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Audubon in Action
News from the National Audubon Society.

Courtesy of Green Mountain Digital

Tech
App, App, and Away
Forget lugging around heavy guidebooks to ID the flora and fauna you spot on your weekend hike or nature walk. National Audubon has turned several of its popular guidebooks into iPhone applications—electronic, on-the-go databases. Guides to birds, wildflowers, trees, and mammals are available now, with reptiles and amphibians, butterflies, and insects and spiders coming in early 2010. For birds, identification is as easy as plugging in their shape or general family (e.g., shorebird). That information produces a list of potential species, each with colored images. Clicking on a bird provides a detailed description, including the species’ range, morphology, even close cousins it might be easily confused with. Users can plug in their life-list data, look up information about local species, and listen to bird songs. “It’s nature at your fingertips,” says Charles Rattigan, of Green Mountain Digital, the company developing the apps. Don’t have an iPhone? Check out Audubon Guides for a free online version.

 

John Huet

Camp Craft
On Maine’s idyllic Hog Island, about 60 miles north of Portland, visitors at Audubon’s historic bird camp can walk in the footsteps of such famous ornithologists as Roger Tory Peterson—one of the camp’s first instructors, in 1936. Lucky campers may see up to 100 different species, including terns, eiders, guillemots, and Atlantic puffins, on or near the forested, 330-acre island. The adults-only camp, back after a one-year hiatus, will offer four weeklong sessions: two Maine seabird biology and conservation courses and two general seabird ornithology sessions. The American Birding Association is offering scholarships for a fifth program, Coastal Maine Bird Studies for Teens. Instructors include living legends Kenn Kaufman, Scott Weidensaul, Pete Dunn, and Steve Kress, director of Audubon’s Project Puffin and Seabird Restoration Program. “It’s just a great environment for learning,” Kress says. “Combine that with all the history. This is where Audubon really had its first environmental education programs.” For more information, visit Project Puffin.

 

Crime
Poacher Reproach
In 2008 California game wardens made a shocking discovery: Gilroy resident Peter Ciraulo had jam-packed the carcasses of more than 300 birds, including protected sandhill cranes, into freezers in his home. He received a tough punishment: 100 hours of community service and a $7,100 fine for waterfowl poaching. Under a new state law, signed in October, the penalties will be stiffer still. Spearheaded by Audubon California, the law imposes a $5,000 to $40,000 penalty for first-time egregious offenders (up to $50,000 for the second offense) and allows judges to confiscate any equipment associated with the crime. It also permits California Fish and Game officials to revoke the worst offenders’ hunting privileges for life—a move that can make it illegal to hunt in other states, too. Under the Interstate Wildlife Violator Compact, says Dan Taylor, Audubon California’s public policy director, “if you lose your hunting license in California, you essentially lose your right to hunt in 31 states around the country.”

 

The Granger Collection

Treasure Map
“It’s largely been this sort of black box area,” says Audubon Alaska biologist Melanie Smith, describing the Arctic Ocean. “People don’t seem to know a lot about the ecological and wildlife patterns.” In 2008 Audubon Alaska partnered with conservation group Oceana to cull data on everything from the water’s depth to its wildlife. Late last year they published the first Atlas of the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas, which boasts range and breeding area maps for 44 species, such as spectacled eiders and 10 ice-dependent mammals, including Pacific walruses and spotted seals. Audubon Alaska has already put the resource to use: During a public comment period the group submitted data on the rich diversity of sea life on the outer continental shelf, which the Department of the Interior is considering leasing for oil and gas exploration. Smith believes the atlas will reveal the Arctic as a dynamic world teeming with wildlife instead of a barren, frozen emptiness.

Send your Audubon in Action ideas to actionideas@audubon.org.

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