1) Wildlife Live Cam Project
WWRA will be providing funds for the installation of a live cam inside one of the Wood Duck nesting boxes at the Visitor Center.
The camera will be mounted in the box and powered by a solar panel. The image will be transmitted to the Visitor Center where it will be shown on a flat panel television.
If this is successful, the project may be expanded to other nesting boxes in and around the Visitor Center and Observation Building.
The initial project should be up and running by fall.
2) The Invasive plant species project
Invasive plant species are here, both on the refuge and in the Alabama countryside. Your Wheeler Refuge Wildlife Association is responding to the challenge!
On behalf of the association, board members April Waltz and Don Collier applied for a public education grant from ALIPC (the Alabama Invasive Plant Council) last spring. They received $1000 to promote education on invasive plant species at the Wheeler Refuge Visitor Center.
The specific goal of this grant is to educate refuge visitors about the invasive plant species found on the Refuge with emphasis on those found around the Visitor Center.
The grant will provide funds to publish a brochure with information on ten to twelve invasive species with pictures, history, ecology and management techniques used for control.
We are also supplying ongoing information in our quartly newsletters.The November 2009 issue focused on three invasive species: kudzu, Cherokee rose, and Chinese privet. The Janruary newsletter introduced three additional invasive species: bamboo, English ivy and nandina.
3) The Alabama Bat working group project
The Alabama Bat Working Group was formed in February 2009 to bring together individuals, organizations, and agencies interested in conserving the state's bat species. In summer 2009 the group formed a committee known as the Alabama White-nose Syndrome (WNS) Management Team to develop a management strategy for this fungal pathogen and its deadly effects. WNS has killed up to 100% of hibernating bats in some caves in the Northeast and has been spreading rapidly south since 2006. It is currently found as far south as northeastern and northcentral Tennessee.
The Alabama WNS Management Plan is nearing completion. It has five broad objectives, including slowing the spread of WNS in the state's bat populations, expanding surveillance and monitoring efforts, conserving genetic diversity of all bat species, developing and implementing a communications strategy, and obtaining the permits and resources needed for plan implementation. Chairs/Co-chairs of five subcommittees which will oversee implementation of the objectives have been designated. In addition, the team plans to use volunteers to help with implementation. Assistance will be needed with summer and winter monitoring programs and in other ways once specific action plans have been developed.
The Wheeler Wildlife Refuge Association (WWRA) is assisting with the effort by accepting donations for management of WNS in Alabama. Checks can be sent to the WWRA at P.O. Box 239, Decatur, Alabama 35602. Please write "WNS" on the subject line to earmark funds for this purpose. Possibilities for use of the funds include purchasing supplies to gather genetic samples for research and banking; buying equipment and supplies for monitoring bat populations; and developing educational materials regarding WNS, bats, and the cave/karst ecosystem.