STODDARD — The first of 50 wildlife tracking stations in New England opened in town last month, allowing further research of the area’s wildlife patterns.
The station — which sits in the Stoddard Highlands on the Granite Lake Headwaters property of the Harris Center for Conservation Education — will follow the movements of tagged birds, bats and migratory insects, according to a news release last week from N.H. Audubon, which is helping with the project.
It opened Nov. 19, N.H. Audubon’s grant manager, Marc Nutter, said.
This first New England station is part of the Motus Wildlife Tracking System, a global network of nearly 1,000 stations that the bird conservation agency Birds Canada has been organizing since 2012. The network can track radio transmitters small enough to be used on critters like hummingbirds and monarch butterflies.
“Never before have we had the technology to see the details of individual migration routes,” Doug Bechtel, president of N.H. Audubon, said in the release. “Motus technology ... will enable researchers, conservation organizations, and decision-makers to identify important stopover habitats for migrants passing through the region and lead to important conservation decisions and actions.”
For example, some researchers are using the tracking technology to look into whether environmental contaminants are affecting the migration behaviors of songbirds and monarch butterflies, the release says.
The Stoddard location was ideal, according to the release, because of its high ridge top and views.
The station includes a 40-foot-high mast with directional antennas on top, a solar panel for off-the-grid power and a cellular modem that immediately transmits the station’s data. The receiver constantly scans the area’s skies up to 10 miles in all directions.
Several resource agencies and conservation nonprofits — such as N.H. Audubon and N.H. Fish and Game — are helping put together these sites, according to the release, with another 49 across New England slated to be completed by 2022.
The project is being funded by a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service state wildlife grant of $998,000, as well as $355,500 in private funds, the release says.
When the project is complete, New England will have a series of receiving stations to intercept tagged migrants as they pass through.
“Remarkably little is known about specific migratory routes and timing for most species,” the release says, “and the information generated by the Motus project can inform conservation actions, including identifying and protecting critical habitat.”
Tracking information can be found on the Granite Lake Headwaters’ website, at harriscenter.org/granite-lake-headwaters-protected.