Thursday, March 6, 2008

Goats improve bog turtle habitat

The bog turtle (Glyptemys muhlenbergii) is a threatened species in Maryland and other eastern states. It is found in Carroll, Baltimore, Harford, and Cecil counties. In fact, Maryland has 30 percent of the global population of bog turtles.

Goats grazing multiflora rose in a prescribed grazing project to restore bog turtle habitat (image by Linh Phu, Maryland DNR)The habitat of bog turtles is being threatened by development, shifts in land use, woody succession, and invasive plant species.

In 2007, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources' (DNR) Landowner Incentive Program (LIP) designed, implemented, and funded two prescribed grazing projects in Carroll County to restore wetlands for bog turtles.

Both projects utilized goats to control young red maple trees and multiflora rose that were threatening the open canopy and delicate wetland ecosystem required by bog turtles.

Those involved with the prescribed grazing projects were very satisfied with the first year results. The projects will be repeated in 2008, with a few modifications: lower stocking rates and supplemental feeding of the goats. DNR is hoping to expand the prescribed grazing projects to other counties.

Goat producers in the above counties should contact Linh Phu at (410) 260-8554 or, if they are interested in leasing their goats out for future prescribed grazing projects. Linh is a biologist with DNR’s Landowner Incentive Program.

Source: Technical Memorandum: Restoring bog turtle wetlands with the use of prescribed grazing: first year results. Maryland Department of Natural Resources, January 2008.