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MassWildlife Monthly June 2019

News from the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife

Table of Contents

Learn to fish for free this summer

Celebrate the arrival of warm weather by attending one of the many MassWildlife Angler Education Program events being held across the state this summer. Events are for adults, kids, and families who want to learn how to fish in a non-competitive environment. Fishing equipment and bait are available to use at most events, and no fishing license is required to participate. Most events are also free to attend. Find an event near you:

June 4: Family Fishing Clinic, Wakefield
June 8: Spot Pond Family Fishing Festival, Stoneham 
June 9: Fishing Clinic at Groton Greenway Riverfest, Groton
June 12: Family Fishing Clinic, Holden
June 13: Family Fishing Clinic, Canton
June 16: Endicott Park Family Fishing Festival, Danvers
June 20: Adult Learn to Fish Class, Westborough
June 22: Great Meadows Family Fishing Festival, Sudbury 
June 22: Jamaica Pond Family Fishing Derby, Boston 
June 25: Family Fishing Clinic, Milton
June 27: Family Fishing Clinic, Swansea
July 11: Family Fishing Clinic, Stoughton 
July 13: Family Fishing Clinic, Sunderland
July 17: Family Fishing Clinic, Billerica
July 20: Family Fishing Clinic, Dorchester 
July 20: Houghtons Pond Family Fishing Festival, Milton
July 21:  Taunton River Watershed Association Family Fishing Festival,  Somerset 
July 23: Family Fishing Clinic, Stoneham
July 24: Family Fishing Clinic, Westborough
July 26: Family Fishing Clinic, Worcester
July 31: Family Fishing Clinic, Mashpee

To get more information about a fishing event that interests you, go to the Angler Education Calendar. Don’t forget to share your fishing photos with us on Facebook and see what other Massachusetts anglers are catching!

Why did the turtle cross the road?

Across Massachusetts, spring is the season of movement. Hibernating animals emerge from their winter resting areas in search of food and mates. Turtles are no exception. From mid-May to early July, thousands of turtles throughout Massachusetts travel from their winter retreats to new areas to find food and nest. You may find turtles on roadways, in your backyard, or other unexpected areas as they move across the landscape to find resources they need to survive. Even if it’s not apparent to you where they’re headed, turtles have a keen sense of direction and may be on their way to wetland areas or open, upland sites such as lawns, gravel pits, or roadsides for nesting.

As you drive throughout Massachusetts—and New England for that matter—keep turtles and other animals in mind. Follow these three easy steps to help ensure that our turtles have the best chance of survival this spring.

  1. Do not risk getting hurt or causing harm to others by unsafely pulling off the road or trying to dodge traffic. If the opportunity to safely move a turtle from the road occurs, move it in the direction it was heading and off the edge of the road. It is trying to get to habitats and resources it needs. Do not take turtles home or move them to a "better” location. Most turtles should be grasped gentled along the shell edge near the mid-point of the body. However, snapping turtles are fast and have very powerful jaws that can sever fingers. A snapping turtle can reach your hands if you lift it by the sides of its shell. If you must move a snapping turtle, use a broom to coax it into a plastic tub or box. Never lift a snapping turtle only by the tail; this can injure their spine. 
  2. Slow down and watch for turtles on roadways that are bordered by wetlands on both sides. These areas are commonly used as crossing points. Also, remember areas where you’ve seen turtles crossing in the past. Turtles are animals of repetition and chances are, more turtles will likely cross there or somewhere close by.
  3. If you see turtles crossing the road, report it! Information that you provide on the Linking Landscapes online portal helps MassWildlife and MassDOT prioritize transportation projects to help turtles and other wildlife cross roads more safely.  Just as importantly, contact your town Conservation Commission and local conservation partners to evaluate resources within your town to help turtles. Signage, barrier fencing, or seasonal speed bumps can reduce roadkill.

Several turtle species can live beyond 80 years. Some species may need to reach ages of 35 to 40 years in order to successfully replace themselves in the population. It’s important to protect older adult turtles from cars, especially during this time of year when turtles are crossing roads more frequently. Losing adult turtles at an elevated rate can lead to eventual local extinction of a population.

Massachusetts is home to ten different native species of turtles, not including five species of sea turtles that frequent our coastal areas. Six of the ten species are protected under the Massachusetts Endangered Species Act. Learn more in our Guide to Turtles of Massachusetts.

Coyote listening sessions scheduled

In response to concerns about coyote hunting contests, MassWildlife is holding a series of listening sessions across the state. During these sessions, MassWildlife will share information about coyote management and coyote hunting regulations and hear input and concerns from the public. 

The next sessions will be: 

The sessions will include a short presentation by MassWildlife staff, followed by an opportunity for attendees to ask questions and give feedback. Comments are limited to 2 minutes so that all attendees have a chance to share ideas and concerns. These June sessions are the final listening sessions scheduled; the first was held in Barnstable in April and the second was held in Shelburne Falls in May. 

The listening session is an important part of the process that MassWildlife employs when reviewing policy and regulations. As a first step in this review, MassWildlife professional staff will examine the best available science, consult with other outside professionals, solicit input from stakeholders, and, if warranted, prepare recommendations for the Fisheries and Wildlife Board to consider. MassWildlife will consider public feedback received in writing and at these listening sessions and determine what, if any, regulatory changes to recommend to the Board. If the Board endorses a regulatory change, a formal public hearing and public comment period will be scheduled at a later date. 

Anyone unable to attend a listening session can provide feedback and comments by emailing mass.wildlife@mass.gov or sending written correspondence to: MassWildlife, Attn: Coyote Feedback, 1 Rabbit Hill Road, Westborough, MA 01581.

Lexington High School wins 2019 Envirothon

Approximately 200 students from 29  Massachusetts communities braved the cold rain and came together at Sholan Farms in Leominster on Friday, May 17th to compete in the 32nd annual Massachusetts Envirothon. At the event, teams were tested on their knowledge about soils, forests, water, and wildlife. The teams rotated through four “ecostations” where they answered written questions and engaged in hands-on activities like soil analysis, wildlife habitat assessment, tree identification, and water quality testing. Top honors went to the team of students from Lexington High School; Newton North High School took first place at the wildlife station.

Each year, in addition to the four ecostations, teams participate in a 15-minute Current Issue presentation. This year’s theme was “Abundant, Affordable, Healthy Food.” Teams researched the Current Issue in their own community in preparation for their presentation. A  panel of judges made up of interested citizens and environmental professionals score the presentations. Teams were asked to explore current and future prospects for growing, harvesting, and distributing food in their own home communities and across the Commonwealth.

Congratulations to all the 2019 Envirothon teams! For more information on the Massachusetts Envirothon visit www.massenvirothon.org.

Bob Durand Appointed to Fisheries and Wildlife Board

Bob (Robert A.) Durand, of Marlborough, has been appointed by Governor Charlie Baker to the Massachusetts Fisheries and Wildlife Board. Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito conducted the swearing-in ceremony at the State House on Wednesday, May 22, 2019.

“I am so pleased and honored to receive this appointment to the Board, which has been a part of my life in one way or another for most of my life,” Durand said. “I’m thankful to Governor Baker and Lieutenant Governor Polito for their confidence in me to carry out this vital mission to protect many critical aspects of our natural world, and with them, our quality of life in Massachusetts.”

The seven-member Fisheries and Wildlife Board has oversight of the Division of Fisheries and Wildlife (MassWildlife), and is the state’s adopting authority for regulations relating to hunting and fishing, endangered species, and other fish and wildlife related issues. The Board also sets policy and is the hiring authority for MassWildlife. Durand will represent the Northeast Wildlife District, replacing Frederic Winthrop of Ipswich, who did not seek reappointment to his seat in October 2018.

“I’m looking forward to working with Bob,” said MassWildlife Director Mark Tisa. “From sporting groups to land trusts and other environmental organizations, Bob has always worked in the conservation community with passion, knowledge, and love of the outdoors, and personal connections to people all over the state.”

Durand has been an avid outdoorsman and conservationist since his youth. He served four terms as state representative for Berlin and Marlborough and then four terms as a state senator for the Middlesex and Worcester District. Durand was appointed Secretary of Environmental Affairs by the late Governor Cellucci and served for four years. After leaving state service, Durand formed Durand and Anastas Environmental Strategies, an environmental consulting and lobbying firm.

Report wild turkey sightings

Sportsmen and women, birders, and other wildlife enthusiasts are encouraged to assist with MassWildlife’s Annual Wild Turkey Brood Survey.

MassWildlife conducts a  Brood Survey from June 1 through August 31 each year to estimate the number of turkeys in the state. The brood survey helps our biologists determine productivity and compare long-term reproductive success while providing an estimate of fall harvest potential. Turkey nesting success can vary annually in response to weather conditions, predator populations, and habitat characteristics. Citizen involvement in this survey is a cost-effective means of gathering useful data, and can be a fun way for people to connect with nature. Record sightings of hens, poults (newly-hatched turkeys), and males (both juvenile and adult). For help identifying male and female turkeys and determining if a male is a juvenile (jake) or an adult (tom), please click here. Be sure to look carefully when counting turkey broods, the very small poults may be difficult to see in tall grass or brush. MassWildlife is interested in turkey brood observations from all regions of the state, including rural and developed areas.

2 ways to participate:

or

  • Download and print a Turkey Brood Survey form to complete over the course of the summer.
    Mail completed forms to: Brood Survey, MassWildlife Field Headquarters,1 Rabbit Hill Road, Westborough, MA 01581.

If you’ve submitted your observations online, please do not mail in duplicate observations.

Dragonflies and damselflies are emerging

As spring moves towards summer and temperatures start to rise, native insects begin to take flight. Perhaps none are as extraordinary as dragonflies and damselflies. These majestic flyers don’t always look like their adult forms. For the past 10–36 months, wingless dragonfly and damselfly larvae (or nymphs) have been living underwater in rivers, lakes, and ponds. These juveniles swim and stalk through the submerged muddy terrain in search of other aquatic insects, tadpoles, and even small fish to prey upon. As they grow, nymphs undergo a series of moltings, shedding their insect skeletons for a slightly larger one each time. Nymphs of our largest dragonfly—the common green darner—can be as long as 3 inches before transitioning to an adult!

When young dragonflies and damselflies are ready to emerge from natal waterbodies, they crawl out of the water and transform into adults. This metamorphosis does not occur within a cocoon, nor does it take days like with butterflies. Instead, adult dragonflies and damselflies hatch out of their own juvenile skins by cracking joints along the back of their exoskeleton and pushing themselves, back first, out of their nymphal form. The emerged dragonfly or damselfly rests in place, pumps blood into its wings to help them harden and spread, and finally takes to the sky. The entire process occurs within hours from the time they crawled out of the water.

In the air, dragonflies are the most skillful of insect flyers. They can move in virtually any direction. This is a skill that is nearly unique to dragonflies and damselflies and makes capturing prey rather easy. Dragonflies prey upon other large insects including damselflies and even other dragonflies. Smaller damselflies emerge in the same manner as their larger cousins, but are more delicate flyers as adults. Damselflies are equally efficient hunters though, and are among the greatest predators of annoying mosquitoes.

Telling the difference between a damselfly and a dragonfly is fairly simple. Damselflies have a more slender abdomen (tail) and hold their wings together behind their back. Dragonflies have much larger, heavier bodies, and hold their two sets of wings splayed out to the sides. Similar to birds, male dragonflies and damselflies are often more colorful than females—a trait evolved to help attract a mate.

Over 160 types of dragonflies and damselflies live in Massachusetts. They come in nearly as many color patterns. Simply sit near, walk close to, or boat along the edge of a lake, pond, river, or small stream to be rewarded with a beautiful sight! Bring along some binoculars to help get a close-up view of these interesting and colorful insects.   

Looking for more information on dragonflies and damselflies? A Field Guide to the Dragonflies and Damselflies of Massachussetts has information on general biology and life history of these flying insects, as well as ways to identify each species found in Massachusetts.

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