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Tuesday
Mar292011

where the wild things move

Staying Connected studies the corridors where wildlife moves from one forested patch to another and works with landowners and communities to maintain the connections.If you think back to times when you have seen wildlife - not just deer or turkeys, but the more elusive bobcats, black bears, weasels, or coyotes - chances are that you saw these animals in one of two areas: crossing a road or opening, or visiting a place with easy food like a bird feeder or chicken coop. These aren't the areas where the animals spend most of their time; these secretive creatures generally prefer forest cover or wetland shrublands. Our sightings represent the brief flashes of time that these animals appear in the open - when the reward of food outweighs the lack of protection or when the need to cross from one covered area to another is required in order to find food, a mate, or to maintain a home range. These aren't places where they spend their time; they're places where we spend ours.

However, we can learn a lot about wildlife movement patterns by tracking these sightings and identifying the places where animals consistently move between forest patches or leave the protective cover. The Staying Connected Initiative was instigated to do just that: to study wildlife movement patterns and work with landowners and communities to maintain and enhance these natural networks. In particular, Staying Connected works in areas where forested pathways connect large blocks of habitat across a somewhat fragmented landscape. Rutland County is one focus area of the Initiative, where a corridor connects habitat of the Adirondacks to the forests of the Green Mountains.

Larry Miller captured a photo of this bobcat and sent it to Staying Connected.Staying Connected is asking people to report sightings of wildlife - especially large mammals - throughout Rutland County. A website, found here, allows users to report animals they have seen, as well as to see a map of the animals reported by others. Check it out! And the next time you see a black bear, moose, or another animal, let us know!

Click here for additional information about the Staying Connected Initiative.

[This article was contributed by Monica Erhart, the Staying Connected coordinator for the Green Mountains-Adirondacks corridor. She works closely with the Nature Conservancy's ecologist Paul Marangelo. Towns in her area include: Brandon, Pittsford, Sudbury, Hubbardton, Benson, Orwell, West Haven, Wallingford, Tinmouth, Middletown Springs, and Poultney. 

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