News from Vermont Fish & Wildlife

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Grouse and woodcock seasons start soon

The Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department issued a reminder that upland game bird hunting seasons are coming up soon and that learning to identify suitable habitat for ruffed grouse and woodcock is the most important key to hunting success.

Vermont's hunting season for ruffed grouse is September 24 – December 31 this year. The daily limit is four grouse with a possession limit of eight.

The Vermont woodcock hunting season is October 1 – November 14. The daily limit is three woodcock with a possession limit of nine.

Woodcock are often found in alders along brooks and near beaver ponds as well as in new-growth small timber where old fields are reverting to forest. Ruffed grouse also frequent the same habitat, and they are particularly fond of the apples they find under wild apple trees.

Regulations require woodcock hunters to make sure their shotgun is capable of holding no more than three shells, and they must register for the federal Harvest Information Program on Vermont Fish & Wildlife's website (www.vtfishandwildlife.com) or by calling toll-free 1-877-306-7091.

For more information on hunting in Vermont, be sure to get a copy of the 2016 Hunting, Fishing & Trapping LAWS and GUIDE available from license agents statewide and the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department. Tel. 802-828-1000 and email: fwinformation@Vermont.Gov. You can also print sections of the Guide from the department's website. Hunting licenses are available from the website and from agents throughout the state.

Vermont's Northeast Kingdom offers large expanses of huntable land and plenty of excellent grouse and woodcock habitat. Go to the Northeast Kingdom Chamber of Commerce at http://www.nekchamber.com/ or Tel. 800-639-6379 for overnight accommodations and helpful local advice.

Several large state wildlife management areas (WMAs) offer public hunting in the Northeast Kingdom as well as other sections of the state. Descriptions and maps of the WMAs are provided on Fish & Wildlife's website.

Hunters asked to avoid shooting collard bears

The Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department is asking southern Vermont bear hunters to avoid shooting bears with yellow ear tags and radio collars during this fall's hunting season. The bears are collared as part of an ongoing study on the effects of a proposed wind energy development within Green Mountain National Forest in the towns of Searsburg and Readsboro.

The Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department is studying how the construction and operation of the wind turbines affects local bears. This is the first wind energy development proposal within a national forest nationwide. The study will help inform future wind energy developments that are proposed in bear habitat.

"This study will provide important information about Vermont's bears and will help us to manage for a healthy bear population," said Jaclyn Comeau of the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department. "Each collared bear represents a large commitment of money and staff time, so we're asking hunters to please help us better understand the species they enjoy by not shooting any collared bears."

Comeau urges hunters to take a moment to identify whether a bear in the area has collars or tags, as they are not always easy to see. Collared bears may currently be found in the towns of Wilmington, Whitingham, Searsburg, Readsboro, Stamford, Woodford, Bennington, and Pownal, although bears are a wide-ranging species and may disperse into surrounding towns as the fall progresses. There are roughly 12 collared bears in the region.

Archery deer season starts Oct. 1

Hunters are enthusiastic about Vermont's upcoming Oct. 1-28 and Dec. 3-11 archery deer hunting season, which has several new regulation changes according to the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department.

A hunter may take up to two deer in Vermont's two-part archery season with the purchase of two archery licenses. No more than one of the deer taken during archery season may be a legal buck. Antlerless deer hunting is allowed statewide this year during archery season.

In Vermont a hunter may take up to three deer in a calendar year in any combination of seasons (Archery, Youth Weekend, November Rifle Season, December Muzzleloader). Of these, only two may be legal bucks, and only one buck may be taken in each season. A "legal buck" is a deer with at least one antler having two or more points one inch or longer. All three deer in the annual bag limit may be antlerless deer.

Hunters must have a standard hunting license in order to purchase an add-on archery deer hunting license, except that nonresidents may purchase an "archery only deer license" costing just $75. Licenses may be quickly and easily purchased on Fish & Wildlife's website (www.vtfishandwildlife.com).

Hunters planning a Vermont archery deer hunting trip should get a copy of the 2015 White-tailed Deer Harvest Report, which gives the number of deer taken in each town in last year's deer hunting seasons. It's available on Fish & Wildlife's website.

For more information and a summary of regulations, download the 2016 Deer Season Guide on Vermont Fish & Wildlife's website. You also can call 802-828-1000 or Email (fwinformation@state.vt.us).

Archery season regulation changes effective this year:

• October portion of season five days longer

• Number of deer that may be taken in archery season lowered to two (only one may be a buck)

• Crossbow use allowed by hunters age 50 and older

• Natural urine lures prohibited

• Antlerless deer hunting statewide

Also new this year, an optional big game tag is available free from license agents as a durable alternative to the paper tags on licenses. Optional tags may be used to tag deer, bear or turkeys, but they are not for use with moose or muzzleloader season antlerless deer.

"We continually work to conserve deer wintering areas and maintain young forested areas that provide excellent habitat for deer and many other species," said Nick Fortin, Fish & Wildlife's deer project leader. "Hunting helps us keep Vermont's deer population in balance with available habitat, and the annual deer harvest provides several million meals of local, nutritious venison."

Enjoy Dead Creek Wildlife Day Oct. 1

If you enjoy wildlife be sure to make plans to attend the 15th annual Dead Creek Wildlife Day in Addison, Saturday, October 1.

Activities at Dead Creek Wildlife Day are especially for people who enjoy hunting, fishing, birdwatching, or learning about Vermont's diverse wildlife. The event will be held at the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department's Dead Creek Wildlife Management Area (WMA) on Route 17 west of Route 22A.

Early risers can begin the day with bird banding demonstrations at 7 a.m. Two large tents at Dead Creek WMA headquarters will open at 9:30 a.m. featuring wildlife-related exhibits and activities such as decoy carving, building bluebird boxes and wildlife photography.

One of the highlights of the festival this year will be a fun and friendly waterfowl calling contest with prizes in honor of the thirtieth anniversary of the Vermont Duck Stamp program. There will also be a presentation on the successes of the Duck Stamp program by waterfowl biologist David Sausville, who will highlight the nearly 12,000 acres of wetlands conserved in Vermont by funds raised from the sale of the stamp.

Nature walks, illustrated talks, live wildlife presentations, hunting dog demonstrations, fishing and hunting tips, and much more will be held until 4:00 p.m. All events are free, and a free shuttle bus will provide regular access to nearby field events throughout the day.

"There's nothing quite like Dead Creek Wildlife Day," said Amy Alfieri, the manager of the Dead Creek WMA. "The activities are fun, the demonstrations are very exciting and the setting is beautiful! Visitors love to see the live animals and working dogs, and the kids love to build their own blue bird box to take home. This year should prove to be especially enjoyable with a waterfowl calling contest that anyone can join."

The festival is hosted by the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department, Vermont

Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation and Otter Creek Audubon Society.

For more information and a schedule of events, visit Vermont Fish & Wildlife's website and check under Watch Wildlife


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