Every year MassWildlife reminds us to take in our bird feeders in the spring because they could attract bears into our neighborhoods. Once they find our feeders, they are like hobos (vagabonds) who keep track of the places where they can get a good meal and come back.
At the same time more people are raising chickens for food these days. Chickens and other fowl are usually fed cracked corn, laying mash, etc. Well, guess what? Bears love grains, too and if they can grab a chicken or two while there, all the better.
Recently, Pete Viale of Lee sent me pictures taken from a trail camera taken on the evening of June 18 at their hunting camp (which is owned by a group of sportsmen) near Goose Pond, Tyringham. The bear was trying to get into a quail recall pen that they had set up there. The bear, which had two tags in his ears, didn’t get in that night but was successful two nights later with the loss of all birds released.
Viale contacted Western Region DFW Biologist Tony Gola and gave him the tag numbers. Gola contacted DFW Bear Biologist Laura Hajduk-Conleewho in turn contacted CT Wildlife Biologist Paul Rego. He replied that it is a male bear that they tagged as a 35 lb yearling in the den in March 2013. He is currently 2.5 years old. The den and the sow’s home range were in northeast Hartland, CT adjacent to the MA border. He did not recall having any conflict complaints about this bear. His mother lives in an area with low human density and they have not received many reports or complaints about her. According to Rego, another male yearling that they tagged this March has traveled to southeast Vermont and has caused some issues there.
Gola recommends that everyone raising poultry should protect their flocks with electric fencing. DFW receives numerous complaints each year of bears raiding “free-range” chicken pens. Most often the bear is after grain stored in the pen, but some will make a meal of the poultry. The website: Living With Wildlife Foundation: www.lwwf.org has an excellent publication for installing electric fences to deal will a myriad of bear conflicts. Incidentally, you have the right under Mass General Law to shoot the bear if caught in the act of depredation. “It’s not likely you will be there if the bear returns whereas an electric fence works 24/7”, Gola said.
Hopefully by taking steps to discourage bears from our bird feeders and grains, they will move on into the woods where they belong and cause no trouble or damage. Otherwise, they may come to a sad ending which we may have indirectly caused. *****
The Patrick Administration announced that $4.74 million in coastal resilience funding was received from the U.S. Department of Interior for dam removal and shoreline protection projects. Eleven projects will be managed by the state Department of Fish and Game (DFG) and will restore river and marine habitat, improve public safety and create jobs. The funding includes $4.5 million to DFG’s Division of Ecological Restoration and $240,000 to DFG’s Division of Marine Fisheries (DMF).
The projects are concentrated in areas where coastal and inland flooding poses a risk to public safety and where dam removal and habitat restoration will have tremendous ecological benefit. As more extreme weather is expected to impact Massachusetts, state and local communities are focusing on building resiliency to help better prepare for storms.
“Removing aging dams reduces risks to communities from large storms and is a proven method for restoring critical wildlife habitat,” said DFG Commissioner Mary Griffin. “These dam removal projects will open up 189 river miles for migratory and resident fish and restore 90 acres of floodplain wetlands, while the Boston Harbor project will restore marine habitat and help protect coastal infrastructure.”
Some of this grant money is earmarked for the removal of the Pittsfield’s Tel-electric Dam, a key element in the City of Pittsfield’s greenway plan. The dam is aging, dangerous and removing it will reconnect the West Branch of the Housatonic River to coldwater habitat in the mainstream Housatonic River. *****
Readers may recall the November 17, 2013 article about studies that were conducted of PCB levels in crayfish in the Hoosic River entitled “Hoosic River in good health despite remaining PCB’s). Williams College chemistry professors David Richardson and Jay Thoman and students from Williams College, MCLA and Bennington College reported on the results of their studies of PCB levels in crayfish taken from various sites in the river and feeder streams.
The results were reported at theHoosic River Watershed Association’s (HOORWA) annual State of the River Conference.
This year, Professors Richardson and Thoman, along with some Williams College students will soon be starting a research project focused on making significant measurements of PCB levels in fish, principally trout, in the Hoosic River. They are hoping to build a contact group of local fishermen/women who could help by catching fish and donating samples and maybe even training some students to become proficient at catching fish themselves.
They are in the planning stages of this project, and are imagining the construction of a network of folks who would contribute to creating an extensive sampling project in a very grass roots way. This would be a great training experience for the students and it would help them write the next chapter in the natural history of the Hoosic as it works to recover from PCB contamination.
Interested volunteer anglers can contact Professor Richardson at David.P.Richardson@williams.edu*****
The Berkshire Hatchery Foundation will be holding a kid’s fishing derby at the lower pond next Saturday from 9 to 10:30 AM. Children under 12 years old must be accompanied by an adult.