Endangered Species Respond Well to Unique Restoration Project at
Cane Ridge Wildlife Management Area
Princeton, IN – July 10, 2006 – A recent survey conducted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) – Patoka River National Wildlife Refuge and Management Area revealed an overwhelming response by the federally endangered Interior Least Tern to the recently completed Interior Least Tern Unit Project. A total of 65 adult terns tending to 23 nests containing 64 eggs were observed in mid-June. Significant measures to reduce predation has successfully aided in the establishment of this large Tern nesting colony. The survey also revealed nine Black-necked Stilt nests with 36 eggs at the site, which is the largest known colony in the Midwest. Other rare and endangered species seen using the moist soil management units include the Red-necked phalarope, Wilson’s phalarope, White-faced ibis, Black tern, Peregrine falcon, Bald eagles, Golden eagles, Western willet, Great egret, Wood stork, King rail, American avocet and Cattle egret.
“It is really amazing how a corn and soybean field for the past 100 years can be turned into a wildlife Mecca,” said Bill McCoy, Patoka River National Wildlife Refuge & Management Area, refuge manager. Located in Gibson County south of Gibson Lake, Cane Ridge Wildlife Management Area is managed by the USFWS as a bird sanctuary.
“The project is enrolled in the Wetlands Reserve Program and includes 59-acres of deep-water habitat containing two three-acre nesting islands that provide breeding habitat for the endangered Tern while also providing habitat for a diversity of waterfowl,” said Ducks Unlimited Regional Biologist, Jason Hill.
Water from the Tern Nesting Pool is released through a water control outlet to a distribution canal feeding four adjacent moist soil wetlands covering 193 acres. These are actively managed by USFWS staff to provide habitat for a variety of migratory birds. With water management beginning in the fall, winter and spring of 2005-2006, observations in excess of 12,000 ducks were noted utilizing these important moist soil wetlands.
The Interior Least Tern Unit project completed at the Cane Ridge Wildlife Management Area is a great example of diverse partnerships helping meet the conservation needs of both game and non-game wildlife species. This unique habitat restoration project was a cooperative effort between several conservation partners including the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service, Ducks Unlimited, Duke Energy, U.S. Department of Agriculture- Natural Resources Conservation Service, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, McCormick Farms, Inc., and the many other partners of the Southwest Indiana Four Rivers Project Committee of the North American Waterfowl Management Plan.