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MassWildlife - Central District Activities

As provided to the Worcester County League of Sportsmen's Clubs

DEER SEASON UPDATE - Deer Project Leader David Stainbrook advises that preliminary deer harvest numbers will be released on February 1st. Stainbrook believes that the 2016 harvest will surpass the 2015 numbers in all Wildlife Management Zones and could set records for archery and muzzleloader seasons when all the data is compiled.

BLACK BEAR PROJECT – Bear Project Leader Dave Wattles reports a record total of 283 black bears harvested in Massachusetts during the 2016 seasons. The early season accounted for 190 bears while the second part of the split bear season added 46. Hunters with bear permits were also able to take bears during the two week shotgun deer season which accounted for 47 more bear being tagged. The previous harvest record was 240 and was set in 2014. Seventeen bears were taken east of the Connecticut River and 9 in Worcester County, including East Brookfield, West Brookfield, Ashburnham, Winchendon (2), Holden, Westminster, Barre and Hardwick. Among the largest bears checked was a 416 pound dressed boar taken in Barre. The estimated live weight of this particular animal was over 500 pounds.

FEDERAL AID REPORTING – District Managers met with Federal Aid Coordinator Mike Sawyers and Supervisor Trina Moruzzi to discuss Federal Aid reporting. Districts submit monthly reports to account for all hours and miles devoted to working on Wildlife Management Areas that are eligible for Federal Aid reimbursement. Standardizing the reporting template will ensure MassWildlife receives all Federal Aid to which the agency is entitled. Federal Aid funding is generated by federal taxes imposed on sporting equipment and ammunition and allocated to the states through the Sportfish and Wildlife Restoration legislation.

WOOD DUCK PROJECT – District staff were able to acquire cedar poles from the Northeast District for mounting wood duck nesting boxes. The poles are ideal for placing boxes in wetlands where standing dead timber is lacking. Crews continue to take advantage of safe ice conditions to assess nesting boxes throughout Worcester County for wood duck and hooded merganser use. The District continues to assist Waterfowl Project Leader H Heusmann with several long term study sites and is also constructing new rough cut pine boxes in the office workshop.

WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT AREAS – Agricultural leases were renewed with local farmers for hay and crops at the Bolton Flats, Moose Hill, Quaboag, MacCallum, Winimussett and Ware River WMAs. When agricultural fields are awarded through an open bidding process, a license agreement is issued for a five year term. When the five year term expires, the famer is eligible to renew for an additional five year term. If the farmer exercises that option, and farms the property for a total of 10 years, the property will then go back out to competitive bid.

The District met with representatives of Tighe and Bond and Kinder Morgan to discuss dam repair and removal at the Merrill Ponds WMA in Sutton. Options to deal with the Putnam Pond dam as it relates to Kinder Morgan’s gas pipeline right-of-way through the WMA were viewed on the ground. A meeting with the Sutton Historical Society was also held to provide the members with a conceptual view of plans to address the series of dams to maximize public safety, habitat diversity and wildlife related recreation.

District staff are undergoing field reclamation work at the Winimussett WMA in New Braintree. The Bobcat T300 with Fecon milling head is being used to remove encroaching trees and brush, identify a boundary and enhance habitat for grassland species as well as upland bird hunting opportunities.

WALKING TRAILS POLICY – The District is working with various towns and organizations to implement the Board approved Walking Trails Policy. The policy is designed to protect habitat and enhance wildlife related recreation by prohibiting the creation of trails, cutting of vegetation, altering of wetlands and other damaging or conflicting actions. A meeting held between MassWildlife, Mass Audubon, The Trustees of Reservations, The Appalachian Mountain Club and the Land Trust Coalition resulted in an understanding among these conservation organizations of the need for such a Policy.

TRAINING AND CERTIFICATIONS – Training, certification and Standard Operating Procedures are being pursued for MassWildlife activities involving the use of herbicides, chainsaws, prescribed fire and first aid. Safety and maintaining compliance with established regulations are the goals of this effort. FISHERIES AND WILDLIFE BOARD - George “Gige” Darey has retired from the Fisheries and Wildlife Board after serving for 35 years, the majority of that time as Chairman. Darey was a driving and influential force in bringing MassWildlife into the modern and scientific era of wildlife management. Dr. Joseph Larson has been elected as interim Chairman with Mike Roche serving as Vice Chair and Bonnie Booth as Secretary.

PETER MIRICK – Central District staff sent condolences to the family of Peter Mirick, long standing editor of Massachusetts Wildlife magazine, who lost his battle with cancer in December of 2016. There was a tremendous turnout of friends, sportsmen and MassWildlife colleagues at Peter’s calling hours and memorial service in Holden, despite a snowstorm and treacherous driving conditions. Marion Larson spoke from her heart about Peter’s career with MassWildlife and his many talents as a biologist, writer and editor. Outdoor columnist Mark Blazis was equally eloquent in his remarks about Peter as writer, naturalist, environmentalist and sportsman. Friends Walter Koenig, Jim Ciocolo, Bob Thomasian and Pete’s sister Kathy also shared their love and memories. Peter will be greatly missed as a colleague, mentor and friend.

Bill Davis
District Manager
Massachusetts Division of Fisheries & Wildlife
211 Temple Street, West Boylston, MA 01583
p: (508) 835-3607 | f: (508) 835-4943 |

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