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This is the 2015 Massachusetts Fish & Wildlife Guide

This guide contains regulations effective today through December 31st, 2015.  For regulations effective January 1st, 2016, please refer to the 2016 Massachusetts Fish & Wildlife Guide.

Message from the Director

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From the Director

I am happy to report to you that our fish and wildlife programs are in excellent shape. This past year was one that offered some of the finest trout-fishing opportunities ever experienced in the state. Hatchery production was superb and we met the top end of our production goals, with just over 450,000 pounds of rainbow, brook, brown, and tiger trout stocked throughout the state. These were truly quality fish, as an astounding 55% were actually larger than 14 inches, and 80% were 12 inches or greater in size.

Last fall’s deer harvest of 11,466 was the highest since 2007. The spring turkey season harvest was nearly 2,600 birds. The population growth and accompanying eastward expansion of black bears showed no sign of slowing, and there are now more than 4,000 bears in the state. On average, only 150 bears are taken each fall; thus, a hunter with the time has an excellent opportunity to take a black bear in Massachusetts.

Protection of open space continues to be a priority of the Patrick Administration, and this past year we added another 3,525 acres to our management areas with the expenditure of $7,775,000 in Environmental Bond and Wildlands Conservation stamp funds.

When looking for places to fish and hunt, be sure to access the MassWildlife website ( to find maps of the wildlife management areas, pond maps, boat access sites, wildlife viewing areas, and trout-stocking locations.

Changes in the hunting and fishing regulations for 2015 are as follows:

  • Snapping Turtles. The minimum size for taking a snapping turtle has been changed from 6 inches to 12 inches, with a daily bag limit of 2. Further, the season is closed from May 1 to July 16.
  • Reptiles and Amphibians. Sale of animals taken from the wild and taking with firearms is prohibited.
  • Baitfish. Sale of baitfish taken from inland waters is prohibited. (Note that anglers can still take baitfish for their personal use.)
  • Spear-fishing. Only carp and suckers can be taken with a spear or bow and arrow.
  • Carp and Suckers. The sale of carp or suckers taken from inland waters is prohibited.
  • Licenses on Mobile Phones. Mobile devices may be used to show that you have a valid license.

In 2010, the Patrick Administration provided bond funding to construct a state-of-the-art, zero net energy building at our centrally-located Westborough Field Headquarters, and for the past 2 years our headquarters has been temporarily located in West Boylston. Construction was completed on schedule and we moved back to Westborough in September of 2014. Built on the footprint of our old office, our new building is at the edge of the beautiful 800-plus-acre Westborough Wildlife Management Area; we encourage you to visit this remarkable building.

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, 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.

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.

Wayne F. MacCallum, Director


This Guide contains a summary of the laws and regulations in place as of October 10, 2014. Any changes in law or regulation enacted after October 10 are publicized through releases to the news media, all license sales outlets, and on our website. These are not the complete laws and regulations. Laws and regulations (MGL Ch. 131 and 321 CMR) are subject to change.

Regulations in red are new this year.

Purple text indicates an important note.

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