for the environment. Call into your representatives to demand policy that restricts bad practices and makes companies accountable for their actions. Don’t purchase from companies that don’t follow sustainable practices.

Further Reading, my sources:

https://www.hcn.org/issues/50.9/opinion-selkirk-caribou-are-quietly-going-extinct

https://www.pc.gc.ca/en/nature/science/especes-species/liste-list/eep-sar3caribou

https://www.pewtrusts.org/en/research-and-analysis/articles/2016/02/18/canadas-woodland-caribou-at-a-conservation-crossroad

http://cbfa-efbc.ca/understanding-disturbance-thresholds-for-woodland-caribou/

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cfZdelr5Jtw

http://www.humanima.com/decouverte/en/article/woodland-caribou

https://www.earthrangers.com/wildwire/bbtw_updates/all-about-the-woodland-caribou/

https://www.nrdc.org/stories/mapping-future-boreal-caribou

https://www.nrdc.org/onearth/americas-last-woodland-caribou-herd-down-just-three-animals

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/may/13/caribou-endangered-species-act-us-canada

https://ecos.fws.gov/ecp0/profile/speciesProfile?spcode=A088

https://www.pc.gc.ca/en/nature/science/especes-species/liste-list/eep-sar3caribou

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/may/13/caribou-endangered-species-act-us-canada

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/apr/19/caribou-south-selkirk-us-canada-extinction

https://naturecanada.ca/what-we-do/naturevoice/endangered-species/know-our-species/woodland-caribou/

https://defenders.org/woodland-caribou/basic-facts

http://scawild.org/south-selkirk-mountain-caribou/

https://species.idaho.gov/woodland-caribou/

http://www.env.gov.yk.ca/animals-habitat/mammals/caribou.php

http://www.spokesman.com/blogs/outdoors/2017/apr/07/selkirk-mountain-caribou-survey-finds-11-endangered-animals-remaining/

https://www.canada.ca/en/environment-climate-change/services/environmental-enforcement/acts-regulations/about-species-at-risk-act.html

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boreal_woodland_caribou

[This is a blog of my opinions. I speak for myself. I am a one person team and if I have misinterpreted a fact or made an error please feel free to get in touch to correct me. I will make edits and updates to post. I would appreciate corrections to be polite. I will not engage in hate.]

Roseate Tern

17 roseatetern-caseygirard

Referenced from a photo by Faraaz Abdool 

About Them: This is a medium sized tern that bears much in common via look with the Common Tern, Arctic Tern, and Forster’s Tern. They all have full black caps during breeding, black bills that turn orange black for breeding, and similar flight look. They are rather passive terns. They chose to breed amongst Common and Arctic Terns because they are more aggressive in nest defense. They also manage nest protection by finding breeding locations that offer some cover for their nests. Even with these protections they still have many predators. These are tropical birds that have populations across the world, but have significantly declined in their North Eastern Atlantic population.

Their plight: For reasons rather unknown Roseate Terns are declining in their North Eastern Atlantic populations. While there is research around breeding in their breeding locations, there isn’t much information about where they winter because a large portion of the birds are generally out to sea. The birds have lost some habitat, they used to range for breeding all along the East Coast of the US, but are now only in the New England/New York area and the tip of Florida and the Bahamas. Gull populations have increased, taking over breeding habitat and causing predation of tern young. Late summer hurricanes are also very damaging to fledgling terns. The fledglings aren’t necessarily capable yet of handling such weather and storms have risen in their intensity since the 1930’s.

Historically these birds were hunted for their plumage. After the Migratory Bird Treaty Act was put in place the terns did rebound somewhat in population, but never as much as the other local terns.

What we should consider: How interesting to have a species that is only struggling to maintain population on our continent verses the rest of the world. What a difference it is to have not the concern of world extinction, but local extinction. Although, could this trend continue to the rest of the population if we aren’t able to find answers for their decline? It gives an insight into how we are maybe affecting our environments and wildlife differently than the rest of the world.

What is being done: Where they have breeding colonies there is a great deal of management including boxes that offer nest protection, banding studies, and attention to nesting pairs to research productivity and success rates of young to adult. More research needs to be done to find how to rescue this species in this location.

How to help: Continue bringing awareness. Call into state senators when legislation is being passed that could affect the continued support of policy that protects wildlife and waterways. Support locally.

Support can be:

  • donating to science groups
  • helping to ensure funding to the organizations that creating breeding programs
  • being a citizen scientist through
    • land restoration project
    • trash clean ups
    • species counts
    • bio blitzes
  • getting people you know excited about how incredible our planet’s biodiversity is.

Joining your local Audubon Society or other local conservation group is a great first step into finding activities and ways to become a citizen scientist and environmental advocate.

Further Reading, my sources:

https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Roseate_Tern/overview

https://www.audubon.org/field-guide/bird/roseate-tern

https://www.audubon.org/news/falkner-island-connecticut-roseate-tern-webcam

https://www.audubon.org/news/us-house-passes-harmful-fisheries-bill

https://ecos.fws.gov/ecp0/profile/speciesProfile?spcode=B07O

https://birdsna.org/Species-Account/bna/species/roster/introduction

http://www.nhptv.org/wild/roseatetern.asp

https://abcbirds.org/bird/roseate-tern/

https://www.mbr-pwrc.usgs.gov/mbr/tern2.htm

http://www.planetofbirds.com/charadriiformes-laridae-roseate-tern-sterna-dougallii

http://www.hww.ca/en/wildlife/birds/roseate-tern.html

https://neotropical.birds.cornell.edu/Species-Account/nb/species/roster/overview

https://identify.whatbird.com/obj/1039/_/Roseate_Tern.aspx

[This is a blog of my opinions. I speak for myself. I am a one person team and if I have misinterpreted a fact or made an error please feel free to get in touch to correct me. I will make edits and updates to post. I would appreciate corrections to be polite. I will not engage in hate.]

Alabama Red-Bellied Turtle

alredbelliedturtle-caseygirard

About Them: Alabama Red-Bellied Turtles or Cooters a word derived from “kuta” the word for turtle in Bambara and Malinké the language of enslaved people brought to the south east. These are really beautiful turtles. They start out tiny with red shell bellies and intricately patterned top shells. They reach about a foot long when grown, the females a little larger. They take 4 to 6 years to reach maturity and have clutches of 4 to 9 babies.

Their plight: They live in a very limited habitat making them highly susceptible to human interference. The river delta they live in is dredged disturbing their food source and possibly harming the turtles. They are sought out and taken from the wild as pets. They are prey animals meaning many animals rely on them as a food source. As their population weakens this is a tax they can’t handle. They are often hit by cars trying to cross roads that split the path between different waterways.

What we should consider: When purchasing an exotic pet do the research to make sure you are getting that pet from a reputable captive breeder and not the wild. Avoid purchasing endangered species as pets. There are other red-bellied cooters available make sure it is one that is safe to own.

Nesting locations are in sandy soil that is on land. With river play or exploration it could be very easy to disturb the nest. At one time I’m sure there weren’t enough people causing these disruptions to cause much effect on the population of turtles. Now, there are a lot humans, we are able to spend more time playing and exploring, therefore, are more likely to cause damage to wildlife. It is another complicated balance humans have to reach, we want to explore and enjoy nature, but we ourselves are disruptive even without big machines.

What is being done: The first step of being on the Endangered Species List is a good start. It provides funding to engage actions that protect the turtles. A fence was installed along along Battleship Parkway that helped keep turtles from crossing it as they exited the Mobile-Tensaw Delta and Mobile Bay. It brought down roadway turtle deaths by 80%.

How to help: Continue bringing awareness. Be a thoughtful participant while on any river walk or wilderness hike. Call into state senators when legislation is being passed that could affect the continued support of policy that protects wildlife and waterways. Support locally.

Support can be:

  • donating to science groups
  • helping to ensure funding to the organizations that creating breeding programs
  • being a citizen scientist through
    • land restoration project
    • trash clean ups
    • species counts
    • bio blitzes
  • getting people you know excited about how incredible our planet’s biodiversity is.

Joining your local Audubon Society or other local conservation group is a great first step into finding activities and ways to become a citizen scientist and environmental advocate.

Further Reading, my sources:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7AJQRYBRfP4

http://www.encyclopediaofalabama.org/article/h-3834

https://www.outdooralabama.com/turtles/alabama-red-bellied-turtle

https://ecos.fws.gov/ecp0/profile/speciesProfile?sId=1494

https://www.petguide.com/breeds/turtle/alabama-red-bellied-turtle/

https://statesymbolsusa.org/symbol/alabama/state-reptile/alabama-red-bellied-turtle\

http://www.archives.state.al.us/emblems/st_rept.html

https://www.inaturalist.org/taxa/39820-Pseudemys

[This is a blog of my opinions. I speak for myself. I am a one person team and if I have misinterpreted a fact or made an error please feel free to get in touch to correct me. I will make edits and updates to post. I would appreciate corrections to be polite. I will not engage in hate.]