New Wildlife T-shirt Debuts at Fair, Raises Funds for Wildlife Diversity

By / Fishing / Tuesday, 20 October 2015 04:00

RALEIGH, N.C. (Oct. 9, 2015) — A new wildlife diversity T-shirt debuts at the N.C. State Fair this year, commemorating the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission’s publication of its Wildlife Action Plan and raising funds for its Wildlife Diversity Program.
The new shirt features a bobcat and the agency’s wildlife logo on the front, while the back features an enlarged image of the bobcat, which is also printed on the Wildlife Commission’s State Fair button this year. Neuse Sport Shop in Kinston fabricated and donated 500 T-shirts for sale in the Commission’s State Fair tent, Oct. 15-25. After the fair concludes on October 25, the public can purchase shirts online through the Commission’s Wild Store and Neuse Sport Shop. Proceeds from the 500 shirts could generate $7,290 for the Commission’s Wildlife Diversity Program, which would then allow the Commission to access an additional $11,215 in matching federal grants from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service through the State Wildlife Grants Program. The potential $18,505 then could be designated for projects monitoring and surveying certain species or broader projects conserving important habitat — all of which fall under guidance from the Commission’s recently published Wildlife Action Plan, according to Allen Boynton, the Commission’s Wildlife Diversity Program Coordinator.
Wildlife diversity conservation prescribed in the Wildlife Action Plan helps species from North Carolina’s mountains to the coast, including eagles, sea turtles, songbirds, salamanders, frogs, turtles and various fishes, Boynton said.
“A text passage in our Wildlife Action Plan literally describes partnerships such as this cooperative effort with Neuse Sport Shop as being ‘key to reducing redundant efforts’ because they focus on shared goals and objectives,” Boynton said. “These partnerships provide the basis for programs and projects that implement species, habitat, and ecosystem conservation.”
Wildlife diversity projects currently being conducted by Wildlife Commission biologists include:
• Surveying golden eagles wintering in the Carolinas’ remote forested tracts;
• Partnering with the N.C. Aquarium to enhance wetlands in long-leaf pine forests on the coast and in the Sandhills that provide critical wintering habitat for gopher frogs;
• Determining the abundance and distribution of species such as bog turtles and northern flying squirrels in western North Carolina, red-cockaded woodpeckers in the Coastal Plain and Carolina gopher frogs in the Piedmont; and,
•  Restoring fish and mussel populations in the Cheoah and Pigeon rivers using animals taken from other rivers as well as those propagated at the Wildlife Commission’s Marion State Fish Hatchery.
Russell Rhodes, president and CEO of Neuse Sport Shop in Kinston, said collaborating with the Wildlife Commission in support of the Wildlife Diversity Program complemented the broader, ecosystem-wide philosophy toward fish and wildlife that Neuse Sport Shop has adopted.
“Like the Wildlife Commission, Neuse Sport Shop recognizes the importance of wildlife diversity and associated habitats,” Rhodes said. “The Commission’s effort to maintain threshold flow levels in the Roanoke River each spring helps shad and striped bass migrate upriver to spawn, but it also helps sturgeon. The Commission’s CURE program improves habitat for quail, but Bachman’s sparrows and indigo buntings also benefit.”
Rhodes cited the Commission’s hatchery activities as examples of proactive work conducted to help populations of animals before they become listed or endangered.
“Most Neuse Sport Shop customers know Commission hatcheries for stocking game fish such as striped bass and trout, but we want everyone to know that stocking nongame fish is equally important because of the ecosystem connection between game and nongame fish,” Rhodes said. “For example, successful reintroduction of the spotfin chub in the Cheoah River is helping to recover the species and may soon remove that species from the federal threatened list by re-establishing a new population in its former range. But from the fishermen’s standpoint, the spotfin chub’s reintroduction speaks volumes about the Cheoah’s water quality and habitat that must be present for smallmouths also.”
The Commission’s partnership with Neuse Sport Shop not only provided revenue for habitat work and wildlife diversity work that implement Wildlife Action Plan priorities, but it also helped the program meet agency goals and objectives in its strategic five-year plan, according to Todd Ewing, Aquatic Wildlife Diversity Program supervisor.
“This project matches perfectly with our goal of conserving and enhancing the abundance and diversity of the fish and wildlife resources of North Carolina,” Ewing said. “And building a partnership with Neuse Sport Shop to create this innovative revenue stream is an excellent example of developing new constituent relationships that our strategic plan tasks us to explore.”
The wildlife diversity T-shirt is for sale Oct. 15-25 at the Wildlife Commission’s tent at the N.C. State Fair located at 1025 Blue Ridge Road in Raleigh. Shirt sizes include children ($12) and adults ($15). General fair information is available online at ncstatefair.org. The Wildlife Commission’s exhibit is open daily from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.

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