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Conservation Battles of Threatened Mammals in New Jersey

Updated on September 2, 2015

Did you know that there are 84 wildlife species that are considered either threatened with extinction or endangered in New Jersey? These statistics revealed by the Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey highlight the need for conservation.

The species at risk have been classified into different categories, based on the level of threat. For instance, endangered is a category applied to species considered in immediate danger due to factors such as degradation or loss of habitat, overexploitation, competition, disease, predation or environmental pollution. Species considered “threatened” are those that are vulnerable and likely to become endangered unless immediate action is taken. There also are species listed as “special concern,” due to evidence of their decline or inherent vulnerability as a results of deterioration of the environment or modification of their habitat. Here’s a look at some animals that need our special attention today.

Delmarva Fox Squirrel: Sciurus Niger Cinereusis

The Delmarva Fox Squirrels are large, heavy bodied squirrels that historically belong to South Eastern Pennsylvania, Delaware, south-central New Jersey, eastern Maryland, and the Virginia portion of the Delmarva Peninsula, according to information provided by the Center for Biological Diversity.

Their habitat requirements are rather specific, in that they need mature forests of mixed pine and hardwood trees with little understory and ground cover to foster and breed. However, with increasing incursions into their natural habitat, their population began to dwindle. By the beginning of the twentieth century, they had completely disappeared from New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Virginia.

Conservation Measures for Delmarva Fox Squirrels

As the situation grew from bad to worse, the Delmavara Fox Squirrel was given protection under the Endangered Species Act in 1967, at which time they occupied only four counties in Maryland. Following this, there were sixteen experimental reintroductions in the 80s, of which eleven have been successful. The latest that has been heard of them is that Federal Officials are considering taking them off the endangered list, as reported by Delaware Online in May 2014.

Indiana Bat and Little Brown Bats: Myotis Sodalis and Myotis Lucifugus

This is another mammal that was listed for protection under the Act of 1967. The two main reasons for mass demise of this species, according to the US Fish and Wildlife Service, is the disruption of their winter hibernation owing to the commercialization of caves over the years and, more recently, the white nose syndrome, which resulted in the death of millions of bats in 2006. First spotted in Albany, New York, this deadly fungal infection spread to New Jersey in 2009, and began to affect another myotis genus, the little brown bats.

The count for this species in New Jersey dropped by a staggering 98% in 2013, reported However, this species is yet to receive protection under the federal Endangered Species Act.

Conservation Measures for Indiana Bats

As of now, both species of bats continue to survive in peril of extinction, notwithstanding the efforts of nonprofit groups that have been undertaking public education initiatives and protective measures. Research led by major universities, as well as state and federal agencies, are trying to find an answer to the White Nose Syndrome responsible for large scale annihilation of bat population, says an article about the bats of New Jersey, published by Rutgers University.

Conservationists are trying to promote installation of bat houses as a means of increasing suitable bat habitat. These are roosting posts that allow them to establish new colonies. Pest Management teams are trained to remove bats from human dwellings and relocate them safely.

Red Squirrels: Tamiasciurus Hudsonicus

While its sub species, the Mount Graham Red Squirrels, has been listed as an endangered species in Arizona and several conservation methods are being undertaken to protect them, the red squirrel has been listed as 'least concern' in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. But this was as of 2008 and recent developments lead to more concern about the species. What has perhaps kept this species from entering the threatened list is its wide range of habitat, which lends it its resilience.

Conservation Measures for Red Squirrels

While they are amply sighted in Northern America and Canada, their absence from New Jersey is growing conspicuous. This is due to housing projects that are encroaching on their natural habitat and resulting in mutual nuisance concern. It is essential to treat them with humane animal control practices by trapping and relocating them to a suitable habitat, recommends Heritage Pest Control. There can be wildlife exclusion methods deployed so that incursion of squirrels in human spaces, leading to both damage of human property and loss of the squirrels' life, is effectively avoided.


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