You can help these Vermont animals
Vermont is home to several endangered animal species that may be particularly at risk from habitat destruction during the warmer months, when residents are on the move through the state’s wilderness.
“The term endangered generally refers to species whose continued existence as a viable component of the state’s wildlife is threatened,” Vermont Fish and Wildlife states on its website.
Although fishing and hiking can be rewarding activities, nature lovers are advised to respect their environment and disturb it as little as possible.
In recognition of National Endangered Species Day, May 20, here are some ways Vermonters can help support the habitats of some of the state’s most endangered animals.
A complete list of Vermont’s endangered and threatened animals and plants is available online at vtfishandwildlife.com.
The Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife has developed a statement recovery plan for Lake Champlain lake sturgeon in 2016, when more and more fish were caught by anglers fishing in the tributaries of Lake Champlain.
Recovery would involve creating safer upstream and downstream passages for these migrating fish around Vermont dams and electronically tagging them to monitor habitats and spawning grounds.
At the residential level, anglers who catch lake sturgeon or any endangered or threatened species in Vermont can be fined up to $42,500 per violation, depending on the Vermont Natural Resources Agency.
In 2019, the spotted turtle got its own recovery plan as well.
The turtle population has declined primarily due to wetland habitat loss and fragmentation, roadkill, and nest depredation by overabundant generalist predators such as skunks and raccoons, according to Vermont. Fish and Wildlife.
“Due to their sensitivity to habitat fragmentation and given that Vermont’s wetlands have already suffered significant losses, it is unlikely that Spotted Turtles can be restored to their historic statewide distribution.” , indicates the recovery plan.
Instead, recovery is focused on preserving extant populations and surrounding habitats.
The locations of many endangered species, including spotted turtles, are kept confidential to prevent people from selling them as pets or interfering with their fragile ecosystems, so residents are encouraged to report sightings to Vermont Fish and Wildlife, so that statewide protection can be applied.
To preserve wetlands, residents can make efforts to remove trash and any toxic substances that may harm wildlife.
Vermont is home to nine bat species, five of which are threatened or endangered, according to Vermont Fish and Wildlife.
Many of these bats, including the northern myotis, are threatened by white-nose syndrome, a disease associated with a fungus that invades the skin and damages tissue in hibernating bats.
Long-eared bats roost in trees over 4 inches in diameter and 10 feet tall that have cavities, cracks, crevices or exfoliating bark, according to Vermont Fish and Wildlife, but residents may build bat houses on their properties to serve as summer roosts where female bats can raise their young.
In addition, activities associated with the clearing or cutting of standing trees are subject to environmental review, according to Vermont Fish and Wildlife in its orientation to protect these bats and their habitats.
This brown-spotted bird is quickly becoming much less common than its name suggests.
According to National Audubon Society.
“In some areas, nightjars nesting on gravel roofs have been targeted by increasing urban populations of crows, which eat the eggs,” Audubon’s website says.
Vermonters can help by monitoring household pets such as cats or hunting dogs whenever they are outdoors, as increased predation may be a key factor in the bird’s decline.
More information on the birds of Vermont can be found online at vt.audubon.org.
The rusty-patched bumblebee is one of four threatened bumblebee species in the state, three of which are endangered.
Parasites, diseases, pesticides and large-scale agriculture are the main culprits in the reduction of bee habitats. Some pesticides, deadly or not, can affect the bee’s ability to forage and reproduce.
“The great thing is that we can all help, and that’s by planting flowers and building more pollinator habitats,” said Vermont apiary inspector Brooke Decker.
The Rusty-patched Bumblebee in particular will gravitate towards sunflowers, goldenrods and honeysuckles, depending on the Vermont Center for Ecological Studies.
Residents looking to help both endangered plant life and animals can do so by planting native species, which have a symbiotic relationship with local bees.
Summer Sorg is a reporter for the Burlington Free Press. Contact her at [email protected]