Printed muzzleloader antlerless deer permit applications available

Vermont's muzzleloader season antlerless deer hunting permit applications are on Vermont Fish & Wildlife's website www.vtfishandwildlife.com, and now printed applications are also available from license agents statewide. A quick-link to the online applications is on the home page. Applying online automatically enters you to win one of ten $50 Cabela's gift cards.

Hunting for antlerless deer will be statewide for the Oct. 1-28 and Dec. 3-11 archery season. Last year, hunters took 2,618 antlerless deer during the archery season.

One deer of either sex would be allowed for youths during the November 5-6 youth weekend hunt. Youths took 761 antlerless deer during the 2015 youth weekend hunt.

The Dec. 3-11 muzzleloader season would have 18,950 antlerless permits distributed in 16 of Vermont's 21 WMUs, which is estimated to result in 2,700 antlerless deer being taken.

Landowners who post their land may not apply for a muzzleloader landowner antlerless deer permit.

"The number of muzzleloader season antlerless deer permits was increased to account for the expected increase in the deer population following the exceptionally mild winter of 2016," said Nick Fortin, deer project leader for the Fish & Wildlife Department. "The recommendation is intended to allow moderate population growth in most of the state while stabilizing or reducing deer densities in a few areas."


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"We expect the statewide deer population to be 140,000 to 145,000 prior to the start of the 2016 deer seasons," said Fortin.

The deadline to apply for a muzzleloader antlerless deer permit is Aug. 26.

Spiny water fleas spur reminder to anglers and boaters on preventing spread of invasive species

Recent reports of spiny water fleas becoming snagged on fishing gear used on Lake Champlain have prompted officials from the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department and the Lake Champlain Basin Program to urge anglers and boaters to take appropriate steps to prevent the spread of this and other harmful aquatic invasive species.

"Lake Champlain boat launch stewards have been hearing about spiny water flea sightings by anglers over the last month, and last week we removed the first sample off a downrigger cable during a routine courtesy boat inspection at the Shelburne Bay fishing access area," said Meg Modley, aquatic invasive species management coordinator with the Lake Champlain Basin Program. "The best method for preventing the spread of spiny water fleas is simply letting them dry out, which of course applies to any fishing or boating equipment that they might attach to."

Fish & Wildlife Department fisheries biologist Shawn Good added it's critical that anglers thoroughly inspect their boats and gear after a day of fishing.

"Spiny water flea can cling to downrigger cables, fishing line, anchor rope and other things, so the first step is to inspect all your equipment and remove any visible globs of spiny water flea," said Good. "Letting gear dry completely for several days will also kill all life stages of spiny water flea."

The spiny water flea, which was first confirmed in Lake Champlain in 2014, is a non-native zooplankton roughly one-half inch in length. Spiny water fleas do not bite and pose no risk to swimmers in Lake Champlain. They prey directly on native zooplankton, and compete with other species for food resources disrupting the native aquatic food chains and changing the native aquatic community.

This invasive species originally appeared in North America in Lake Huron in 1984 and has since spread throughout the Great Lakes and beyond. It was found in both the Lake Champlain Canal near Whitehall, New York and in New York's Lake George in 2012. It is unknown how spiny water flea entered Lake Champlain, though it may have hitchhiked overland on fishing equipment, a boat or trailer, or come through the Lake Champlain Barge Canal or Lake George's outlet – the La Chute River – which flows into Lake Champlain in Ticonderoga, N.Y.

"The main key for anglers and boaters is to remember to clean, drain and dry all boats and equipment after each use," said Eric Palmer, director of fisheries with Vermont Fish & Wildlife. "Making sure that your boat and gear is cleaned and dried before launching at another access area is critical to helping to prevent the further spread of any aquatic invasive species, including the spiny water flea."

Rinsing with 140°F degree water is also believed to be effective in killing spiny water fleas and reducing the risk of spread.

The long tail of the spiny water flea has a number of hook-like barbs which causes it to stick to fishing line and cables trolled through the water when fishing. To reduce the risk of this happening, anglers can use specialty lines designed with specific shape and material characteristics that prevent them from latching onto the line.

For trolling, anglers can spool fishing reels with a heavier weight (larger diameter) main line, and then use a short thin leader to the lure. A heavier main line helps to keep the spiny water fleas from catching the line between their barbs and accumulating, while the smaller diameter leader allows anglers to effectively target line-shy species like trout and salmon.

For more information on preventing the spread of invasive species, visit http://www.lcbp.org/water-environment/aquatic-invasive-species/ or http://www.vtfishandwildlife.com/cms/one.aspx?portalid=73163&pageid=195775.

Vermont State Parks lays down campfire cook-off challenge

Vermont State Parks invites you to participate in the first ever Vermont State Parks Campfire Cook-off video competition.

Craig Whipple, Director of State Parks explains, "Cooking in the outdoors is an intrinsic part of enjoying summer. And in Vermont, with our outdoor culture and bountiful local produce, outdoor cooking has ascended to an art form. After years of listening to stories of extraordinary campfire culinary conquests, we decided it might be fun to lay down a campfire cooking challenge, and to share the best for all to enjoy."

The contest challenges entrants to submit videos of themselves and/or their team preparing their favorite camping recipes (should I use the word dishes?). Finalists will be selected by park staff and the winners will be chosen by online voting. Videos and recipes will be shared online at vtstateparks.com. First, second and third prizes will be awarded and winners will receive free camping, firewood, Vermont products and bragging rights.

Other contest details:

• Individuals as well as teams may participate.

• Videos should be no more than 2 minutes long and depict the creation of the dish as well as the final product.

• Written recipe must accompany video submission.

• You can submit as many entries as you like.

• Cooking must be done on wood or charcoal. You can use a BBQ grill, at camp or at home, but no gas cooking or grilling is permitted.

• Bonus points will be awarded for using healthy and local foods.

• Videos should be in .wmv, .mp4, .avi or .mov format.

• Send submissions to parks@vermont.gov.

• Entries must be received by September 5, 2016.

More information can be found online at vtstateparks.com.

Media outlets, businesses, and organizations are encouraged to submit team entries.

Controlled waterfowl hunt application deadline is Aug. 22

Applications are available for controlled waterfowl hunting permits to be used at two Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department wildlife management areas.

The applications may be downloaded from Fish & Wildlife's website and printed applications are available at Vermont Fish & Wildlife offices in Montpelier, Essex Junction, Addison, Barre, St. Johnsbury, Springfield and Rutland.

Hunting under controlled conditions for ducks at Mud Creek in Alburgh and geese at Dead Creek in Addison has been popular since the early 1970's.

Applications must be filled out correctly and postmarked no later than Aug. 22. There is no fee to apply.

A public drawing to award hunting permits will be held Friday, Aug. 26 at noon at Dead Creek Wildlife Management Area headquarters off Route 17 in Addison. Attendance is not required. Successful applicants will be notified by mail and must pay a $10 permit fee on the day of the hunt.

Pre-registered goose hunting at Dead Creek WMA will occur every Wednesday from October 19 through November 9.

Waterfowl hunting at Mud Creek WMA will be by pre-registration on Oct. 13 and 15. Any vacancies due to "no-shows" on those days will be filled on the morning of the hunt. All other Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays during the open seasons will be self-registration days. Permits will be available at the Mud Creek operations building.

Duck season opens on Oct. 12 in the Lake Champlain and Interior Vermont Zones, and on Oct. 4 in the Connecticut River Zone. The Lake Champlain Zone has a split season (Oct. 12-16; Oct. 29 - Dec. 22); the Interior Vermont Zone is a straight season (Oct. 12 - Dec. 10); and the Connecticut River Zone is a split season (Oct. 4 - Nov. 6; Nov. 22 - Dec. 17).

A statewide Vermont open hunting season for Canada geese will occur Sept. 1-25. A second Canada goose hunting season will be held Oct. 12 - Nov. 30 in the Lake Champlain and Interior Vermont Zones. Canada goose hunting in the Connecticut River Zone will continue Oct. 4 - Nov. 6 and Nov. 22 - Dec. 27.

Snow Goose hunting is open from Oct. 12 - Dec. 31 in the Lake Champlain and Interior Vermont Zones and Oct. 4 - Dec. 27 in the Connecticut River Zone.

Be sure to read the 2016-2017 Syllabus of State and Federal Hunting Regulations for Migratory Birds available on Fish & Wildlife's website and from license agents for detailed regulations.

Vermont's moose hunt auction is open

Vermont's lottery for moose hunting permits closed July 12, but there's one more opportunity to get a permit for this fall's moose hunt. Vermont's auction for five moose hunting permits is open until 4:30 p.m. Aug. 10. Bids will be opened and winners notified on Aug. 11.

Auction winners will hunt in one of several wildlife management units (WMUs) open to moose hunting and choose to hunt during the Oct. 1-7 archery season, or in the Oct. 15-20 regular season.

Vermont's 2015 Moose Harvest Report on Fish & Wildlife's website has details on last year's hunt, including the towns where moose were taken. Look under moose hunting.

Bids must be entered with a sealed bid form available from Vermont Fish & Wildlife.

A minimum bid of $1,500 is required, and winning bids are typically at least $4,000. Bids do not include the cost of a hunting license (residents $26, nonresidents $100) or moose hunting permit fee ($100 for residents and $350 for nonresidents).

Additional information about the auction is on the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department's website. Moose permit bid packets can be obtained by calling Fish & Wildlife at 802-828-1190 or by emailing (Cheri.Waters@Vermont.Gov). Proceeds from the moose hunting permit auction help fund Vermont Fish & Wildlife educational programs.

The lottery drawing for 135 regular moose season permits and 25 archery season permits will be held on August 2.

Public comment and hearing on a threatened species taking permit for VT Gas pipeline

The Vermont Agency of Natural Resources has received an application from Vermont Gas Systems for a Threatened and Endangered Species Taking Permit which would authorize transplanting and taking of the state-threatened Harsh Sunflower (Helianthus strumosus) on one property owned by Vermont Gas Systems in Monkton to allow installation of the Addison Gas Pipeline.

The permit application may be found at: http://Tinyurl.com/VFWD-TE-Permits

A public informational hearing is scheduled for July 28 at 2:30 p.m. in the Agency of Transportation Board Room, Davis Building 5th Floor, National Life Building, 1 National Life Drive, Montpelier, VT 05602-3702.

Public comments must be received on or before 4:30 p.m. on Aug. 15. Comments may be sent by email to ANR.EndangeredPermit@state.vt.us or by regular mail to: Permits Administrator, Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department, Commissioner's Office, 1 National Life Building, Davis 2, Montpelier, VT 05620-3702.

Green Mountain Power, Fish and Wildlife, citizens, install bat condo at Kingsland Bay State Park

The endangered little brown bat has a new home at Kingsland Bay State Park in Ferrisburgh. Green Mountain Power partnered with Vermont Departments of Fish and Wildlife and Forests, Parks, and Recreation to install a new "bat condo" to give the bats a safe and secure habitat in the park and aide in the recovery in Vermont. The condos look like a tree house on stilts and provide shelter for raising young and safety from predators.

"Protecting our state's bat population by providing safe habitat is something we are very focused on at GMP both here at Kingsland Bay State Park and with the shelter we provide for the little brown bats in our Middlebury hydroelectric generating plant, said Kristin Carlson, Chief Communications Executive. "Partnerships like this reinforce that we all have a stake in protecting endangered and threatened species in our state, and together we can make a big difference."

A colony of bats lives in some of the public buildings at Kingsland Bay State Park, and installing the bat condo means the bats will have a long-term secure habitat away from human activity. Bats live into their 20s and 30s and return to the same place year after year, so the new bat condo will provide the opportunity for the bat population in the area to grow.

The bat condo is four feet by eight feet, weighs 1100 pounds and was designed and created by Joe Gardner, who funded, built, and donated this huge structure, with assistance from Barry Genzlinger, bat house designer and licensed bat rehabilitator. Green Mountain Power lineworkers set poles Thursday morning and used a bucket truck to lift the condo onto the poles.

"The best way for us to help recover little brown bats is to protect the survivors, so securing these summer roosts where they each raise only one young per year is incredibly important," said Fish & Wildlife Bat Biologist Alyssa Bennett. "We really appreciate Green Mountain Power's help installing the new bat home. The fate of this species may depend largely on the generosity of concerned citizens like Joe Gardner and partnerships with organizations and businesses like Green Mountain Power."

"Our crews are excited to be a part of this effort to help secure the bat population in Vermont," said Carlson. "These crews are called on to help protect other species as well including the once nearly extinct Osprey. Through teamwork and commitment we have protected nests, even relocated them when necessary and now the species is thriving."

Six of nine species of bats in Vermont are affected by the deadly fungal disease White-nose Syndrome, and the little brown bat is now endangered in Vermont as a result. The population has declined by 90 percent in the past few years, but ongoing monitoring efforts around the state indicate the population is stabilizing. Fish and Wildlife officials provide guidance to property owners who want to safely evict unwanted bats in buildings, along with recommendations on proper bat house design and placement with the goal of conserving this endangered species.

To learn more about this and other efforts visit: www.vtfishandwildlife.com/learn_more/living_with_wildlife/got_bats