Mountain Lakes residents love to trade wildlife stories – whether it’s the black bear that was treed during the Memorial Day presentation, the parade of wild turkeys on Intervale, or the tiny pitter patter of flying squirrels in the attics of the century-old homes. While viewing the occasional fox or bear may be the most exciting, there is much more that shares our home. The proximity of the lakes, wetlands and the woods lends itself to a fairly rich diversity of life.
In an attempt to understand this diversity, the Environmental Commission has commissioned two survey audits – one for flora and one for fauna. These audits involve spending a good deal of time in the environment recording what the naturalist sees or hears. Those species that have been viewed as recently as 2008 are listed in the report as “Present”. Those species that have been recorded from the early 1990’s until 2007, or are known to live in neighboring towns, are listed as “Probable”. Those species that have not been seen but may exist due to the similarities of habitat, are listed as “Possible”. Information for “Possible” species was compiled from database searches, state sources, and unpublished material.
Ideally, as we learn more about our environment, we will be able to know with greater assurity which species share our home and we will be able to take the steps necessary to protect them for future Lakers.
2008 Fauna Survey
The following data is taken from MOUNTAIN LAKES FAUNA INVENTORY: Compiled for the Mountain Lakes Environmental Commission, by Richard P. Radis (2008). The report was a limited survey of vertebrate—fish, reptiles and amphibians, birds, and mammals— and some invertebrate species in Mountain Lakes Borough during late November and December, 2008.
A total of fifteen site visits were made between mid-November and December 23, 2008. Areas covered included Wilcox and Frederick Parks, Tower Hill, the Yorke Road forests, and Mountain, Wildwood, Sunset, Crystal, and Birchwood Lakes. A number of smaller ponds were also surveyed, as were smaller wooded tracts with vernal ponds; stream habitats; areas around the high school; and the remaining woods around the Lakeland Hills YMCA.
Because of the lateness of the season, the targets of most of the surveys were birds, but mammal tracks and signs, and potential areas for reptiles and amphibians, particularly vernal ponds, were also noted. Mammals were identified on sight and by signs and tracks.
Recordings of Barred Owl, Great Horned Owl, and Screech Owl were played at dusk on several days. Owls will often respond to recordings of their calls, as will eastern coyote. Other bird species were identified by binoculars or by their characteristic calls and flight notes.
Data about bats was compiled from informal surveys conducted by the writer with a bat detector and some limited netting, done in and around the Tourne County Park; and from more formal surveys done by the state and other organizations at the bat hibernaculum located in an old iron mine located in nearby Hibernia, Rockaway Township; and in Picatinny Arsenal. The Hibernia site is New Jersey’s largest bat overwintering habitat, with up to 30,000 bats of six species recorded in some years in the abandoned mine shafts.
Because of the animals’ mobility, it is thought that any of the nine species of regularly- or rarely-occurring bat species in New Jersey may occur in Mountain Lakes Borough.