Grey fox
Have you seen a grey fox, like the one above, on Long Island lately? If so, the state would like to hear from you (U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service).

Calling explorers of Long Island’s great outdoors: New York State is asking the public for help surveying the region’s furry mammals as a part of a new program to document local wildlife.

The state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) is crowdsourcing its nature poll on LI and in New York City of seven species that often prove elusive: Gray fox, river otter, weasel, mink, skunk, coyote and beaver.

“Citizen science efforts provide our wildlife managers with valuable data and give people the opportunity to partner with DEC to help monitor New York’s wildlife resources,” DEC Commissioner Joe Martens said.

The effort is a more open-ended version of likeminded volunteer “bio blitz” flora and fauna surveys that have recruited the public in Nassau County over the years.

When someone spots one of the seven species the state is interested in learning more about, the DEC asks that observers write down the physical description, location, type of habitat and take a picture—even if the animal is dead.

The data can be uploaded to the DEC website here.

The DEC is not interested in reports of common species such as red fox, raccoons, muskrat and opossum.

For more information on how to tell the difference, visit their website, or call the DEC’s Region 1 wildlife office at 631-444-0311.

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Timothy Bolger is the Editor in Chief of the Long Island Press who’s been working to uncover unreported stories since shortly after it launched in 2003. When he’s not editing, getting hassled by The Man or fielding cold calls to the newsroom, he covers crime, general interest and political news in addition to reporting longer, sometimes investigative features. He won’t be happy until everyone is as pissed off as he is about how screwed up Lawn Guyland is.