Stacey Cole's Nature Talks: Nongame, Endangered Wildlife Program turns 25

STACEY COLE May 24. 2013 10:03PM

I don't think we should wait until "June is bustin' out all over," (as the famous song goes) before we consider making a contribution to the Nongame and Endangered Wildlife Program, a division of the NH Fish & Game Department. June 29 will mark the program's 25th anniversary!

The program was established in 1988, when NH RSA Chapter 212-B:6 became New Hampshire law. The law created a separate non-lapsing fund known as the "nongame species account" that included any state funds appropriated, any federal money available, plus all donations received to be used for the development and implementation of a comprehensive nongame species management program. With respect to public donations the RSA reads: "The state treasurer shall deposit annually from the general fund into the special nongame species account an amount equal to the money donated during any fiscal year under this paragraph up to and including a total of $50,000 annually." The annual fund campaign is currently under way.

John J. Kanter, program coordinator, wrote in his recent "Wild Lines" publication: "We are grateful for the opportunities — and successes — of our first quarter century, from the restoration of the historic tern colony at the Isles of Shoals to the return of Karner blue butterflies in the wild, to bald eagles soaring the skies of every New Hampshire county.

"And we are so thankful for our growing ranks of supporters, many of whom have faithfully contributed to the annual fundraising campaign year after year. The future looks bright for New Hampshire's amazing diversity of wildlife!"

Checks should be made payable to: "Nongame and Endangered Wildlife Program." Mail to the program at ll Hazen Drive, Concord, NH 03301-6500.

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For many years, cottontail rabbits lived in a patch of woods that bordered our side lawn here at the farm. On summer evenings, after the hustle and bustle of our day's activities had ceased, young bunnies would appear.

They romped and played together, and also fed upon the clover that grew there. What fun it was to watch their antics!

Again quoting from Wild Lines: "The year 2012 proved to be the most hopeful yet for bringing back the New England cottontail, as successful habit management and captive-rearing efforts began to see results." Heidi Holman, a biologist with the Nongame Program, said: "Over 450 acres of habitat have been managed on both public and private lands.The regeneration takes time. Some of the areas that were cut a few years ago are just beginning to re-grow into the thick, shrub habitat that cottontails need." (Encouragingly, biologists saw the rabbits using one of these areas for the first time this year.) "In early 2011, wild New England Cottontails were trapped from population strongholds in Connecticut and brought to Roger Williams Park Zoo in Providence, R.I., to initiate the captive breeding program. Then in December of that year, the first captive-bred cottontails were released into a pen built especially for them at the Ninigret Wildlife Refuge in Rhode Island. This was a pilot project to try introducing them into the wild from captivity," said Holman."

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Butterflies were on the mind of a New Boston reader who wrote on April 1: "I was picking up brush in my yard Saturday afternoon and saw my first butterfly. It flitted from here to there for about five minutes. Isn't that an early appearance? I've yet to cut back my butterfly plants as I leave them up all winter long. Birds visit them while waiting their turn at the bird feeders. Just had to tell you of the early arrival of my butterfly."

Although I do enjoy butterflies, I am not knowledgeable about their comings and goings. Readers?

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A Merrimack reader forwarded three photos I found interesting, especially the ones that showed a bluebird at the suet feeder. That, I had never seen before. In one photo a bluebird was facing upward on one end of the suet cage, and a male downy woodpecker was feeding upside down on the other.

It was entitled "Friends sharing the suet!" The third photo was of a bird I could not identify. Its thin, slightly curved bill and light eye stripe favored a Carolina Wren.

Our reader wrote: "Came back for 3 years now to nest in a hanging plant under the eaves of our screened porch! Year-old brown holly bushes help hide the nest!" House finches are known to nest in house plants. But wrens? Possibly.

Stacey Cole's address is 529 W. Swanzey Road, Swanzey 03446.

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