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.]

American Crocodile

22AmericanCrocodile-caseygirard

About Them: American Crocodiles are the crocodiles of the Americas. They range from the top of South America through Central America and the Caribbean Islands and into North America via Florida. They have are often mistaken for Alligators, the Wild Kratts have a pretty excellent episode explaining all the differences, but the easy one to me is their teeth. An Alligator has what looks like an overbite, with mouth closed you can’t see their bottom teeth and with a Crocodile you can see top and bottom teeth when their moth is closed. Crocodiles also need a brackish water verses fresh water for habitat. This is the main reason they struggle to survive in Florida while Alligators flourish. There is a much smaller system of just right water for breeding and living. 

Their plight: The Crocodile is actually listed only as Threatened in the US now although, it maintains the Endangered listing internationally. They have been struggling because of capture for their hides and habitat loss through human development and drainage programs that change water and salinity levels into a danger zone. This is a species at high risk as climate change continues. Sea level rise will have an affect on where they breed causing water and salinity level problems as well.

What we should consider: While the Crocodile population is seeing increase in population, proof that the Endangered Species Act has again succeeded, leaving them on the list is valuable. While the Endangered Species Act is there to bring a species back from almost extinction it also sets up laws that drastically limit negative human interactions, hunting and habitat loss.

No matter how many people decide to be for animals there are enough people on earth that there will always be people that don’t go with conservation for whatever reason. Laws are needed to keep these people in check. Also, if you move to a new state and want to build a home the local laws help you know what parameters are safe for humans and native species. It is important to not always see laws as enforced limits, but guides to safety. Some have truly been put in place with thought and care. It is all about our perception of them to realize they are good verse bad.

Protecting a species like an apex predator has an additional benefit. If you are protecting the crocodiles habitat you are also protecting numerous other species that benefit. I chose this species because they are on the 5 year check list to see if their status can be changed, this means possible delisting which would remove funding for support. It seems best if it stays on the list. We have to accept that even as we bring a species back from extinction there are some species we will need to always leave on the list because of our group inability to continue safe environmental practices without laws and enforcement stating what is and is not ok.

What is being done: Maintenance on crocodile populations, tracking of the animals present: breeders, young, sub adults, adults. Protections on habitat. Laws that make it illegal to trade this animal or any of its parts. While the American Crocodile sees enforcement in the US that is not as wide spread farther south throughout the rest of its range.

How to help: Do not purchase Crocodile made products. Perhaps there is a safe method, but I would error on not buying it. 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. As the American Crocodile is on the list of animals to have their status changed, share your support to keep it protected. 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.nps.gov/ever/learn/nature/crocodile.htm

https://ecos.fws.gov/ecp0/profile/speciesProfile?spcode=C02J

https://www.nationalgeographic.com/animals/reptiles/a/american-crocodile/?user.testname=none

https://video.nationalgeographic.com/video/croc_american

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=868UGzR7joo

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q4aagz8JIS4

https://animaldiversity.org/accounts/Crocodylus_acutus/

https://defenders.org/crocodile/basic-facts-about-crocodiles

[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.]

Miami Blue Butterfly

21MiamiBlueButterfly-caseygirard

About Them: These are a small blue butterfly which used to range the lower half of Florida and now only reside in Key West within the US. They have also been seen in islands of the Caribbean Islands, but are rare even there. They rely on the Grey Nickerbean plant for food as do a few other Blue Butterflies all in the family Lycaenidae.

Their plight: A wide array of issues have caused this butterfly to lose its population. Spraying for mosquitos, habitat loss and fragmentation via human development/urban sprawl, non-native species, such as the green iguana, which eat the plants the butterflies rely on for food, and with such limited populations one bad hurricane can wipe out the remaining colony. In 1992 Hurricane Andrew wiped out the only known population in Key Biscayne. 

What we should consider: When you live in a rural area or any area that seems to have plenty of wildlife to it consider if the plants you see are native. Take a moment to count how many butterflies, bees, or birds you see. If these numbers are low the ecosystem you are around is probably suffering. It is easy to believe things are fine if you see green.

We are in a serious battle with mosquitos. It has become very common for insecticides to be sprayed throughout human populated areas. This does not only harm mosquitos it harms all insects. Insects are the base of the animal food chain. We need to consider alternatives to spraying as our means of controlling mosquito populations.

Do NOT release unwanted exotic pets into the wild. Most places are not safe habitat for the animal, it will most likely die. If it does not it is almost certainly going to cause trouble for the native species.

What is being done: When the latest population was found a year occurred with a healthy enough population to gather some eggs for captive breeding through the Florida Museum of Natural History. They are attempting to release some back into the wild.

The Miami Blue was finally placed on the Federal Endangered Species Act in 2012 after repeated efforts from the North American Butterfly Association (NABA). They were able to get Florida to list them on the State Endangered Species list in 2002. These listings help provide funding for recovery and research.

Capture programs for the green iguanas are being implemented.

How to help: Plant native plant gardens. This helps to mitigate human development by still providing habitat for native insects and animals.

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: https://www.uff.ufl.edu/give-now/?fund_id=019481&appeal=G4SOQA1
  • 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=ISkD5a57tPE

https://www.naba.org/miamiblue.html

https://www.nps.gov/bisc/learn/news/miami-blue-butterflies-reintroduced.htm

http://myfwc.com/wildlifehabitats/imperiled/profiles/invertebrates/miami-blue-butterfly/

https://emeraldsapphire.wordpress.com/2012/02/16/goodbye-blue-butterflies/

https://www.floridamuseum.ufl.edu/science/miami-blue/

http://entnemdept.ufl.edu/creatures/bfly/miami_blue.htm

https://www.biologicaldiversity.org/species/invertebrates/Miami_blue_butterfly/

http://www.startribune.com/researchers-help-rare-butterfly-take-flight-in-florida-keys/489366911/

https://www.nps.gov/ever/learn/kidsyouth/hardwood-hammock.htm

https://www.regionalconservation.org/beta/nfyn/plantdetail.asp?tx=Vachfarnpine

https://www.butterfliesofcuba.com/cyclargus-ammon—nickerbean-blue.html

https://www.butterfliesofcuba.com/cyclargus-thomasi—miami-blue.html

[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.]