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MassWildlife monthly June 2017

Get the latest news and seasonal updates from MassWildlife

MassWildlife Open House is June 10
Enjoy free freshwater fishing weekend June 3-4
Endangered turtle release success
Report wild turkey sightings
Lexington High School wins 2017 Envirothon
Massachusetts Wildlife Climate Action Tool wins National Award
Brief seasonal announcements

MassWildlife Open House is June 10

MassWildlife is hosting an Open House on Saturday, June 10 at its Field Headquarters (1 Rabbit Hill Road, Westborough) from 10:00 A.M. to 3:00 P.M. Experience the range of MassWildlife programs through interactive displays, demonstrations, and hands-on activities. This event is FREE and perfect for families and wildlife enthusiasts of any age! Participants will enjoy all the favorite activities from last year, including archery, the scavenger hunt, and live reptiles. We've added some great new features this year, including live owls and hawks, working dog demonstrations, and a kayak raffle!

  • Free hot dog lunch
  • Archery
  • Kids' crafts
  • Prizes and giveaways
  • Live owls and hawks
  • MassWildlife vehicles including an airboat, trout stocking truck, and boats
  • Scavenger hunt
  • Live turtles, snakes, and fish
  • Working dog demonstrations
  • Learn to fly or spin cast
  • Fly tying demonstrations
  • Interactive displays on wildlife and fish management, habitat management, and endangered species conservation
  • Learn to attract birds and pollinators with native plants
  • Tour the American Chestnut orchard
  • and much more!

Parking is available on-site. There will also be overflow parking and a shuttle provided from the parking lot near Outback Steakhouse (Stagecoach Plaza, Route 9, Westborough). There is a rain date of Sunday, June 11.

Free freshwater fishing weekend: June 3-4
Take a friend or family member fishing! You won't need a fishing license to fish any public freshwater lake, pond, reservoir, river or stream statewide from 12:00 A.M. Saturday June 3rd until 11:59 P.M. Sunday June 4th. While you can fish for free on June 3rd and 4th, a license is required at all other times for those 15 years of age or older. At all other times, residents ages 15 to 17 and those over 70 must obtain and carry a fishing license; however, licenses are free for those age groups. Funds from fishing license sales support MassWildlife’s fisheries research, fish stocking programs, and angler education programs.

Residents help release endangered turtles back into the wild

Despite the dreary weather, local residents helped MassWildlife’s Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program staff release 55 Northern Red-bellied Cooters at Burrage Pond Wildlife Management Area in Hanson on Friday, May 27. These turtles are federally and state listed as Endangered.

Partnering organizations—including schools, nature centers, and museums—cooperate with MassWildlife in a restoration effort to raise wild-caught hatchling turtles from October through May; a process called headstarting. The turtles are kept warm and are well-fed, which accelerates their growth. By the time the turtles are ready for release, they are much larger than a wild turtle of the same age and are less likely to be eaten by predators. Released headstarted turtles have more than a 95% survival rate.

The Massachusetts population of this endangered turtle is confined to ponds and rivers within Plymouth and eastern Bristol Counties. The next closest population is hundreds of miles away in New Jersey. Northern Red-bellied Cooters’ native range spans from central New Jersey to northeastern North Carolina and westward up the Potomac River into eastern West Virginia.

Since the inception of the program in 1984, over 4,000 headstarted hatchlings have been release into waterways and ponds in southeastern Massachusetts. This year, 27 partners from across the state assisted with the headstarting program.

Report wild turkey sightings

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

MassWildlife conducts the Annual Brood Survey from June 1 through August 31 each year to estimate the number of turkeys. 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. 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.

NEW THIS YEAR! Observations can now be reported online. Simply fill in all the information and click submit and your turkey observations will be logged by MassWildlife. You can still download and print a Turkey Brood Survey form to complete over the course of the summer. Completed forms should to be mailed after August 31st 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.

Lexington High School wins 2017 Envirothon

The message from teenagers who participated in this year’s Massachusetts Envirothon environmental education program was clear: local agriculture is booming in Massachusetts. For the past school year, they’ve been researching farming in their communities – from urban community gardens to rural orchards and pastures, from row crops to working forests – and assessing its benefits and its effects on local land and water resources, ecosystems and biodiversity.

Two hundred fifty students from nearly 40 Massachusetts communities converged on Mass Audubon’s Drumlin Farm Wildlife Sanctuary in Lincoln on Thursday, May 18th to compete in the 30th annual Massachusetts Envirothon. At the event, teams presented what they’ve learned about agricultural soil and water conservation, and tested their knowledge of the area’s soils, forests, water, and wildlife. Top honors went to a team of students from Lexington High School.

At the outdoor field competition event, teams rotated through four “ecostations” where they answered written questions and engaged in hands-on activities such as soil analysis, wildlife habitat assessment, tree identification, and water quality measures. Each team had up to 10 participants and split into specialized sub-teams during the competition, each focusing their efforts at different ecostations.

At the fifth station, the Current Issue, each team gave a 15 minute presentation to a panel of judges about their research into “Agricultural Soil and Water Conservation” in their own community. Each panel of judges included concerned citizens and environmental professionals from government agencies, non-profit organizations, academia and private industry. Teams were asked to assess the potential for producing local food, given the soil, water, and people resources in their community, and to recommend what might be done to protect and enhance soil health and water quality at the same time.

For more information on the Massachusetts Envirothon visit

Brief seasonal announcements

· Help bats by reporting colonies: If you see a colony of bats, please let MassWildlife know. Ten or more bats make up a colony. We study bat colonies in Massachusetts to see how many have survived after the onset of White-nose Syndrome, a deadly disease affecting hibernating bats. Monitoring leads to advances in conservation and management for endangered bat species, ensuring protection and security of the colonies. Two species of bats—the Little Brown Bat and the Big Brown Bat—have summer colonies in Massachusetts. These colonies may be found in trees, buildings, or houses. Please email Jennifer Longsdorf ( to report a bat colony and include the address, location, type of structure where the colony was found (tree or building), and approximately how many bats are in the colony. Your help is greatly appreciated!

· Leave fawns and young wildlife alone: Every year, the lives of many young creatures are disturbed by people who take young wildlife from the wild in a well-intentioned attempt to “save” them. These well-meant acts can have a very negative effect. Please remember, finding a young animal alone does not mean it’s abandoned; the best thing you can do for young wildlife is to leave them alone. Only when young wildlife are found injured or with their dead mother may the young be assisted, but must then be delivered immediately to a licensed wildlife rehabilitator. Due to the difficulty in properly caring for them, there are no rehabilitators licensed to care for fawns. It is illegal to possess most wildlife in Massachusetts without a permit. A list of licensed wildlife rehabilitators can be found here. For more information on what to do if you find young wildlife, please visit

Massachusetts Wildlife Climate Action Tool wins National Award
In May, the National Fish, Wildlife and Plants Climate Adaptation Strategy Joint Implementation Working Group selected the Massachusetts Wildlife Climate Action Tool for the Working Group's 2017 Climate Adaptation Leadership Award for Natural Resources in the “broad partnership” category. The Tool was created for decision-makers, conservation practitioners, and managers and developed by the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife (MassWildlife), University of Massachusetts-Amherst, and the Department of the Interior's Northeast Climate Science Center. While designed for Massachusetts, the tool offers broadly relevant information and could serve as a model for other states in the region. MassWildlife staff members involved in this project included John O’Leary, Jonathan Brooks, and Nicole McSweeney.