Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Herp Search May 16

The ninth annual Great Worcester Herp Search will take place Saturday, May 16 when volunteers scour county lands for reptiles and amphibians.

Sponsored by the Coastal Bays Program, Delmarva Low Impact Tourism (DLITE), Salisbury Zoo, Maryland Department of Natural Resources, and Salisbury University, the search kicks off at 9 a.m. at the pavilion at the Pocomoke State Park Shad Landing Area. Participants should park in the lot by the dock next to the concession area. A brief pre-hunt training session will feature live turtles, snakes, frogs, and salamanders and explain ways to identify them in the wild. It is free to the public and will be held to prep volunteers for searching four Worcester County sites in the morning and afternoon.

Last year 99 reptiles and amphibians representing 15 species were the result of the search held in Worcester County. Finds included black racers, worm snakes, ringneck snakes, and common watersnakes. Box and snapping turtles were found along with red-backed salamanders, five-lined skinks, ground skinks, and fence lizards. Frogs and toads included Fowlers toads and green, S. Leopard, and spring peepers. Calling Cope’s grey treefrogs were also part of the mix.

In Worcester, there are approximately 19 species of snakes, 15 species of frogs and toads, eight species of salamanders, 13 species of turtles and four species of lizards. Worcester County and the coastal bays watershed have more reptile species than any other county in Maryland. The search will provide data to help scientists better understand population trends in this declining group of vertebrates. No animals are harmed or removed from the wild during the search.

This year’s sites include a 166-acre parcel on the south side of Public Landing Road, and the state-owned 4,300-acre Foster tract which will be broken into three segments. The tract, west of Route 12, is largely unexplored by science. After the morning trips, volunteers will return to the pavilion for lunch and a slide show of the a.m. findings. Participants should bring a sack lunch and drinks. Groups will return to the field around 2 p.m. until approximately 5 p.m. The trips are not recommended for kids under 8 years and all children under 14 must be accompanied by an adult. Sunscreen, mosquito and tick repellant, and boots are a must.

To view photos and the results of last year’s search go to www.delmarvalite.org/events or www.mdcoastalbays.org. For more information call Jim Rapp at the DLITE office at 443-944-8097 or Dave Wilson at the Coastal Bays office at 410-213-2297.

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