Outdoor News

October 2017
Edited by V. Paul Reynolds

October! For most of us who hunt or fish or just enjoy the great outdoors this is it – the month of months. Enjoy!

CAPTION FOR PHOTO ABOVE: New Hampshire's newest K9 team, Conservation Officer James Benvenuti and his K9 partner, Cora (in the picture).


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Vermont’s Newest K9 Game Warden Unit

Warden Jenna Reed of Newport and her K9 partner, a German shepherd named Moose, recently graduated from a six-week training program to become the state’s newest K9 game warden unit. The Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department currently has three other K9 units stationed in Wells River, Fair Haven, and Wilmington.

Warden Reed and Officer Moose are certified in tracking and evidence recovery. Moose will be deployed for everything from tracking a suspect that has run from law enforcement, to finding a missing child, to recovering a shell casing in the grass from a bullet that has been fired at a deer illegally.

Reed has wanted to be a K9 handler since she was a child. “I’ve always known I wanted to do this, even before I thought about becoming a game warden,” said Reed.

According to Reed, she was first offered Moose by a neighbor who was unable to spend as much time as she would like at home with him. The one-year-old shepherd was obedient and well-socialized, but full of energy. “Moose needs a job and to keep busy, so this is a perfect fit for him, and he’s taken to it well,” said Reed.

Reed points out that Moose can find a piece of evidence in a few minutes that might take all day for her to find, sniffing out small amounts of gun powder residue on the shell casing. Warden K9 units have previously worked successfully to find an autistic boy who went missing, a couple out hiking who became lost in a cold rain, and in at least one instance, a pair of truck keys that were accidentally dropped in the bushes while a warden was afield. The new team will be a welcome addition to a busy law enforcement division.

“Moose is both a partner and a companion,” said Reed. “I’m excited to start putting him to work with me in the field.”


Maine - IFW Employees Honored

Lindsay Tudor, a wildlife biologist specializing in shorebirds, was awarded one of the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife’s highest honors, the Kenneth Anderson award, given annually to the member of the department who has made exemplary contributions towards the enhancement of the state’s inland fisheries and wildlife. Lindsay was one of several employees honored last week for their outstanding service to the department and state.

“We are a small agency with an incredible impact in the state,” said Chandler Woodcock, Commissioner, Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, “Hunting, fishing, and wildlife watching is a billion dollar industry in this state, and the employees that we honored are outstanding in protecting and enhancing this resource.”

In a career that has lasted nearly 30 years, Lindsay has led the department’s successful piping plover management plan. Under her guidance, the number of endangered piping plovers successfully nesting as well as the number of chicks fledging has increased, due to a community-based management program that includes towns, landowners, Maine Audubon and the Maine Warden Service as stewards of this endangered shorebird.

Lindsay has also been instrumental in developing and implementing a purple sandpiper monitoring program that includes a shorebird telemetry study, and it was noted that she works tirelessly collecting survey data concerning significant wildlife habitat in Maine.

Elizabeth Thorndike, a fisheries biologist in the Rangeley Lakes region, was honored as the fisheries division employee of the year. Noted as amazingly driven, Elizabeth was lauded for her innovative work on the arctic charr program at Bald Mountain Pond, her eagerness to take on and complete new job responsibilities, her work in simplifying the fishing lawbook, her work interacting with the public, as well as her passion, dedication and commitment to the state’s fisheries.

Cory Mosby, a wildlife biologist in the department’s Wildlife Resource Assessment Section was recognized as the wildlife division employee of the year. Cory was cited for his work on Maine’s bat species, including implementing a new species monitoring system; his work further strengthening the furbearer program; developing monitoring protocols with the University of Maine for marten, fishers and coyotes, and working with UMO to develop a DNA-based surveying technique for threatened northern bog lemmings.

In the Information and Education Division, Emily MacCabe was honored for her service to the public, particularly her work on developing a brand guide for the entire department, her ongoing work redesigning and updating the department’s website and implementing a department-wide communications and marketing plan.

Angela Vo was recognized as the licensing and registration employee of the year. Her extremely courteous and helpful demeanor towards customers and coworkers was noted, as was her ability to remain calm and pleasant no matter what situation arises. She is also quick to offer assistance whenever an area is short-staffed.

The hatchery section honored Greg Massey for his tireless work ethic. Greg was noted for his eagerness to assist other hatcheries, his ability to work marathon-long stocking runs, assist fisheries staff with their projects, and perform daily maintenance duties efficiently and pleasantly no matter the situation. It also was noted he constantly is looking to improve how we raise fish, how to perform hatchery duties more efficiently and effectively.

Michelle McAtee was recognized as the employee of the year for administrative support. Michelle’s ability to go above and beyond what is expected was praised, as well as her efforts in overseeing and leading two extremely successful large-scale fundraisers for two employee families in need.

Sue Brann and Wendy Parker were recognized for their outstanding service for their work preparing multiple final reports and closing the account on several large federal funding grants. These federal grants supported multiple projects, dozens of jobs and hundreds of contracts. Their perseverance, follow-up, and determination ensured these were completed on time, and completed properly in order to avoid any penalty.

Six IFW employees were honored with the teamwork award for their work in reviewing, revamping and updating the department’s complex wildlife in captivity regulations. James Connolly, Nathan Webb, Christl Theriault, Phillip DeMaynadier, Jason Czapiga and Derek Yorks worked for over a year to design regulations that protected Maine’s people and wildlife, as well was reasonable, and that struck a balance between competing interest groups. They also completed a monumental task in updating the “unrestricted” species list.


Vermont Initiates Study of Threatened Snake

The Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department is cooperating in a three-year study of an isolated population of Eastern Ratsnakes, a species that is listed as ‘Threatened’ under the State’s endangered species law.

Researcher Cindy Sprague along with department staff are working with Veterinarian Scott Maclachlan to surgically implant radio transmitters in two ratsnakes. One ratsnake has already been captured and has had the tracking device implanted, with another capture targeted for the summer of 2018. The researchers hope that the snakes will lead the team back to their communal den site, helping to focus future land conservation efforts.

The project is being overseen by wildlife biologist Doug Blodgett from the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department, as well as Jim Andrews, coordinator of the Vermont Reptile & Amphibian Atlas. “Ratsnakes, as their name implies, eat rats, mice, and other small mammals, and help to control rodent populations,” said Blodgett. Rodents cause millions of dollars damage to crops each year nationwide, and are the major carrier of over 60 diseases that are transmissible to humans including Lyme disease, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. “Some people fear snakes, but given the threats that unchecked rodents can pose, people are actually much safer with healthy snake populations around.”

According to Blodgett, this northern population of ratsnakes in Addison County is isolated from another Vermont population centered in Rutland County. He says that this study will provide important information for the conservation of this species.

Hydrogeologist Cindy Sprague of Huntington is the principal investigator on this project, and is currently conducting the field tracking portion of the study. She has been studying herpetology for several years and is a long-time volunteer with the Vermont Reptile & Amphibian Atlas. Sprague believes that ratsnakes, like all snake species, are too often misunderstood or vilified. “Ratsnakes are my favorite snake because of their large size and docile nature,” said Sprague. “They’re not venomous, eat plenty of rodents and are harmless to humans.”


New Hampshire - K9 Cora Is on the Job

The New Hampshire Fish and Game Department’s K9 Conservation Corps has a new team -- Cora and her partner Conservation Officer James Benvenuti are now on the job. Cora has been working with CO Benvenuti since she was 10 weeks old in September 2016. Since that time, they have completed hundreds of hours of training together.

On August 17, 2017, K9 Cora and CO Benvenuti received their certifications from the Vermont Criminal Justice Training Center. They were certified in Evidence/Article Detection (to include any object that may contain human scent and also shell casings/gun powder detection), Fish and Wildlife Detection (to include fish, venison, and turkey), and also tracking. To complete these certifications, during the detection phases, K9 Cora had to demonstrate the ability to accurately locate and show proper indication on each object in a timely manner. During the tracking phase, K9 Cora had to complete two separate two-mile tracks that were at least one hour old.

"K9 Cora completed a total of 81 tracks throughout the six-week period, which ranged from distances of 100 yards to over two miles in conditions from 85-degree heat to pouring rain, in daylight and also at night," said Benvenuti. "She is a wonderful partner, and I look forward to working with her for many years."

K9 Cora completed many tracks through the woodlands and across rivers in urban areas, as well as downtown areas and busy paved roads. She located evidence articles ranging from hidden guns and knives to ID cards, cell phones, and rubber gloves, which were hidden in overgrown hayfields, open fields, and woodlands. The fish and wildlife "hides" she located included venison, turkey, and multiple species of saltwater and freshwater fish.


Maine - Dropping in for Lunch

A pontoon boat crashed into shore behind a local restaurant on Great Pond in Belgrade in late August. Game Wardens and members from Belgrade Fire and Rescue responded to the scene of a boat crash at the outlet of Great Pond in Belgrade behind the Village Inn Restaurant.

The crash occurred while the occupants of the boat were attempting to dock a new 22-foot Harris brand Pontoon Boat powered by a 115 horsepower motor. The owner of the boat, 71-year-old James Julia of South China, had jumped off to tie the boat to the dock when he realized he had left the boat in reverse. Another male occupant, 76-year-old Joseph Larue from Knoxville, Tennessee, was then asked to shut the boat off. Larue was inexperienced with boating and inadvertently pushed the throttle forward. This caused the boat to accelerate forward causing him to push the throttle completely forward.

The boat then accelerated quickly and caused all three occupants in the boat to be sent backward as the pontoon boat ran up on shore. As the pontoon boat climbed the shoreline it struck a small dinner table with four people as well as a picnic table with another four people who were all eating dinner at the time. A total of four people sustained minor injuries, one boat passenger and three on shore. All four refused medical treatment.


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