The Spotted Turtle (Clemmys guttata) is a small, secretive, semi-aquatic species that is found in a wide variety of shallow wetland habitats and their adjacent upland areas. It was once considered the most common turtle in New York State and on Long Island. Today it is listed as a “Species of Special Concern” by the NYSDEC. This designation is given to species determined by the Department of Environmental Conservation to be at risk of becoming either endangered or threatened in New York State.
A 2005 report by Mike Bottini documented the impact of mosquito ditch maintenance practices on Spotted Turtles, and resulted in important changes to Suffolk County’s Vector Control procedures.
Today, illegal turtle collecting for the pet trade is a significant factor in the long term viability of Spotted Turtle populations on Long Island and throughout the species range.
In September 2019, in a widely reported article appearing in Science magazine, researchers documented a significant decline in the overall abundance of birds in North America. Studies showed a 29% reduction birds since 1970, totaling approximately 3 billion birds. Some bird groups – such as grassland birds – have declined even more precipitously, dropping by more than half.
Plum Island, an 843-acre, federally-owned island off the tip of Long Island’s North Fork, has been proposed for sale by the federal government. In addition to historical importance, Plum Island has great ecological and environmental significance. It contains the largest seal haul-out site in southern New England and provides habitat to 216 migratory, overwintering, and breeding birds (one-fourth the North American total of avifauna).