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June 29, 2007
- PREVENT THE SPREAD OF NON-NATIVE AQUATIC HITCH HIKERS
- PASSENGER KILLED IN MOOSE/CAR COLLISION
- ENVIRONMENTAL BUSINESS COUNCIL HONORS MASSWILDLIFE
- SUMMER FISH KILLS
- PHEASANT HUNT OPPORTUNITIES FOR YOUNG ADULTS
- PERSONAL WATERCRAFT PATROLS INCREASING
- NEWS & NOTES-Record Spring Turkey Tally, Permit
Applications Due July 16, Personal Watercraft Patrols Increasing,
Flyfishing Workshop For Outdoorswomen, Public Meetings and Antlerless
Deer Permit Drawing
PREVENT THE SPREAD OF NON-NATIVE AQUATIC HITCH HIKERS
Boaters launching their craft into Massachusetts waterways should check to be sure they aren't giving a free ride to non-native aquatic plants or animals. Aquatic non-native invasives can easily be transported between water bodies by boats, motors, trailers, fishing equipment, anchors, bait buckets, live wells, diving gear, and other aquatic equipment. These hitchhikers can wreak havoc in lakes and ponds by choking waterways through explosive growth, fouling intake and discharge structures, lowering lakefront property values, impeding boating, swimming and fishing, and reducing biodiversity by crowding out native fish, plants, insects and other animals. Once they are established in a water body, it is nearly impossible to eradicate these non-native invasive organisms.
Boaters and other water users can help prevent the spread of invasive
non-native plants and other organisms by 1) hand-removing all materials
(plant or animal) from equipment and disposing of it far away from the
water. Special attention should be paid to the bunks or rollers where
the boat is seated on the trailer as well as the trailer hitch. 2) Wash
and dry all equipment before reuse. Hose off the boat, diving gear and
trailer. 3) Drain and flush the engine cooling system and live wells,
bait buckets and the buoyancy control device from diving equipment that
has been in contact with a water body. 4) Join the Weed Watchers! The
Department of Conservation and Recreation's (DCR) Lakes and Ponds program
is looking for anglers, boaters, lake and pond association members and
other water users to help prevent the spread of aquatic invasives. Receive
hands-on-training in plant identification, a Guide to Aquatic Invasive
Species and other helpful publications. Information about the Weed Watchers
program can be found at the Lakes
and Ponds website or call 508/792-7423 x 304.
The Lakes and Ponds Program is making a special effort to prevent the spread of Asian clam (Corbicula). Currently, there are 6 waterbodies in Massachusetts where this non-native, invasive clam has been discovered and there are no known control methods for this species. Boaters are urged to rinse their live well water and cooling water before entering or leaving a water body, and never to empty bait buckets into a water body. Sightings of Asian Clams and other invasives should be reported to the Lakes and Ponds Program. Images of some aquatic invasives can be found at the interagency Aquatic Invasives website.
At public boat ramps, boaters may meet a Boat Ramp Monitor. The Lakes and Ponds Program developed the Boat Ramp Monitoring Program with the goals of preventing pristine water bodies from becoming infested; reducing further spread of exotic plants from infested areas and educating boaters about non-native species and steps boaters can take to protect lakes and ponds. The Boat Ramp Monitors perform voluntary inspections on boats and remove any plant fragments from boats entering or leaving the waterbody. Boaters receive educational materials and complete a brief survey to assess their knowledge of invasive species.
PASSENGER KILLED IN MOOSE/CAR COLLISION
On June 23 at 11:30 PM a Nissan Sentra collided with an adult cow moose on Rte 2 in Phillipston. Tragically, the passenger, a woman from Wendell, died as a result of her injuries, and the driver, her husband, remains in critical condition. This is the second human fatality in Massachusetts resulting from a moose/vehicle collision. The first human fatality occurred in July of 2003 on the Massachusetts Turnpike in Warren when the driver was killed in a collision with a moose.
MassWildlife estimates there are approximately 850-950 moose residing in the state with the population continuing to increase. Moose populations have increased in northern New England states as a result of forest cutting practices and no moose harvest. These elements created ideal moose habitat and allowed for high reproduction and survival rates. As the population increased, moose have moved southward into their historic range and by the early 1980's this largest member of North America's deer family moved into northern Worcester and Middlesex Counties. Currently the only "predators" of moose in the state are automobiles. An act of the legislature would be needed for MassWildlife to engage in any moose management activities.
Moose activity levels are highest in the fall during the breeding season and in spring (May /June), when adult female moose prepare to calve and last year's young are driven off to begin life on their own. Motorists are reminded to be aware of the increasing number of moose in Massachusetts and their tendency to cross roads and highways at any time of year. Because moose will step out onto a roadway without showing the slightest concern for oncoming traffic, drivers are reminded to "Brake for Moose." A vehicle hitting a moose takes the animal's long legs out from under, flipping the moose's body onto the car's windshield or roof. The dark body is difficult to see at night and its eyes are at a much higher level in the air than a pair of white tail deer eyes.
Since January, MassWildlife has received 5 reports of moose/vehicle collisions in the state. Last year, MassWildlife recorded 40 moose/vehicle collisions. MassWildlife requests all municipal and state police and highway departments notify the agency or the Environmental Police Radio Room (1/800-632-8075) about moose roadkills in order to gather data for its moose population study. Additionally, only MassWildlife or the Environmental Police can make decisions regarding the disposition of moose involved in vehicle collisions.
ENVIRONMENTAL BUSINESS COUNCIL HONORS MASSWILDLIFE
The Environmental Business Council of New England, Inc. (EBC) presented the 2007 Award for Achievement in Environmental Education to the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife (MassWildlife) at its annual meeting in June. Director Wayne MacCallum, Information/ Education Chief Ellie Horwitz and Commissioner Mary Griffin accepted the award on behalf of the agency from EBC Board member, Harlan M. Doliner. The award is given by the EBC in recognition of exceptional educational programs critical to the preservation and sustainable use of the Commonwealth's natural resources.
In his remarks during the presentation, Harlan Doliner praised the agency's publications, education and outdoor skills programs for teachers, children, adults and families. He noted that many of these programs are accomplished through partnerships with other conservation organizations. He lauded the agency's efforts to provide a sense environmental ethics and environmental justice by fostering diversity without regard to gender, age or whether a person lives in a rural, suburban or urban community. "I venture that almost everyone in this room tonight ended up in his or her environmental career because someone took them by the hand and showed them some woods and waters, sparking a love for wild critters and where they live. Director MacCallum and his colleagues have continued, nurtured and flourished in that tradition. That is why we congratulate them tonight for a job so magnificently accomplished."
SUMMER FISH KILLS
With summer weather warming up lakes and ponds, fish kills may be discovered in area waterbodies. The sight of dead and dying fish along the shores of a favorite pond can be distressing and trigger concerns about pollution. Fish do act as the "canary in the coalmine," so it's natural to think a fish kill was an indicator of a problem with pollution. The vast majority of fish kills reported are natural events.
Natural fish kills are generally the result of low oxygen levels, fish diseases or spawning stress. Depletion of dissolved oxygen is one of the most common causes of natural fish kills. As pond temperature increases, water holds less oxygen. During hot summer weather, oxygen levels in shallow, weedy ponds can further decline as plants consume oxygen at night. This results in low early morning oxygen levels that can become critical if oxygen levels fall below the requirement of fish survival. In addition to reduced oxygen levels, late spring and early summer is when most warmwater fish species, such as sunfish (bluegill, pumpkinseed, largemouth bass) begin to spawn. At this time, large numbers of these species crowd into the shallow waters along the shore vying for the best spawning sites. These densely crowded areas become susceptible to disease outbreaks, especially as water temperatures increase. The result is an unavoidable natural fish kill.
When a caller reports a fish kill, a MassWildlife fisheries biologist
determines whether the kill is natural or requires a site investigation.
If the incident is determined to be a pollution kill, MassWildlife notifies
the Department of Environmental Protection for analysis of water and
fish samples as well as a formal investigation.
To report a fish kill, contact Richard Hartley at 508/389-6330, Monday through Friday between 8:00 am and 4:30 pm, or one of the five MassWildlife District Offices: Pittsfield 413/447-9789; Belchertown 413/323-7632; W. Boylston 508/835-3607; Acton 978/263-4347; Bourne 508/759-3406. After normal business hours or on holidays and weekends, contact the Environmental Police Radio Room at 1-800-632-8075.
PHEASANT HUNT OPPORTUNITIES FOR YOUNG ADULTS
Young adults ages 12-17 who have passed the Basic Hunter Education course are invited to take the next step and sign up with local sportsmen's clubs who are offering the Young Adult Pheasant Hunt Program! Now in its second year, this program was developed by MassWildlife to provide an opportunity for 12 -17 year old Hunter Education graduates to practice firearms safety, develop shooting skills, and participate in a special pheasant hunt with a safe, experienced hunter in a friendly, supportive environment. The program is conducted by sportsmen's clubs across the state. Hunter safety is emphasized in all aspects of the program to help build the confidence of young adult hunters so they may feel comfortable hunting in the field. This program consists of three elements: shooting instruction and practice, pre-hunt workshop, and the actual pheasant hunt. More details and a list of participating sportsmen's clubs.
PERSONAL WATERCRAFT PATROLS INCREASING
Following recent accidents involving personal watercraft (PWC), the Massachusetts Environmental Police announced that Environmental Police Officers (EPO) will increase patrols on targeted waterways across the Commonwealth. PWCs (also known as jet-skis) comprise approximately six percent of all registered vessels in the state but account for about 17 percent of reported accidents in the past five years.
PWC operators should keep a sharp lookout and maintain a safe distance from other boats and swimmers. Operating within 150 feet of a bathing beach is illegal. In addition, the following Massachusetts boating laws and regulations apply:
- All PWC operators and passengers must wear a Coast Guard-approved, properly fitted life jacket at all times while underway. Post-accident investigations show that by simply wearing life jackets, many lives could be saved.
- PWC operation is prohibited between sunset and sunrise, and on bodies of water smaller than 75 acres.
- It is illegal to tow anyone or anything from a PWC.
- Children under the age of 16 may not legally operate a PWC, regardless of prior boating education or experience on other types of craft. Operators aged 16 and 17 must carry proof that they have successfully completed a state and nationally approved boating safety course.
- As with all vessels, operating under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol is prohibited.
of PWC safety laws. For an online edition of the Massachusetts Environmental
Police's go to "Your
Guide to Boating Laws and Responsibilities" The Environmental
Police also recommend that all boaters take a boating safety course
prior to operation. List
of courses and approved course providers, or call 508/759-0002.
NEWS & NOTES
- Record Spring Turkey Tally--Final figures gathered by MassWildlife's five district offices total a record 2,480 birds taken by licensed hunters during the 2007 spring turkey season. 8 turkeys were taken in Barnstable County, 465 in Berkshire County, 79 in Bristol County, 1 in Dukes County (Martha's Vineyard), 88 in Essex County, 425 in Franklin County, 186 towns in Hampden County, 239 in Hampshire County, 157 in Middlesex County, 52 in Norfolk County, 140 in Plymouth County, and 640 in Worcester County. Last year's spring final total was 2,204. Turkey enthusiasts are reminded they can assist in estimating the fall population of turkeys by reporting turkey broods (families) in their area now through the month of August. A survey form is located in the Wild Turkey pages.
- Permit Applications Due July 16--Deer and bear hunters, don't
wait in line; apply on time! All deer hunters are reminded that in
order to take antlerless deer during any deer hunting seasons, they
must possess an antlerless deer permit. The July 16 application deadline
is fast approaching. Applications postmarked after July 16 will not
be accepted. Antlerless deer permit applications are found on paper
licenses bought over the counter. Internet license buyers need to
access the MassOutdoors
website and apply on-line at www.mass.gov/massoutdoors. Only online
license holders may apply for a permit through the Internet. MassWildlife
cautions deer hunters to refrain from assuming large quantities of
over-the-counter permits will be available after permits are sent
out. The drawing for the antlerless deer permits will be held on July
31 at 4 PM at the US Fish & Wildlife Service office on 300 Westgate
Drive off Rte 116 in Hadley.The bear permit application deadline is
also July 16. Bear permit applications are found on the duplicate
license certificate of the over-the-counter license or on-line for
MassOutdoors license buyers. A mass mailing of these permits will
be sent in August. Applicants again are reminded that only online
license holders may apply through the website for a permit.
- Flyfishing Workshop For Outdoorswomen--Adult women with an interest in learning about flyfishing are invited to sign up for this all day workshop on July 21 in Belchertown. Designed for women 18 and over, this workshop will guide participants through the basics of equipment, fly tying, knots and fly casting. After lunch there will be an opportunity to fish under the guidance of friendly, knowledgeable instructors. Space is limited. Registration materials are posted in the Education area of the MassWildlife website or call Sue Fritze at 508/389-6329.
- Public Meetings and Antlerless Deer Permit Drawing--The
Heritage and Endangered Species Advisory Committee will be meeting
on Thursday, July 12 at MassWildlife's Field Headquarters in Westborough
at 1:30 PM. The Fisheries
& Wildlife Board will hold its meeting on July 31, 2007 at
1PM at the US Fish and Wildlife Service office at 300 Westgate Center
Drive, Hadley. The annual Antlerless Deer Permit Drawing with
a deer management presentation will be held at the same location at
4 PM. The public is invited to this popular event.
All meetings are handicapped accessible and open to the public.