Gene Chague | Berkshire Woods and Waters: Tips for protecting yourself from EEE

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MassWildlife warns us that Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) is a very rare, but serious disease caused by a virus that can affect people of all ages. EEE is spread to humans through the bite of an infected mosquito. EEE can cause severe illness, and in extreme cases possibly lead to death in any age group. However, people under the age 15 and over age 50 are at particular risk for contracting the disease. EEE does not occur every year, but based on mosquito sampling, a high risk of occurrence of human cases currently exists in areas of Massachusetts.MassWildlife has provided tips for hunters that wish to protect themselves from EEE.

"The greatest risk that hunters face from EEE is exposure to mosquitoes, not handling or consuming game. Hunters can minimize their risk of mosquito bites by taking the following precautions:

"— Wear an effective mosquito repellent with DEET, permethrin, picaridin, or oil of lemon eucalyptus while outdoors. Always follow the manufacturer's directions for use.

"— Limit exposed skin by wearing long sleeves and pants.

"— Stay indoors between dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are most active.

"While many species of animals, including deer and birds, can become infected with EEE, there is no evidence that people become sick from eating or handling game animals. However, hunters can minimize risk from wildlife diseases by taking the following standard precautions:

"— Avoid handling or consuming wild animals that appear sick or those found dead.

"— Wear gloves and safety glasses when handling, field dressing, and processing game.

"— Cook game meat thoroughly to an internal temperature of 165 F to kill pathogens.

"— Use caution and minimize contact with the brain or spinal tissues.

"— Handle knives carefully to prevent accidental cuts.

"— Wash hands thoroughly with soap and warm water after handling carcasses and before and after handling meat.

"— Thoroughly sanitize all tools and work surfaces used during processing with a bleach solution (1 tablespoon of bleach to 1 gallon of water). Consider keeping a separate set of knives used only for butchering game.

"Hunters or citizens observing wildlife that are behaving abnormally or appear sick should contact the closest MassWildlife office during business hours.

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"Dogs can become infected with EEE by the bite of an infected mosquito, however dogs rarely become ill from the virus. If you hunt with a dog, you can take additional precautions:

"Apply mosquito repellents that are approved for veterinary use on your dog. Mosquito repellents recommended for humans are not approved for veterinary use. Consult with your veterinarian for advice about safe mosquito repellents for your dog. Read the product label before using and follow all instructions carefully.

"While the risk of EEE transmission to dogs from eating or otherwise coming into contact with infected birds or mammals is considered low, consider limiting your dog's contact with game, especially the brain and spinal tissue.

"For questions about your dog's health, contact your veterinarian."

Lee Sportsmen's Association Youth Pheasant Hunt

Congratulations to the Lee Sportsmen's Association (LSA), and especially John Polastri for putting on a very successful Youth Pheasant Hunt which was held on Oct. 5.

All youths participating harvested at least one bird, with the majority of the eight youths harvesting two birds. They used dogs owned by the following dog owners: George Haddad, Dick Salice, Dave Morris, Doug Frank and Bob Gaj. Helpers in the field were Shawn Sullivan, Mike Kelly, Jeff Leprevost and Jim Finnegan.

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According to club member Ron Salice, it was a great day with the youth having the opportunity to intermingle with EPO Officer Phil Smits for most of the hunt and at at the club for lunch and cleaning of the birds. The cooks were George Brooks and Shawn Sullivan.

GOAL Education and Training event

Keeping with the LSA, they will be sponsoring a GOAL (Gun Owner's Action League) education and training event entitled "MA Gun Laws for Citizens" on Nov. 14 at 6 p.m. at its clubhouse at 565 Fairview St., Lee.

Massachusetts is well known for fragmented and convoluted gun laws. This presentation will help to separate fact from fiction and provide guests with a basic understanding of state gun laws regarding the possession, transportation and storage of guns. Additional topics include the state assault weapons laws, the approved roster and, the buying and selling of guns.

This class is presented by Jon Green, the Director of Education and Training for GOAL.

The event is free and open to the public, but attendees might consider joining GOAL or making an in-kind donation. Please note that seating for this event is limited, so contact Shawn Sullivan at if you plan to attend or require more information.

New England Outdoor Writers Association's Outdoor Writing Contest

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The NEOWA is pleased to announce the 2020 Youth Outdoor Writing Contest and the rules for the 2020 contest are as follows:

"1. The contest is open to anyone in grades 6-12. This includes students from schools, outdoor organizations/publications, youth members of rod & gun clubs, Scouts, and other youth organizations in New England. All entries must be submitted to the appropriate State Chairperson.

"2. Submissions from entrants in grades 6-8 will be entered in the Junior Division; submissions from entrants in grades 9-12 will be entered in the Senior Division. Junior and Senior State Winners chosen by state judges will each receive a $125 cash prize from the NEOWA. The winners from each state will be judged by a New England panel of judges for a New England Regional award. New England Regional winners from the Junior and Senior levels will each receive an additional $150, bringing their total award to $275 each. Winning works will be published in the Northwoods Sporting Journal, The Maine Sportsman, and possibly state wildlife magazines."

Note: If we have a local winner, I would be happy to include the work here in this column.

"3. Entries must be non-fiction and focus on outdoor-oriented stories, which add to the knowledge and enjoyment of nature and natural resources. Entry topics may include: fishing, boating, archery, shooting, hunting, trapping, field trials, sporting dogs, camping, woodcraft, skin diving, scuba diving, hiking, rock climbing, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, wildlife watching, natural history, conservation, ecology, and similar activities that relate to outdoor recreation, natural resources and nature.

"4. Entries may not exceed 500 words. Entries must be edited by the young writer, without assistance from adults. School students and youth organization members may submit work that may have been part of an assignment within school or youth program curriculum. Adult teachers or leaders may NOT assist in editing of these submissions.

"Young writers should include a title for their work, and submit their entry to the State Chair, either embedded in an email or as an attachment. Youth may submit only one entry each year.

"5. The deadline for submitting contest entries is February 15, 2020. Entries must include name, grade, postal mailing address, phone, and e-mail. Entries that do not meet these or other contest rules may be disqualified.

"6. NEOWA will notify the State and New England winners, and if applicable their schools/organizations. NEOWA reserves the right to publish any work submitted. However, students submitting work also retain the right to publish their entries.

"7. Rules are subject to changes from year to year. For questions or to submit a contest entry, please contact your NEOWA state chairperson, or the New England Chairperson by e-mail for more information:

"8. Additional Information: Organizations or schools are encouraged to conduct school or organization-wide, pre-contests in order to encourage students to enter the NEOWA state-wide contests. Each school/organization can acknowledge their own winners at an award assembly, meeting, or other recognition program, whether or not they are state winners.

"Also, other youth organizations or entities such as rod & gun clubs, outdoor publications, scouting organizations, or publications can hold their own contests to promote the NEOWA writing contest among their members encouraging them to submit their writing to the NEOWA State Chairpersons to be judged at the state level. In Massachusetts, the State Chair is Marion Larson, and the Co-Chair is Barnet Sherman,"

Get to work guys and gals, make us proud.

Gene Chague can be reached at or 413-637-1818.


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