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Skip Navigation LinksDNREC : Division of Fish & Wildlife : Wildlife Species Conservation & Research Program : Wildlife Species Conservation & Research Program Projects (WSCRP)

 Wildlife Species Conservation & Research Program Projects (WSCRP)

Piping Plover ProgramPiping Plover - photo by Richard Kuzminski
The Piping Plover Program monitors and protects breeding areas of piping plovers in Delaware. Currently, the only site in Delaware where piping plovers breed is at Cape Henlopen State Park. The program also uses volunteers to help educate visitors to the park about the natural history of the piping plover and to explain the importance of respecting the areas of the park that have been closed to protect breeding plovers from human disturbance.
For more information, contact Henrietta Bellman at 302-735-3612 or 

Bat Research and MonitoringBig Brown Bats - photo by Gary Cooke, DNREC
Bats in North America have been facing an unprecedented disaster. A disease called White-nose Syndrome is reducing some bat species to mere fragments of their previous numbers. A fungus associated with the disease appears to be causing bats to awaken from hibernation often enough to deplete their winter fat reserves, resulting in their premature death. Although Delaware doesn't have any large hibernacula where this disease is likely to thrive, many of our sumer bats migrate from affected areas and our bat populations ill be impacted. Biologists have been conducting surveys to determine how this crisis will impact Delaware's bats and to help in the effort to control the disease. You can help by volunteering to assist biologists with counting bats!
For more information, contact Holly Niederriter at 302-735-8670 or

Bog Turtle - photo by Bill Langworthy, DNRECBog Turtles
The bog turtle (Glyptemys muhlenbergii) is a small, semi-aquatic turtle that inhabits freshwater wetland habitats that have soft muck and pedestal vegetation. Unfortunately, the species is in trouble due to loss of habitat, wetland alteration and illegal collection for the pet trade. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service listed this species as threatened under the Endangered Species Act in 1997. The Delaware Wildlife Species Conservation & Research Program has been monitoring bog turtles since 1992 and monitors known sites to keep track of population status and surveys new habitats to see if bog turtles are present. The Division of Fish & Wildlife also works with landowners with bog turtle habitats to encourage bog turtle populations by maintaining optimal vegetation and habitat quality. Any observations should be reported.
For more information, contact Nate Nazdrowicz at 302-735-8688 or

Delmarva Fox SquirrelDelmarva Fox Squirrels
Delmarva fox squirrels inhabit older growth woodlands with open understories (not much vegetation at ground level) and closed canopies (trees keep most sunlight from hitting the forest floor). Habiat loss is believed to be the primary reason this species is listed as endangered, but over-hunting in the 19th and 20th centuries may have also contributed to their decline. The Delaware WSCRP is monitoring the two known Delmarva fox squirrel populations in Delaware - one at Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge and one at the Nanticoke Wildlife Area. Biologists are surveying for new populations and possible expansions of the current populations. They are also working on a plan to increase the distribution of the species in Delaware to make them a more common species. 
For more information, contact Holly Niederriter at 302-735-8670 or

Delaware Amphibian and Reptile AtlasGreen Frog - photo by Lynne Staub, DNREC
The Delaware Amphibian and Reptile Atlas is a 5-year survey (2018-2022) to document the distribution of Delaware’s amphibians and reptiles. Volunteers can submit photographs or audio recordings of observations to an online database or through a mobile app. Data will be used to map the current distributions of amphibians and reptiles and to establish a baseline for determining future changes in distribution.

For more information, Nate Nazdrowicz at 302-735-8688 or

Operation Terrapin Rescue

Diamond-backed terrapins at Port Mahon need your help! Female terrapins at Port Mahon, located in Kent County along the Delaware Bay, face several challenges as they attempt to nest each year in early summer. Not only must they cross a road to get to their nesting habitat, but they must also navigate rock piles that prevent erosion of the road due to rising sea levels. Unfortunately, a combination of vehicle strikes and getting trapped in the rocks has led to increased mortality of terrapins. Until a permanent solution can be implemented, we have launched Operation Terrapin Rescue to minimize these human impacts on the terrapin population.

For more information, contact Nate Nazdrowicz at 302-735-8688 or

Red Knots and Horseshoe Crabs - photo by Kevin Kalasz

Delaware Shorebird Project
The Delaware Shorebird Project works to protect migratory and nesting shorebirds through the implementation of the Delaware Shorebird Conservation Plan. A major emphasis is monitoring migratory shorebirds while they stop over in the Delaware Bay on their way to their Arctic nesting grounds. This short stopover is critcal for their successful migration as they are completely dependent on the abundance of horseshoe crab eggs - their primary food source. The goals of the Delaware Shorebird Project are to gain a better understanding of population dynamics, habitat use, and the overall health and condition of shorebirds. Data collected is used to help make horseshoe crab harvest regulations and to identify and implement shorebird conservation actions.

For more information, contact Henrietta Bellman at 302-735-3612 or    

Delaware Breeding Bird Atlas DE Breeding Bird Atlas
The 2nd Delaware Breeding Bird Atlas (BBA) is a five year survey of all birds that nest in Delaware. Volunteers survey and monitor all nesting birds in Delaware between 2008 and 2012 to assess distribution across the state, repeating a similar survey completed between 1983 and 1987. Delaware is divided into 265 "atlas blocks" (each approximately 10 square miles) and volunteers apply breeding codes to bird observations to indicate the level of confidence that a species is breeding. Data are collected and reported to the USGS/Patuxent Wildlife Research Center's BBA Explorer Program

For more information, contact Audrey DeRose-Wilson at 302-735-8667 or  

Delaware Osprey Monitoring and InformationOsprey - photo by Chuck Fullmer
The Citizen Osprey Monitoring Program allows volunteers to assist with data collection by monitoring osprey platforms and nests near their home or workplace. All data is analyzed by WSCRP Program staff and adds to a better understanding of osprey arrival dates, nest success and other aspects of osprey biology in the state. This knowledge also enhances the state's surveys and supports conservation decisions for ospreys. 

For more information, contact Audrey DeRose-Wilson at 302-735-8667 or 

Interested in installing an osprey nest platform? Click here for osprey nest platform placement guidance.

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