Vermont takes comments on proposed logging practices change
Vermont is holding public hearings on a proposed rule change for logging practices to protect water quality.
The state's water quality law, passed last year, requires the commissioner of the Department of Forest, Parks and Recreation to amend the accepted management practices for logging operations to ensure they are designed to prevent or minimize discharges of sediment, petroleum products, and woody debris from entering streams and other waters.
Any changes must also make sure that logging operations are designed to improve soil health of forestland; protect aquatic habitat and aquatic wildlife; and prevent erosion and maintain natural water temperature.
Public hearings are planned for Jan. 26 at Lyndon State College, Jan. 28 at the University of Vermont Extension office in Berlin and Feb. 2 at the Howe Center in Rutland.
Master anglers challenged to 'fish outside the box'
The Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department is challenging master anglers to fish outside the box.
Department fisheries biologist Jud Kratzer says for six years anglers around Vermont have enjoyed studying and learning about fish biology, habitat, and feeding behavior, and using that knowledge to pursue the 33 fish species included in the Master Angler Program.
The bonus challenge invites anglers to catch five fish species that the department has selected for 2016.
They are: lake trout, chain pickerel, yellow perch, fallfish and white sucker. Each fish must meet the minimum length requirements of Master Angler Program for those species.
The department hopes many fishers will take on this new challenge.
Those who successfully complete the challenge will get a bonus challenge prize at the end of the year.
Fish and Wildlife: deer herd is healthy going into winter
Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department officials, based on early numbers, say hunters took 12,710 deer during the last year's hunting seasons.
The state reduced the number of muzzleloader antlerless deer permits by 43 percent in response to the toll taken on deer by severe winters of 2014 and 2015, officials said Thursday.
Hunters took a total of 13,590 deer in 2014 and 14,107 in 2013.
Last year 8,294 legal bucks were taken, which is similar to the previous three-year average, said Nick Fortin, the state's deer project leader.
"Following a winter like 2015, a stable buck harvest clearly demonstrates the value of managing for a healthy deer herd," he said.
Biological data was gathered from more than 1,700 deer examined at biological check stations and hunters were asked to provide teeth from bucks, which will help to understand the age composition of the state's buck population, officials said. More than 2,600 teeth were collected.
The weights of deer examined by biologists indicate that the state's deer population is as healthy as it has been at any time since the data was first collected in the 1940s, the department said. Deer with healthy body weights are better able to survive tough winters, officials said.
The final numbers of the 2015 deer hunting seasons will be on the Fish and Wildlife Department's website in early February.
Elusive dog finally captured after 559-day team effort
A Vermont dog who was the subject of a 559-day search after being spooked by a car accident is finally back home with his owners.
Murphy the golden retriever had resisted the efforts of dozens of volunteers to find him. But he finally walked into a backyard trap in Waterbury set for the very purpose of capturing the cagey canine.
Murphy had been missing since his owner — 25-year-old Kirstin Campbell of Morrisville — went off the road and struck a tree in Stowe June 29, 2014. The stunned dog ran off when he got out of the car.
There have been sightings of Murphy in Waterbury Center and game cameras captured his image, but it wasn't until Saturday night that the pooch was caught and reunited with Campbell.
Police chief willing to take stun gun hit to convince board
A Vermont police chief is offering to take a hit from a stun gun to help convince local leaders to fund the purchase of 13 of the electronic control devices.
Bennington Police Chief Paul Doucette made the offer at a budget work session on Saturday, during a discussion of police, fire and highway budgets.
Doucette is seeking $27,000 for purchase of the stun guns. Some selectmen said they might be willing to buy a few that officers could share.
The chief says he's been formally trained in the use of the devices and would be willing to bring an instructor in to shoot him with a stun gun. Doucette said he's experienced its effects before, calling it the "longest five seconds of my life."
Vermont home brewers compete in beer contest
Vermont home brewers are getting a chance to see if their beer can compete commercially in the 2016 Make the Cut Homebrew Challenge.
Beverage Warehouse in Winooski and 14 Star Brewing Company in St. Albans created the contest.
WCAX-TV reports that the top two finalists will create batches of their beer at 14th Star that will be distributed to bars. The public will pick the winning beer by ballot. The brewer will win $1,000 and a chance to brew a batch of the winning beer, which will be launched at certain bars and restaurants and in cans statewide during the week of the Vermont Brewers Festival in July.
Registration for the contest started this week and 300 entries will be accepted.
More information is available online at www.makethecut.beer .