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MassWildlife Monthly August 2018

Get the latest news and seasonal updates from MassWildlife

Important announcements for deer hunters

The Antlerless Deer Permit system is now working

After a brief outage, our vendor was able to repair the problem with the system. If you applied for an Antlerless Deer Permit before the July 16 deadline, you may now return to MassFishHunt to check if you were awarded a permit. You can check your permit status any time between now and December 31. Your odds of winning a permit are the same regardless of when you check your permit status. The recent technical problem does not affect your odds of winning.  The system awards permits randomly based on the 2018 odds of winning for each Wildlife Management Zone. See instructions, allocations, and chances of winning.

Any permits that have already been issued are valid. If you were awarded a permit on August 1 and did not purchase it before the system shutdown, check your shopping cart. If it isn't in your cart, check your inventory. If you need assistance, please call (888) 773-8450.

Archery Extension

A regulatory amendment has been approved to extend the archery deer hunting season by 2 weeks in eastern MA. In zones 10–14, the archery deer season will now open the eighth Monday prior to Thanksgiving. In zones 1–9, the archery deer season will remain the same, opening six weeks before Thanksgiving. The change will take effect beginning with this fall's hunting seasons. The extension will increase hunting opportunities in a region where deer numbers are above the statewide management range of 6-18 deer per square mile. Learn more about the archery deer season extension.

Surplus Antlerless Deer Permits

Surplus permits will go on sale in late September for Zones 9, 10, 11, 13, and 14. Surplus permits are sold for $5 each on a first come, first served basis. You may purchase only one Zone 11, one Zone 10 permit per day, and one Zone 9 permit per day; up to four permits per day may be purchased for Zones 13 and 14. Find number of surplus permits available by zone and instructions.

  • Zone 11: Tuesday, September 25 at 8 a.m.
  • Zone 10: Wednesday, September 26 at 8 a.m.
  • Zones 9, 13, and 14: Thursday, September 27 at 8 a.m.

Wachusett Hunting Expanded

DCR recently opened 7,500 acres of land to hunting in the Wachusett Reservoir Watershed. Learn more about hunting on the Wachusett Reservoir watershed. There are two free permit types available based on the location of the property.

  • A five-year permit for hunting on property both west and east of Interstate 190. This area is open for the entire hunting season and for all game.
  • An annual permit for a Controlled Deer Hunt for hunting property immediately adjacent to Wachusett Reservoir, designated by DCR as the “Reservoir Zone”, which encompasses land within Routes 110, 12, 40, and 70. Hunting in this area is only for white-tailed deer and only from December 1 through December 31. This permit is selected by lottery; you must apply by 8/31.

Youth Deer Hunt Day

The 2018 Youth Deer Hunt Day is Saturday, September 29. Youth Deer Hunt Day permits are available online, beginning August 1. With this permit, youth may take either an antlered or antlerless deer in any zone on the Youth Deer Hunt Day. Learn more about the Youth Deer Hunt Day.

Mark Tisa appointed MassWildlife Director

On July 17, 2018, the Massachusetts Fisheries and Wildlife Board unanimously voted to appoint Mark S. Tisa, Ph.D., M.B.A., to the position of Director of the Division of Fisheries and Wildlife (MassWildlife).

“The Fisheries and Wildlife Board has appointed Mark Tisa as the new Director of MassWildlife because of Mark’s lifelong commitment to wildlife and fisheries conservation and his excellent record of service to the agency and the Commonwealth,” Fisheries and Wildlife Board Chair Joseph Larson said after the meeting. “The Board looks forward to working closely with Mark to achieve his goals for the agency in the coming years.”

Mark Tisa began his career in 1987 with MassWildlife as the Project Leader of the Anadromous Fish Restoration Program. He was promoted to Assistant Director of Fisheries in 1990, and then to Deputy Director in 2015. Director Tisa led a number of major initiatives over the years for the agency, including the Youth Pheasant and Young Adult Turkey hunt programs and the construction of the MassWildlife Field Headquarters’ 45,000-square-foot zero-net-energy building in Westborough. Upon the retirement of former Director Jack Buckley, he was appointed Acting Director, effective May 1, 2018.

 “I am extremely pleased with the Fisheries and Wildlife Board’s appointment of Mark Tisa as Director of the Division of Fisheries and Wildlife,” said Ron Amidon, Commissioner of the Department of Fish and Game. “I have known and worked with Mark for many years. Both Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Matt Beaton and I look forward to working closely with him as a team of conservation-minded sportsmen committed to the conservation, restoration, and management of all Massachusetts’ incredible natural resources.”

“I’m honored, humbled, and thrilled to be appointed to lead MassWildlife, where I have worked for 31 years," said Director Tisa. "We at MassWildlife care about all the Commonwealth’s wildlife and plants, including state-listed species, and I look forward to continuing to work with hunters, anglers, trappers, conservationists, and all Massachusetts citizens to carry forward MassWildlife’s tradition of conserving and helping everyone to enjoy all our treasured wildlife resources.”

Director Tisa grew up in Leominster. He earned a B.S. in Biology from Springfield College, an M.S. in fisheries from the University of Tennessee, a Ph.D. in Fisheries and Wildlife Sciences from Virginia Tech, and an M.B.A. from Anna Maria College. Tisa is an avid outdoorsman who enjoys fishing, hunting, shooting, and retriever training.

Rare plant found on Cape Cod

American Chaffseed

In early July, Doug McGrady, a botanist from Rhode Island, made an incredible discovery on Cape Cod. He came across American chaffseed (Schwalbea americana), a federally endangered plant that hasn’t been seen in Massachusetts since 1965. MassWildlife staff visited the site shortly after to confirm the discovery, where they counted over 2,600 stems. Because of this discovery, American chaffseed will be added as “endangered” to the Massachusetts Endangered Species Act list.

American chaffseed is a perennial herb that stands about 1–2 feet tall with large purplish-yellow flowers. It is a hemiparasite (half parasitic), meaning it partially depends on nourishment from other host plants, but also undergoes photosynthesis itself.

There are historic records of American chaffseed along coastal plains from Massachusetts to Louisiana, but populations declined over time due to habitat loss and fire suppression. Since chaffseed depends on partly-open habitat, it requires disturbance on the landscape such as fire or mowing. Prescribed fire is being considered to manage the Cape Cod site in the future.


MassWildlife's Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program conserves and protects the most vulnerable native animal and plant species of Massachusetts and the habitats upon which they depend for the benefit of everyone's future. You can help support endangered species conservation by reporting rare species and donating to the Endangered Wildlife Conservation Fund. 

Passing of the “Eagle Man”, Jack Swedberg

John E. “Jack” Swedberg, retired photographer for the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife (MassWildlife), died on July 9 in Webster, Massachusetts. Born in Worcester, Jack gained a love for the wilderness at a very young age through hunting and fishing. He explored Maine and Alaska and many other parts of the country—camera in hand—capturing the beautiful wildlife he encountered.

Jack served in the U. S. Coast Guard on the training vessel “The Eagle” during the Korean War. He was also a Freemason since 1952 and a Life Member of the New England Outdoor Writers Association. Prior to working for MassWildlife, Swedburg was employed by a private wildlife publication based in Holden.

For fifteen years, Jack served as the senior photographer for MassWildlife. His award-winning photographs graced the pages of Massachusetts Wildlife magazine and other agency publications as well as local and regional newspapers. During his tenure, he spent many hours and days photographing at the Quabbin Reservoir in central Massachusetts. His father had taken him fishing in the Swift River Valley before Quabbin Reservoir was created, kindling a special attachment to the region. From multiple photography blinds he captured iconic images of eagles, deer, and beaver. A rugged man, Jack was well known for his wide smile, booming laugh, and his bone-crushing handshakes.

He helped lead the successful Bald Eagle restoration effort at Quabbin Reservoir and coordinated the early Midwinter Bald Eagle surveys that documented the recovery of the species. He helped forge strong relationships with the other Project partners including the then-Metropolitan District Commission (now DCR), the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, New York and Michigan state wildlife agencies, and Canadian natural resource agencies in Manitoba and Nova Scotia. He also involved Massachusetts Electric, Massachusetts Audubon, Bank of Boston, the Five College Radio Astronomy Observatory, UMass/Amherst, Tufts Veterinary School, and many others.

Swedberg was also very well known for the hundreds of slide and film presentations he gave to various sporting, civic, church, youth, and other groups across the state and beyond. Retired colleague and former Central District Manager Bill Davis said, “When you let someone know that you work(ed) for MassWildlife, often the first question asked is, "Do you know Jack Swedberg?"

After retiring in 1988, Jack continued his passion for photography and travel for decades.

MA wildfire crew helps in Canada

Three members of the MassWildlife prescribed fire crew, Fletcher Clark, Chris Connors, and Ben Mazzei, assisted in securing wildfires in Québec Province, Canada for two weeks this July. They were joined by 16 wildland firefighters from the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) to form the Massachusetts Interagency Wildfire Crew- MA#1 and were mobilized through DCR and the Northeast Forest Fire Compact. The wildfire hand crew spent time containing two different wildfires, one near Radisson and the other near Lebel-sur-Quévillon in Québec Province. The crew spent most of their time on a large 24,500-acre fire on Wilson Lake in a remote region of Québec Province. Lightning strikes caused the dry, dense vegetation in the area to ignite and caused the wildfires.

The Massachusetts crew was deployed to these wildfires for two weeks. They worked with other crews to establish helicopter landing sites, coordinate water drops, and secure sections of the fire to keep it from spreading. Securing a section of fire can mean a lot of different kinds of work. The crews set up water pump sites and ran hoses around the section of fire to make sure water was readily accessible to combat the fires. The crew established a fire line around their section. A fire line is essentially a wide path on the ground that is cleared of vegetation, debris, and anything else that can potentially burn to stop the fire from spreading. The crews also went into already-burned areas and put out any hot spots that might have still been smoldering or burning. The crew was helicoptered daily from their base camp to the remote wildfires to perform these duties.

On July 22, the Massachusetts crew returned back to the state safely. There are still many wildfires burning in the province of Québec alone. During the past week, rain has somewhat helped with battling the fires. However, if conditions dry out, the potential for large fires to become active again exists. Québec continues to seek assistance from Canadian provinces and the northeastern United States to help cope with these wildfires.

"Please join us in welcoming these dedicated individuals back from this rugged assignment," says Caren Caljouw, MassWildlife's Prescribed Fire Program Manager. "We are very proud of the assistance they provided to our Canadian neighbors and know the vast experience they gained will translate directly to improving MassWildlife’s prescribed fire program and working as a cohesive team with DCR and other fire management partners."

Massachusetts, along with the other New England states and New York initiated the Northeastern Forest Fire Protection Compact—also called the Northeast Compact—in 1947. The Compact was established to provide a means for member states to cope with wildland fires that may become too intense for a single member state to control. In 1970, the provinces of Quebec and New Brunswick joined, making the Northeast Compact international. Currently, the Northeast Compact members include seven states—Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, and New York—and five provinces—Québec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland-Labrador, and Prince Edward Island. The Northeast Compact also includes the Fire Department of New York City, the US Forest Service, the US Fish and Wildlife Service, and the US National Park Service.

Young Adult Pheasant Hunt

Hunter Education graduates aged 12–17 can participate in the Young Adult Pheasant Hunt. This exciting program involves shooting instruction and practice, a pre-hunt workshop, and a mentored hunt prior to the regular pheasant season. All young adults between the ages 15 and 17 will need a hunting license and FID card to participate in this program.

The Young Adult Pheasant Hunt takes place on Saturdays in September and October; specific dates vary and are determined by participating sportsman’s clubs. For more information and to view participating clubs, please visit our website. If you have questions about this program, please contact Astrid Huseby by email at or call (508) 389-6305.