Now is the time to spot shorebirds in Vermont
The final weeks of August and beginning of September mark a unique birding opportunity in Vermont. Shorebirds such as plovers and sandpipers are migrating through the state on their southern journey from northern Canada to the Caribbean and beyond.
One of the best places to spot shorebirds this time of year is at Dead Creek Wildlife Management Area in Addison. The Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department lowers water levels on Dead Creek in late summer to provide habitat for migrating shorebirds and other species. Bird-watchers have also reported spotting shorebirds around Sandbar Wildlife Management Area in Milton this year.
"The lack of rainfall has led to low water levels this year providing ample habitat for shorebirds, particularly along Lake Champlain," said John Buck, migratory bird biologist for the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department. "I'd encourage people to grab your binoculars and camera and take advantage of this brief and exciting birding opportunity."
Anyone interested in donating to habitat conservation for shorebirds and all species can buy a Vermont Habitat Stamp, available at www.vtfishandwildlife.com.
Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department celebrates 30 years of Vermont Duck Stamp Program
The Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department is holding a celebration to highlight the successes of the Vermont Duck Stamp Program over three decades at a newly conserved property in Colchester, Vt. The celebration will be at the Mallet's Creek Wildlife Management Area on Sept. 8, from 3:30 to 5 p.m. The event is free and open to the public.
"The Vermont Duck Stamp program has been responsible for some of our state's greatest conservation success stories," said Louis Porter, commissioner of the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department. "The waterfowl hunters, birders, and others who have purchased a Duck Stamp within the past 30 years have allowed us to preserve a wide array of wetlands throughout Vermont that will remain forever wild and accessible to the public."
Since 1986, the Vermont Duck Stamp Program has raised $4.5 million for the conservation of nearly 12,000 acres on 93 separate projects. Most of these conservation projects involved partners such as The Nature Conservancy, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, Vermont Land Trust and many local land trusts and landowners.
"The success of this program stems from the many groups and individuals we've partnered with along the way," said Deb Markowitz, secretary of the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources. "We've worked with nonprofit and government partners to fund land purchases and carry out habitat improvements. The cooperation of many landowners throughout the state has also been invaluable."
"The wetlands conserved through this program not only provide habitat for waterfowl and wide variety of other species, but they also help clean up Vermont's waterways including Lake Champlain," added Commissioner Porter. "Wetlands provide a buffer against damage from flooding by soaking up excess water before it reaches rivers and lakes."
The celebration will take place on the wildlife management area at the junction of Route 7 and Coon Hill Rd in Colchester. Brief remarks from department staff and partners, including Agency of Natural Resources Secretary Deb Markowitz, will be followed by a short walk around the property to discuss some of the habitat improvements taking place. An informal gathering at McGillicuddy's On the Green in Colchester will follow the event.
Members of the public interested in supporting wetland conservation can purchase a Duck Stamp at www.vtfishandwildlife.com.
Invasive Asian clam discovered in Vermont waters
State officials recently discovered the presence of an invasive clam species in Lake Bomoseen. The Asian clam has been documented in surrounding regions like Lake George, NY, but has not been found in Vermont until now.
Asian clams, like zebra mussels, are filter feeding organisms that can deplete resources needed by native species and increase algae blooms. They can also form dense populations very quickly, clogging intake pipes to lakeside homes, industrial water systems, and irrigation canals.
A summer natural resources instructor at the Vermont Fish & Wildlife's conservation camp on Lake Bomoseen identified the Asian clam during work one day and reported the finding to staff biologists. Once positively identified, the Agency of Natural Resources then surveyed the lake to determine the extent of the population, focusing on areas with suitable habitat and likely introduction points such as boat ramps, public beaches, and the docks near the Conservation Camp.
Survey results showed the clam population limited to an isolated area in the southwestern part of the lake. The area in which the species was confirmed measures approximately 14 acres, with water depths up to 8 feet. No Asian clams were found at any of the other public access areas or beaches surveyed outside this area.
It is unclear how or when the species was introduced to Lake Bomoseen, or exactly where the initial introduction occurred. Agency scientists say the presence of large, adult clams (up to 2.4 centimeters in diameter) and the relatively high density of clams in the affected area indicate that the clams have likely been in the lake for a year or more.
Like most aquatic invaders, Asian clams can be transported from one body of water to another via small amounts of water or sediment. Boaters, anglers, and other lake users should always clean, drain, and dry their equipment after use to ensure that unwanted hitchhikers, like Asian clams, are not spread to new waterbodies.
The Asian clam is native to the eastern Mediterranean and other temperate regions of Asia. The species has spread throughout much of the eastern U.S., and several populations have recently popped up in western states as well.
For more information on aquatic invasive species, visit http://dec.vermont.gov/watershed/lakes-ponds/aquatic-invasives.
State seeks bear teeth from hunters
Successful bear hunters are reminded to make every effort to submit a bear tooth so wildlife managers can collect critical information on Vermont's bear population.
Teeth submitted by hunters are used to determine the ages of bears. Department staff use age and sex data to estimate the number of bears in Vermont and to determine the status and health of the bear population. Envelopes for submitting teeth are available at all big game check stations.
"Successful bear hunters have a real opportunity to give back to our management of this magnificent big game animal," said Forest Hammond, bear project leader for the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department. "The premolar tooth we're asking hunters to extract is actually small and easy to loosen with a knife. Directions for removing the tooth are on the back of the envelope provided by the check station, and a short video showing tooth removal is linked on our website."
Vermont has two bear hunting seasons. The early bear hunting season, which requires a special bear tag, starts September 1 and continues through November 11. The late bear season begins November 12 and continues through November 20. The limit for bears remains one per calendar year.
"Carefully regulated hunting plays a very important role in wildlife management by helping to control the growth of Vermont's bear population now estimated at about 5,500 bears," said Hammond. "Minor fluctuations in the bear population will always occur due to changes in food availability, winter severity and hunter success. Despite these fluctuations, we look at the long-term trends to manage for a healthy, robust population."
Advanced bowhunting clinic
The Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department is hosting an Advanced Bowhunting Clinic on the latest bowhunting equipment, hunting tactics and treestand safety on Saturday, September 24 at the Chelsea Fish & Game Club in Chelsea.
The clinic has an online registration deadline of Sept. 10 for up to 30 participants. Register here: (http://tinyurl.com/AdvancedBowhunter).
The clinic will cover modern (vertical) compound bows, equipment setup, arrow selection, tuning tips, trail cameras, maps, advanced hunting tactics, and treestand safety. Participants are encouraged to bring their vertical bows and arrows to compete in a 3D shoot for a rangefinder contributed by Parro's Gun Shop in Waterbury.
A light lunch will be provided by the Fish & Wildlife Department.
"This clinic will cover everything you need to know to become a better bowhunter," says Shooting Range Project Technician Daneil Pieterse. "Students will learn practical skills and have a chance to increase their knowledge of the craft of bowhunting."