Blanding's Turtle Working Group
Blanding's Turtle Working Group Plans
The Northeast Blanding’s Turtle Working Group (NEBTWG) was formed in February, 2004 when the New Hampshire Nongame and Endangered Wildlife Program hosted a meeting of state, federal, university, and non-governmental organizations to share information, assess the status of the Blanding’s turtle in the Northeast, foster state and federal cooperation, identify common priorities, and develop a plan for the conservation of this species.
In 2007, with funds from a Science Support Partnership Program grant from U. S. Geological Survey Biological Resources Division and U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the NEBTWG, conducted a Status Assessment of the Northeast population of the species, led by Brad Compton. The assessment concluded that due to natural demographic vulnerability and proximity to urban areas, northeastern Blanding’s turtles are threatened by habitat loss and elevated adult mortality rates and it recommended immediate action to conserve the species in the region.
In 2011, the NEBTWG received funds from the US Fish & Wildlife Service Competitive State Wildlife Grants Program to develop a conservation plan for Blanding’s Turtle and associated wetland dependent species of greatest conservation need in the Northeast region. This grant is coordinated by the NH Fish and Game Department. As part of this effort, the five states in the Northeast Region in which Blanding’s turtles occur (Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, and Pennsylvania) are working to:
- Develop and implement standardized monitoring protocols for Blanding’s turtle across the Northeast Region. Results of the sampling will be used as a baseline assessment against which to assess the success of our conservation actions and as a means of identifying high density sites as priorities for conservation. To date we have sampled over 100 sites across the 5 sites.
- Assess genetic diversity of the species across the Northeast Region, and use this information to identify distinct and diverse sites for conservation.
- Map and rank Blanding’s turtle sites across the Northeast Region and use landscape characteristics in conjunction with population information to assess long-term viability and prioritize sites for conservation
- Develop 15 site specific habitat management plans
- Implement specific conservation actions including: installing turtle crossing signs at Blanding’s turtle road crossing hotspots and creating or augmenting nest habitat at key sites
- Develop a comprehensive conservation plan for the species in the Northeast Region that identifies priority sites and parcels for conservation, determines explicit management and other conservation actions to be undertaken to improve the outlook for the species in the region, establishes conservation benchmarks to assess progress, and outlines a plan for assessing those benchmarks using the regional sampling protocol designed by the group.
The Conservation Plan will be completed in June 2014. For more information on this effort visit: www.northeastturtles.org.