Tag Archives: environmental education

Why I Save Snakes (and turtles, and Opossums…)

8 Jan

In a recent article I read about two women who save rattlesnakes from being killed on roads.  These women are heroes to me and their journey has inspired me to put my thoughts down on “paper” and share them with all of you.

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Photo by Tim Peacock from the article by W.R.Shaw 

Like these amazing women I too have been saving snakes – Rattlesnakes included – and all others as well as turtles, salamanders and Opossums for as long as I have been driving.

With most incidents I quickly move the animal to to the side of the road it is moving toward and then move on without incident.  Below are a few videos of some of my rescues when I was toting a video camera.

Box turtles (and all others) need our help across the road

And just last year I rescued one Timber rattlesnake from a garden and then another as I drove home from the first rescue – two in one night!

On another occasion several people worked together to get one small box turtle back to her home in the remote forest.

A copperhead rescue…

Most of the times when I am rescuing wildlife from the road the other drivers will slow down and wait for me to rescue the animal and sometimes even thank me out the window as they pass.  I believe most people are really good and helpful and may only hit small creatures crossing the roads on accident.

Other, thankfully more rare times, I have had drivers swerve their vehicles toward me and speed up in the attempt to hit the animal before I get to it.

Once this happened as a friend and I had just pulled over and were jogging toward an Eastern box turtle that was attempting to cross a curvy 2 lane road in the mountains near Boone, NC.  As we were approaching the turtle a huge jacked up “redneck” truck with nasty diesel smoke belching from over-sized “hey look at me” loud exhaust pipes swerved past us, accelerated and aimed for the animal.  We could only watch as the helpless reptile died in a cartwheel of blood and gore under the giant tires of the infantile drivers weapon of death. As the truck hit the turtle with a very audible “pop” we could hear the hoots and catcalls from the driver and passenger as they celebrated their murder of an innocent and helpless creature. I am normally a calm, easy going person but at that moment I was so mad and disgusted with humanity that if that driver had turned around I do not know what I would have done but it would not have been nice.

Many years ago I witnessed the aftermath of a similar incident that I recorded in the below video.

In the following video a scientist conducts an experiment to explore the connections between the species of the animal and how many drivers target them.

In another incident, as I was driving home one warm summer night when I noticed a medium sized Copperhead warming its belly on a remote road.  I saw the snake in the last instant and was forced to straddle it with my car to avoid hitting it and then I quickly pulled off the road and jumped out to move it before the approaching vehicle could hit it.  Unfortunately the driver was only a few car lengths behind and probably did not see it as they came into the dark curve and hit the snake which quickly died…and so did the 9 babies gestating in its belly.

Yet another time I watched as a driver on a cellphone driving on a busy Florida highway mowed down an adult Gopher tortoise as it tried to cross the road – yet another cartwheel of blood and gore from a protected keystone species. The driver never even tapped her brakes but from my vantage point I have no idea how she did not see the animal.

Other times I have stopped to move road-killed animals off the road in order to not cause the deaths of the scavengers that come to feed on them. When I have moved rattlesnakes they almost always have a missing rattle (see the video below in which I find just that).  – This is evidence that the murderer took the snake’s rattle as a trophy of their conquest of the “fearsome deadly beast” they now probably brag about to their friends to boost their machismo at the expense of another creatures life – now you see how I feel about trophy hunting.

Then there’s the type of people that swerve in the attempt to maybe intimidate me into;

A. Dropping the animal and running so they can kill it with their rolling death machine.

B. Assisting with their deadly plans by throwing it under their wheels so they can kill it with their rolling death machine.

C. Possibly kill us both with their rolling death machine because they are holding onto some misplaced ancient dogma that insists that snakes are “evil” and anyone who associates with them must also be “evil” so it would be appropriate to kill both of the “evil” creatures at the same time. Really? Yes, there are misguided people like that still out there walking and driving the earth – some of them are even toting guns – yikes!

It is truly sad that in this day of scientific breakthroughs leading to technological achievements that allow us to drive great distances in machines of science (cars, planes, trains, ships, rockets etc..), connect with others at the speed of light using devices of science (smartphones, internet, satellites, computers,…), and the fact that many of us owe our very lives to the findings of science by way of medications derived from snake venom such as snake bite antivenin and some cancer and pain treatments and more and even more). Watch the video below for more on this.

Crofab antivenin is used in treating the bite of pitvipers.  The video below shows how venom is extracted from Rattlesnakes before used to produce lifesaving antivenin.

Here is a another good, but a bit over dramatized, video of how Crofab is used to treat the bite of Pitvipers.

Then there is the simple fact that through thousands of years of direct observation and the findings of science, that we now know for absolute fact that snakes eat lots of rodents (mice, rats, voles etc…) and that these rodents, if not kept in check by snakes and other predators, would overpopulate destroying our crops and spreading deadly disease–watch an example in the following video.

Rodents directly and indirectly carry or play a part in the vectoring diseases that sicken and kill humans the world over in huge numbers (Bubonic plague, Lyme Disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted FeverHantavirus and Hantavirus Hemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome, Lassa Fever,  Leptospirosis, Lymphocytic Chorio-meningitis, Rat Bite Fever, Salmonella, Arenaviridae, Tularemia need I go on…), so logic and reason would dictate that we should never ever choose to willingly harm a snake and we should in fact honor and protect them if only for the rodent removal service they provide our homes, farms, forests and fields thereby keeping us fed and healthy.

Many, like the women in the article I noted at the start of this posting, and others like John Sealy, Alan Cameron, William H. Martin,  Bruce Means, and organizations like The Orianne Society, The Center for Snake Conservation, The Savannah River Ecology Laboratory, Davidson River Herpetology Lab, and many bloggers like the Wandering Herpetologist and Living Alongside Wildlife and myself are working to share the facts, truths and benefits of snakes and other reptiles with you, our readers.

Sadly it seems that there remain many good and bad people, or should I say “Sheeple,” who choose to live their lives blindly following ancient or ignorant beliefs rather than truth, reason, logic, and the findings of science.
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I feel sorry for these people.
I feel sorry for them because they are so closed to the facts that their actions of killing snakes and other wildlife end up make this thing called life harder for us all – from the snake crossing the road to the rest of us just trying to make a living.
Yes, I rescue snakes and other wildlife from roads, homes, and wherever else they are in need. I rescue them because they need rescuing from the bullying humans who are BY FAR more dangerous and deadly than the snakes they target with their cars, hoes, shovels and fear driven ancient beliefs and venom spitting narrow-minded hatreds.  I also choose to make a difference by teaching the scientific truths — based on reason, knowledge and experimentation as well as thousands of years of collective observation by countless scientists, naturalists, animal lovers and farmers all over the planet — to anyone and everyone who will listen.  I do this through my science classes, my small nonprofit education and outreach organization Earthshine Nature Programs, my YouTube Channel and this blog.
Please, do not be a sheeple. Before you decide to harm or kill a snake, do some simple research and learn more about the creature who’s life you are preparing to end.
BTW, yes I have been bitten by a Rattlesnake and no, I did not kill it in vengeance – in fact, I let it go so it could eat more rodents. Oh and thank you science for saving the finger that I am using to type these words with antivenin derived from snake venom and the findings of science.
I leave you with a quote from Mahatma Gandhi – “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way it’s animals are treated. “

ENP is running in the Mad Mountain Mud Run for the 3rd year in a row!

26 May

That’s right, Earthshine Nature Programs Executive Director Steve O’Neil and Team Earthshine Nature Nerds will be running again this year in the Mad Mountain Mud Run 5K in Hendersonville, NC on Saturday May 30th, 2015!

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For 2015 the Nature Nerds will be sharing the muddy trail with The Trails Turbo Turtles!  The Turbo Turtles consist of several Steve’s students and staff of The Academy at Trails Carolina and Trails Carolina!  Captain Steve will be overall captain of both the Nature Nerds and the Turbo Turtles.

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Many of the Turbo Turtles are experienced runners, hikers, Mtn. bikers and climbers so do not let the name fool you–the Turbo Turtles are a force of nature and may just take overall best time in the Mud Run!

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Our nerdy nature goal is to run representing Earthshine Nature Programs as our 2015 spring fundraiser.  To do this we need sponsors that are willing to support Earthshine Nature Programs with a pledge.  Your pledge will provide direct and 100% support to our environmental science education and wildlife rehabilitation and conservation programs and projects.

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Our muddy community goal is to run in support of the Hands On A Child’s Gallery based in Hendersonville, NC and Trails Carolina/The Academy at Trails Carolina with our afternoon of challenging obstacles and muddy fun!

Last year and this year the students and I have constructed an obstacle for the Mud Run — take a look at a few photos of this years obstacle that we call the ENP/Trails Turbo Tunnels!!

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Take a look at the course map for a taste of what we may have in store for us this year!  It should be a muddy fun challenge!

 

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Sponsor Awards

Any donation is welcome and needed however…

Those who sponsor ENP with $50 or more will receive your business logo or name and weblink* on the ENP supporters website,  in a posting in this blog (to be updated after the race), and on the back of our custom mud run t-shirt that we will proudly wear during the race.

Those who sponsor us for $500 or more will receive your business logo or name and weblink* on the ENP supporters website,  in a posting in this blog (to be updated after the race), on the back of our custom mud run t-shirt that we will proudly wear during the race, four custom designed ENP Medici Lighted writing Pens from Myron.com, your own custom mud run t-shirt,  and one “Honored Supporter” custom award (made by Steve) which includes a certificate of appreciation and small glass vial filled with a small amount of the actual mud from the race course that we will run through on May 30 th!

Those who sponsor us for $1000 or more will receive will receive your business logo or name and weblink* on the ENP supporters website,  in a posting in this blog (to be updated after the race), on the back of our custom mud run t-shirt that we will proudly wear during the race, six custom designed ENP Medici Lighted writing Pens from Myron.com,  your own custom mud run t-shirt,  and one “Honored Supporter” custom award (made by Steve) which includes a certificate of appreciation and small glass vial filled with a small amount of the actual mud from the race course that we will run through on May 31st! On top of all that Steve and his animals will come to you and present a private Misunderstand Wildlife animal show with live animals and a didgeridoo concert at your birthday party, school or other gathering!

*You can opt-out of having your personal/company information publicized on our shirts/websites if you choose.

An awesome mud covered photo from the end of the 2015

Mad Mountain Mud Run.

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A great muddy moment from the 2013 Mud Run!

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The nitty gritty muddy dirt of the sponsorship (rules)

After the Earthshine Nature Nerds/Trails Turbo Turtles team completes the race–all sponsored pledges will be collected from the sponsors by June 15th, 2013.  Supporter awards will be awarded within 60 days following the race.

If the Earthshine Nature Nerds/Trails Turbo turtles does not complete the race–no donations will be collected unless you choose to support us despite the fact.

If the race is cancelled due to weather or other circumstances beyond our control you may choose to honor your sponsorship agreement or not.  100% of all donations will be used to provide direct support to our environmental science and wildlife rehabilitation/conservation projects and programs.

You may earmark your donations to the following projects:

Project A: Turtle Tracks Eastern Box Turtle radio telemetry project: currently radio tracking four wild Eastern box turtles at Earthshine Discovery Center and The Academy at Trails Carolina. Two of these turtles are part of the ongoing (since 2008) Turtle Tracks project at Earthshine Discovery Center in Lake Toxaway, NC.  The other two turtles are part of a hands-on wildlife science class led by Steve for the Academy at Trails Carolina and Trails Wilderness students.

Project B:  Snake Tracks  – Ratsnake Tracks. A radio telemetry project  tracking two large Black rat snakes at The Academy at Trails Carolina.  This will be part of a hands-on citizen and student science class led by Steve for the Academy at Trails Carolina and Trails Wilderness students.

Projects A-B are most important wildlife science and conservation projects seeking to learn as much as possible about the natural movements of some of nature’s most misunderstood creatures.  Data collected during these projects will directly benefit the greater understanding and conservation of not only box turtles and Rat snakes but all reptiles for many years to come.  These projects also directly benefit the continuing hands-on education of middle and high school age youth–the future of all wildlife conservation.

Project C: Wildlife rescue and rehabilitation: ongoing support of our wildlife rescue and rehabilitation activities that works primarily with the Eastern box turtle and Opossum.

Project D: General program support.  Examples include–animal care, habitat construction and project support: this covers all costs that are not directly part of or that cross over between all of the above listed programs.  Example: radio telemetry equipment,  foods, housing, vitamins, and medications for our resident and rehab animals,  rechargeable batteries, camera equipment etc.

If you do not earmark your donation it will be used where it is most needed in one or more of the above programs.

If you would like to sponsor our team please contact me and we will make arrangements or feel free to donate now via the Earthshine Nature Pay Pal account.

You may sponsor us with either monetary pledges or supplies.  If you would like to pledge supplies please contact us for a list of our current needs.

Below are some of our past sponsors and supporters

THANK YOU All!

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No matter if you choose to support us or not,  please do come out to Berkley Park and watch all of the mud runners get muddy and have fun for a couple of great causes–the education of children and conservation of wildlife and nature!

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If you know anyone who may like to support ENP with a sponsorship or donation please forward this post on to them–THANK YOU!

After last year’s Mud Run we were all smiles–it was great fun!

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NOTE: The Nature Nerds will video/photograph their perspective of the race using the latest technology including an HD GoPro camera and several volunteer friends with cameras stationed around the race course so that this years nerdy muddy experience will be able to be shared by all!  A few weeks following the race look for the video to be posted here on the ENP Nature Blog!

Take a look at last years race video below!

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THANK YOU ALL FOR YOUR SUPPORT!!

That’s all for now…I need to go train!

Steve O’Neil, ENP Executive Director and Mad Mountain Mud Runner

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Earthshine Nature Programs is not responsible for or affiliated with ads that may appear below this line.

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First Box Turtle Rehab for 2015!

25 May

About a month ago I was contacted by a local man who had found a wild Eastern box turtle in his driveway.  This turtle was very sick, its eyes were swollen shut, it had a nasty nasal discharge and it was very weak and thin–all the symptoms of the classic upper respiratory infection that box turtles are often afflicted with shortly after coming out of hibernation.  I directed the man to take the turtle to my wildlife veterinarian, Dr. Coleman of Haywood Animal Hospital in Hendersonville, NC.  He did so, Dr. Coleman expertly treated it, and I later picked it us for convalescence at the nature and science center.  When I picked up the turtle I noted that it was light in weight and looked miserable.  If you have ever had a bad sinus infection you will understand.

I isolated the turtle in a warm enclosure separate from all other education animals because there is always the chance that this turtle had a much more serious viral or bacterial infection that we would not want to inadvertently transmit to the other animals.

The students and I cared for the turtle for about a month, keeping it hydrated, giving it antibiotic injections, and finally feeding it loads of earthworms, vitamin enhanced canned cat food and fruit which it readily accepted.

On may 15th the turtle was fully recovered and went home with it’s rescuer to be released in its native habitat and as you can see in the photos they both look very happy and healthy.

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 Thank you sir for caring about wildlife and going above and beyond to help this turtle recover and get back to playing an active role in a healthy ecosystem.

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Another wonderful wildlife rehabilitation success story!

If you find a sick or injured turtle, snake or Opossum and you are local to the Western North Carolina area, please do contact me and I will work with you to help the injured animal recover and get back into its native habitat as fast as possible.  If you live far from Western NC and need help with an injured animal, please feel free to contact me for information, which I will be more than happy to provide, but for immediate care you will need to contact your local veterinarians as they often have lists of wildlife rehabilitation facilities that will be willing to help.

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It is our goal at Earthshine Nature Programs and Trails Science to promote wildlife conservation through our unique, exciting, citizen science based, hands-on education, out-reach programs, and online with our nature videos, blog, website and in our environmental education classes at

Trails Academy and Trails Carolina.

What is Earthshine Nature Programs?

Earthshine Nature Programs is a separate entity from Earthshine Discovery Center and Trails Carolina/Academy however, we work directly with these institutions of environmental education to promote the conservation and respect of our native wildlife and wild places. It is our mission to educate you about these beautiful but greatly misunderstood animals and hopefully, to impart to you their beauty, uniqueness and intrinsic value to a healthy Earth, healthy wildlife and healthy humans.

Earthshine Nature Programs is a grass-roots, 501c3 non profit, volunteer operated and donation funded organization.

THANK YOU to all of you who have donated to ENP over the years!! Without you, this important wildlife conservation, rehabilitation, and public education work would not happen. If you would like to support Earthshine Nature Programs please feel free to donate by visiting

www.earthshinenature.com/donate

You may also donate supplies such as animal foods, medical supplies, vitamins and habitat supplies just contact us for more information on what supplies we are in need of and how to donate.

 For more detailed info on our projects and programs please take a look at our website: http://www.earthshinenature.com

Follow us on this blog  www.earthshinenature.wordpress.com

Learn more about Trails Carolina and Trails Academy and see if our unique programs may fit into your child’s education needs.

Visit our friends at the Earthshine Discovery Center and learn how you and your family, school, scout, corporate or camp group, can visit the Earthshine Discovery Center and have a wonderful fun and educational retreat!

Music by The Steep Canyon Rangers used with written permission.

www.steepcanyon.com

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Earthshine Nature Programs is in no way affiliated or responsible for ads that may appear below this line.

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Turtle Tracks and Snake Tracks Field Update for April 13, 2015

13 Apr

I have confirmed that almost all of the reptiles at both the Earthshine Discovery Center and Sky Valley (Trails Academy/Trails Carolina) Study sites are out of hibernation! Catherine, Zoe, Paula Journeys, Shelly Echo, Splinter and Apollo are all on the move heading toward their spring feeding and basking grounds.

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I found Catherine about 200 feet west of her den basking in the late afternoon sun.  The epoxy on her transmitter looks rough because I was forced to replace her previous unit a few weeks ago due to the cold weather prematurely depleting the energy in the previous units battery.   On an upcoming field excursion I will smooth out the edges of the expoy so it will be less likely to get snagged on vegetation.

zoe4.12.15  Zoe basking on the warm leaf litter.

She is only a few hundred yards from the top of the ridge and seems to be moving east toward her summer feeding grounds near the waterfall.  If you live in the vicinity of her movement areas, please be aware that she is active and will be moving through soon.

I was unable to locate Jimmy Irwin the Eastern box turtle and Utsanati the Timber rattlesnake. It seems that Utsanati’s transmitter may have exhausted it’s battery due to the very cold temperatures we had near the end of the winter. It will now be a chore to find him but I do know all of his “old haunts” so hopefully I will be able to locate him in the next few weeks. As for Jimmy Irwin, I do not know why his transmitter would have stopped transmitting–it should have had several more months of power remaining before needing to be replaced. It is possible that Jimmy has been predated or his transmitter’s antenna has been chewed off by rodents.  I am leaning more toward the rodent theory as I have had this happen before with Catherine and it greatly reduces the range and lifespan of the transmitter.  I will need to do a more thorough search in a week in order to know more.

apolloontree4.8.15Apollo basking just outside of a tree cavity.

The Trails students from Journeys wilderness assisted me with locating Apollo the Rat snake a few days ago.  We found him basking in the afternoon sunshine just outside of a rather large tree cavity on an old dead oak tree.  The students and I were very excited to see him looking so healthy after sleeping underground for over five months.  This experience was a great teachable moment for the students, many of whom had never seen a wild rat snake in it’s natural environment.  We discussed reptile biology, why they need to hibernate, and why old, rotting trees like this one are important to this species of snake and many other species of wildlife such as birds, squirrels, bats and insects.  If you have standing dead trees on your land that are not endangering any structures or anyone, please consider leaving them for wildlife.

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Master Splinter basking on a low limb.

A couple of weeks ago the students from Trails Academy assisted me in locating Master Splinter during our natural resource management and conservation class. We found him outstretched on a low limb, basking in the early spring sunshine.  Then, a few days ago Trails Wilderness group Bravo joined me and we found him sunning on the limb of an old bent oak about 35 feet off the ground.  Everyone was able to see him before he moved back inside the tree to hide from us while we collected vital environmental data and held class under the greening forest canopy.

Keep your eyes open when hiking in the forests and fields or driving the roads and riding the trails because our scaly friends are out and about and we need to do all we can to help them help us.

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What is Turtle Tracks and Snake Tracks?

Turtle Tracks and Snake Tracks are citizen/student science reptile conservation and research projects occurring at two separate study sites near Lake Toxaway and Dupont Forest in the mountains of western North Carolina, USA. Through the magic of modern technology and a lot of hard volunteer work by a wildlife conservationist and his small crew of students, and volunteers, glimpse into the lives of four wild Eastern box turtles, two Rat snakes and two Timber rattlesnakes in their natural habitats. For more detailed info on the project please take a look at our website: http://www.earthshinenature.com

Follow us on this blog  www.earthshinenature.wordpress.com

It is our goal at Earthshine Nature Programs and Trails Science to promote wildlife conservation through our unique, exciting, citizen science based, hands-on education, out-reach programs, and online with our nature videos, blog and website and in our environmental education classes at Trails Academy and Trails Carolina.

What is Earthshine Nature Programs?

Earthshine Nature Programs is a separate entity from Earthshine Discovery Center and Trails Carolina/Academy however, we work directly with these institutions of education to promote the conservation and respect of our native wildlife and wild places. It is our mission to educate you about these beautiful but greatly misunderstood animals and hopefully, to impart to you their beauty, uniqueness and intrinsic value to a healthy Earth, healthy wildlife and healthy humans.

Earthshine Nature Programs is a grass-roots, 501c3 non profit, volunteer operated and donation funded organization.

THANK YOU to all of you who have donated to ENP over the years!! Without you, this important reptile conservation and public education work would not happen. If you would like to support Earthshine Nature Programs please feel free to donate by visiting

www.earthshinenature.com/donate

You may also donate supplies such as animal foods, medical supplies, vitamins and habitat supplies just contact us for more information on what supplies we are in need of and how to donate.

Learn more about Trails Carolina and Trails Academy and see if our unique programs may fit into your child’s education needs.

Visit our friends at the Earthshine Discovery Center and learn how you and your family, school, scout, corporate or camp group, can visit the Earthshine Discovery Center and have a wonderful fun and educational retreat!

Music by The Steep Canyon Rangers used with written permission.

www.steepcanyon.com

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Earthshine Nature Programs is in no way affiliated or responsible for ads that may appear below this line.

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Turtle Tracks and Snake Tracks winter field report and a snakey surprise!

19 Mar

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This is a late winter video report on the status of all the reptiles in the Turtle Tracks and Snake Tracks reptile conservation and education projects currently being conducted by Earthshine Nature Programs.

 

 

In the following video the students and I encounter the unexpected when we find Splinter the Rat snake out of his den basking in the late winter sunshine!

 

 

Wasn’t that amazing!!!

We are gearing up for a great year so please continue following in our Turtle and Snake Tracks by following this blog and better yet, consider a donation to Earthshine Nature Programs today – THANK YOU!

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Thank you all for making the Snake Tracks and Turtle Tracks wildlife conservation projects possible.  Thank you for continuing to support Earthshine Nature Programs over the last seven years.  If the turtles and snakes could speak they would thank you even more than I because due to your support they will in turn be supported through the efforts of science being put to use in the areas of wildlife and habitat conservation.  Thank you also to the land owners in the community where these animals live.  Thank you for taking care of these highly misunderstood but yet oh so important parts of a healthy ecosystem.

The story continues…

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What is Turtle Tracks and Snake Tracks?

Turtle Tracks and Snake Tracks are reptile conservation and research projects occurring at two separate study sites near Lake Toxaway and Dupont Forest in the mountains of western North Carolina, USA. Through the magic of modern technology and a lot of hard volunteer work by a wildlife conservationist and his small crew of volunteers and students, glimpse into the lives of four wild Eastern box turtles, two Rat snakes and two Timber rattlesnakes in their natural habitats. For more detailed info on the project please take a look at our website at:

http://www.earthshinenature.com

Follow us on our blog here at www.earthshinenature.wordpress.com

It is our goal at Earthshine Nature Programs to promote wildlife conservation through our unique, exciting, citizen science based, hands-on education, out-reach programs, and online with our nature videos, blog and website.

What is Earthshine Nature Programs?

Earthshine Nature Programs is a separate entity from Earthshine Discovery Center and Trails Carolina/Academy.  We are a grass-roots, 501c3 non profit and a 100% volunteer operated and donation funded organization. It is our mission to educate you about these beautiful but greatly misunderstood animals and hopefully, to impart to you their beauty, uniqueness and intrinsic value to a healthy Earth, healthy wildlife and healthy humans.

THANK YOU to all of you who have donated to ENP over the years!! Without you, this important reptile conservation and public education work would not happen. If you would like to support Earthshine Nature Programs please feel free to donate by visiting

www.earthshinenature.com/donate

You may also donate supplies such as animal foods, medical supplies, vitamins and habitat supplies just contact us for more information on what supplies we are in need of and how to donate.

Visit our friends at the Earthshine Discovery Center and learn how you and your family, school, scout, corporate or camp group, can visit the Earthshine Discovery Center and have a wonderful fun and educational retreat!

Music by The Steep Canyon Rangers used with written permission.

www.steepcanyon.com

ENPLOGOsm.34263214_std

Earthshine Nature Programs is in no way affiliated or responsible for ads that may appear below this line.

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Rat snake Tracks Field Report for late 2014.

28 Dec

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This is an overdue update on ENP’s newest reptile conservation and research project Snake Tracks: Ratsnake Tracks.  This project is being conducted at The Academy at Trails Carolina by naturalist Steve O’Neil and his natural resource and conservation management and wilderness therapy students as part of Steve’s ongoing reptile focused wildlife conservation citizen science projects.

In Rat snake Tracks we follow in the tracks and trails of two wild adult male Rat snake’s known affectionately as Master Splinter and Apollo.

The first snake in the study is Splinter.  We found him just outside the nature center in the fall of 2013.  Shortly thereafter he was fitted with a radio transmitter, treated for internal parasites, fed lots of yummy mice, and then overwintered in the nature center to await his release in the spring.

In early May of 2014 Splinter was released and radio tracking commenced.

Over the summer Splinter spent most of his time in large, old Oak trees and in and around the buildings on campus.  He frequented attics and crawlspaces of unused and used buildings as well as large, hollow habitat trees.  We believe he is using these areas as foraging, thermoregulating and sheltering sites.

For more on Splinter’s story read my previous blog post.

In mid summer, Steve and his students encountered another large, male Rat snake just outside the nature center.  This snake was named Apollo in honor of the Apollo moon missions, and it was decided that this snake would join Splinter in a multi-year radio telemetry study of their natural movements in the forests surrounding the nature center.

A photo from the day we found Apollo

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In late August Apollo was given a radio transmitter and later released at his capture location.  View Apollo’s transmitter implantation and release in the video below.

If the video does not play try following this link to watch the video on Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zjvVB5EmNdQ

Later in the summer we produced an extended length documentary video following both Splinter and Apollo over the remainder of their active seasons. In this video follow my students and I over several months as we search for and find the snakes high in Oak trees, on the ground, in buildings and bushes, and finally, in hibernation.  Please view the video below for all the details of this fascinating new reptile conservation and citizen science project. 


If the video does not play try following this link to watch the video on Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZSoSTeEP3Yw

Where will Splinter and Apollo go next?

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Follow this blog to stay up to date with the adventures of Master Splinter and Apollo the Rat snakes.

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THANK YOU ALL!

Thank you all for making the Snake Tracks and Turtle Tracks wildlife conservation projects possible.  Thank you for continuing to support Earthshine Nature Programs over the last seven years.  If the turtles and snakes could speak they would thank you even more than I because due to your support they will in turn be supported through the efforts of science being put to use in the areas of wildlife and habitat conservation.  Thank you also to the land owners in the community where these animals live.  Thank you for taking care of these highly misunderstood but yet oh so important parts of a healthy ecosystem.

The story continues…

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What is Rat snake Tracks?

Rat snake Tracks is a reptile conservation and research project occurring near Dupont Forest in the mountains of western North Carolina, USA. Through the magic of modern technology and allot of hard volunteer work by a wildlife conservationist and his small crew of volunteers and students, glimpse into the lives of two wild Ratsnakes in their natural habitats. For more detailed info on the project please take a look at our website at:

http://www.earthshinenature.com

Follow us on our blog here at www.earthshinenature.wordpress.com

It is our goal at ENP to promote wildlife conservation through our unique, exciting, citizen science based, hands-on education, out-reach programs, and online with our nature videos, blog and website.

What is Earthshine Nature Programs?

Earthshine Nature Programs is a separate entity from Earthshine Discovery Center and is a 501c3 non profit. ENP is a 100% volunteer operated and donation funded organization. It is our mission to educate you about these beautiful but greatly misunderstood animals and hopefully, to impart to you their beauty, uniqueness and intrinsic value to a healthy Earth, healthy wildlife and healthy humans.

THANK YOU to all of you who have donated to ENP over the years!! Without you this important reptile conservation and education work would not happen. If you would like to support Earthshine Nature Programs please feel free to donate by visiting

www.earthshinenature.com/donate

You may also donate supplies such as animal foods, medical supplies, vitamins and habitat supplies just contact us for more information on what supplies we are in need of and how to donate.

Visit www.earthshinediscovery.com to learn how you and your family, school, scout, corporate or camp group, can visit the Earthshine Discovery Center and have a wonderful fun and educational retreat!

Music by The Steep Canyon Rangers used with written permission.

www.steepcanyon.com

ENPLOGOsm.34263214_std

Earthshine Nature Programs is in no way affiliated or responsible for ads that may appear below this line.

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Turtle Tracks and Snake Tracks Field Report for October – November 2014

28 Dec

This field report  covers a two month time span between early October and mid November 2014.  In this report I locate all four reptiles currently being followed in the Turtle Tracks and Snake Tracks projects at our Earthshine study site, I replace the radio transmitter on Jimmy Irwin the male box turtle,  locate Catherine and Jimmy nearing and then in their dens,  find both rattlesnakes very close together and then later in their dens, listen to coyotes singing in the distance, install den cameras watching Utsanati, the male snakes’, den entrance in the hopes of getting video of him moving into his den and more.

utsanati9.14.14

Current Status: presently both turtles and both snakes are sleeping the winter away safely in their overwintering dens.  In fact, they are all in the same overwintering locations they have used repeatedly over previous winters.  Catherine and Jimmy the box turtles are only inches away from where they spent the last three winters in a row and they are both within the boundary of what I call their overwintering zones.  These zones are areas contained within a 40 foot radius of the most frequently used overwintering locations.

jimmy9.14.14

The Timber rattlesnakes are also using overwintering sites they have repeatedly used in the past.  Zoe, the female snake, overwintered on the other side of the ridge last year but this year has returned to the exact den site she had used over the winters of 2011-12 and 2012-13.  Utsanati, the male snake, is in the same hibernation zone as in all years previous however, this year he is resting in a new underground location about 25 feet from the den entrance.

It is remarkable to me that these reptiles have the ability to zero in on these same small locations at the same time each year.  The fact that these animals use these same locations each year without much variation also suggests that these habitat locations may be imperative to their very survival.

Although most animals do have differing levels of ability to adapt to changing habitat conditions, I believe that if important habitat sites such as these overwintering zones were to be destroyed or drastically altered, limiting or removing the ability of overwintering by these reptiles, that these animals may in fact adapt in the short run, especially if it was a warm winter.  However, the stresses imposed on them to find and overwinter in a new location in subsequent years and over colder winters may lower their fat reserves, weaken their immune system, and possibly be highly detrimental to their very existence.

zoeonlimb9.14.14b

Many studies have shown that habitat disruption or alteration is beneficial in some ways for many species of wildlife.  For example, with these turtle and snakes it seems that during their active months, and for the turtles the winter months, they frequent the edge habitat created by a wide power line access-way that cuts through the middle of all of their habitats.  This forest opening provides many areas of dense cover for the reptiles to shelter in while resting or foraging.  All four of the reptiles most frequented areas–including the box turtles overwintering locations–fall within or adjacent to the access way’s sunny openings which provide great thermoregulation opportunities as well as a greater biodiversity than the surrounding forests or fields.  This edge habitat in turn supports many different species of plants and animals, many of which are excellent food sources for both the turtles and the snakes.   However, even with the enhanced habitat and resulting good feeding, thermoregulation and overwintering opportunities provided by the edge effect created by the man made power-line access-way, it remains unclear what would happen to these reptiles should their overwintering zones be damaged or destroyed.  In this case I believe the best option for protection and conservation of these reptiles and their habitat is the continued benign neglect of their habitats.  In other words–leave these animals and their overwintering sites alone (except for some occasional non invasive status and population monitoring), and leave nature alone, and it will take care of itself and everyone will be happy.

As in the past I have produced a video documentary of my field work with these reptiles over the later part of 2014.  It is a special extended length 2 part documentary of Turtle and Snake Tracks.  Please join me as I follow the movements of the snakes and turtles as they move closer, and finally into, their winter dens over a two month span of time.

See the videos below for all the details.

Part 1

Part 2

If the videos will not play please try following the links below:

Part 1 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JScFv_sVylM

Part 2 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0VWZQ_OlWtc

zoeonlimb9.14.14a

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About the Turtle Tracks and Snake Tracks wildlife conservation projects.

The reptiles in this wildlife conservation education project are wild animals that live free in the remote forests and surrounding human maintained fields and subdivisions surrounding Earthshine Discovery Center in Lake Toxaway, NC.

The purpose of this study is to learn as much as possible about the natural movements and habitat usage of wild Timber rattlesnakes and Eastern box turtles that live wild yet in and around areas used and manipulated by humans. Results from this study will be used to help conserve and protect these species and their habitats from harm through better land use and management practices, via these Youtube documentaries and blog postings, and through outreach programming in the Western North Carolina, Eastern Tennessee, and upstate South Carolina areas.

Through the magic of modern technology and many hours often taxing volunteer work by a wildlife conservationist and his small crew of volunteers and students, glimpse into the lives of wild reptiles in their natural habitats. For more detailed info on the project please take a look at the ENP website: http://www.earthshinenature.com

Follow us on our blog at: http://www.earthshinenature.wordpress.com

About Earthshine Nature Programs (ENP)

ENP is a 501c3 non profit wildlife conservation and outreach organization that operates as a separate entity from Earthshine Discovery Center. We do we pay ourselves to operate ENP or to conduct wildlife conservation activities. ENP is a 100% volunteer operated and donation funded organization. It is our mission to educate you about these beautiful and greatly misunderstood animals and hopefully, to impart to you their beauty, uniqueness and intrinsic value to a healthy Earth, healthy wildlife and healthy humans.  Please contact us if you are interested in having Earthshine Nature Programs speak to your class, camp, group, festival, or special event.

THANK YOU to all of you who have donated time, supplies, and funds, to ENP over the years!! Without you this important reptile conservation and education work would not happen. If you would like to support Earthshine Nature Programs please feel free to donate by visiting

www.earthshinenature.com/donate

You may also donate supplies such as animal foods, medical supplies, reptile vitamins and habitat supplies just contact us for more information on what supplies we are in need of and how to donate.

Visit our friends at www.earthshinediscovery.com to learn how you and your family, school, scout, corporate or camp group, can visit the Earthshine Discovery Center and have a wonderful fun and educational retreat!

Music by The Steep Canyon Rangers www.steepcanyon.com used with written permission.

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ENP is not responsible for ads that may appear below this line.
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Snake Tracks and Turtle Tracks for September 2014

30 Sep

Today I locate all four reptiles currently being followed in the Snake Tracks project at our Earthshine Discovery Center study site.

utsanati9.14.14

All of the reptiles are gradually moving closer to their overwintering locations.

What I found today

Utsanati: On the surface in a resting coil in the power line access way where I have found him many times before over the last three years (that’s Utsanati above).

Jimmy Irwin: Also in a location where I have found him before–under some bushes a few feet to the east of the leap of faith platform.

jimmy9.14.14

Catherine: In the “Turtle Sanctuary” under some grass in a location where I have found her every year at this time since 2008!

Zoe: I found her in a new location where I have never found her before–she was resting on a fallen limb 3.5 feet off the ground!

zoeonlimb9.14.14b

See the video below for all the details.

If the video will not play try following the link below:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5e3Cp4mZvV0

zoeonlimb9.14.14a

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Turtle Tracks and Snake Tracks are reptile conservation, research and public wildlife conservation and education projects occurring near Earthshine Discovery Center and Dupont Forest in the mountains of western North Carolina, USA. Through the magic of modern technology and allot of hard volunteer work by a wildlife conservationist and his small crew of volunteers, glimpse into the lives of two wild Eastern box turtles, two wild Timber rattlesnakes and two wild Rat snakes in their natural habitats. For more detailed info on the project please take a look at the website at:

http://www.earthshinenature.com

and

Follow us on our nature blog at: www.earthshinenature.wordpress.com

It is our goal at ENP to promote wildlife conservation through our field research and unique, exciting, citizen science based, hands-on education, out-reach programs, and online with our nature videos, blog and website.

ENP is a 501c3 non profit charity. We are not paid nor do we collect a salary to operate ENP or to conduct our wildlife conservation activities. ENP is a 100% volunteer operated and donation funded organization. It is our mission to educate you about these beautiful but greatly misunderstood animals and hopefully, to impart to you their beauty, uniqueness and intrinsic value to a healthy Earth, healthy wildlife and healthy humans.

THANK YOU to all of you who have donated to ENP over the years!! Without you this important reptile conservation and education work would not happen. If you would like to support Earthshine Nature Programs please feel free to donate by visiting

www.earthshinenature.com/donate

You may also donate supplies such as animal foods, medical supplies, vitamins and habitat supplies just contact us for more information on what supplies we are in need of and how to donate.

Visit www.earthshinediscovery.com to learn how you and your family, school, scout, corporate or camp group, can visit the Earthshine Discovery Center and have a wonderful fun and educational all inclusive mountain top retreat!

Music by The Steep Canyon Rangers www.steepcanyon.com used with written permission.

ENPLOGOsm.34263214_std

ENP is not responsible for ads that may appear below this line.
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Turtle Tracks and Snake Tracks for early August 2014

19 Aug

Today I locate all four reptiles currently being followed in the Snake Tracks project at our Earthshine Discovery Center study site.

utsanati8.7.14fed

What I found today

Utsanati: had recently fed and had a very full stomach and was only a few yards from Jimmy Irwin the box turtle!

Jimmy Irwin: was in form bedded down for the night.

Catherine: was also in form bedded down for the night.

Zoe: unknown–I was unable to visually locate her due to thick, thorny vegetation.

See the video below for all the details.

 

 

If the video will not play try following the link below:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WDmRJrkBa-g

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Turtle Tracks and Snake Tracks are reptile conservation, research and public wildlife conservation and education projects occurring near Earthshine Discovery Center and Dupont Forest in the mountains of western North Carolina, USA. Through the magic of modern technology and allot of hard volunteer work by a wildlife conservationist and his small crew of volunteers, glimpse into the lives of two wild Eastern box turtles, two wild Timber rattlesnakes and one wild ratsnake in their natural habitats. For more detailed info on the project please take a look at the website at: http://www.earthshinenature.com

and

Follow us on our nature blog at: www.earthshinenature.wordpress.com

It is our goal at ENP to promote wildlife conservation through our field research and unique, exciting, citizen science based, hands-on education, out-reach programs, and online with our nature videos, blog and website.

ENP is a 501c3 non profit charity. We are not paid nor do we collect a salary to operate ENP or to conduct our wildlife conservation activities. ENP is a 100% volunteer operated and donation funded organization. It is our mission to educate you about these beautiful but greatly misunderstood animals and hopefully, to impart to you their beauty, uniqueness and intrinsic value to a healthy Earth, healthy wildlife and healthy humans.

THANK YOU to all of you who have donated to ENP over the years!! Without you this important reptile conservation and education work would not happen. If you would like to support Earthshine Nature Programs please feel free to donate by visiting

www.earthshinenature.com/donate

You may also donate supplies such as animal foods, medical supplies, vitamins and habitat supplies just contact us for more information on what supplies we are in need of and how to donate.

Visit www.earthshinediscovery.com to learn how you and your family, school, scout, corporate or camp group, can visit the Earthshine Discovery Center and have a wonderful fun and educational all inclusive mountain top retreat!

Music by The Steep Canyon Rangers www.steepcanyon.com used with written permission.

ENPLOGOsm.34263214_std

ENP is not responsible for ads that may appear below this line.
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Ratsnake Tracks Field Report For July-Early August 2014

10 Aug

This is a new update on ENP’s newest reptile conservation and research project Snake Tracks: Ratsnake Tracks.  This project is being conducted at The Academy at Trails Carolina by Steve O’Neil and his natural resource and conservation management and wilderness therapy students as part of Steve’s ongoing reptile focused wildlife conservation citizen science projects.

In Snake Tracks: Splinter’s Tracks we follow in the tracks and trails of a wild adult Ratsnake known affectionately as Master Splinter.  Splinter was found by Steve just outside the nature center in the fall of 2013.  Shortly thereafter Splinter was fitted with a radio transmitter, treated for internal parasites, fed lots of mice and then overwintered in the nature center to await his release in the spring.

In early May Splinter was released and radio tracking has commenced.

Lately Splinter has been spending lots of time in and around the buildings on campus.  He is frequenting attics crawlspaces of unused and used buildings as well as large, hollow habitat trees.  I believe he is using these areas as foraging, thermoregulating and sheltering sites.

Watch the most recent field report videos from Splinter’s Tracks below.

Video Field Report Day 6:  Today we found Splinter on the move and weighed him.

If the video does not play try following this link to watch the video on Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MSJ3URiCo5w

Video Field Report Day 7 and 8: Today we find Splinter in the attic of an old cabin.

If the video does not play try following this link to watch the video on Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L_TdyPC3UWA

Video Field Report Day 9-12: Over these four tracking days we find Splinter moving between several buildings and a large den tree. This is a longer video than most but it is well worth the watch.

If the video does not play try following this link to watch the video on Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7NfJz5ZQQJs

Where will Splinter go next?

Follow this blog to stay up to date with the adventures of Master Splinter the ratsnake.

THANK YOU ALL!

Thank you all for making the Snake Tracks and Turtle Tracks wildlife conservation projects possible.  Thank you for continuing to support Earthshine Nature Programs over the last seven years.  If the turtles and snakes could speak they would thank you even more than I because due to your support they will in turn be supported through the efforts of science being put to use in the areas of wildlife and habitat conservation.  Thank you also to the land owners in the community where these turtles and snakes live.  Thank you for taking care of these highly misunderstood but yet oh so important parts of a healthy ecosystem.

The story continues…

—————————————————————————

Snake Tracks is a reptile conservation and research project occurring near Earthshine Discovery Center and Dupont Forest in the mountains of western North Carolina, USA. Through the magic of modern technology and allot of hard volunteer work by a wildlife conservationist and his small crew of volunteers and students, glimpse into the lives of two wild Timber rattlesnakes and one Ratsnake in their natural habitats. For more detailed info on the project please take a look at the website at: http://www.earthshinenature.com

Follow us on our blog here at http://www.earthshinenature.wordpress.com

It is our goal at ENP to promote wildlife conservation through our unique, exciting, citizen science based, hands-on education, out-reach programs, and online with our nature videos, blog and website.

Earthshine Nature Programs is a separate entity from Earthshine Discovery Center and is a 501c3 non profit. ENP is a 100% volunteer operated and donation funded organization. It is our mission to educate you about these beautiful but greatly misunderstood animals and hopefully, to impart to you their beauty, uniqueness and intrinsic value to a healthy Earth, healthy wildlife and healthy humans.

THANK YOU to all of you who have donated to ENP over the years!! Without you this important reptile conservation and education work would not happen. If you would like to support Earthshine Nature Programs please feel free to donate by visiting

http://www.earthshinenature.com/donate

You may also donate supplies such as animal foods, medical supplies, vitamins and habitat supplies just contact us for more information on what supplies we are in need of and how to donate.

Visit http://www.earthshinediscovery.com to learn how you and your family, school, scout, corporate or camp group, can visit the Earthshine Discovery Center and have a wonderful fun and educational retreat!

Music by The Steep Canyon Rangers used with written permission.

www.steepcanyon.com

ENPLOGOsm.34263214_std

Earthshine Nature Programs is in no way affiliated or responsible for ads that may appear below this line.

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