The following information was taken in part from DFW Director Jack Buckley’s annual message: On June 4, MassWildlife celebrated its 150th anniversary. Over 1,000 people visited the new Field Headquarters on that day to celebrate. The event was an opportunity for staff to highlight its diverse programs from archery for kids to black bear research to butterflies. The day was so successful it is planning a similar event for next year.
During the year, it began construction of a water pipeline that will provide gravity-fed, consistently cold water from the Quabbin Reservoir to the McLaughlin Hatchery in Belchertown. Although a significant investment of angler’s dollars, when completed in 2017, this project will produce long-term benefits through reduction of energy costs, establishment of a long-term stable water source for the hatchery, and result in an improvement in the quality of stocked trout.
During the 2016 trout stocking season MassWildlife launched a new web-based tool for trout anglers that provides daily online trout stocking reports. Anglers are encouraged to check out the new tool during the spring trout stocking season at mass.gov/trout. (For those who aren’t into these new fangled computers, I hope to continue providing timely stocking information in this column.)
Making improvements to the Hunter Education program continued to be a focus of the agency. Its goal is to make hunter education easily accessible and convenient without a wait to sign up for a course. Over the past year new Hunter Education staff members were hired to provide enhancements to the program. The primary objectives of these staff are to schedule, plan and conduct Basic Hunter Education courses across the state, particularly in low service areas, as well as to conduct other courses that are developed and administered by the program.
In 2016, the Hunter Education Program staff concentrated solely on: 1) increasing the number of Basic Hunter Education Courses being offered in underserved areas of the state such as Boston and Springfield, and 2) increasing the number of participating students. This past year, 94 Basic Hunter Education courses were held across the State, a 14.6% increase over the previous year. A total of 3,952 students participated in the basic course representing a nearly 6% increase in attendance.
MassWildlife is implementing the Learn-to-Hunt Program assisting new Hunter Education
graduates in the transition from the classroom to the field. Designed for adult Basic Hunter Education graduates with little or no hunting experience, participants can sign up for a one-day clinic or a 3-day in-depth workshop. Classroom and outdoor exercises help new hunters learn more about the skills and techniques used to hunt different game animals. Taught by Division staff and volunteers from sporting clubs and related organizations, this program utilizes the experience and knowledge of seasoned sportsmen and women. In the first year of this new program, 321 hunters participated.
During the year, it expanded programs in archery and recreational shooting resulting in the development of the Explore Archery Program. This program was created to promote a lifelong interest and participation in the sport of archery to participants of all ages. MassWildlife continued to train and certify instructors from recreation departments, nature centers, Scouting organizations, and schools. Successful completion of this program allows any certified instructor the ability to offer an archery program in their area and to borrow equipment from MassWildlife free of charge.
It has continued its very successful Youth Deer Hunt Day. Beyond the intrinsic benefits, this hunt serves as a great recruiting tool for developing hunting mentors.
In 2017, to complement the above programs, MassWildlife plans to partner with the UMASS Extension 4-H Youth Development Program to launch a 4-H© Shooting Sports Program in Massachusetts. It will focus on youth development and will be designed to empower young people with skills they can use for a lifetime. Young people will develop an understanding of natural resources and conservation ethics while learning marksmanship, the safe and responsible use of firearms, the principles of hunting and archery, and other valuable life skills including self-confidence, personal discipline, responsibility, and sportsmanship.
MassWildlife has updated its logo and has begun re-designing agency publications, signs and web pages for a consistent look and easily recognizable agency identity.
Director Buckley and his staff have got to be proud of the above accomplishments. However; Buckley acknowledges that what the Division does would not be possible without the strong support of hunters, anglers, and trappers. “Although we manage wildlife for the benefit and enjoyment of all citizens of the Commonwealth, the sportsmen and women are the financial backbone of MassWildlife. Your willingness to step up in supporting everything from land acquisition to the conservation of rare and endangered species demonstrates the broad view of the interconnectedness and importance of all wildlife … Thank you!”
Hoosic River Ranger
The mission of the Hoosic River Revival is to reconnect the community to a healthy, scenic, accessible, flood-controlled river, which will enhance North Adams’ recreational, cultural, and economic vitality.
The Hoosic River Revival has collaborated with the North Adams Public School System in the creation of an outdoor education curriculum which focuses on the historical and environmental learning opportunities along the Hoosic River levees at Noel Field in North Adams. This new offering, called “the Hoosic River Ranger” program, is an inter-active, interpretive walking tour for elementary school children.
Supplementing the River Ranger outdoor education curriculum is a new self-guided brochure from the Hoosic River Revival: the “Hoosic River Family Wildlife Walk” brochure. Created by Johanna Wasserman and the River Revival’s Social Media advisor, Bert Lamb, the brochure highlights a half-mile walk from Joe Wolfe Field to Hunter Foundry Road, and is now available in the North Adams Public Library, and at the Colegrove and Brayton schools. The brochure may also be downloaded from the Revival website: http://bit.ly/HRRwildlifewalk