Recently, the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife (DFW) presented the 2015 update to the Massachusetts SWAP as required by Congress. The Plan presents the 570 Species of Greatest Conservation Need in the Commonwealth, the 24 types of habitat that support these species, and the actions necessary to conserve them.
Upon releasing the plan, DFW Director Jack Buckley made the following comments: “The citizens of Massachusetts have a long history of working together to conserve our state’s biodiversity. The state Fisheries Commission, the predecessor to the current Division, was permanently established almost 150 years ago, in 1886. The first land trust in the country was The Trustees of Reservations, still a highly successful force in Massachusetts conservation today. The Massachusetts Endangered Species Act, one of the strongest in the country, was enacted a quarter-century ago. Today, more than 25 % of the state’s acreage is protected from development, an astounding achievement in such a densely populated state.”
“With so much land protected, our focus going forward now moves to an equal emphasis on land acquisition and the management of these conserved lands. The Division itself has made a strong commitment to habitat management on our own 200,000 acres, particularly on the areas–the Key Sites–with the highest and best concentrations of rare species and other elements of biodiversity.
As well, we intend to assist our dedicated conservation partners in determining appropriate habitat management on their own lands.
It is the continued, strong dedication of the Commonwealth’s citizens to our natural resources that has made these accomplishments possible, and it is in concert with our many conservation partners that we intend to move forward with the goals of this plan.”
You can read this plan by clicking onto the MassWildlife web page. Allow yourself some time for it is about 500 pages long.
Field Guide to the Amphibians and Reptiles of Massachusetts
MassWildlife recently announced the release of the Field Guide to the Amphibians and Reptiles of Massachusetts. This 94-page book includes vibrant, detailed photographs and descriptions of the frogs, toads, salamanders, snakes, and turtles – including sea turtles – found in the Commonwealth. The field guide, the only guide of its kind specific to Massachusetts, features species accounts, images of common pattern and color variations, and information about reptile and amphibian conservation.
Lead author Peter Mirick, an avid herpetologist and recently retired editor of Massachusetts Wildlife magazine, combined and updated materials from magazine issues on reptiles and amphibians with additional contributions from MassWildlife’s Dr. Tom French and biologist Jacob Kubel. The majority of the photographs were taken by MassWildlife’s talented photographer Bill Byrne with supplemental images generously shared by agency staff, herpetologists, scientists, and photographers.
If you order your copy today you’ll be ready for spring outings and summertime hikes. The field guide also makes a great Christmas gift for the wildlife lover on your list. Hopefully, its not too late to order it.
Youth Artists, take note
There is still time to enter the Massachusetts Junior Duck Stamp (JDS) contest,” advises MassWildlife’s Wildlife Education Specialist Pam Landry. “Any student, from kindergarten through grade 12, regardless of whether they attend public or private school or are home-schooled, can submit original artwork in this fun and educational competition. Even if students do not enter the art competition, the related information can serve as a valuable resource in art or science classrooms.” The entry deadline is February 15, 2017.
The JDS program links the study of wetlands and waterfowl conservation with the creation of original artwork. Students in grades K-12 learn about the habitat requirements of various kinds of ducks and geese and then express their knowledge of the beauty, diversity, and interdependence of these species artistically, by creating a drawing or painting which can be submitted to the JDS art contest. The art is judged in four age group categories in a statewide competition; the entry judged Best of Show moves on to represent Massachusetts in the national JDS competition. Art teachers, science teachers, and parents who home-school can visit the MassWildlife website for an information packet and entry information.
Primitive Deer Hunting
Primitive Firearms Deer Hunting season, also known as Black Powder season and Muzzleloader season opened last Monday and it is much too early to forecast how the season will go. As of this writing, the weather certainly is cooperating, save for the frigid temperatures. There is a nice snow cover for tracking and if you hunt the mountains, there should be enough snow to strap on the snowshoes. Primitive deer hunting and snowshoeing seems to go together. Just don’t wear a coonskin cap. Regulations require you to wear a blaze orange cap and vest.
Hunting on snowshoes can be very strenuous, especially if you are dragging a deer. Take your time and enjoy the moment.
Incidentally, if you plan to hunt during this season, or if you know someone who does, DFW Western District Supervisor Andrew Madden has a request. If someone shoots a doe in Zone 2 or Zones 4N or 4S, please contact his office in Dalton. DFW would like to look at the deer’s age in order to boost the numbers from these zones in their data base so that they can feed that into the population model. During the muzzleloader season, successful hunters are allowed to check in their deer online and are not required to check them in at a station. However; if hunters just want to drop off the deer head at his office or even call him, someone will pick it up if it is somewhere convenient. Obviously, they would prefer a recently killed deer’s head and not one that is smelly and partially decayed.