MassWildlife Monthly October 2017

News from MassWildlife

In this issue:

Fall Trout Stocking
Instagram is Getting Wild
Monitoring Juvenile Shad
Surplus Antlerless Deer Permits
$500,000 Available for Habitat Management Grants
Citizen Science Opportunities for Hunters
Fall Pheasant Stocking
Northern Pike Stocking
Drivers, Brake for Moose and Deer
September Bear Harvest Preliminary Report

MassWildlife Website Gets Makeover
Habitat Management Site Walks

October News

Fall Trout Stocking

More than 60,000 rainbow trout that are 12 inches or longer will be stocking across Massachusetts this fall. Fall stocking season will begin around the last week of September and be completed by the second week of October depending on water temperatures. Stocking may be delayed in some areas due to recent warm fall temperatures. Anglers will be able to view daily stocking reports by visiting Mass.gov/Trout. Anglers can search for a specific waterbody or town using the sortable list, or explore new fishing spots with the map feature.

 

Instagram Just Got Wild

MassWildlife is happy to announce it is now on Instagram! Follow us @mass.wildlife for photos and videos from the field and fish and wildlife news.

 

Monitoring Juvenile Shad

This fall, MassWildlife is teaming up with the US Fish and Wildlife Service, Vermont Fish and Wildlife, and New Hampshire Fish and Game to better understand juvenile American shad production in the Connecticut River. The study focuses on the 3 major dammed sections of the Connecticut: Holyoke-Tuner’s, Tuner’s-Vernon, and Vernon-Bellows. Forage fish like American shad are important prey resources for numerous freshwater predators popular with anglers, such as small and largemouth bass, walleye, and channel catfish. However, little is currently known about juvenile shad production. Using electrofishing sampling, biologists will learn about the relationship between the number of juvenile shad and the number of adult shad returning to the river to spawn. This coordinated effort will help biologists understand which areas of the Connecticut River have a higher supply of prey fish for predators and where anglers may find better fishing opportunities. Data may also be used to inform relicensing of dams and provide perspective on how current shad production compares to historical populations which existed before dams were installed. 

 

Antlerless Deer Surplus Permits

The sale of surplus Antlerless Deer Permits by Wildlife Management Zone will be staggered over the following days in October:

  • Zone 11: Sales start on Tuesday October 3, 2017 at 8:00 a.m.
    5,920 surplus permits are available. You can purchase 1 permit per day.
  • Zone 10: Sales start on Wednesday October 4, 2017 at 8:00 a.m.
    9,234 surplus permits are available. You can purchase 1 permit per day.
  • Zone 13 and 14: Sales start on Thursday October 5, 2017 at 8:00 a.m.
    2,581 (zone 13) and 2,630 (zone 14) surplus permits are available. You can purchase 4 permits per day.

Once on sale, permits will remain available until sold out in each Wildlife Management Zone. Surplus permits may be purchased through MassFishHunt or at a license vendor location.  Visit our website for step-by-step instructions for purchasing a Surplus Antlerless Deer Permit.

 

$500,000 Available for Habitat Management Grants

In its third year, the MassWildlife Habitat Management Grant Program provides financial assistance to private and municipal landowners of conserved lands to improve and manage habitat for game species and other Species of Greatest Conservation Need as identified in the State Wildlife Action Plan. The projects also aim to expand opportunities for hunting, fishing, trapping, and other outdoor recreation, and complement the ongoing habitat management efforts on state lands. This year (FY18), Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Matthew Beaton provided MassWildlife with $500,000 for the third year of this popular financial assistance program. Details on how to apply for the MassWildlife Habitat Management Grant are posted at mass.gov/dfw/habitat-grant. The application period is now open with a proposal deadline of October 30, 2017.

During the second year of the program (FY17), MassWildlife received 45 applications for grant funding with requests totaling over $1.3 million. Twelve proposals were selected by the team of reviewers for funding. This funding went to 11 different municipalities, private citizens, and both large and small NGOs for projects in 14 towns. These wildlife habitat management projects included invasive species control, old field habitat creation, young forest enhancement, waterfowl habitat creation, and coastal heathlands improvement. In total, approximately 500 acres were successfully managed due to this funding opportunity, including the Town of Lenox who combated the invasive hardy kiwi vine in Kennedy Park, the Town of Amherst who improved and expanded old field habitats on three town owned natural areas, and the Massachusetts Forest Trust who created shrubland and young forest habitat in Hawley and Ashfield. The response from the towns and cities, conservation focused non-governmental organizations, sporting clubs and private citizens, for this wildlife habitat program indicate the strong need for these funding opportunities to preserve, conserve, improve and create wildlife habitats across the entire state. The increased funding for FY18 will result in even more habitat management projects to improve our natural areas for wildlife and outdoor recreation.

 

Citizen Science Opportunities for Hunters

Massachusetts hunters spend a significant amount of time in the woods observing wildlife of all varieties. These observations can provide wildlife biologists with a tremendous amount of information to better understand wildlife distribution and abundance across the Commonwealth. Consequently, MassWildlife is asking archery deer and game bird hunters to complete daily hunting logs during their hunting seasons this fall. Hunters who complete hunting logs before DECEMBER 20, 2017 will be entered to win a blaze orange MassWildlife cap or a Massachusetts Wildlife 1-year magazine subscription. 125 winners will be randomly selected to receive hats and 25 winners will be randomly selected to receive magazine subscriptions. Prizes will be mailed to the address provided by the hunter on the completed hunting log.

  • Archery Deer Hunting Season Log: Bowhunters in Massachusetts keep a daily log of their hunting activities and observations of wildlife during the archery deer season (Oct. 16 – Nov. 25, 2017). Because archery hunters are usually very stealthy and camouflaged, they are uniquely suited to track valuable observations of wildlife including deer, wild turkey, black bear, and other species not commonly observed.
  • Game Bird Hunting Season Log: Game bird hunters in Massachusetts keep a daily log of their hunting activities and observations of game birds while hunting bobwhite quail, pheasant, woodcock, and grouse (Oct. 14 – Nov. 25, 2017). These observations will provide MassWildlife biologists with information on game bird populations across the state and allow them to evaluate hunter effort of various upland game bird species. MassWildlife seeks to maintain healthy game bird populations while ensuring quality hunting experiences for both wild and stocked birds across the Commonwealth.

 

Fall Pheasant Stocking

The 2017 Pheasant Hunting Season runs from October 14 – November 25. Each year, MassWildlife stocks about 40,000 ring-necked pheasants statewide on public and private lands that are open to hunting. Click here for a list of pheasant stocked areas and hunting regulations.

 

MassWildlife Stocks Northern Pike

In September, MassWildlife stocked 1,900 pike yearlings into Cheshire Reservoir and Quaboag Pond yesterday. These 13" yearlings will take 2–3 years to reach the 28" minimum harvest size. The pike were obtained from NJ Division of Fish and Wildlife as part of a cooperative exchange program.

Northern Pike naturally reproduce in several waterbodies in the state. To supplement naturally reproducing locations, MassWildlife stocks some spots with Northern Pike and Tiger Muskellunge, which are members of the esocid family. Learn more about esocid stocking in Massachusetts.

 

Drivers, Brake for Moose and Deer

Because fall is the breeding season for both moose and white-tailed deer, MassWildlife reminds motorists to be mindful of increased deer and moose activity, especially during early morning and evening hours. Moose, found in central and western parts of Massachusetts, breed in September and October. White-tailed deer breed from late October to early December.

Moose on the road are especially hazardous. The dark color and height of moose make them difficult to see in low light; moose eyes rarely shine like deer eyes because their eyes are above headlight level. In addition, long legs and heavy top bodies make moose very dangerous to motorists when struck. Observe road signs for moose and deer crossings and slow down. Do not swerve to avoid hitting a deer because it may lead to more risk and damage than hitting the deer. Moose are less likely to move from the road than deer, so stay alert and brake when you see a moose in or near the road.

Deer and moose/vehicle collisions should be reported to the Environmental Police at 1-800-632-8075. In the event of a deer/vehicle collision, the driver or passengers of the vehicle involved (MA residents only) may salvage the deer by bringing it to a MassWildlife Office to be officially tagged.

 

Preliminary Bear Harvest Report for September Season

For the September bear hunting season, licensed bear hunters reported a harvest of 148 bears; 59 reported as female, 86 as male, 3 unknown. This is down from the 190 taken during the September season in 2016.

 

Mass.gov Website Gets Makeover

All Massachusetts government websites are migrating to a new system, which means you will start to notice changes to the look and functionality of MassWildlife web pages. If you have any trouble finding information, go to Mass.gov/masswildlife and use the internal search box. With a new robust search engine, you should be able to find what you need on all mass.gov pages easier and faster than before. The new website is optimized for viewing on a tablet or phone as well as a desktop. Please bear with us while we complete the website migration and make adjustments and improvements over the coming weeks. 

 

Habitat Management Site Walks

Many types of wildlife rely on open habitats like grasslands, shrublands, and young forests. Unfortunately these open habitats are shrinking in Massachusetts. As a result, wildlife like Whip-poor-wills, New England Cottontails, and Wood Turtles have suffered serious declines. To support wildlife, the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife (MassWildlife) uses active habitat management tools like prescribed fire and timber harvest to restore and create open habitats on state wildlife lands. This October, MassWildlife is hosting two public site walks on state lands where habitat management is planned or already underway. Site walks provide an opportunity for the public to learn about habitat management on state lands, understand why different management practices are chosen, and discover the benefits to both rare and common wildlife living on the land.

October 5: Public Habitat Site Walk, Birch Hill Wildlife Management Area, Winchendon. The public is invited to join MassWildlife Habitat Biologists and Restoration Ecologists from 4:00-6:00 pm on a walk through two portions of the Birch Hill WMA. Learn about the habitat management activities that will be occurring over the next year which will benefit many kinds of wildlife and improve wildlife-related recreation. Visit a barrens restoration site on the east side of Priest Brook and a young forest site on the west side of Priest Brook. Meet in the parking area of the Winchendon Rod & Gun Club at 169 Winchendon Road in Royalston. Wear sturdy boots and be prepared for a moderately strenuous walk.

October 12: Public Habitat Site Walk, Montague Plains Wildlife Management Area, Montague. The public is invited to join MassWildlife Habitat Biologists and Restoration Ecologists from 4:00-6:00 pm on a walk through portions of the Montague Plains WMA that have been the focus of pitch pine/scrub oak barrens restoration for the past 20 years. Visit previous timber harvest areas from 2006 and 2015, a recently completed harvest area, and a 30-acre reserve area. Learn about the restoration and management history of the site and the positive effects of these activities for common and uncommon local wildlife. Hear from experts about the management that will be occurring in the near future to provide valuable habitat for a number of state-listed and dwindling species. Meet at the MassWildlife parking area off Lake Pleasant Road across from Beach Road (https://goo.gl/maps/64sqfikHiQy). Wear sturdy boots and be prepared for a moderately strenuous walk.

 
Click here for MassWildlife's Calendar of Events.

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