DOVER (Oct. 30, 2014) – Over the next year, DNREC’s Division of Fish & Wildlife and its conservation partners will work with wildlife experts and other key stakeholders throughout the state and region to develop the 2015 Delaware Wildlife Action Plan, a comprehensive plan to conserve wildlife and natural places. Investing in and implementing the plan will help conserve wildlife and protect their habitat for the benefit of current and future generations.
The Wildlife Action Plan will assess Delaware’s wildlife and natural landscape, identify the challenges they face, and outline actions needed for conserving them over the long term. Wildlife status is often an early indicator of environmental degradation that can affect humans, so proactive conservation can benefit both wildlife and people.
By updating Delaware’s plan, DNREC’s Division of Fish & Wildlife also qualifies for matching funds from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s State Wildlife Grant Program, which was established in 2000 to support conservation of non-game species and their habitats. Every 10 years, each state must revise its plan to conserve wildlife species of concern before they become rarer and more costly to restore and conserve.
“The intent is to keep rarer species from becoming endangered, and to keep common species common,” said Division of Fish and Wildlife Director David Saveikis. “This is one of the most important ways the Division of Fish and Wildlife can conserve species in an efficient and cost-effective manner.”
The revision process involves reassessing and prioritizing species and habitats and identifying opportunities for conservation action, as well as threats to fish and wildlife, including those most species vulnerable to habitat loss or degradation and climate change. Input from the public, wildlife partners and stakeholders is encouraged throughout the revision process for the Wildlife Action Plan.
“This plan will address the effects of climate change and sea level rise on wildlife species and their habitats, and the actions identified will help set the stage for increasing climate change resiliency,” said Delaware Wildlife Action Plan Coordinator Kevin Kalasz. “Scientists, hunters, anglers, conservationists and other stakeholders in the business and agriculture sectorswill work together to develop workable conservation actions to address or alleviate these threats and effectively conserve Delaware’s valuable wildlife resources.”
Delaware’s ecosystem supports thousands of vertebrate and invertebrate wildlife species, from its scenic Delaware Bay coastline to its upland and wetland forests. Included in this incredible natural diversity is a suite of mammal, bird, reptile and amphibian, fish and invertebrate species of greatest conservation need (SGCN). These species depend on many different key habitat types throughout the state.
Last spring, the Division of Fish & Wildlife hosted the Delaware Wildlife Action Plan Kickoff at the St. Jones Reserve, where more than 30 wildlife specialists from the state, private and not-for-profit sectors came together to discuss criteria for SGCN selection and identify conservation actions to address threats.
“The Delaware Wildlife Action Plan is not just a plan for DNREC and the Division of Fish and Wildlife, but a plan for the citizens and organizations that have an interest in species and habitat conservation and management,” said Wildlife Section Administrator Rob Hossler. “To ensure that key species of greatest conservation concern are included in the final plan, we are seeking input from scientific experts, public and private stakeholders and nongovernmental organizations.”
Over the next year, experts from these sectors will compile updated information on species and habitats to identify key actions needed to serve as a blueprint for statewide wildlife conservation actions. Additional meetings and ongoing website updates will continue to seek ideas and feedback on the Wildlife Action Plan. Draft sections of the plan will be available for public comment as they are completed, and a final draft of the full plan is expected to be available for review in the fall of 2015.
To review the Delaware Wildlife Action Plan, or to stay updated on the revision process, visit Delaware Wildlife Action Plan. The deadline for public comments on the SGCN list is Saturday, Nov. 15. Comments can be submitted by email to DEWildlifeActionPlan@gmail.com or by regular mail to Kevin Kalasz, Species Conservation and Research Program at 4876 Hay Point Landing Road, Smyrna, DE 19977.
DNREC is committed to preserving the quality of Delaware's environment, maintaining the health and safety of its residents, and protecting the natural systems upon which life depends. DNREC’s Division of Fish and Wildlife’s mission is to ensure that the freshwater, marine and wildlife resources of the State of Delaware will be conserved and managed for equitable and sustainable use.