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CONTACT:   
Pamela Hunt, N.H. Audubon: phunt@nhaudubon.org, 603-224-9909, ext. 328
Ellen Macneil, N.H. Fish and Game: 603-271-2461
May 19, 2010
     
News Media: High-resolution photos are available by request; contact phunt@nhaudubon.org

volunteer with clubtail dragonfly
Volunteer with clubtail dragonfly. Pam Hunt photo

Volunteers Needed for Dragonfly Survey; Training Offered in May/June; Statewide Project Entering Fourth Year

CONCORD, N.H. -- Spring came early to New Hampshire in 2010, and on April 14 a NH Audubon volunteer drove the point home by finding several emerging dragonflies called Hudsonian whitefaces at a wetland in Brentwood – a full two weeks earlier than any dragonfly had been recorded in the state in the past. By May 7, more than 20 dragonfly species had been found, including documentation of the state-endangered ringed boghaunter at two new sites.

These finds are part of the New Hampshire Dragonfly Survey, a joint effort of the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department, NH Audubon and UNH Cooperative Extension. The goal of the survey is to improve our knowledge of dragonfly and damselfly distributions in the state, especially those species of conservation concern as designated in the N.H. Wildlife Action Plan. When completed in 2011, the survey will serve as a baseline against which future environmental changes can be measured.

“Prior to 2007, there had been no systematic effort to collect data on dragonfly distribution in New Hampshire,” said Pamela Hunt, of NH Audubon, who coordinates the survey. “In the first three years, we’ve added several significant records, including two new species for the state. The state dragonfly species list now stands at 162, and there is still potential for a few new additions."

Volunteers are needed to help with the survey, especially in New Hampshire's North Country. If you'd like to get involved, sign up for one of three volunteer training workshops, which will be held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on the following dates/locations:

  • Friday, May 28: McLane Center, Concord
  • Saturday, June 5: Grafton County Cooperative Extension, Haverhill
  • Friday, June 18: St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Lancaster

A brochure/application is available on the fish and Game website at www.wildnh.com/Wildlife/Nongame/dragonflies.html. Those interested in learning about dragonflies are welcome to attend, although the focus is on training volunteers to help in the survey project. Workshop participants will learn basic dragonfly biology, issues in dragonfly conservation, and the project's goals and survey protocols. Weather permitting, afternoon time will be spent in the field to learn capture and identification techniques. The workshop fee of $30 covers the cost of materials, including a field guide to identifying dragonflies and damselflies (or $10 without the field guide). For more information, contact Dr. Pamela Hunt at N.H. Audubon at phunt@nhaudubon.org or 603-224-9909, ext. 328.

“Volunteer citizen scientists are a critical component of this survey,” said Emily Brunkhurst, a biologist for the N.H. Fish and Game Department's Nongame and Endangered Wildlife Program.  Fish and Game funds the project, recognizing the need for better data on the state’s insect populations.  “In fact, volunteers have been responsible for finding four new sites for the endangered ringed boghaunter in the last two years,” Brunkhurst said.  This rare dragonfly is currently known to occur in just 11 towns in the state, all in the heavily populated southeast, where its scarce habitat may be at risk.

One of those new sites was discovered on May 4, 2010, by volunteer Dennis Skillman of East Kingston. Skillman, a longtime birder and nature photographer, joined the survey ranks in 2008. “The more you learn, the more you want to know,” said Skillman.

“It’s addicting!” adds Robert Shea of Atkinson, who, along with fellow volunteer Warren Trested, was with Skillman for the boghaunter discovery. The three are already planning a strategy for 2010, seeking out new and exciting wetlands, going over species lists and refreshing their identification skills.

There are two years to go in the N.H. Dragonfly Survey, and the focus is shifting to the northern part of the state, where there are limited recent data. “Although there are lots of old data from the north, some of those records are over 30 years old, and it will be important to revisit many locations to determine the current status of these northern species,” notes Hunt, who will be canvassing Coos County for new and existing volunteers.

New Hampshire Audubon is an independent statewide membership organization whose mission is to protect New Hampshire's natural environment for wildlife and for people. It operates four nature centers throughout the state that provide educational programs for children and adults. It is also involved in statewide conservation research and wildlife monitoring projects, protects thousands of acres of wildlife habitat, and advocates for sound public policy on environmental issues. For information on New Hampshire Audubon, including membership, volunteering, programs, and publications, call 603-224-9909, or visit www.nhaudubon.org.

The N.H. Fish and Game Department's Nongame and Endangered Wildlife Program, established in 1988, is the steward for the state's nongame wildlife -- species not hunted, fished or trapped. Through wildlife monitoring and management, plus outreach and education, the Nongame Program works to protect over 400 species of mammals, birds, reptiles, and amphibians, as well as thousands of insects and other invertebrates. The program works in cooperation with other New Hampshire wildlife agencies and organizations to develop and implement effective conservation strategies to protect and enhance this diverse group of wildlife.  Visit www.wildnh.com/nongame.

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