Connecticut's State Wildlife Action Plan (SWAP) is our plan for keeping common species common. The plan identifies 'Species of Greatest Conservation Need' (SGCN), their key habitats, and actions to managing their populations. UConn students are participating, so can you. To find out how, click here.
Researchers on this project include Dr. Tracy Rittenhouse, Center-Affiliated Assistant Professor of Wildlife.
State funding for non-game wildlife research comes from the federal State and Tribal Wildlife Grants program. In 2013, Connecticut received $477,284. However, as home to 84 mammals, 335 birds, 49 reptiles and amphibians, 168 fishes, and 20,000 invertebrates, this funding leaves a critical shortage of resources for management and conservation action for everything from bats to salamanders. Public participation in the SWAP is a crucial element to successful management and funding for this diversity of species. To help tap this potential, students in Dr. Tracy Rittenhouse's Graduate Wildlife Management course are working with Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) to increase public awareness and participation. By developing interactive social media for the SWAP, the students are engaging the public in Connecticut's wildlife conservation efforts.
Most exciting is the potential for social media to faciliate data collection. The first product of the collaboration was the creation of a State Wildlife Action Plan twitter page. Residents across CT can tweet @CT_SWAP pictures of SGCN species they encounter. Dr. Rittenhouse's class will be developing methods to use the time and location data associated with smartphone pictures sent via twitter to spatially reference documentation of these species.
The Wildlife Division facebook page has also been updated with SWAP related content. This will include descriptions and pictures of SGCN 'species of the month', and announcements about opportunities to participate in the revision of the plan. An increased social media presence will allow DEEP to efficiently reach new segments of the public interested in wildlife conservation by providing accessible information about the State Wildlife Action Plan and ways to get involved.
For instance, the interactive nature of social media can facilitate partnerships with conservation organizations and private citizens in working towards habitat conservation goals outlined in the plan. With the majority of land in Connecticut held as private property, participation of these stakeholders is an integral part of efforts to document and preserve critical habitats.
The ultimate goal of the State Wildlife Action Plan is to keep common species common, preventting the myriad environmental, economic and political ramifications of adding a species to the federal Endangered Species list. To this end, public participation in Connecticut's plan will help to provide effective and expanded conservation of the state's fish and wildlife.
Follow the new CT Wildlife Twitter page and for more information about the action plan and wildlife conservation efforts in Connecticut like the CT DEEP Fish and Wildlife Facebook page. Don't forget to tweet pictures of YOUR wildlife sightings pictures @CT_SWAP with #CTSGCN!