LENOX

This past September 17, Alan Bongini of Hinsdale bagged a 250-pound bear (dressed) in Hinsdale, which had an ear tag. He registered it online and brought it to the DFW Western Regional Headquarters in Dalton. DFW personnel determined that the tag was not from Massachusetts, so they contacted Vermont Fish & Game and learned that it was tagged in Stamford, Vt., in 2011.

Bongini was in touch with a Vermont biologist and was told the following: In 2011, an outfit from Spain wanted to put a wind farm near Stamford, Vt., somewhere near the Molly Stark Trail. The Vermont Fish & Game people were not too pleased with the idea, because the area where it was to be located was loaded with beech trees and where bears fed in order to get fattened for the winter hibernation. They captured four or five bears and put radio collars on all of them except a smaller bear which weighed around 100 pounds. It was too small for the collar, and they put an ear tag on that bear instead. That's the bear that Bongini shot.

A Vermont biologist contacted Alan and requested a map of Hinsdale where he shot the bear. Later on, he contacted Alan again and told him that the bear had traveled the farthest of any of their tagged bears. Depending on its course, it could have traveled 50 or 60 miles. The biologist then sent pictures of the bear when they tagged it. A tooth was extracted and sent to the Vermont biologist to determine its age. Bongini will probably find out in the spring just how old that bear was.

The bear was skinned out by Clem Caryofiles of Pittsfield, and Alan donated it to the Onota Fishing Club for its annual game dinner. There were four or five other bears, and all kinds of game also donated by other hunters.

Todd Mancivalano, director and president of The Onota Fishing Club, thanked Bongini and all who participated, donated and attended its annual game dinner which was held at The ITAM in Pittsfield on December 8. More than 240 people gorged themselves with all kinds of tasty game, expertly prepared by Chis Porter of Pittsfield and others. They had venison and bear meat prepared in several different ways (roasts, shish kebobs, sausages, etc), rabbit, wild boar, seafood, freshwater crappie, pheasant, game meat chili, fish chowder, polenta, etc. One of my favorites was the bear meat. I wonder if I had any of Bongini's bear.

There were so many people there that the Club was able to donate $500 to the YMCA Youth Basketball program, pay out around $650 in its 50/50 raffle, plus another $500 in its own raffle. That didn't even include the many other raffle items which were donated by local sport shops.

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While on the subject of bears, the front cover of the 2014 Massachusetts Fish and Wildlife Guide has an excellent picture of one. In that guide, Wayne MacCallum, Director of the Division of Fisheries and Wildlife reported that there are approximately 4,000 bears in Massachusetts. In the 1970s, bears were only found in Northern Berkshire but now they live and raise their young as far east as central Massachusetts in both rural and some residential areas. Their range has expanded further into eastern Mass., causing people and communities to adjust their behavior to learn how to live with them. Black bears can be hunted in September and November in wildlife management zones 1 through 9.

Incidentally, the only changes in the fishing and wildlife regulations are:

1. No harvest (catch and release only) of American shad in inland waters except the Connecticut River and its tributaries and the Merrimac River and its tributaries.

2. The American shad creel or bag limit on those two rivers and their tributaries has been reduced to three per day. These changes reflect the fact that shad numbers have declined in most of the species range and the population, though certainly not endangered is at a level where more conservation measures are warranted.

Good news! There will be no increase in the license fees for 2014.

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If landowners gave you permission to hunt or fish on their lands, now would be a perfect time to thank them. Here are some suggestions: Send a personal note or card thanking them for the opportunity to use their land. Consider giving a small gift such as a gift certificate, a bottle of hooch, a gift basket, or a subscription to Massachusetts Wildlife magazine. In the case of a non-profit landowner, such as the Berkshire Natural Resources Council, make a donation or join their organization.

We shouldn't take those landowner for granted. Perhaps you might want to visit them at the end of the season to express your appreciation in person; if possible, provide them with some of your fish and game harvest, share images, or a list of the wildlife you discovered on their property.

Offer to assist with tasks around the property that would be helpful, or identify, clean up, and properly dispose of any illegal dumping that has occurred.

If they have no objections, assist them in protecting the property by documenting and reporting suspicious or illegal activities to the Environmental Police.

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Shotgun deer hunting season ended yesterday and the harvest results have not yet been disclosed by MassWildlife. Tomorrow marks the opening of the Primitive Firearms (black powder) deer hunting season, and it runs through December 31. During that season deer may be brought to a game check station or hunters can report them online at MassFishHunt. Happy hunting and keep your powder dry.

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