We made a pretty exciting discovery in our woods recently. While walking our trails, we came across a wood turtle. Now, we have seen our fair share of uncommon wildlife on our property (recently including a red fox family), so we were not TOO starstruck. But it was still neat to observe one firsthand and in the wild.
When we told the rest of the family about the find, they wanted to learn more about the turtle and the possibility of finding other rare or endangered plants and animals on the property. So, we decided to learn more and share our observation. I have talked with landowners about the Natural Heritage Inventory (NHI), but never personally shared an observation with the program.
After a quick search on the Wisconsin DNR website, I got to the NHI page where they state: “We track the locations and viability of rare species occurrences along with high-quality examples of natural communities and geological features”. The site has links to information about the NHI program itself, the Wisconsin’s Endangered and Threatened species list, the NHI database, where to share an observation along with a lot of other great information.
I filled out and submitted the form for our wood turtle sighting. Not long after that got a call from someone in the DNR with the NHI program. They were calling to confirm what I had actually seen and thanked me for the observation. I know now to submit a picture if possible, along with the observation. It was our luck that this was the one time that no one thought to carry a camera/phone with them. It was probably for the best as the turtle would have been tired of all the selfies being taken with it.
We spent a good deal of time on the NHI website checking out what else has been observed in our township and county. It has inspired the whole family to find something else on the list (our own little scavenger hunt).
Even if you haven’t seen a rare or endangered plant or animal on your property, it is worth checking out the website and getting familiar with what is in your area.