As a New York State Premier Watchable Wildlife Site and a Bird Conservation Area, chances are good that if you’ve visited the Preserve, you’ve seen seen some of New York State’s rarest wildlife. The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation lists 538 rare/declining species of wildlife as Species of Greatest Conservation Need (SGCN). Thanks to federal funding from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service every state in the Nation has developed a plan for conserving these species and in doing do hopes to maintain their populations at levels that would preclude the need to list many of these animals as threatened or endangered.
So we recently wondered just how many SGCN wildlife species are found in the Albany Pine Bush. The Commission’s Field Ecologist & Environmental Educator, Amanda Dillon, cross checked various wildlife lists for the Pine Bush to answer this question. It turns out the Pine Bush supports 68 SGCN wildlife; that’s 13% of the the statewide SGCN and 44% of the 156 species listed for the 7 million acre Upper Hudson Basin. (The State’s wildlife plan divides the state by major watersheds.)
The good news is that while rare in the state, many of these species are relatively common to down-right abundant in the Albany Pine Bush, and you’ve likely seen some of them. Hognose snakes, prairie warblers, brown thrasher, barrens buckmoth and spadefoot toads are just a few of the species with large populations in the Preserve. The good news gets better considering that Commission science staff are documenting growing populations of some of these animals in managed habitat in the Preserve. Their presence and abundance is a good indication that we are on the right track with meeting our goal of restoring and managing a healthy pitch pine scrub oak barrens ecosystem as described in our Management Plan and in the Law that created the Preserve 25 years ago.
We hope you’ll help us celebrate that history and visit the Preserve and the Discovery Center. You can contact us for the list of Species of Greatest Conservation Need in the Pine Bush. And if you see any of these animals while visiting, please take a photo and post it on our Facebook page or send it to us, so we can continue to monitor the health of one of the best remaining world-wide examples of an inland pitch pine scrub oak barrens.
Neil A. Gifford, Conservation Director