Massachusetts Hunting & Fishing
From the Director
This past year, MassWildlife invested a significant effort in the celebration of our 150th anniversary. It was gratifying to our staff when over 1,000 people, young and old, visited our Field Headquarters on June 4th to celebrate our anniversary. The event was an opportunity for staff to highlight MassWildlife’s diverse programs from archery for kids to black bear research to butterflies. The day was so successful we are planning a similar event for next year. The party is over and as the year turns I want to focus on a number of exciting programs and initiatives of interest to sportsmen and women that are a priority in the upcoming year.
Directly impacting our ability to deliver high quality recreational trout fishing is a water pipeline under construction that will provide gravity-fed, consistently cold water from the Quabbin Reservoir to the McLaughlin Hatchery in Belchertown. Although a significant investment of angler’s dollars, when completed in 2017, this project will produce long-term benefits through reduction of energy costs, establishment of a long-term stable water source for the hatchery, and result in an improvement in the quality of stocked trout. I would note that this project would not have been possible without support from Governor Charlie Baker, Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Matt Beaton, and Massachusetts Water Resources Authority Executive Director Fred Laskey. As with any sound investment, this project will pay dividends for decades.
With the increasing time demands of our society, we recognize the need to provide up-to-date information to hunters and anglers. To that end, during the 2016 trout stocking season we launched a new web-based tool for trout anglers that provides daily online trout stocking reports. The feedback has been positive and I encourage you to check out the new tool during the spring trout stocking season at mass.gov/trout.
Making improvements to the Hunter Education program continues to be a focus of the agency. Our goal is to make hunter education easily accessible and convenient without a wait to sign up for a course. Over the past year new Hunter Education staff members were hired to provide enhancements to the program. The primary objectives of these staff are to schedule, plan and conduct Basic Hunter Education courses across the state, particularly in low service areas, as well as to conduct other courses that are developed and administered by the program.
In 2016, the Hunter Education Program staff concentrated solely on: 1) increasing the number of Basic Hunter Education Courses being offered in underserved areas of the state such as Boston and Springfield, and 2) increasing the number of participating students. This past year, 94 Basic Hunter Education courses were held across the state, a 14.6% increase over the previous year. A total of 3,952 students participated in the basic course representing a nearly 6% increase in attendance.
MassWildlife is implementing the Learn to Hunt Program assisting new Hunter Education graduates in the transition from the classroom to the field. Designed for adult Basic Hunter Education graduates with little or no hunting experience, participants can sign up for a one-day clinic or a 3-day in-depth workshop. Classroom and outdoor exercises help new hunters learn more about the skills and techniques used to hunt different game animals. Taught by Division staff and volunteers from sporting clubs and related organizations, the Learn to Hunt Program utilizes the experience and knowledge of seasoned sportsmen and women. In the first year of this new program, 321 hunters participated.
We are expanding programs in archery and recreational shooting. For those interested, the Explore Archery program was developed. This program was created to promote a lifelong interest and participation in the sport of archery to participants of all ages. MassWildlife trains and certifies instructors from recreation departments, nature centers, Scouting organizations, and schools. Successful completion of this program allows any certified instructor the ability to offer an archery program in their area and to borrow equipment from MassWildlife free of charge.
After our first and very successful Youth Deer Hunt in 2015, I am looking forward to increased youth participation on September 30. Beyond the intrinsic benefits, this hunt serves as a great recruiting tool for developing hunting mentors.
In 2017, to complement the above programs, MassWildlife plans to partner with the University of Massachusetts Extension 4-H Youth Development Program to launch a 4-H© Shooting Sports Program in Massachusetts. As with all 4-H© programs, it will focus on youth development and will be designed to empower young people with skills they can use for a lifetime. Through this program, young people will develop an understanding of natural resources and conservation ethics while learning marksmanship, the safe and responsible use of firearms, the principles of hunting and archery, and other valuable life skills including self-confidence, personal discipline, responsibility, and sportsmanship.
You may notice a new look for MassWildlife; as part of a year-long project, we’ve updated our logo and have begun re-designing agency publications, signs and web pages for a consistent look and easily recognizable agency identity.
As always, I must acknowledge that what we do would not be possible without the strong support of hunters, anglers, and trappers. Although we manage wildlife for the benefit and enjoyment of all citizens of the Commonwealth, the sportsmen and women are the financial backbone of MassWildlife. Your willingness to step up in supporting everything from land acquisition to the conservation of rare and endangered species demonstrates the broad view of the interconnectedness and importance of all wildlife … Thank you!
Jack Buckley, Director
Since 1938, the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife has partnered with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Sportsmen and Women, and the Fishing, Hunting, Shooting, and Boating Industries, to fund fish and wildlife conservation projects through the Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program. Today, this pioneering program serves as a cost-effective model for fish and wildlife conservation by providing fishing and hunting access to those who both funded and directly benefit from the resource — the anglers and hunters. Their contributions through this “user pay, public benefit” conservation model — funded by license purchases and excise taxes on fishing and hunting equipment — benefit all Massachusetts residents.