Warm weather is returning, and so are Delaware’s bats; DNREC’s Division of Fish & Wildlife seeks volunteer bat spotters

DOVER (April 19, 2013) – Delaware is home to eight species of bats, several of which have begun their annual move from winter hibernation sites to summer maternity colonies. Female bats return pregnant to the colonies where they congregate to give birth and raise their pups. In Delaware, these colonies can often take up residence in barns, garages, attics and homes.  

In Delaware, bats feed at night on insects, many of which are pest species like mosquitoes. Some eat moths and beetles that damage our crops. “They’re providing us with a valuable and free service, so it’s to our benefit to have them around,” said Wildlife Biologist Holly Niederriter of DNREC’s Division of Fish & Wildlife.

A study published in Science magazine’s Policy Forum suggests that bats could be one of the most economically-valuable groups of wildlife to North American farmers, saving farmers at least $3.7 million annually by reducing the amount of pesticides needed.

Even though bats play an important role in our ecosystem, they are often unwanted visitors inside homes, garages and other outbuildings. If you, or a friend or neighbor, has bats roosting in an undesirable location, excluding bats from the building may be warranted.

For a list of permitted nuisance wildlife control operators that can conduct bat exclusions and to review best management practices for excluding bats, as well as more information on the Delaware Bat Program, please visit www.dnrec.delaware.gov/fw/bats/. The Delaware Bat program is also on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/DelawareFishWildlife.

In the spring, it is crucial that bat exclusions be completed before May 15, when female bats typically settle into their colony sites and begin giving birth. If done after that date, flightless young may be trapped inside buildings and permanently separated from their mothers, without whom they cannot survive.

If you know of non-nuisance bat colonies, DNREC’s Division of Fish and Wildlife biologists are seeking volunteer bat spotters to help in locating and counting the state’s bat colonies. The Delaware Bat Count is a statewide research study of bat populations, breeding activity and the overall health of the bats that inhabit our state. The bat program is always looking for reports of new bat colonies.

To report a bat colony, or for more information on volunteering as a bat spotter, or on bat exclusions, please contact Holly Niederriter or Sarah Brownlee-Bouboulis, at 302-735-8674, or by email at  sarah.brownlee@delaware.gov.

Contact: Joanna Wilson, DNREC Public Affairs, 302-739-9902 

Vol. 43, No. 160

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DNREC issues air permit to restart cooling tower at Delaware City Refinery

DOVER (April 22, 2013) – DNREC Secretary Collin O’Mara today approved issuance of an air permit for the Delaware City Refining Company to restart an unused closed-loop cooling water tower at the Delaware City Refinery. The restarted unit will help the facility achieve a required 33 percent reduction in cooling water withdrawal from 452 million gallons per day (mgd) to 303 mgd, which is anticipated to reduce incidents of aquatic life mortality by a corresponding 33 percent. The reductions are required to be achieved by the end of 2013, per the facility’s restart agreement with the State and other existing permit conditions.

“This project will significantly reduce the facility’s long-standing impacts on aquatic life in the Delaware River,” said Secretary O’Mara, “and represents a critical first step towards bringing the facility into compliance with the Federal Clean Water Act in the next few years. Unlike some previous owners, DCRC is making the much-needed investments to improve the environmental performance of the facility.”

 The Secretary’s Order approving the permit can be found on the DNREC website at http://www.dnrec.delaware.gov/Info/Pages/SecOrders_Permits.aspx.

CONTACT: Michael Globetti, DNREC Public Affairs, 302-739-9902

Vol. 43, No. 164

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River otters fishing for names at Brandywine Zoo; contest to reveal best fit for zoo’s newest animals

A naming contest will decide if the Brandywine Zoo's new river otters will become "Red & Hudson," "Cisco & Wally," or "Timber & Clark"- vote as often as you likeWILMINGTON (April 19, 2013) – Two male North American River Otters have taken up residence at the Brandywine Zoo and visitors can not only meet them starting Saturday, April 20, but zoo-goers also have an opportunity to help choose names for the otters by voting at the zoo throughout the spring.

The four-year-old river otters will reside in a dedicated exhibit long a popular highlight at the Brandywine Zoo, with its underwater window and observation bridge which provide great vantage points to watch the otters’ playful antics.

“The otters will almost certainly become a focal point at the Brandywine Zoo,” said Zoo Director Nancy Falasco, “and we’re having a naming contest enabling visitors to connect even better with them.”

Zoo staff has narrowed naming options for the otters. Proposed names – the otters will be matched as “Red & Hudson,” “Cisco & Wally” or “Timber & Clark” – are posted in the zoo, and visitors can vote on the name set they like best by contributing $1 with each vote. Contributions from the naming contest will benefit the Delaware Zoological Society, the non-profit volunteer organization which supports the Brandywine Zoo. The otters’ official names will be revealed on July 4.

The North American River Otter is a semi-aquatic mammal found in and along the waterways and coasts of North America. An adult river otter can weigh between 11 and 31 lbs. River otters tend to live an average of 10 to 15 years in the wild, but in zoos like the Brandywine Zoo, where they receive a protected home, healthy diets and veterinary care, their life expectancy increases to an average of 23 years. The two beloved otters that previously lived at the Brandywine Zoo, Star and Jester, enjoyed long lives and passed away of natural causes due to old age.

The zoo’s new otters came from a facility in Minnesota. Otters are members of the Mustelidae family which also includes weasels, skunks and ferrets. Their zoo diet consists of fish and other foods common to cats and even an egg every other day.  

* * * * *

The Brandywine Zoo welcomes visitors to come see the otters and enjoy the zoo’s many other animals. The Brandywine Zoo is part of Delaware State Parks and is managed by DNREC’s Division of Parks and Recreation, with the support of the Delaware Zoological Society. Located at 1001 North Park Drive in Wilmington, the Brandywine Zoo is open every day of the year, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more information, visit www.BrandywineZoo.org or call 302 571-7747.

The Brandywine Zoo is a proud accredited member of the American Association of Zoos and Aquariums, a distinction that marks its commitment to providing excellent care for animals, a great experience for the visitors and a better future for all living things.

Contact: Elizabeth Shockley, DNREC Public Affairs, 302-739-9902, or Nancy Falasco, Brandywine Zoo director, 302-571-7747

Vol. 43, No. 159


River otters fishing for names at Brandywine Zoo; contest to reveal best fit for zoo’s newest animals

WILMINGTON (April 19, 2013) – Two male North American River Otters have taken up residence at the Brandywine Zoo and visitors can not only meet them starting Saturday, April 20, but zoo-goers also have an opportunity to help choose names for the otters by voting at the zoo throughout the spring.

The four-year-old river otters will reside in a dedicated exhibit long a popular highlight at the Brandywine Zoo, with its underwater window and observation bridge which provide great vantage points to watch the otters’ playful antics.

“The otters will almost certainly become a focal point at the Brandywine Zoo,” said Zoo Director Nancy Falasco, “and we’re having a naming contest enabling visitors to connect even better with them.”

Zoo staff has narrowed naming options for the otters. Proposed names – the otters will be matched as “Red & Hudson,” “Cisco & Wally” or “Timber & Clark” – are posted in the zoo, and visitors can vote on the name set they like best by contributing $1 with each vote. Contributions from the naming contest will benefit the Delaware Zoological Society, the non-profit volunteer organization which supports the Brandywine Zoo. The otters’ official names will be revealed on July 4.

The North American River Otter is a semi-aquatic mammal found in and along the waterways and coasts of North America. An adult river otter can weigh between 11 and 31 lbs. River otters tend to live an average of 10 to 15 years in the wild, but in zoos like the Brandywine Zoo, where they receive a protected home, healthy diets and veterinary care, their life expectancy increases to an average of 23 years. The two beloved otters that previously lived at the Brandywine Zoo, Star and Jester, enjoyed long lives and passed away of natural causes due to old age.

The zoo’s new otters came from a facility in Minnesota. Otters are members of the Mustelidae family which also includes weasels, skunks and ferrets. Their zoo diet consists of fish and other foods common to cats and even an egg every other day.  

* * * * *

The Brandywine Zoo welcomes visitors to come see the otters and enjoy the zoo’s many other animals. The Brandywine Zoo is part of Delaware State Parks and is managed by DNREC’s Division of Parks and Recreation, with the support of the Delaware Zoological Society. Located at 1001 North Park Drive in Wilmington, the Brandywine Zoo is open every day of the year, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more information, visit www.BrandywineZoo.org or call 302 571-7747.

The Brandywine Zoo is a proud accredited member of the American Association of Zoos and Aquariums, a distinction that marks its commitment to providing excellent care for animals, a great experience for the visitors and a better future for all living things.

Contact: Elizabeth Shockley, DNREC Public Affairs, 302-739-9902, or Nancy Falasco, Brandywine Zoo director, 302-571-7747

Vol. 43, No. 159


DNREC celebrating Earth Day on April 22 with rain barrel sale, conservation exhibits

65-gallon rain barrel with planterDOVER (April 17, 2013) – In celebration of the 43rd annual Earth Day, DNREC is holding a rain barrel sale and showcasing conservation exhibits from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., Monday, April 22 at the agency’s Richardson and Robbins Building, 89 Kings Highway, Dover.

The rain barrels are being offered to Delaware residents by DNREC’s Division of Watershed Stewardship at a discounted price – $70.37 each. The 65-gallon granite-colored barrels are made from 30 percent recycled materials and include a planter at the top. Delaware residents who purchase a rain barrel and live in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed will receive a voucher for a free tree through the “Trees for the Bays” program. Forty barrels are available and will be sold on a first come, first served basis. To check on availability of rain barrels during the sale event, call DNREC at 302-739-9922. Payment may be made by check or money order, made out to “State of Delaware.” Credit cards cannot be accepted.

In addition, outside in front of the building, DNREC will showcase conservation exhibits on what homeowners can do to:

  • Reduce ozone pollution and improve air quality
  • Conserve water
  • Improve water quality
  • Recycle and compost
  • Install a rain garden
  • Volunteer to work on projects that protect our environment

During the event, DNREC staff will be expanding the demonstration backyard habitat located in front of the building. Native plants and mulch will be added that reduce stormwater runoff, create a habitat for local wildlife and beautify the area. Environmental scientists will be on-hand to answer questions on the backyard habitat and on the rain garden located nearby. Easy-to-use information and diagrams on how to design and build a rain garden will be available.

Since its inception in 1970, Earth Day is the worldwide environmental movement that educates and mobilizes people to take responsibility for a clean and healthy environment. Earth Day is celebrated by more than a half billion people simultaneously around the globe.

For more information on DNREC and programs underway to protect the environment, visit www.dnrec.delaware.gov. The “Trees for the Bay” program is funded by the Delaware Forest Service Urban and Community Forestry Program, in cooperation with DNREC’s Division of Watershed Stewardship.

Contact: Melanie Rapp, DNREC Public Affairs, 302-739-9902

Vol. 43, No. 152

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