St. Marks Wildlife Refuge protects endangered speices

Published: Sep. 20, 2021 at 12:05 AM EDT
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) -At St. Marks Wildlife Refuge, visitors will hear birds chirping in the trees and see salamanders crawling along the forest floor. One of those birds, the red cockaded woodpecker, considered endangered since the 1970s. St. Marks has been protecting the population by tracking and relocating birds.

“We can move birds from one refuge or natural forest or military installation to another location and that helps to build better, more genetically robust populations.” Chloe Dubben, a biological technician at the St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge explained.

Biologists also work with frosted flatwood salamanders, collecting larva and eggs and growing them in artificial tanks.

“We set up these tanks for them and we bring the young larva in and we raise them in there so that they’re safe from predators or they’re safe from desiccation if the pond dries up.” Dubben described.

Once old enough to leave the ponds, the salamanders are released into the wild. The work, going on for decades, is finally paying off.

“The woodpeckers are doing great and they’re actually under review to be down listed from an endangered species to a threatened species so that’s really good news from the population.” Dubben stated.

But the salamanders are under review to be up listed on the endangered species list. Proving that while there are success stories, there’s still much to be done.

“We have our highs when we have a good year and we raise a lot of salamanders and release them all back in the ponds we have lows when we have years that have disease that causes us problems and a lot of our larva die.” Terry Peacock, the Refuge manager for the St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge said.

Caring for the creatures that call Wakulla county home, one critter at a time.

If you’d like to help the St. Marks Wildlife Refuge protect northern Florida’s endangered species, they’re asking for donations to their support group, the friends of St. Marks Wildlife Refuge.

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