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Putney’s Wildlife Habitat and Habitat Connectors

How do fox, deer, fisher, bobcat and other wide-ranging animals move among Putney’s remaining woodlands to find the food, water, shelter and mates they need to survive?
Jens Hilke, Conservation Biologist at the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department, will present a talk on wildlife habitat and habitat connectors in Putney, and throughout Vermont, on:
Thursday, June 27 at 7 pm at the Putney Public Library, (55 Main St.) and again on
Tuesday, July 2 at 7 pm at Pierces Hall (121 E. Putney Falls Rd., off Route 5 north of the village).
The Putney Wildlife Road Crossing Map he will present is the culmination of six years of tracking and data entry by over 40 Putney, Dummerston and Westminster volunteers coordinated by the Putney Conservation Commission (PCC).
First, based on Vermont Fish and Wildlife experience, Hilke and the PCC did a structural analysis of where wide-ranging animals were most likely to cross Putney Putney roads. Road sections with woodland or brush cover on both sides of the road and few or no houses were selected.
Patti Smith of the Bonnyvale Environmental Education Center trained volunteer trackers. Then trackers walk their assigned road section 5 times a winter for at least 3 winters. Most tracked their route for five winters, helping each other out as needed.
“I felt I was contributing to something that would benefit the town, and it was fun!” said Janis Chaillou who tracked South Windmill Hill Road with Phillip Hamilton. “I continue to follow my route and share photos of tracks and information with Phillip and other neighbors.”
Some road sections proved to be more frequently crossed than others. “Sometimes there were so many tracks I could hardly count them,” said Pam Bolduc who tracked Greenhoe/Plowden, a Class 4 road which crosses the Putney/Dummerston line.
After tracking was completed, volunteers entered the location of the thousands of track-sets reported into a master spread-sheet. Hilke combined the PCC’s road crossing data with important habitat areas, identified by Fish and Wildlife, to generate a map showing wildlife habitat and habitat connectivity in Putney.
“Wildlife road crossings are important local connections in our statewide network of habitat and habitat connectivity,” said Hilke. “The work of the Putney trackers is critically important in finding out exactly where these places are so that appropriate planning can take place.”
Maps created by Brian Young, Associate Professor of Science at Landmark College, which show where specific species crossed roads, will also be on display. The PCC has scheduled two different days and places for Hilke’s talk so more people will have the opportunity to attend.