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MassWildlife Monthly May 2018

Get the latest news and seasonal updates from MassWildlife

MassWildlife Director Jack Buckley retires

After 30 years of service with the Division of Fisheries and Wildlife (MassWildlife), Director Jack Buckley retired April 30, 2018. Appointed as Director by the Fisheries and Wildlife Board in 2015, Buckley supported new outreach initiatives such as social media and agency re-branding; focused efforts on hunter and angler recruitment, retention, and reactivation; accelerated habitat management activities on MassWildlife lands; procured habitat management grant funding for private landowners and municipalities; and partnered with the MWRA for a pipeline to supply the McLaughlin Hatchery in Belchertown with gravity-fed water from Quabbin Reservoir. During this time, MassWildlife celebrated its 150th Anniversary, opened its new LEED Platinum certified Field Headquarters in Westborough for meetings and events to a wide variety of state agencies and conservation groups, and continued to protect and manage over 200,000 acres of important fish and wildlife habitat to benefit both wildlife and people.

The majority of Buckley’s career with MassWildlife was spent as Deputy Director of Administration and Personnel. He was responsible for personnel, fiscal, and budgetary management, legislative and external affairs, federal aid, information and education, licensing and permits, land acquisition, and the Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program. In 1998–2002, he also served as a Special Assistant to Secretary of Environmental Affairs Robert Durand for Forest Policy and Land Protection. Probably his most important contribution to the agency was his work on the Massachusetts Endangered Species Act (MESA) legislation, the creation of MassWildlife’s Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program, and his involvement with a lawsuit that went before the Massachusetts Supreme Court. The Court ultimately affirmed the agency’s authority and actions relative to enforcement of MESA. Buckley was MassWildlife’s representative on the Public Access Board and the Pesticide Board. In addition, Buckley represented the Division on several committees of the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, including Legislative Affairs, Federal Budget, and International Affairs. He was the regional representative of the northeastern states to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) Technical Work Group.

Jack Buckley earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Fisheries Biology and a Master’s Degree in Fisheries Biology from the University of Massachusetts in Amherst where he studied the endangered shortnose sturgeon in the Connecticut River. He worked at the Massachusetts Cooperative Fishery Research Unit at the University of Massachusetts as a Research Assistant and was promoted to Project Leader. Buckley then performed a stint as first Chief of Fisheries Management in Washington D. C. where he was responsible for developing the fisheries management program for the District of Columbia. His work in advancing fish and wildlife conservation has been recognized on local, regional, and national levels. Buckley was honored by the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies with a Special Recognition Award in 2011 for his outstanding commitment to the work of the Association and with the Ernest Thompson Seton Award in 2013, honoring his leadership in scientific wildlife management as a CITES representative. The Massachusetts Sportsmen’s Council recently honored Buckley with a Lifetime Achievement Award.

Colleagues and friends wish Jack the best in his well-earned retirement!

The Fisheries and Wildlife Board has appointed Mark Tisa as Acting Director. 

Learn to fish with us this spring for free!

Celebrate the arrival of warm weather by attending one of the many MassWildlife Angler Education Programs held across the state this spring. There events are for adults, kids, and families who want 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. Most events are also free to attend. Find an event near you:

May 5: Needham Recreation Family Fishing Festival, Needham
May 5: Snows Pond Family Fishing Festival, Charlton
May 6: Brookline Reservoir Family Fishing Festival, Brookline
May 10: Family Fishing Clinic, Littleton
May 12: Coes Pond Family Fishing Event, Worcester
May 12:  Westborough Civic Club Family Fishing Festival, Westborough
May 15: Family Fishing Clinic, Shrewsbury
May 17: Family Fishing Clinic, Wellesley
May 19: Cops And Bobbers Family Fishing Festival, Granby
May 19: Veterans Family Fishing Festival, Marlborough
May 19: Spec Pond Family Fishing DerbyWilbraham
May 19: Family Fishing Festival, Burlington
May 20: Whitman’s Pond Family Fishing Festival, Weymouth
May 21: Family Fishing Clinic, Concord
May 22: Family Fishing Clinic, Raynham
May 23: Family Fishing Clinic, Lexington
May 29: Family Fishing Clinic, Stoneham
May 30: Family Fishing Clinic, Andover
June 2: Get Up and Get Outdoors Family Fishing Festival, Charlton
June 2: Great Falls Discovery Center Family Fishing Festival, Turners Falls
June 3: Carbuncle Pond Family Fishing Festival, Oxford
June 5: Family Fishing Clinic, Wakefield
June 6: Family Fishing Clinic, Canton
June 7: Family Fishing Clinic, Swansea
June 12: Adult “Learn to Fish”, Westborough
June 13: Family Fishing Clinic, Brewster
June 14: Family Fishing Clinic, Rochester
June 16: Spot Pond Family Fishing Festival, Stoneham
June 16: Great Meadows Family Fishing Festival, Sudbury
June 30: Jamaica Pond Family Fishing Festival, Jamaica Plain Boston

To get more information about a fishing event that interests you, go to the Angler Education Calendar. Don’t forget to share your fishing 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 2-3. 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 a.m. Saturday June 2 until 11:59 p.m. Sunday June 3. While you can fish for free on June 2-3, a license is required at all other times if you're 15 or older. If you're 15-17, your license is free. Funds from fishing license sales support MassWildlife’s fisheries research, fish stocking programs, and angler education programs. Learn more license purchases and fees.

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 with out a permit. A list of licensed wildlife rehabilitators can be found here.

Inaugural Small Research Grants awarded

Scott Melvin was a former senior zoologist working within MassWildlife’s Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program. He was an internationally known leader in coastal waterbird conservation. Scott had an unwavering commitment to conservation, leading efforts to protect piping plovers for over 30 years. His good humor, pragmatism, and expertise won the respect of everyone, even those with opposing views. Scott also mentored many biologists entering the field. He recognized that working with beach-nesting birds provided an important real-world learning opportunity to train the next generation of natural resource managers.

Scott passed away prematurely in 2014. However, his legacy lives on. In partnership with the Massachusetts Outdoor Heritage Foundation, the Scott Melvin Memorial Fund was created to honor Scott’s memory and his enduring contributions to wildlife conservation. Thanks to the generosity of donors, the Scott Melvin Fund supports small research grants and a fellowship. This year, the first researchers have been awarded grants from the Scott Melvin Memorial Fund. Each awarded grant is aimed at supporting graduate student research on piping plovers or terns. The 2018 grant recipients are:

  • Michelle Stantial—Using miniaturized GPS tags to study breeding season habitat use and migration in threatened piping plovers (Charadrius melodus)
  • Brynna McGlathery—Analysis of the construction, maintenance, and site characteristics of artificial habitats for nesting piping plover (Charadrius melodus) on Duxbury Beach to determine preference and success
  • Katie Walker—Assessing piping plover post fledging survival and migratory stopover locations using nanotags

In addition to the research grants, the Scott Melvin Memorial Fellowship was awarded to Jasmine Weber-Pierson. This summer, Jasmine will work with Mass Audubon and MassWildlife on piping plover and tern conservation.

Congratulations to all of this year’s recipients!

Learn how you can support the Scott Melvin Memorial Fund.

The Massachusetts Outdoor Heritage Foundation was created as a private-sector partner to MassWildlife, focusing on fundraising, accepting project-restricted donations, and providing funding in support of MassWildlife’s mission. The MOHF has a simple, singular goal—to guarantee that the vital connection and the personal renewal experienced in the Commonwealth’s great remaining wildlife lands and natural areas will endure, and continue to delight and sustain both residents and visitors forever.

Plant a bumblebee-friendly garden

Spring is here, which means you may begin planting gardens around your home. The loss of native pollinators, such as bumblebees, can have catastrophic consequences on the biodiversity of Massachusetts. Learn how you can help by planting a bumblebee-friendly garden and reporting bumblebee sightings.

The decline of bumblebees
By tracking bee observations over the last 100 years, we can get an accurate picture of bumblebee health in the state. Things don’t look good—the number of bumblebee species has dropped from 11 to 7, with 3 of the 7 (B. fervidus, B. terricola and B. vagans) in danger of being extirpated from the state in the next decade if current trends continue. These losses have the potential to have catastrophic consequences for native biodiversity with cascading impacts across the ecosystem. The diversity of bumblebees impacts the diversity of native plants impacts the diversity of animals utilizing bee-pollinator plants for food, shelter, and nest sites impacts the diversity of predatory animals. Native bee decline is akin to an ecological version of the classic children’s game KerPlunk—eventually our actions will remove too many species and ecosystems will begin to collapse.

To save our bumblebees and other native pollinators, we need to understand the unique set of ecological demands each species requires throughout its life cycle. For bumblebees, these demands include: suitable microhabitats for queen bees to hibernate in the winter and establish nests in early to mid-spring, enough flowering plants for worker production in the late spring to summer, and for the colony to produce sufficient queens and males in mid-summer to fall. Unfortunately, we know little about how and why bumblebee species differ in such demands, limiting our ability to effectively conserve them. Fortunately, a new "Bee-cology" Project is beginning to fill that knowledge gap by crowdsourcing information about Massachusetts bumblebees. You can get involved by planting a bumblebee-friendly garden and logging your observations.

Planting a bumblebee-friendly garden
All bumblebees need adequate sources of floral nectar and pollen throughout their life cycle in order to keep populations humming. As a group, bumblebees are considered foraging generalists because they can exploit flowers of many different plants. However, each species of bee has a unique set of physical, physiological, and life history characteristics, and flower preferences that must be considered when designing a bumblebee garden. Remember, a truly bumblebee-friendly garden is highly diverse. You need to include appropriate native plant matches for all kinds of bees.


Planting tips
Remember diversity matters! Bee abundance is not the same as bee diversity; seeing large numbers of bees in your garden is only beneficial if it reflects a large number of different bee species.

Avoid cultivars of native plants which don’t produce floral nectar. In most plants, you can check for nectar by removing the flower from the base and squeezing it—a bubble of clear liquid means it has nectar. For species with a nectar spur, you can check for nectar by placing a light source behind the flower.

Avoid pesticide use, particularly those containing neonicotinoids.

Always avoid exotic plants—they can have dramatic negative effects on bumblebee-native plant relationships and can contribute to bumblebee decline.

Design plantings to ensure nectar and pollen are available for bumblebees throughout the entire growing season. Create potential nesting and overwintering sites. A dry, protected cavity containing straw, small clumps of moss, and/or dried grass located above or below ground is ideal.

Recommended native plants* for bumblebees

  • Aster (Eurybia macrophylla, Symphyotrichum laeve, Symphyotrichum novae-angliae)
  • Bee balm (Monarda fistulosa)
  • Blue flag iris (Iris versicolor)
  • Blue lobelia (Lobelia siphilitica)
  • Boneset (Eupatorium perfoliatum)
  • Carolina rose (Rosa carolina)
  • Common buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis)
  • Dogbane (Apocynum androsaemifolium, Apocynum cannabinum)
  • Giant purple hyssop (Agastache scrophulariifolia)
  • Goldenrod (Solidago flexicaulis, Solidago odora, Solidago rugosa)
  • Joe-pye weed (Eutrochium maculatum)
  • Meadowsweet (Spiraea alba, Spiraea tomentosa)
  • Milkweed (Asclepias incarnata, Asclepias syriaca, Asclepias tuberosa)
  • Old field toadflax (Nuttallanthus canadensis)
  • Spiked lobelia (Lobelia spicata)
  • St. John’s Wort (Hypericum canadense, Hypericum punctatum)
  • Spotted touch-me-not (Impatiens capensis)
  • Swamp thistle (Cirsium muticum)
  • Pasture thistle (Cirsium pumilum)
  • Turtlehead (Chelone glabra)
  • Virginia rose (Rosa virginiana)
  • Wild yellow indigo (Baptisia tinctoria)
  • Wild raspberry (Rubus occidentalis)

*Please note: Common plant names are provided in this list for easy reference, but always double check the species you purchase is native! Use the "GoBotany" tool to look up if a species is native.


Information in this release was modified from Robert J. Gegear, “Amplifying the Hum of the Bumblebee,” Massachusetts Wildlife, Vol. 67 No. 3, 2017. Please click here to read the full article with more information. Dr. Robert J. Gegear is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Biology and Biotechnology and Director of the Bee-cology Project at Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Worcester, Massachusetts. He can be reached at

Celebrate Endangered Species Day

This year, Endangered Species Day is observed on May 18. The United States Congress appointed this day to recognize efforts in conserving rare species. Through the Massachusetts Endangered Species Act, Massachusetts also 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 implements the state’s Endangered Species Act. This happens through field surveys and research, regulations, habitat management, land protection, and education. But the Program needs you. Help us monitor rare species by telling us when you see them. You can also help by donating directly to the Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program. Find out more by visiting

Spring is the for the birds

You don’t need a bird feeder to attract colorful and melodious birds to your yard or garden. Most bird feeders draw the unwanted attention of squirrels, chipmunks, turkeys, mice, rats, and even black bears. Providing natural resources will bolster the chances of having birds venture onto your property. Follow these three tips to entice birds to take refuge in your yard or garden.

  1. Give them water. A bubbling birdbath or shallow fountain will attract birds that need a drink of water or a bath.
  2. Offer native food sources. A healthy mix of vegetation provides food for a variety of birds. Adult birds eat berries and fruits that native trees and shrubs provide, while juveniles feast on caterpillars and other invertebrates that find refuge in the native plants.
  3. Provide shelter. Opportunities for shelter are just as important as water and food. Dense shrubs and conifer trees provide safe areas for birds to sleep. Wooden bird houses provide nesting areas in the spring and summer, and roosting areas for cooler weather.

Learn more about creating a bird-friendly area with MassWildlife.