As community science initiatives—which provide a safe way to connect people with nature and each other during the pandemic—continue to grow in popularity, this year’s sixth annual City Nature Challenge is expanding to more than 400 cities across six continents. Beginning on Friday, April 30 at 12:01 am, the Challenge runs through Monday, May 3, 11:59 pm.

With travel restrictions due to the pandemic, scientists more than ever rely on observations from community scientists for important findings. During the 2020 City Nature Challenge, despite the challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic, participants in Miami spotted an amethyst hairstreak butterfly, a species nearly extirpated from the United States. In Panama, community scientists documented a vibrant—and critically endangered—harlequin frog. And in Washington D.C., participants recorded Arlington County’s first observation of a white-spotted slimy salamander in over 40 years. Over 1,300 endangered, endemic, or data deficient species were recorded during the 2020 City Nature Challenge!

The global event invites people of all ages to observe and submit pictures of wild plants, animals and fungi using the free mobile app iNaturalist. To join in the Challenge, local participants:

  1. Find wildlife: Any wild plant, animal, fungi, slime mold, or any other evidence of life (scat, fur, tracks, shells, carcasses) found anywhere in the seven counties of the project area counts. You may be surprised at what you find in your own backyard, or see from your window!
  2. Take photos of findings using the iNaturalist app, or upload photos from your camera/phone into iNaturalist app or website.
  3. Learn as observations are identified by other iNaturalist users!

Large pools of data built through iNaturalist, natural history museums and science organizations help authorities make informed decisions about conservation. Organizers encourage Hoosiers to participate in their own yards, or local green spaces and local/state parks, while following appropriate social distancing guidelines.

“Every observation counts,” said Maraiah Russell, Preserves and Programs Steward, who is part of the LRWP team spearheading the local effort. “It can be an earthworm, a robin, a squirrel in your yard. You don’t even have to know exactly what you’re observing, because other iNaturalist users will help by making identification suggestions on your photo. It’s a great way for kids to learn about wildlife while at home too!” Participating is easy and free.

You just visit inaturalist.org from your browser, or download iNaturalist from the Apple App Store or Google Play store.

Fort Wayne Area City Nature Challenge activities:
Allen County Parks/Fox Island: Nature Scavenger Hunt, self-guided, April 30-May 3
Science Central: iNaturalist hike at Lawton Park, Saturday May 1st, 10:00am
Allen County SWCD, FW Parks and Rec., IN DNR: Living with Wildlife at Salomon Farm Park, Saturday May 1st 1-3pm
Backyard Bioblitz (in your own backyard), Sunday May 2nd

Local supporting organizations include Little River Wetlands Project, A Kid Again, ACRES Land Trust, Allen County Parks, Allen County Soil & Water Conservation District, Eckhart Public Library, Fort Wayne Parks and Recreation, Indiana Department of Natural Resources, Save Maumee Grassroots Organization, Science Central, and Trees Indiana.

To learn more, visit the City Nature Challenge page which features an Education Tool Kit at www.citynaturechallenge.org. Find us on facebook: @fortwayneareacnc

Track the wildlife found in our area in real time on our project page: www.inaturalist.org/projects/fort-wayne-area

The Waynedale News Staff

The Waynedale News Staff

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