Sunday December 30, 2012

LENOX

In a press release, the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department reported that a poacher was apprehended in Morrisville, Vt., late at night on Dec. 14, after illegally killing a mature antlered buck after the close of deer hunting season. A thermal imaging device was used to locate a 22-year-old offender in the woods. He was arrested around 11:15 p.m., after he and another male returned to retrieve the buck.

A complainant called 911 around 10:30 p.m., after hearing a shot outside a residence in Morrisville. A Vermont state game warden was notified, and he, along with officers from the Morrisville Police Department and the Lamoille County Sheriff's office, responded.

The shooter was charged with taking deer in closed season, which carries a potential two-month jail term for the first offense. He could also lose his right to hunt, fish and trap in Vermont for three years and face $2,500 in fines and restitution.

This is the perpetrator's second charge relating to Fish and Wildlife crime this fall. On the opening weekend of November rifle season, he and another man were apprehended by a Lamoille County Sheriff's deputy after attempting to locate deer at night with a spotlight. In that case, a loaded deer rifle was also found in the vehicle.

No specifics were given as to the type of imaging device used by the officers. Thermal imaging is a kind of infrared imaging science that can detect radiation in a certain infrared range of the electromagnetic spectrum and produce radiated images. Thermal imaging has the ability to see warm objects against cooler background, and that allows one the ability to see warm-blooded animals and humans when they are out in the environment.

Hopefully, we don't have any deer poachers here in the Berkshires. People contemplating such illegal acts should think carefully before doing so, in lieu of the modern crime fighting technology being used these days.

Incidentally, preliminary reports indicate this year's rifle season harvest total is slightly higher than the average for the previous three years, according to the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department. Vermont archery harvest totals are also up slightly.

Also, according to a New Hampshire Fish and Game Release, the estimated statewide deer kill was up 4 percent from last year's harvest and the highest harvest since 2007. New Hampshire bear hunters took a total of 806 bears in 2012, which represents a new record harvest.

The Massachusetts preliminary harvest results for the fall bear hunting, archery deer and shotgun deer hunting seasons have not yet been released by Mass. DFW as of Dec. 26. The muzzleloader deer hunting season is still ongoing and ends Monday.

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Private landowners, land trusts, property managers, and other interested conservationists are invited to attend a Jan. 8 presentation on Wetland Wildlife Habitat Restoration in the Housatonic River Watershed.

Biologists from MassWildlife and District Conservationists from the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service will be presenting information about the Working Lands for Wildlife Initiative at the Mason Library, 231 Main Street, Great Barrington. Topics will include habitat restoration for rare and declining species and funding assistance for private landowners available for habitat management activities. Contact Marianne Piché at (508) 389-6313 or via email at marianne.piche@state.ma.us for more details.

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Todd Mancivalano, director and president of The Onota Fishing Club, thanks all who participated, donated and attended its annual game dinner which was held at the ITAM on Dec. 9.

More than 240 people enjoyed a wonderful meal of several venison dishes, roast bear, wild boar, rabbit, pheasant, fresh and salt water fish, and a variety of chowders and chili's. A special thanks went to the Decker family of Pittsfield, who donated a 10-inch ice auger in loving memory of Bobby Decker, who passed away this year and was a huge supporter of the club. With the proceeds from the raffle and a $500 club donation, a check for $955 was presented to The Kids Place, which is an organization that provides a tremendous amount of help and support to the children of our community.

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The Cheshire Rod and Gun Club's Truckload of Goodies Raffle winners were: David Bates of Adams won the truckload; Bob Brown of Adams won Second Prize (10 pounds of roast beef and 1 liter of rum); Paula Stack of Clarksburg won Third Prize (10-pound ham and 1 liter of whiskey); Vy Nath of North Adams won Fourth Prize (20-pound turkey and 1 liter of whiskey); and Clem LeClair of Cheshire won Fifth Prize (1/2 liter of coffee liqueur). I'll bet they had a merry Christmas.

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The Mass. Department of Conservation and Recreation is participating in this year's First Day Hikes. Ringing in the New Year with a brisk walk through a state park is a tradition that started more than 20 years ago right here in Massachusetts at DCR's Blue Hills Reservation, near Boston.

First Day Hikes offer individuals and families an opportunity to begin the new year with a rejuvenating outdoor experience by reconnecting with nature and fitting in a few hours of exercise. Scheduled hikes across the United States on New Year's Day will celebrate the second year of a National First Day Hikes movement, as part of a "get outdoors" initiative for people of all ages.

DCR will sponsor free, guided hikes in 11 state parks across Massachusetts. Information about each hike, including distance, incline, and suggested footwear, can be found on DCR's website at www.mass.gov/dcr. In the Berkshires, the hike will take place at the Pittsfield State Forest. Participants will meet at 1 p.m. at the Ski Lodge, 1041 Cascade Street.

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Happy New Year! Don't forget to get your 2013 hunting and fishing licenses.

To reach Gene Chague:
Berkwoodsandwaters@roadrunner.com,
or (413) 637-1818.