Gene Chague | Berkshire Woods and Waters: Wildlife offenders beware. Lawmakers are pushing Mass. to enter the Interstate Wildlife Violator Compact | Sports

Bills introduced by state officials Lori Ehrlich, Ann-Margaret Ferrante, and Senator Michael Moore (H 904 / S 587) would enter Massachusetts into the Interstate Wildlife Violator Compact, a network that aims to reduce poaching of wildlife through information sharing between states and reciprocal recognition of suspensions and revocations of fishing, hunting and trapping licenses.

“This legislation would update the obsolete Commonwealth sanctions for illegal hunting, some of which have not been updated for a century and are currently little more than a slap on the wrist,” Ehrlich said recently at ” a virtual audience on the environment, natural resources and agriculture.

Stephanie Harris of the Animal Legal Defense Fund believes Massachusetts is a poachers’ paradise and particularly vulnerable to poachers. “[The Compact] simply adds another tool to our agency tool belts. [It] ensures that MEPs have access to the information they need to determine where an out-of-state violation would or should result in a license suspension here in the Commonwealth, ”she said. “The legislation mainly updates the sanctions for illegal hunting to find a balance between modernizing certain centuries-old sanctions without becoming too punitive.

“For example, the bill increases fines for hunting in a wildlife sanctuary from a range of $ 50 to $ 100 to a range of $ 100 to $ 500, and allows for the suspension of licenses for up to three years for a first offense and up to 10 years. for a third offense.

“It also updates fines and license suspensions for other violations unchanged since the 1930s, when there was a major boom in state wildlife laws because certain species were hunted or trapped almost until to extinction, ”Harris said. “And for context, a fine of $ 50 in the 1930s, including inflation, would be around $ 800 today. the [proposed] the updates are more modest.

Massachusetts and Hawaii are the only two states that are not part of the pact, although legislation is pending that would bring Aloha state into the national pact.

“Massachusetts has always led the way in animal welfare, but for some reason we missed the opportunity to work collaboratively with other states and stop wildlife criminals. said Christopher Borgatti, a member of the New England chapter of backcountry hunters and fishermen. “The Commonwealth’s initial accession to the Covenant is long overdue. Simply put, membership protects wildlife, supports law-abiding hunters and fishermen, and provides the MEP with additional resources to tackle poachers and other wildlife criminals.

If Massachusetts passed the law, it would allow the commissioner of the Department of Fisheries and Game (currently Ron Amidon) to join the pact. Then MassWildlife and the Division of Marine Fisheries would have one year to promulgate regulations regarding the implementation of the Interstate Wildlife Violator Compact, according to the bill.

Big Bowfin from Onota

Crystal Taylor of Pittsfield recently fished for crappie with her fiance, Tara Taliaferro, on the Dan Casey Causeway on Onota Lake. Using minnows as bait, she latched onto a big fish that fought well. When she got it near shore, Tara, who is also an experienced angler, captured it for her. It turned out to be a large bowfin, measuring around 26 inches and weighing around 5 pounds. According to Chuck Pero, who lives by the lake and who passed by there, Crystal was obviously a seasoned fisherwoman because she “landed him like a true professional, in spite of the fight which he led”.

Unfortunately, they didn’t have a tape measure or scale, Pero said, but it probably looked worthy of a state pin.

After posing for photos, Crystal released the fish. She was experienced enough to know not to put her fingers in or near her mouth to retrieve the hook. Instead, she cut the fishing line right next to the hook

Lieutenant Tara Carlow of the Massachusetts Environmental Police saw this photo and asked me to identify it as a boreal fin and not a snakehead, a different species. Unlike Facebook posts claiming otherwise, it was a bowfin. They are not the same and do not necessarily have to be killed, she said.

Public hearings on license and fee increases

MassWildlife has released a new licensing proposal, which incorporates public comments on the original February proposal. In the new proposal, most of the fee increases will be phased over five years from 2022 and the fee increases for hunting licenses and stamps are lower than initially proposed.

The current proposal incorporates public comments gathered from six briefings held in February and March, phone calls, emails, letters and a web form. Although many stakeholders expressed their understanding of the need to increase fees after 25 years, there was a strong desire to see fee increases gradually and reduce proposed increases for hunting licenses and stamps.

In response, MassWildlife and the Department of Fisheries and Game worked with the Baker-Polito administration to revise the original fee proposal. Recognizing that all Massachusetts residents benefit from MassWildlife’s work to conserve wildlife, protect open spaces, and preserve clean air and water, the Baker-Polito administration will work to diversify funding for MassWildlife and reduce the burden of the paying sports community. This change will allow MassWildlife’s programming and services to be maintained at lower rates than initially proposed.

Public hearings will take place on June 22, 23 and 24 on Zoom to give the public the opportunity to comment on the proposed new changes. Visit the MassWildlife web page for information on how to participate in hearings. You can also provide written comments until 4 p.m. on July 8. The hope is that the whole process will be finalized in time to incorporate the changes into the 2022 Fish and Wildlife Regulations.

Nice fishing tournament at the hatchery

2021 hatchery youth fishing competition.jpg

By the time the weather cleared, large crowds of children and their parents were already having fun at the Berkshire National Fish Hatchery Pool in Hartsville.

The way the day started last Saturday, you would have thought no one would attend the monthly youth fishing tournament at the Berkshire National Fish Hatchery Pool in Hartsville (a hamlet of New Marlborough). Fifteen minutes before the scheduled opening, cars carrying children and their parents started arriving and by opening time the rain had stopped. Cars and to the pool ran the kids waiting for opening time and looking for some of the roughly 300 trout that were previously stored there. Parents enrolled them at the official measuring station, run by Friends of Berkshire National Hatchery President Dave Ziegler.

The rules for the free fishing tournament stipulated that only young people 13 years of age or younger could participate and that they had to be accompanied by an adult. Each fish had to be officially registered and measured at the checkpoint. Children can keep as many fish as they have caught or release them into the pond. The prizes for the winners were fishing rods and a tackle box. If anyone caught a tagged trout, they were given an official Friends of Berkshire National Hatchery t-shirt. The derby officially starts at 9 a.m. and ends at 10:30 a.m.

At 9:00 am, Dave shouted “Start fishing!” The floats and the baited hooks flew off. No sooner had they touched the water than the brook trout started to bite. Every time a child caught a trout, he would run to the measuring station to have it measured and checked. Some children carried it with their bare hands and others wrapped it in towels so that it would not escape. Some would release their fish into the water and some would keep them to bring them home to eat.

The weather turned fine and some 19 or 20 children came in and had a great time.

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