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Looking Back at 150 Years of Natural Resource Conservation in Connecticut

On September 15, 1956, Victor Piecyk took the first photograph ever of a moose in Connecticut. The moose was observed on his farm along Route 44 in Warrenville (Ashford). Although moose had been seen in the state before that time, none of the moose had been photographed. Therefore, the Connecticut Board of Fisheries and Game considered this the first official record of moose in Connecticut. The Board passed an emergency regulation on September 18, 1956, that gave full protection to moose. Unfortunately, this protection did not extend to the Warrenville moose which was reportedly shot on September 17, two days after being photographed. The next time a moose was observed in the state was in October 1964.

You can find more interesting facts and stories about the history of Connecticut's Bureau of Natural Resources on our 150th Anniversary Then and Now webpage.
Volunteer for the Midwinter Eagle Survey
The best way to cure the post-holiday blues is to volunteer for the Wildlife Division's Midwinter Eagle Survey.  This year, the nationwide survey will be taking place the morning of January 14, 2017.  We will assign volunteers a stretch of river or lake shore to monitor for wintering bald eagles during the survey window. This makes a great group activity. If you are interested, contact Wildlife Division biolgoist Brian Hess at brian.hess@ct.gov.

2017 Hunting and Trapping Guide and Licenses
The 2017 Connecticut Hunting and Trapping Guide is now available on the DEEP website. The printed version will be available by mid-December at DEEP facilities, town halls, bait and tackle shops, and outdoor equipment stores.

2017 hunting and fishing licenses, stamps, and permits are currently available for purchase through the Online Sportsmen Licensing System and at town halls and various outdoor equipment vendors.

2017 Deer Lottery: Deer hunters can apply for the 2017 deer lottery starting on January 1. Please note that there are new deadlines for 2017. Hunters have until February 28 to purchase lottery permits. After that date, all unsold lottery permits will be made available on a first-come, first-serve basis starting March 15 until they are sold out. ( Learn more...)
Holiday Gift Ideas for the Outdoor Enthusiast
Give the Gift of Connecticut Wildlife!  Avoid the crowds at the stores this holiday season by giving the perfect gift for the fish, wildlife, and outdoor enthusiast -- a subscription to the DEEP Bureau of Natural Resources'  Connecticut Wildlife magazine . This bimonthly magazine is your best source for fishing, hunting, wildlife, and conservation information in the state. All gift recipients will receive a post card informing them of your gift.

You can also shop online at the DEEP Store for a wide variety of unique and affordable holiday gifts -- whether you're shopping for an avid hiker, birdwatcher, angler, or hunter. Books for adults or children, guidebooks, maps, and other "environmental" gifts are available. Orders placed by December 18, 2016, will arrive at your home in time for holiday gift giving.
National Archery in the Schools Program
The Connecticut Wildlife Division recently launched a National Archery in the Schools Program (NASP), which is an in-school program typically taught during physical education classes. NASP is designed to teach International-style target archery skills with the help of a pre-written curriculum which meets or exceeds national physical education standards. The core content covers archery safety, equipment, technique, mental concentration, and self-improvement.

Interested teachers attend a one-day Basic Archery Instructor (BAI) training class to become certified before presenting the NASP curriculum to their students. Training is conducted by DEEP Wildlife Division staff and volunteers who are certified Basic Archery Instructor Trainers (BAITs). For additional information, contact the Connecticut NASP Coordinator at 860-424-3174 or deep.CTNASP@ct.gov.

Winter Bald Eagle Viewing Opportunities
Winter is the best time to view bald eagles that spend the season along the waterways in Connecticut. A great place to go is FirstLight Power's Shepaug Eagle Observation Area in Southbury. FirstLight Power has operated this eagle viewing facility, with its viewing blind, telescopes, and binoculars, each winter for over 30 years. The viewing area will be open on Saturdays, Sundays, and Wednesdays from 9:00 AM to 1:00 PM, starting on Saturday, December 17, 2016, through Sunday, March 12, 2017. Visitation to the observation area is by reservation only. To schedule a FREE visit, go their  website or call 1-800-368-8954.

You can also check into river cruises that will take you along the Connecticut River to view wintering bald eagles for a fee:  Connecticut Audubon Society Eagle Cruises and  RiverQuest Winter Wildlife Eagle Cruises.

Please be sure when you are viewing eagles during winter that you observe from a distance and avoid disturbing roosting eagles so that they do not use up precious energy reserves during cold weather.
USFWS Announces Creation of Great Thicket National Wildlife Refuge
Following an extensive public process, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service announced in October 2016 that it is moving forward with the creation of Great Thicket National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) - an area dedicated to conserving and managing shrubland and young forests for wildlife in New England and eastern New York. The approval of the refuge marks a key step, enabling the Service to now work with willing and interested landowners in 10 target areas of Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and New York to acquire up to 15,000 acres through various methods, including conservation easements, donations, or fee-title acquisition. Audubon Connecticut provides a detailed look at this new wildlife refuge.

More information about Great Thicket NWR and the full Land Protection Plan can be found on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service website.
Saving the Puritan Tiger Beetle
Connecticut contains one of two remaining populations of the state endangered and federally threatened Puritan tiger beetle in New England. For the past two years, the DEEP Wildlife Division has been working with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) Northeast Region, Silvio O. Conte National Wildlife Refuge, tiger beetle experts, and academia to initiate recovery objectives in the Puritan Tiger Beetle Recovery Plan. Specifically, funding was secured to 1) reintroduce Puritan tiger beetles to sites within their historic range in Connecticut, and 2) initiate a captive rearing pilot program to determine if captive rearing is a viable tool for conserving this species. This project was recently highlighted in the July/August issue (PDF) of Connecticut Wildlife magazine and also featured on the USFWS Northeast Region blog.
Nest Boxes for Wood Ducks
Wood duck populations were on the brink of extinction by the early 20th century due to habitat destruction and overhunting. Astonishingly, today, the wood duck is the third most abundant breeding waterfowl species in Connecticut, behind the mallard and Canada goose. While the dramatic rebound of wood ducks can be largely attributed to the passage of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act in 1918, their recovery also was assisted by the advent of wood duck nest boxes. These structures also benefit other wildlife species, such as eastern screech owls, hooded mergansers, and northern flickers.

The Wildlife Division annually checks and maintains approximately 550 nest boxes on various state properties throughout Connecticut. Due to the unpredictability of safe ice conditions, wood duck box checks and maintenance begin in September each year with the use of a boat. A total of 335 boxes located at 118 unique sites have been checked so far this season. Checks will continue throughout winter, along with box installation and repair. Data from these checks are analyzed each year, providing the Division with information on use, predation, and productivity. A seasonal employee funded by the Connecticut Migratory Bird Conservation Stamp Program conducts the majority of the work associated with this project.
2016 Deer Season Tally
Keep track of the deer season harvest and see how it compares to the harvest in 2014 and 2015. The tally will be updated regularly, so check back often.

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License Fees Fund Hunting and Fishing Programs
Fees collected from the sale of hunting and fishing licenses, permits, and stamps go to support fish and wildlife conservation, preservation, and recreation programs administered by the DEEP Bureau of Natural Resources. 

The next time you see a bald eagle, harvest a white-tailed deer, or catch a brown trout, give yourself and your fellow sportsmen a pat on the back!

You are making a difference and we thank you for your support!
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You'll find each issue packed with information about wildlife, hunting, fishing, and natural resource-related issues in Connecticut.
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