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MassWildlife monthly March 2017

Get the latest news and seasonal updates from MassWildlife

Spring trout stocking
Black bears are active and searching for food
Learn to hunt turkey workshops
Go wild on your taxes this year
2017 young adult turkey hunt
Get involved in conservation: spring citizen science opportunities

Spring trout stocking

Close to 500,000 brook, brown, rainbow and tiger trout will be stocked this spring from MassWildlife’s five hatcheries located in Sandwich, Palmer, Belchertown, Sunderland, and Montague. These fish, coupled with the more than 80,000 fish stocked last fall, will provide some excellent fishing in the coming months. Stocking is scheduled to begin in the southeastern area of the state during the first full week of March with other regions of the state expected to follow soon after. Anglers can get daily stocking updates at Mass.gov/Trout, or contact individual district offices for the latest stocking information.

2017 spring trout stocking stats:

  • Most of the trout will be over 12 inches
  • Nearly half of the trout will be over 14 inches
  • More than 1,400 brown trout will be over 18 inches
  • More than 600 brook trout will be over 15 inches
  • More than 2000 tiger trout  will be over 14 inches

Black bears are active and searching for food: take precautions

Black Bears are now active and seeking food. If you live in northern Middlesex County, Worcester County, western MA, or other areas where bears have been spotted, it's time to take down your bird feeders. Bears will often ignore natural foods such as skunk cabbage in favor of an easy meal at a backyard bird feeder. To avoid this problem, MassWildlife asks property owners to be proactive by removing bird feeders and other potential food sources including garbage or open compost. Individuals should also properly secure bee hives, chickens, and livestock. For those people who enjoy birds in their yard, MassWildlife suggests growing native plants, shrubs, and trees to attract birds. Adding a water feature is a big draw for birds.  Taking these actions may increase the diversity of birds you see and will prevent the unnatural feeding of bears and other kinds of neighborhood wildlife.

There are at least 4,500 Black Bears in Massachusetts and their range is expanding eastward. Take action by educating yourself and your neighbors about proactive measures to avoid conflicts with bears. Visit Mass.gov/Bears for detailed information and do your part to keep bears wild!

Click here to view a video of MassWildlife’s Winter Black Bear Den visits.

Learn to hunt turkey workshops still have openings

New for 2017:  Turkey calling workshop: Is your biggest concern when it comes to turkey hunting how to call? If so, this class is made for you! This 3–4 hour clinic goes over the different types of calls and gives you plenty of hands on time to practice your calls with experts!

Sunday, March 26, 10am–1pm: Archery Plus, Spencer, MA
Saturday, April 15, 9am–1pm: Conway Sportsman's Club, Conway, MA

Space is limited. To be considered for any of these programs, please complete the online form below. It will take you no more than 5 minutes to complete. You will be contacted by e-mail within a week of applying regarding whether or not you were selected for a program.  

Go wild on your taxes this year

Tax season is upon us, meaning now is a great time to think about how you can help keep Massachusetts wild! One easy way to help endangered wildlife and plants in the Commonwealth is by donating on your state tax return. Simply fill in the amount you would like to donate on Line 33A for Endangered Wildlife Conservation. All money donated go to the Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Fund, a separate fund used solely for the conservation of species listed as endangered, threatened, or of special concern in Massachusetts.

The Fund provides critical funding to MassWildlife’s Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program (NHESP), which helps restore populations of rare, native species to the state. For example, NHESP has worked for the past 30 years to restore the state’s peregrine falcon population to healthy numbers. The most recent count of nesting pairs numbered over 30; this is a great accomplishment considering Massachusetts had no nesting pairs in 1986. Over 500 wild-born chicks are known to have fledged since the beginning of conservation efforts in Massachusetts. Since 1984, the Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program and its partners have run a headstarting program for Northern Red-bellied Cooter, a federally endangered turtle. Over 4,000 turtles have been headstarted, with over 95% of them surviving past their first year after being re-released back into the wild.   

While Massachusetts has made considerable progress, more than 425 plants and animals are still recognized as rare in the Commonwealth. “The Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program is the first line of defense for Massachusetts’ most vulnerable plants and animals,” said DFG Commissioner George Peterson. “I strongly encourage taxpayers to support the fund, as it will help us protect these valuable and endangered resources.”

Already filed your taxes, but still want to donate? Contributions can be made directly by sending a check made payable to “Commonwealth of MA: NHESP” to MA Division of Fisheries and Wildlife, Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Fund, 1 Rabbit Hill Road, Westborough, MA 01581.

Thank you to everyone who has contributed so far!

Visit our website to learn more our Natural Heritage and how you can help conserve it.

2017 Young adult turkey hunt

The Massachusetts Young Adult Turkey Hunting Program is a partnership program between MassWildlife, participating sportsmen’s clubs, and the Massachusetts State Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation. The program is designed to provide hunters ages 12–17 an opportunity to:

  1. Participate in a field workshop that provides specialized training in turkey hunting and safety, including firearms instruction and practice
  2. Hunt wild turkey under the supervision and guidance of a safe, experienced, adult hunter serving as a mentor on a special day set aside just for young adults.

Hunter safety is emphasized in all aspects of the program to help build the confidence of young hunters so they may feel comfortable hunting alone or with others in the field. This program is more than just a day in the field hunting turkey; it is a comprehensive recreational program that includes two parts: a pre-hunt workshop and a one-day mentored hunt. A list of the 2017 participating clubs and dates can be found here. All participants must have a valid Hunter Education certificate prior to enrolling in the Program. Click here to view the hunter education course schedule.

Permits for the Young Adult Turkey Hunt for past participants are NOT automatically issued through MassFishHunt. To obtain a permit/certificate, all past participants must fill out a past participant application EVERY year. New participants must complete the pre-hunt workshop to obtain a permit for the special Young Adult Turkey Hunt Day (April 22, 2017). To register as a new participant for the program, fill out the Youth Participant Form and send it to Astrid Huseby at astrid.huseby@state.ma.us or Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife: Attn Youth Hunting Program, 1 Rabbit Hill Road, Westborough MA 01581.

Those who harvest a turkey on the Young Adult Turkey Hunt date (April 22, 2017) must report their turkey either online at MassFishHunt or at a traditional game check station within 48 hours of harvest.

For more information about the Young Adult Turkey Hunting Program, please click here.

Get involved in conservation: spring citizen science opportunities

Bald eagle nesting
There are now more eagles nesting in Massachusetts than any time in the recent past, and we need your help keeping track of them! Please report eagle sightings to Andrew Vitz (MassWildlife’s State Ornithologist, andrew.vitz@state.ma.us). Many of our nesting eagles are banded with coded-color bands that identify the individual, so make sure to look for these leg bands whenever you see or photograph an eagle. We are particularly interested in evidence of nesting eagles (e.g., birds carrying sticks or sitting in nest). When there is evidence of a new breeding territory, our staff verifies the report as we monitor known nests. MassWildlife will conduct its Spring Eagle Survey on Friday, April 7. The Survey consists of coordinated teams of staff and volunteers who spread out across the state to check on historic nest sites and look for new nests.

Report rare species and vernal pools
Spring amphibian season is just around the corner. When we experience rainy nights with temperatures above 40 degrees, Spotted Salamanders, Jefferson Salamanders, Blue-spotted Salamanders, and Wood Frogs will begin emerging from their forest retreats and piling into vernal pools to mate and deposit their eggs. Spring Peepers, Pickerel Frogs, and Leopard Frogs will be chorusing in large, open wetlands. Other frogs and salamanders will become active, moving about the landscape in preparation for their respective breeding periods that come a bit later in the spring. You may observe many of these animals as they cross fields, yards, and roadways to reach their destinations.

If you believe you have found a vernal pool which could become certified, or a rare amphibian, report your observations via the Vernal Pool and Rare Species Information System (VPRS). Data collected through VPRS is used by MassWildlife’s Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program to better understand distributions of species listed under the Massachusetts Endangered Species Act (MESA). If you want to learn more about vernal pools and the specialized wildlife that rely on this habitat type, get A Field Guide to the Animals of Vernal Pools. Click here for ordering information. 

Report roadkill on linking landscapes site
Linking Landscapes for Massachusetts Wildlife, a partnership between MassWildlife, Massachusetts Department of Transportation (DOT), and the University of Massachusetts, is a long-term, multifaceted, volunteer-based monitoring program and planning collaboration. The program aims to:

  1. reduce wildlife-vehicle collisions and improve public safety,
  2. enhance, protect, and restore habitats impacted by roads,
  3. incorporate conservation priorities into transportation planning, and
  4. implement wildlife transportation and research.

As a citizen, you can help by contributing data or volunteering to survey road segments. You can document your observations of roadkilled wildlife using this form. Roadkill reports help inform our wildlife mitigation and transportation safety decision making process.

Bobolink project
Grassland birds represent a suite of species that are undergoing sharp declines throughout the Northeast. One of the leading causes of these declines is the mowing of fields in the middle of the breeding season when many grassland birds, including Bobolinks, are nesting. If mowing is simply delayed for a few weeks, these birds can complete the vulnerable nesting period without threat of mowing machinery. MassAudubon and partners are working to raise money to offset the financial loss to farmers who decide to delay mowing to benefit grassland birds. MassWildlife supports this effort! To learn more about this project go to bobolinkproject.com.

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