Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Eastern Box Turtle Mapping

The Citizen Scientists of the Blue Ridge Foothills and Lakes Chapter are involved in another cool project!  
Jim & Denise Pilversack have contributed over 50 hours to Eastern Box Turtle Mapping in 2011.

One of the 182 Eastern Box Turtle sightings documented by the Pilversacks
125 acres around Smith Mountain Lake is the project area
A neighbor's grandchild shows interest in the project and gets involved

Sponsoring Agency involved: DGIF (Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries) Data is reported each year under a permit with Todd Fredericksen at Ferrum College.*

Project Description: This is an ongoing project started in the summer of 2009 as an extension of the eastern box turtle mapping project conducted by Todd Fredericksen at Ferrum College.

The goals of the project are:
To determine the population of eastern box turtles on a peninsula sub-division of about 125 acres on Smith Mountain Lake
To educate the public about Eastern Box turtles

We have conducted training and written articles to educate property owners and to enlist them in helping with sightings. Currently, about 25 property owners (and some grandchildren) are engaged in the project mainly by reporting sightings so that we can respond and document the turtles. We record the size, weight, and sex of each turtle along with data on location and weather conditions.

The data is reported to DGIF through Ferrum College so that it can be added to their wildlife mapping database. During 2011, there were 44 sightings of new individuals, and 28 re-sightings of individual turtles previously recorded. Since the start of this project in 2009, there have been 182 total sightings of 132 different individual turtles. We have also trained our dog Ginger (cocker/retriever mix) to find turtles. Ginger is credited with 50 of the 182 finds!

The significance of this project is that DGIF has very little data on wildlife in the state of Virginia.   This project will add data on the Eastern Box Turtle, and over time will reveal data on the population trend of this long lived reptile.

*Todd Fredericksen at Ferrum College is also one of the volunteer instructors for the BRFAL Chapter VMN basic training. The class of 2011 thoroughly enjoyed his presentation/class.

If you are interested in becoming a Citizen Scientist Volunteer the next BRFAL Chapter Basic Training for Aspiring Virginia Master Naturalists is coming up in March at The Franklin Center in Downtown Rocky Mount VA! You can get the Draft Schedule of Classes and View the Itinerary here, and get the Information Letter and Application here.  If you have any questions about this upcoming basic training please send an email to: 

Learn more about the Virginia Master Naturalist Program here. We hope to see you at the next training!

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