Thursday, January 17, 2019

King Penguin's are in trouble ......

Posted by Wayne G.Barber

Source: pewenvironment

The planet's largest colony of king penguins has declined by nearly 90% in the past thirty years. Researchers announced their stunning findings earlier this week after seeing recent aerial images of the colony, located on an island in-between Africa and Antarctica. Exact reasons for the collapse are unknown.
Establishing additional marine protected areas around the world can help ecosystems be more resilient to changes in climate.

Friday, January 11, 2019

New Dog Regulations in Mass.

Posted by Wayne G.Barber

Dogs still welcome on Mass Wildlife’s Wildlife Management Areas, but new rules require owners to use a leash and remove waste.
MassWildlife protects and manages its WMAs to sustain wildlife abundance and to provide wildlife-related recreation such as hunting, fishing, and wildlife-watching. At the same time MassWildlife strives to provide a safe and enjoyable outdoor experience for all visitors.

Over the years, MassWildlife had received numerous complaints from WMA users about negative and unsafe encounters with unleashed dogs and issues with dog waste. The most common complaints included: dog attacks and bites on other dogs (both off- and on-leash) and people, and piles of accumulating dog waste: a nuisance and health concern for pets, people, and wildlife. Other incidents and complaints from WMA users involved: user conflicts between loose dogs with hunters, birders, field trial dog participants, naturalists and hikers; observations of dogs harassing or chasing wildlife; dogs chasing or killing livestock on abutting property; chasing/harassing neighboring property owners and families; dogs spooking horses, resulting in injuries to riders or horses; dogs trampling through posted endangered species restoration projects or newly planted agricultural crops.

The new regulations were drafted after a staff review and presentation to the Fisheries and Wildlife Board. A public hearing was held in February 2018. After considering written and oral comments submitted during the public hearing process, amendments were made and the final regulation package was approved by the Fisheries and Wildlife Board March 14, 2018. The regulations will go into effect on January 11, 2019.

Though many municipalities have leash or animal control bylaws, they do not have legal standing on state lands; the new WMA regulations address this disparity. Enforcement of these regulations, as with all Wildlife Management Area Regulations, is carried out by the Massachusetts Environmental Police. State and municipal police departments also have authority to enforce Wildlife Management Area regulations.

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Record-Breaking Year for Raising, Releasing Rare Rabbits

Posted by Wayne G. Barber

More rare New England cottontails were raised at Roger Williams Park Zoo in Providence and the Queens Zoo in New York City and released into the wild than ever before, according to conservation officials. The success is a positive sign for populations of the region’s only native rabbit, which had declined precipitously in recent decades because of habitat loss, hunting, and competition with the introduced eastern cottontail.
Seventy-seven New England cottontails were raised and weaned at the two zoos in 2018, almost double the number weaned in each of the past few years. Including animals taken from a breeding colony on Patience Island in Narragansett Bay, about 100 cottontails were released into the wild in Rhode Island, New Hampshire, and Maine last year.
“Our goal is to breed as many rabbits as we can throughout the breeding season, but it’s challenging,” said Lou Perrotti, the director of conservation at the Roger Williams Park Zoo and the coordinator of the zoo’s cottontail breeding program. “They don’t always breed like rabbits.”
The reason for the tremendous breeding success in 2018 is still a mystery, however.
“I wish I knew why it was so successful,” Perrotti said. “We didn’t do anything different.”
“We’re somewhat baffled ourselves,” added Heidi Holman, a wildlife biologist for the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department and chair of the New England Cottontail Population Management Working Group. “We’ll continue to review our data in more detail to see if we can tease out a variable, but there doesn’t seem to be any particular thing we can put our thumbs on just yet to explain it.”
The breeding program began in 2010 with six cottontails collected from a wild population in Connecticut. Since then, 163 litters have resulted in 301 weaned cottontails, mostly raised at Roger Williams Park Zoo. The Queens Zoo joined the effort in 2015.
Once the rabbits are about 35 days old, they are removed from the zoos and brought to what the biologists call “hardening pens” at Ninigret National Wildlife Refuge in Charlestown, R.I., or the Great Bay National Wildlife Refuge in New Hampshire to become acclimated to natural conditions. After they spend several weeks or months adjusting to the environment, gaining weight, and learning to hide and forage, they are released into the wild.
Decisions about which animals are released in which location are based largely on their genetics.
“We’re trying to diversity the gene pool and track who’s successfully mating so we’re not over-representing particular genes in any one population,” Holman said.
Representatives from each state in the region submit what Perrotti called “a wish list” of how many cottontails they would like to release in their state annually, and based on the number of animals available and their genetic makeup, the rabbits are divvied up and delivered.
New Hampshire and Maine have experienced the largest decline in their New England cottontail populations, so they receive animals each year for release. Cottontail populations in Massachusetts and Connecticut are more robust, and wildlife officials there believe they may be able to increase the populations by manipulating habitat rather than augmenting the population with captive-bred rabbits.
In Rhode Island, New England cottontails were initially released on Patience Island, which at last count had between 56 and 90 animals, according to T.J. McGreevey, a researcher at the University of Rhode Island who serves as the wildlife geneticist on the cottontail project. A total of 51 rabbits from Patience have been released elsewhere in the past three years, including in the Great Swamp Wildlife Management Area in West Kingston.
“The Patience Island population is being managed to prevent it from reaching carrying capacity,” Holman said. “It could crash from disease or starvation if it grew too high, so we’re managing it to keep the population healthy. That’s why we remove some animals from there.”
Another sign of the success of the breeding program is documentation that some of the released animals are reproducing in the wild. New England cottontails released at the Bellamy River Wildlife Management Area in New Hampshire have been reproducing since 2013. Reproduction was documented among the cottontails released at the Great Swamp in 2017.
As successful as the program has been during the past eight years, it’s still well below its target of releasing 500 cottontails annually. To increase breeding capacity, the researchers plan to establish a new breeding colony this year on Nomans Land, a 612-acre uninhabited island off the coast of Martha’s Vineyard. Other islands are being considered for similar colonies in the future.
In addition, the Bristol County Agricultural High School in Dighton, Mass., has offered to provide assistance in rearing cottontails for the project. The school has successfully raised several varieties of rare turtles for release in the wild since 2012. Other partner organizations will likely be added in the future.
“We’ve set the bar at 500 per year, and we’ll see if we can get there,” Holman said. “But we’re just getting started. The conservation strategy we’re following will continue through 2030. We’re still out there actively trying to create more habitat, and some of that habitat is just getting ready to have rabbits. We should have more places to release them very soon. And we’re continuing to collect information on how they survive and make sure we adapt our protocols to improve that success as much as we can.”
Source: Rhode Island resident and author Todd McLeish runs a wildlife blog.

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Vermont Deer Hunters Had a Good Year in 2018

Posted by Wayne G. Barber

Photo from VTF&W
Jason Lewis of Randolph, VT with the nice 221 lb. buck he took in Orleans County during Vermont’s 2018 November deer season. 

Reports from big game check stations indicate hunters had successful deer seasons in 2018, taking 3,980 deer in archery season, 1,341 in youth season, 7,458 in rifle season, and 6,066 in muzzleloader season. 

“The relatively high harvest was due to several factors.  First, recent mild winters have allowed the deer population to grow throughout Vermont.  Additionally, lack of fall foods caused deer to be more concentrated and snow helped hunters locate them, resulting in increased success.  The department also issued more muzzleloader antlerless deer permits this year to provide more harvest opportunity and to limit population growth or reduce deer numbers in some parts of the state.”
The 18,845 deer brought home by hunters yielded more than 3.7 million servings of local, nutritious venison.
The primary goal of Vermont’s deer management strategy is to keep the deer herd stable, healthy and in balance with available habitat.  “Maintaining an appropriate number of deer on the landscape ensures deer and the habitats that support them remain in good condition and productive,” said Fortin. 
Each year the department operates biological check stations during deer hunting seasons to gather information on the age, sex, field-dressed weight, antler characteristics, and overall health of Vermont’s deer herd.  In 2018, biological data were collected from more than 900 deer examined during the two-day youth season and November rifle season.  Hunters also submitted more than 2,700 teeth from bucks harvested during the rifle season, which will provide additional age information.

Saturday, December 22, 2018

Connecticut Ice Fishing Classes for 2019

Posted by Wayne G. Barber

Ice Fishing Classes and Events
Pre-registration is required
Class Dates Town Location/Details Status Class Times Call to Register
Jan 10, 2019 Glastonbury Gideon Welles School Cafeteria/Snow Date 1/17 Open 6:30pm to 8:30pm (860) 652-7697
Jan 15, 2019 Essex Essex Library Open 6:30pm to 8:30pm (860) 767-1560
Jan 17, 2019 Groton Groton Library/Ice Fishing Trip On 1/26 Open 6:00pm to 8:00pm (860) 441-6750
Jan 17, 2019 Oxford Town Hall Open 6:00pm to 8:00pm (203) 828-6505
Jan 19, 2019 Farmington Winding Trails Inc./Classroom 9:30am To 11:30am; On-ice Fishing 12-3pm (if Ice Conditions Permit) Open 9:30am to 3:00pm
Jan 23, 2019 West Hartford Westmoor Park Open 6:30pm to 8:30pm (860) 561-8260
Jan 24, 2019 New Haven Barnard Nature Center Open 6:30pm to 8:30pm (475) 220-3539
Jan 26, 2019 Coventry Patriots Park Community Center/Classroom 10:00am To 12:00pm; Ice Fishing Trip 12pm-3pm On Coventry Lake (if Ice Conditions Allow) Open 10:00am to 3:00pm (860) 742-4068
Jan 26, 2019 Litchfield White Memorial/Classroom 10am To 12pm; On-ice Fishing 12-3pm (if Ice Conditions Permit) Open 10am to 3pm (860) 567-0857
Jan 27, 2019 Killingworth Care Center/Classroom 9:30am To 11:30am; On-ice Fishing 12-2pm (if Ice Conditions Permit) Open 9:30am to 2:00pm (860) 663-1656
Jan 31, 2019 Ansonia Ansonia Armory/25 North Cliff St Open 6:30pm to 8:30pm (203) 231-0946

Class Dates Town Location/Details Status Class Times Call to Register
Feb 2, 2019 Torrington Burr Pond State Park/No Child Left Inside - Winter Festival Open 10am to 3pm  

Friday, December 21, 2018

2019 Bassmaster Classic Set for March 15-17 in Knoxville, Tennessee

Posted by Wayne G. Barber

Save The Date
2019 GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods
March 15-17, 2019 in Knoxville, Tenn.
The “Super Bowl of Bass Fishing” is just 12 weeks out, and we want YOU there for the most exciting three days in fishing.

The 2019 GEICO Bassmaster Classic presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods is taking over downtown Knoxville, Tenn. Thousands of outdoor sports’ greatest fans will descend on the banks of the Tennessee River to follow 52 of the world’s best bass pros in their pursuit of the most coveted title in sportfishing.

The 49th annual Bassmaster Classic offers more than $1 million in payouts, including the first-place prize of $300,000.

See the biggest bass on the world’s biggest sportfishing stage, with all festivities in walking distance in downtown Knoxville.
  • Weigh-ins in the University of Tennessee’s Thompson-Boling Arena
  • Daily takeoffs at Volunteer Landing Marina
  • The Bassmaster Classic Outdoors Expo presented by DICK’S Sporting Goods at the Knoxville Convention Center and World’s Fair Exhibition Hall
  • A full-service media center in Thompson-Boling Arena
Make plans to arrive in Knoxville in time for the must-attend Classic Media Day Thursday, March 14.

Members of the media are invited to ride along as observers with the Classic pros, and media boats are available for those who want to follow the action on the Tennessee River, Fort Loudoun Lake and Tellico Reservoir.

Apply now for credentials at We will follow up with more information about how to plan your trip.

Thanks, and Happy Holidays from B.A.S.S.!