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MassWildlife Monthly June 2022

News from the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife

Table of Contents

June 4–5, 2022 is Free Fishing Weekend!

Mark your calendars for this year’s Free Freshwater Fishing Weekend on June 4 and 5! No license is required to fish any public lake, pond, reservoir, stream, or river in Massachusetts from 12 a.m. Saturday, June 4 until 11:59 p.m. Sunday, June 5.  

  • Other than Free Fishing Weekend, you need a license to fish in fresh water if you are 15 or older. If you're 15–17 or 70 and older, your license is free. Funds from fishing license sales support MassWildlife’s fisheries research, fish stocking programs, and angler education programs. Buy your fishing license here. 
  • All other regulations, including catch limits, apply during Free Fishing Weekend. Before heading out on the water, make sure you know the rules. Review fishing regulations
  • For saltwater anglers, Free Saltwater Fishing Weekend is June 18–19.

Public Hearing for proposed hunting regulation changes

A public hearing will be held on Wednesday, June 22, 2022 at 3 p.m. at the MassWildlife Field Headquarters (1 Rabbit Hill Road, Westborough) on proposed regulatory amendments to 321 CMR 3.00 Hunting; specifically, regulations relating to pheasant, quail, and small game hunting.   

The proposed regulations would:

  • Create a late pheasant and quail season so hunters can pursue any previously stocked unharvested birds through December 31.
  • Expand hunting hours on stocked WMAs. Hunting hours would remain sunrise to sunset while hunting pheasant, but would be expanded for other species. For example, archery deer hunters could now hunt from a half-hour before sunrise to a half-hour after sunset on WMAs stocked with pheasant.
  • Standardize hunting hours for pheasant and quail to sunrise to sunset statewide.
  • Remove WMA hunting implement restrictions and standardize implements (shotgun and archery) for pheasant and quail. For example, bear and coyote hunters would now be permitted to use any legal hunting implement, including rifles, on WMAs stocked with pheasants. Hunters would now only be able to use shotgun and archery equipment while hunting for pheasants statewide.
  • Simplify and expand the hare, cottontail, and gray squirrel seasons. Hare and cottontail seasons would be extended through the end of December, and the gray squirrel season would be extended through the end of February statewide in a single statewide season for each species.
  • Remove the black-tailed jackrabbit season. MassWildlife staff believes the species is extirpated.

The full hearing notice, including the text of the proposed regulations, is available on MassWildlife’s Public Hearings page. Written comments will be accepted until July 6, 2022 at 5 p.m. To submit written comments, please email susan.sacco@mass.gov to the attention of the Fisheries and Wildlife Board, or mail comments to Chairman, Fisheries and Wildlife Board, c/o Director of MassWildlife, Mass. Division of Fisheries and Wildlife, 1 Rabbit Hill Road, Westborough, MA 01581. 

What to do if you find a young deer

During the summer months, many fawns are born in Massachusetts. If you find a fawn, leave it alone. If you have questions or doubts, read on to learn more about fawn and deer behavior.

Finding a fawn

Fawns are born in late May and early June. If you find a fawn, leave it alone. The animal may be motionless and seem vulnerable, but this is the normal behavior for a fawn. Even if you see a fawn alone for several days you should still leave it alone the mother is probably feeding or bedded nearby. Does (female deer) visit their fawns to nurse very infrequently, a behavior that helps fawns avoid detection by predators. It is not uncommon for fawns to be left alone for 6-8 hours at a time. Young fawns are usually quite safe when left alone because their color pattern and lack of scent help them to remain undetected.

If you have taken a fawn into your care, you should immediately return it to where you found it, or to safer cover nearby (within 200 yards). Then, quickly leave the area to ensure the fawn doesn't follow you and so the mother feels safe enough to return. The mother will soon return to nurse the fawn, even after it has been handled by humans. Don't try and feed fawns as they have sensitive stomachs. 

If a fawn is visibly injured, call MassWildlife at 508-389-6300. Fawns cannot be cared for by wildlife rehabilitators.

Fawn facts

Many times people try and help fawns as a response to normal fawn behaviors.

These normal behaviors include:

  • A fawn that is still and unresponsive. Fawns view humans as predators and will drop their head and freeze to avoid detection.
  • A fawn that is crying. Fawns can bleat (vocalize) in a way that sounds like crying if they are disturbed or are trying to locate their mother.
  • A fawn that is in your yard. Fawns are commonly found bedded in brushy areas with vegetative cover or even in some grassy areas – even in suburban areas close to homes or near roadways. Their mother felt this was a safe place for the fawn. On occasion, a fawn that has been disturbed may wander into a dangerous area or an area where the mother may not feel comfortable going (e.g., onto a road, near people, into a garage, etc.). Only if a fawn is in real danger should you interfere by moving the fawn to nearby forested or shrubby area where there is thick cover. Then leave quickly, so the fawn does not follow, and don’t linger. The mother will not come if you are nearby.
  • A fawn alone for long periods of time. Young fawns remain bedded, alone for most of the day and night. The mother will return several times to nurse briefly. She will not approach if people are nearby.
  • A fawn that looks skinny and weak. All fawns appear skinny, but it’s not an indication that they are abandoned or starving. If disturbed, they may also look like they are weak or having trouble walking. Never feed a fawn; their stomachs are sensitive  and the food or milk you give them can be very harmful.

These are all normal things for fawns, and while they may be alarming, you do more harm than good attempting to care for a fawn.

How to set up your fishing rod

Learn how to line your fishing rod and tie quick and simple knots to get started fishing today!

Get your fishing gear ready

You purchased your fishing license, the weather is beautiful, and now you’re gearing up for an adventure. But before you can get out on the water, you need to string your fishing rod and attach your hook. These instructional videos will help you get started in no time.

How to string a fishing pole:

Most modern fishing rod and reel combinations come with a matching line that is rated for the rod and reel. However, spooling your line is a skill you will eventually need to know as monofilament fishing line has a limited shelf life depending on use and storage. 

Watch this video for step-by-step instructions on how to add line to your fishing rod. Make sure to select fishing line that matches the suggested line rating for your fishing rod and generally within the size range of fish you expect to catch. For example, if your rod has a line rating of 6–10 pounds and you plan to fish for freshwater species like bass, use a 6–10 pound test line. 

Watch the video here.

How to tie an arbor knot:

The video above uses an arbor knot to attach the fishing line to the arbor or spool center of the fishing reel. This video shows a close-up of how to tie an arbor knot.

Watch the video here.

How to tie a clinch knot:

Once your rod is ready, you need to choose from the dozens of knots that can help ensure your catch doesn’t get away. When learning fishing knots, there is no better knot to start with than the clinch knot. This knot is easy to learn and is one of the strongest fishing knots to use when tying your line to your hook.

Watch the video here.

How to tie a Palomar knot:

Another strong and easy knot to learn is the Palomar knot. It’s a good idea to practice tying these knots as much as possible, that way you can quickly use them as needed.

Watch the video here.

With a freshly lined rod and new knots learned, you are ready to hit the water! If you're new to fishing, check out mass.gov/get-started-fishing for more tips on what to bring and where to go fishing in Massachusetts. 

All videos courtesy of TakeMeFishing. For more instructional videos on all things fishing, visit TakeMeFishing.org

Habitat management grant application opens mid-July

Private and municipal landowners of conserved lands can apply for grant funding to support active habitat management projects that benefit wildlife and enhance outdoor recreation opportunities. MassWildlife’s Habitat Management Grant Program (MHMGP) provides financial assistance for projects that:

  1. improve habitat for game species (species that are hunted, fished, and trapped),
  2. manage for State Wildlife Action Plan species, with an emphasis on State Endangered, Threatened, and Special Concern species, and
  3. enhance habitat in ecological communities disproportionally susceptible to climate change.

Although MassWildlife and other conservation organizations have made unprecedented investments in land acquisition in Massachusetts, acquisition alone is not enough to guarantee the persistence of biological diversity. Investment in habitat restoration and management is urgently needed on public and private lands across the state. To address this need, MassWildlife and the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs have substantially increased their investment in habitat management on state wildlife lands and are committed to working with partners to promote these efforts on conserved lands across the state. Over the past 7 years, the MHMGP has awarded over $2.4M in funding to 35 different organizations and individuals for 92 habitat improvement projects.

Grant assistance available now

MassWildlife is offering technical assistance to landowners who want to apply to the MHMGP from now until July 15. If you are interested in speaking to a MassWildlife Habitat Biologist about habitat management on your property or your eligibility for the MHMGP, please contact James Burnham, Program Coordinator.

If your project site is within priority habitat (check here), a pre-review of the project is highly encouraged. Please email Emily Holt, Senior Endangered Species Review Biologist with a site map and description of the project to begin the pre-review process.  Retain copies of the feedback provided, as proof of consultation will be needed during the MHMGP application process. Requests for pre-reviews should be made at least 3 weeks before the MHMGP application deadline.

Grant applications will be accepted starting July 15, 2022 and are due by August 31, 2022. Technical assistance on potential grant application projects needs to be completed by the opening of the application period. Visit the MHMGP webpage at any time to learn more about the application process and to see examples of funded projects. For general questions about the grant program, contact James Burnham, Program Coordinator.

Report wild turkey sightings

MassWildlife invites and encourages all wildlife enthusiasts to contribute to our state's annual Wild Turkey Brood Survey. Report your observations here.

Please record and report observations of hens (female turkeys), poults (newly-hatched turkeys), jakes (juvenile males) and toms (adult males). For help observing differences between male turkeys and female turkeys, or between jakes and toms, please click here. Please be especially careful when counting broods, because small poults can be tough to see in tall grass or brush.

Every year from June 1 to August 31, your wild turkey reports helps our biologists determine productivity, compare long-term reproductive success, and estimate fall harvest potential. Reports come from all regions of the state, from our most rural communities to our most densely-populated areas. Citizen support for the brood survey is a cost-effective way to gather valuable data. It's also an additional fun way for people to connect with nature. Please note that turkey nesting success can vary annually in response to weather conditions, predation and predator populations, and habitat characteristics.

The easiest method for reporting your wild turkey observations is online. If you prefer to report on paper, please download and print a Turkey Brood Survey form, complete it over the summer, and mail it to, MassWildlife Field Headquarters, Attn: Brood Survey,1 Rabbit Hill Road, Westborough, MA 01581. Please avoid sending any duplicate observations by mail if you have already reported your observations online.

Thank you for your support!

Report fish kills

Warm weather is here, lakes and ponds are heating up, and fish kills may occur. The sight of dead and dying fish along a shoreline can be distressing and can prompt concerns about pollution. However, the vast majority of summer fish kills reported are natural events.

Natural fish kills are generally the result of low oxygen levels, fish diseases, or spawning stress. Depletion of dissolved oxygen is one of the most common causes of natural fish kills. Water holds less dissolved oxygen at higher temperatures; in shallow, weedy ponds oxygen can be especially low as plants consume oxygen at night. Spawning of fish including sunfish and bass in late spring and early summer occurs in shallow waters along the shore. These densely crowded spawning areas can become susceptible to disease outbreaks, especially as water temperatures rise. The result is an unavoidable natural fish kill, usually consisting of only one or two species of fish.

To be sure there isn’t a pollution problem, it’s always best to report fish kills. When a fish kill report comes in, a MassWildlife fisheries biologist determines if the kill is a natural event or the result of pollution. In general, pollution impacts all kinds of aquatic life; therefore, the most important piece of evidence for the biologists is the number and variety of fish associated with the incident. When pollution is suspected , MassWildlife notifies the Department of Environmental Protection, who then conducts a formal investigation of the water and affected fish to determine the source of pollution.

To report a fish kill, contact the Environmental Police Radio Room at 1 (800) 632-8075.

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