Melissa Doperalski: (603) 271-1738
Wildlife Division: (603) 271-2461
April 8, 2019
CONCORD, NH – While you’re outdoors spending time in New Hampshire’s woods and wetlands this year, keep an eye out for reptiles and amphibians. The New Hampshire Fish and Game Department collects information on these sightings to help monitor the state’s reptile and amphibian populations.
Biologists are asking volunteers to help fill in gaps in the data for several seldom-seen species, including the eastern hognose snake, blue-spotted salamanders, spotted turtles, and several other species of salamanders, frogs, turtles, and snakes. Data for distribution maps is also needed and is focused on three rare frogs: northern leopard frogs, mink frogs, and Fowlers’s toads. From May to June, these frogs can be most easily detected at night by their individual identifiable calls which volunteers can document during the call survey period in specific regions. Biologists are also encouraging citizens to report vernal pools, a necessary breeding habitat for species such as wood frogs, spotted salamanders, and many invertebrates. Vernal pools are often small, isolated wetlands that are full of water for only part of the year, making them easily overlooked. Protecting these important animal and habitat resources is a priority identified in New Hampshire’s Wildlife Action Plan.
The New Hampshire Fish and Game Department has some outstanding visual assets to help you identify the frogs, salamanders, snakes, and turtles that exist in the state, and the important habitats they are reliant on. This includes the manual Identifying and Documenting Vernal Pools in New Hampshire and the Vernal Pool Reporting Form, available at www.wildnh.com/nongame/vernal-pools.html. Also on the NH Fish and Game website, you will find photographs, descriptions, and lots of detailed information on the state’s 40 native reptiles and amphibians.
When the Nongame and Endangered Wildlife Program was established in 1988, there was little documented information about the distribution of frogs, snakes, salamanders, and turtles in New Hampshire. The Nongame Program worked with Dr. Jim Taylor at the University of New Hampshire to enlist volunteers to send in reports on amphibians and reptiles and published his book, Reptiles and Amphibians of New Hampshire. The Reptile and Amphibian Reporting Program (RAARP) was formally established in 1992, and volunteers soon had documented hundreds of new sightings.
“The RAARP program continues to grow,” commented Melissa Doperalski a wildlife biologist at New Hampshire Fish and Game. “Every year we get more people submitting valuable information on species observations, many of them in locations where we never knew they existed before.” Since the beginning of the program, over 1,000 volunteers have submitted over 10,000 wildlife records.
Although reptiles and amphibians are often the focus of reporting – especially during this time of year when they are coming out of hibernation and moving into wetlands – biologists encourage your reports of other wildlife species as well. Several years ago, the Reptile and Amphibian Reporting Program was combined with the NH Wildlife Sightings reporting webpage https://nhwildlifesightings.unh.edu/, which allows additional wildlife species such as certain birds and mammals to be reported. On the website, mapping tools allow you to easily pinpoint the location of your wildlife observations, and digital photographs can be uploaded as part of your submissions. Detailed instructions are available on the website – it’s fun and easy to use.
The NH Fish and Game Department’s Nongame and Endangered Wildlife Program works to protect over 400 species of mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and insects and other invertebrates in New Hampshire. Learn more about the Nongame Program at www.wildnh.com/nongame.