October 2008Subscribe here
. (It's free.
Also in this issue:
* Rattlers on the move
* Georgia's smallest bat
* Learning at Smithgall
* A little-known migrant
The phrase “leaves of three, let it be”
helps people identify and avoid poison ivy
. This woody vine creeps across the ground and often climbs
. Thick, older vines appear hairy because they have lots of aerial roots. An oil called urushiol
causes the rash that results from touching any part of the plant, regardless of the time of year. Smoke from burning poison ivy also is potent. Breathing it can cause lung inflammation. Urushiol can even spread to your skin by petting a cat or dog that has been in poison ivy or touching contaminated shoes or clothing. The chemical can persist for months and even years. In case of skin contact, immediately wash with rubbing alcohol or soap and cold
water. Allergic rashes can develop within hours or a few days, but blister fluids do not spread poison ivy to other areas. As much as you may fear getting poison ivy, don’t be too quick to get rid of it in your yard. Many gamebirds, songbirds and mammals eat the berries, which ripen in fall and persist into winter, when other foods are scarce. Besides, leaving poison ivy alone seems like the best way to avoid getting it.In educationGet your environmental lesson plans
here. The Georgia Department of Education and members of the Environmental Education Alliance of Georgia
recently revised and posted enviro-lesson plans suited to Georgia Performance Standards for grades K-12. Copies are also available at Georgia Standards Online
The U.S. House passed the No Child Left Inside Act
of 2008 by a 293-109 vote Sept. 19. House Resolution 3036
is aimed at better preparing teachers to engage students about the outdoors and providing the money for it, including through nonprofits. Advocates say the legislation will help counterbalance the trend of kids spending too little time in nature -- and paying for it with problems like obesity and depression -- and federal emphasis on math and reading standards that eclipse environmental education. Next comes the Senate, where a companion bill
is pending. Further votes this year are not expected, though. Up close
Eastern small-footed bat
One small bat
: The eastern small-footed bat
is Georgia's smallest bat. It weighs less than 6 grams and measures barely bigger than your thumb.Looks
: Chestnut-brown fur with black accents, a black facemask, pointy ears and, of course, small feet.Range
: From eastern Canada and New England to Alabama and Georgia and as far west as Oklahoma. Found in Georgia only in the state's most northern part.Family
: Young are born May through July in nursery colonies.Hanging out
: This is Georgia's only bat species known to regularly roost under large rocks and boulders and in rock crevices. Rare but hardy, small-footed bats spend winters hibernating in caves hanging upside down, their feet gripping rock crevices and cracks. During summer, they often seek refuge under rocks or in exposed outcrops and crevices warmed by the sun. Bugging out
: Emerging at sunset, small-footed bats fly in erratic patterns to catch flies, mosquitoes and other insects. Like Georgia's other 15 bat species, the small-footed bat helps control pest insect populations. Bats sometimes eat their weight in insects in a night.Status
: The eastern small-footed bat is considered imperiled or critically imperiled in almost every state it inhabits. Little is known about the species. The small-footed bat is listed in Georgia as a species of concern.How to help
: Protect and prevent excessive disturbance at caves, exposed rock outcrops and cliffs. Also protect stream and wetland habitats. Small-footed bats, like most other bats, often forage over water.
Sources: DNR wildlife biologist Trina Morris; Bat Conservation International
Oct. 18 not only marks opening day of modern firearms season for deer but also Turn In Poachers
Day in Georgia. Gov. Sonny Perdue will promote the program, which funnels tips about poaching to Wildlife Resources Division rangers. Calls leading to arrests can also lead to rewards. Or, callers can remain anonymous. Report poaching to (800) 241-4113, or e-mail TurnInPoachers@dnr.state.ga.us
: Responding to a tip, Ranger 1st Class Kevin Dyer recently cited a Union County landowner who shot and killed a hawk. The misdemeanor charge: killing a bird of prey. In a separate incident last spring, Capt. Rick Godfrey drove up on a man shooting at a hawk near Dawsonville. The man said the red-tailed hawk
was after his chickens. He was also charged.Ask a biologist
Q: Why are invasive plants such a problem?
Nongame Conservation Assistant Chief Jon Ambrose and botanists Mincy Moffett and Lisa Kruse reply ...Invasive plants
compete with native species, change the structure of the local plant community and interfere with the way plants and wildlife evolve in a given ecosystem. They can also play host to exotic plant diseases that native plants cannot fight off. Including animals, invasives of all stripes cause an estimated $137 billion dollars a year in damage to agricultural, horticultural, industrial and municipal systems. (Check out this invasives cost calculator
Everyone has seen how damaging a plant like kudzu
can be, growing on buildings and utility poles and covering roads and signs. Invasive plants can also severely impact recreational areas, limiting public enjoyment of native wildlife.
What can you do? Learn your plants. Only plant non-invasive species and remove invasives such as Chinese prive
t, kudzu and English ivy
from your property. Buy plants from nurseries that promote native and non-invasive species. For a list, check the Georgia Exotic Pest Plant Council
.Your money at work
A popular certificate program in native plants is in its second year at the State Botanical Garden of Georgia
. The Athens outreach, started in part with state Nongame Educational and Watchable Wildlife funding
, teaches participants to identify, cultivate, propagate and conserve plants native to the state. The program is done in cooperation with the Georgia Plant Conservation Alliance. The Garden operates as part of the University of Georgia. Classes -- here's the 2008-2009 schedule
-- are taught by experts, including botanists and ecologists with the Garden and the Wildlife Resources Division's Nongame Conservation Section. Nongame Educational and Watchable Wildlife grants are funded by sales of Wildlife Resources' nongame wildlife license plate sales and the Give Wildlife a Chance income tax checkoff.Nongame in the news
* Savannah Morning News: "Area reef named for conservationist
," Capt. Spud Woodward's article about renaming artificial reef for the late conservationist Jane Yarn. (Sept. 25) Video of sinking R/V Jane Yarn
as the reef.
* The Brunswick News: "Prime birding season is here
," about coastal bird watching in fall, including Colonial Coast Birding Trail and Colonial Coast Birding and Nature Festival. (Sept. 22)
* The Moultrie Observer: "All eyes on the gophers
," about Animal Planet filming the release of young gopher tortoises at Reed Bingham State Park. (Sept. 18)
* The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: "Georgia turtles’ future slippery
," about ongoing DNR efforts to protect state's freshwater turtles. (Sept. 14)
* The (Gainesville) Times: "Declaring war on pest plants
," about Georgia Exotic Pest Plant Council's statewide meeting and workshop. (Sept. 12)
* Savannah Morning News: "Four manatees found dead in river
," about apparent ship strike that killed four of the endangered animals in the Savannah River. (Sept. 9)
* Savannah Morning News: "Exotic gecko found in Savannah
," about state's second documented occurrence of an Indo-Pacific gecko.(Sept. 8)
* Florida Times-Union: "At-risk turtles face fate as pets, soup
," about ongoing DNR efforts to protect state's freshwater turtles from unregulated commercial harvest. (Sept. 7)Upcoming "Outdoors"
"Georgia Outdoors" episodes on GPB.
* Season premiere Oct. 3: 9 p.m. "Fire Ecology;" 9:30 p.m. "Ocmulgee River Watershed"
* "Fire Ecology:" 6 p.m. Oct. 4, 7:30 p.m. Oct. 7
* "Healthy Outdoors:" 9:30 p.m.
Oct. 10, 6 p.m. Oct. 11, 7:30 p.m. Oct. 14
* "Backyard Habitat:" 9:30 p.m. Oct. 17, 6 p.m. Oct. 18
* "Pine Mountain:" 9:30 p.m.
Oct. 24, 6 p.m. Oct. 25, 7:30 p.m. Oct. 28
* "Monuments of the Past:" 9:30 p.m. Oct. 31, 6 p.m. Nov. 1, 7:30 p.m. Nov. 4
* October: Rivers Alive clean-up month
* Oct. 2-5: Gopher Tortoise Council annual meeting
, Jekyll Island.
* Oct. 3-4: Aquatic Conservation Science Symposium
, UGA, Athens.
* Oct. 4: CoastFest 2008
, Ga. DNR Coastal Resources Division, Brunswick.
* Oct. 7-10: 6th Eastern Native Grass Symposium
, Columbia, S.C.
* Oct. 11: Tortoises Release Day
, 2 p.m. at Reed Bingham State Park, Adel.
* Oct. 9-13: Georgia's Colonial Coast Birding & Nature Festival
, Jekyll Island.
* Oct. 16-17: Georgia Plant Conservation Alliance
meeting, John Tanner State Park, Carrollton.
* Oct. 25-26: Georgia Reptile Expo
, North Atlanta Trade Center, Atlanta.
* Oct. 27-29: Environmental Flows: Water for People and Nature in the Southeast
, Classic Center, Athens.
* Oct. 28-31: Longleaf Alliance regional conference
, Sandestin, Fla.
* Oct. 29-31: Georgia Urban Forest Council Conference
* Nov. 8, 9: Native grass seed collection events
led by Georgia Important Bird Areas 1-4 p.m. Nov. 8 at Panola Mountain State Park, Stockbridge; noon, Nov. 9 at Sprewell Bluff State Park, Thomaston. (678) 967-9924; firstname.lastname@example.org
* Nov. 7-9: Hemlockfest 2008
to raise funds, awareness about hemlocks and the woolly adelgid threat, Starbridge (near Dahlonega).Submit items
.Photo credits (from top):
* Sanderling. Todd Schneider/Ga. DNR
* Poison ivy (left). Linda May/Ga. DNR
* American chaffseed (right). Phil Spivey/Ga. DNR
* Cloudless sulphur. Terry Johnson
* Eastern small-footed bat. Dirk Stevenson
* Timber rattlesnake. John Jensen/Ga. DNR
* Learning at Dukes Creek. Trout Unlimited
* Savannah sparrow (after being banded). Charlie Muise
* Moon over Crooked River. Cheryl Conner