EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

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April 23, 2013

On the hunt

Public asked by Fish and Game to record amphibian, reptile sightings

The New Hampshire Fish and Game Department is worried about the future of several species of reptiles. They’re enlisting the help of the public to help find them.

The department is asking people to submit sightings of reptiles and amphibians to help track those populations.

“Our primary goal is to develop a baseline for where the populations are at,” said Mike Marchand, wildlife biologist at New Hampshire Fish and Game. “We want to evaluate where the best remaining places where certain animals might live.”

Marchand said around 250 people sent in sightings last year. The department has an online form on its website which allows people to upload photographs and provide information about the species and the location. A biologist then reviews the photos and matches them with a species.

“We are trying to fill in the gaps in certain locations,” he said. “We want to know where each species are located and the types of habitats they frequent. Those can then determine which sites could be appropriate for sampling.

The department has received more than 9,000 reports of sightings since the program started in 1992. They received 448 reports last year, up from 392 in 2011.

The department is looking specifically for endangered species. Southern New Hampshire residents should be on the lookout for the gray-and-black marbled salamander, which is on the state’s most critical list of endangered species. None were found in New Hampshire last year.

“It’s a very rare species,” said Leo Kenney, president of the Vernal Pool Association, an independent environmental protection group based in Reading, Mass. “But I could see them being found around Southern New Hampshire near the Massachusetts border.”

Another species which Marchand asks residents to watch for is the Eastern hognose snake. There were eight reports of the species last year, some very close to this area.

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