New Year, New Newsletter
Register for 2015 Hip Survey
Catch and Release Added to Sportfishing Awards Program
January 10th Deadline for Freshwater Sportfishing Awards Program
New Wildlands Map Viewer
MassWildlife Field Headquarters Building Celebrates Grand Opening
Play It Safe on the Ice
Outdoor Users: Thank a Landowner Today
Upcoming Meetings and Events

 

New Year, New Newsletter
This holiday season, we extend our sincere thanks for your support and wish you a happy, healthy New Year. We made some improvements to our newsletter – we hope you enjoy the new look. A full length version of the newsletter will continue to be available on our website.

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Register for 2015 HIP Survey
Those who plan to hunt geese or other permissible migratory game birds beyond December 31, 2014 must visit MassFishHunt to register for the 2015 Harvest Information Program (HIP) survey. The purpose of HIP is to gather data from migratory game bird hunters for harvest surveys. HIP data helps federal and state biologists set sustainable bag limits for future hunting seasons. HIP surveys can only be completed through the MassFishHunt system, which can be accessed by any online computer or wherever hunting/ sporting licenses are sold. To read more about the HIP survey and migratory game bird hunting in Massachusetts, click here.

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Catch and Release Category Added to Freshwater Sportfishing Awards Program 
In response to growing interest, MassWildlife is pleased to announce the addition of a catch and release component to the MassWildlife Freshwater Sportfishing Awards Program.
Fish must be measured against a standard measuring device (e.g. a ruler, measuring board, etc.), photographed, and immediately released at the site of capture. Length is to be measured from the tip of the longest jaw to the tip of the compressed tail on a flat surface as a straight line (not measured over the curve of the body). All fractions in length will be rounded up to the nearest ¼ inch mark. Click here to view the full set of catch and release rules and affidavit, as well as helpful hints for successful catch and release practices.
Catch and release anglers will receive the classic bronze pin for each eligible fish submitted. Additionally, the longest of each species submitted annually will be awarded a gold pin and plaque. A Catch and Release Angler of the Year trophy will be awarded annually to the angler who submits the widest variety of eligible catch and release species. 

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January 10th Deadline for Freshwater Sportfishing Awards Program
Freshwater Sportfishing Award participants are reminded that all affidavits must be submitted to MassWildlife and postmarked by January 10, 2015 to be eligible for the 2014 season. The Sportfishing Awards Program, also known as the Pins Program, has been recognizing anglers who have caught exceptional freshwater fish from Massachusetts waterbodies open to the public for over 50 years. Anglers receive bronze pins for catching fish of eligible minimum weight requirements for 22 species. Gold pins are awarded to anglers who catch the largest fish in each category. Gold pin winners, as well as the winner of the highly revered Angler of the Year, will be announced in the coming months.
Did you miss out on the 2014 season? Learn more about MassWildlife’s Freshwater Sportfishing Award at our website, view the current weight leaders, purchase your fishing license at MassFishHunt, then get ready to compete in 2015!

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New Wildlands Map Viewer
Wildlife lands are protected primarily to provide habitat for wildlife and to give people a place to relax and explore the great outdoors. For the most part, wildlife lands are open to hunting, fishing, trapping, birdwatching, and other wildlife related recreation. Wildlife lands, including all Wildlife Management Areas, can now be viewed using the new Wildlands Viewer tool. This new tool shows land owned in partnership with DFG and managed by MassWildlife throughout the Commonwealth. The Wildlands Viewer replaces the official printed maps; however, maps can be customized and printed using the viewer. Users are reminded that maps are provided for recreational use and show approximate rather than legal descriptions of property boundaries.
The Wildlands Viewer will help prepare you to explore these properties with your rod and reel, bow, gun, knapsack, canoe, camera, or binoculars! Users will find unmarked trails or woods roads with simple, unpaved parking lots. Many of these properties are actively managed through mowing, cutting, prescribed burns, or other activities that benefit fish and wildlife. Regulations govern the activities allowed on these lands and focus on passive recreation. Motorized vehicles, for instance, are not permitted on state wildlife lands. To learn more about wildlife lands, visit our Land Protection Program pages. To learn about land acquisitions, visit Land Acquisitions page.

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MassWildlife Field Headquarters Building Celebrates Grand Opening
EEA Secretary Maeve Vallely Bartlett, DFW Director Wayne MacCallum, MassWildlife Board members, DFG Commissioner Mary Griffin, local elected officials, and conservationists celebrated the grand opening of MassWildlife’s Field Headquarters on Friday, December 19th. Located in Westborough, the new FHQ includes 45,000 square feet of office, laboratory, and meeting space. The building, which is the first zero net energy office building constructed by the Commonwealth, features a geothermal heating and cooling system, solar panels, and innovative mechanical systems. The facility will serve as a destination for visitors attending public meetings, education programs, and workshops.
The new Richard Cronin Building, named after former DFW Director Richard Cronin, replaces a 12,000 square foot building and three trailers that housed about 90 DFW employees. The new facility accommodates 120 employees, including staff from DFW’s Hunter Education Program in Ayer and employees from DFG’s Office of Fishing and Boating Access in Brighton.

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Play It Safe on the Ice
Attention ice anglers, skaters, and other winter adventurers: check ice carefully before venturing out on ice-covered waters. In general, a clear layer of ice 4 inches thick is safe for foot traffic, but there are no guarantees. The following tips and resources will help you stay safe and enjoy the coming winter months.

Always consider ice to be potentially dangerous. Assess ice safety by using an ice chisel to chop a hole in the ice to determine its thickness and condition. Continue to test the ice as you go further out onto the pond or lake, since ice thickness is seldom uniform. The thickness of ice on ponds and lakes depends on water currents and/or springs, depth, and the presence of natural objects like tree stumps or rocks. Daily changes in temperature cause the ice to expand and contract, which affects its strength. Don't venture on to ice-bound rivers or streams because the currents make ice thickness unpredictable.
What if you fall through the ice? As with any emergency, don't panic! Briefly call for help. It doesn't take long for the cold water to start slowing your physical and mental functions, so you must act quickly. Air will remain trapped in your clothes for a short time, aiding in buoyancy. Kick your legs while grasping for firm ice. Try to pull your body up using ice pins or picks that should be hanging around your neck. Once your torso is on firm ice, roll towards thicker ice – the direction from which you previously walked. Rolling will distribute your weight better than walking. After you reach safe ice, you need to warm up quickly to prevent hypothermia. Go to the nearest fishing shanty, warm car, or house. Don't drive home in wet clothes.
If a companion falls through the ice remember the phrase “Reach-Throw-Go.” If you are unable to reach your friend, throw a rope, jumper cables, tree branch, or other object. If this does not work, go for help; do not risk becoming a victim yourself. Pet owners should keep pets on a leash. If a pet falls through the ice, do not attempt to rescue the pet; go for help. Well-meaning pet owners can easily fall through the ice when trying to save their pets. Additional ice safety information is available on the MassWildlife Website and from the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency.

Ice Thickness and Strength

Ice Thickness (inches)Permissible Load (on new* clear**, blue ice on lakes or ponds)
2" or lessSTAY OFF!
4"Ice fishing or other activities on foot
5"Snowmobile or ATV
8"-12"Car or small pickup truck
12" - 15"Medium truck

*New ice is stronger than older ice.  **White ice or “snow ice” is only about half as strong as new clear ice. Double the above thickness guidelines when traveling on white ice.

 

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Outdoor Users: Thank a Landowner Today
Private landowners are responsible for many of the hunting and fishing ventures carried out by members of the sporting community every year. Through their generosity, private landowners help make these and other wildlife-related experiences possible by granting access to their property. Access to fishing, hunting, hiking, or wildlife watching is a privilege and it’s a great time of year to say thank you. You may also wish to thank land trusts or other private non-profit conservation land holders who have been host to your outdoor experiences. MassWildlife offers the following suggestions for thanking the private property owners:

  • Be thoughtful and personal in expressing your appreciation. If you are mentoring a new or young hunter, angler, birder, or naturalist, include him or her in the process of thanking the landowner.
  • Visit the landowner at the end of the season to express your appreciation in person; if possible, provide him or her with some of your fish and game harvest, share images, or a list of the wildlife you observed on their property.
  • Send a personal note or card thanking the landowner for the opportunity to use their land. Consider giving a small gift such as a certificate to a local restaurant, a gift basket, or a subscription to Massachusetts Wildlife magazine. In the case of a non-profit landowner, make a donation or join their organization.
  • Offer to assist with tasks around the property, or identify, clean up, and properly dispose of any illegal dumping that has occurred.
  • Assist the landowner in protecting the property by documenting and reporting suspicious or illegal activities to the Environmental Police at (800) 632-8075.

“Hunting, fishing, birding, and other wildlife-related activities are traditions that will continue only if everyone follows the basic principles of being a responsible outdoor recreationist,” says Marion Larson, MassWildlife Information and Education Chief. “Take a few moments to reflect on our outdoor traditions, including the importance of access to private lands in maintaining these traditions. What can you do in 2015 to ensure that these recreational opportunities will continue to be available to you and future generations of outdoor users?”

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Upcoming Meetings and Events

January 8 – Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Advisory Committee Meeting, Westborough – The meeting will take place at the Division of Fisheries and Wildlife Field Headquarters Office located at 1 Rabbit Hill Road in Westborough from 1:30- 4:30 P.M. in the Southwest Meeting Room, Room #103. 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.

January 29 – Fisheries and Wildlife Board Meeting, Westborough – This meeting will take place at the Division of Fisheries and Wildlife Field Headquarters, 1 Rabbit Hill Road in Westborough at 1:30 A.M. 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.


January 13 & 15 – Basic Freshwater Fly Tying Course, Charlton – Partnering with the Charlton Conservation Department, MassWildlife will host two courses for beginners. Participation in both sessions is strongly encouraged.  Classes are FREE, all tools and materials provided. The classes take place at the Charlton Senior Center (37 Main St), from 7:00 – 9:00 P.M. *Open to the public – Minimum age is 12 - PRE-REGISTRATION IS MANDATORY – contact Todd Girard at 508-248-2247, or todd.girard@townofcharlton.net.

January 27& 29 – Basic Freshwater Fly Tying Course, Westborough – Partnering with the Charlton Conservation Department, MassWildlife will host two courses for beginners. Participation in both sessions is strongly encouraged.  Classes are FREE, all tools and materials provided. The classes take place at the Division of Fisheries and Wildlife Field Headquarters in Westborough (1 Rabbit Hill Road), from 7:00 – 9:00 P.M. *Open to the public – Minimum age is 12 - PRE-REGISTRATION IS MANDATORY – contact Jim Lagacy @ 508-389-6309, or jim.lagacy@state.ma.us

See full events calendar.

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