In the past decade the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries & Wildlife has been moving towards a completely electronic licensing system. The transition to such a system began in 2000 and will be completed January 1, 2012. If you have purchased your 2012 license you know that there is no longer any preprinted paper license or any preprinted permits, stamps, or tags. These are all generated at the time of purchase by computer printer. The convenience and benefits of issuing everything electronically is substantial. In addition to providing the opportunity to purchase a license 24 hours a day, the new system will also allow hunters to electronically comply with mandatory game checking requirements for turkey, bear, deer, and certain furbearers. See Online Licensing and Game Harvest Reporting for a detailed description of the new licensing system.
There is one significant and two minor regulatory changes that go into effect on January 1, 2012. The significant change is that Massachusetts is joining the northern New England States and the Canadian government in restricting the use of certain lead sinkers and jigs to protect the Common Loon. Loons are ingesting small lead sinkers and jigs, and subsequently dying from lead poisoning. Following a public hearing, the restrictions on small lead sinkers and jigs were put in place July, 2009, with the provision that the regulations were not to take effect until January 1, 2012. This delay gave the manufacturers and angling public two and a half years to adjust to these changes. For more information, see the article Lead Sinkers and Loons in Massachusetts.
The minor regulatory changes are: (1) that the hinged or break-open breech muzzleloaders can now be used during the primitive firearms deer season (please note that an FID card is required to possess a break-open or hinged breech muzzleloader), and (2) youth turkey hunt permits will now be valid for the regular turkey seasons.
I am happy to report that our conservation programs and services remain in good shape. We continue to stock more pheasants and quail than all the other New England states combined. We continue to meet our quality trout stocking goals of 400,000 plus pounds, and the statewide deer harvest continues to exceed more than 10,000 deer annually. This past year another 3,000 acres of wildlife lands were acquired using wildlands conservation stamp revenue and open space bond monies allocated to the Department of Fish and Game by Governor Patrick. In just over 20 years the Division’s land holdings have nearly quadrupled from 50,000 acres in 1988 to 190,000 acres as of June 30, 2011. The support of sportsmen and women provided by their license and wildlands conservation land stamp purchases, plus their political support for open space bond bills, has been key to our success in adding to our wildlife management areas. These are lands that will be forever open to fishing, hunting, and trapping.
The transition of our society from paper to electronic or digitized formats for paying bills, payroll deposits, photo and information transmittal and storage, reading the newspaper and the like has been incredibly rapid. Please bear with us as we modernize our licensing system. The implementation of electronic licensing reflects the inevitable technological advances and innovations that have been the hallmark of our great country.
It is the goal of the Fisheries and Wildlife Board to make the most efficient use of the funds that you provide to the Division through your donations and license purchases. The excellent state of our fish and wildlife resources is directly attributed 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