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Funding Supports Species of Greatest Conservation Need

Audubon, PA (June 26, 2018)

On behalf of the Kittatinny Coalition, Audubon Pennsylvania has awarded two grants to help support Species of Greatest Conservation Need (SGCN) identified in the Pennsylvania Wildlife Action Plan. With this funding, Millersville University will monitor bat species and Hawk Mountain Sanctuary will expand their Broad-winged Hawk research along the Kittatinny Ridge.

Dr. Aaron Haines at Millersville University will lead a collaborative effort with Bat Conservation & Management, Inc. to monitor, using remote devices, all SGCN bat species, including big brown, tricolored, northern long-eared (U.S. threatened), eastern small-footed (PA threatened), Indiana (U.S. and PA endangered), little brown and silver-haired, at the Lehigh Gap Nature Center and several state parks. A permanent publicly accessible remote acoustic bat kiosk will be established at Hawk Mountain Sanctuary, located on the Kittatinny Ridge. Ten years ago, the little brown bat, tricolored bat (formerly known as the eastern pipistrelle), and northern long-eared bat populations were common and widespread in Pennsylvania, and the federally endangered Indiana bat populations were increasing in Pennsylvania. In the last decade, populations of these bat species have declined dramatically due to white-nose syndrome, a fungal disease, causing regional extinctions of local populations. This project will help identify remaining populations and inform efforts to conserve healthy habitat for bats to roost, hibernate, forage for insects and access healthy freshwater.

Dr. Laurie Goodrich at Hawk Mountain Sanctuary will use the grant to continue studying Broad-winged Hawk nesting and migration, habitat use, and connectivity throughout the life cycle for both males and females. The Broad-winged Hawk is the most abundant migrating raptor on the Kittatinny Ridge and a Species of Greatest Conservation Need. Understanding their habitat needs can inform future conservation planning. Hawk Mountain Sanctuary previously placed tags on six ridge-nesting female broadwings and followed them to wintering areas in South America measuring habitat use during all seasons. To-date no males have been tagged and male behavior and habitat use could differ. With this grant funding, Hawk Mountain Sanctuary will trap nesting male Broad-winged Hawks and compare movement and habitat to females to provide a comprehensive understanding of this iconic species.

“We are very excited about these projects and collaboration between Millersville University, Hawk Mountain Sanctuary, the Lehigh Gap Nature Center, the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, the Pennsylvania Game Commission, Audubon Pennsylvania and other Kittatinny Coalition partners,” noted Jeanne Ortiz, Landscape Conservation Program Manager at Audubon Pennsylvania. “The results will help build our understanding of wildlife on the Ridge and the critical habitat that they rely on, ultimately informing our collective conservation efforts.”

About the Kittatinny Coalition

The Kittatinny Coalition is an alliance of organizations, agencies, and academic institutions working with municipal officials and private landowners to conserve the natural, scenic, cultural, and aesthetic resources of the Kittatinny Ridge and Corridor. The Coalition identifies and helps protect priority places, promotes collaborative science-based research along the Corridor to inform management practices and conservation recommendations, fosters effective local stewardship, promotes the sustainable use of natural resources, and increases public awareness and appreciation of the importance of the Kittatinny Ridge and Corridor.

About Audubon

The National Audubon Society protects birds and the places they need, today and tomorrow, throughout the Americas using science, advocacy, education and on-the-ground conservation. Audubon's state programs, nature centers, chapters and partners have an unparalleled wingspan that reaches millions of people each year to inform, inspire and unite diverse communities in conservation action. Since 1905, Audubon's vision has been a world in which people and wildlife thrive. Audubon is a nonprofit conservation organization. Learn more how to help at www.audubon.org and follow us on Twitter and Instagram at @audubonsociety.

Media Contact: Carrie Barron cbarron@audubon.org 

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