Georgia Outdoor News

Nearly-beached manatees and almost-trashed sea turtles: Two close calls for coastal wildlife made headlines last month.
On July 18, the falling tide trapped six manatees – likely males chasing a female – in a large runnel, or tidal pool, on Jekyll Island. No problem: The big mammals settled into the shallow water and mud and some even napped until next high tide set them free, said Trip Kolkmeyer of DNR's Wildlife Conservation Section.
Almost a week later, a housekeeper at Admiral’s Inn on Tybee Island found six live loggerhead hatchlings in a trash can in one of the hotel's rooms. Thanks to her prompt action, five of the federally threatened turtles were returned to the surf by the Tybee Island Marine Science Center (video). The sixth will be kept at the center for outreach until it turns 2.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is investigating. Spokesman Dan Chapman told the Savannah Morning News the agency had no comment, adding, "Beyond that, it’s never a good idea for citizens to mess with wildlife.”
DNR tweeted “Please don’t touch sea turtle hatchlings. Never hesitate to call a game warden at 800-241-4113.”
Georgia sea turtle nesting and hatching updates.
Loggerhead hatchlings (DNR)
Rescued loggerhead hatchlings (Mark Dodd/DNR)


One person wondered on the DNR Wildlife Resources Division Facebook page why the sea turtle hatchlings were released during the day. They noted that most nests hatch late at night when birds are less likely to eat the young.
Here is DNR Sea Turtle Coordinator Mark Dodd's reply:
“Good question. We don’t have quantitative data on predation rates of hatchlings for night vs. daylight hours. We presume predation is higher by day, but that may not be the case; some predators are closer to the surface at night. Once hatchlings emerge, they have a limited supply of energy to swim offshore to convergence zone habitat (sargassum weedlines). They generally remain in constant motion after emerging. We try to get them in the water as quickly as possible before they use up their limited energy reserves. It’s also important to remember that survival of hatchlings in the first year of life is very low.”
Follow Wildlife Resources on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.


DNR white-nose syndrome 2018 report
When Georgia bat counts ticked up 1 percent this winter compared to last, it didn’t ease worries over white-nose syndrome.
Totals in the caves DNR surveys are still down 93 percent from historical highs. (Think one bat today for every 10 counted before.) The disease that has killed millions of bats is hammering north Georgia’s most common species: the tri-colored. And except for gray bats, Myotis bats are simply no longer seen in the region.
DNR senior wildlife biologist Katrina Morris said she “wants to be excited about” the increase, but the reality is sobering.
“We had a real winter, and I think it’s more likely there were more bats in the caves,” because of the more persistent cold, said Morris, who leads bat surveys for the Wildlife Conservation Section.
This just-released report and story map detail findings from the 2017-2018 surveys. Learn more about white-nose (WNS) in Georgia at www.


  • The good: Neither WNS nor Pseudogymnoascus destructans (Pd), the introduced fungus that causes the disease, have been confirmed in Georgia south of Polk County. A survey of bridges and culverts, which often double as bat roosts in the cave-scarce Piedmont and Coastal Plains, is probing whether these transportation structures are transmission corridors for Pd. Results from samples taken at the sites are expected later this year.
  • The bad: North Georgia is saturated with WNS and bat counts have dropped "across the board," Morris said. The outlook is grim. In the northeastern U.S., where the disease was first documented on this continent, only a few hard-hit sites have since seen bat populations increase. Numbers at most remain low.
  • The outlook: Next winter’s surveys will include a subset of known infected sites – where the story of loss remains essentially the same. The emphasis will be on transportation structures to track the potential spread, plus caves outside the known range of WNS. (Know of a “new” cave, access to sites or a bridge or culvert that has bats in winter? Email Katrina Morris.)
August 06, 2018


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