Mike Marchand: (603) 271-3016
Jane Vachon: (603) 271-3211
March 23, 2009
READY, SET, RAARP! Volunteer Observers Needed
2008 Report of the Reptile and Amphibian Reporting Program
CONCORD, N.H. -- With spring comes your chance to get involved in reptile and amphibian conservation by taking part in the Reptile and Amphibian Reporting Program (RAARP). RAARP is a volunteer-based activity, part of the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department's Nongame and Endangered Wildlife Program, in which people report sightings of reptiles and amphibians to help biologists determine the distribution of species in New Hampshire. All observations, from spotted salamanders to spotted turtles, will help!
The full report of 2008 observations made by RAARP volunteers has just been released and can be seen at www.wildnh.com/Wildlife/Nongame/reptiles_amphibians.htm. 2008 was a record-setting year for RAARP. More than 200 volunteers submitted a total of 774 reports of reptile or amphibian sightings. This information is entered into a database maintained by Fish and Game; a grand total of 7,565 records of reptile and amphibian sightings throughout New Hampshire have been recorded since the program started in 1992.
The Reptile and Amphibian page of the Fish and Game website, www.wildnh.com/Wildlife/Nongame/reptiles_amphibians.htm has everything you need to get started as a RAARP volunteer, including:
- Species identification pages for New Hampshire's turtles, salamanders, snakes and frogs -- with descriptions photos and town distribution maps. You can even listen to and learn the different frog calls;
- Forms for reporting RAARP observations (by mail or email) to Fish and Game;
- Field techniques and other guidance on identifying and photographing reptiles and amphibians in the wild.
You can also call N.H. Fish and Game's Wildlife Division at 603-271-5859 to request a RAARP volunteer information package to be mailed to you.
Then hit the field, swamp, pond, or wetland and see what you can find! "Participating in the RAARP program can be as simple as looking under rocks and logs in your back yard for frogs, snakes and salamanders," said Mike Marchand, a wildlife biologist for the Nongame and Endangered Wildlife Program. "One of the great things about it is that you can find reptiles and amphibians almost anywhere."
You can hear Mike Marchand talk about the RAARP program and how you can get involved by tuning in to the March 2009 Fish and Game podcast. Just go to http://blog.wildnh.com.
Verified reports and photographs of reptiles and amphibians provided by the RAARP program help biologists at Fish and Game determine where species live in New Hampshire, assess changes in where species live over time, and develop conservation strategies for reptiles and amphibians including those considered to be less common. Since the completion of the N.H. Wildlife Action Plan, land protection and other projects have been prioritized, in part based on key reports of wildlife from RAARP participants. Recently, the Nongame Program has initiated surveys for marbled salamanders, Blanding's turtles, hognose snakes and timber rattlesnakes, and plans are in the works to do pilot surveys for black racers this spring.
So, ready, set RAARP! March and April are great times to get out, listen to wood frogs and spring peepers and maybe even find spotted salamanders as they emerge from their underground wintering sites, move down woodland slopes and reach vernal pools to court and lay eggs.
In May, June and July, look for snakes basking in the sun and turtles crossing roads or traveling through residential areas. Turtle nesting season extends from late May through early July, reaching its peak in early June. Female turtles may travel several hundred meters or more, seeking a sandy or other well-drained area that is open to sunlight and appropriate nesting habitat.
Keep in mind that RAARP reports with photographs and specific locations are the most useful to Fish and Game.
RAARP is one of many programs of N.H. Fish and Game's Nongame and Endangered Wildlife Program; learn more about the Nongame Program at www.wildnh.com/Wildlife/nongame_and_endangered_wildlife.htm.
The New Hampshire Fish and Game Department is the guardian of the state's fish, wildlife and marine resources and their habitats. Visit www.wildnh.com.