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June 15, 2012 - Field Notes

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

In This Issue:

Angler holds up his record-sized brook trout
William Altman holding his record-setting
brook trout, weighing 5 pounds, 14 ounces

Another Record Brook Trout for New York State

For the seventh time in eight years, the brook trout record for New York State has been broken. On May 5, William Altman caught a 5-pound, 14-ounce brook trout from the West Canada Wilderness Area in Hamilton County, surpassing the previous record by six ounces. Mr. Altman submitted details of his winning fish as part of DEC's Angler Achievement Awards Program. Through this program, anglers can enter freshwater fish that meet specific qualifying criteria to receive official recognition with a distinctive lapel pin commemorating their achievement. For more information and a downloadable application form, visit DEC's Angler Achievement Awards Program webpage. Program details and an official entry form are also available in DEC's Freshwater Fishing Regulations Guide.

Participate in the Annual Wilson Hill Goose Drive

Join the fun with DEC and other volunteers by rounding up geese at the Wilson Hill Wildlife Management Area, St. Lawrence County on Wednesday, June 27. Held for more than 35 years, this annual event helps provide valuable information on New York's resident Canada geese populations and involves the public in wildlife biology. As a volunteer, you can help herd geese into a pen by walking the shore or paddling a canoe or kayak, or help handle geese as DEC staff record biological data and information from leg bands. The drive starts at 8 AM and lunch will be provided. Volunteers can also attend the Tuesday night chicken barbecue for a small donation. If interested in participating, contact Blanche Town by e-mail at betown@gw.dec.state.ny.us by June 22.

Snapping turtle on the road
Snapping turtle about to cross the road
~Photo by Bill Hoffman

Be Cautious of Turtles Crossing the Road

This time of year, female turtles are migrating long distances from their wetland habitat to upland areas in search of sandy soils to lay their eggs. Because many turtles trek across roadways to reach their destination, they often are killed by inattentive motorists. When possible and if safe to do so, help a turtle across the road in the same direction it was heading. A small turtle can easily be carried, while a large snapping turtle should be handled carefully, keeping your hands away from its mouth. Methods for carrying a turtle include placing one hand on its shell toward its rear and the other hand underneath near its tail, or having it bite onto the handle of a broom or shovel. Do not pick up a turtle by the tail, as this can cause severe injury to its back. Ultimately, your assistance in moving an egg-bearing female to safety will help ensure these long-lived species remain a part of our future!

Keep Current with Monthly Highlights

Learn about the work DEC does to manage and protect New York State's fish, wildlife and marine natural resources in the Division of Fish, Wildlife and Marine Resources' Monthly Highlights. In the latest two issues (March and April), you will read about DEC's many conservation efforts, including tracking stocked trout for determining their fate, stocking endangered round whitefish to enhance populations, ensuring shellfish are safe to eat before reaching your dinner plate, and performing egg takes to improve walleye fisheries. To read about all of this and more, visit DEC's Fish, Wildlife and Marine Monthly Highlights webpage.

American bittern wading through the marsh
American bittern, a New York State
species of special concern
~Photo by Matthew Walter

Learning about Secretive Marsh Birds

Easily overlooked because of their secretive nature, marsh birds are a group of wetland-dependent birds that include both protected and game species. During the early breeding season from May through June, these elusive birds vocalize to defend their territories, attract mates and maintain pair bonds. At this time, DEC's statewide Marsh Bird Monitoring Program uses a standard call-broadcast survey method, which includes playing a recording of marsh bird calls to elicit vocal responses from others in the area. Over time, repeated surveys create "detection histories," enabling DEC to determine distribution, population trends and habitat associations of these species in New York State. This program builds upon past efforts, including the Marsh Bird Conservation Project (2004-2006) and a recent collaboration with USFWS's National Marsh Bird Monitoring Program Pilot Study (2009-2011). You can find these studies and review more about the program and marsh birds by visiting DEC's Secretive Marsh Birds webpage.

Sturgeon Restoration Efforts Proving Successful

This April, two egg-bearing lake sturgeons were found downstream of Oneida Lake, signifying a milestone in this species' recovery. This is the first record of fertile females since stocking efforts first began nearly 20 years ago. In 1995, nearly 18,000 sturgeons were released into the Oneida, Cayuga and Black lakes, the Grasse River and the upper Oswegatchie River to restore threatened populations of this largest fish native to the Great Lakes. Another female with eggs was found upstream of Black Lake in May. In addition to these breeding females, male sturgeons have been sexually mature in these waters for several years already. Young sturgeon caught in sampling nets in the next two to three years will confirm whether spawning was successful this spring. Read more about lake sturgeon restoration by visiting DEC's Preserving New York's Fisheries Diversity webpage.

Man standing next to a giant hogweed
As its name suggests,
giant hogweed is a very
large plant

Keep Your Distance from Giant Hogweed

This time of year, please be aware of giant hogweed, as contact with this plant's sap combined with sunlight and perspiration can cause painful burning and severe scarring of skin. Sap can be released by brushing against the plant or by breaking the stem, bristles on the stem or the plant's leaves. This weed grows up to 14 feet tall, with stems around 2 to 4 inches in diameter and white flower clusters more than two feet across as the plant matures. If you believe you have seen giant hogweed, keep your distance, take photographs and report it immediately to DEC at ghogweed@gw.dec.state.ny.us. For detailed plant descriptions and information on controlling this weed, visit DEC's Giant Hogweed webpage.

Recreational Sporting Season Reminders

The reminders listed below include open and final recreational season dates for the weeks of June 16 through June 29. For all hunting, trapping and fishing seasons in New York State, visit DEC's Outdoor Activities webpage.

  • June 16 - Opening Day for Muskellunge, Largemouth Bass and Smallmouth Bass Fishing
    For season details, visit DEC's Statewide Freshwater Angling Regulations webpage.
  • June 23-24 - Free Fishing Weekend!
    Each year, DEC offers a free fishing weekend for all freshwater and saltwater fishing. During this weekend, you are not required to have a freshwater fishing license or register for marine fishing to catch a tasty fish! While no license or registration is required, you still must adhere to fishing season limits and regulations, which are available on DEC's Freshwater Angling Regulations or Saltwater Fishing Regulations webpages.

More Noteworthy DEC News

Below are noteworthy DEC press releases not to be missed!

A photo of a cedar waxsing picking on some red berries hanging on a branch
Cedar waxwings are experts at picking berries from plants.
~Photo courtesy of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Did You Know...?

Cedar waxwings love to eat fruit and particularly enjoy anything with berries. Some waxwings may have an orange-tipped tail rather than the typical yellow-tipped tail due to feasting on berries of the invasive Morrow's honeysuckle. If a waxwing consumes enough of the plant's red berries, the pigment will permanently change the bird's tail feather color to orange!

Read more cool facts about this fruit-loving bird on the Cornell Lab of Ornithology's All About Birds website. (External Link)

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