Volunteer instructors sought for "Let's Go Fishing" program

MONTPELIER >> The Fish and Wildlife Department is seeking volunteers who would like to become Let's Go Fishing instructors so they can pass on Vermont's fishing tradition to the next generation of Vermonters.

The department will be hosting a one-day training workshop for new instructors on March 12, at 190 Junction Road, Berlin.

Instructors in the 'Let's Go Fishing' program organize and instruct clinics in their communities for young people and their families. Participants in the training workshops will learn how to teach a fishing clinic, in addition to learning about fishing ethics, aquatic ecology, fisheries management, habitat conservation, and tackle craft. The class is informal, and it is not necessary to have a high level of fishing expertise to become an instructor.

"Get involved and get our youth outdoors! The life you change might just be your own," urges Alison Thomas, Vermont Fish & Wildlife's education coordinator.

There is no charge for the training and all curriculum materials and lunch will be provided. The workshop runs from 8:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Pre-registration is required, and you must be 18 to participate. You can register by March 1 by calling 802-505-5562.

Waterfowl blinds must be removed

MONTPELIER >> Waterfowl hunters who did not remove their hunting blinds from the waters of the state earlier must do so before February 15 on Lake Champlain or May 15 on inland waters according to a reminder from the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department.


State law requires removal of the blinds before these deadlines in order to protect natural areas and to prevent boating accidents after the ice melts.

"Removal of the blinds and any posts that may be below the surface of the ice is important because of the danger they present when boaters are on the water in the spring," said State Game Warden Colonel Jason Batchelder.

Batchelder says wardens have recorded names and addresses of blind owners and will follow up with inspections.

Wildlife events planned for March

MONTPELIER >> Hunters, landowners and anyone else interested in Vermont's wildlife should plan on attending one of the three events hosted by the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department in late March.

Each March the department holds three public hearings to provide the results of the deer hunting seasons and receive public input on the status of Vermont's deer herd. This year, two of the hearings will be held on weekend afternoons, and they will also feature management of black bear, wild turkey, moose, and furbearers as well as a discussion of Vermont's wildlife habitat. These two Wildlife Open Houses will also include several poster displays of various wildlife-related topics.

The hearings will still include results of Vermont's 2015 deer and moose seasons and prospects for deer and moose hunting next fall as well as an opportunity for hunters to provide their observations and opinions about the status of these big game animals.

The three meetings will also serve as public hearings to review the 2015 moose hunting season and to provide feedback on the number of moose permits recommended for 2016.

"We are offering these March Wildlife Open House meetings in Castleton and Montpelier as a means of presenting and discussing the other game management programs," said Scott Darling, wildlife management program manager. "While the focus on deer is understandable, there are many other important wildlife management efforts, including our work to conserve and manage habitat, that are also worthy of the public's attention."

Wildlife Open House meetings:

• March 20, 1-5 p.m. Kehoe Conservation Camp, 636 Point of Pines Rd., Castleton.

• March 26, 1-5 p.m., Montpelier High School, 5 High School Drive, Montpelier.

• The additional deer and moose meeting will be held Wednesday, March 23, 6:30 p.m. — 8:30 p.m. at Lake Region Union High School, 317 Lake Region Roadd., Orleans.

Clean bird feeders help keep birds healthy

MONTPELIER >> Vermont Fish & Wildlife says if you are feeding birds that it's important to clean those feeders on a regular basis so your feathered visitors don't become sick.

"Feeding birds in the winter is a source of great enjoyment for bird enthusiasts, but it can also cause diseases to spread quickly among wild birds," says John Buck, the state's lead biologist on migratory birds. "It is critical to clean those birdfeeders at least once a month in order to prevent a buildup of harmful pathogens."

Bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites can cause diseases such as aspergillosis, salmonella, avian pox, trichomoniasis, and conjunctivitis. Species commonly affected by bird feeder diseases are redpolls, pine siskins, goldfinches, sparrows, and cardinals.

Buck recommends using a solution of one part bleach to nine parts hot water to kill bacteria. Hot water with unscented dish detergent also does an excellent job. Wear rubber gloves to avoid any contamination. Be sure to clean inside and outside surfaces. Bottle brushes work well in tube feeders.

Be sure to thoroughly rinse your feeders to prevent residual chlorine from being ingested by birds. Then, dry the feeders well before filling them again. Any remaining moisture could lead to mold and mildew that can cause rotten, unhealthy seed.

Also, take time to remove seed and droppings in nearby areas where birds congregate. Birds can spill seed and leave debris several feet away from feeders.

Clean birdfeeders and feeding areas will attract more birds and keep them healthier for birders to enjoy.

Additional information about diseases at bird feeders can be found at: http://www.nwhc.usgs.gov/publications/fact_sheets/coping_with_diseases_at_birdfeeders.jsp

You can help support habitat for songbirds and other wildlife by purchasing a Vermont Habitat Stamp on Vermont Fish & Wildlife's website. Vermont Habitat Stamp funds are used to conserve unique habitat throughout the state.