Annual Report 2007-2008 - 14

were found in three hibernacula. The mine at Canoe Creek, site of the state’s largest known population of hibernating Indiana bats, is surveyed biennially and was not on the 2008 schedule. Populations of hibernating bats were stable in surveyed sites. White-nose syndrome (WNS) — a recently described threat to bats — killed tens of thousands of bats in New York and New England hibernacula during the winter of 2007-08. One confirmed WNS site is 2007-08 just 11 miles east of the New York/Pennsylvania border, putting us on the forefront of potential expansion. More than 20 state and federal agencies, universities and research institutions are collaborating to diagnose its cause and limit its spread. The PGC biologist coordinating the commonwealth’s WNS response lead presentations on coordination, funding and assessing population impacts at a regional planning meeting in Albany, New York. In-state efforts included 18 additional hibernacula surveys conducted specifically looking for symptoms of white-nose syndrome. Some bats at three sites had small visible signs of white fungus, but the associated physical signs — daytime flight, loss of fat reserves, mortality — were not found. A grant agreement was submitted to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to support statewide monitoring and detection of WNS and study sites have been established. Focused research will be conducted in 2008-2009 on torpor/arousal patterns during hibernation. Pennsylvania has provided bats to the Cornell and Boston University laboratories and the Center for Wildlife Diseases in Madison, Wisconsin, for investigating varying aspects of WNS research. The range of the threatened Allegheny woodrat is — or was — comprised of the rockier sections of states from southern Connecticut to northern Alabama. The species is now extirpated or declining in over 35 percent of its range due to development and forest fragmentation, loss of a quality mast-producing trees, and a raccoon parasite. Despite their very specific habitat preferences, northern flying squirrels were once found across Pennsylvania’s northern tier. While still common farther north, in Pennsylvania this larger cousin of the familiar and abundant southern flying squirrel is now limited to fewer than a dozen sites in forests with large percentages of conifers. Most sites are in the commonwealth’s rapidly developing northeast corner. At the October 2007 meeting, the Board of Commissioners gave final approval to add the northern flying squirrel to the state’s endangered species list. PGC diversity biologists participate in numerous regional efforts. The Northeast Habitat Classification Project is developing detailed descriptions of habitat features across state boundaries that will become the standard for Wildlife Action Plans (WAP) within the region. In addition to research and population monitoring, a considerable amount of independent work and assistance is provided by regional wildlife diversity biologists assigned to each of the PGC’s six regions. The primary responsibility of these region biologists is the habitat-based Private Landowner Assistance Program, but they have also developed two species-based conservation initiatives. The barn owl is a species of concern that has great management and recovery potential in Pennsylvania. Found around agricultural fields, grasslands and other open areas, these owls often nest in barns, silos and manmade nest boxes because large, dead trees are increasingly difficult to find. Regional diversity biologists launched an initiative focused on assessing foraging, nesting and roosting habitats where barn owls exist (or existed in the past), erecting nest boxes in suitable habitat, and documenting productivity. In 2007, regional diversity biologists made 177 site visits and identified 47 active nests, including the first nest documented in the Southwest Region. One hundred and 14 GAME NEWS

Annual Report 2007-2008

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Annual Report 2007-2008

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