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MassWildlife Monthly September 2018

Get the latest news and seasonal updates from MassWildlife

In this issue:
Fall trout stocking
September marks the start of fall hunting
$300,000 available for habitat management grants
Remembering Kathleen (Betty) Anderson

Big family fun at the Big MOE
Deer hunting information and reminders
Amphibian and reptile conservationists convene in Massachusetts for annual meeting
Massachusetts Junior Conservation Camp finishes right on target
UPDATE: Massachusetts crew deployed to wildfires in northern Rocky Mountain region

Fall trout stocking

60,000 rainbow trout that are 12 inches or longer and 4,000 brown trout about 12 inches long will be stocked 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. 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.

September marks the start of fall hunting

The return of cooler weather means many Massachusetts sportsmen and women will head into the woods for hunting season. Massachusetts residents may be wondering where and when hunting will be taking place this fall. Hunting season dates and regulations are published annually in the Massachusetts Guide to Hunting, Freshwater Fishing, and Trapping. Early Canada Goose and Black Bear hunting seasons open statewide on September 4, while fall turkey and pheasant seasons open during October. This year, archery deer season begins on October 1 in eastern Massachusetts and on October 15 in the rest of the state (learn more about the archery extension).Click here to review summary of hunting seasons. Hunting on Sunday is not permitted in Massachusetts. MassWildlife lands, including Wildlife Management Areas, Wildlife Conservation Easements, and Access Areas are open to hunting. Most state parks and forests are open to hunting, and many towns allow hunting on municipal lands. Research the property you plan to visit beforehand to learn if hunting is allowed.

Hunting is a safe activity and non-hunters should feel comfortable using the woods at any time of year. Although hunting accidents are extremely rare, wearing blaze orange will help minimize your chances of being mistaken for game animals during the hunting season. While hunters are required to wear blaze orange during certain seasons, all outdoor users who are in the woods during hunting seasons should wear a blaze orange hat or vest as a precaution.

Safety tips for non-hunters

  • Be safe, be seen. A brightly colored orange vest or hat will help you stay visible. Avoid wearing any earth-toned or animal-colored clothing. The use of blaze orange has dramatically reduced the number of hunting-related accidents in the field. Watch a short video on the Effectiveness of Blaze Orange. Remember, hunters are often active during the early morning and late afternoon when animals are most active. Be especially aware of your own visibility during these times when light is dim.
  • Keep pets leashed and visible. Place a blaze orange vest or bandana on your pet to keep it visible. 
  • Know when and where hunting is allowed. Hunting season dates and regulations are published annually in the Massachusetts Guide to Hunting, Freshwater Fishing, and Trapping. Hunting on Sunday is not permitted in Massachusetts. MassWildlife lands, including Wildlife Management Areas, Wildlife Conservation Easements, and Access Areas are open to hunting. Most state parks and forests are open to hunting, and many towns allow hunting on municipal lands. Learn about lands open to hunting in Massachusetts. Research the property you plan to visit beforehand to learn if hunting is allowed. If being in the woods during hunting season makes you uneasy, find a location where hunting is not allowed or plan your outing for a Sunday or another day outside of hunting season. 
  • Make your presence known. Talk loudly or whistle to identify yourself as a person. You may also consider wearing a bell. If you see someone hunting or hear shots, call out to them to identify your location. 
  • Be courteous. Once you've made your presence known, don't make unnecessary noise to disturb wildlife or hunting. Hunter harassment is against state law. Avoid confrontations with hunters. If you think you've witnessed a fish or wildlife violation, report it to the Massachusetts Environmental Police at 1-800-632-8075. 

$300,000 available for habitat management grants

The MassWildlife Habitat Management Grant Program, now in its fourth year, provides financial assistance to private and municipal landowners of conserved lands to improve and manage habitat for game species (species that are hunted, fished, and trapped) and other Species of Greatest Conservation Need as identified in the State Wildlife Action Plan. The grant program also aims to expand opportunities for hunting, fishing, and other outdoor recreation, and complement ongoing habitat management work on state lands. This year (FY19), Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Matthew Beaton provided MassWildlife with $300,000 to fund another year of this popular and effective program. Details on how to apply for the MassWildlife Habitat Management Grant can be found at mass.gov/dfw/habitat-grant. The application period is now open with a proposal deadline of October 17, 2018.

Last year (FY18), MassWildlife received 35 applications for grant funding with requests totaling over $910,000. A team of reviewers selected 20 proposals submitted by municipalities, private citizens, and NGOs for projects in 19 towns and cities. These wildlife habitat management projects included invasive plant control, old field habitat improvement, prescribed fire to enhance habitats, stream restoration work, and coastal heathlands improvement. In total, approximately 950 acres were successfully managed as a result of the funding. Projects included the Towns of Barnstable, Yarmouth, and Mashpee that used prescribed fire to improve pitch pine–oak communities, stream restoration completed by the Westport Land Conservation Trust, and creation of turtle nesting habitat and young forest and shrubland habitat for wildlife by a private land owner in Orange.

There are some significant changes to the program this year, including an expansion of eligible lands, and the use of a fillable form for an application. This form application should make it easier for individuals and organizations that are not experienced in grant writing to be able to apply for this funding opportunity to conduct work on land they own or manage.

Remembering Kathleen (Betty) Anderson

Charter member and Chair of MassWildlife’s Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Advisory Committee, Kathleen (Betty) Anderson of Middleborough, died after a brief illness in August. Born in Montana, her family moved back to Massachusetts when she was very young. She grew up with a love for the outdoors and the creatures that inhabit it. Largely self-taught, Kathleen was an Ornithologist at the Encephalitis Field Station with the US Public Health Service and later with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. She worked as an educator for the Massachusetts Audubon Society and was an Honorary Director for MassAudubon. She founded the Manomet Bird Observatory (now Manoment Center for Conservation Science) and served as its Director from 1969–1983. An avid birder and naturalist, Kathleen organized and participated in Breeding Bird Surveys by the South Shore Bird Club on MassWildlife’s Wildlife Management Areas, participated in statewide Breeding Bird, Butterfly, and Herpetology surveys, and MassWildlife’s eagle count and other floral and faunal surveys. She kept detailed, voluminous records since 1960 of environmental conditions at Wolf Trap Hill Farm, her home in Middleborough. These records have been studied and used by climate change scientists, comparing them with temperature and other available weather data, to help gain a better understanding of climate change occurring in Massachusetts.

Anderson was a Charter Member of the Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Advisory Committee (1981) and served as its Chair from 2000 to present. She was also a Charter and Life Member of the Wildlands Trust of Southeastern Massachusetts, serving as a Trustee and President of the Trustees and on its Board of Advisors.  Kathleen was among the first women members of the Nuttall Ornithological Club, the nation’s oldest bird club, and served as the club’s first woman President.

Kathleen was an active member of numerous other professional ornithological and conservation organizations in both Massachusetts and other parts of the country. She was honored in 1995 by the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology with the Arthur A. Allen Award, one of the most distinguished awards in American ornithology. In 2005, Kathleen was elected a Fellow of the American Ornithologists’ Union, the primary professional scientific organization devoted to bird study. In 2007, the Massachusetts Fisheries and Wildlife Board honored Anderson’s service with the Francis Sargent Award, lauding her significant contributions to natural resource conservation in the Commonwealth.

Big family fun at the Big MOE

Experience the Massachusetts Outdoor Expo (The Big MOE) at the Hamilton Rod and Gun Club grounds in Sturbridge, MA on Sunday, September 23, 2018 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., rain or shine. In its 21st year, this FREE, family-friendly event celebrates outdoor skills, nature, art, and wildlife. With over 45 activity stations, there’s something for everyone at The Big MOE. Stations include:

  • Shotgun, airgun, and rifle shooting
  • Fishing and fly tying
  • Kayaking
  • Archery
  • Tomahawk throwing
  • Birds of prey
  • Petting zoo
  • Birdhouse building and other crafts
  • Mountain biking

For a complete listing of activity stations, please visit www.FawnsExpo.com. All stations are supervised and provide a unique, hands-on experience for all ages and skill levels. Participants will be asked to sign a liability release form.

Convenient, off-site parking is located at the Sturbridge Business Park at 660 Main Street (Rte. 20) and FREE shuttle bus transportation will run nonstop from the Business Park to the Big MOE throughout the day. On-site parking is reserved for volunteer staff and those requiring handicapped access (plate required). No pets or alcohol are permitted. Food and drinks are available for purchase.

Deer hunting information and reminders

Archery Extension

A regulatory amendment has been approved to extend the archery deer hunting season by two weeks in eastern Massachusetts. In zones 10-14, the archery deer season will now open the eighth Monday prior to Thanksgiving. In zones 1-9, the archery deer season will remain the same, opening six weeks before Thanksgiving. The change will take effect beginning with this fall's hunting seasons. The extension will increase hunting opportunities in a region where deer numbers are above the statewide management range of 6-18 deer per square mile.

Bowhunters are reminded that all bait must be removed at least 10 days prior to the start of the archery season in the zone they are hunting. Bait includes any natural or artificial substance which may be ingested that is used to entice deer. 

Learn more about the archery deer season extension.

Surplus Antlerless Deer Permits

Surplus permits will go on sale in late September for Zones 9, 10, 11, 13, and 14. Surplus permits are sold for $5 each on a first come, first served basis. You may purchase only one Zone 11, one Zone 10 permit per day, and one Zone 9 permit per day; up to four permits per day may be purchased for Zones 13 and 14. Find number of surplus permits available by zone and instructions.

  • Zone 11: Tuesday, September 25 at 8 a.m.
  • Zone 10: Wednesday, September 26th at 8 a.m.
  • Zones 9, 13, and 14: Thursday, September 27 at 8 a.m.
Apply Online for the Quabbin Deer Hunt

The Quabbin Controlled Deer Hunt takes place every year on Quabbin Reservoir watershed lands. To have a chance of participating in the hunt, you must apply onlinebetween July 1 and August 31; there is no application fee. For application and more information from the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR), go to mass.gov/dcr/deerhunt.

Wachusett Hunting Expanded

DCR recently opened 7,500 acres of land to hunting in the Wachusett Reservoir Watershed. Learn more about hunting on the Wachusett Reservoir watershed. There are two free permit types available based on the location of the property.

  • A five-year permit for hunting on property both west and east of Interstate 190. This area is open for the entire hunting season and for all game.
  • An annual permit for a Controlled Deer Hunt for hunting property immediately adjacent to Wachusett Reservoir, designated by DCR as the “Reservoir Zone”, which encompasses land within Routes 110, 12, 40, and 70. Hunting in this area is only for white-tailed deer and only from December 1 through December 31. This permit is selected by lottery; you must apply by 8/31.
Antlerless Deer Permit Instant Award Period begins August 1

Hunters who applied for an Antlerless Deer Permit by the July 16 deadline must return to the MassFishHunt licensing system to try to win a permit. The Instant Award Period begins August 1 at 8:00 a.m. and continues through December 31. This is NOT a first-come first-served system. The odds of winning an Antlerless Deer Permit during the Instant Award Period are the same whether a customer tries to win in August, September, or any time before December 31. See instructions, allocations, and chances of winning.

Youth Deer Hunt Day

The 2018 Youth Deer Hunt Day is Saturday, September 29. Youth Deer Hunt Day permits are available online, beginning August 1. With this permit, youth may take either an antlered or antlerless deer in any zone on the Youth Deer Hunt Day. Learn more about the Youth Deer Hunt Day.

Amphibian and reptile conservationists convene in Massachusetts for annual meeting

The Northeast Partners in Amphibian and Reptile Conservation (NEPARC) had their annual meeting in Massachusetts this past summer for the first time in more than a decade. The meeting was held at the Red Barn at Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts and brought together scientists, researchers, and managers focused on reptile and amphibian conservation from all of the 13 states and the District of Columbia making up its Northeast region contingent. MassWildlife’s State Herpetologist Mike Jones served as Meeting Host.

The three-day meeting, which included five field trips to significant natural sites in the Connecticut River Valley, was organized into sections highlighting the different specializations of NEPARC members. Topics ranged from conservation planning for turtles and snakes to combating diseases within amphibian and reptile populations to research updates on salamanders and frogs.

On the day prior to the start of the annual NEPARC meeting, partners based in Massachusetts convened for an inaugural MassPARC meeting. Individuals focusing on amphibian and reptile conservation within Massachusetts took part in this day-long meeting also coordinated by MassWildlife. MassPARC provided a forum for individuals from across the Commonwealth to share their work on reptile and amphibian conservation. The meeting was arranged in four sections that included updates on major conservation and research projects and studies of at-risk species. The afternoon included updates from major programs run by nonprofits and schools. MassPARC closed with a breakout session where participants discussed conservation and collaboration priorities and future directions for the MassPARC group. Discussions included challenges for effective conservation of important habitats, proposed collaborative studies, and whether the Massachusetts partners should convene again. It seemed to be a unanimous decision that MassPARC could be a helpful framework for partners to continue to exchange ideas. MassWildlife looks forward to continuing its involvement with MassPARC and NEPARC in the future.

Thank you to all of the sponsors for making these events happen! A special thank you goes to Zoo New England and the American Turtle Observatory in particular for their support.

Massachusetts Junior Conservation Camp finishes right on target

Since 1949, the Massachusetts Junior Conservation Camp (MJCC) has provided young people with a unique opportunity to learn about conservation and to participate in shooting sports and other outdoor recreation. The 12-day program introduces girls and boys ages 13 to 17 to the ethical responsibilities of hunting and fishing in order to foster stewardship of natural resources. MJCC also connects youth with natural resource professionals and provides opportunities to learn or enhance their outdoor skills.

During this year's graduation ceremony, awards for the Camp Competition Day were presented and congratulations were offered by Stephen Johnson, MJCC Board President; Ron Amidon, Department of Fish & Game Commissioner; and MassWildlife Director Mark Tisa. These winners included:

  • Shotgun—1st place Jack Remuck (Millbury); 2nd place Cirino Costa (Melrose); 3rd place Jaden Naff (Grafton)
  • Scholastic Steel—1st place Brandon Lancaster (Barnstable); 2nd place Shane Theuret (West Yarmouth); 3rd place Troy Gagne (Haverhill)
  • Sporting Clays—1st place Mason Benoit (North Grafton); 2nd place Brent Novak (Rutland); 3rd place Andrew Bischoff (Northborough) 
  • Rifle—1st place Shane Theuret (West Yarmouth); 2nd place Alex Buddington (Shirley); 3rd place Cirino Costa (Melrose) 
  • 3-Position RifleTop Male-Matthew Griffith (Lowell); Top Female-Abigail Winship
  • Archery—1st place John Gaj (Blandford); 2nd place Aiden Cutter (Lowell); 3rd place Jack Munini (Reading)
  • Black Powder—1st place Gabe Sequeira (Buzzards Bay); 2nd place; Steven James-Garcet (Gardner); 3rd place Jayden Carey (Orange) 
  • Fishing Derby, Russell Pond—1st place Phillip Kidd (Boxborough), 18" Chain Pickerel; 2nd place William Weddke (Medway), 15 ¾ " Largemouth Bass; 3rd place Mary Jane Pratt (Shrewsbury) 15" Largemouth Bass
  • First Fish!—The following campers and assistant instructor were recognized for catching their first fish: Steve James-Garcet (Gardner), Rohan Krishan (Hopkinton) Jessica Blake (Hudson) and Assistant Instructor Jordan Peck (Peru)

 “We greatly appreciate the support of our camp partners,” said Stephen Johnson, President of the MJCC Board.  “We are especially grateful for the long term commitment to Conservation Camp by MassWildlife, the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR), the Environmental Police and the Gun Owners Action League (GOAL).” Johnson expressed appreciation to Dick’s Sporting Goods of Northborough, Cabela’s in Hartford, CT and State Line Guns, Ammo & Archery in Plaistow, NH for donations of outdoor equipment for camper use. In addition, Johnson noted that 85% of campers’ tuitions were funded by generous individuals, local and regional sporting clubs and civic organizations. MassWildlife Director Mark Tisa, a former MJCC camper, told campers that his experience at camp ago inspired him to pursue a career in fisheries management. 

Much of the MJCC curriculum is a hands-on experience; campers learn how to safely use firearms, archery, fishing, navigation, and camping gear. State Hunter Education courses from MassWildlife and a Safe Boating course are taught by the Environmental Police. Shooting certification in several courses is also offered. Fish and wildlife biologists from MassWildlife and forestry professionals from DCR provide instruction in wildlife, forestry, and fisheries management. Fishing, hiking, outdoor cooking, navigating with GPS and compass, and survival skills learning are provided by experienced outdoor instructors. Evening programs with naturalists and other conservationists round out the program.

If you’re interested in becoming a camper, sponsoring a camper, or working as camp staff, please visit the Junior Conservation Camp website for more information. The MJCC Board welcomes support for the Conservation Camp through tax-deductible donations.

UPDATE: Massachusetts crew deployed to wildfires in northern Rocky Mountain region

Four members of the MassWildlife prescribed fire crew—Aaron Best, Jesse Caney, Chris Connors, and Ben Mazzei—were deployed with 16 other Massachusetts firefighters on August 15, 2018 to assist with wildfires burning across the northern Rocky Mountain region of the United States. The crew returned home safely to Massachusetts on Saturday, September 1. The fire crew was assigned to the Goldstone Fire on the border of Montana and Idaho, where the rugged, steep terrain and weather presented challenges in containing the fire. MassWildlife is happy for the safe return of those deployed and wishes success for those still battling fires across the western part of the United States. In the northern Rocky Mountain region of Montana and Idaho alone, roughly 76,000 acres are experiencing active fires. Nationally, nearly 19,000 personnel are combating fires that have affected over 2 million acres.

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