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2015 Connecticut

Wildlife Action Plan

StateofConnecticut
DepartmentofEnergyandEnvironmentalProtection
BureauofNaturalResources

PreparedbyTerwilligerConsultingInc.
for
TheConnecticutDepartmentofEnergyandEnvironmentalProtection
BureauofNaturalResources

DRAFT: 2015 Connecticut Wildlife Action Plan

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
TheConnecticutWildlifeActionPlan(WAP)
presentsatenyearstrategyforkeepingcommon
fishandwildlifespeciescommon.Italsofulfillsa
mandatemakingConnecticuteligibleforfederal
fundingundertheStateWildlifeGrantprogram
(SWG).Thesefundsprovideahistoric
opportunitytoreversethedeclineofwildlife
populationsandthelossofkeyhabitats.
Connecticutswildlifeisremarkablydiverse.
Thereare84speciesofmammals,335speciesof
birds,50speciesofreptilesandamphibians,169
speciesoffish,andanestimated20,000speciesofinvertebrates.Thisdiversityisduetothe
stateswiderangeoflandscapes,waterscapes,andhabitatsfromthecoastalplainandLong
IslandSoundinthesouthtothenorthwesthills.
TheplanaddresseseachofthecriteriarequiredbyCongressunderPublicLaws107063,108
447,and10954.TheselawsprovidefundingandadministrationthroughtheU.S.Fishand
WildlifeService(USFWS),OfficeofFederalAssistanceandStateWildlifeGrantProgram.This
documentisorganizedinamannerthataddresseseachoftheeightrequiredelementsinthe
ordertheyareidentifiedinthelaw.Itpresentsthespeciesofgreatestconservationneed
(GCN),theirkeyhabitats,problems,researchneeds,andconservationactions.TheWAPalso
addresseshowtheDepartmentofEnergyandEnvironmentalProtection(DEEP)willmonitor
effectiveness,coordinatewithconservationpartners,andfosterpublicparticipation.
The2015WAPisthefirstrevisionofthe2005document,formerlyknownasthe
ComprehensiveWildlifeConservationStrategy(nowreferencedasthe2005WAP).Thisrevision
buildsontheknowledgegainedoverthelasttenyears.Since2005,Connecticuthasbeen
involvedwithseveralstate,regional,andnationalprojectstoaddressconservationand
monitoringofGCNspeciesandtheirhabitats.Connecticutalsocollaboratesonthe
conservationandmanagementofspeciesthroughparticipationintheAtlanticStatesMarine
FisheriesCommissionandtheAtlanticFlywayCouncil.Regionally,Connecticuthascollaborated
onalmost50RegionalConservationNeeds,CompetitiveSWG,andNorthAtlanticLandscape
ConservationCooperativeprojectsalonesince2005.Theseeffortsprovidedimportantnew
informationonmanyspecies,includingtheeffectofwhitenosesyndromeonbats,measuresto
increasetheabundanceofNewEnglandcottontails,andconservationactionstorestoreGCN
speciessuchasbluebackherring.AllregionalprojectsaresummarizedintheNortheast
Synthesis(TerwilligerConsulting,Inc.andNEFWDTC2013)andaccessibleonthe
www.RCNgrants.orgwebsite.
The2015WAPwasathreeyearprocessthatinvolvedthereviewofacomprehensiveinventory
ofnaturalresourceinformationandconservationprograms,andincludedconsultationwitha
diversityofstakeholdersinthestate,regionandnation.Informationonthefullarrayofwildlife
andwildlifeconservationeffortsinConnecticutwassolicited,researched,andcompiled.From
thesedata,DEEPBureauofNaturalResources(BNR)staff,theEndangeredSpeciesScientific

DRAFT: 2015 Connecticut Wildlife Action Plan

AdvisoryCommittees(ESSAC),additionaltaxonomicexperts,andconservationpartners
identifiedConnecticutsspeciesofgreatestconservationneed.
Thescopeofthe2005planwasconstrainedtomammals,birds,reptiles,amphibians,fish,and
invertebrates.Itincludedatotalof475species.The2015WAPexpandedtoinclude100species
ofplants,added67animalspecies,whileremoving73birdsandinvertebrates.The2015GCN
specieslistincludes28mammals,95birds,31reptilesandamphibians,73fish,242
invertebrates,and100plants.
InternalandexternalscientificexpertsandstakeholdersassociatedtheGCNspecieswithten
keyhabitatsand54subhabitatslocatedthroughoutConnecticut.Eachofthesehabitatswas
linkedtostandardizedstate,regionalandnationalvegetationclassificationsystems.These
habitats,includingbothterrestrialandaquatic,wereidentifiedasthoseofgreatest
conservationneed.Theyincludeseveraltypesofforest,wetlands,anduniquecommunities
suchassparselyvegetatedareas,caves,coldwaterstreams,andcoastalbeaches.Thelocation,
distributionandconditionofeachofthesehabitatswereresearchedandsummarized.Threats
facingthekeyhabitatsandGCNspeciesalongwithpriorityresearch,surveyandmonitoring
needs,andconservationactionstoaddressthesethreatswerethendevelopedforeachhabitat.
Keypartnershipopportunitiesforimplementation,priorityareasforconservation,proposed
performancemeasuresforeachresearchandconservationaction,andalistofsourcesfor
moreinformationweredevelopedforeachkeyhabitat.
ThemostsignificantthreatstoConnecticutslandandwaterscapesinclude:habitatloss,
degradationandfragmentation,changesinlanduse,andcompetitionfromnonnativeinvasive
species.Otherthreatsincludeinsufficientscientificknowledgeregardingwildlifeandtheir
habitats(distribution,abundanceandcondition),thelackoflandscapelevelconservation,
insufficientresourcestomaintainorenhancewildlifehabitat,andpublicindifferencetoward
conservation.
Toaddressthesethreats,conservationactionsweredevelopedforGCNspeciesandkey
habitats.Connecticutsconservationactionsaddressthreatsatmultiplescales.Forthisreason,
implementationoftheseactionswillbecoordinatedwithkeypartnersincluding:theU.S.Fish
andWildlifeService,U.S.ForestService,NaturalResourcesConservationService,U.S.Army
CorpsofEngineers,theAtlanticStatesMarineFisheriesCommission,TheNatureConservancy,
PartnersinFlight,ConnecticutAudubon,AudubonConnecticut,ConnecticutForestandParks
Association,DucksUnlimited,TroutUnlimited,tribalgroups,watershedgroups,landtrusts,and
manyothers.Theselocal,stateandfederalagenciesaswellastribalpartnerswereaskedfor
inputthroughouttheprocess,andtoreviewthedraftWAP.
MonitoringConnecticutsGCNspecies,theirhabitats,andtheeffectivenessoftheconservation
actionsisimportantandnecessaryinformationforDEEPanditspartners.Itwillallowthemto
determinethemostefficientmethodstoreduceandeliminatethreatsfacingthestatesfish
andwildliferesources.Monitoringisalsonecessarytotrackthesuccessofconservation
actions,ensuringthemostefficientuseoflimitedstaffingandfunds.Thereareseveralnew
toolsforinformationmanagementandconservationplanningtotracktheimplementationand
effectivenessofconservationactions.ExamplesofthesetoolsincludetheNortheastRegional
MonitoringandPerformanceReportingFramework(NEAFWA2008),theStateWildlifeGrants
EffectivenessMeasuresProject(AFWA2012),theNortheastLexiconProject(Crisfieldand
NEFWDTC2013),andtheWildlifeTRACS(TrackingandReportingActionsfortheConservation

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DRAFT: 2015 Connecticut Wildlife Action Plan

ofSpecies)systemoftheU.S.FishandWildlifeServicesWildlifeandSportFishRestoration
(WSFR)Program.Connecticutseffectivenessmonitoringframeworkstartswithaspecific
conservationaction,andthentheactionislinkedtorelevantthreats,habitatsandspecies.
Next,indicatorsandmeasuresareselectedforeachstep,andmonitoringdataareusedtotrack
andpopulatethoseindicators.Takentogether,themeasurementsoftheseindicatorswill
providetheessentialinformationneededforevaluatingtheeffectivenessofconservation
actions.Conservationactionswillberefinedornewactionswillbedevelopedbasedupon
whethertheoriginalactionswereeffective,asintended,inaidingthestatesGCNspeciesand
habitats(i.e.,adaptivemanagement).Inadditiontotheseadaptations,theWAPwillundergoa
completerevieweverytenyears.
PipingPloverExample:Toillustratehoweachof
theeightrequiredelementswasappliedtoa
GCNspecies,thepipingplover(Charadrius
melodus)isusedasanexample.BNRstaff,the
EndangeredSpeciesScientificAdvisory
Committee(ESSAC),andotherpartnersassessed
theabundanceanddistributionoffaunain
Connecticut,identifyingGCNspeciesbasedon
thecurrentscientificinformation(Element1).
ThepipingploverwasidentifiedasaGCNspecies
followinganevaluationofitsstatus,abundance
anddistributioninthestate,andexistingconservationeffortsthathaveidentifieditasahigh
priorityspecies.ThebreedingpopulationofpipingploverfoundinConnecticutisfederally
threatened,statethreatened,globallyrankedasG3(VulnerabletoExtirpation),andstate
rankedasS1B(CriticallyImperiledBreedingPopulation).Furthermore,theInternationalUnion
forConservationofNature(IUCN)classifiesthepipingploverasVulnerable,theU.S.Shorebird
ConservationPlanasHighlyImperiled,theNorthernAtlanticRegionalShorebirdPlanasHighly
Imperiled,andtheSouthAtlanticMigratoryBirdInitiativeasapriorityspecies.Asaresult,the
pipingploverwasrankedasMostImportantintheWAP.FollowingitsproposalasaGCN
species,thepublicwasinvitedtoprovidecomments(aswithallGCNspeciesandkeyhabitats)
throughtheDEEPwebsiteandotheroutreachefforts(Element8).
Thepipingplovernestswithintwocommunitytypesthatwereidentifiedaskeyhabitats:
CoastalDunesandIntertidalBeaches,FlatsandShores(Element2).Thesehabitatsare
restrictedtocoastalareasandassucharerelativelyrareinConnecticut.CoastalDuneswere
foundtobeingoodtofaircondition,aswereIntertidalBeaches,FlatsandShores.
Connecticutspipingploverpopulationisthreatenedbyhabitatlossanddegradationfrom
developmentandnaturalprocesses,nestpredationandharassment,andhumandisturbanceof
nestingareas(Element3).Theconservationofbreedingpopulationsofpipingploverthrough
habitatprotection,restorationandenhancementwasidentifiedasapriorityconservation
action(Element4).Conservationactionsneededtoaddressthesethreatswerethen
determined,andincludedusingfencesandotherbarrierstoreducenestpredationandrestrict
accesstonestsitesfrommidAprilthroughearlyAugust.Bymonitoringtheimplementation
anddegreeofsuccessofthisconservationaction,DEEPanditspartnerswillbeabletoquantify
theperformancemeasuresforeachthenumberofknownbreedingpairsbasedonaregional
annualsurveyandthenumberofhabitatareasprotected(Element5).Monitoringdatawill

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DRAFT: 2015 Connecticut Wildlife Action Plan

provideadditionalinformationnecessarytoassessthestatusandconditionofthepiping
plover.Thesedatawillalsocontributetoregionalandnationalconservationeffortsinwhich
Connecticutisapartner,suchastheUSFWSPipingPloverRecoveryPlan,U.S.GeologicalSurvey
BreedingBirdSurvey,InternationalShorebirdSurvey,AtlanticCoastJointVenture,Northern
AtlanticRegionalShorebirdPlan,andtheU.S.ShorebirdConservationPlan(Element7).An
annualassessmentofthemonitoringresultsforpipingploverswillprovideinformationon
whethertheconservationactionsareincreasingthenumberofpipingplovernestsornest
productivity(Element6).Ifthestatusandconditionofbreedingpipingploversshowno
significantimprovement,conservationactionscanthenbeappropriatelymodified(adaptive
management).TheDEEPmay,forexample,intensifyhabitatprotectionmeasures.
Alternatively,DEEPmayfocuseffortsonkeysitesorpromotecooperativeprojectswith
partnersifalackoffundslimitstheintensificationoftheconservationefforts(Elements1,3,5
&7).Byapplyingthisadaptivemanagementapproach,afeedbackloopbetweenmonitoring,
conservationactionsandmanagementobjectiveswillbeestablished(Elements15).Asimilar
processwasappliedtoallGCNspeciesthroughoutthisdocument.
Tofurtheraidthereader,theWAPincludessectionsentitledGuidetotheWAPElements
whichidentifiesthechapters,tables,figuresandappendiceswherepertinentinformationcan
befoundthataddresseseachoftheeightrequiredelementsandGuideto2015WAP
Changes,whereanarrativeofmajorchangestotheWAParediscussed.

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