Wildlife Highlights is published by the Connecticut DEEP Wildlife Division. Please share the newsletter with other outdoor enthusiasts and help our subscription list grow!

Leave No Birdfeeder in Sight - Black Bears Are in Search of Food

For the past several years, June is the month when the DEEP Wildlife Division receives the greatest number of black bear-birdfeeder conflicts. Why?


Natural spring and early summer foods like leaves, grasses, and developing plants are not as calorie-dense and nutritious as the nuts and fruits that ripen later in the year. This means that bears have to travel a little further, or work a little harder, to find food. A full bird feeder makes for an easy, calorie-rich meal, but it is not as good for the bears — or their behavior — as natural food.


June is also the time of year when yearlings (bears born last spring) move out and begin to establish their own home range. Yearling males will often travel great distances to do so, and learning to find food independently is a skill that needs honing. These younger and inexperienced bears are also likely to be drawn in by the bear equivalent of fast food — bird feeders and other backyard attractants. 


Be sure to remove your bird feeders and secure your garbage to keep bears from visiting your yard. This time of year, there are plenty of natural foods available for wild birds and supplemental feeding is not necessary. Some municipalities have instituted ordinances that prohibit bird feeders during the warmer months of the year.


Resources on how to coexist with black bears . . .

June Means Turtle Nesting Season

The DEEP Wildlife Division frequently receives calls and emails from the public this time of year concerning nesting turtles. Late May and June is the time of year when female turtles, especially snapping turtles, painted turtles, wood turtles, and box turtles, travel to find the “perfect” spot to dig a nest and lay eggs.


Sometimes the location of a nest may seem questionable, but you should not intervene with a turtle in the process of laying eggs. The best course of action is to let the turtle be.

  

Female turtles must often navigate across roadways during the nesting season. Should you see a turtle crossing the road and decide to stop and help it, be sure to keep the turtle pointed in the direction it is going. Only stop and assist a turtle if it is safe to do so. 


Want to learn more about reptiles and amphibians of Connecticut?! The Conservation of Amphibians and Reptiles in Connecticut is a 305-page, detailed publication that includes 131 color photos, species account maps, and conservation solutions for the complex challenges faced by Connecticut’s amphibians and reptiles.


More on the DEEP publication . . .

Fawns Often Do Not Need "Rescuing"

Contrary to what some may think, most fawns that are found are not orphaned. Unfortunately, the lives of fawns, and other young wildlife, are often wrongfully interrupted by well-intentioned citizens who try to “save” these animals. In most cases, the best thing you can do for young wildlife is to leave them be.  


Female white-tailed deer, or does, give birth to their fawns from May through the end of June. The doe will rarely be found near her fawn for the first few weeks of its life because her presence may attract predators. The fawn is able to hide from predators, as it is well camouflaged and has very little odor. The only time a doe will be found with a fawn is during feeding times. During the long periods left alone, newborn fawns instinctively freeze and will lay motionless when approached.


Often times, young fawns are found in and around yards. This is not abnormal. If you come across a fawn, it is best to leave it alone for at least 48 hours to determine whether the adult is returning for feedings. 


While waiting for the doe to return, it is important that both people and dogs stay away from the fawn. A truly orphaned fawn may show signs of distress by walking around aimlessly and calling out for several hours. Fawn photo courtesy of Kyle Onofreo.


More on dealing with distressed wildlife . . .

Life Is Not a Beach for Most Shorebird Chicks

Piping plover chicks are born precocial, meaning they have feathers and are able to move freely upon hatching. The tiny chicks, which look like cotton balls, leave the nest within hours of hatching – they can walk and run, but are not yet able to fly. Although they can move around, their small size, inability to fly, and excellent camouflage makes them challenging to spot! Unfortunately, plover and other shorebird chicks are frequently under stress from beachgoers, many of them unaware of nearby chicks and nests. In some cases, shorebird chicks are even killed by off-leash dogs.


Beaches are habitat, and there are only so many sites in Connecticut for these birds to nest and successfully raise their young. The next time you visit the beach, please remember to be on the lookout for shorebirds and be sure to give them plenty of space to help ensure their survival.


More on the piping plover . . .

How Well Do You Know Your Sssnakes?

To some Connecticut residents, the thought of coming across a snake in the wild is no big deal, but to others, just the thought of seeing one of these reptiles is enough to send chills up their spine!


For thousands of years, snakes have been feared and often wrongly persecuted by people. The reality is that if left alone, snakes pose no threat to people. Snakes play a very important role in our ecosystem by providing free pest control and serving as food for larger mammals and birds of prey.


Connecticut is home to 14 species of snakes, and only two of them are venomous: the northern copperhead and timber rattlesnake. Take some time to familiarize yourself with the snakes that call Connecticut home. 


More on snakes of Connecticut . . .

Participate in the Annual Turkey Brood Survey

Connecticut residents are encouraged to be on the lookout for wild turkeys, especially hens and poults (young-of-the-year). The DEEP Wildlife Division conducts its annual Wild Turkey Brood Survey to estimate the average number of turkey poults per hen statewide. This survey also allows biologists to assess annual fluctuations in the turkey population and calculate male-to-female ratios.


To participate, simply record all the hens, poults, toms, or jakes observed during your normal travel from June 1 through August 31. Each observation is categorized by the total number of hens with poults and the total number of male turkeys. We appreciate your assistance!


Details on how to participate . . .

Migratory Bird Hunting Guide Now Available

The 2024-2025 Migratory Bird Hunting Guide is now available on the DEEP website. The Guide contains season dates and other important information pertaining to upcoming hunting seasons for waterfowl (including Canada geese), woodcock, snipe, rails, and crows.


Congratulations are extended again to Alice Han, whose painting of a northern shoveler was selected as the "Best in Show" for the 2024 Connecticut Junior Duck Stamp Art Competition! Alice’s artwork will be featured on the 2025 Connecticut Migratory Bird Conservation (Duck) Stamp.


View the new guide . . .

Testing for Mosquito-Borne Viral Diseases

The State Mosquito Monitoring Program began its annual testing for mosquito-borne viral diseases (West Nile virus and eastern equine encephalitis) on June 3, 2024 and testing will continue through the end of October.


The response to mosquito transmitted diseases in Connecticut is a collaborative inter-agency effort involving the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP), the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station (CAES), the Department of Public Health (DPH), the Department of Agriculture, and the Department of Pathobiology at the University of Connecticut (UCONN). These agencies are responsible for monitoring mosquito populations and the potential public health threat of mosquito-borne diseases.


The CAES maintains a network of 108 mosquito-trapping stations in 88 municipalities throughout the state. Mosquito traps are set Monday – Thursday nights at each site every 10 days on a rotating basis and then twice a week after detection of virus. Mosquitoes are grouped (pooled) for testing according to species, collection site, and date. Positive findings are reported to local health departments and on the CAES website.


More on mosquito testing . . .

Honoring Bald Eagle Advocate Don Hopkins

Recently, family, friends, and DEEP staff gathered at the Peoples State Forest Nature Museum in Barkhamsted to honor Don Hopkins, a tireless advocate for bald eagle conservation in Connecticut. Don passed away in August 2018 at the age of 92, but his legacy lives on forever, and now his memory has been dedicated with a beautifully carved statue depicting a bald eagle pair and nestling in a treetop nest. The carving, created by local woodcarver Ben Faraci, and a memorial plaque are now on display at the Nature Museum.


Don wasn’t just an active birder with an interest in bald eagles. He founded the New England Hawk Watch in 1971 and the Bald Eagle Study Group in 1975. Since their founding, Bald Eagle Study Group volunteers have spent countless hours locating and observing bald eagle nests in Connecticut and sharing that information with DEEP Wildlife Division biologists.


Don took meticulous notes and wrote articles about his eagle observations. He greatly contributed to our knowledge about a species whose numbers were once decimated and then rebounded. Everything Don did in his quest to conserve eagles, he shared with the DEEP Wildlife Division. Don’s invaluable contributions to the conservation of bald eagles and other raptors in our state continue to be carried on by members of the Bald Eagle Study Group.


More on Don's legacy . . .

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