The black bear hunting season is nearly upon us. The season is divided into two time periods. The first begins this Tuesday and ends on Saturday, Sept. 20, for a total of 17 days. The second begins on Nov. 3 and ends on Nov. 22, for a total of 18 days. The season is open only in wildlife management zones 01 through 09.

Bear hunters can purchase and print their Black Bear permit when they buy their hunting licenses, or can go online later in the year and purchase and print it immediately. It is no longer necessary to mail in an application, and one does not need to wonder if the applications or permits were lost in the mail. There is no longer a deadline of any kind for these permits.

The hunting hours begin at a half-hour before sunrise and continue until a half-hour after sunset. The season bag limit is one black bear per calendar year. A person may kill a bear of any sex or any size. Hunters are encouraged to check the Mass. Fish & Wildlife Guide, page 31, for more information on this sport.

The 2014-15 Migratory Game Bird Regulations -- including hunting seasons, bag limits, and methods of take -- are now available. The early statewide goose hunting season also begins this Tuesday and ends on Sept. 25. Hard copies of the regulations will be available at license vendor locations and MassWildlife offices in September. The daily bag is seven and the possession limit is 21.


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All migratory game bird hunters are reminded they must complete an online Harvest Information Program (HIP) survey each calendar year. If you have not completed the survey, visit a local license vendor, MassWildlife office, or go to www.mass.gov/massfishhunt to be sure you have completed the survey. Your license must have either the notation "HIP Survey Completed" or "Waterfowl Stamp" when printed.

Disappointed that you did not win an antlerless deer permit this year? Well, in our neck of the woods, the odds of getting one were not in your favor. The following lists the Western District Wildlife Management Zones, the number of allocations, number of permits and chances of winning:

Zone 1: 400 allocated, 1,229 applicants (39% win)

2: 175 allocated, 1,636 applicants (15% win)

3: 1,100 allocated, 2,325 applicants (53% win)

4N: 375 allocated, 2,145 applicants (18% win)

4S: 275 allocated, 1,619 applicants (18% win)

Guess you and I will just have to bag a buck.

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Thirty-one adult Atlantic Salmon returned to the Connecticut River from the Atlantic Ocean this year. This compares with previous years as follows: 89 in 2013, 57 in 2012, 111 in 2011, 51 in 2010 and 75 in 2009. This year, one returned to the Salmon River in Connecticut, three to the Farmington River in Connecticut, two to the Westfield River and 25 reached the Holyoke Dam.

Of those reaching Holyoke and released upstream, 11 reached Gatehouse Dam and were released, eight reached Vernon and released, two made it to Bellows Falls and released and one made it all the way to the Wilder Dam in Vermont. That last fish traveled through Connecticut, Massachusetts and well into Vermont and New Hampshire, up above White River Junction.

As you may be aware, the Connecticut River Salmon Restoration program has ended. Both the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and wildlife agencies of Massachusetts, Vermont and New Hampshire will no longer support it. The last stocking of salmon fry into our feeder streams in Massachusetts took place in the spring of 2013. They will remain in our streams for a couple of years until they turn into smolts and make their migration to Long Island Sound and the sea. After a couple of years, with luck, they will return to their home streams to spawn. That means the last Connecticut River spawning run into Massachusetts will probably take place in 2017.

Adult sea-run Atlantic salmon are being tagged and released at all fishway/trap facilities. If a tagged salmon is caught while fishing, you must release it immediately unharmed. You are asked to not remove the fish's tag and to call (413) 548-9138, ext. 121 (indicated on the yellow streamer tag), to provide information on the event.

In Connecticut, they are still maintaining their fry stocking program on their own but at a greatly reduced level. The problem is that they have no place to retain the wild returning salmon now that the USFWS has closed its facilities and is out of the program. It will be difficult to get diverse stock from other returning salmon into the Connecticut River, so there will be bio-diversity issues. They will be shifting their program to handle domestic salmon at their state hatcheries but are not sure as to how to proceed with this program. According to the Connecticut Dept of Energy & Environmental Protection (DEEP) officials, they feel that maintaining the salmon rearing program in their schools is an important educational program. Amen to that.

Other 2014 returns to the Connecticut River this year include the following: 375,132 American Shad (vs. 397,689 last year) 42 adult American Eel, 679 Blueback Herring (vs. 995), 403 Gizzard Shad (vs. 823), 27,535 Sea Lamprey (vs. 24,926), three Shortnose Sturgeon (vs. two) and 68 Striped Bass (vs. 245 ). Some 4,789 American Shad (vs. 4,900), 1,127 Sea Lamprey (vs. 726), 38 American Eel and four Blueback Herring returned to the Westfield River. (No records are available of American Eel and Blueback Herring returning to the Westfield in 2013).

The Merrimack River is the other Massachusetts river where Atlantic salmon run. That restoration program also has been discontinued. Some 41 Atlantic Salmon returned into that river this year along with 34,711 American Shad, 33,517 River Herring, 128 Striped Bass, 4,023 Sea Lamprey, 2,678 American Eel and 29 Gizzard Shad.

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