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MassWildlife monthly May 2017

Get the latest news and seasonal updates from MassWildlife

Help bats by reporting colonies
What to do when you find young wildlife
Attend MassWildlife’s Open House
Learn to fish this spring for free!
New special issue of Massachusetts Wildlife magazine focuses on SWAP
Celebrate Endangered Species Day
Peter Mirick honored posthumously

Help bats by reporting colonies

If you see a colony of bats, please let MassWildlife know! 10 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. 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!

Since the onset of White-nose Syndrome in Massachusetts, the state’s population of bats has dwindled to less than 1% of what it was. In one abandoned mine, almost every bat hibernating over the 2008/2009 winter died from White-nose Syndrome. 10,000 bats dropped to just 14 in the span of a single season. White-nose Syndrome is caused by a fungus that grows on cave-hibernating bats during the winter. The growing fungus rouses the bats from hibernation, causing them to use up precious fat stores before fully waking in the spring, leading to starvation. As a result of the drastic mortality from White-nose Syndrome, all species of cave-hibernating bats are listed as Endangered in Massachusetts.

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. The Little Brown Bat also hibernates in caves during the winter, where it can contract White-nose Syndrome. Before White-nose Syndrome in Massachusetts, the Little Brown Bat was the most common bat species in the state. We are especially interested in learning how surviving colonies of Little Brown Bats have persisted despite White-nose Syndrome, including the size and location of their colonies. This summer, we will be banding Little Brown Bats, and tagging all females with radio transmitters to help us locate maternal colonies. We will also be doing surveys, site visits to bat colonies, and monitoring any newly discovered maternity colonies to determine colony size, site ownership, and security. Monitoring long-term population changes will greatly help us understand the survival of Little Brown Bats. This work will be also be used in future recovery efforts.

What to do when you find young wildlife
The arrival of spring means the arrival of newborn and just-hatched wildlife. 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 of kindness tend to have the opposite 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.

Young wildlife removed from the wild are denied important natural learning experiences which help them survive on their own. Most people quickly find that they can’t care for young wildlife, and many animals soon die in the hands of well-meaning people. Young wildlife that survive human “assistance” miss experiences that teach them to fend for themselves. If these animals are released back into the wild, their chances of survival are reduced. Often, the care given to young wildlife results in some attachment to humans and the animals may return to places where people live, only to be attacked by domestic animals, or hit by cars. Some animals become nuisances and people have been injured by once-tamed wildlife.

Generally, young mammals are visited by their mother only a few times a day to avoid attracting predators to the young. For example, a nest of bunnies will only be visited by the adult female twice per day to nurse the young. The young are generally safe when left alone because their color patterns and lack of scent help them remain undetected. The same is true for fawns (young deer). Fawns are safest when left alone because their camouflaging color helps them remain undetected until the doe returns. If sympathetic people repeatedly visit a fawn, it can prolong the separation from the doe and delay needed feeding. Unlike deer, newborn moose calves remain in close proximity to their mothers who, in contrast to a white-tailed doe, will actively defend calves against danger. An adult cow moose weighing over 600 pounds will chase, kick or stomp potential predators, people included.

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

Attend MassWildlife's Open House
Join MassWildlife for an Open House at its Field Headquarters (1 Rabbit Hill Road, Westborough) on Saturday, June 10 from 10:00 A.M. to 3:00 P.M. Experience the range of MassWildlife programs through interactive displays and demonstrations. Try your hand at outdoor skills like archery, target shooting, and fly or spin casting. Get an up-close look at live animals including owls, hawks, turtles, snakes, and fish. Learn about endangered species research, how to attract backyard birds to your yard, and where MassWildlife is stocking trout. All this and a free hotdog lunch! Open House visitors can also enter a free raffle to win a 10’ Ascend Kayak, life vest, and paddle, generously donated by Bass Pro Shops.

During the Open House, visitors can head over to nearby Westborough Reservoir (Sandra Pond) to learn how to fish from 10:00 A.M. to 3:00 P.M. MassWildlife staff will be there with equipment and bait. No license required!

This year’s Open House is being held in cooperation with the Town of Westborough’s 300th Anniversary. Admission and all activities are FREE. This event is perfect for families and wildlife enthusiasts of any age! There is a rain date of June 11.

Learn to fish this spring for free!
Celebrate the arrival of warm weather by attending one of the many MassWildlife Angler Education Program events being held across the state this spring. There are events for adults and for kids and families looking to learn how to fish in a non-competitive environment. Fishing equipment and bait are available to use at most events, and no fishing license is required to participate in the event. Most events are also free to attend. Find an event near you:

May 6: Snows Pond Family Fishing Festival, Charlton

May 6: Needham Recreation Family Fishing Festival, Needham

May 6: Westborough Civic Club Family Fishing Festival, Westborough

May 6: US FWS Family Fishing Festival, Hadley

May 7: Brookline Reservoir Family Fishing Festival, Brookline

May 10: Adult Learn to Fish Clinic, Belchertown

May 13: Coes Pond Family Fishing Derby, Worcester

May 20: Family Fishing Festival, Burlington

May 20: Disabled American Veterans Fishing Festival, Marlborough

May 20: Spec Pond Family Fishing Derby, Wilbraham

May 21: Whitman’s Pond Family Fishing Festival, Weymouth

May 23: Adult Learn to Fish Clinic, Harwich

June 3: Great Falls Discovery Center Family Fishing Festival, Turners Falls

June 4: Endicott Park Family Fishing Festival, Danvers

June 10: Family Fishing Festival, Westborough

For more information and a full list of events, visit the Angler Education Calendar on our website. Don’t forget to share your angling photos with us on Facebook and see what other Massachusetts anglers are catching!

Mark your calendars for this year’s Free Freshwater Fishing Weekend on June 3rd and 4th. This weekend provides the perfect opportunity to introduce a friend or family member to fishing! No license is required 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. For residents 15-17 years of age, and those 70 and over there is no fee for that license (other than any associated convenience fees while purchasing). Those under 15 may fish without a license. Funds from fishing license sales support MassWildlife’s fisheries research, fish stocking programs, and angler education programs. Fishing licenses may be purchased online at MassFishHunt or in person at a license vendor around the state.

New special issue of Massachusetts Wildlife magazine focuses on SWAP
The newest issue of Massachusetts Wildlife magazine was just released and focuses on Massachusetts’ newly-published State Wildlife Action Plan (SWAP). The SWAP will serve as the state’s wildlife conservation strategy for the next decade, identifying the 570 Species of Greatest Conservation Need and the 24 habitat types that are essential to their survival. In the newest issue of Massachusetts Wildlife, the authors tell the story of five key SWAP habitats to give readers an idea of the life histories of and threats to the species in each habitat, as well as some ongoing conservation actions. Click here to view a preview of the newest issue, and find out how to subscribe.

Massachusetts Wildlife magazine is a quarterly publication packed with award-winning articles and photos on fish and wildlife conservation, fishing, hunting, natural history and just about everything related to the outdoors in Massachusetts. Troy Gipps, editor of Massachusetts Wildlife, was recently honored by the New England Outdoor Writers Association, winning 2nd Place for Best Article in a Magazine for his article “A line that binds: family, fishing, and the lure of ‘The Rez’.”

Celebrate Endangered Species Day
This year, Endangered Species Day falls on May 19. The United States Congress appointed this day to increase awareness of imperiled species. Through the Massachusetts Endangered Species Act, MassWildlife protects local native species that may or may not be federally protected. Over 425 Endangered, Threatened, or Special Concern animals and plants live in Massachusetts. Species from the majestic Bald Eagle to the unusual Mountain Cranberry need protection. Even though many, like the Peregrine Falcon, have come a long way, our native species still need help.

MassWildlife’s Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program (NHESP) implements the state’s Endangered Species Act. This happens through field surveys and research, regulations, habitat management, land protection, and education. NHESP’s work is funded by grants and donations from supporters. You can support the Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program by sending a check payable to the “Commonwealth of MA: NHESP” to:

Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program

MA Division of Fisheries and Wildlife

1 Rabbit Hill Road

Westborough, MA 01581

Those interested in helping rare species can also assist by reporting rare species and vernal pools. Observations may be submitted through the Vernal Pool and Rare Species (VPRS) Information System. NHESP uses these reports to keep its database current.

Together, we can conserve the natural heritage of Massachusetts. Click here to learn more.

Peter Mirick honored by Massachusetts Sportsmen's Council
The Massachusetts Sportsmen's Council posthumously honored former Massachusetts Wildlife Magazine Editor Peter Mirick by inducting him into their Hall of Fame. Mirick's wife Madeline and his mother Peg accepted the award at the Council's Annual Banquet in April.