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- OVER 10,000 ACRES OF WILDLIFE LAND PROTECTED IN FY 09
- JOIN THE 110TH CHRISTMAS BIRD COUNT: CITIZEN SCIENCE IN ACTION
- EXOTIC PETS ILLEGAL IN MASSACHUSETTS
- RESULTS OF 2009 DEER SEASON FOR PARAPLEGIC HUNTERS
- ENDANGERED SPECIES PROGRAM HONORED
- UPCOMING PUBLIC MEETINGS
- NEWS AND NOTES: Regulatory Actions by the Fisheries and Wildlife Board; Broodstock Salmon; Learn About Organic Land Care; Midwinter Eagle Survey Scheduled; Upcoming Wildlife Magazine Stories
OVER 10,000 ACRES OF WILDLIFE LAND PROTECTED IN FY 09
Over 10,280 acres of fish and wildlife habitat in 42 towns were protected
for wildlife and the public by the Department of Fish and Game (DFG)
and the Division of Fisheries and Wildlife (MassWildlife) in the past
fiscal year (July 1, 2008 - June 30, 2009). Key wildlife habitats protected
through the efforts of MassWildlife and DFG realty staff ranged from
1-acre acquisitions in Pepperell on the Nissitissit River and in Montague
on the Saw Mill River to the 4,300-acre conservation easement in Fall
River which is held jointly by DFW and the Department of Conservation
These wildlife lands will be added to the list of over 170,000 acres currently under the care and control of MassWildlife, most of which are Wildlife Management Areas (WMA). Most properties this year were purchased outright (in fee), however from an acreage perspective, approximately 75% of lands protected in FY 09 were via conservation easements that restrict development and allow public access for wildlife-related recreation but still leave the land in the hands of the original owner. All lands protected are open to fishing, hunting, trapping, wildlife observation, boating, hiking, and other wildlife-related recreation. A listing of the FY 2009 properties by town can be found at www.mass.gov/dfwele/dfw/habitat/land/land_acquisitions.htm.
"Wildlife Conservation Easements (WCE) played a major role in our land protection efforts in the eastern and central part of the state," said Bill Minior, recently retired Chief of Wildlife Lands. "Although WCEs accounted for only 12 of our 56 projects, they included over three quarters of the total acreage protected." Municipalities were the grantors of about 75% of the total conservation easement acreage protected. Minior noted that the driving factors behind this municipal activity appears to have been the need for funding coupled with the desire to preserve open space for resource protection and recreational needs.
Several notable properties acquired include a 248-acre tract in the Western District that more than doubled the size of the agency's Hawley Herp Preserve and was the largest parcel acquired in fee this year. Additionally, a 17-acre parcel acquired in Dalton includes approximately one quarter mile of Housatonic River frontage as well as an attractive log cabin style office building which now houses the Western District office. In the Connecticut Valley District, the agency was able to add 174 acres to the Montague WMA. Also in Montague, a key 1-acre public access parcel of riverfront land was acquired on the Sawmill River. In the Central District, a new 498-acre Nineteenth Hill WCE in Winchendon was acquired from the Town of Winchendon, and a new 564-acre Wekepeke WCE located in Sterling and Leominster was acquired from the Town of Clinton. In the Northeast District, the Shirley Rod and Gun club conveyed a 146 acre WCE which adds substantially to agency holdings in that area. A new WMA - the Townsend Hill WMA - was created by combining two abutting acquisitions in Townsend and Pepperell. Last but not least, in the Southeast District, the town of Fall River conveyed the 4,300-acre Fall River Wildlife Conservation Easement (WCE), which is held jointly with DCR. Perhaps the most notable acquisition is the 158-acre AD Makepeace (ADM) transaction in Plymouth and Wareham. It created two new WMAs, Halfway Pond and Maple Springs, but more importantly paved the way for future protection of thousands of acres of ADM property. Much of this property is considered by MassWildlife's Natural Heritage Program to be some of the most valuable rare and endangered species habitat in the eastern part of the state. This complex project involves the ADM Co., local municipalities, non-profits/land trusts and the Commonwealth, and under options will span several decades.
"The AD Makepeace project is our biggest conservation deal in decades. The amount of land we're talking about protecting in that area over time is tremendous," said DFG Commissioner Mary Griffin. "Coupled with the other land protection projects our staff completed, it is certainly the most successful year our department has had in quite some time.''
The primary land protection goal for DFG and MassWildlife is to ensure protection of biological diversity by acquiring the most important fish and wildlife habitat and natural communities and to provide the public with access to the lands and waters of the Commonwealth. State WMAs include river corridors, wetlands, various kinds of forested upland, habitat for state listed endangered and threatened species and species of special concern, and high quality examples of other important habitat types. Support for the land acquisition program comes from several sources. The primary funding mechanism is the Commonwealth's open space bond authorization. In FY 09, the department received more than $12.3 million in capital funds for land acquisition. Another funding source - the Wildlands Stamp Fund - is supported by a $5 charge on the sale of fishing, hunting, and sporting licenses sold in Massachusetts, and provides more than $1 million a year for the protection of open space. Direct donations can also be made to the Wildlands Stamp Fund. Maps of most WMAs can be found in the MassWildlife website and and boating access locations through the Office of Fishing and Boating Access website.
JOIN THE 110TH CHRISTMAS BIRD COUNT: CITIZEN SCIENCE IN ACTION
Make the Christmas Bird Count your new holiday outdoor tradition! From
December 14, 2009 through January 5, 2010, bird lovers in Massachusetts
as well as the rest of the United States will be participating in the
nation's longest running wildlife survey, the Christmas Bird Count (CBC).
Families, students, birders, and scientists armed with binoculars, bird
guides, and checklists go out on an annual seasonal mission - often
before dawn. For over 100 years, the desire to both make a difference
and to experience the beauty of nature has enticed dedicated people
to leave the comfort of a warm house during the holiday season. The
data collected by bird observers over the past century allow researchers,
conservation biologists, and other interested individuals to study the
long-term health and status of bird populations across North America.
When combined with other surveys such as the Breeding Bird Survey, the
CBC provides a picture of how the continent's bird populations have
changed in time and space over the past hundred years.
There is a specific methodology to the CBC and everyone can participate. In Massachusetts, there are 33 geographic "count circles" where the bird counts occur. Each count circle is coordinated by an experienced Count Compiler. Beginning birders can join a group that includes at least one or two experienced birdwatchers in charge of covering a portion of the circle. In addition, if your home is within the boundaries of a count circle, you can report the birds visiting your feeder. In either case, if you have never been on a CBC before, locate and contact the local Count Compiler to find out how you can participate.
Visit the MassBird
website for information regarding local CBC Count Compilers and
birding clubs in your area. A list of Frequently Asked Questions with
more details and national CBC results are found on National
Audubon's web page.
EXOTIC PETS ILLEGAL IN MASSACHUSETTS
If you think an exotic animal like a monkey, alligator, or serval would make a great pet or holiday gift, think again. Many people are probably aware of the tragic scenario in Connecticut this year when a pet chimpanzee seriously injured and disfigured the owner's friend. Massachusetts has very strict regulations governing the possession of both native and exotic wildlife by the average citizen. "Many people assume that any animal they can purchase in another state or over the Internet is legal to possess in Massachusetts," said Dr. Tom French, Assistant Director of the Division of Fisheries and Wildlife's Natural Heritage & Endangered Species Program. "This is simply not true. Our regulations are restrictive to the point that we publish only what you may possess, rather than what you may not. Only museums, nature centers, or educational institutions are granted permits for many kinds of wildlife. The goal of these regulations is to protect both the interests of wildlife and the public."
Before making any purchase, consult with a veterinarian to determine what pet is suitable for your abilities, lifestyle, and commitment to pet care, as well as the legal status of owning such an animal in Massachusetts. Information regarding the possession of captive or exotic wildlife.
Dr. French recommends doing business with established and reputable Massachusetts pet shops rather than surfing the Internet or scanning the classifieds where sellers are not necessarily concerned with or aware of the laws that might affect potential buyers. "Store owners keep up with the laws," he notes. "The store owners were an effective lobby for making domestic ferrets a legal pet in Massachusetts and know their livelihood depends on doing business by the book. They'll be happy to sell you reptiles, amphibians, birds, fish, and mammals that conform to state laws, and they'll tell you if something you ask about is illegal."
French also asks that anyone with knowledge of an illegally held wild
or exotic animal contact the Environmental Police at (800) 632-8075
on any day of the week, or the Division at (508) 389-6300 on weekdays
during business hours. "If animals have to be confiscated, our
goal is to find the best home in the most appropriate setting for the
animal's health and well-being," said French. "To avoid making
a difficult situation more uncomfortable, we encourage owners with illegal
wildlife to step forward and cooperate with us for the sake of the animals."
RESULTS OF 2009 DEER SEASON FOR PARAPLEGIC HUNTERS
In late October, 24 hunters participated in a special deer season hunt by paraplegic hunters at four locations in central and western Massachusetts. A total of four deer (two bucks, one button buck and one doe) were taken for an overall success rate of 16%. The hunt is coordinated by the Division of Fisheries and Wildlife (DFW), with assistance from state agencies, military personnel, and volunteer sportsmen and women. Hunt locations included Quabbin Park in Belchertown, South Post in Devens, private land in Williamstown, and property in and around Mount Washington State Forest.
"It's incredibly rewarding to assist wheelchair-bound hunters outdoors to take part in a recreational experience that means so much to them," said Trina Moruzzi, DFW Biologist and Hunt coordinator. "This hunt would not be possible without the assistance and support of some great volunteers, the Department of Conservation and Recreation staff, military personnel and Environmental Police Officers." Moruzzi noted that once again almost every participant saw deer, which added a positive bonus to the participants' hunting experience.
The Division has been offering interested paraplegic hunters the opportunity to hunt deer during a special 3-day season since 1972. When a hunter successfully shoots a deer, volunteers assist the hunter by retrieving the deer, field dressing it, and getting it properly checked by DFW staff on site. Hunters and volunteers alike enjoy this opportunity to spend time together outdoors. Next year's hunt will be held October 28 - October 30, 2010. Paraplegic sportsmen and women interested in participating in next year's hunt can contact Trina Moruzzi at (508) 389-6318.
ENDANGERED SPECIES PROGRAM HONORED
On November 1, 2009, the New England Wild Flower Society's trustees
honored individuals and organizations in New England who have demonstrated
creative vision and exceptional achievement in furthering the goals
of the Society to conserve native plants and their habitats. The Natural
Heritage and Endangered Species Program (NHESP) of Massachusetts received
State Award for continuing leadership through an effective multi-faceted
data-based effort that supports and implements conservation of rare
and endangered species and communities in Massachusetts. The NHESP,
part of the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife, is one
of the programs forming the Natural Heritage network and is responsible
for the conservation and protection of hundreds of species that are
not hunted, fished, trapped, or commercially harvested in the state.
The Program's highest priority is protecting the 176 species of vertebrate
and invertebrate animals and 259 species of native plants listed on
the Massachusetts Endangered Species List.
UPCOMING PUBLIC MEETINGS
December 10-The Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Advisory Committee will be holding its meeting on Thursday, April 9 at MassWildlife's Field Headquarters in Westborough from 1:30- 4:30 pm. This meeting location is handicapped accessible and the meeting is open to the public. For directions or call (508) 389-6360.
December 16-The Fisheries & Wildlife Board will hold its December meeting on Wednesday, December 16, 2009 at 11:00 a.m. at the Division of Fisheries and Wildlife Field Headquarters Library, 1 Rabbit Hill Rd (off North Drive) Directions. Anyone with a disability or medical condition may request special accommodations. Anyone who wants to be placed on the agenda to speak a person must notify the Board two weeks prior to the Board meeting. For specifics contact Julie Delaney at (508) 389-6342.
NEWS AND NOTES: Regulatory Actions By The Fisheries And Wildlife Board; Broodstock Salmon; Learn About Organic Land Care; Midwinter Eagle Survey Scheduled; Upcoming Wildlife Magazine Stories
Regulatory Actions Taken By The Fisheries And Wildlife Board -- On November 24, 2009, the Fisheries and Wildlife Board voted to remove the bobcat quota. The regulation change will not take effect until some time in 2010 when officially published by the Secretary of State's office. Current bobcat hunting and trapping regulations remain in place. When the new regulations are published and in effect, the Division of Fisheries and Wildlife will post them on the website, at Division offices, through the media and via the monthly e-newsletter.
Broodstock Salmon -- More than 460 retired broodstock salmon from the Connecticut River Atlantic Salmon Restoration Program were released into lakes and ponds across the Commonwealth in October. These fish came from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's White River National Fish Hatchery in Vermont. Additional fish from MassWildlife's Roger Reed Salmon Hatchery in Palmer and the White River National Fish Hatchery will be stocked some time in December. A list of ponds where the fish were released.
Learn About Organic Land Care -- Landscape professionals, horticulturalists, conservation staff, and anyone else interested in managing land using organic practices can enroll in the 9th annual Northeast Organic Farmers Association (NOFA) 5-day Accreditation Course in Organic Land Care. The course will be held Jan. 13, 14, 15, 19, and 20, 2010, at the Parker River National Wildlife Refuge Visitor's Center in Newburyport. Taught by land care professionals and scientists, this intensive 5-day course covers all aspects of organic landscaping including soil health, site analysis, rain gardens, soil amendments, composting, pest management, planting, wildlife management, wetlands, invasives, business management, and more. For registration information, visit: www.organiclandcare.net or call coordinator Kathy Litchfield at (413) 773-3830 or email her at Kathy@nofamass.org.
Midwinter Eagle Survey Scheduled -- Eagle watchers are reminded to mark their calendars for the annual midwinter eagle survey on major rivers, lakes, reservoirs, and the coast. The survey period runs from December 30, 2009 - January 13, 2010. On January 8, 2010, Division of Fisheries and Wildlife (MassWildlife) personnel, cooperators, and volunteers across the state will conduct a concentrated effort to count eagles. This event is part of the nationwide Midwinter Bald Eagle Survey held every year in early January. More information will be forthcoming in the January newsletter.
Upcoming Wildlife Magazine Stories -- If rabbits are rabbits
and hares are hares, which label goes with the three species of bunnies
found in Massachusetts? How is it possible, with rabbits commonly seen
in backyard habitats, that our only native cottontail could be facing
extinction? Renew or purchase a new or gift subscription to Massachusetts
Wildlife magazine, the flagship publication of the Division of Fisheries
and Wildlife, and you'll find out more with your very first issue (#3,
2009). You'll also enjoy world-class photos of giant sharks and whales,
find out how to outwit the smartest wild predator (Eastern Coyote),
and get the latest on how hawks have responded to highway construction
(the results may surprise you). Massachusetts Wildlife magazine also
makes a terrific holiday or birthday gift for the wildlife and outdoor
enthusiast in your family.
Last Updated: 12/04/2009