Over $315K Awarded in MassWildlife Habitat Management Grants
Native Bee Added to Federal Endangered Species List
Preliminary Deer Harvest / Hunter Survey Reminder
2016 Freshwater Sportfishing Awards Program Winners
MassWildlife’s Walking Trails Policy
Turkey Federation Honors MassWildlife Staff
Upcoming Meetings and Events
MassWildlife has awarded $317,243 in grants for wildlife habitat improvement projects in 13 Massachusetts communities totaling 534 acres. These municipal and private conservation efforts are focused on improving habitat for native wildlife and increasing wildlife-related recreational opportunities for people.
The MassWildlife Habitat Management Grant Program, now in its second year, provides financial assistance to private and municipal landowners of conserved lands to improve and manage habitat for wildlife considered to be in greatest conservation need and for game species. Successful projects also expand opportunities for hunting, fishing, trapping, and other outdoor recreation, and complement the ongoing habitat management efforts on state lands.
The acquisition of land is not enough to guarantee the Commonwealth’s biological diversity. Investments in habitat restoration and management are urgently needed on public and private lands. “Conservation science has demonstrated that habitat for common and rare wildlife and plants needs active and ongoing maintenance and management,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Matthew Beaton. “In addition to investing in stewardship of state lands, it’s vital that we work with municipalities and conservation organizations to achieve our common goal of protecting Massachusetts’ lands and wildlife.”
“Wildlife in need of conservation as well as game species will benefit directly from these habitat management activities,” said Department of Fish and Game Commissioner George N. Peterson, Jr. “In addition, the sporting community, birders, naturalists, and other wildlife enthusiasts will enjoy improved recreational opportunities.”
“The reality is that 80 percent of Massachusetts’ lands where wildlife is found are owned privately,” said Jack Buckley, MassWildlife Director. “It makes sense as an agency to promote and apply science-based habitat management activities with committed municipal and private landowners, thereby protecting their investment in wildlife and habitat.”
The following landowners will receive MassWildlife Habitat Management grants:
- Town of Amherst (Amherst) - $18,426 - The Town of Amherst will remove woody vegetation and control invasive species to improve old field habitats.
- Massachusetts Forest Alliance (Ashfield and Hawley) - $47,950 - The Massachusetts Forest Alliance will create young forest habitat.
- Berkshire Natural Resources Council (Dalton and Hinsdale) - $18,000 - The Berkshire Natural Resources Council will work to control invasive plants and improve floodplain forest along the Old Mill Trail.
- The Trustees of Reservations (Ipswich) - $19,500 - The Trustees of Reservations will improve meadow habitat on the Appleton Farms property.
- Town of Lenox (Lenox) - $33,500 - The Town of Lenox will work to combat the hardy kiwi invasive plant infestation.
- Town of Marlborough (Marlborough) - $14,483 - The Town of Marlborough will work to control invasive plants in pitch pine – oak habitat at Desert Natural Area.
- Town of Mashpee (Mashpee) - $11,611 - The Town of Mashpee will convert an old bog into seasonal waterfowl habitat.
- Nantucket Conservation Foundation (Nantucket) - $38,469 - The Nantucket Conservation Foundation will reduce shrub and tree species cover to improve habitat conditions for wildlife dependent on grasslands and heathlands.
- MassAudubon (Otis) - $29,213 - MassAudubon will create new, and expand existing, shrubland habitat on the Cold Brook Wildlife Sanctuary.
- Nature Conservancy (Sheffield) - $23,640 - The Nature Conservancy will improve wetland and grassland habitats through the removal of woody plants on the Schenob Brook Preserve.
- The Trustees of Reservations (Sheffield) - $35,701 - The Trustees of Reservations will restore grassland habitat through woody species removal and invasive species control on the West Grumpelt Parcel of Bartholemew’s Cobble Preserve.
- Brian and Martha Klassanos (Ware) - $26,750 - Private landowners Brian and Martha Klassanos will treat invasive plants, establish grassland habitat, and improve shrublands on their Muddy Brook Valley property.
The US Fish and Wildlife Service announced that effective February 10, 2017, the Rusty Patched Bumble Bee (Bombus affinis) will be added to the Federal Endangered Species List. Once common across 28 states from Maine to South Dakota and two Canadian provinces, the Rusty Patched Bumble Bee has experienced a swift and dramatic decline since the late 1990s. Abundance of this bee has plummeted by 87 percent, leaving only small, scattered populations in 13 states and one province. Most remaining populations are concentrated in the Midwest (Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, and Minnesota).
Unfortunately, the Rusty Patched Bumble Bee has probably already disappeared from Massachusetts. The Rusty Patched Bumble Bee has been seen in Massachusetts only once since the year 2000; in 2009, a single bee was observed on Cape Cod. Efforts will be made to find the species, but its rapid decline suggests that it is no longer present in this part of its historic range. Massachusetts once had 16 types of native bumble bees, but one species, the Ashton Cuckoo Bumble Bee (Bombus bohemicus), is no longer found in the state. Regrettably, the Rusty Patched Bumble Bee likely represents a second Massachusetts bee species lost in recent years, highlighting the overall plight of native pollinators.
Bumble bees are important pollinators, whose activities are necessary for native wildflower reproduction and for creating seeds and fruits that feed a wide variety of wildlife including songbirds and small mammals. Bumble bees also pollinate economically important crops such as cranberries, tomatoes, and peppers. Each year, insects, mostly bees, provide pollination services valued at an estimated $3 billion in the United States.
MassWildlife reports that the preliminary statewide deer harvest for 2016 is 12,233. The preliminary harvest figures by season are as follows:
- Youth Deer Hunt Day (Oct. 1st): 128
- Archery Season: 4,661
- Shotgun Season: 4,907 (with an additional 53 deer taken during the Quabbin Reservation hunt)
- Primitive Firearms Season: 2,484
During the Shotgun Season, 58 deer were taken over 4 days during the Blue Hills Reservation’s Annual Controlled Hunt; this equates to about 10 deer removed per square mile of hunted land.
Both archery and primitive firearms seasons saw record harvests in 2016. Total harvest was near record levels as well. Harvest was likely low in 2015 due to unseasonably warm weather, lack of snow, and an abundance of food, such that deer did not have to move as often and as far during legal hunting hours. The increased harvest during the 2016 season was likely making up for the low harvest of last season and the weather was much more favorable for hunters.
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While total harvest by zone can be informative, it doesn’t provide the complete picture for monitoring trends in deer density because total harvest is influenced by antlerless deer permit allocations in each zone as well as annual changes in hunter effort, weather, etc. The MassWildlife Deer Project Leader analyzes harvest, biological, and hunter effort data, along with hunter success rates, female versus male harvest, and other factors to manage deer populations in each zone. An analysis of this information is now underway for the annual spring deer management review. A complete harvest summary will be posted on the MassWildlife website shortly after the annual deer review, so please check back in May or June.
Also, keep an eye on your email inbox for our annual hunter survey. A random sample of hunters who included a valid email address in their MassFishHunt profile will receive a hunter survey by email in the next few weeks. The survey is designed to understand hunter effort and preferences and to collect important local “on-the-ground” information that will help manage game in the Commonwealth. The survey takes approximately 5-15 minutes to complete. All responses are anonymous; identifying information such as email and IP address will not be recorded. The link is specific to each email address; therefore, hunters should not forward the invitation to others as it can only be filled out once. MassWildlife staff thanks those who have already taken the time to fill out the survey. In order to receive future surveys, make sure to enter a current email address in the customer profile section of the MassFishHunt system.
The winners of the 2016 Freshwater Sportfishing Awards have been announced! Joshua Christman of Pittsfield is the Adult Catch & Keep Angler of the Year, catching 17 species; Jason Bunar of Kingston is the Youth Catch & Keep Angler of the Year, catching 18 species; and Michael Nee of Northborough is the Catch & Release Angler of the Year, catching 18 species. The list of 2016 Gold Pin winners are posted on our website. The Freshwater Sportfishing Awards ceremony will be held this spring; details will be announced when the date is finalized. Meanwhile, if you would like to participate in the 2017 program, visit our Freshwater Sportfishing Awards Program web page to learn more. Remember, you now have two options for submitting a trophy catch: catch & keep and catch & release.
In response to increased and unauthorized trail development activities as well as requests for new trails on its lands, the Fisheries and Wildlife Board approved a Wildlife Lands Policy and a Walking Trails Policy in August 2016. Together these policies support MassWildlife’s statutory mission of conserving wildlife habitat and providing wildlife-related recreation. MassWildlife lands generally include simple, gravel or dirt parking lots with unmarked footpaths and woods roads. This minimal-development management approach keeps “wild places wild,” while allowing access to nature with an "off-the-beaten path" experience.
What the policy does:
- Supports MassWildlife’s mission to protect wildlife and its habitat
- Formalizes a trails license agreement process for six regional trails
- Limits trail creation, marking, and maintenance
- Allows areas damaged by trails to recover
- Continues free public access to MassWildlife lands
The policy does NOT:
- Restrict public access to MassWildlife lands
- Prevent walking on or require closure of any existing path, woods road, or cart path on MassWildlife lands
- Limit hunting, fishing, trapping, wildlife-related recreation, hiking, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, or off-trail exploring
In late January, New England Chapters of the National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF) held an inaugural combined Chapter Awards Banquet and honored several people with ties to the Division of Fisheries and Wildlife. Jim Cardoza, retired MassWildlife Turkey Biologist, was honored as one of the first inductees into the New England Turkey Hunting Hall of Fame. Cardoza, from Cape Cod, was recognized for his efforts in restoring wild turkeys to Massachusetts and his service with the National Wild Turkey chapters in Massachusetts.
Two Worcester County women were also honored with awards recognizing their volunteer efforts for NWTF. Jennifer Ford, a clerk at MassWildlife’s Field Headquarters and Kelly Dalbec, a MassWildlife Volunteer Hunter Education Instructor were recipients of the Top Women In The Outdoors (WITO) event held in New England. They also received the first New England Annie Oakley award for their volunteer efforts in coordinating and promoting the WITO events held in Auburn. Jennifer and Kelly will be heading to Nashville Tennessee in February to pick up National Annie Oakley Awards at NWTF’s National Conference.
February 4: Family Ice Fishing Festival, Charlton – CANCELLED DUE TO UNSAFE ICE
February 8 and 15: Basic Freshwater Fly Tying Class, Westborough – Learn the basic skills of tying your own flies during this free, hands-on, two-session course offered at the MassWildlife Field Headquarters, 1 Rabbit Hill Road, Westborough, from 7:00 P.M. – 9:00 P.M. All tools and tying materials provided. Participation is mandatory for both sessions. *Open to the public, for beginning fly tyers only, minimum age is 15. Pre-registration is mandatory. Please contact Jim Lagacy to pre-register at 508-389-6309 or firstname.lastname@example.org
February 11 & 12: 38th Annual Southeastern MA Sportsman’s Show, East Bridgewater – Sponsored by the Standish Sportsman’s Association. Stop by the MassWildlife booth where you can purchase or renew your license (credit card only), chat with MassWildlife staff, and pick up information about hunting and fishing regulations, and more! Show hours are Saturday, February 11th 9 A.M. to 5 P.M. and Sunday, February 12th 9 A.M. to 2 P.M. For more information go to: standishsportsmans.com.
February 11: Project WILD Professional Development Workshop for Elementary Educators, Westborough– Receive training in this award winning, interdisciplinary nationally recognized program! It is one of the most widely-used conservation and environmental education programs among educators of students in kindergarten through high school. Through the use of balanced curriculum materials and professional training workshops, Project WILD accomplishes its goal of developing awareness, knowledge, skills and commitment. Workshop participants will receive a copy of the guide and a certificate of completion. This hands-on workshop has applications for school teachers, scout leaders, camp counselors, nature center staff, home educators, after care teachers, etc. Click here for more information about this workshop. To register please contact Pam Landry, MassWildlife at email@example.com or Barbara Shumaker, firstname.lastname@example.org. Registration deadline is February 1, 2017.
February 12: Family Ice Fishing Festival, Georgetown – CANCELLED DUE TO UNSAFE ICE
February 12: Macgyver “Ed” Peary Ice Fishing Derby, Billerica – This is a family friendly, learn to fish event at Nuttings Lake in Billerica from 7:00 A.M. – 2:00 P.M. Bring your ice fishing equipment, or borrow ours; limited equipment and bait will be provided. This event is in cooperation with the Billerica Recreation Department. *Open to the public, registration is on site the day of the event, registration fee is a gift for a child (so that every child goes home with something) but please RSVP 978-987-3487 to let them know you intend on coming and to check if there is safe ice. Parking will be available at Micozzi Beach in Billerica – enter lake through Turnpike Market parking lot. If you have extra ice traps (tip-ups) please bring them to share. Bait will be available onsite for a minimum charge – bring a bait bucket. For more detailed information call the Billerica Recreation Department @ 978-671-0921. *PLEASE NOTE - THIS EVENT WILL ONLY BE HELD IF THERE IS 6 INCHES OR MORE OF SAFE ICE. IF THE FORECAST IS FOR RAIN, OR SNOW THE EVENT WILL BE CANCELLED.
February 21 and 23: Basic Freshwater Fly Tying Class, Charlton – Learn the basic skills of tying your own flies during this free, hands-on, two-session course offered at the Charlton Senior Center, 37 Main Street, Charlton from 7:00 P.M. – 9:00 P.M. All tools and tying materials provided. Participation is mandatory for both sessions. *Open to the public, for beginning fly tiers only, minimum age is 15. Pre-registration is mandatory. Please contact Todd Girard to pre-register at 508-248-2247 or email@example.com
February 22: Fisheries and Wildlife Board Meeting, Westborough – The February meeting of the Fisheries and Wildlife Board will be held on Wednesday, February 22, 2017, at 10:00 A.M., at the MassWildlife Field Headquarters at 1 Rabbit Hill Road, Westborough. Please note: If you have a disability or medical condition and would like to request special accommodations, please contact Susan Sacco at (508) 389-6342.
February 24-26: Springfield Sportsmen's Show – Stop by MassWildlife's booth at the Springfield Sportsmen's Show at the Big "E" Fairgrounds in West Springfield to purchase your hunting and fishing licenses and ask staff your fish and wildlife questions.
February 26: Sterling Area Birds and Where To Find Them, Sterling – There are some pretty special birds in and around Sterling: bluebirds, woodcocks, and kestrels; wood ducks, osprey and herons and even our national symbol, the bald eagle. Where can you find these winged neighbors? It helps to know where to look for them. Learn more from Andrew (Drew) Vitz, MassWildlife Ornithologist at the Sterling Land Trust’s Annual Meeting and Speaker Program on Sunday, February 25 at 1:30 P.M. in the Sterling Senior Center located at 36 Muddy Pond Road in Sterling. Find out where these birds are located, why some birds in town need special conservation assistance, which birds are already being helped, and what actions you can take to help birds in the area! For more information, contact Marion Larson, Sterling Land Trust by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 978-422-5162.