The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has agreed to support a proposal for further expansion of the Motus Wildlife Tracking System in Pennsylvania and four other states to monitor eight migratory species of greatest conservation and other wildlife.
The Pennsylvania Game Commission will lead a team involving the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, Northeast Motus Collaboration and other partnering organizations to collect life-cycle information of seven migratory birds and one bat that have been in serious declines for at least years, and in some cases, decades.
The Northeast Motus Collaboration is a partnership of the Willistown Conservation Trust, Ned Smith Center for Nature and Art, Project Owlnet and the Carnegie Museum of Natural History’s Powdermill Nature Reserve. The collaboration is housed under the Motus Wildlife Tracking System, established in 2013 by Bird Studies Canada. The network currently tracks wildlife from more than 500 stations around the world.
The USFWS is providing $497,929 to help underwrite this wildlife surveillance, which tracks migrating animals with nanotags – radio transmitters so small, they can be fitted to monarch butterflies. Collaboration member organizations and others are providing more than $225,000 to meet federal matching funding requirements.
The Pennsylvania species being targeted by this fieldwork are Swainson’s thrush, wood thrush, blackpoll warblers, Canada warblers, rusty blackbirds, American woodcock and northern long-eared bats. Other priority species, such as New England’s Bicknell’s thrush, also are targeted by this research.
“This project embodies contemporary wildlife conservation: state and federal government agencies working with private conservation organizations and universities to help species that demand more attention than traditional wildlife management can provide,” explained Game Commission Executive Director Bryan Burhans. “The agency is indebted to partner organizations, such as the Willistown Conservation Trust and the Ned Smith Center for Nature and Art, for their commitment to wildlife. Today, conservation counts on partners more than ever before.”
Nanotags are the innovation that makes this research possible. They weigh as little as one-eighth the weight of a penny and can accomplish what much heavier telemetry gear couldn’t do as recently as 10 years ago. Almost overnight they have helped strengthen the science used in wildlife conservation.
Nanotags transmit a signal that can reach out about 10 miles. This project aims to provide more receiver stations to collect those nanotag transmissions. Currently, there are more than 40 in Pennsylvania. The expectation is that about 12 more receiving stations would be added under this proposal.
“Pennsylvania already is well equipped with receiving stations in western and southern counties,” explained Dan Brauning, who supervises the Game Commission’s Wildlife Diversity Division. “Clusters of new receiver stations will be established on the Pocono Plateau, as well as across the northern tier, and along the Kittatinny Ridge/South Mountain system.”
But this proposal covers more than Pennsylvania. It will work to establish more receiving stations in four other states: New York, Maryland, New Jersey and Delaware.
Receiver stations already are collecting information that has been pondered by ornithologists and bat biologists since the dawn of American wildlife conservation. Soon, they will know more about the specifics of migration than ever before. Click here to continue reading.
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COURTESY OF PA GAME COMMISSION