wildlife | Connecticut Public Radio


We've long known that the fish we eat are exposed to toxic chemicals in the rivers, bays and oceans they inhabit. The substance that's gotten the most attention — because it has shown up at disturbingly high levels in some fish — is mercury.

Chion Wolf

The Connecticut town of Trumbull, and especially its thespian society, has become a familiar name in the theater world, but maybe for the wrong reasons. When the high school principal decided to cancel the thespian society's production of "Rent," the story went national. It has bubbled along for weeks and as of today, we may have news about a compromise that would allow it to be staged.

Meanwhile, former Hartford Mayor Eddie Perez has been awarded not one, but two new trials. We'll have an expert here to explain how that's likely to play out. 

The Last Wolf in Connecticut

Nov 29, 2013
Connecticut Historical Society

Israel Putnam is a name that stands out in the colonial history of Connecticut as a war hero of the French and Indian War and the American Revolution. Prior to his wartime glory, he earned the nickname “Wolf Putnam” by killing what was believed to be the last wolf in Connecticut when he was a young farmer in the eastern Connecticut town of Pomfret.

The news for moose is not good across the country's northern tier and in some parts of Canada. A recent and rapid decline of moose populations in many states may be linked to climate change, and to the parasites that benefit from it.

In Minnesota, moose populations have dropped from a high of more than 12,000 two decades ago to fewer than 3,000 now. Moose in some parts of Manitoba have declined by 50 percent and more.

Cuomo Calls for Further Study of Plum Island

Oct 1, 2013
Joelmills / Wikimedia Commons

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said Monday that questions about the environmental condition of Plum Island need further study before the federal government proceeds with its sale. The island, off eastern Long Island, has been home to a federal research facility that studies infectious diseases that could threaten the nation’s livestock industry.

Courtesy of CT Falconers Association

The popular "Saturday Night Live" skit performed by Will Forte introduced us to falconers but hunters in Connecticut actually practice this centuries-old sport. The U.S Fish and Wildlife Service has federal guidelines for states which then set up their own regulations. Connecticut legalized falconry in 2005.

If this is a trick, it's a spectacular one.

A video that purports to have been taken by a GoPro or similarly small camera strapped to an eagle soaring above Chamonix, France, is quickly going viral.

Flickr Creative Commons, mr bolonga

Eels are hailed as monster-seducers by New Zealand's Maori and are the only fish that spawn in the middle of the ocean, but spend their lives in freshwater. Chad Johnson uses them to get the ladies. They've inspired Internet memes. And in Maine, where eels sell for upwards of $2,000 per pound, this misunderstood fish is providing a modern gold rush for struggling fisherman.

From Fish Factory to Bathing Beach

Aug 23, 2013

It’s almost September and families are flocking to the beaches to get in their last days of summer sunshine. One of Connecticut’s most popular summer spots is Rocky Neck State Park in Niantic.

The stretch of beach was not always a designated area for sunbathing, swimming, or hiking. In the 1800s, long before beachgoers were able to enjoy the park, the 710-acre property was used as a stone quarry and dairy farm. A railroad track and pier were installed in the 1850s to help transport stone from the quarry by both land and water.

Michael Lejeune

For the past few months, a group of people has been gathering each night along an industrial stretch of Route 5 in Hamden. There, next to a nondescript building, they lift their binoculars,  focus their telescopes and gaze across the street--past the traffic, over the railroad tracks, and up about 70 feet high.  

Nestled in a crook of two branches in a tree sits a large nest.  Inside is a  bald eagle chick, with a watchful adult hidden nearby.

"This is the only birdwatching I’ve ever done."

Michael Lejeune works at the town library. 

lanbullock68 Flickr Creative Commons

According to Wyoming's Game and Fish Department, there has been a 70 percent decline in migratory elk calf production in Yellowstone since 1992. For years, researchers suspected predatory wolves were to blame. Now, a new study details a more complex set of circumstances that account for the low calf numbers. 

In Connecticut, hunting on Sundays is prohibited. But as WNPR's Jeff Cohen reports, a law now being considered may change that. State law pretty much forbids Sunday hunting. In fact, just possessing a hunting implement in the open on a Sunday is evidence that you've broken the law.

"It's an old blue law, it's been in effect I don't know how long, forever and ever, I guess." That's Robert Crook, the executive director of the Coalition of Connecticut Sportsmen.


State environmental officials have joined a national campaign to raise awareness about local snakes. 

Most Connecticut Snakes Aren't Venomous

Apr 10, 2013

State environmental officials have joined a national campaign to raise awareness about local snakes. 

No Flipper? No Problem!

Mar 27, 2013
Mystic Aquarium

An 8-month-old harbor seal pup has successfully recovered from a flipper amputation and is now on view at Mystic Aquarium.

She's called Pup 49, and when she came to Mystic Aquarium last summer she was in pretty bad shape.

"Pup 49 was very thin, she came in with a respiratory infection and she had lots of wounds all over her body, but very severe wounds on her rear flippers," said Mystic Aquarium veterinarian Dr. Allison Tuttle. She added that the wounds got very infected over time.

Sequester has consequences for the environment, too

Mar 11, 2013

As the United States Congress nears its deadline for cutting spending, the country faces a sequester, or 85 billion dollars in across-the-board spending cuts that would take effect this year. The public debate over the impacts of the sequester have focused on defense and education cuts, but funding for environmental programs is also at risk. WNPR’s Neena Satija reports.

Backyard Wildlife

Feb 6, 2013
Ken Thomas / Creative Commons

Wildlife of all kinds thrives in our verdant, wooded state. Most of us are used to seeing squirrels and possums, raccoons and turkeys, some of us even bears and many, many deer.

But what happens when those furry critters rummage through your garbage, scare your kids or even burrow across your neatly trimmed lawn?

Today, where we live - what happens when we get too close to wildlife, and it gets close to us. Do you encourage nature to visit your doorstep? Or do you have unwanted animal visitors where you live? What do you do about it?

Chion Wolf

The world is a pretty noisy place...but you don’t think of the middle of the ocean being one of those places. But a project by NOAA - the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration - has found that sea life in the North Atlantic Ocean is in danger because of the human sounds of shipping, military testing and oil and gas exploration.

Art G. (Wikimedia Commons)

The Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection refutes the notion that wild populations of mountain lions live in Connecticut. But as WNPR's Ray Hardman reports, a grass roots organization aims to prove DEEP wrong.

Mike Bender, US Fish and Wildlife Service (Wikimedia Commons)

Encounters between humans and bears are on the rise in Connecticut, and some of them could be dangerous. That’s prompting environmental officials to consider allowing a regular bear-hunting season for the first time ever in the state. WNPR’s Neena Satija reports.

Outdoor Enthusiast: Picture Perfect

Aug 24, 2012
CPBN Media Lab: Ross Mortensen

Weir Farm, located in the towns of Wilton and Ridgefield, Connecticut, is the only National Park site in the state and the only site within the National Park Service that is devoted to the history of the American Painting. Three artists called Weir Farm their home, including Julian Alden Weir, Mahonri Young, and Sperry Andrews.

Wesleyan University

A new finding by a Wesleyan University professor may hold promise for people suffering Neurological Disorders like Alzheimer's and Epilepsy. WNPR's Ray Hardman speaks to Dr. John Kirn, Professor of Biology and Chair of the Neuroscience and Behavior Program at Wesleyan University whose work focuses on the brain of a small songbird.

Turtles and Salmonella

Jun 4, 2012

The Connecticut Department of Health is warning Connecticut residents that small turtles can pass Salmonella bacteria to people.

The announcement comes in the midst of a nationwide outbreak linked to pet turtles that may be related to street vendors selling immature turtles. Although no cases have yet been identified in Connecticut, Dr. Randall Nelson, Public Health Veterinarian for the CT Department of Public Health, says that over 100 people in 27 states have become ill, with 60% of illness occurring in children under ten years old.

dvwtwo (Flickr Creative Commons)

Bear sightings in Connecticut are on the rise this year, and their numbers are growing. Appearing to talk about black bears and what you should do if you come across a bear is Paul Rego, a wildlife biologist with the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.

The core of the black bear population in the state is in the northwestern area, Rego says, in Litchfield County and western Hartford County. They're heading south in dramatic fashion, and somewhat to the east. Rego estimates their numbers at around 500.

Wikimedia Commons

It seems clicheed, but here in Connecticut, shad is more than a fish.

First of all, it's our official state fish. Second, it's linked to a peculiar fishing culture that barely exists any more. If you've driven down along the lower Connecticut River, you've probably seen those sad shacks and wondered about them. And the Windsor Shad Derby is still a giant event as is the selection of a Shad Derby Queen.

Mad about Shad

Apr 20, 2012

Why would the State of Connecticut go to the trouble of naming the American Shad the official “state fish”? Historically, the spring shad run, in which these fish return from the sea to spawn in their traditional freshwater habitats in tributary streams along the Connecticut and other rivers, was an important economic and, to some extent, social element of life in the region. The appearance of the fish each spring was as anticipated as the celebrated return of the swallows to Capistrano.

Courtesy of Shedd Aquarium By Keith Pamper

Partnerships are common at zoos and aquariums for breeding programs but what does it take to transfer animals across the country safely?  Especially if the animal you're talking about is a 2100 pound beluga whale?

Kristine Magao, Supervisor of Belugas, at Mystic Aquarium spoke with WNPR's Lucy Nalpathanchil about the recent journey of Naluark, a male beluga whale who came to Mystic from Chicago's John G Shedd Aquarium.

Flickr Creative Commons, jitze

Yesterday, The Connecticut Department of Energy & Environmental Protection announced its preliminary findings on the origin of the now-famous Mountain Lion that was struck and killed by a Hyundai SUV in Milford last month. 

We spoke with Deputy Commissioner Susan Frechette today to hear the details.

Listen to our previous show that aired shortly after the news of the Mountain Lion's death here.

It WAS A Wild Cat

Jul 26, 2011
Courtesy Conn. Dept. of Energy & Environmental Protection

Connecticut’s environmental officials announced today that the Mountain Lion that was killed on the Wilbur Cross Parkway in June was a wild animal that traveled hundreds of miles from South Dakota to Connecticut. It is the first confirmation of a wild Mountain Lion in the state in more than 100 years. WNPR’s Nancy Cohen reports.

Killing One Animal To Protect Another

Jul 2, 2011
Nancy Eve Cohen

Many birds are now in the midst of nesting. When it comes to rare birds state and federal wildlife managers take extra care to protect them and their young. WNPR’s Nancy Cohen reports at times  biologists take extreme measures,  such as killing certain animals to protect a rare species.

It’s foggy morning on Charles Island off of Milford Connecticut. Wildlife biologist Jenny Dickson, with the Department of Environmental Protection, points up at a big, white bird nesting in the canopy of a tall tree.