2005 "Volunteers Working With Invasives"
Grants Report Form
PROJECT BACKGROUND INFORMATION
Feral Hog Control and Protection of Flatwoods Sal
St. Marks NWR
Name and Phone Number
Michael Keys, (850) 925-6121
(Up to 250 words)
The St. Marks Unit, encompassing the eastern third of St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge is a complex mosaic of coastal slash pine flatwoods, hardwood hammocks, ephemeral freshwater wetlands, and tidal salt marshes. This unit is regionally important habitat for the federally threatened flatwoods salamander (Ambystoma cingulatum), which rely on relatively undisturbed pine flatwoods and isolated, ephemeral breeding ponds. Currently, three geographically isolated populations of A. cingulatum are known from this area, distributed over at least 45 known breeding locations within approximately 14,700 acres of uplands and freshwater wetlands. Feral hogs (Sus scrofa) are a widespread non-native invasive species. While they have been established for centuries in the Southeast US, analysis of their damage on conservation lands and effective control measures have been slow to occur. Feral hogs have been documented by refuge staff and other federal, state, and private cooperators as causing significant damage to flatwoods salamander breeding habitats, road edges, and surrounding pine flatwoods through extensive rooting. This project proposes to address two critical aspects of A. cingulatum protection and feral hog control: monitoring extent and location of habitat damage by feral hogs and directed control efforts through establishment of walk-in traps. The project is intended to initially run for approximately eight months; however, establishment of semi-permanent trap sites will allow for continual maintenance-level hog control efforts by existing refuge staff and volunteers.
List of Invasives Species Targeted:
Project Completion Date
or Estimated Completion Date:
(Check all that apply)
Describe the type of work the volunteers performed. (Up to 150 words)
TO DATE: We have selected an intern from a list of applicants, who will begin work on November 1, 2005. A summer college intern has assisted in trap materials procurement and trap site preparation. Refuge Association (friends group) volunteers are being recruited to assist with trap construction in early November, 2005. The paid intern and volunteer assistants will receive an intensive 5-month hands-on wildlife management experience. A target of six dedicated volunteers recruited from within SMRA and the local community will assist in trap construction, maintenance, and damage monitoring assistance under the direction of the lead intern. At least 48 trapping events will occur, with an eradication goal of at least 144 hogs from the project area. A focus area of approximately 2,600 acres, encompassing uplands around each A. cingulatum population will be most intensively trapped and monitored. Lessons and techniques learned will advance continual maintenance-level control efforts indefinitely after completion of the initial project.
Total Number of Volunteers:
1 primary intern, 1 secondary intern, 2 SMRA volun
Total Number of Volunteer Hours:
List both new and existing partnerships utilized in this project. (Up to 150 words).
Cooperators from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, The Nature Conservancy, and United States Geological Survey Southeast ARMI program are being consulted and involved in pre-planning and control monitoring efforts. A baseline damage index will be developed using protocol developed by local USDA Animal Damage Control experts. Comparisons to this baseline will be made after five months of trapping effort. Volunteers from within St. Marks Refuge Association will be employed. The intern selected is associated with Tall Timbers Research Station.
Give an overview of the results of the project. Include quantifiable measure of success, such as maps produced, efficacy of control measures, number of sites where invasions were detected early and responded to, number of community contacts, etc. (Up to 250 words).
26 hogs trapped and removed (dead)during 5-month intern-led effort of November 2005 - April 2006. 6 semi-portable traps operational and moved among 12 sites. Conducted adaptive trap and trigger modifications from original design. Section 7 Biological Evaluation completed. Bait and trap sites selected, mapped, and cleared. A focus area of approximately 2,600 acres, encompassing uplands around each of three breeding populations of flatwoods salamanders has been identified and mapped as the priority area for intensive trapping and monitoring. All materials and bait procured and stored.
Number of Acres Treated:
Number of Acres Inventoried and/or Mapped:
2,600 acres prioritized, mapped, 0.5 acres trap areas
Number of Acres Restored:
"restoration" not applicable term - managing hog population to reduce impacts
Account for funds in broad categories such as equipment, volunteer stipends, travel, coordinator salary/contract, etc.
Total Grant Amount:
Breakdown of Expenditures:
Total $ Spent
% of Total Grant
Equipment / Supplies
Volunteer Coordinator Salary/Contract
How useful was this program for meeting refuge invasive species objectives and how can it be improved?
At this point, the important contribution of the program has been to provide the impetus for action. We have known that we have a problem with hog damage in vulnerable flatwoods salamander habitat for years, but have not dedicated the small amount of money and considerable amount of time necessary to begin to adress this problem systematically. This program will force us to keep on track and be accountable for doing what we knew should have been doing long ago. I am optimistic that it will provide a long-term basis for continuing to effeciently remove hogs once the intern position is finished and we have learned and perfected important control techniques.
Return to Main Menu