Wednesday, October 2, 2019

DCNR Good Natured Pennsylvanians: Ron Freed, Volunteer Hawk Watcher At Waggoner's Gap, Cumberland County

Ron Freed is a volunteer hawk watcher for Audubon Pennsylvania at the Waggoner’s Gap Hawkwatch near Carlisle [in Cumberland County along the Kittatinny Ridge].
Ron worked as a policy analyst for Audubon Pennsylvania when the Waggoner’s Gap Hawkwatch property was turned over to them in 2000. He took on the project of building the parking lot and trails to the watch site.
Since working as an employee of Audubon Pennsylvania, he has continued to devote his time to conservation efforts.
After spending a lot of time at the watch, Ron offered to help with the official count; and has been doing morning counts since 2006.
Hawk watchers are out every day from August 1 to December 31 identifying and counting the migrating raptors they see.
They keep track of species and quantity, as well as weather conditions at the time of sighting. They enter the data in a national database that has raptor counts from hawk watches all over the country.
The presence of raptors in the wild serves as a barometer of ecological health. Because birds of prey are predators at the top of the food chain, threats like pesticides, habitat loss, and climate change have the most dramatic impact them.
Researching the population trends of raptors provides a cost-effective and efficient means to detecting environmental change -- allowing conservation action that is driven by scientific data.
Ron has been a wildlife watcher all his life and always had a particular interest in raptors. Being involved with Audubon gave him the opportunity to participate in organized hawk watching and data collection.
Wildlife researchers don’t have the resources to cover all of the field work necessary to monitor populations and trends. There are many opportunities for citizens to provide valuable data by submitting observations to central databases like Hawkcount and eBird.
The data from the counts gets entered daily into the raptor database managed by the Hawk Migration Association of North America.
It is used to develop species trends, such as the Raptor Population Index. This has become increasingly important as researchers monitor the impacts on species from the warming climate.
“I’ve learned the value of a disciplined approach to data gathering by private citizens,” Ron says, “I’m pleased to see that so many visitors to the hawk watch display a strong interest in wildlife and wild places.”
Know of a good natured Pennsylvanian who is passionate about outdoor recreation and/or conservation that we should feature? Contact DCNR by sending email to: to nominate someone.
  For more information on state parks and forests and recreation in Pennsylvania, visit DCNR’s website, Click Here to sign up for the Resource newsletter, Visit the Good Natured DCNR Blog,  Click Here for upcoming events, Click Here to hook up with DCNR on other social media-- Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Flickr.
(Reprinted from DCNR’s October 2 Resource newsletterClick Here to sign up for your own copy.)
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