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Projects and Programs

Got Bats? Promoting Bat Conservation through Human-Bat Conflict Resolution

Zoom in Bat house installation. Photo credit: Amanda Bevin
Kathleen Kerwin and Rafael Valentin installing a bat house in Piscataway, NJ.

Bats are often thought of as nuisance animals because they are commonly found roosting in manmade structures where they can produce large piles of guano (bat feces), get caught in living spaces, and pose a rabies risk. However, bats provide an essential ecosystem service by consuming night-flying insect species, including mosquitoes and agricultural pests. When homeowners perform a bat exclusion, which prevents bats from entering back into their home or other manmade structure, the evicted bats are forced to find new suitable roosting habitat. The Rutgers Wildlife Conservation and Management Program founded the Bat House Distribution Program in 2012, which provides free bat houses to property owners who are getting an exclusion performed on their property, to provide alternate roosting habitat for evicted bats. If property owners are not performing an exclusion but still want to install a bat house on their property, we sell and install bat houses for a reasonable fee. Since 2012, we have installed over 68 bat houses throughout New Jersey on residential properties, farms, farmer’s markets, churches, commercial properties, and a historic cemetery. Learn more about bat house installation guidelines, and contact us for pricing and availability. We ask anyone receiving a bat house from our program to enroll in ‘Project Bat Watch’ so that we can evaluate the success of the bat houses; once a year, we will send an email asking you to check for signs of an active colony. Please see our Wildlife Info and Resources page for more information on bat conservation.

Floodplain Restoration and Open Space Planning to Increase Community Resiliency – Woodbridge Township, NJ.

Zoom in Bat house installation. Photo credit: Kathleen Kerwin
Justin Martinez assesses survival of native trees and shrubs planted as part of reforestation efforts within the Woodbridge River floodplain.

The Wildlife Conservation and Management Program is collaborating with Woodbridge Township on floodplain restoration and open space design in neighborhoods that were severely impacted by Hurricanes Irene and Sandy. In 2014, Woodbridge Township proactively sought to increase the resiliency of its municipality, successfully securing funds through the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection Blue Acres Program to purchase ~200 flood prone properties located within the Township's floodplain. The primary objectives of this initiative were to protect the safety and health of Township residents by encouraging homeowners to relocate permanently to higher elevation areas, and to restore the natural function of the floodplain to promote storage and infiltration of stormwater in appropriate areas, particularly during significant storm events. Working closely with the Township, we developed restoration strategies for transforming flood-prone urban residential areas into community open space and natural habitats, resulting in improved flood storage potential and passive recreational opportunities. The goal is to strengthen community resiliency against storms, improve conservation value of these areas, and create low-maintenance strategies to ensure long-term persistence of public open space. Since 2016, we have assisted the Township in removing of ~1 acre of impervious cover, planting ~1,000 native trees and shrubs, and seeding ~3 acres of warm-season grass/wildflower meadow. The work has earned a 2017 Merit Award in Landscape Planning and Analysis from the NJ Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects and the 2017 Outstanding Floodplain Management Award from the New Jersey Association of Floodplain Management.

Restoration of Beach-nesting Bird Habitat - Barnegat Light, NJ

Zoom in Image of Barnegat Light beach with the Lighthouse. Photo credit: Brooke Maslo.
Habitat restoration area at Barnegat Light, NJ

Historically, the beach along the Barnegat Inlet supported nesting populations of several beach-nesting birds of conservation concern. An approximately 5,600-ft long rock jetty stabilizes the inlet to the north and has halted the natural coastal dynamics typically associated with inlet beaches. Prevention of aeolian sand transport and wave scour has promoted the formation of large dunes and dense vegetative cover, significantly reducing the quality of the habitat for breeding beach-nesting birds. The site has supported, on average, 1-2 nesting pairs of federally endangered piping plovers (Charadrius melodus), and American oystercatchers (Haematopus palliatus) for the last decade. However, based on the site’s proximity to the Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge, as well as its large spatial extent, Barnegat Light has great potential to support additional birds, if restored. The Wildlife Conservation and Management Program as partnered with the Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey to develop a habitat restoration plan for Barnegat Light to maximize the availability of suitable nesting substrate and create high-quality foraging resources. The plan includes a characterization of the existing conditions within the project area, including hydrology, soils, and a detailed set of recommendations for ecological interventions, highlighting invasive plant control, grading plans, vegetation modification, and substrate amendments. In 2017, we managed ~6 acres of invasive Asiatic sand sedge (Carex kobomugi) at the site, and we are currently working with the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, NJ Endangered and Nongame Species Program, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to secure funding to project completion.

Wildlife Outreach and Education – Statewide

Zoom in Image of Barnegat Light beach with the Lighthouse. Photo Credit: Brooke Maslo
Brian Schumm leading a 'Bat and Moth' game with kindergarteners from Byram Lake Elementary School.

The Wildlife Conservation and Management Program is committed to providing wildlife-focused outreach and educational programming geared toward both adults and children throughout New Jersey. Since 2016 we have delivered over 35 programs, reaching almost 900 people. Our audience groups include animal control officers, Boy/Girl Scouts of America, Master Gardener Association, pest control companies, public school children, non-profits, and the general public. One of our most popular programs called the "Bat Walk" includes a lecture component plus a short walk at dusk using special bat acoustic detectors that can record and identify the species of bat flying overhead in real-time. We also offer 60 minute lectures geared toward adults, focusing on NJ ecology, creating backyard wildlife habitat, and bat ecology in NJ. In addition, we have developed bat-focused programming that is perfect for summer camps or school events, which can be adapted to a wide range of ages (kindergarten–8th grade). Please contact us for more information.

Wildlife Monitoring at Former Environmental Remediation Site – Burlington, NJ

Zoom in Image of Barnegat Light beach with the Lighthouse. Photo Credit: Brooke Maslo.
Kevin Aagaard installing a nest box at a restoration site in Burlington, NJ.

Since 2014, The Wildlife Conservation and Management Program has been conducting wildlife and vegetation monitoring at a former environmental cleanup site in Burlington, NJ. Upon environmental remediation, the 5-acre site was converted to warm-season meadow and the perimeter planted with native trees and shrubs. We installed avian nest boxes and a bat roost box at the site and monitor occupancy annually. We also perform seasonal monitoring of birds, bats, insects and vegetation, and we generate summary reports for the landowners. Our work was critical in the site achieving Wildlife Habitat Council Conservation Certification.