Saturday, June 30, 2012

News: MA Man Gored By Bull In Yellowstone

Wild animals are in fact, WILD.

From Foxnews.com:

Officials in Yellowstone National Park say a Massachusetts man was gored by a bull bison that threw him 10 feet in the air and then pinned him to the ground.

The man, who is in his mid-50s, suffered a broken collarbone, shoulder blade, several ribs and a groin injury in Saturday’s encounter near the Norris campground. He was airlifted to an Idaho Falls, Idaho hospital and is expected to recover. His name was not released.

Park officials say the man was not taunting the animal, but let the bull approach within a few feet of where he was sitting.

Park rules require visitors to stay at least 100 yards away from bears and wolves and at least 25 yards away from all other animals. If an animal approaches, it is the visitor’s responsibility to move a safe distance away.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Site News: Moving

I'll be busy planning out a few things for MassVacation and moving the site to another host, so the next week might look pretty dead in here, hopefully in a week I'll have it all moved and any kinks worked out.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

News: Black Bear & Moose Visit Eastern MA

A nice little treat for those out east.

From Boston.com

It was a wild Monday in the suburbs west of Boston, with reports of a black bear ambling down by the Charles River in Needham and sightings of a 600-pound moose racing through backyards and across streets in Wellesley.

“Unbelievable! He got up on his hinds, he was big,” said Needham resident Walter Hasenfus, who spotted the bear in the woods behind the Charles River Landing luxury apartments on Second Avenue. “He was right on the edge of the banks, he was just moseying along, didn’t have a care in the world.”

When the bear saw Hasenfus, it stood up on its hind legs and stared him down for about five seconds before dropping back down and heading north along the river. The bear, said Hasenfus, appeared to be taller than his own nearly six-foot frame.

“I’m still excited over it,” he said of his bear encounter shortly before 1 pm Monday.

Later in the afternoon, Regis Price, 12, of Wellesley, was less pleased to find herself just 30 yards away from a moose in her neighbor’s backyard.

“All of a sudden, I see this big animal galloping away. It was tall and skinny and its legs had really big knee bones. It was weird. I just started screaming,” she said. “I wasn’t scared, I just wanted someone to get it.”

Authorities in both towns searched for the creatures Monday afternoon, but without success.

The suburban sightings follow a rash of similar wildlife reports across the state — coyotes, of course, and more recently, black bears. One particularly adventurous bear spent weeks roaming Cape Cod, romping through cranberry bogs and backyards and spawning bear-themed T-shirts before being tranquilized in Wellfleet.

A bear was spotted in a few yards around Norwood Saturday night, according to local police. And State Environmental Police investigated reports of a black bear in the woods along Route 109 in Dedham Sunday morning. Officers did not locate the bear, and officials speculated it had moved on.

There is no way to know if it’s the same animal spotted in Needham, said Reggie Zimmerman, spokesman for the Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs.

“It’s possible, but I can’t really say definitively,” he said. “Bears do travel great distances, they are capable of that.”

One possible reason for the recent uptick in bears-about-town: the bears are out looking for that special someone.

It’s black bear mating season, said Zimmerman, and the young males are striking off in search of their own patch of land to call home.

“They’re searching for a mate,” he said. “They’re like teenagers.”

Friday, June 22, 2012

Royalston Falls Hiking

When we finished loading up the boats from our paddling, we went north to visit the Royalston Falls.  Royalston Falls is managed by the Trustees of Reservation and connects along the Tully Trail.  From the parking lot the falls are almost a mile.  The hike was very muddy and wet, so wear proper footwear.  We hiked about half a mile down the trail and veered off trail to look at the pool of water just upstream of the falls.  We preceded to follow the trail, which paralleled the brook.  Just 100 yards or so before the falls you cross over the brook.  Once you cross over you follow the brook until you see the falls.  Royalston Falls flows through a gorge and plunges 45 ft. into a basin, so you don’t get the loud roar of water.  The hike is a bit more challenging with the wet conditions but it’s a short hike.


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Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Tully Lake & Doane's Falls

After we paddled Long Pond we took a quick "sandwich break" on shore and continued our exploration of the water ways.  We paddled around Tully Lake exploring the various islands.  Tully Lake is owned by the US Army Corps of Engineers but it's managed by the Trustees of Reservation.  Being a weekend a lot of the islands were already claimed by people staying at the Tully Lake Campground, but we managed to find our own.  With a BBQ and some chairs it would have been perfect.  The first island we landed on was a little steep but we explored the island and waded around to cool ourselves off.  The second island was flatter and looked to be a hot spot for beaver activity.  We saw numerous trees that were down or in the process of being cut down by the resident beaver.  You could easily make a day of paddling the islands and stopping at them.  

After we explored the lake we paddled up Lawrence Brook a short way and landed on shore.  After we stored the boats a few feet awat from the water we walked the trail to Doane's Falls.  The falls can also be reached from the Tully Lake canoe launch area.  Doane's Falls drops a total of 175 ft.  The lower section plunges and the upper section cascades.  The water level was low and both sections were still raging, I can only imagine what it is like in the spring with the snow melt.


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Monday, June 18, 2012

Long Pond Paddling

I recently took a trip to the Tully Lake region.  If you haven't been there it's a phenomenal area with miles and miles of hiking and water trails.  Long Pond is exactly how it sounds, a long pond.  The full paddle is four miles out and back from the Tully Lake canoe launch area.  Along the way you can paddle ashore and hike to Spirit Falls, Jacob's Hill, and some overlook ledges.  The paddle was a calm and easy one with some wildlife spotted along the way.  The standing grass and weed beds lead me to believe that it's a decent bass habitat but I didn't see anyone fishing.  I did see a few small pickerel as I was paddling through the grass. 


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Thursday, June 14, 2012

News: Yogi Has Been Moved

After the back and forth, he was caught and moved off Cape Cod.

From Mass.Gov:

After making his way down Cape Cod, a wandering black bears' extended Cape vacation has finally come to an end. Throughout his two week trip, which began on Memorial Day weekend, the bear gained popularity with local residents and through a bear-themed Twitter feed and Facebook page. But his quick escalation to fame inevitably led to his capture and relocation.

The bear (a 3-year-old between 180-200 pounds) made his way from Sandwich to Provincetown after he was believed to swim across the Cape Cod Canal. He was spotted everywhere from chicken coops to a golf course and wandering through cranberry bogs and backyards, so he got his fair share of site seeing in before his capture in Wellfleet.

On Monday evening the Cape's wildly popular tourist, was sent – with the help of the Massachusetts Environmental Police and the Division of Fisheries and Wildlife (MassWildlife) – back to more familiar territory.  For the protection of the animal and public safety, wildlife officials sought out the bear with the intention of relocating to more appropriate habitat. Jason Zimmer, a MassWildlife district manager on the Cape, worked with local and state environmental authorities to relocate the black bear to central Massachusetts closer to existing bear populations and habitat. Officials believe the bear wandered down to the Cape prompted by breeding instincts. His relocation will give him a better opportunity to find a mate.

Black bears are not aggressive animals by nature and can adjust to human presence. The Cape sighting is peculiar because the Cape is a rare habitat for the black bear. MassWildlife Researcher Laura Conlee, black bear and furbearer project leader, is researching how bears interact with specific suburban landscape features, much like the Cape.  MassWildlife is conducting a bear research study through the US Geological Survey’s (USGS) Cooperative Wildlife Research Unit at the University of Massachusetts.

This year Laura is working on attaching GPS collars on adult female black bears (MassWildlife only collars female bears) in central and eastern Massachusetts.  These GPS collars record the specific locations of the bears every 45 minutes. Laura plans to create a statewide habitat and population model with this new data, which helps researchers understand preferred habitat, typical behaviors and mortality rates of bears.  Her research will continue MassWildlife’s ongoing bear research efforts, which began over 30 years ago.

You can help biologists track these animals by reporting bear sightings by contacting MassWildlife’s Central District office at (508) 835-3607. Visit MassWildlife for more information about bears. Or check out Marion Larsen’s recent blog post about MassWildlife’s bear tagging efforts in the field. 

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

News: Yogi Can Stay

It looks like Yogi can stay after all. Everybody keep an eye on your pic-a-nic baskets!

From Masslive.com:

PROVINCETOWN — Massachusetts wildlife officials have called off a plan to try to trap a black bear that's been wandering around Cape Cod.

Division of Fisheries and Wildlife spokeswoman Marion Larson says officials changed their strategy Friday because the animal hasn't gotten into trouble.

She says officials "were probably over-thinking it" when coming up with the idea of capturing the bear, thought to be a male around three years old.

Larson says the mere presence of a bear doesn't constitute a public safety threat.

The animal got to the Cape on Memorial Day weekend, before making its way out to its tip this week. Scientists believe it swam from the mainland.

State officials believe it's the first time in history a black bear has been on the Cape.

News: Cape Cod Black Bear Being Moved

Wildlife beware, tourism is at the top of the food

chain on Cape Cod.

From Masslive.com:

Maybe he wanted some quality beach time, a chance to cool off in chilly Cape Cod Bay. That thick black coat can get a bit warm, after all. Or maybe he wanted a glimpse of the great white sharks lurking off the Chatham coast. Or maybe he wanted ...

Who knows why a black bear, a male possibly weighing up to 200 pounds, paw-paddled his away across Cape Cod Canal, then made his way down historic Route 6A, passing some of the Cape's nicest architecture along the way. But the young bear's trip may end in Provincetown, the bustling Cape-tip town that's home to numerous bars and restaurants and a tourist magnet. That's where the wandering youngster was spotted Wednesday morning, and officials are now scrambling to remove him before trouble occurs.

State wildlife officials hope to trap or tranquilize the animal and move it to a more suitable spot for black bears — the woods of western Massachusetts.

That's the latest word from those tracking the wayward bear, who was last seen crossing Route 6 in Provincetown on Wednesday morning. As Cape Cod Times staff writer Eric Williams points out, however, "the epic vacation might soon be over for the Cape Cod bear." As tourism season kicks into high gear, Cape Cod officials aren't looking for any additional headaches. The annual inundation of tourists, some of whom now flock to Chatham's South Beach to spy great whites chasing seals just off the beach, and the traffic are already stressful enough. Add in a wandering black bear, and that's an Excedrin headache.

"We want to do what's best for the bear and for the public," Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs spokesman Reginald Zimmerman tells the Times.

MassWildlife officials executed a fruitless search for the bear on Wednesday, but those efforts were expected to resume today. The bear is believed to be the same animal spotted in various South Shore communities in recent months, particularly in sections of Plymouth County. No one could have guessed the animal would wind up in Provincetown, the very end of Cape Cod, after initial sightings in Barnstable and other North Side communities.

The Outer Cape towns of Wellfleet, Truro and Provincetown are surrounded by the Cape Cod National Seashore, and the federally protected area's 44,000 acres of pristine habitat would make a nice home for a young bear. After a Truro man claimed he spotted the bear crossing Route 6 in Provincetown on Wednesday, town police confirmed that bear tracks were found near the edge of the roadway.

MassWildlife spokeswoman Marion Larson said research indicates black bears haven't had a presence on Cape Cod since the 18th century. Relocation would involve immobilizing the animal with a drugged dart, then taking it to an area where other bears live, according to officials.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

News: Canoeists Find Rare Sturgeon

You never know what you'll see while canoeing.

From the Portland Press Herald:

QUINCY, Mass. — A canoe outing on a Massachusetts river this week turned into a natural history lesson for four young women.

The canoeists were padding the North River south of Boston on Wednesday when they came across a six-foot long carcass of a rare Atlantic sturgeon.

They pulled the prehistoric fish on board and notified state wildlife authorities.

A New England Aquarium veterinarian performed a necropsy on the 75-pound fish and confirmed it was a sexually mature female, although it did not have any eggs.

An aquarium spokesman says Atlantic sturgeon as long as 14 feet were once commonplace in Massachusetts coastal waters, but industrialization and pollution decimated their numbers.

The presence of the endangered fish in the river in Pembroke may be a sign that water quality is improving.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

News: Record Carp Caught

Carp fishing or bowfishing is not my cup of tea, but this is a great accomplishment.  Kudos on the catch!

From the Enviromental Blog:

“Someone in fisheries please come to the front office to weigh a fish.” 

This kind of announcement over the PA system at the MassWildlife Field Headquarters isn’t unusual.  I didn’t pay much attention until one of our wildlife technicians appeared at my door saying that I might want to see a new record-breaking fish in the fisheries office. I grabbed my camera and hurried upstairs.  Lying on the floor below our scale was a huge carp. I couldn’t believe the size of this fish! 

The angler, Shane Felch of Shrewsbury, and his friend Devon DuBois were grinning from ear to ear. I snapped a couple of images in the office as more biologists clattered down the hall to see the big fish.  This carp, taken from Lake Quinsigamond in Shrewsbury, weighed a staggering 46 pounds, 5 ounces, breaking the 1993 state carp record of 44 pounds 2 ounces set by Roger Pyzocha with a fish he caught on the Connecticut River.  

Shane took his fish with a cross bow (which requires a special permit for hunting and fishing in Massachusetts).  Carp are one of the few freshwater fish in Massachusetts which can be taken by either using a hook, line or bow and arrow.  A line on the crossbow bolt is connected to a reel, which is attached to the bow.  When the bolt is released, the angler can then use the bow to reel in the fish.  This catch was a team effort between Shane and his buddy Devon, who operated the boat. 

Devon laughed. “This fish dragged us all over the place – it’s only a little 14-foot john boat,” he said.

Shane and Devon have only tried “bowfishing” for carp in the past year: reading articles, ordering equipment, and going out on late night fishing expeditions. Their strategy is to slowly travel the shallows of the lake, with lights blazing to spot the fish, aim and shoot into the water. I teased them about “jack lighting carp” – which is a perfectly legal and traditional fishing technique.

There are three varieties of the Common Carp, Cyprinus carpio, found in Massachusetts: the “standard” or “typical” variety which is fully scaled like most conventional fish; the “mirror carp” which displays various numbers of large, scattered scales interspersed with unscaled skin; and the “leather carp” which has bare, leathery skin and is almost entirely lacking in scales. The leather is believed to be the most uncommon variety in the Commonwealth, but many are taken by carp anglers every year. The new state record has large, scattered scales and is therefore a mirror carp, which anglers report is the most common variety caught from Lake Quinsigamond.  

Paperwork for entering the fish in the Freshwater Sportfishing Awards Program was quickly completed and images of the fish and the scale measurement taken. It was a good thing Shane brought the fish to Westborough; any angler who believes they have broken a state record must present their fish in its entirety (whole) to qualified fisheries personnel atMassWildlife Field Headquarters in Westborough or at any of the five MassWildlife District offices for certification.

Shane says he’s going to be back at our office with another fish.

“This isn’t the biggest fish. I’ve seen another one that looks twice as big as this one,” he said. “I promise you, I’ll be back.”

Congratulations guys!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Red Bridge Paddling (Chicopee River Pool)

Since Saturday started National Fishing and Boating week and was a washout we decided to do a little paddling on Sunday.  We wanted to explore the water where we took Brody swimming.  It’s a small connection pool off the Chicopee River at Red Bridge.  We loaded up my canoe and Sara’s kayak and hit the trail head a little before noon.  I had to portage the boats a short distance but it’s a cut path so it was no big deal.  There are multiple put-in’s but we chose the first available since there were a few cars there already and people fishing along the bank

With the rain we got the water levels were up, which is odd because it’s still so shallow.  It couldn’t have been more than one foot deep in a lot of places.  The wind was soft and the sun was out so it made for a good paddle around the water.  We paddled starting from left all the way around, almost two miles total.  We stopped to look at some turtles on a log and even paddled under a foot bridge to get to Red Bridge.  Once we got to the other side we saw at least 15 boats and decided to paddle back under the bridge.  During the paddle I could see panfish in a lot of places and I spotted a few decent size bass, for the body of water.  After paddling around we just floated around enjoying the fresh air.  We started to head back when the storm clouds rolled in, we made it just in time because it started to rain on the drive home.


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Sunday, June 3, 2012

News: Woman Lost In Woods While Shed Hunting

It’s about time there is a story about someone who is prepared and gets lost in the woods.  So many stories of people lost in the woods with nothing at all, that’s not how you enter the woods.  Whenever entering the woods you always bring the basics to last you the night if you have to.  You need a form of navigation (GPS or compass & map), something to start a fire with (lighter or various forms of fire starter), take enough water and food, and take extra clothing for changing conditions (including a headlamp or flashlight).  If this woman didn’t have anything then she would have probably faired much worse.  Bravo to her for being prepared in the woods.  It’s unfortunate she had to go through it but it could have been MUCH worse.  

From UnionLeader.com:

PITTSBURG — A 49-year-old Massachusetts woman searching for shed moose antlers spent several harrowing hours Sunday in the darkness of a Pittsburg swamp.

But Fish and Game officer Chris Egan said Monday that Sharon Matthews, who had her dog with her, also came properly prepared, and that made all the difference.

“She was carrying a day pack containing a GPS, water, food, a rain jacket, flashlight and most importantly, a butane lighter,” Egan said in a news release. “It was ultimately the smoke from her fire that led us to her location.”

Matthews is the town grave digger in Warwick, a west-central Massachusetts community of fewer than 1,000 that borders New Hampshire and Vermont. She said she and her husband, Donald Matthews, 52, entered Pittsburg’s South Bay Bog about mid-morning Sunday. 

“We know there’s antlers out there. They’re neat. I like to collect ‘em,” she said.

A while later, she and her husband lost track of each other; Sharon wouldn’t be seen again until nearly 10 p.m.

Before rescuers helped her emerge from a thick cover of spruce and fir, she would fall down a steep ravine and injure her shoulder; get dive-bombed repeatedly by angry and screeching hawks or eagles; and have someone she contacted on a radio dismiss her plight as not worth bothering with.

Matthews said things didn’t really take a turn for the worse until her 5-year-old Rottweiler, Junior, lost his footing and tumbled down a ravine she estimated to be 60 to 70 feet deep.

“He fell, then I went down after him, and I fell,” she said. 

She said she slammed her shoulder into a stump, but made it to her dog. “He wasn’t moving. That’s where I got screwed up. I was in a lot of pain, and couldn’t go where my GPS was telling me to go,” she said. 

“There’s a radio on my GPS, and some guy was singing ‘Camptown Races.’ I got him, gave him my latitude and longitude, and told him to send help. He just said, ‘Now don’t you worry, you just keep heading north, and everything will be fine.’”

“I said, no, this is a serious situation. I'm hurt and I need help,” but the person continued to make light of the matter, and did not offer any assistance, Matthews said.

The hawk or eagle attack — Matthews said she couldn't tell which, because she was ducking — occurred during daylight after she and her husband got separated. 

“Their wings hit the back of my coat,” she said.

Matthews said her husband later told her he'd had a similar experience with three large birds of prey; the couple guessed they must separately have ventured too close to a nesting site. 

Matthews said she was able to gather plenty of wood to keep a fire going, even after rain started falling and it got dark. 

“I had everything; I was going to be fine for the night,” she said.

She used lip balm from her pack to salve the wounds Junior suffered in his fall. As darkness fell, however, Matthews said she became worried about coyotes. She also had seen plenty of bear scat and large bear tracks nearby. 

Meanwhile, her husband was able to find his way out of the bog Sunday afternoon. Donald Matthews contacted Fish and Game. Egan, fellow conservation officer Adam Cheney and Pittsburg Police Chief Richard LaPoint responded. Matthews told them he'd last seen his wife around 12:30 p.m. near a series of beaver ponds, just under a mile into the woods. 

Pittsburg police began searching logging roads in the area, while conservation officers on all-terrain vehicles went over snowmobile trails in a perimeter around the bog.

After completing what Egan said was a “hasty search of the roads and trails,” he, Cheney and LaPoint gathered at a cleared area overlooking the bog. 

“While discussing the next steps in the search effort, they observed a small plume of blue smoke rising from an area of thick spruce trees in the valley below,” Egan said in the news release.

About 8 p.m., Egan “took a compass bearing on the smoke and began walking toward it. About 40 minutes later, voice contact with the victim was made,” wrote Egan, of the Region One office in Lancaster. 

Matthews had several minor bumps and bruises, and the “tissues around her eyes were swollen due to many mosquito bites, but she was otherwise unharmed,” Egan wrote. 

She and Junior were led from the woods, and reached Bog Branch Road at approximately 9:45 p.m., Egan said.

“Mrs. Matthews did what anyone should do in a similar situation,” Egan wrote. “When she realized darkness and rain were beginning to fall, she remained calm, collected firewood, built a fire, used her rain jacket for shelter and stayed put in that one location.”

And the antlers?

“I got two, and I had to leave them there. I couldn’t carry them, but I’m not going back for them. That’s it; I’ve had it. I’ll never go back there again,” Sharon Matthews vowed.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Fetch!

For a change I put away the fishing rod and took Brody to the pond for some swimming.  The water was warm and the skies were clear.  We walked for a few short minutes to a clearing and I tossed his bumper for him and we enjoyed the day.  Here are a few quick pictures.

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