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February 24, 2012 - Field Notes

Noteworthy News from the Division of Fish, Wildlife and Marine Resources

In This Issue:

-- Significant Notes --

Least weasel
Identifying features of least weasels include
an overall small body and very short tail
that lacks a black tip. A black-tipped tail
is a feature of the more commonly seen
long-tailed and short-tailed weasels.
~Photo by Keven Law

Rare Least Weasel Occurrence Confirmed
The sixth reported occurrence of the smallest New York State weasel, the least weasel, has recently been confirmed. In late July, the body of an adult male weasel, approximately seven inches long, was found on the side of the road in the Town of Bennington, Wyoming County. It was sent to the New York State Museum in Albany where its identity was confirmed and where it will remain for historical preservation. In New York State, least weasels are at the northeastern edge of their range. According to DEC's 2006 Comprehensive Wildlife Conservation Strategy Plan, the last five reports of the least weasel were in Chautauqua County in the late 1940s and early 1980s.

Hempstead Bay Shellfish Harvest Area Closure
DEC has prohibited shellfish harvesting of clams, mussels, oysters and scallops in approximately 7,100 acres of underwater lands in Hempstead Bay, Nassau County. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration advised DEC that failure to close this area could prevent the sale of all New York State shellfish products in interstate commerce. This closure is expected to last at least seven months while DEC works with the Town of Hempstead to collect more water quality data in this area. More information is available on DEC's Temporary Emergency Closure webpage. You can also view closures on DEC's Google Earth application, which illustrates the boundaries of the emergency closure, as well as standard shellfish closures.

Several Free Fishing Day Clinics for 2012 Announced
Each year, usually between April and October, DEC offers free fishing day clinics at various locations statewide. This means participants can enjoy a day of fishing without the need to purchase a fishing license. In addition, participants learn about fish identification, fishing equipment and techniques, DEC fisheries management, angling ethics and more. For a list of upcoming events, visit DEC's 2012 Free Fishing Day Clinics webpage.

Reviewing Comments on the Bobcat Management Plan
The draft Management Plan for Bobcat in New York State, 2012-2017 (PDF) was available for public review and comment from January 18 through February 16. DEC received comments from more than 1,500 individuals and organizations. We are now processing the comments to determine whether changes are warranted for the final plan. The assessment of public comments and the final plan will be posted on DEC's Bobcat webpage later this spring. Thanks to all who submitted their comments on the draft plan.

-- Noteworthy Dates --

March 10 and 11 - Winter Raptor Fest in Washington County
The second annual Winter Raptor Fest on March 10 and 11 offers a rare and exciting opportunity to observe hawks, falcons and owls up close. Participants can also attend educational programs presented by wildlife educators, rehabilitators and DEC biologists. This fun-filled, two-day event is at the Gallup Ridge Farm in the Washington County Grasslands Important Bird Area, a significant habitat region for many at-risk grassland bird species, including short-eared owls and northern harriers. A schedule of events and more details are available at http://www.winterraptorfest.com/ (link leaves DEC website).

April 20 - Wildlife Rehabilitator and Falconry License Exams
Annual examinations for those interested in becoming either a licensed wildlife rehabilitator or an apprentice to the sport of falconry will be held at DEC regional offices statewide on April 20. Applicants must register for these exams by April 6. For more information, visit DEC's Wildlife Rehabilitator License or Falconry License webpage.

-- Laws and Rulemakings --

Comment on Proposed Changes to Freshwater Sportfishing Regulations
Every two years, DEC proposes changes to freshwater fishing regulations to enhance fishing opportunities and to protect the state's freshwater fisheries. DEC will accept public comments on the proposals through April 2. A summary of the proposals is available on DEC's Freshwater Fishing webpage. The full text of the draft regulation and instructions for submitting comments can also be found on DEC's Proposed Regulations webpage. Comments on the proposals can be e-mailed to fishregs@gw.dec.state.ny.us, or mailed to Shaun Keeler, NYSDEC, Bureau of Fisheries, 625 Broadway, Albany, NY 12233-4753. Following a full review of public comments, final regulations will take effect October 1.

-- Awards and Acknowledgements --

Division Receives Award from Federation of Dutchess County Fish and Game Clubs
On January 28, on behalf of the Division of Fish, Wildlife and Marine Resources, Director Patricia Riexinger accepted the Conservation Award from the Federation of Dutchess County Fish and Game Clubs. This recognition is "in acknowledgment of the work that the Department and the Division have done to provide additional places to hunt and fish in southeastern New York. Expanding access encourages new hunters and anglers and helps to preserve our sporting traditions and heritage." In accepting the award, Director Riexinger commended DEC Region 3 staff and local sportsmen and sportswomen for working in partnership and using new approaches to provide additional access opportunities. In particular, she noted the progress of the Baxtertown Woods Wildlife Management Area, a parcel of land previously part of the Stony Kill Environmental Education Center that is now open for small game and bow hunting opportunities.

Chuck Nieder with his Professional Achivement Award
Chuck Nieder holding his award, which
states "Awarded for outstanding and
unequaled devotion to the protection and
enhancement of New York's fisheries
and aquatic resources."

Chuck Nieder Receives New York Chapter American Fisheries Society Professional Achievement Award
DEC Biologist William "Chuck" Nieder was honored at the 2012 New York Chapter of the American Fisheries Society (NYC AFS) meeting with the Professional Achievement Award. This award recognizes outstanding and unequaled devotion to the protection and enhancement of New York's fisheries and aquatic resources. Chuck is the leader for the Bureau of Habitat's Steam Electric Unit, which implements DEC's program for identifying the "best technology available" (BTA) to minimize impacts on aquatic resources from cooling water use at power plants and other industrial facilities. These facilities annually kill or injure billions of fish, eggs and larvae when they are caught at intake screens or sucked into the cooling system. Through Chuck's leadership and professionalism, his program has steadily progressed in making these BTA determinations and achieving fish protection at numerous facilities statewide.

-- Recreational Sporting Season Reminders --

Upcoming Seasons

The reminders listed below include open and final recreational season dates for the weeks of February 26 through March 11. For all season dates and to view more information about hunting and fishing in New York State, visit DEC's Outdoor Activities webpage.

Waterfowl Hunting

Small Game Hunting

  • February 29 - Final day for the following:
    (Visit the Small Game Seasons webpage to view maps of appropriate hunting areas)
    • Squirrels in all areas of New York State
    • Cottontail rabbit in most areas of New York State, except for northern areas that remain open through March 18
    • Varying hare in portions of eastern and central New York State
    • Pheasant in remaining open areas of New York State
    • Ruffed grouse in all upstate areas of New York State
    • Bobwhite quail in Orange and Putnam Counties


  • February 28 - Final day in the Hudson Valley region for river otter

-- Other News in the Press --

Below are links to noteworthy DEC press releases:

-- Did You Know...? --

American kestrel in flight
American kestrels are one of the most vibrantly
colored raptors (birds of prey)
~Photo courtesy of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

The American kestrel is the smallest falcon in North America, almost the same size as an American robin. Even though it is small, it is a fierce predator, eating insects, small mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians. Like other birds, it can see ultraviolet light. It uses this ability to track "illuminated" trails of urine that voles, a common prey animal, leave behind as they run along the ground - leading the kestrel to its next meal.

You can read more about the American kestrel and other birds of prey in a previously published Conservationist center-fold, "Raptors of New York" (PDF) (994 KB)

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