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Volunteers Needed to Help Keep Track of Imperiled Wildlife

By Staff | Feb 10, 2011

RUTHVEN – It’s Saturday morning by the river where a volunteer has binoculars trained on the tallest tree in the vicinity. In this tree is a one-ton nest, home to two bald eagles and their young. Are there two or three young in that nest? Hard to tell and a follow up visit will be needed; in the meantime, notes are taken and a peaceful half-hour is spent watching one of the most spectacular birds in North America.

This volunteer was trained through Iowa Department of Natural Resources’ Volunteer Wildlife Monitoring Program (VWMP). The state is big, the species are many, and the staff to monitor these species are few; volunteers are really crucial to ensure that these species remain stable. Every March and April, DNR staff travel around the state leading six training workshops, readying folks to collect data on some of Iowa’s critical wildlife. Participants in these workshops have begun a journey to become Certified Volunteer Wildlife Monitors and will be intrinsically involved in wildlife conservation in Iowa.

Locally, a Bird Nest Monitoring Workshop for observing Raptors and Colonial Waterbirds, will be held on Saturday, Mar. 5, at the Lost Island Nature Center, north of Ruthven, from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Anyone interested in being a Bald Eagle Nest Monitor must attend a training session. Raptors and Colonial Waterbirds (herons, egrets, night-herons, and cormorants) are targeted because of their role as top predators and their dependence on particular habitats. Volunteer monitors should have some tech savvy and computer and web access.

Each year an army of volunteers helps the DNR keep an eye on these important resources. The Volunteer Wildlife Monitoring Program provides an opportunity for adults who love the outdoors and wildlife to be directly involved with the conservation and monitoring of Iowa’s resources.

Each workshop requires pre-registration and a $10 registration fee pays for training materials, a meal, subscription to a bi-annual newsletter, a bird identification guide, and certification costs. For more information and to obtain a registration form, go to www.iowadnr.com/wildlife/diversity/vwmp.html or contact Stephanie Shepherd, 515-432-2823, ext. 102, stephanie.shepherd@dnr.iowa.gov.