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MassWildlife Monthly December 2022

News from the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife

Table of Contents

MassWildlife Launches Hunters Share the Harvest Program

MassWildlife’s Hunters Share the Harvest program provides an opportunity for hunters to donate and share wild game meat like venison with Massachusetts residents in need. Regulated hunting is a safe activity that brings communities together through the sharing of food, skills, and time spent outdoors with nature. A recent study by The Greater Boston Food Bank shows that nearly one-third of adults in Massachusetts are facing food insecurity, a number that has grown during the pandemic. Free range, organic venison is a lean, healthy protein with a low carbon footprint that already feeds thousands of licensed hunters and their families across Massachusetts each year. Licensed hunters play an important role in wildlife management in Massachusetts, and now successful hunters can help combat hunger and food insecurity in their communities by donating venison.

In 2022, there is one approved meat processor (Haskins Custom Butchering in Hanover) accepting whole-deer donations, and packaged venison will be distributed to those in need through the Massachusetts Military Support Foundation’s Food 4 Vets program. With the support of donors, processing and packaging costs will be covered for deer accepted into the program. MassWildlife plans to expand donation and distribution locations in the coming years.

Donation instructions for hunters

  • Hunters who wish to donate a deer should bring the field dressed deer to the approved processing facility located at 308 Silver Street in Hanover (Haskins Custom Butchering). Deer must be recovered, field dressed, and cooled in a timely manner. Any animals not recovered and field dressed within 2 hours of being shot will not be accepted into the program unless the ambient outside temperature has remained at or below 35 degrees from the time the deer was shot until recovery. Whole-deer donations only.
  • All deer brought for donation must be legally reported and have a tag with confirmation number attached. Hunters can donate deer during any fall season. During archery and primitive firearms seasons, hunters can drop off deer between 2–8 p.m. During the shotgun season, hunters can drop off deer between 10 a.m.–8 p.m. Read more about harvest reporting.
  • Deer will be thoroughly inspected by a MassWildlife biologist for evidence of proper field dressing and to ensure there are no signs of disease. If denied, hunters will have the option to take back their deer. Once accepted, processing and packaging costs will be covered by the Program. Hunters who want to further contribute to the Program may choose to cover the cost of processing if they wish.   
  • Once accepted into the program, all venison will be processed into ground burger, with ~10% pork fat added, and packaged into standard 2-pound portions. Each package will have MassWildlife’s Hunters Share the Harvest label, which will state the contents and include standard safe handling/cooking instructions.
  • Any hunters with questions about dropping off their deer should contact Jason Zimmer, MassWildlife Southeast District Supervisor, at (774) 297-3538.

Help MassWildlife expand

MassWildlife plans to expand donation and distribution locations in the coming years. Meat processors, food pantries, hunger relief agencies, or other organizations who want to participate in MassWildlife’s Hunters Share the Harvest program in the future should contact Martin Feehan, MassWildlife’s Deer and Moose Project Leader, at martin.feehan@mass.gov.

Support MassWildlife's Hunters Share the Harvest Program

Anyone can help financially support MassWildlife's Hunters Share the Harvest program with a monetary donation to the Massachusetts Outdoor Heritage Foundation. Your donation will help cover the processing and packaging costs for donated meat. A donation of $25 will provide about 50 servings of meat for families in need.


New release of BioMap provides powerful tool for conservation in Massachusetts

An updated version of BioMap, an online tool that identifies critical lands and waterways throughout the Commonwealth in need of conservation, was released in November by MassWildlife and The Nature Conservancy (TNC) in Massachusetts. The web portal delivers the latest scientific data and resources to help state and local governments, land trusts, non-government organizations, and other conservation partners strategically plan projects to conserve wildlife and their habitats. The latest version of BioMap combines more than 40 years of rigorously documented rare species and natural community records from MassWildlife with cutting-edge climate resilience data from The Nature Conservancy and spatial data identifying intact fish and wildlife communities, habitats, and ecosystems that are the focus of the Massachusetts State Wildlife Action Plan.

BioMap offers users a detailed view of habitats, species, and resilient landscapes, both locally and statewide. BioMap users can customize data and use the site’s new online Habitat Restoration Resource Center to plan habitat management and land stewardship projects. Additionally, BioMap provides strategies to help communities prepare for, recover from, and adapt to climate change, while bolstering habitat resilience. Taken together, these efforts help to protect the state’s extraordinary biodiversity now and into the future.

New BioMap features

The current BioMap incorporates enhanced knowledge of biodiversity and habitats, improved information on the threats to biodiversity, and new understandings of how to ensure that natural systems are more resilient in the face of climate change. This BioMap release contains new features including:

  • Local and regional scaling allowing users to get data at a municipal level or to identify regionally significant natural resources
  • New climate resilience data including TNC’s Resilience and Connected Network analysis and aquatic climate change refugia
  • New rare species data
  • Expanded aquatic data
  • Habitat management and restoration planning tools
  • Updated land use and land cover information

Learn more about BioMap

Whether you’ve been using BioMap for years or just getting started, there are opportunities to start leveraging the data in the new release:

  • BioMap Webinar on January 18
    Join Assistant Director of MassWildlife's Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program Eve Schluter and TNC's Conservation Ecologist Andy Finton for a demonstration of the new BioMap. The webinar will begin at 7 p.m. on Zoom. Click here to register for the webinar.
  • Email natural.heritage@mass.gov to request BioMap technical support or to request notification of future trainings.

Special deer hunts a success

Each year, MassWildlife provides opportunities for the sporting community to enjoy nature, harvest game meat, and support conservation through regulated hunting.

MassWildlife’s 2022 Becoming an Outdoors-Woman Deer Hunt, Deer Hunt for Paraplegic Hunters, and Youth Deer Hunt Day have concluded. Congratulations to all hunters  who participated and thank you to the many volunteers and mentors who made these programs successful! Read more about each of the hunting opportunities below.

Becoming an Outdoors-Woman mentored deer hunt 


MassWildlife’s Becoming an Outdoors-Woman (BOW) Program offers shooting skills workshops, hunting seminars, and other outdoor skills classes and activities designed for adult women. This fall, MassWildlife offered a deer hunting seminar and a mentored hunt for women who are new to deer hunting. During the seminars, students learned about the lives and habits of white-tailed deer, deer hunting regulations, equipment, and safety, and practiced new skills like shooting, scouting, and recovery. 15 women participated in the mentored deer hunt at the Fort Devens Military Area in Lancaster on opening day of shotgun deer season (November 28, 2022), and 2 women harvested deer. 

“I had an amazing time with the BOW program!,” said Marilyn Patterson, 2022 BOW Program participant. “If there are any females out there that are interested in learning to hunt, I highly recommend it! Thank you Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife!”  

MassWildlife is grateful for the many volunteers and mentors who make the Becoming an Outdoors Woman Program possible. To learn more about BOW and sign up to be notified of future workshops, please click here.

Deer hunt for paraplegic hunters

Each year, volunteers come together to help paraplegic deer hunters during a special 3-day season. This year’s hunt was held November 3–5. The 2022 hunt was a success with 14 hunters, including two hunters who were new to the program, participating. Hunts took place in the northern and southern Berkshires site, near the Quabbin Reservoir, at Fort Devens, and at Joint Base Cape Cod. All hunters saw deer and 7 deer were harvested.

As always, this hunt would not be possible without support from a group of dedicated volunteers. This year, the hunt was supported by: 13 MassWildlife staff, 2 MA Environmental Police officers, 8 staff from the Department of Conservation and Recreation, 7 private landowners, and 23 other volunteers. Please click here to learn more about the deer hunt for paraplegic hunters.

Youth Deer Hunt Day

MassWildlife created this special hunt day to allow young hunters ages 12–14 to hunt using their own permit. The Youth Deer Hunt Day is held on the fourth Saturday following Labor Day, prior to the opening of other Massachusetts deer seasons. 
This year’s hunt took place on October 1. Though some data is still coming in, the preliminary harvest total for the 2022 hunt is 110. This is up from 79 in 2021 and below the 2020 season when 129 were taken.

Next year’s Youth Deer Hunt Day will be held on September 30. Click here to find out more about rules and licensing requirements for the hunt.

Give a gift on the wild side

Now is the time of year to think about the outdoor or wildlife enthusiast on your holiday list—consider the following wildlife-related gifts available from MassWildlife.

MassWildlife Publications

  • A 2-year subscription to Massachusetts Wildlife magazine ($10) delivers eight full-color issues of the Commonwealth’s best wildlife publication. The magazine is packed with award-winning articles and photos on the environment, conservation, fishing, hunting, natural history, and just about everything related to the outdoors in Massachusetts. Subscribe by mail or online.
  • MassWildlife offers Massachusetts-specific field guides including Guides to Amphibians and Reptiles and Animals of Vernal Pools. Order MassWildlife publications.

Charitable Donations

For the person who has everything, make a donation in his or her name to support one of the following:

  • NEW: MassWildlife's Hunters Share the Harvest Program provides an opportunity for hunters to donate and share wild game meat like venison with Massachusetts residents in need. Anyone can help financially support the program to cover the cost of meat processing and packaging. A donation of $25 will provide about 50 servings of meat for families in need! Donate online through the the Massachusetts Outdoor Heritage Foundation.
  • The Wildlands Fund is dedicated to acquiring and conserving important wildlife habitat open to wildlife-related recreation.
    To donate: Send the honoree’s name with a check payable to Comm. of Mass–Wildlands Fund
    Mail to: MassWildlife, 251 Causeway Street, Suite 400, Boston, MA 02114
  • The Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Fund supports protection of the 400+ animals and plants listed under the Massachusetts Endangered Species Act.
    To donate: Send the honoree’s name with a check payable to Comm. of MA–NHESP
    Mail to: MassWildlife, NHESP, 1 Rabbit Hill Road, Westborough, MA 01581

MassWildlife's habitat management grants awarded

Recipients of MassWildlife's Habitat Management Grant Program were announced in November. Over $483,000 in state grant funds were awarded to 13 organizations and municipalities to improve wildlife habitat on 514 acres of land within the Commonwealth. Now in its ninth year, the MassWildlife Habitat Management Grant Program (MHMGP) provides financial assistance to private and municipal landowners of conserved lands to improve and manage habitat for wildlife.

“The MassWildlife Habitat Management Grant Program is critical to the success of ongoing habitat management projects on state-managed lands and ensures a multipronged strategy to improve a variety of Massachusetts’ habitats,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Beth Card. “Public and private investment in habitat management is critical for promoting ecological resiliency and diversity, and we are thrilled to work with this year’s grant recipients as they commit to improving wildlife habitat.”

While MassWildlife and other conservation organizations have made unprecedented investments in land acquisition within Massachusetts, land protection alone is not enough to guarantee the persistence of the Commonwealth’s diverse wildlife. Investment in habitat restoration and management is needed on public and private lands across the state. To address this need, the Baker-Polito Administration has substantially increased investment in habitat management on state wildlife lands and is committed to working with partners to promote these efforts on other conserved lands across the state. The MHMGP program encourages landowners to engage in active habitat management on their properties to benefit wildlife.

“Most forests and other wildlife habitats in Massachusetts are not state-owned, and we rely on conservation organizations, cities and towns, private landowners, and other partners to help us manage habitat to benefit all wildlife,” said Department of Fish and Game Commissioner Ron Amidon. “This program provides us with the opportunity to expand our habitat management footprint, directly benefiting wildlife, the sporting community, and other people who enjoy outdoor recreation.”

“MassWildlife restores and manages habitats to help conserve the great diversity of wildlife and plants found in the Commonwealth,” said Mark Tisa, MassWildlife Director. “In addition to MassWildlife’s habitat management activities, these funded projects will improve declining habitats that provide homes for our most vulnerable wildlife, while also enhancing everyone’s ability to connect with nature.”

The following thirteen projects will receive MassWildlife Habitat Management Grants:

  • Dartmouth – Mass Audubon has been awarded $72,688 to restore coastal shrubland habitat at Allens Pond Wildlife Sanctuary.
  • Edgartown – The Nature Conservancy has been awarded $75,000 to conduct prescribed burns on Katama Plains to improve sandplain grassland habitat.
  • Edgartown / Chilmark – Sherriff’s Meadow Foundation has been awarded $17,980 to improve scrub oak shrubland habitats at Pocketapaces and Quansoo Farm.
  • Edgartown / West Tisbury – The Trustees of Reservations has been awarded $75,000 to conduct prescribed burning at Wasque Reservation and Long Point Refuge to promote coastal sandplain heathland habitat.
  • Falmouth – The Town of Falmouth has been awarded $7,067 to improve the sandplain grassland habitat at Coonamessett Reservation.
  • Great Barrington – The Berkshire Natural Resources Council has been awarded $33,875 to control invasive species in the Housatonic River watershed.
  • Marlborough / Sudbury – The City of Marlborough, in conjunction with the Sudbury Valley Trustees, has been awarded $49,182 to conduct pitch pine–scrub oak habitat improvements at Desert Natural Area and Memorial Forest.
  • Monson / Wales – Norcross Wildlife Foundation has been awarded $21,185 to control invasive species at Chapin Meadow.
  • Nantucket – The Linda Loring Nature Foundation has been awarded $75,000 to improve sandplain grassland habitats by removing non-native tree species.
  • Stockbridge – Stockbridge Bowl Association has been awarded $11,885 to conduct hardy kiwi invasive species control at Bullard’s Woods.
  • Templeton – North County Land Trust has been awarded $12,299 to control invasive species on the Dwelly Farm Conservation Area.
  • Westport – The Westport Land Conservation Trust has been awarded $16,341 to convert an abandoned corn field to native grassland and shrubland habitat.
  • West Tisbury – BioDiversityWorks has been awarded $16,428 to create artificial reptile hibernacula and a wildlife crossing on The Trustees of Reservation’s Long Point Wildlife Refuge.

“Our natural resources are one of the most prized possessions we have here in the Berkshires,” said State Representative Smitty Pignatelli (D-Lenox). “I am grateful to the Baker-Polito administration's continued investment in our outdoor spaces, and I look forward to seeing the great work that the Berkshire Natural Resources Council and Stockbridge Bowl Association do with this round of MHMGP funding.”

“That former corn field is nearly impossible to get into,” said State Representative Paul A. Schmid III (D-Westport). “Converting it back to native grasses will attract a diversity of wildlife. Many thanks to Commissioner Amidon. Lieutenant Governor Polito and Governor Baker. Great stewards of our environment.”

For more information regarding MassWildlife Habitat Management Grants, please visit the program’s webpage.

Avoid decorating with invasive plants

During the holiday season, many people use plants to decorate their homes or businesses. If you wish to use plants in your decorations, be sure to select native species such as native pines, spruces, hemlock, American holly, mountain laurel, fir, or winterberry holly.

Avoid exotic, invasive plants like Oriental bittersweet (Celastrus orbiculatus) and multiflora rose (Rosa multiflora). These plants may have attractive berries, but they can cause severe damage to native plants, shrubs, and trees. Invasive plants can spread quickly in open fields, forests, wetlands, meadows, and backyards, crowding out native plants that provide valuable wildlife habitat. Oriental bittersweet can even kill mature trees. Cutting and moving these invasive plants to make wreaths or garland can spread their seeds even more. Birds may also feed on the fruits hung for decoration and further spread the digested but still-viable seeds. Both plants are extremely difficult to control; when cut, the remaining plant segment in the ground will re-sprout and grow quickly. It is illegal to import or sell bittersweet and Multiflora rose in any form (plants or cuttings) in Massachusetts.

Contact for MassWildlife Monthly December 2022

Date published: November 30, 2020

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