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"Ding" Darling Wildlife Society Newsletter
July 21, 2016
In This Issue

Temporary Storage Space Needed

The Refuge needs help in storing the shipping containers for the Smithsonian Water/Ways exhibit during the six weeks in October through early December that it will be on display in the Visitor & Education Center. Anyone with access (or who knows someone with access) to a temperature-controlled storage space (could be a garage) enough for 21 large, stackable crates (at least 30 square feet), please contact Sarah Lathrop by email or call her at 239-472-1100 ext 233. This is temporary storage needed for only 6 weeks and would be a tax-deductible donation. 
Water Quality: Take Action NOW

Save our shorelines and wildlife! We need your help to get water moving south out of Lake Okeechobee. Click here to connect with decision-makers.

Please click here to read an interesting article from the Palm Beach Post about whether or not a reservoir south of Lake Okeechobee will save the St. Lucie estuary. It applies equally to the Caloosahatchee estuary and to the waters of the Refuge, although algae problems this side of the state have been much more limited than those in the St. Lucie River. As Friends of the Refuge, we continue to press the agencies and elected officials involved to start planning immediately for moving water south. Ultimately this is the one missing and vital component in eliminating harmful lake releases to our estuaries and, at the same time, ensuring restoration of the Everglades.  

Additionally, there's one more important thing that you could do to help right now. Contact Florida Governor Scott and urge him to immediately make available 16,000 acres of state-owned land that is currently leased to Florida Crystals for sugarcane production. This land could be used for emergency storage to relieve the estuaries of some of the excess water flow. 
Don & Lillian Stokes
2017 Stokes Tours at the Refuge
20 Spots Remain

Act now to reserve your place on the two Private Stokes Birding Tours trams on Friday, February 10, 2017, with world-famous birders Don and Lillian Stokes.

 Click here to read more and register.
Nature Explorers Day Camp in Full Swing

In week four of this summer's six-week Nature Explorers Day Camp, we have a photo album of great camp pictures to share with you. One camper loved our day camp so much, she created a blog about it.
Day campers learn good nature photography technique.

Big thanks to generous donors who made this life-changing camp possible.

This Land Is Your Land 
"Ding" Darling Wildlife Society has undertaken a campaign to acquire more than 8 acres on Sanibel Island

Click on the cartoon to see it enlarged

To make a gift or multi-year pledge or for more information, contact DDWS Executive Director Birgie Miller at 239-292-0566 or by email.

Smithsonian Water/Ways Update

In conjunction with the visiting Smithsonian Water/Ways exhibit at "Ding" Darling Visitor & Education Center October 28 through December 8, 2016, WaterVentures Florida's Learning Labwill make a one-day stop on
Saturday, December 3. The 53-foot traveling
Inside WaterVentures
 science center features enriching and engaging activities that offer a hands-on look at Florida's diverse watersheds, water conservation, and recycling. WaterVentures will provide experiential learning to inspire critical thinking and empower kids and adults to make a difference READ MORE
Rice Rat Study Needs Your Help
Citizen Scientists
A researcher holds a Sanibel Island Rice Rat captured, tagged, and released during study.

The Refuge's team of researchers is investigating the ecology of Sanibel Island's two native rodent species: the Sanibel Island Rice Rat 
(Oryzomys palustris sanibeli) and Insular Cotton Rat (Sigmodon hispidus insulicola). As part of the study, researchers seek to determine the rate at which owls feed on Sanibel's rice and cotton rat populations. To do this they will dissect owl pellets, identifying prey species from the undigested hair, bones, and keratin structures that remain. 

They need to obtain as many owl pellets as possible. We would appreciate your assistance with this task. If you come across an owl pellet on Sanibel, please consider collecting it in a plastic bag that has been labeled with the date, collection location, and your name. Then email Wes Boone to arrange a pickup.

A few notes for anyone interested in assisting this research:
  • Pellets are most likely to be found below places where owls frequently roost.
  • If possible, please leave the pellet intact. This enables us to identify what species of owl it came from.
  • If a pellet is found near a known roost, please note what owl species is known to roost there.
  • DO NOT collect pellets from public lands, including "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge. This is against the law.
Thank you for assisting us in elucidating the dietary habits of Sanibel's owl population and learning more about the Sanibel Rice Rat which is a species only found on Sanibel.  
Become a Sponsor for 
"Ding" Darling Days!
A big Blue Goose thank you to
 George & Wendy's Seafood Grille for its generous Great Egret level sponsorship of the 27th annual "Ding" Darling Days weeklong festival, October 16-22. For
 information on becoming a sponsor, visit www.dingdarlingdays.com or email Jennifer McSorley by July 30, 2016.
Thanks to sponsors who are already showing their support: 


John & Beth Newland   

 Jim & Patty Sprankle;  
Wayne & Linda Boyd

The "Ding" Darling Days Amateur Photo Contest is now underway. Submissions are accepted through September 15, 2016.

Click HERE for entry form and Click HERE to read rules

Click here to see last year's winners and honorable mentions.
Junior Refuge Ranger

Did you know that "Ding" Darling has a program where kids can earn their Junior Refuge Ranger Badge? Just come to the Refuge Visitor & Education Center and ask for details at the front desk. Here, Ethan Todd from Ringwood, Oklahoma, works on his badge inside the "Ding" Darling Visitor & Education Center.
Refuge Spotlight:
America's Best-Kept Secret

Steve helping out with education programs
This issue, Steve Rooker, a ranger at Klamath Basin National Wildlife Refuge (Tule Lake) on detail assignment at "Ding" Darling for the month of July, introduces us to his home refuge, one of more than 560 national wildlife refuges in the U.S. 

Location: 200,000 acres in Klamanth Falls, Oregon
Totemic fauna: Tule Goose and the Clark's Grebe
Fun for the family: Snap a photo with majestic Mount Shasta as a backdrop.
Visitor's tip: Tule Lake and Lower Klamath refuges' scenic auto-tour route covers more than 40 miles. In February and March, the refuge is home to 500 Bald Eagles - the highest concentration of wintering Bald Eagles in the Lower 48.

Refuge images by Barbara Scoles

New Nature Bling

Bedazzle your wardrobe with our new line of nature-inspired earrings, bracelets, and necklaces. Earrings range from $12 to $15.50, bracelets $16 to $25, and slider necklaces $25. To mail order your jewelry, email or call 239-472-1100 ext. 241. 

Remember, proceeds from all Nature Store sales go directly to the Refuge for educational programs and wildlife research.

Welcome Our New Nature Store Assistant Manager

Joann Hinman thought she was ready to retire when she left the Zion Natural History Association (ZNHA) in Utah's Zion National Park nearly three years ago. "But in reality I was ready to move to Florida," she said. "I missed working with a nonprofit that supports our public lands." In her new position as part-time assistant READ MORE

Volunteers Needed:  Do you like interacting with fellow nature-lovers, meeting new people, and learning a new skill? The Refuge Nature Store is seeking summer volunteers to work the cashier, especially for Sunday shifts. No experience necessary. Interested persons should contact Store Manager Jeanne Walsh by email or by phone at 239-472-1100 ext. 241.


We need to give our raccoons a raise! They left real scat right next to their exhibit on the Wildlife Education Boardwalk, which made quite a  a few of our visitors chuckle.

Scat photo by Liz Noffsinger

Eastern Screech Owl by Patty MacInnis.  
Help us collect owl pellets on Sanibel

To see more wildlife photos, click on our social media links:

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If you have taken any beautiful, interesting, or just plain goofy photos taken at the Refuge, send them to Society intern Carrie Alexander for a chance to be featured in upcoming newsletters.

Free Summer Programs - June 19-August 6, 2016
27th Annual "Ding" Darling Days - October 16-22, 2016
Smithsonian Water/Ways Exhibit - Oct.28-December 8, 20
Kids Fishing Derby - November 28, 2016
Happy Hour Holiday Shopping - November 30, 2016
DDWS Annual Meeting - December 7, 2016
Volunteer Holiday Luncheon - December 9, 2016
Biweekly Wednesday Film Series - January 4-April 12, 2017
Weekly Friday Lecture Series - January 20-April 14, 2017
Go Wild for "Ding" - February 8, 2017
Volunteer Awards Luncheon - February 10, 2017

Did You Miss This Great Shot?

If so, it's because you have not connected with us on Facebook or Instagram. We are less than 70 "likes" away from our 10,000 goal on Facebook, so please join us and share our posts so more will join.

These are just snapshots of some of the things taking place at your Wildlife Refuge.  Please check our website at www.dingdarlingsociety.org to learn more!

Birgit Miller, Executive Director

"Ding" On The Wing composed by Chelle Koster Walton.  Designed by Sarah Lathrop and interns Carrie Alexander and Anna Grubb
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