DNR, Wildlife Division Latest News & More…..



 SOCIAL CIRCLE, Ga. (April 26, 2016) – More than 200 bald eagle nests have been documented in Georgia for the second straight year, according to the state Department of Natural Resources.

Aerial surveys started in January and finished this month counted 201 occupied nesting territories, 149 successful nests and 240 young fledged. Those totals are slightly lower than last year’s 210 territories, 170 successful nests and 270 fledglings, survey leader Bob Sargent said.

Yet 2015 marked the first time since surveys began that the statewide nest count topped 200, and Sargent, a DNR Nongame Conservation Section program manager, suggested that the difference between 201 and 210 nesting territories is negligible. “We have data since 1978, and there were several years where the upward trend briefly leveled out or dropped slightly.”

Despite this year’s dip, the overall trend still points upward for the national bird in Georgia.

Mirroring a comeback across the species’ range, bald eagles have rebounded in Georgia, going from no known nests in 1970 to nests this year in at least 63 counties, from Camden to Walker. Factors feeding the recovery included a U.S. ban on DDT use in 1972, habitat improvements following enactment of the federal Clean Water and Clean Air acts, protection through the Endangered Species Act, increased public awareness, restoration of local populations through release programs, and forest regrowth.

“Parts of the state have nests where you wouldn’t expect them,” Sargent said, referring to sites far from the coast, reservoirs or rivers where the fish-eating raptors tend to concentrate.

But there are areas of concern, he said. Along the Savannah River reservoirs, for example, nest totals are lower than expected. A likely culprit is avian vacuolar myelinopathy, or AVM, a neurological disease deadly to coots and bald eagles. Research led by the University of Georgia is trying to assess the impact at Clarks Hill Lake, or J. Strom Thurmond Reservoir, an AVM hotspot. As recently as 1998 there were 8 nesting territories recorded at this reservoir.

Sargent also noted the unexpected downside of an increased eagle population, such as more birds being hit by cars as the eagles, mostly sub-adults, eat roadkill, and incidents of eagles being shot. Although de-listed from the U.S. Endangered Species Act in 2007, bald eagles are protected by the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act, the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, and state law.

The public is encouraged to let DNR know about any eagle nests they find by reporting them online (www.georgiawildlife.com/conservation/eaglenest), by phone (478-994-1438) or by email ([email protected]). These reports often lead to undocumented nests. DNR works with landowners to help protect those on private property. One tip: Ospreys and their nests are sometimes confused with eagles’, so if not sure, check out the differences online.

Sargent also explained that eagle nesting pairs and their young do not represent an actual count of all bald eagles in Georgia. Considering that it takes eagles at least five years to reach adulthood, and even then many won’t nest for one to three years, “There are likely at least twice that many more eagles in the state, especially in the late-fall and early winter months when northern birds migrate south,” he said.

The surveys are part of the DNR Nongame Conservation Section’s mission to conserve nongame wildlife – native animals not legally hunted or fished for – and native plants and natural habitats.

The resurgence of bald eagles is supported in part by Georgians who buy or renew a wildlife license plate – the bald eagle and ruby-throated hummingbird designs. These plates cost only $25 more than a standard state license plate and $19 of each purchase and $20 of each annual renewal goes to conserve the hundreds of Georgia plant and animal species listed as species of conservation concern. Learn more at www.georgiawildlife.com/conservation/support. See how that support is put to workwww.georgiawildlife.com/conservation/AnnualReport.

Occupied eagle nest territories: 201 (28 percent more than the most recent 10-year average)

  • Successful nests: 149 (81 in 2006)
  • Young fledged: 240 (125 in 2006)
  • Counties with active nests: 63 (62 in 2015)
  • Lead nest counties: Chatham, 22; Decatur, 19; Camden­, 13; Glynn, 10, McIntosh, 10; Liberty, 7
  • A wetter than normal winter may have slowed the start of nesting in 2016, especially in north and southwest Georgia. “There were 16 eagles still incubating eggs during the second round of flights (March 15-April 8),” with half of those nests in southwest Georgia, according to DNR’s Bob Sargent.



Wildlife Resources Division contact:

Tim Keyes, Youth Birding Competition coordinator – (912) 262-3191; [email protected]


SOCIAL CIRCLE, Ga. (April 27, 2016) – Another Georgia Youth Birding Competition, another birding record.

The 11th annual competition held last weekend set a new high for bird species seen or heard by a team, while also adding to the event’s legacy of spurring an appreciation of birds among youth ages 4 to 18.

About 100 searched the state for birds during the 24-hour contest held Friday through Saturday by the Georgia Wildlife Resources Division, part of the Department of Natural Resources. Two 16-year-olds from Gwinnet County, the Eagle Maniacs, were the overall winners with 170 species, three more than the top count last year, the previous record.


“The bar just keeps rising,” said competition coordinator Tim Keyes, a wildlife biologist with DNR’s Nongame Conservation Section.


John Deitsch of Duluth and Jon Robbins of Alpharetta raised the bar this year by weathering a Friday evening storm on Jekyll Island and a late-night drive that allowed them to bird north Georgia hotspots such as Kennesaw Mountain early the next morning.

Both are longtime participants in the competition. Robbins said he enjoys birding for the variety of species, colors and calls. Deitsch agreed. “Every time you go out, you see something different.”

The event included participants of different skill levels and as many as 10 first-time teams. There was also a T-shirt art contest that drew 163 entries. Birders turning in their species checklists Saturday were given shirts featuring an Anna’s hummingbird drawn and painted by Anna Zhu, 14, of Alpharetta, an eighth-grader at SKA Academy of Art and Design in Duluth. Zhu’s artwork was the grand-prize winner.

In another part of the competition, teams raised $1,679 for conservation, a voluntary part of the event that pushed the 11-year total past $20,000. The Chaotic Kestrels, a high school team, led with $1,162. With the money raised, teams chose to sponsor the Race4Birds Foundation, Nongame Conservation Section, The Environmental Resources Network, or TERN, and the Jekyll Island bird banding station.

The Youth Birding Competition is aimed at cultivating an interest in birds and conservation. Sponsors include TERN, friends group of DNR’s Nongame Conservation Section; Georgia Ornithological Society; and, the Atlanta and Albany Audubon societies. The event’s reach is being multiplied by Race4Birds (www.race4birds.org), a foundation that is helping spread the Youth Birding Competition concept.

Running from 5 p.m. Friday to 5 p.m. Saturday, this year’s event ended with a wildlife program and awards banquet at Charlie Elliott Wildlife Center near Mansfield. Teams, divided by age group, used as much of the 24-hour period as members wanted to count bird species in the state.

Four division winners in the T-shirt art contest were chosen beforehand and the art of native Georgia birds displayed at the banquet. Zhu’s entry led the middle school category. Winning entries are posted in the “2016 YBC T-shirt Art Contest Winners” album at www.flickr.com/photos/wildliferesourcesdivision.

The Youth Birding Competition and T-shirt Art Contest are free. The 2017 event is set for April 29-30.

DNR’s Nongame Conservation Section works to conserve Georgia’s rare and endangered wildlife, as well as other animals not legally hunted or fished for, plus native plants and natural habitats. The agency depends largely on grants, direct contributions and fundraisers such as sales and renewals of the bald eagle and hummingbird license plates.

Visit www.georgiawildlife.com/conservation for more information, or call Nongame Conservation offices in Social Circle (770-761-3035), Forsyth (478-994-1438) or Brunswick (912-264-7218).

The Environmental Resources Network, or TERN, is a nonprofit advocacy group that supports nongame conservation in Georgia. Details at http://tern.homestead.com.


High school division

  1. Eagle Maniacs (170 species), and overall competition winner
  2. (tie) Chaotic Kestrels and Florida Scrub Jays (168 species)

Middle school division

  1. Wood Thrushes (155 species)
  2. Beautiful Bluebirds (69 species)
  3. BBQ Chickens (68 species)

Elementary school division

  1. Amazing Anhingas (65 species)
  2. Kingsley Cardinals (60 species)
  3. Audubon Adventures (54 species)

Primary school division

  1. Bufford Bluebirds (33 species)
  2. Wild Redbirds (23 species)
  3. Rock Star Red-tailed Hawks (16 species)

FUNDRAISING (division leaders)

  1. Chaotic Kestrels, high school division and overall top fundraiser, raising $1,162.
  2. Wood Thrushes, $367 – middle school division
  3. Bufford Bluebirds, $130 – primary division

Fundraising for conservation is voluntary.

TOP ROOKIE TEAMS (first-year teams)

Primary – Bufford Bluebirds (33 species)

Elementary – Audubon Adventures (54 species)

Middle school – Ugly Ducklings (56)


  • Primary division: blue jay by Karla Frankova of Duluth, 8, second-grader at SKA Academy of Art and Design in Duluth.
  • Elementary: yellow-rumped warbler by Sophia Cheng of Duluth, 10, fifth-grader at SKA Academy of Art and Design.
  • Middle school and grand prize: Anna’s hummingbird by Anna Zhu of Alpharetta, 14, eighth-grader at SKA Academy of Art and Design.
  • High school: eastern bluebird by Mya Odum of Conyers, 16, 11th-grader at SKA Academy of Art and Design.

Art contest division winners received $50 gift cards to Michael’s. The grand-prize winner received a $100 gift card to Michael’s, and the artwork was featured on the 2016 Youth Birding Competition T-shirt.




For more information, contact:

Melissa Cummings, Communications/Outreach Specialist: 706.557.3326; [email protected]





MANSFIELD, Ga. (April 27, 2016) –Let your child explore their “wildness” learning about wildlife at a Charlie Elliott Wildlife Center summer camp.  Camps accommodate ages 7-16 and offer everything from birding and wildlife activities, to shooting, to learning camping and survival skills.


Camps are targeted to the age of the camper, so activities, hours of the camp, and learning materials and information is appropriate in order to help engage and educate that particular participant.


Day camps for younger kids include Charlie’s Trackers and Wildlife Rangers.  Overnight camps include Camp TALON (Teen Adventures Learning Ornithology and Nature), Outdoor Adventure Team Challenge, Wild and Wonderful Garden Club Camp and Shooting Sports Camp.  More information about activities that take place at each camp found at www.georgiawildlife.com/charlieelliott/camps.

To get to CEWC, take I-20 to Exit 98. Travel south on Highway 11, go through Mansfield and continue three miles south to the entrance at Marben Farm Road on the left.

For more information, visit www.georgiawildlife.com/CharlieElliott/camps , or call 770-784-3059.


For more information: Stephanie Vatalaro, 703-778-5156, [email protected]



Funded initiatives focus on sustainable ways to increase fishing license sales and boat registrations through R3 efforts


ALEXANDRIA, VA (April 27, 2016) – The Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation (RBFF) today announced the 2016 grantees of its State Innovative R3 Program Grants. A total of over $118,000 has been granted to five state agencies to help fund programs that focus on increasing fishing license sales and boat registrations in ways that can be replicated throughout the country utilizing methods for recruiting, retaining and reactivating (R3) anglers and boaters.


Grants Overview:

A new mobile fishing application will be developed by the Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) that will help anglers find fishing access points, identify fish, record their catches in a fishing journal and more. This app will be used as a tool to engage anglers and assist them in having more successful and memorable fishing experiences. CPW will be able to communicate with the fishing community through the app and will also be able to track user downloads and data to compare it to license sales history.

“We’re excited to help Colorado anglers have more successful and memorable fishing opportunities, as well as providing a new avenue of communication with Colorado’s fishing community,” said Bob Broscheid, Director of Colorado Parks and Wildlife.


The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) will work to increase high school participation in fishing teams and clubs across Florida with a particular focus on counties with high Hispanic compositions. Working with the FLW Foundation and Student Angler Federation, FWC will focus on the Hispanic community in establishing new and growing existing high school angling teams. At the same time, they will provide students and families with important conservation and boating safety education.


“We are committed to helping Florida’s families and youth fully enjoy healthy outdoor activities such as fishing and boating,” said Nick Wiley, Executive Director of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. “Participating on a high school fishing team is a great way for teenagers to learn more about conservation and boating safety. We are grateful for this opportunity to expand high school fishing within our highly-diverse communities of Florida.”


The Georgia Wildlife Resources Division is increasing their R3 efforts by enhancing their online Georgia Outdoor Map with additional information and features to increase public participation, and help retain existing participants, in recreational angling and boating. The map is a web-based application that identifies outdoor recreational opportunities on DNR-managed properties including state parks, wildlife management areas, public fishing areas, boat ramps and historic sites. The enhanced map will include a link to the mobile-friendly license and registration purchasing website, and targeted messages will encourage license purchase or upgrade.


Dan Forster, director of the Georgia DNR, Wildlife Resources Division said, “Our goal is to improve how we provide customers information about recreational opportunities. We will use these grant funds from RBFF to improve how we provide the information. As a result, Georgiaoutdoormap.com will be even more user friendly, and anglers will be able to find where to fish near them on any internet capable device.”


Emerging digital strategies will be explored by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) who will also develop a partnership with the Iowa Tourism Office to promote fishing as a ‘leisure activity of choice’ for Iowa families. Utilizing the branding and imagery of the Travel Iowa campaign, the program will focus on a joint website with a landing page featuring Iowa-specific information on how to take a family fishing trip, where to go, and most importantly a “buy your license” button which will track visitors through license purchase.


“We are excited to partner with the Iowa Tourism Office and the RBFF to expand fishing participation,” said Chuck Gipp, Iowa DNR Director. “We hope this unique approach will introduce more Iowa families to fishing and the outdoors.”


Angler recruitment events will be taken to the next level by the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission (NGPC) by working to sell on-site permits to Family Fishing event participants, and collect data that allows the tracking of, and marketing to, program participants. When data is collected at an event, NGPC will be able to introduce participants to the mobile permit system, validate contact information, track recruitment and retention of participants through permit sales and program attendance, and continue communication with participants after the event. With this project, NGPC’s goal is to increase license sales at events and accurately be able to evaluate and refine their recruitment efforts.


“Nebraska Game and Parks is pleased to partner with RBFF to use technology in a way that gets families excited about fishing together,” said Jim Douglas, Director of NGPC. “This grant will also help us collect feedback to improve our family fishing programs and to measure the value of our recruitment efforts – both of which are invaluable.”


Now in its second year, the 2016 State Innovative R3 Program Grants were selected from 27 proposal submissions, which were reviewed by RBFF staff and a Proposal Review Working Group made up of industry Board members, Federal agency and NGO representatives. For information on the 2015 program grantees, including case studies, please visit the RBFF Resource Center.


“We’re excited to see the results of these pioneering initiatives,” said RBFF President & CEO, Frank Peterson. “The impact of these programs on fishing and boating participation, and ultimately the funding they will help provide for conservation efforts, will have a lasting effect on our industry and we hope that these programs will be replicated by other agencies across the country.”

More information on RBFF’s R3 programs can be found online.


About the Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation (RBFF)
RBFF is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to increase participation in recreational angling and boating, thereby protecting and restoring the nation’s aquatic natural resources. RBFF developed the award-winning Take Me Fishing™ and Vamos A Pescar™ campaigns to create awareness around boating, fishing and conservation, and educate people about the benefits of participation. Take Me Fishing and Vamos A Pescar help boaters and anglers of all ages and experience levels learn, plan and equip for a day on the water. The campaign websites, TakeMeFishing.org, and VamosAPescar.org, feature how-to videos, information on how to get a fishing license and boat registration, and an interactive state-by-state map that allows visitors to find local boating and fishing spots.

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