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2014 SPRING TROUT STOCKING HAS BEGUN
HELP WITH EAGLE COUNT IN EARLY APRIL
PLEASE DON’T FEED THE BEARS
TURKEY HUNTING REMINDERS AND SAFETY TIPS
SPRING AMPHIBIAN SEASON HAS ARRIVED
FISH WHOLESALERS SENTENCED FOR FISHERIES CRIMES
MASSWILDLIFE STAFF ACCOMPLISHMENTS
WEBSITE TIP OF THE MONTH: SEARCHES

 

2014 SPRING TROUT STOCKING HAS BEGUN

Freshwater anglers can look forward to the nearly 500,000 brook, brown, rainbow, and tiger trout from the Division’s five hatcheries that will be stocked this spring. Between drought conditions that prevailed much of last summer and the extremely cold, icy, and snowy conditions of this winter, it has been a challenging year for trout hatchery managers. Nevertheless, the nearly 500,000 fish being stocked this spring, coupled with the more than 67,000 12+ inch trout stocked last fall should provide some excellent fishing in the coming months. With 71% of fish measuring over 12 inches in length and 41% over 14 inches, freshwater anglers can expect a great spring. Due to the delayed spring thaw, trout stocking may not begin in some areas of the state until the first week in April. Trout Stocking Schedules will be updated every Friday between April and Memorial Day in May.

2014 spring trout average lengths:

  • 195,000 rainbows over 14″
  • 71,000 rainbows over 12″
  • 12,000 rainbows between 9-12″
  • 500 brown trout over 18″
  • 43,000 brown trout over 12″
  • 81,000 brown trout between 9-12″
  • 1,250 brook trout over 15″
  • 31,200 brook trout over 12″
  • 38,200 brook trout between 9-12″
  • 10,000 brook trout between 6-9″
  • 4,700 tiger trout over 14″

 

HELP WITH EAGLE COUNT IN EARLY APRIL

Eagle and other wildlife enthusiasts are reminded that the statewide Spring Bald Eagle Survey will take place on April 4, 2014 (inclement weather date is April 11). This effort will include a survey of the major rivers, lakes, and reservoirs across Massachusetts. The survey will be conducted by MassWildlife staff and volunteers. Reports of any eagles during this time of year, particularly if birds are seen carrying sticks, are welcome and helpful. Submit eagle sightings this spring and throughout the year using one of the following options: by mobile phone or computer utilizing the Vernal Pool & Rare Species Information System (mass.gov/dfw/nhesp/vprs),  by email to natural.heritage@state.ma.us, or by postal service to “Eagle Survey,” MassWildlife, Natural Heritage & Endangered Species Program, 100 Hartwell Street, Suite 230, West Boylston, MA 01583. For more information, contact Andrew Vitz at (508) 389-6394.

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PLEASE DON’T FEED THE BEARS!

Black bears are emerging from their winter dens and seeking food. If you feed birds and live in northern Middlesex County, Worcester County, western Massachusetts, or other areas where bears have been spotted, it’s time to take down bird feeders. 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, MassWildlife is asking property owners to be proactive by removing bird feeders and other potential bear foods promptly and taking other preventative measures. Bear range is expanding eastward and some residents in eastern Massachusetts may notice bear activity in the coming months and years. Taking action now, by removing feeders and securing trash, will help avoid conflicts with bears now and in the future. “If food such as bird seed, pet food, unsecured trash or dumpsters are easy for bears to find, conflicts can occur that pose hazards to both bears and people.” says Laura Conlee, DFW Wildlife Biologist. Removing bird feeders will not create a problem for birds as feeding stations are only supplement available natural foods. Click here for more tips on preventing bear conflicts.

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TURKEY HUNTING REMINDERS & SAFETY TIPS

The spring turkey hunting season opens in Massachusetts on April 28, 2014. MassWildlife offers the following information for turkey hunters regarding online game checking procedures, regulation reminders, and safe turkey hunting methods to follow when hunting.  Find complete wild turkey regulations at http://www.eregulations.com/massachusetts/huntingandfishing/wild-turkey/.

Turkey Permits – In order to legally hunt wild turkeys, a current hunting or sporting license and wild turkey hunting permit is required. Licenses and turkey permits are available via the MassFishHunt system, they are also available at license vendors or DFW offices.

Bearded Birds Only in Spring – MassWildlife reminds turkey hunters that the annual bag limit is 2 turkeys per year either by: (a) 2 bearded birds in spring season (1 per day) with NO fall turkey hunting allowed, or (b) 1 bearded bird in spring season and 1 bird of either sex in fall season. No hunter may take 2 birds in the fall season.

Online Game Check Available – Turkey hunters can check their harvested bird online. Here are some important reminders regarding turkey tagging and online game checking:

  • Immediately after harvest, the hunter must fill out and affix the tag from their turkey permit on the harvested turkey.
  • The turkey must be officially “checked” either online via the MassFishHunt system or at a traditional checkstation within 48 hours of harvest and before the bird is processed for food or for taxidermy. Find a checkstation near you at mass.gov/dfw/checkstation.
  • If checking your game online, the MassFishHunt system will generate a confirmation number after you submit all information; this confirmation number must be written on the harvest tag that is attached to the turkey. (The confirmation number serves as the official seal.)
  • The tag with confirmation number (or metal seal) must remain on the bird until it is processed for food or for taxidermy.
  • Click here for a guide to online wild turkey checking.

Young Adult Turkey Hunters – Young Adult Turkey Hunt Permits will NOT be mailed to youth hunters. All youths participating in the hunt must obtain the Youth Turkey Hunt permit and certificate through the MassFishHunt system. To obtain your permit/certificate, all past participants must fill out and return the past participant form at: mass.gov/dfw/yath-past-participant-form. Those who harvest a turkey on the Young Adult Turkey Hunt date of April 26, 2014 must check their turkey either online on MassFishHunt or at a traditional game check station within 48 hours of harvest.

Turkey Hunting Safety Tips – Most importantly, all turkey hunters are urged to hunt safely. Being completely sure of your target and what is beyond it before you shoot will reduce the chance of hunting accidents and the number of hens mistakenly killed during the spring season. Putting these following safe turkey hunting practices to use will help to ensure that turkey hunting will remain a safe, enjoyable outdoor experience.

  • Don't stalk birds; sit or stand and call the turkeys to you.
  • Don't wear red, white, blue, or black anywhere as these are colors seen on wild turkeys.
  • Don't hide in a place where your view is obstructed.

Click here to find more wild turkey hunting safety tips from MassWildlife and the National Wild Turkey Federation.

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SPRING AMPHIBIAN SEASON HAS ARRIVED

Warm evening temperatures and steady rain on March 12th triggered the first spring-breeding amphibian movements of 2014 in southeastern Massachusetts. Although many parts of the state are still experiencing cold days and scattered snowpack, the onset of spring amphibian season is just around the corner. As we experience rainy nights with temperatures above 40 degrees, Spotted Salamanders, Jefferson Salamanders, Blue-spotted Salamanders, and Wood Frogs will be emerging from their forest retreats and piling into vernal pools to mate and deposit their eggs. Spring Peepers, Pickerel Frogs, and Leopard Frogs will be chorusing in large, open wetlands. Other frogs and salamanders will become active, moving about the landscape in preparation for their respective breeding periods that come a bit later in the spring. You may observe many of these animals as they cross fields, yards, and roadways to reach their destinations.

2014 is The Year of the Salamander, as designated by the Partners in Amphibian and Reptile Conservation (PARC) and its partner organizations. MassWildlife and the Natural Heritage & Endangered Species Program (NHESP) are pleased to participate in this worldwide effort to promote salamander education, research, and conservation. Please consider contributing to this cause during 2014 and beyond. There are many ways to be involved including reporting amphibian observations and vernal pool locations, and educating yourself and others about the diversity of salamanders in New England. To get started, visit our 2014 amphibian website for a wealth of resources, fact sheets, and amphibian updates from around the state.

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FISH WHOLESALERS SENTENCED FOR FISHERIES CRIMES

On February 28, 2014, two West Springfield men were sentenced in U.S. District Court by US District Court Judge Michael A. Ponsor in Springfield for dealing in interstate commerce involving live bait fish without the required permits from the Division of Fisheries and Wildlife and required health certifications.

Paul Zombik, 49, was sentenced to one year and one day in prison, two years of supervised release, and to pay a $50,000 fine to the Lacey Act Reward Fund. Michael Zombik, 70, was sentenced to six months in prison, two years of supervised release, and to pay a $50,000 fine to the Lacey Act Reward Fund. Judge Ponsor also stipulated that neither defendant can engage in the live fish trade, either directly or indirectly during the period of their supervised release. In November 2012, the Zombiks pleaded guilty to three counts of violating the federal Lacey Act by importing into Massachusetts and exporting from Massachusetts live fish without obtaining the required permits.

Between October 1, 2005, and February 25, 2009, Paul Zombik and his father, Michael Zombik, ran Michael's Wholesale Bait (MWB) in West Springfield. During that time, MWB purchased and sold in interstate commerce millions of dollars of live bait fish. Almost all of those transactions were without the necessary Division permits and required health certifications. The Zombiks' failure to follow the Division’s regulations increased the likelihood that invasive diseases and organisms would be introduced into Massachusetts' waters and ecosystem.

The federal case was investigated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Office of Law Enforcement; the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife; the Massachusetts Executive Office of Environmental Affairs; the Massachusetts Environmental Police; and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, Bureau of Environmental Crimes Investigation.

In a related Massachusetts criminal case that concluded in October of 2013, Paul Zombik pleaded guilty to violations of the Massachusetts Endangered Species Act (MESA) in Springfield District Court for the possession and sale of Eastern Silvery Minnows, a fish listed for protection under the Division’s MESA regulations. He was fined $500.

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MASSWILDLIFE STAFF ACCOMPLISHMENTS

MacCallum Honored

MassWildlife director, Wayne MacCallum, received the National Wild Turkey Federation’s (NWTF) Wayne Bailey Lifetime Achievement Award for his dedication to wildlife conservation. The award was presented to MacCallum this February during the 38th annual NWTF Convention and Sport Show in Nashville, Tennessee.

On accepting the award MacCallum emphasized that the honor was not a reflection of his work, but rather “the collective efforts of wildlife professionals I've had the pleasure of working with over the years. The hunting community is responsible for conserving wildlife.” He went on to say, “It’s an honor to preserve and pass on conservation and hunting ethics to future generations.”

The award recognizes an individual’s efforts that are aligned with NWTF’s Save the Habitat. Save the Hunt. Initiative. The Initiative aims to mobilize science, fundraising, and volunteers to conserve and enhance more than 4 million acres of essential upland wildlife habitat, recruit new hunters, and provide access to 500,000 new acres for hunting, shooting, and outdoor enjoyment.

Haggerty Receives MACC Award

At the annual Massachusetts Association of Conservation Commissions (MACC) Conference in March, Sarah Haggerty, Information Manager for DFW’s Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program (NHESP), was awarded the MACC 2014 Outstanding Public Service Award. Haggerty is responsible for overseeing the biodiversity data management and data integrity activities and integration of all NHESP data management and standards. Her leadership in the production of BioMap II and its corollary publications as well as the new Vernal Pool and Rare Species Information system, an innovative online reporting system increases efficiency and transparency to the reporting of rare species observations and vernal pools were lauded. “Sarah’s efforts extend far from her desk, into the realms of community outreach and beyond and exemplify her understanding not only of the science, but also how others can most productively understand and utilize the Commonwealth’s natural heritage data,” said Brandon Faneuf, Chair of the MACC Awards Committee. “Sarah is articulate, enthusiastic, accessible, and approachable – all characteristics of an Outstanding Public Servant.”

Publications

Bryan Connolly, State Botanist with DFW’s Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program, published an article entitled Occurrence and Fertility of Feral Hybrid Barberry Berberis × ottawensis (Berberidaceae) in Connecticut and Massachusetts in Rhodora, a scientific journal published by the New England Botanical Club. Through his work with the Division, Connolly is active in the academic and volunteer communities. He is a scientific advisor for Grow Native Massachusetts, a member of the Massachusetts Invasive Plant Advisory Group, and vice president of the New England Botanical Club.
Jason Stolarski, DFW Fisheries Watershed Project Leader, published a paper in the North American Journal of Fisheries Management entitled Precision analysis of three aging structures for amphidromous Dolly Varden from Alaskan Arctic rivers. Stolarski spent five years studying Salmonids on the North Slope of Alaska before returning to his home state of Massachusetts. Currently, he is working on the identification, mapping, and conservation of coldwater fisheries throughout the state.

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WEBSITE TIP OF THE MONTH: SEARCHES

Looking for some information fast? Enter a word or phrase in the Search box in the top right corner of the screen. Then, make sure you click on the arrow beside Energy and Environment and choose in Fish and Game from the drop-down menu and hit Search.

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