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Wednesday, 01 November 2006 00:00

Spotlight on Endangered Species in WNC

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Green Salamander — Although listed by the state as endangered and recognized as a species of concern by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the green salamander appears to be stabilizing its populations though the geographic range of its habitats is still quite small.

In order to get more accurate records of how many green salamanders are out there, the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission conducted a three-year study (2002-2004) funded by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Haywood, Jackson and Macon counties were included in the study. Green salamanders were found in 25 of 32 historic sites, and 58 new sites were discovered. In all, 986 salamanders were documented.

Bats — Seven bat species are listed as threatened, endangered or of special concern by North Carolina or the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Commission. Six of those bats live in Western North Carolina. This year, five of those six were observed in the region. Of particular interest was the Rafinesque’s big-eared bat and the gray bat. Rafinesque’s have only been found at a few sites. An old, abandoned building in Haywood County had once been monitored as a maternity colony where females give birth and raise their young. However, this structure collapsed, leaving the site seemingly useless. However, prior to the collapse, several female bats were banded in order to mark them for future monitoring. Some of these banded bats showed up at the old site, so the building may have collapsed, but the area appears to continue to support some bats. The North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission is working with other federal agencies to build permanent roosting structures for these bats. In addition, juvenile gray bats have been found in Haywood County. Follow-up surveys are being planned for the spring and summer of 2007.

Peregrine Falcons — Jackson County has the most productive peregrine site in North Carolina since the bird was reintroduced in 1984, according to Jeff Schwierjohann of the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission. In all, 39 chicks — 22 in the past seven years — have been fledged in the county.

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