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- WOODCOCK HABITAT INITIATIVE ANNOUNCED
- ENTER THE JUNIOR DUCK STAMP CONTEST BEFORE MARCH 15
- 2006 ALL SEASON DEER SEASON FIGURES
- CLUBS! SIGN UP TO RUN A BIRD HUNT FOR YOUNG ADULTS
- DONATE TO THE WILD THINGS ON YOUR TAX FORM
- MASSWILDLIFE STAFFER HONORED
- UPCOMING PUBLIC MEETINGS
WOODCOCK HABITAT INITIATIVE ANNOUNCED
The Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife, Ruffed Grouse Society, Wildlife Management Institute and Cowls Land and Lumber Company of North Amherst have teamed up in a habitat partnership to join the American Woodcock Initiative. The Initiative's goal is to focus habitat management efforts to benefit American woodcock and other declining wildlife populations through maintenance of field and shrubland habitats and the creation of young forest habitat in Massachusetts.
Young forest habitat makes up less than 5% of forest habitat types in the state. It consists of densely growing stands of young seedling and sapling trees typically no more than 30 years old. This type of habitat establishes itself in areas after major disturbances such as heavy wind or ice storms, fires, flooding or by certain types of timber harvest techniques. Woodcock, as well as New England cottontails, chestnut sided warblers and wood turtles are among the species which depend on young forest habitats for all or parts of their lives. The lack of young forest habitat has contributed to declines of these species throughout southern New England.
Private landowners own more than 80% of the forested land in Massachusetts. Historically, they have managed their forest lands through partial cutting of mature trees. On a large scale landscape, this cutting practice has resulted in the older, mature forest stands currently seen in much of Massachusetts.
Wildlife and forest ecologists have long known that certain forestry practices such as clear cutting achieve many of the same benefits of natural disturbances and are an effective means of creating young forests. With advice and assistance from the Woodcock Initiative Partners, clear cuts will take place in carefully selected forested areas on Cowls property. This will create much needed young forest habitat benefiting woodcock populations as well as other wildlife.
"It was kind of counter-intuitive to me at first," admits Cinda Jones, 9th generation co-owner and President of Cowls Land and Lumber Company. "We've always been praised for selectively cutting areas and never clear cutting. Through this partnership, I've learned that sometimes larger openings are what some wildlife species require for survival. We've always worked hard to do the right thing environmentally and to assure long term benefits to our forests, fish and wildlife. It's gratifying to take our efforts a few steps further through this partnership."
"Under the Jones family's leadership, Cowls' philosophy of enlightened forest management integrates strong environmental stewardship into the business of providing locally harvested forest products," said Paul Karczmarczyk, Regional Wildlife Biologist of the Ruffed Grouse Society. "This project builds on that proud history by addressing the lack of young forest habitat across the New England landscape, one of the most critical forest wildlife problems in our region. The outputs of this effort will not only benefit declining woodcock, ruffed grouse and other forest songbird populations, but will build a solid habitat foundation for the recovery of rare and threatened forest biota like New England cottontails, wood turtles, the large-leafed goldenrod and golden-winged warblers."
The Division of Fisheries and Wildlife has long recognized that restoring and maintaining habitat is essential to perpetuating Massachusetts' native wildlife and has been directing efforts towards wildlife habitat protection, restoration and management. "The Division has a goal of maintaining or creating young forest habitat on 15-20% of its own properties. Ideally, we would like to see that same percentage applied across all forest lands in the state." said George Darey, Chairman of the Fisheries and Wildlife Board. "It is our hope that by reaching out to large private landowners such as Cowls; working with them on similar wildlife habitat projects, we will reverse declining trends in wildlife species in need of conservation for generations to come."
Funding for the Woodcock Initiative comes from the Wildlife Management Institute (WMI), a private, nonprofit, scientific and educational organization dedicated to the conservation, enhancement and professional management of North America's wildlife and other natural resources. "The Cowls partnership with the Division of Fisheries and Wildlife is an excellent example of the type of partnership that we are promoting in Massachusetts and other northeastern states with important woodcock nesting ranges. Recovery of woodcock populations will rely upon private landowners having the knowledge and resources to improve their lands as habitat," says Scot Williamson, Vice President of the Wildlife Management Institute. In an effort to communicate the importance of forest management for young forest habitat, the Wildlife Management Institute tinkered with Cowls Lumber's popular "got wood?" bumper sticker and produced a new sticker that reads "got woodcock?" listing the project's partners and mission. The "got woodcock?" bumper stickers may be obtained by sending a self addressed stamped envelope to the Wildlife Management Institute, 69 Clinton Avenue, St. Johnsbury, VT 05819.
STUDENTS! ENTER THE JUNIOR DUCK STAMP CONTEST BEFORE MARCH 15
"There is still time to enter the Massachusetts Junior Duck Stamp contest," advises MassWildlife Education Coordinator Pam Landry. "Any student, from kindergarten through grade 12, regardless of whether they attend public school, private school or are home-schooled, can submit original artwork for this fun and educational competition." Junior Duck Stamp packets are still available. The entry deadline is March 15, 2006.
The Junior Duck Stamp (JDS) Program was launched in 1991 by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to increase young people's awareness of the importance of preserving wetland habitats and the delights of wildlife watching. Entries are reviewed in four categories representing grades K - 3, grades 4 - 6, grades 7 - 9 and grades 10 - 12. All entrants are recognized for their efforts, with the top 25 receiving prizes in each age category. The overall state winner represents Massachusetts at the National Competition in Ocean City, Maryland.
"JDS is really a lesson in conservation through the arts, so everyone who participates is a winner," continues Landry. "Not only is it fun to create a drawing or painting, it's interesting to learn about the species being drawn so it can be depicted in a natural habitat. I'd love to hear from art teachers, science teachers, and parents who home-school to provide them with all the details. JDS packets contain materials to stimulate interest in wildlife and habitat protection and describe the incredibly successful story of federal Duck Stamps. Even if someone decides not to enter the art competition, the related information can be valuable in the classroom." For a packet or more information contact Pam Landry, 508/389-6310, email@example.com or click on the Education area of the agency website at www.mass.gov/masswildlife.
FINAL 2006 ALL SEASON DEER SEASON FIGURES
MassWildlife Deer Project Leader Bill Woytek reports a total of 10,479 white-tailed deer taken by licensed hunters during the combined 2006 seasons. Additionally, 117 deer were taken during the Quabbin Reservation hunt. The statewide harvest combined with Quabbin was 10,596. By season, the total breaks down to 8 deer taken during the special season for paraplegic sportsmen, 3,385 taken by archers, 5,603 taken during the shotgun season and 1,482 taken during the muzzleloading season.
Woytek noted that 2006 was another record year for archery with a 7% increase in all but two WMZs, saying, "Archery is an important management tool in suburban areas where deer densities are higher and firearms discharge and other local bylaws are in place." However, he points out that there was an overall decrease from 2005 during the shotgun and muzzleloader seasons, with poor hunting conditions due to lack of snow cover throughout most of the state during those seasons. In addition, fewer antlerless deer permits were issued in 10 of the 15 Wildlife Management Zones (WMZ), as reduced deer densities in many WMZs meet MassWildlife's goals for those zones.
"Hunters can still find quality deer in any part of the state," says Woytek. "Deer hunters should remember that an antlerless deer permit is required to take antlerless deer in any deer season. Hunters should send in their antlerless deer applications, as there may not be many permits available for over the counter sales in some WMZs." Permit applications are attached to traditional hunting and sporting licenses and must be submitted prior to July 16. Hunters purchasing licenses on line via www.mass.gov/massoutdoors may apply for an antlerless permit electronically.
CLUBS! SIGN UP TO RUN A BIRD HUNT FOR YOUNG ADULTS
Sportsmen's clubs across the state who wish to encourage young people to participate in the traditions of safe, ethical hunting and to enjoy the great outdoors might want to sign up for a program designed specifically for clubs and young people by MassWildlife. The Massachusetts Young Adult Pheasant Hunt Program was designed to be conducted by sporting clubs who want to provide young adults ages 12 to 17 with a positive outdoor and hunting experience, as well as the opportunity to practice skills learned from the Basic Hunter Education course, in a safe, relaxed and friendly environment. Young people experience shotgun shooting practice and firearms handling at a "dress rehearsal" in the field, and later, to a pheasant hunt under the supervision of a knowledgeable, safe adult hunter. Clubs wishing to participate must sign up with MassWildlife by June 15.
Clubs choosing to participate in the program will receive a hunting safety kit that includes orange vests, eye and ear protection, and educational materials on hunting safety. MassWildlife will also provide participating clubs with pheasants for the hunt. Most of the activities associated with the Young Adult Pheasant Program will occur in the summer through October.
"This program serves two audiences," said Mark Tisa, MassWildlife Assistant Director. "The first audience is the organized sporting club that is looking for ways to mentor young adult hunters in the skills and ethical standards of hunting. The other audience is the young adult hunter who has already learned some basic hunting skills and knowledge and wants to go further with the experience." Tisa commented that this program provides an important "next step" in the education and experience of young, would-be hunters. Sixteen clubs participated in the Young Adult Pheasant Program last year. Tisa noted that there is a need for club participation in the Connecticut River Valley, as there have not yet been any programs offered in that region of the state.
The deadline for clubs to sign up for the program is June 15. Clubs already planning to run a program this fall can download a Request for Pheasants and Program Materials as well as an Application form from the Education area of the website. New clubs to the program can also download the 2007 version of a planning guide designed specifically for the Young Adult Pheasant Hunt. For other information, contact Mark Tisa at 508/389-6328.
DONATE TO THE WILD THINGS ON YOUR STATE TAX FORM
Since 1983, Massachusetts tax filers have had the option of donating to MassWildlife's Natural Heritage & Endangered Species Fund while filing their state income tax form (Line 32). When you contribute to the fund, you help to protect and restore rare and endangered animals, plants, and their habitats. Past donations have helped conserve and restore in the Commonwealth populations of the Bald Eagle, Hessel's Hairstreak butterfly, the Redbelly Cooter, and the beautiful Eastern Silvery Aster. Donations to the Fund may also be made year round by sending a check made out to: Natural Heritage & Endangered Species Fund and sent to: MassWildlife Field HQ, NHESP, 1 Rabbit Hill Rd Westborough MA 01581 Check the Natural Heritage area of MassWildlife's website; www.mass.gov/masswildlife to learn more about the work that your donations support.
MASSWILDLIFE STAFFER HONORED
Dick Turner, of Lakeville and Wildlife Manager at MassWildlife's Southeast District Office, was honored with the Joe Yerka Sportsmen of the Year Award by the New England Outdoor Writer's Association at their annual dinner on Saturday, Feb 10 in Worcester. "He's a treasure and a wealth of information," said Director Wayne MacCallum."Dick is our 'living history' and I've never seen anyone more passionate about his work." Turner has been employed by the Division since the 1940's and helped build the Southeast District office where he is stationed when he's not out checking wood duck boxes, stocking fish, monitoring eagles or investigating rare species sightings.
UPCOMING PUBLIC MEETINGS
The Fisheries & Wildlife Board will be meeting on February 27 at 10AM at the MassWildlife Field Headquarters in Westborough off North Drive. Open to all, these public meetings provide Board members with information on wildlife and related topics and issues across the state.
The Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Advisory Committee will meet on March 8 at 1:30PM at the MassWildlife Field Headquarters in Westborough. For directions, check the MassWildlife website in About MassWildlife (www.mass.gov/masswildlife) or call 508/389-6360. Both meetings are open to the public.
Calendar of Events
An updated calendar can be found on the agency website