News from Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife

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Deer age report available on Vermont Fish & Wildlife website

A report summarizing deer age results from the 2015 hunting seasons is now available on the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department's website www.vtfishandwildlife.com.

The department was able to get accurate ages from more than 4,000 deer harvested during the youth and rifle seasons in 2015. The tooth collection effort was part of a multi-year project to assess current deer management strategies, including the antler point restriction.

"We are thankful to the thousands of hunters who supported our deer management efforts by providing us with a tooth from their deer," said Deer Project Leader Nick Fortin. "It is not appropriate to draw conclusions from one year of data, but we think many people are interested in seeing this information."

The report provides information on harvest age distribution in each wildlife management unit as well as body weight and antler size as deer get older. A list of all deer that were aged is also available. The report on the website is under Hunt – White-tailed Deer Tooth Collection Project.

"Reel Fun Vermont" program kicks off second year

The "Reel Fun" program is in full swing across Vermont for the second year running, meaning even more fishing opportunities for campers and visitors at state parks throughout the state.

Created in 2015 through a joint effort by Vermont Fish & Wildlife and Vermont State Parks, "Reel Fun" is designed to make fishing more accessible to the public by providing park visitors with free, loaner fishing equipment to use at any of the participating state parks.

"Reel Fun" has quickly become a favorite of fishing enthusiasts and novice anglers alike since its inception, and with the addition of two new participating parks as well as various on-site "Let's Go Fishing Clinics" in 2016, program coordinators are optimistic about its continued growth.

"What makes the 'Reel Fun' program great is that it makes fishing so easy to try for park visitors," said Chris Adams, information specialist with Vermont Fish & Wildlife. "The rods, reels, tackle and even informational guides for fishing at each park are all provided, making fishing incredibly accessible and enjoyable to anyone interested in wetting a line."

With the addition of Button Bay and Burton Island state parks, the program is now available at 12 different state parks around Vermont. Other participating state parks include: Grand Isle, Lake Carmi, Stillwater on Groton Lake, Branbury on Lake Dunmore, Silver Lake, Wilgus on the Connecticut River, Half Moon, Lake St. Catherine, Woodford on Adams Reservoir and Brighton on Spectacle Pond.

"Reel Fun Vermont" will be bolstered this summer by expanded instructional fishing clinics which will be held at many of the participating parks by "Let's Go Fishing" program instructors and trained park staff.

The family-friendly program also continues to benefit from the excellent fishing locations offered by the 12 state parks.

"Vermont is fortunate to have incredible fishing for a wide range of fish species, and these quality opportunities can be found right at the twelve 'Reel Fun' parks," said Adams. "From bass, pike, panfish and trout, to non-traditional species like bullhead and freshwater drum, you just never know what you might catch at many of these fishing spots."

Similar to 2015, the program will also include a "Reel Fun VT" photo contest where visitors can submit photos of themselves fishing at state parks to either Vermont State Parks or Vermont Fish & Wildlife. At the end of the summer, three winners will be chosen and will receive prizes ranging from complete starter fishing kits to Vermont State Parks camping and season passes.

"We're excited about another great summer of fishing fun in Vermont State Parks," said Rochelle Skinner, park sales and service manager with Vermont State Parks. "Whether you want to fish from shore or take out one of our canoes, kayaks or paddleboats, we think you'll really enjoy fishing at a Vermont State Park."

Visitors can submit "Reel Fun VT" photos via email to fwinformation@state.vt.us or parks@state.vt.us, or can use #ReelFunVT to tag photos on Twitter.

To find out more about Vermont State Parks, make a camping reservation or learn about day use, visit http://www.vtstateparks.com/index.htm.

To learn more about the Reel Fun program, fishing in Vermont or to purchase a fishing license, visit www.vtfishandwildlife.com.

Vermont's migratory bird hunting seasons are announced

The Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department has announced the syllabus of 2016-2017 migratory bird hunting seasons is now available.

A printable copy of the regulations can be downloaded from the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department website (www.vtfishandwildlife.com). A printed version also will be available from license agents and post offices by mid-July.

A statewide Vermont open hunting season for Canada geese will occur September 1-25. The daily bag limit is five Canada geese in the Connecticut River Zone and eight in the rest of the state during this September season. The purpose of the September season is to help control Vermont's resident Canada goose population prior to the arrival of Canada geese migrating south from Canada.

A second Canada goose hunting season, for resident and migrant birds, will be held October 12-November 30 with a daily bag limit of three Canada geese in the Lake Champlain and Interior Vermont Zones.

In the Connecticut River Zone, the Canada goose season will be October 4-November 6, and November 22-December 27 with a daily bag limit of three Canada geese.

Duck season this fall opens on Wednesday, October 12 in the Lake Champlain and Interior Vermont Zones, and on October 4 in the Connecticut River Zone. The Lake Champlain Zone has a split season (October 12-16 and October 29-December 22). The Interior Vermont Zone is a straight season (October 12-December 10). The Connecticut River Zone is a split season (October 4-November 6 and November 22-December 17).

Vermont's youth waterfowl hunting weekend will be September 24 and 25. Resident and nonresident hunters 17 years of age or younger may hunt ducks and geese within the Lake Champlain and Interior Vermont Zones during this weekend while accompanied by an adult 18 or older. In the Connecticut River Zone, youth must be 15 years of age or younger. Both adult and youth must have Vermont hunting licenses. The adult may not hunt or carry a firearm. Youth ages 16 and 17 must have state and federal duck stamps.

Woodcock hunting season is Oct. 1 to Nov. 14 statewide with a three-bird bag limit.

In addition to a hunting license, a waterfowl hunter 16 or older must carry current federal and Vermont duck stamps in order to hunt waterfowl in Vermont. Federal stamps are sold at post offices. State duck stamps are available on Vermont Fish & Wildlife's website (www.vtfishandwildlife.com) and from license agents. The hunter must sign the federal duck stamp.

All migratory game bird hunters must also be registered with the Harvest Information Program (H.I.P.) in each state they hunt. You can register on Vermont Fish & Wildlife's website or call toll-free 1-877-306-7091. After providing some basic information, you will receive your annual H.I.P. registration number, which you then need to record on your hunting license.

The hunting season dates, bag limits and related regulations for all migratory birds are set annually within a framework established by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and in coordination with New York and New Hampshire.

Waterfowl season dates and bag limits are set in three zones: Lake Champlain, Interior Vermont, and Connecticut River. The New Hampshire Fish and Game Department sets the season dates and bag limits for the Connecticut River Zone.

Felt-soled wader ban is repealed

Many anglers will be happy to learn that a five-year ban on the use of felt-soled waders in Vermont has been repealed, effective July 1, 2016.

Using felt-soled waders and boots was prohibited in 2011 out of concern about the spread of didymo, an algae also known as "rock snot," which was appearing as nuisance blooms in trout rivers throughout North America, including some rivers here in Vermont. The porous felt on boot bottoms helps prevent slipping on rocks, but it was considered a potential means of transporting the algae spores from one body of water to another.

Didymo was once thought to be a recently introduced invasive algae species, but recent research has revealed that it is actually native to Vermont and other regions of North America. Scientists found that didymo spores are present in most Vermont rivers, and the spores can cause nuisance algae blooms under certain water conditions favoring growth of the algae.

Although felt-soled waders and boots can once again be used in state waters, the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department is asking anglers and other water recreationists to thoroughly clean and dry all of their equipment after leaving any water body before going to another.

"Preventing the spread of aquatic invasive species to new waters is critical to protecting the health of Vermont's aquatic ecosystems," said State Fisheries Biologist Shawn Good. "Boats, kayaks, trailers, fishing equipment, scuba gear and other items can spread aquatic invasive species unless properly cleaned, dried or disinfected after use."

"While some invasives are easy to see such as Eurasian milfoil stuck on a boat trailer," he added, "others are too small to be noticed, such as spiny waterflea, larval zebra mussels, or viruses and bacteria that cause fish diseases."


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