Field Notes
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Field Notes Entry   
Exciting Find in Maryland Wetland
Northeast Region, July 23, 2007
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photo courtesy of Scott Smith Maryland Department of Natural Resources
photo courtesy of Scott Smith Maryland Department of Natural Resources - Photo Credit: n/a
Happy landowner, courtesy of Scott Smith Maryland Department of Natural Resources
Happy landowner, courtesy of Scott Smith Maryland Department of Natural Resources - Photo Credit: n/a
Biologists from mutliple field offices, FWS photo
Biologists from mutliple field offices, FWS photo - Photo Credit: n/a

Under a mat of dead sedges and grasses, Maryland Department of Natural Resources biologist Scott Smith and partners came upon an amazing find; a 1- year old bog turtle, probably from one of two hatched nests found last year on restored habitat.

The bog turtle (Clemmys muhlenbergii), a federally threatened species, is known to occur in Cecil, Harford, Baltimore, and Carroll counties of Maryland. The primary threat to bog turtles is the loss of the unique wetlands on which they depend. Since more than 97% of this habitat occurs on private lands, recovery of the bog turtle depends on private landowners joining the recovery effort.

The carapace of this tiny bog turtle measured only 42.6 mm wide, 50.1 mm long, and 22 mm high. What makes this find so incredible is that, for the first time in a decade or more successful reproduction is taking place at this bog turtle site.

In 2004 a partnership formed to restore bog turtle habitat in Maryland. Partners include Chesapeake Bay Field Office Threatened and Endangered Species Program, Coastal Program and Partner for Fish and Wildlife Program biologists and partners from Maryland Department of Natural Resources, Environmental Defense, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Natural Resource Conservation Service, volunteers and private landowners.

One year later biologists from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Chesapeake Bay, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and New York Field Offices and Delaware Estuary Program began a critical step in restoring bog turtle habitat at this site, the removal of multiflora rose (Rosa multiflora), an invading plant species.

A bog turtle telemetry study is also revealing how bog turtles are using newly restored habitat. Prior to its clearing of multiflora rose, a stream corridor received very little use. Last fall the same area was used extensively by 3 radioed turtles, 1 of which overwintered nearby. The study also showed that certain bog turtles use forested wetlands extensively, particularly during the heat of summer.

This illustrates that effective bog turtle conservation requires protecting the entire wetland system and including forested buffers to provide shade and lower temperature habitats during summer months. By learning more about their behavior, biologists can focus their efforts on those activities that provide the greatest benefit to bog turtles on both private and public lands.

But perhaps most critical to the success at this site was the participation of the landowner. He has been actively involved, using his own equipment to remove brush, assisting with placement of fencing for grazing management, and perhaps most important, monitoring the turtles occupying his property. He has discussed the importance of wetlands to other farmers and landowners in the area and improved relations between the partnership agencies and the community. His active participation has been an inspiration to the entire bog turtle habitat restoration team.



Contact Info: Jennifer Lapis, (413) 253-8303, jennifer_lapis@fws.gov
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