Herp Updates and a request
I am just starting to get reports of baby Snapping Turtles emerging from nests. Taking a quick look at HerpAtlas records, they are right on schedule with most records of emerging snappers in Vermont occurring between August 28 and October 12th. As you may know, most of our Painted Turtles hatch in the fall but stay in their underground nests and emerge in the following spring. Local data provided by Steve Parren shows that many Northern Map Turtles also overwinter in their nests.
I am pleased to announce that in the final week of our fund raiser, we raised over $3,000 and surpassed our goal of $20,000 for the year. We also received funding through grants and cost-shares from Vermont Fish and Wildlife, the Forest Ecosystem Monitoring Cooperative, the South Lake Champlain Trust, and the Lintilhac Foundation. Thanks again to everyone who helped us reach our goal.
Lastly I have an unusual request. As you may know, the United States Fish and Wildlife Servive (USFWS) in cooperation with the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department controls populations of Sea Lamprey in Lake Champlain by treating many of the rivers that enter the lake with lampricides. The Sea Lamprey is a parasitic fish that feeds on other fish. As you might have expected, these lampricides also kill other organisms that live in the rivers.
In the 2009 treatment of the Lamoille River over 500 Mudpuppies were killed by the treatment. Mudpuppies are a very large (over 12 inches long) salamander. The Vermont Endangered Species Committee has recommended that this species be listed as threatened in Vermont due in large part to the lampricide treatments. They have also recommended that lampricide treatments no longer be permitted as a result of their non-target impacts. USFWS has argued that the population of Mudpuppies can sustain this level of mortality without being negatively impacted.
Many of us in the ecological community fear that they cannot sustain that level of mortality and that the population may well decline and disappear as it has in Lewis Creek. USFWS has requested an Aquatic Nuisance Control permit from the Agency of Natural Resources to treat the Lamoille River with lampricides again this fall. A draft permit has been issued from ANR and it is now open to public comment.
Many of us had hoped that the USFWS would not be allowed to treat the Lamoille River since that river appears to be the largest population of native Mudpuppies in Vermont (it is the source of 70% of all native Vermont Mudpuppy reports). However, this draft permit will allow treatment of the Lamoille River. There is strong political pressure to continue the lampricide treatments. Still, I was pleased to see that one of the conditions of the permit (#14) requires that USFWS monitor the population of Mudpuppies in the Lamoille River to see how the lampricides affect the population. This should provide some very useful information about the impacts of the treatments on the Lamoille River population of Mudpuppies if the monitoring is continued long-term. The public has the opportunity to comment on this draft permit. If you feel motivated to comment, please do. I have attached my own letter if you would like to see it, but it is way longer than needed. Just a couple sentences would help. My recommendations:
Communicate your opinion that the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources should not allow any future treatments of the Lamoille River since it appears to be the largest population of rare native Mudpuppies in Vermont, since the treatments have killed many Mudpuppies in that river, and continued lampricide treatments in that river may well eliminate or greatly reduce that population of rare salamanders.
Also state that if the treatment of the Lamoille River is permitted, the applicant (USFWS) should be required to conduct long-term monitoring of the Mudpuppy population in the Lamoille River and that future treatments of the Lamoille River with lampricides should only be allowed if USFWS can show that the Mudpuppy population will remain robust and healthy despite continued treatments.
And please communicate that it should be the responsibility of the applicant (USF&WS) to provide funding for this study.
Here is a link to the draft permit: https://anrweb.vt.gov/Pubdocs/DEC/ENB/SHORE/7727-3051-ANC-C_DraftPermit.pdf
Here is how to comment:
- Go to this website: https://enb.vermont.gov/
- Then type in permit number 3051 in the permit # box.
- The permit will show up at the bottom of your screen.
- Click on the permit
- Then the comment box will appear.
- When you have filled in all the boxes click submit.
- If you did it successfully, you will receive e-mail confirmation.