A hunter or angler from 1913 would be absolutely astounded by the fishing and hunting opportunities found in Massachusetts today. A century ago, the status of fish and wildlife resources in Massachusetts was truly deplorable. There were fewer than 1,000 white-tailed deer, perhaps 20 black bear, no wild turkeys, no resident Canada geese, and very few wood ducks in the entire state. Trout fishing opportunities were limited, and there was absolutely no opportunity to fish for landlocked salmon, lake trout, or northern pike anywhere in the state.
Today, the Massachusetts deer herd exceeds 90,000 animals, there are over 4,000 black bears in the state, Canada geese are so plentiful that we have special early and late resident-goose hunting seasons, and wood ducks are abundant throughout the state. Wild turkeys have been restored throughout the Commonwealth and the annual harvest now exceeds 2,000 of these magnificent game birds. The annual stocking of 400,000 – 500,000 brook, brown, and rainbow trout provides quality trout fishing in most of our communities, including Boston, Worcester, and Springfield. Fishable populations of landlocked salmon and lake trout have been established in Quabbin and Wachusett reservoirs. Northern pike fry are being periodically stocked in selected waters throughout the state, and are especially sought after by ice fishermen.
The restoration of the state’s fish and wildlife resources has been accomplished using the money that you, the hunting and fishing public, pay for licenses and federal excise taxes (about 11%) collected on fishing tackle, firearms, ammunition, and related hunting gear. Without these monies, the remarkable restoration of our fish and wildlife resources could not have taken place. Regardless of whether one chooses to actively participate in recreational fishing or hunting, the broader public that is interested in wildlife and its future needs to be made aware of and understand the conservation role played by hunters and anglers. Sportsmen and sportswomen are not only among the most important tools we rely on to manage our game populations, but also provide the chief financial support for all our wildlife research, highly trained personnel, and wildlife education programs.
Since the 1990 passage of the sportsmen-initiated legislation that requires the purchase of a $5.00 Wildlands Conservation Stamp when buying a fishing, hunting, or trapping license, the amount of Division-owned wildlife lands has increased from less than 50,000 acres to more than 200,000 acres. This incredible success has been achieved by pooling Wildlands Conservation Stamp monies with Open Space bond monies administered through the Department. The protection of open space has been a priority of the Fisheries and Wildlife Board, Governor Patrick, Secretary Sullivan, and Commissioner Griffin. The result has been that in the 7 years of the Patrick Administration, over 100,000 acres have been protected by state and municipal agencies, of which 38,000 acres are DFW/DFG lands. This investment in open space reflects the strong support of the public and the proactive leadership of the sporting/conservation/environmental community in effectively advocating for investing in public land protection.
Lastly, through environmental bond bill funds made available by the Patrick administration and the legislature, the construction of a state-of-the-art, energy-neutral building at our centrally located Westborough Field Headquarters site is on schedule, and we expect to vacate our temporary offices at 100 Hartwell Street, West Boylston, by July 2014. We hope you will come visit this facility when it is completed and see how modern technology combined with wood harvested from our own wildlife lands can result in a beautiful, efficient building that generates its own heating, cooling, and electrical needs. It’s really quite the wonder!
The only changes in the fishing and hunting regulations for 2014 are:
These changes reflect the fact that shad numbers have declined over most of the species’ range and the population, thou gh certainly not endangered, is clearly at a level where more conservative conservation measures are advised.
As always, it is important to reiterate that it is the goal of the Fisheries and Wildlife Board to make the most efficient use of the funds that you, the sportsmen and -women, provide to the Division through your donations and license purchases. The excellent state of our fish and wildlife resources is directly attributable to the willingness of our license buyers to shoulder the costs of our wildlife conservation programs. We are ever mindful of this and thank you for your continuing support.
Wayne F. MacCallum, Director
Regulations in red are new this year.
Purple text indicates an important note.