Taconic Tri-State Audubon: Keeping an eye on owls, falcons, finches

This bald eagle was spotted nesting in Pownal in 2014. The bald eagle has seen a significant and steady population growth since 2006, and will likely be delisted by the state as endangered.

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MONTPELIER — The Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department will hold a public hearing on Tuesday, on several changes to Vermont’s Endangered and Threatened Species Rule on behalf of the Agency of Natural Resources.

The in-person public hearing will begin at 6:30 p.m. at the Pavilion Auditorium, 109 State St. In addition to the hearing, public comments regarding the proposed changes can be emailed until Oct. 13 to anr.fwpubliccomment@vermont.gov.

The proposed changes of listing, delisting and critical habitat designations in Vermont’s Endangered and Threatened Species Rule include:

• Designate Aeolus Cave in Dorset as critical habitat. It has been recognized as a bat hibernaculum since the mid-1900s. It is the largest hibernaculum in New England. It contains listed bats and has many listed little brown bats. Thousands of bats come here from all over the Northeast. It is owned by The Nature Conservancy, and it supports the designation. The proposal includes a 115-meter or about 125-yard radius critical habitat area around the cave entrance that overlays the underground portions of the cave system.

• List rue anemone as endangered. There are two populations in Vermont and fewer than 100 reproducing individuals in Vermont. It meets a secondary criterion of being in danger of exploitation or threatened with disturbance.

• Delist Canada black snakeroot. Up to 14 populations occur at least partially on protected conservation land. This species is sufficiently abundant, not at risk, and therefore proposed to be delisted.

• Brook floater status change from threatened to be endangered. Surveys indicate that this freshwater mussel has experienced a severe population decline in Vermont. This species is only known to occur in a single river in Vermont. The brook floater is one of the most endangered freshwater mussels in northeastern North America. 

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• List the American bumble bee as endangered. This grassland species that nests above ground has not been documented since 2000 in spite of bee survey work in Vermont. Drastic declines have been documented in portions of the range. The American bumble bee was not found at historic locations during a recent two-year bee atlas effort. The Vermont decline occurred in the 1980s. 

• List the Eastern meadowlark as threatened. Estimates of population declines for the eastern meadowlark are based on data from the "North American Breeding Bird Survey and Vermont’s Breeding Bird Atlas." The former suggests a 95 percent population decline over the last 40 years. The latter shows a 55 percent decrease in distribution over the last 25 years.

• Delist the bald eagle. Vermont has seen a significant and steady population growth of bald eagles since 2006. 

• Designate three small, rocky state-endangered common tern nesting islands in Lake Champlain as critical habitat. 

• Designate four state-threatened spiny softshell turtle nesting beaches as critical habitat. 

Also recommended for listing is Houghton’s sedge as endangered, with only a single known location in Vermont.

Additional information about proposed changes to Vermont’s Endangered and Threatened Species Rule can be seen on Vermont Fish and Wildlife’s website at vtfishandwildlife.com.

Adam Samrov can be reached at asamrov@benningtonbanner.com or on Twitter @banner_sports


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