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MassWildlife Monthly February 2017

Get the latest news and seasonal updates from MassWildlife.

Over $315K Awarded in MassWildlife Habitat Management Grants
Native Bee Added to Federal Endangered Species List
Preliminary Deer Harvest / Hunter Survey Reminder
2016 Freshwater Sportfishing Awards Program Winners
MassWildlife’s Walking Trails Policy
Turkey Federation Honors MassWildlife Staff
Upcoming Meetings and Events

Over $315K Awarded in MassWildlife Habitat Management Grants

MassWildlife has awarded $317,243 in grants for wildlife habitat improvement projects in 13 Massachusetts communities totaling 534 acres. These municipal and private conservation efforts are focused on improving habitat for native wildlife and increasing wildlife-related recreational opportunities for people.

The MassWildlife Habitat Management Grant Program, now in its second year, provides financial assistance to private and municipal landowners of conserved lands to improve and manage habitat for wildlife considered to be in greatest conservation need and for game species. Successful projects also expand opportunities for hunting, fishing, trapping, and other outdoor recreation, and complement the ongoing habitat management efforts on state lands.

The acquisition of land is not enough to guarantee the Commonwealth’s biological diversity. Investments in habitat restoration and management are urgently needed on public and private lands. “Conservation science has demonstrated that habitat for common and rare wildlife and plants needs active and ongoing maintenance and management,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Matthew Beaton. “In addition to investing in stewardship of state lands, it’s vital that we work with municipalities and conservation organizations to achieve our common goal of protecting Massachusetts’ lands and wildlife.”

“Wildlife in need of conservation as well as game species will benefit directly from these habitat management activities,” said Department of Fish and Game Commissioner George N. Peterson, Jr. “In addition, the sporting community, birders, naturalists, and other wildlife enthusiasts will enjoy improved recreational opportunities.”

“The reality is that 80 percent of Massachusetts’ lands where wildlife is found are owned privately,” said Jack Buckley, MassWildlife Director. “It makes sense as an agency to promote and apply science-based habitat management activities with committed municipal and private landowners, thereby protecting their investment in wildlife and habitat.”

The following landowners will receive MassWildlife Habitat Management grants:

  • Town of Amherst (Amherst) - $18,426 - The Town of Amherst will remove woody vegetation and control invasive species to improve old field habitats.
  • Massachusetts Forest Alliance (Ashfield and Hawley) - $47,950 - The Massachusetts Forest Alliance will create young forest habitat.
  • Berkshire Natural Resources Council (Dalton and Hinsdale) - $18,000 - The Berkshire Natural Resources Council will work to control invasive plants and improve floodplain forest along the Old Mill Trail.
  • The Trustees of Reservations (Ipswich) - $19,500 - The Trustees of Reservations will improve meadow habitat on the Appleton Farms property.
  • Town of Lenox (Lenox) - $33,500 - The Town of Lenox will work to combat the hardy kiwi invasive plant infestation.
  • Town of Marlborough (Marlborough) - $14,483 - The Town of Marlborough will work to control invasive plants in pitch pine – oak habitat at Desert Natural Area.
  • Town of Mashpee (Mashpee) - $11,611 - The Town of Mashpee will convert an old bog into seasonal waterfowl habitat.
  • Nantucket Conservation Foundation (Nantucket) - $38,469 - The Nantucket Conservation Foundation will reduce shrub and tree species cover to improve habitat conditions for wildlife dependent on grasslands and heathlands.
  • MassAudubon (Otis) - $29,213 - MassAudubon will create new, and expand existing, shrubland habitat on the Cold Brook Wildlife Sanctuary.
  • Nature Conservancy (Sheffield) - $23,640 - The Nature Conservancy will improve wetland and grassland habitats through the removal of woody plants on the Schenob Brook Preserve.
  • The Trustees of Reservations (Sheffield) - $35,701 - The Trustees of Reservations will restore grassland habitat through woody species removal and invasive species control on the West Grumpelt Parcel of Bartholemew’s Cobble Preserve.
  • Brian and Martha Klassanos (Ware) - $26,750 - Private landowners Brian and Martha Klassanos will treat invasive plants, establish grassland habitat, and improve shrublands on their Muddy Brook Valley property.

Native Bee Added to Federal Endangered Species List

The US Fish and Wildlife Service announced that effective February 10, 2017, the Rusty Patched Bumble Bee (Bombus affinis) will be added to the Federal Endangered Species List. Once common across 28 states from Maine to South Dakota and two Canadian provinces, the Rusty Patched Bumble Bee has experienced a swift and dramatic decline since the late 1990s. Abundance of this bee has plummeted by 87 percent, leaving only small, scattered populations in 13 states and one province. Most remaining populations are concentrated in the Midwest (Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, and Minnesota).

Unfortunately, the Rusty Patched Bumble Bee has probably already disappeared from Massachusetts. The Rusty Patched Bumble Bee has been seen in Massachusetts only once since the year 2000; in 2009, a single bee was observed on Cape Cod. Efforts will be made to find the species, but its rapid decline suggests that it is no longer present in this part of its historic range. Massachusetts once had 16 types of native bumble bees, but one species, the Ashton Cuckoo Bumble Bee (Bombus bohemicus), is no longer found in the state. Regrettably, the Rusty Patched Bumble Bee likely represents a second Massachusetts bee species lost in recent years, highlighting the overall plight of native pollinators.

Bumble bees are important pollinators, whose activities are necessary for native wildflower reproduction and for creating seeds and fruits that feed a wide variety of wildlife including songbirds and small mammals. Bumble bees also pollinate economically important crops such as cranberries, tomatoes, and peppers. Each year, insects, mostly bees, provide pollination services valued at an estimated $3 billion in the United States.

To view the federal listing information and fact sheet for the Rusty Patched Bumble Bee, please click here.

2016 Preliminary Deer Harvest Report

MassWildlife reports that the preliminary statewide deer harvest for 2016 is 12,233. The preliminary harvest figures by season are as follows:

  • Youth Deer Hunt Day (Oct. 1st): 128
  • Archery Season: 4,661
  • Shotgun Season: 4,907 (with an additional 53 deer taken during the Quabbin Reservation hunt)
  • Primitive Firearms Season: 2,484

During the Shotgun Season, 58 deer were taken over 4 days during the Blue Hills Reservation’s Annual Controlled Hunt; this equates to about 10 deer removed per square mile of hunted land.

Both archery and primitive firearms seasons saw record harvests in 2016. Total harvest was near record levels as well. Harvest was likely low in 2015 due to unseasonably warm weather, lack of snow, and an abundance of food, such that deer did not have to move as often and as far during legal hunting hours. The increased harvest during the 2016 season was likely making up for the low harvest of last season and the weather was much more favorable for hunters.

WMZ

Archery

Shotgun

Primitive

TOTAL

Zone 1

102

178

69

349

Zone 2

145

226

108

479

Zone 3

180

256

103

539

Zone 4 - N

171

218

142

531

Zone 4 - S

122

91

86

299

Zone 5

157

267

118

542

Zone 6

33

65

28

126

Zone 7

214

256

133

603

Zone 8

247

392

145

784

Zone 9

459

399

257

1,115

Zone 10

1,128

649

536

2,313

Zone 11

1,227

957

531

2,715

Zone 12

64

130

39

233

Zone 13

229

443

92

764

Zone 14

183

380

97

660

 

4,661

4,907

2,484

12,052

 
Youth

128

Quabbin

53

 
2016 Total

12,233

statewide deer harvest 1966-2016

While total harvest by zone can be informative, it doesn’t provide the complete picture for monitoring trends in deer density because total harvest is influenced by antlerless deer permit allocations in each zone as well as annual changes in hunter effort, weather, etc. The MassWildlife Deer Project Leader analyzes harvest, biological, and hunter effort data, along with hunter success rates, female versus male harvest, and other factors to manage deer populations in each zone. An analysis of this information is now underway for the annual spring deer management review. A complete harvest summary will be posted on the MassWildlife website shortly after the annual deer review, so please check back in May or June.

Also, keep an eye on your email inbox for our annual hunter survey. A random sample of hunters who included a valid email address in their MassFishHunt profile will receive a hunter survey by email in the next few weeks. The survey is designed to understand hunter effort and preferences and to collect important local “on-the-ground” information that will help manage game in the Commonwealth. The survey takes approximately 5-15 minutes to complete. All responses are anonymous; identifying information such as email and IP address will not be recorded. The link is specific to each email address; therefore, hunters should not forward the invitation to others as it can only be filled out once. MassWildlife staff thanks those who have already taken the time to fill out the survey. In order to receive future surveys, make sure to enter a current email address in the customer profile section of the MassFishHunt system.

2016 Freshwater Sportfishing Awards Program Winners

The winners of the 2016 Freshwater Sportfishing Awards have been announced! Joshua Christman of Pittsfield is the Adult Catch & Keep Angler of the Year, catching 17 species; Jason Bunar of Kingston is the Youth Catch & Keep Angler of the Year, catching 18 species; and Michael Nee of Northborough is the Catch & Release Angler of the Year, catching 18 species. The list of 2016 Gold Pin winners are posted on our website. The Freshwater Sportfishing Awards ceremony will be held this spring; details will be announced when the date is finalized. Meanwhile, if you would like to participate in the 2017 program, visit our Freshwater Sportfishing Awards Program web page to learn more. Remember, you now have two options for submitting a trophy catch: catch & keep and catch & release.

MassWildlife's Walking Trails Policy

In response to increased and unauthorized trail development activities as well as requests for new trails on its lands, the Fisheries and Wildlife Board approved a Wildlife Lands Policy and a Walking Trails Policy in August 2016. Together these policies support MassWildlife’s statutory mission of conserving wildlife habitat and providing wildlife-related recreation.  MassWildlife lands generally include simple, gravel or dirt parking lots with unmarked footpaths and woods roads. This minimal-development management approach keeps “wild places wild,” while allowing access to nature with an "off-the-beaten path" experience.

What the policy does:

  • Supports MassWildlife’s mission to protect wildlife and its habitat
  • Formalizes a trails license agreement process for six regional trails
  • Limits trail creation, marking, and maintenance
  • Allows areas damaged by trails to recover
  • Continues free public access to MassWildlife lands

The policy does NOT:

  • Restrict public access to MassWildlife lands
  • Prevent walking on or require closure of any existing path, woods road, or cart path on MassWildlife lands
  • Limit hunting, fishing, trapping, wildlife-related recreation, hiking, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, or off-trail exploring

Visit the MassWildlife website for more details including the full Trails Policy.

Turkey Federation Honors MassWildlife Staff

In late January, New England Chapters of the National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF) held an inaugural combined Chapter Awards Banquet and honored several people with ties to the Division of Fisheries and Wildlife. Jim Cardoza, retired MassWildlife Turkey Biologist, was honored as one of the first inductees into the New England Turkey Hunting Hall of Fame. Cardoza, from Cape Cod, was recognized for his efforts in restoring wild turkeys to Massachusetts and his service with the National Wild Turkey chapters in Massachusetts.

Two Worcester County women were also honored with awards recognizing their volunteer efforts for NWTF. Jennifer Ford, a clerk at MassWildlife’s Field Headquarters and Kelly Dalbec, a MassWildlife Volunteer Hunter Education Instructor were recipients of the Top Women In The Outdoors (WITO) event held in New England. They also received the first New England Annie Oakley award for their volunteer efforts in coordinating and promoting the WITO events held in Auburn. Jennifer and Kelly will be heading to Nashville Tennessee in February to pick up National Annie Oakley Awards at NWTF’s National Conference.

 

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