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CONTACT:
Mike Marchand: (603) 271-3016
Jane Vachon: (603) 271-3211
March 30, 2010

Amphibian and Reptile-watching Volunteers Needed
Milk Snakes and Blanding's Turtles Top RAARP Reporting for 2009


CONCORD, N.H. – The New Hampshire Fish and Game Department has released new data on reptile observations made in the state during 2009 through the Reptile and Amphibian Reporting Program (RAARP).  Last year, 259 people submitted 607 reports to the RAARP program of reptiles and amphibians they found throughout the state. Among the most common reported species were: Blanding’s turtles (73 sightings) milk snakes (55 sightings) wood frogs (35 sightings) spotted salamanders and Eastern newts, which tied with 28 reported sightings each.

Blanding’s turtles, an endangered species in New Hampshire, may have been highly reported because of media publicity regarding this species, according to Michael Marchand, a biologist with Fish and Game's Nongame and Endangered Wildlife Program. Their large size and movement patterns, which make them visible in residential areas and along roadsides, may also have been factors. Milk snakes are frequently misidentified as rattlesnakes and are therefore commonly reported to Fish and Game.

Herpetology – the study of reptiles and amphibians – is a fun and easy way for people of all ages to get outside and connect with nature. Since 1992, the Nongame and Endangered Wildlife Program at the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department has coordinated a volunteer-based program through which people report sightings of reptiles and amphibians found throughout the state. In all, a total of 8,208 records have been collected since the RAARP program began.
“The Reptile and Amphibian Reporting Program, or RAARP, has been a very useful tool for gathering species information in New Hampshire,” said Marchand. “The information people provide helps biologists determine the distribution of species in the state. Verified reports of rare species are quite helpful in identifying where existing populations are located and in assessing conservation actions.”

This year, biologists are asking RAARP volunteers to help fill in gaps in the data for several seldom-seen reptiles and amphibians. “There are several species that we only get 1 or 2 reported sightings for each year,” said Marchand.  Priorities for documentation this year include: Fowler’s toads, Northern leopard frogs, mudpuppy salamanders, blue-spotted and Jefferson salamanders, Eastern box turtles, musk turtles, wood turtles, spotted turtles, Blanding’s turtles, Eastern hognose snakes and black racer snakes. Fish and Game provides lots of information to help you know what you're seeing and how to report it; information about these species and others, including descriptions, habitats and regions in the state where they may occur, can be found on the reptile and amphibian pages of the Fish and Game website at www.wildnh.com/Wildlife/Nongame/reptiles_amphibians.htm.

Participating in the RAARP program can be as simple as looking under rocks and logs in your back yard. "One of the great things about it is that you can find reptiles and amphibians almost anywhere," said Marchand. "All observations, from common to rare species, are helpful."

Information on the RAARP program, including how to get involved, plus the complete 2009 report summary, is available at www.wildnh.com/Wildlife/Nongame/reptiles_amphibians.htm or call Fish and Game's Wildlife Division at 603-271-5859 and request a RAARP volunteer information package.

Additional information available on the Fish and Game website includes:

  • Species identification pages for New Hampshire's turtles, salamanders, snakes and frogs;
  • Distribution maps of where species have been reported on a town-by-town basis;
  • Forms for reporting RAARP observations (by mail or email) to N.H. Fish and Game;
  • Field techniques and other guidance on identifying and photographing reptiles and amphibians in the wild.

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.

In May, June and July, listen for gray tree frogs as they begin to call, and look for snakes and turtles basking in the sun. Turtle nesting season extends from late May through early July, which provides good opportunities to view them as they travel across roads and through residential areas to breeding areas and back again.

Keep in mind that RAARP reports with photographs and specific locations are the most useful to N.H. 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/nongame.

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.

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