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- BEARS AND BIRDFEEDERS
- WINTER FISH KILLS
- CITIZEN SCIENTISTS NEEDED TO IDENTIFY TURTLE CROSSINGS
- REMEMBER ENDANGERED SPECIES ON YOUR STATE TAX FORM
- GOT OUTDOOR-ORIENTED TEENS? CONSIDER JUNIOR CONSERVATION CAMP
- CRITTER OF THE MONTH
- UPCOMING PUBLIC MEETINGS AND HEARING
- CALENDAR OF EVENTS
BEARS AND BIRDFEEDERS
If you feed birds and live in northern Middlesex County, Worcester County, or western Massachusetts, it's time to think about removing bird feeders before bears emerge from hibernation. Snow melt and longer day length will begin to encourage bears to leave their winter dens and seek food. In many cases, bears will ignore natural foods such as skunk cabbage and instead head to the nearest birdfeeder for a good meal. To avoid this problem in central and western Massachusetts, the Division of Fisheries and Wildlife (DFW) is issuing its seasonal reminder that bird feeders should be taken down by mid-March and other preventive steps be taken. "There is little in the way of natural foods and bears learn to seek out high-energy human foods such as bird seed," says Laura Hajduk, DFW Bear Project Leader. "This may lead to conflicts that pose hazards to both bears and people." Removing bird feeders will not create a problem for birds as birdfeeders are more of a supplement to the natural foods available throughout the winter. Massachusetts is home to approximately 3,000 resident bears, with the majority living west of the Connecticut River. Bears also reside as far east as Worcester County and northern Middlesex County. Although many bears keep to their dens during the winter, some can be sporadically active and can seek out human related food sources. If you notice bear activity in the area earlier than mid-March, be proactive and remove bird feeders and other potential food sources promptly.
Bears have excellent long-term memories and remember which foods are available at different seasons, as well as where food sources can be found. Even if a feeder is inaccessible to bears, they will be attracted by the scent of seed and suet. Once they find a feeder, bears will return. Bears are generally shy and fearful of people, but deliberate or indirect feeding, coupled with a lack of harassment can cause bears to become accustomed to people. If bears lose their fear of people and develop a taste for human foodstuffs, bears can become bolder and may cause damage that ultimately results in harm to people or to the demise of the animal.
If a bear is passing through a neighborhood without stopping, enjoy
the sight. However, if the bear stops to feed on trash, bird seed, or
other human generated foods, remove them after the bear has left and
advise your neighbors to do the same. Generally, due to their fear of
people, bears tend to leave a yard when people step outside and make
loud noises. Keep garbage in airtight containers, securely stored in
a cellar, garage, or shed. Put trash out on the day of trash pickup,
not the previous evening. Keep doors to sheds and barns latched or locked
to prevent bears from finding grain. Don't feed pets outdoors. Don't
dump sweet or meaty items in compost piles as bears will soon find them.
In residential areas where bears are known to be present, the entire
neighborhood must take recommended actions or bears will move from yard
to yard seeking food. Hajduk noted that taking these actions also reduces
problems with other common wildlife species such as coyotes, raccoons,
skunks, and foxes. More
black bear information.
WINTER FISH KILLS
This season's cold and record snowfall make it hard for wildlife, but for fish, mussels, plants and other aquatic life, but on some water bodies a severe winter can be fatal. As ponds and lakes freeze over and snowfall piles up on the ice, the fish and their fates are sealed, literally, under a layer of ice. Winter fish kills (or winterkill) are the result of significant decline in oxygen levels in a water body during a long period of ice and snow cover. Snow-covered ice blocks sunlight, greatly decreasing the amount of oxygen plants and algae once produced. Oxygen levels drop further because all aquatic life, including the fish, are consuming what little oxygen is left in the water. In these conditions, a complete winterkill can occur. This condition is natural and rarely the result of pollution such as illegal dumping, sewage or a chemical spill.
Reports of strong "rotten egg" odors are generally the first clue that a waterbody is experiencing anoxia (lack of oxygen). The odor is hydrogen sulfide gas which is a natural by-product occurring in lakes and ponds with low amounts of dissolved oxygen. Ice anglers are often the first to notice these conditions and observe distressed fish gasping for air at holes in the ice or live baitfish dying on fishing lines. The Division of Fisheries and Wildlife (DFW) has recently received several calls from ice fishermen reporting this phenomenon on some shallow, weed-choked lakes. DFW fisheries biologists routinely find low dissolved oxygen levels in these types of habitats; prime candidates for winterkill. Most of the time, the results of winterkill are not seen until spring when the ice melts and citizens discover dead fish on the bottom of the pond or floating at the surface.
To report a fish kill Monday through Friday between 8:00 am and 4:30
PM, contact Richard Hartley at (508) 389-6330. After normal business
hours or on holidays and weekends, contact the Environmental Police
Radio Room at (800)-632-8075. More
information about winterkill.
CITIZEN SCIENTISTS NEEDED TO IDENTIFY TURTLE CROSSINGS
Turtles have existed for millions of years, but roadways are threatening the survival of local populations. Turtles in Massachusetts often cross roadways late spring to early fall and are vulnerable to car collisions. Ambitious citizen scientists, turtle enthusiasts, and conservation organizations are encouraged to join state wildlife and transportation personnel in collecting data for a Turtle Roadway Mortality Monitoring Program. Linking Landscapes for Massachusetts Wildlife, a recent partnership between the Division of Fisheries and Wildlife (DFW), Department of Transportation (DOT) Highway Division and UMass-Amherst, trained volunteers to collect data in 2010 and is expanding its volunteer program by offering two citizen scientist information and training sessions in Amherst and Westborough. These sessions are designed to train new volunteers, acknowledge current volunteer efforts, and share results from the first year of data collection. The information gathered thorough this volunteer effort will be used to coordinate local turtle conservation efforts.
The first information and training session will be held on Saturday, March 26, 2011, from 10am - 12pm at the Notch Visitor's Center located at 1500 West Street in Amherst. The second session will be held on Tuesday, March 29, 2011, from 7pm - 9pm at the Karl Weiss Educational Conference Building located on North Drive in Westborough. This facility is on the same property as the DFW Field Headquarters. The sessions are free, but pre-registration is required. Interested volunteers can register with DFW's Dave Paulson at firstname.lastname@example.org or call him at (508) 389-6366.
Linking Landscapes for Massachusetts Wildlife is a long-term and multifaceted
effort to minimize the impact of the existing road network on wildlife,
while improving highway safety. Linking Landscapes offers three Massachusetts
citizen science research efforts that allows online reporting of site
specific wildlife roadway mortality through a Google Maps interface.
More information on Linking
Landscapes for Massachusetts Wildlife.
REMEMBER ENDANGERED SPECIES ON YOUR STATE TAX FORM
Help protect Box Turtles, Peregrine Falcons and other endangered wildlife by supporting the Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Fund when you file your state income tax this year. Since 1983, Massachusetts tax filers of Form 1 have had the option of donating to this effort through the Division of Fisheries and Wildlife's Natural Heritage & Endangered Species Fund when filing their state income tax (Line 32a: "Endangered Wildlife Conservation"), and tens of thousands of people have done so over the years. All contributions go directly into the Fund, an important portion of the annual operating budget of DFW's Natural Heritage & Endangered Species Program (NHESP), which conserves and protects endangered species and their habitats in Massachusetts.
Over 20,000 tax filers support the program with over $200,000 in critically-important
donations each year. Won't you join them? With your contributions to
the Fund, you directly help to study, protect, and restore endangered
animals and plants and their habitats. Donations help restore populations
and conserve and maintain habitat for many vulnerable kinds of wildlife,
from raptors to reptiles. You can also contribute directly to the Fund
by sending a check payable to: "Comm. of Mass-NHESP Fund"
and send it to: NHESP, Massachusetts Division of Fisheries & Wildlife,
1 Rabbit Hill Rd, Westborough, MA, 01581.
GOT OUTDOOR-ORIENTED TEENS? CONSIDER JUNIOR CONSERVATION CAMP
It's not too early to start thinking about summer camp for your teenage son or daughter. If you have a teen (or know one) who is interested in the outdoors, likes camping, fishing, canoeing, or wants to learn more about these and other outdoor skills, the Massachusetts Junior Conservation Camp may be just the right experience. Held at the Chesterfield Scout Reservation in western Massachusetts, the Massachusetts Junior Conservation Camp is a two-week overnight summer camp for girls and boys 13 -17 years of age offering a program of conservation education and instruction in outdoor recreation skills.
Campers will participate in a variety of outdoor skills including Archery, Basic Camping, Fly & Spin Casting, Blackpowder, Sporting Clays, Orienteering, 3-Position Riflery, First Aid and Wilderness Survival. Campers sleep in tents on elevated platforms, interact with natural resource professionals from agencies such as the Division of Fisheries and Wildlife, Department of Conservation & Recreation, Natural Resources Conservation Service and the Environmental Police. The Massachusetts Basic Hunter Education and the Massachusetts Small Boat Safety courses are also part of the curriculum. This year's camp dates are July 31 - August 12, 2011 and tuition is $600. For campers needing financial assistance, contact local sportsmen's clubs and other conservation groups which offer "camperships" to teens from their community to attend camp. In most cases, teens need only send a letter explaining why they are interested in attending. Camp registration and other details about the Junior Conservation Camp.
CRITTER OF THE MONTH--The Peregrine Falcon
Did you know that peregrine falcons are also known as duck hawks? John James Audubon remarked in The Birds of North America, "The largest duck that I have seen this bird attack and grapple with on the wing is a Mallard." The peregrine falcon's best known hunting strategy is to soar up high in the sky and wait for a bird to fly past far below. Once a target has been chosen, they do several strong wing beats to pick up speed and drop straight down into a controlled dive called a stoop. It is during this maneuver that they can attain speeds of at least 185 miles per hour and approaching 200 miles per hour by some reports. The peregrine will strike its prey hard enough to kill it and hurtle past the bird. The falcon then pulls out of its dive and catches the falling prey.
Peregrine falcons (Falco peregrinus) are listed as Endangered
on the Massachusetts Endangered Species List, but their numbers have
been growing over years of restoration efforts by MassWildlife and other
conservation partners. Historically, peregrine nesting sites (eyries)
within Massachusetts were located on rocky cliffs. Currently, there
are 19 known falcon nest sites mostly in nest boxes set on buildings
in cities and towns across the state. During the month of March, paired
adults choose a nest site and defend it from other birds. Eggs are laid
in April and the young hatch in May. More
information about peregrine falcons.
UPCOMING PUBLIC MEETINGS
The Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Advisory Committee will meet at DFW's Westborough Field Headquarters, 1 Rabbit Hill Rd (off North Drive) in Westborough on Thursday, March 10, from 1:30-4:30 PM.
The Fisheries and Wildlife Board will meet on March 22, 2011 at Noon at DFW's Westborough Field Headquarters, 1 Rabbit Hill Rd (off North Drive) in Westborough. In case of inclement weather, the Board meeting will be held the following day at the same location.
March 22--Public Hearing -- A Public Hearing will be held by the Fisheries and Wildlife Board on Tuesday, March 22 beginning at 3 PM at MassWildlife Field Headquarters, 1 Rabbit Hill Rd (off North Drive) in Westborough, regarding proposed revisions to the deer hunting regulations administered by the Division of Fisheries and Wildlife. The regulation revisions propose the allowance of the use of break-open breech muzzleloaders which have become widely available and popular.
All meetings and the hearing are open to the public and the building is handicapped accessible. Directions.
CALENDAR OF EVENTS
March 3 -- Fire Dependent Forests Talk, Sudbury -- Tim Simmons, a restoration ecologist with MassWildlife's Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program, will talk about the relationship of fire to pitch pine-scrub oak barrens and the wildlife that depends on these special habitats at the Assabet National Wildlife Refuge Visitor's Center on 680 Hudson Rd, near the Hudson/Sudbury town line. These ecologically unique forests provide habitat for some rare wildlife species including Barren's buck moth, whip-poor-wills and New England cottontails, and rely on fire to regenerate. The talk will begin at 7 pm and is co-hosted by Friends of the Assabet River National Wildlife Refuge, US Fish and Wildlife Service, and Sudbury Valley Trustees. Contact Erin Snook to sign up at email@example.com or call her at (978) 443-5588.
March 4-6 -- MassWildlife at the Central Mass. Flower and Patio Show, Worcester -- If you are visiting the Flower and Patio Show, Outdoor Living at the DCU Center, stop by the DFW display and find out about outdoor recreation opportunities and how to live with the common wildlife in your neighborhood.
March 9 -- The Sudden and Unexpected Decline of Massachusetts Bats, Northfield --Held at the Northfield Mountain Recreation & Environmental Center, 99 Millers Falls Road at 7pm and co-sponsored by the Athol Bird and Nature Club, the public is invited to join Dr. Tom French, Assistant Director of the MassWildlife Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program, to learn more about our native Massachusetts bats and their sudden and unexpected decline. For ages 10 and older. This program is free.
March 19 -- Growing Up WILD Workshop for Early Childhood Educators, Somerville -- Growing Up WILD: Exploring Nature with Young Children is an early childhood education activity guide that builds on children's sense of wonder about nature and invites them to explore wildlife and the world around them. The Somerville Library and the Division of Fisheries and Wildlife invite Early Childhood educators and caregivers of children ages 3-7 years to participate in this exciting, fun, six-hour interactive, hands-on Growing Up WILD workshop designed to help you discover how to engage young children in activities that encourage exploration of the natural world. Pre-registration is required by emailing Paula Jordan at firstname.lastname@example.org or calling her at (781) 643-3714.
March 26 -- Massachusetts
Land Conservation Conference, Worcester - The 21st Massachusetts
Land Conservation Conference will be held at the Worcester Technical
High School. The conference theme is "Climate Change and Land Conservation"
with a focus on raising awareness about climate change and ways in which
land conservation and stewardship can contribute to mitigation and adaptation.
DFW will be presenting information about BioMap2 and also staffing an
exhibitor table. Registration and more details.
Last Updated: 03/04/2011