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Conserve & Protect
The Blog of N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission

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By NCWRC blogger on 6/22/2016 8:07 AM
By Marcia Taylor

Chipmunk Road. That’s what I call it.  If you are one of the lucky adventurers to traverse Heintooga Ridge Road within the Great Smoky Mountains, you might agree with my name for the road!  Chipmunks are everywhere, emerging from and disappearing into expansive burrows, complete with chambers and tunnels, built into the roadbed itself.

How could it be? 

First of all, if you are on a waterfall hunt or prefer fast drives along paved backroads, don’t take this route.  Chipmunk Road is for folks who appreciate driving slower than they can walk in order to take in all that nature has to offer from the comfort and safety of their vehicle.  So, open the car windows or put the top down, shift into the lowest gear, and enjoy the drive at 5 - 10 mph—max!  Without the windows down, most of the sounds, smells, and sights are missed.  Don’t worry about oncoming traffic — it is a 13-mile, one-way, unimproved, backcountry road, Subaru and dog approved.  Silence is mandatory, so consider leaving the kids and talkative friends and relatives at home.

By NCWRC blogger on 6/17/2016 9:29 AM

June 20, 2016 is American Eagle Day — a day set aside to celebrate the bald eagle’s symbolism to Americans and its dramatic recovery from the brink of extinction. But we’ll take the occasion to appreciate our state’s second eagle species, the lesser-known golden eagle.

According to the American Eagle Foundation, which sponsors the day, bald eagles once were on the brink of extinction with only an estimated 400 nesting pairs left in the lower 48 states. In 1973, the bald eagle was listed as an endangered species under the Endangered Species Act. Since then the bald eagle has made an incredible comeback, with an estimated 15,000 pairs in the lower 48 states currently.

The eagle's comeback was due, in large part, to work conducted by natural resource agencies such as the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission,...
By NCWRC blogger on 6/10/2014 9:03 AM

[Editor’s Note: Linda Chamblee of Raleigh sent us this story and photo about a seemingly abandoned fawn being rescued at Shelley Lake Park in north Raleigh. Keep reading to see who actually “rescued” the fawn, and to learn what you should do if you come across a lone fawn in the wild.]

I spotted this fawn on the evening of June 1 at Shelley Lake in Raleigh, only six feet off the path hidden in the leaves and trees. People kept walking by, but nobody saw the fawn. I brought my husband back, and he said it was only days old and that the mother had left it there to go eat and she would be back.

I was so worried about the fawn, I went back down to the lake the next morning...
By NCWRC blogger on 10/31/2013 10:56 AM

Written by: Brad Howard

Have you seen this picture in an email or on Facebook lately?  We have! This photo has been passed around to numerous folks over the last month with claims that it has been taken in various locations across North Carolina. 

More recently, some attention was given to a few reports of “a black panther” in Stokes County. There were no photographs or other verifiable evidence to support those reports. While very rare, jaguars, leopards, the jaguarundi and even bobcats can have black coats but there has never been a documented occurrence of a melanistic phase (black) cougar in North America.

So, any report of a “black panther” or a “large black cat” is most likely mistaken identity since only the above-mentioned cats have a black phase and only one of those cats is native,...
By NCWRC blogger on 8/12/2013 8:02 AM
By: Matthew Godfrey, Biologist, N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission Sea Turtle Project  

The normal sea turtle nesting season in North Carolina runs from May through August and loggerhead sea turtles continue to visit sandy oceanside beaches to lay their eggs. So far this year, 1085 loggerhead nests have been observed and protected by citizen volunteers and cooperators from private,local, state and federal organizations, as part of the N.C. Sea Turtle Project, coordinated by biologists with the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission.

There also have been almost two dozen nests laid by green turtles and one leatherback nest laid in Fort Fisher Recreation Area, which is located in New Hanover County. While the nesting season is close to being over, the hatching season is kicking into high gear. Sea turtle eggs need 50-60 days to incubate in the sand, before small hatchling sea turtles are produced and hatch out of the approximately 120 eggs in each sea turtle nest. The hatchlings dig together up through the sand and emerge on the beach surface in a large group, usually only at night, and scurry to the ocean to begin their journey around the North Atlantic.

By NCWRC blogger on 4/25/2013 8:38 AM
Now that spring is in the air, you might be hearing some strange noises coming from your backyard at night. If you live near any type of water, you might be hearing LOTS of strange noises at night.

Is that a pack of dogs barking in the distance, or is it a barking treefrog? 

Did you hear someone pluck a banjo string, or was that a green frog you heard?

Was that a cricket trilling in the distance or a Cope’s gray tree frog crooning a love song to his lady?

When the winds grow warmer and the nights grow shorter, frogs and toads, like the birds and bees, are eager to make a love connection. So, that strange noise you’re hearing might be one of 29 frog and toad species native to North Carolina. Technically, there are 30 species native to the TarHeel state, but one, the river frog,...
By NCWRC blogger on 1/22/2013 12:32 PM

2013 is the Year of the Snake, both on the Chinese calendar and as designated by Partners in Amphibian and Reptile Conservation, an organization dedicated to the conservation of reptiles and amphibians.

PARC designated 2013 as the Year of the Snake to help raise awareness about these truly magnificent animals and the threats and human perceptions that contribute to their decline.

Perhaps no other animal on this planet is as maligned as the snake, mostly due to the many, varied and often comical misconceptions people have about snakes. Jeff Hall, a biologist with the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission who is also the coordinator of the N.C. chapter of PARC, is here to dispel a few common myths about snakes.

Snakes are slimy.This is perhaps one of the most common misconceptions about snakes and the answer is, no, they’re not. In fact, they are dry and usually cool to the touch.

By NCWRC blogger on 1/18/2013 5:20 PM
Bald eagle watching is exciting any time of the year, but if you need some motivation to watch these majestic birds, we have it. January is National Bald Eagle Watch Month across the country.

North Carolina is now agood place to watch bald eagles, thanks to restoration projects begun in the early 1980s.

The Nongame and Endangered Wildlife Fund, through the North Carolina income tax check-off, helped fund the Wildlife Resources Commission’s first nongame wildlife biologist. One of the first conservation projects undertaken by the nongame wildlife biologist was restoring bald eagles at Mattamuskeet National Wildlife Refuge in 1983.

Because of the eagle restoration work, and the expansion of eagle populations from neighboring states, North Carolina now has more than 125 nesting pairs. (Editor's note: as of 2016, nesting pairs are estimated...
By NCWRC blogger on 12/21/2012 1:25 PM
Once the gifts are unwrapped and the turkey is eaten on Christmas Day, forgo that comfy couch and instead head outdoors with your binoculars and bird ID guide in hand to participate in the longest-running citizen-science survey in the world.

Now in its 113th Year, the Annual Audubon Christmas Bird Count is a perfect way for you to make an enormous contribution to bird conservation in North Carolina, regardless if you’re a backyard birder or a serious field observer. Best of all, it’s free and pretty easy to do, too. Just visit Audubon’s website to sign up and find a count near you.

According to Audubon,which organizes the annual count, the count takes place within “count circles,” which focus on specific geographical areas. Each circle is led by a count compiler and each count is conducted on a specific day. Once you sign up,you’ll find a list of more than 50 Christmas Bird Count circles located across the state, as well as the email addresses for the count compilers. Some count compilers request pre-registrations. Others just advise you to show up on the day of the count.

By NCWRC blogger on 7/20/2012 12:42 PM
The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission will present a free, special lunchtime program featuring live birds of prey on Friday, Aug. 3, at the Centennial Campus Center for Wildlife Education in Raleigh.

Join Steve Stone with the American Wildlife Refuge from noon to 1:30 p.m. for this family-oriented program, with live birds that have been rescued and are undergoing rehabilitation. Guests will see these amazing birds, learn about their life histories and hear the stories behind their rescues.

With seating limited, pre-registration is required and children must be accompanied by an adult. Register online here,...
By NCWRC blogger on 5/9/2012 10:13 AM
Yes, it’s cute.

It has white spots, a sweet face and skinny little legs, and looks so very alone sitting in the brush by itself.  

What’s a well-meaning person to do, but bring that fawn home, take care of it and make it a pet?

Please don’t.

While that fawn might look abandoned, it’s probably not. White-tailed deer are a “hider species,” meaning a doe hides her young in brush, grass or other vegetation during the first two or three weeks of its life while she feeds. Sometimes, a well-intentioned person might approach the fawn, and, thinking it is abandoned, try and rescue it. This can be hazardous to both the people and the deer. And despite how helpless it looks, a fawn is well-equipped to protect itself. By the time it is 5 days old, already it can outrun a human. At 3 to 6 weeks of age, fawns can escape most predators.

Moving a young fawn can stress it, and cause it illness or death. In addition, a friendly fawn will soon grow into an adult deer, and can become aggressive and dangerous. Also, a deer that is used to people can’t be released — as it is ill-equipped to live in the wild.

By NCWRC blogger on 4/17/2012 8:56 AM
You may glance at this video and wonder just what the heck these folks are doing to these birds.

Catching them in nets. Ruffling their feathers. Putting shiny silver rings on their legs.

But trust us, people — this is all in the name of good, sound science.

Banding songbirds, like these scientists are doing, is a tool to determine waxing and waning songbird populations, habits and habitats. All in a day’s work for some of the biologists from the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission and the N.C. Division of Parks and Recreation,

Here, biologists are determining songbird populations in the Sandy Run Savannas State Natural Area. They catch the birds in mist nests, which cause no harm, and carefully examine and record each bird’s age, weight and other characteristics. They also fit each bird’s leg with a numbered band, which is registered with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, so that if that bird is caught again, anywhere in the world, its location can be noted and monitored.

By NCWRC blogger on 4/16/2012 10:26 AM
Ever wonder how the turkey population in North Carolina is doing from year to year?

The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission conducts a survey each summer to find those answers. From asking participants about the turkeys they observed between July 1 and August 31, 2011, biologists can determine wild turkey productivity and carryover of gobblers from the previous season.

Who typically gets surveyed?  A bunch of folks, including members of the National Wild Turkey Federation, sportsmen, personnel from the Commission, N.C. Forest Service, U.S. Forest Service, several military bases and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.  It’s a large, diverse group to survey, and the respondents provide a lot of useful data.

For example, the 680 participants in 2011 observed 32,877 wild turkeys statewide. Of the hens, 59 percent had poults,...
By NCWRC blogger on 2/24/2012 8:31 AM
What looks like a dragon, swims like a fish and only occurs in two drainages in North Carolina? It’s the Neuse River waterdog, and biologists are surveying for this species of special concern to determine how it is faring in the wilds of North Carolina.


Neuse River waterdogs can reach sizes of up to 11 inches, and, like their name, live in the Neuse River, and also the Tar-Pamlico River. The presence or absence of these fascinating-looking critters in these rivers and their tributaries may indicate the status of the water quality. No waterdogs could mean negative changes have adversely affected the water bodies.


Sadly, biologists suspect the species may be on the decline. About 30 years ago, the N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences surveyed 360 sites for the salamanders. Today, biologists are going back and resurveying...
By NCWRC blogger on 2/21/2012 3:57 PM

Do you yearn to learn about salamanders, frogs and toads, collectively known as amphibians? What about snakes, lizards and alligators, collectively known as reptiles? If so, join N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission personnel Jeff Hall and Mike Campbell for one of three workshops they are conducting in February and March for anyone 16 years and older who is conservation-minded and doesn’t care about the possibility of getting their shoes wet and dirty.  


Two of the workshops — the Feb. 29 workshop at Camp Agape and the April 5 workshop at Cool Springs Environmental Education Center — will focus on amphibians. Both will start at 9 a.m. and end at 4 p.m., with classroom instruction in the morning on conservation, basic biology and habitat requirements of frogs, toads and salamanders, as well as the effects...
By NCWRC blogger on 2/7/2012 11:30 AM
If you appreciate art, love wildlife, and enjoy the outdoors, a road trip to Washington, N.C., should be on your itinerary this weekend.  Along the scenic waterfront of this small Inner Banks town is where the 17th Annual East Carolina Wildlife Arts Festival and North Carolina Decoy Carving Championships gets under way, starting Friday at 9 a.m. 

Stop by the Washington Civic Center Friday night to see the unveiling of the portrait that will become the 2012 North Carolina Waterfowl Conservation Stamp and Print, also known as the North Carolina duck stamp.

This is the first year that the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission is offering the print and stamp at a special price of $120 — that’s $25 off the normal price. We’ll have a booth set up in the Civic Center on the stage and will take payments for advance purchases — credit card, personal checks and cash — the entire weekend. The print and stamp will be available on July 1.

Commission personnel also will be selling subscriptions...
By NCWRC blogger on 1/5/2012 9:08 AM
Joe Schmoe knows a guy who knows guy whose brother was a game warden who swears when he was on staff at the Wildlife Commission, biologists dropped dozens of rattlesnakes from helicopters. Many folks tell this story.

Sometimes, the story is “legitimized” by adding details:  Wildlife dropped the snakes (with parachutes?) to control the deer population, and the rattler-stocking project was conducted under the cover of night from black, stealth helicopters to stay off the public’s radar screen.

Still others weave a tale of biologists wanting to replenish a dwindling population of rattlesnakes in Hanging Rock State Park.

Sounds exciting. Unfortunately — or fortunately, depending on how much you like snakes — it’s not true. This is one of a few rumors that circulate around North Carolina, despite the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission’s  persistent efforts to...
By NCWRC blogger on 12/21/2011 11:37 AM
Looking for a neat way to get outdoors over the holidays?

By participating in the Christmas Bird Count, you can get some fresh air and help wildlife. Organized by the National Audubon Society, the count sends citizen scientists — the volunteers — outdoors to count all the birds they can identify in a 24-hour period. The numbers provide information used to gauge the health of wintering bird populations.

Counts are going on right now, and you don’t need experience. Check out the National Audubon Society’s FAQ page for more information. For more places and ways to watch birds, visit

By NCWRC blogger on 12/21/2011 11:13 AM
See the Wildlife Commission’s Mobile Aquarium and talk to Division of Inland Fisheries staff at the upcoming Bass and Saltwater Fishing Expo, Jan. 6-8, at the fairgrounds located at 1025 Blue Ridge Road in Raleigh.

The Mobile Aquarium allows the Wildlife Commission to display live fish — trout in a “mountain stream” tank and bass, bluegill and longnose gar in a “coastal river” tank.  You can’t eat ‘em, but it’s a good chance to see live game fish and non-game fish up close and personal.  You can also get some face time with Wildlife Commission fisheries staff to chat up fishing or the latest fisheries management work being conducted on your favorite reservoirs and rivers. Tight...

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