News from the Home Team...       Richard Grzywinski, Chair

October 2006 news 

Stockton student Phil Skipwith has been surveying the snake traps on our property for Herpetological Associates, as part of our response to the Pinelands Commission decision that we needed to perform a full drift fence survey for the northern pine snake. Phil is a junior biology major and an avid herpetologist. The fence is comprised of several hundred feet of reinforced black plastic that is anchored by stakes. Snakes and other animals encounter the fence and are then led into box traps as they try to find a way around. Phil checks the traps every other day, so that any trapped animal is not left there long. Anything caught in the trap is recorded and released. The temperature, wind speed, and weather conditions are also recorded for each visit.

So far, he’s had no finds of any snakes of any species. Our upland oak/pine forest is not considered prime snake habitat.

The UUCSJS is indebted to Phil for agreeing to volunteer his services to Herpetological Associates. We are saving a great deal of money by not having to pay for HA to have a staff person come to our property to do the drift fence checks every other day. In appreciation of his willingness to help out, and consideration of adjustments he has to make to his own schedule, we are gathering a basket of gift certificates and goodies for this hard-working college junior. We are hoping to present him with the basket on October 15 when we visit the site after service.

-- submitted by Jon Luoma

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