Showing posts from February, 2018

Vermont Fish & Wildlife Awarded 2017 Sport Fish Restoration Outstanding Project Award for Innovative Study of Brook Trout

The American Fisheries Society recently awarded the 2017 Sport Fish Restoration Outstanding Project Award to the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department for the project entitled “Evaluation of Wild Brook Trout Populations in Vermont Streams.”

According to AFS, this national award “both highlights the importance and effectiveness of the Sport Fish Restoration program and recognizes excellence in fisheries management, research, and education” and was given in recognition of the innovative nature of the study, as well as its novel findings.

In this decade-long study, Rich Kirn, fisheries program manager, and his colleagues repeated a historic statewide survey, conducted in the 1950s by former VFWD biologist Jim MacMartin, to determine how wild brook trout populations in Vermont fared during a period spanning several decades. Kirn and other fisheries staff sampled brook trout populations from streams across the state. They found that compared with the 1950s young-of-year brook trout are m…

F&W’s 2018 Conservation Camp Program Announced

If you are 12 to 14 years old and want to learn about Vermont's wildlife and gain outdoor skills, consider attending one of the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department's Green Mountain Conservation Camps this summer.

The one-week camp program is held at Lake Bomoseen in Castleton and Buck Lake in Woodbury.  Campers participate in hands-on learning about fish and wildlife conservation, ecology, forestry, orienteering, safe firearm and archery techniques, swimming, canoeing, fishing and more.  Natural resource professionals come to the camp to share information on their programs and take campers out for field activities.

“Whether kids come alone or with friends, they are guaranteed to meet new people and form new bonds while experiencing Vermont’s natural resources to the fullest,” said Fish & Wildlife Education Coordinator Alison Thomas.  “An important take-away message and common theme during the week is that conserving and managing habitat will help ensure Vermont will ha…

Public Hearings Set for Deer, Moose

Hunters, landowners and anyone else interested in deer and moose should plan on attending one of the Vermont Fish & Wildlife public hearings being held in March and May.

The hearings will include results of Vermont’s 2017 deer and moose seasons and prospects for hunting next fall as well as an opportunity for people to provide their observations and opinions regarding deer and moose. 

The hearings will also include a review of the proposed 2018 moose hunting season and an opportunity for the public to comment. 

On February 21, the Fish & Wildlife Board preliminarily approved issuing moose permits for the 2018 season.  The Fish & Wildlife Department’s big game team recommended that only 14 permits for bull moose be issued for the October hunting seasons.  The permits would be for WMUs E1 and E2 in the Northeast Kingdom, where moose numbers are close to biologists’ density goals.   The number of moose hunting permits was reduced from 80 in 2017 and 141 in 2016 to allow grow…

2018 Waterfowl Season Public Hearings

Public hearings have been scheduled on the status of waterfowl populations and proposed waterfowl hunting seasons for the State of Vermont and Lake Champlain zone in New York.

The annual hearings will be held from 6:30 to 9 p.m. by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department and Board as follows:
March 13 -- Bennington Fire Facility, 130 River Street, Bennington, Vermont 05201. 
March 15 -- Memorial Hall, 5 Towers Road, Essex, Vermont 05452.
March 20 -- Senior Citizens building at the Whitehall Recreation Center, 28 Williams Street, Whitehall, New York 12887. 

Waterfowl hunters are encouraged to attend one of the hearings and share their preferences and opinions about the proposed seasons.

Under Federal regulations, waterfowl seasons, bag limits, and shooting hours in the Lake Champlain Zone must be uniform throughout the entire zone.  Waterfowl seasons in New York’s portion of the Lake Champlain Zone must be identical to…

Westfield Man Charged with Importing Exotic Reptiles

A Westfield man has been charged with a wildlife violation after a water monitor lizard and a dwarf caiman were found on his property.  Raymond J. Barlow, 29, was charged with illegally importing wildlife and faces fines up to $722.

Vermont State Game Wardens received a Facebook photo from a member of the public alerting them to the presence of the illegal reptiles at Barlow’s residence.  They executed a search warrant and seized the reptiles and turned their care over to Rainforest Reptiles, an education and wildlife rehabilitation facility in Massachusetts.

Dwarf caimans are similar to crocodiles and can grow over five feet in length, with heavily armored skin and powerful jaws. Water monitors are the second largest lizard in the world behind the closely-related Komodo dragon. They can weigh over 100 pounds and grow to over six feet in length.  The bite of a water monitor produces rapid and painful swelling.

“Vermont’s wildlife importation laws are in place to protect our local eco…

This is Prime Time for Ice Fishing

Late February and early March are prime time for ice fishing, according to the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department. 

“The warmer days and cold nights we normally have in late February and early March offer some of our best ice fishing of the year,” said Vermont Fish & Wildlife Commissioner Louis Porter.  “For safety reasons, you need to watch ice conditions as we get closer to spring, but this is prime time to enjoy the great ice fishing we have on many Vermont lakes.”

Lake Champlain offers lots of high quality ice fishing opportunities.  According to Porter, ice anglers can find good fishing for a variety of species on this 120-mile long lake, including landlocked salmon, lake trout, northern pike, yellow perch, white perch, walleye, and crappie. 

Northern pike hotspots include Lake Champlain's Kelley Bay, Missisquoi Bay, Dillenbeck Bay, Carry Bay, Keeler Bay, St. Albans Bay, the shallow flats south of the Sandbar Causeway between Milton and South Hero, and the area south…

A Reminder to Remove Ice Shanties

Vermont state law requires that ice fishing shanties be removed from the ice before the ice weakens, according the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department. 

The name and address of the owner must be on the ice shanty, and the shanty must be removed before the ice becomes unsafe or loses its ability to support the shanty out of the water, or before the last Sunday in March -- the 25th this year -- whichever comes first.  All contents, debris, wood, and supports must also be removed so they do not become a hazard to navigation in the spring.

The fine for leaving your ice fishing shanty on the ice can be $1,000, and shanties may not be left at state fishing access areas. 

District game wardens are available for questions via the Vermont State Police radio dispatcher.

Media Contacts:  Col. Jason Batchelder, Maj. George Scribner 802-828-1529

VT Fish & Wildlife Responds to Baitfish Violation

Anglers should check their bait and dispose of non-native mosquitofish
The Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department responded quickly to an angler report of an unusual fish in his bait bucket and cited a Vermont baitfish wholesaler for illegally importing unapproved fish species into the state.

Hog Island Wholesale Bait and Tackle in Swanton was cited under 10 V.S.A. §4601 Taking fish; possession, and 10 V.S.A. App. §122 Fish Management Regulation.  The offense carries with it a five-point violation and $233 fine.  The baitfish wholesaler was also required to destroy a large quantity of baitfish that were held on the facility.

After receiving a report from an observant angler of an unusual fish mixed in with their purchased baitfish, department fisheries biologists conducted an inspection of the baitfish tanks at the shop where the baitfish were purchased.

Non-native “mosquitofish” were found in tanks containing fathead minnows, and it was determined that Hog Island Wholesale was the su…

VT Fish & Wildlife Urges Us to Remember Nongame Wildlife Tax Checkoff

Vermonters interested in conserving wildlife should donate to the Nongame Wildlife Fund on their state income tax form this year, according to the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department.  The fund helps protect some of Vermont’s most threatened wildlife such as bald eagles, lake sturgeon, spruce grouse, and bats.

Donations are leveraged by a match from a federal grant, meaning that a $25 donation brings up to $75 to wildlife conservation in Vermont.  They have helped recovery efforts for Vermont’s bat species that were recently hit with a devastating fungal disease known as white-nose syndrome.  These donations also help conserve declining pollinators such as butterflies and bees, which are critically important to agriculture and ecology.

Biologist Steve Parren manages nongame wildlife projects for the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department.  He works on the recovery of Vermont’s rare turtle species, including the state threatened spiny softshell turtle.  Parren monitors and protect…

Come Learn about Vermont’s Rattlesnakes in Rutland on March 8

Vermonters of all ages are invited to attend a presentation about Vermont’s timber rattlesnakes on March 8 in Rutland.  The presentation will be held at the Community College of Vermont, 60 West Street, Rutland from 7:00 to 8:30 p.m.
Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department biologist and rattlesnake researcher Doug Blodgett will discuss this reclusive and often misunderstood reptile.  Blodgett has been employed as a wildlife biologist with the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department for 36 years, working on both game and nongame species, as well as public and private land management programs. He led Vermont’s wild turkey project for twenty years and has also assisted with research efforts on a variety of other species, from bears and deer to moose and peregrine falcons.  Most recently, his professional interest has focused on reptiles in Vermont, particularly the state’s rare snakes.

“Timber rattlesnakes are some of the original Vermonters and they play a unique role among the state’s nativ…

Special Snow Goose Harvest Opportunity

Vermont’s spring snow goose hunt will be held from March 11 through April 27. 
Since 2009, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has annually issued a “Conservation Order” to allow the reduction of the population of migrating greater and lesser snow geese as well as Ross’ geese.  The numbers of these geese have grown so high that they are destroying habitat for themselves and other species.

Eight states in the Atlantic Flyway (Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Vermont) will hold a similar Spring Snow Goose Conservation Order in 2018.

The Vermont 2018 Spring Snow Goose Conservation Order will occur statewide.  The daily bag limit is 15 snow geese, and there is no possession limit. Waterfowl hunting regulations in effect last fall will apply during the 2018 Spring Snow Goose Conservation Order with the exception that unplugged shotguns and electronic calls may be used, and shooting hours will be extended until one half hour after sunset.