Berkshire Woods and Waters: MassWildlife continues land acquisition by adding over 1,100 acres

According to DFW Western District Supervisor Andrew Madden, MassWildlife had another good year for land acquisition. The parcels listed were acquired in the Western District during the Fiscal Year 2017 (July 2016-June 2017).


Housatonic East Branch WCE, Hinsdale, 14.832

Peru WMA, Peru, 127

Ram Hill WMA, Chesterfield, 60.51

Long Mountain WMA, Otis, 23.84

Chalet WMA, Lanesborough, 24

Peru WMA, Peru, 3.366

Eugene Moran WMA, Windsor, 199.78

Misery Mountain WMA, Williamstown, 363.64

Tower Brook WMA, Chesterfield, 298.61

All of these lands are open to the public for passive recreation, including hunting, fishing, trapping, bird watching, hiking, etc. Previously, comments were made in this column on the topography, habitat and access on all but the following three projects:

Eugene Moran Wildlife Management Area in Windsor — This property, which abuts the existing WMA, has recently been harvested and now has young forests with early successional growth. It provides good habitat for bear, deer, moose and other non-game critters. Access is from North Street in Windsor.

Misery Mountain in Williamstown — This property has steep terrain and has a mature forest, especially with oak trees. It abuts other lands on the western side which are also protected. MassWildlife's effort is to protect the entire hillside. The property lives up to its name and is tough to hunt with the steep slopes, but there is good deer and bear habitat. There is no clear roadside access off of Route 43, at this point, but the property can be accessed from adjoining land.

Thee Tower Brook WMA — This property is very huntable and has good access off of Cummington Fairgrounds road.

MassWildlife Habitat Management Grant Program

This program provides financial assistance to private and municipal landowners of conserved lands to improve and manage habitat for game species and other species of greatest conservation need as identified in the State Wildlife Action Plan. It also aims to expand opportunities for hunting, fishing, trapping, and other outdoor recreation and complement the ongoing habitat management efforts on state lands.

This year, Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Matthew Beaton provided MassWildlife with $500,000 for the third year of this popular financial assistance program. Details on how to apply for this grant are posted at The application period is now open, with a proposal deadline of Oct. 30.

During the second year of the program (FY17), MassWildlife received 45 applications for grant funding, with requests totaling over $1.3 million. Twelve proposals were selected by the team of reviewers for funding. This funding went to 11 different municipalities, private citizens and both large and small non-governmental organizations for projects in 14 towns. These wildlife habitat management projects included invasive species control, old field habitat creation, young forest enhancement, waterfowl habitat creation and coastal heathlands improvement. In total, approximately 500 acres were successfully managed due to this funding opportunity, including the town of Lenox which combated the invasive, hardy kiwi vine in Kennedy Park. The response from the towns and cities, conservation focused non-governmental organizations, sporting clubs and private citizens for this wildlife habitat program indicate the strong need for these funding opportunities to preserve, conserve, improve and create wildlife habitats across the entire state. The increased funding for FY18 will result in even more habitat management projects to improve our natural areas for wildlife and outdoor recreation.

Massachusetts State Wildlife Action Plan

As residents of one of the most densely forested and heavily populated states in the nation, we have an intimate relationship with our forestlands here in Massachusetts. They provide clean water for one of the best public drinking water systems in the nation, the foundation of a world class park system, jobs for thousands of people through recreation, tourism and forestry and a setting that makes Massachusetts second to none as a place we call home. Our forests also provide habitat to a wide array of wildlife — some incredibly abundant, others in steep decline. Our relationship with our forests, and the choices we make to manage them, greatly affect the success and resiliency of that wildlife.

You are invited to join the Massachusetts Forest Trust and the Ruffed Grouse Society for a day of learning, discussion, and walking. It occurs on Nov. 2 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Plainfield Public Safety Complex, 38 North Central St. in Plainfield. You will hear from some of the region's foremost experts on forest habitat and bird conservation. You will have a chance to hear and discuss what you can do to improve the outlook for species in decline.

Reservation is required for the event. Email or call 617-455-9918.

Black bear hunting results

The September season of black bear hunting opened on Sept. 5 and closed on Sept. 23. The preliminary bear harvest, as reported by MassWildlife, showed that licensed bear hunters harvested 148 bears statewide. Some 59 of them were female, 86 were male and there was no information on the remaining three. The harvest is down from the 190 taken during the September season in 2016. The possible reason for the drop, according to district supervisor Andrew Madden, was that corn growth was late this year and the bears were pretty well distributed around the areas.

He noted that the harvest numbers are increasing each year in Worcester County and other eastern regions, as the bears are moving east. MassWildlife will be dealing with them a lot in the future.

It's too early for the final harvest figures in the Western District, but he estimated that the total should be somewhere around 70 percent of the statewide total, probably around 100 bears. One bear weighing 475 pounds was checked in in New Marlborough and there were several over 300 pounds (dressed weights). He reported that there were a lot of year-old bears harvested in our district this year.

Youth Deer Hunt

There is a special date reserved for youth deer hunters, which occurs before the regular hunting season. This year, the youth deer hunt day was Sept. 30. Statewide, approximately 105 to 110 deer were harvested by the youths, down from the 138 deer which were bagged last year. Madden attributes the lower harvest to the lousy weather which occurred on the youth hunt day. Never-the-less, some big bucks were checked in by the youths, such as a 190-pound, 8-point buck from Hinsdale, a 175-pound, 8-pointer from Stockbridge, a 150-pound, 8-pointer from North Adams, a 150-pound, 6-pointer from Hinsdale and a 145-pound, 9-pointer from Williamstown.

Reach outdoors columnist Gene Chague at or 413-637-1818.


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