Every year at this time I think about what we have done to enhance wildlife management and customer service to the sportsmen and women of Massachusetts. Last year we introduced the new format Guide. Since then many of you have weighed in to express strong positive reviews. We are glad you like the new Guide and we are continuing to improve it.
This has been a good year for the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife. Although we are small, our staff continues to produce exceptional results in many ways.
Last year DFW land agents, working with the Department of Fish and Game, secured 6,164 acres of land for wildlife at a cost of $10.49M. Fully 50% of that land was protected at no cost to the Commonwealth! This brings the acreage we have conserved for wildlife to just over 187,000 acres or about 292 square miles.
Our District offices manage immense tracts of land with only eight staffers—including both a District Supervisor and a receptionist. District staff also release some 40,000 pheasants each year—more than all other New England states combined. An additional 3,500 quail are released into appropriate habitat in the southeast part of the state.
Increasing numbers of hunters are finding that they no longer need to travel to other states to find prime hunting—it has come to them. Similarly, anglers report that Massachusetts’ lakes and rivers offer some of the finest fishing in New England.
We have four trout hatcheries that raise 450,000 lbs. of trout each year, releasing 400,000 lbs. each spring and another 50,000 lbs. in fall. The Division’s fifth hatchery, dedicated to rearing salmon, raised 995,515 Atlantic salmon fry which were released as part of the salmon restoration program.
Two new educational programs introduce youngsters to field sports. “Archery in the Schools” is now available in ten pilot schools across the state. Here students learn to focus their attention by “staying on target” both literally and figuratively—learning to concentrate while learning archery skills. A new youth turkey hunting program operates through cooperating sportsmen’s clubs that join with the DFW to offer training to young hunters in turkey hunting skills and safety in preparation for a mentored turkey hunt.
All of this is good, but we constantly seek new ways to provide you, the sportsmen and women of the Commonwealth, with more opportunities and with better customer service.
At this point we are working toward development of a new and integrated licensing and database system. Most states have “gone electronic” in their licensing process. Before long, Massachusetts will do so as well.
Imagine a system where not only can you purchase a license, stamps, and permits at any time of the day or night—you can report harvest information (check in your game) by logging in and loading the information into a database. Then you would immediately receive a confirmation number which is the equivalent of having a seal or tag. The license and associated permits would have a space where you would write in that confirmation. This will serve as confirmation that you have filled the permit and reported the harvest.
Once operational, this system will translate into convenience for hunters and a complete and up-to-date database for biologists which is critical for sound management. As you log in your harvest, the information goes directly into a biological database. Hours that are now spent distributing and collecting licenses, or on manual data entry, will be available for habitat projects, hatchery operations, and more. This will be a major improvement in efficiency and service. Keep an eye on our website where we will keep you posted on our progress!
A challenging economy affects us all and requires state agencies to exercise fiscal restraint, but there are no constraints on creativity and innovation. Creative planning on the part of our staff will allow the DFW to maintain its level of services while adding to customer conveniences. As always it is our goal to make the most efficient possible use of the funds you provide to the Division though your purchase of licenses, stamps, permits, and through your donations.
Wayne F. MacCallum, Director