DEC seeks help from 'citizen scientists'

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If you spot a river otter, a coyote or one of several furry mammals on Long Island, the state wants you to take notes.

The Department of Environmental Conservation has called on the public to become "citizen scientists" to help monitor certain mammals on the Island and New York City, from taking photos to jotting down their habits.

"Citizen science efforts provide our wildlife managers with valuable data and give people the opportunity to partner with DEC to help monitor New York's wildlife resources," DEC Commissioner Joe Martens said in a news release Wednesday. "I encourage you to take the time to record your observations of these mammals while exploring the outdoors or driving through the state's beautiful landscapes this summer."

The agency hopes to learn about the population and lifestyles of the more "elusive or inconspicuous" mammals: gray fox, mink, weasel, skunk, beaver, river otter and coyote. Even reports of road-killed animals may be useful, DEC officials said.

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Citizen scientists should describe the animal, including size, behavior and distinctive markings; provide the location, including distance to the nearest intersection; note the type of habitat, such as field, woodland, lake, pond; and photograph the mammal.

The information will guide the agency on research and wildlife management needs and decisions, officials said.

No reports are needed on more common species of mammals, such as the raccoon, red fox, opossum and muskrat.

Go to www.dec.ny.gov/animals/30770.html to send notes or call the regional DEC office at 631-444-0311.

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