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Migratory Bird Hunting Season Regulations Meeting
The DEEP Wildlife Division will hold the Migratory Bird Hunting Regulations Meeting on  Saturday, March 31, 2018 from 2:00 - 4:00 PM at the Franklin Swamp Wildlife Management Area (WMA), 391 Route 32, in North Franklin (directions). The meeting provides interested parties an opportunity to comment on the proposed hunting season regulations for the 2018-2019 migratory bird seasons. DEEP will present proposed regulations and take all public comments. Final hunting season dates will be formulated shortly after the comments are compiled and evaluated. Hunters are reminded that DEEP accepts comments on the migratory bird hunting regulations year round; however, this meeting serves to finalize the regulations and is held immediately after the federal frameworks are set by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 
Donate to the Connecticut Endangered Species/Wildlife Income Tax Check-off Fund to protect wildlife and habitat.
Extinct Eastern Puma (Cougar) to be Removed from the federal Endangered Species List
Trail camera image of a cougar in Clark County, Wisconsin, in 2010. This cougar may have been the one that was killed on Route 15 in Connecticut in 2011.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recently published a notice declaring that the extinct eastern puma ( Puma concolor couguar; also known as cougar or mountain lion) will be removed from the Federal List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife, resolving the lingering anomaly of having it listed despite its disappearance from its eastern North American range approximately 80 years ago. The removal of the extinct subspecies from the endangered species list will take effect February 22, 2018. Although considered long extirpated from Connecticut, the eastern cougar is currently listed as a species of special concern on the state's Threatened and Endangered Species List because of its prior federal status. As a result of the determination, the eastern cougar will be removed from the state list during the next five-year review, which will occur in 2020.
 
The decision comes from the best available scientific and commercial information, which has shown no evidence of the existence of either an extant reproducing population or any individuals of the eastern puma subspecies. It is also highly unlikely that an eastern puma population could have remained undetected since the last confirmed sighting was in 1938. Genetic and forensic testing has confirmed that recent validated puma sightings in the East, outside Florida, were animals released or escaped from captivity, or wild pumas dispersing eastward from western North America. 

Read about the Connecticut cougar from 2011 . . .
Volunteers Needed for Shorebird Monitoring 2018
Spend your summer days at the beach and help protect a federally threatened species! The Wildlife Division and  Audubon Alliance for Coastal Waterbirds are seeking volunteers to monitor piping plovers and other shorebirds from early April until late August at beaches across our state. A training and orientation session for new volunteers will be held on Saturday, March 31, 2018 from 10:30 AM to 12:00 PM at the Audubon  Connecticut Office at Stratford Point, 1207 Prospect Drive, in Stratford. The sessions will review the biology of the piping plover; how to monitor breeding pairs and chicks; volunteer organization and logistics; and law enforcement information.

For more information on the training session or directions, contact the Audubon Alliance for Coastal Waterbirds at ctwaterbirds@gmail.com. Reservations are not required; but an e-mail letting them know you will be attending is appreciated.

This training session is co-sponsored by the Audubon Alliance for Coastal Waterbirds (which includes  Audubon Connecticut, the Roger Tory Peterson Institute of Natural History, and the Connecticut Audubon Society) and the Wildlife Division.
Deadline to Apply for Deer Lottery: February 28
Every year, the Wildlife Division conducts a lottery to award a limited number of permits for deer hunting on certain state lands and controlled hunt areas. To hunt these areas, hunters can apply online for the lottery starting at midnight on January 1. The deadline for applying for the lottery is February 28. Select lottery permits not purchased by that date will be made available on a first-come, first-serve basis starting March 15, 2018.
 
Get Involved! Participate in FrogWatch USA 2018
Frogwatch USA is a volunteer frog and toad monitoring program offered through The Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA). Frogwatch USA provides individuals and families an opportunity to deepen their community involvement while collecting and reporting information for this nationwide program. A 2-hour training seminar is required in order to participate.

CE/FS Venison Processing Seminar 
On February 3, 2018, the Wildlife Division's Conservation Education/Firearms Safety (CE/FS) Program held a venison processing seminar as part of their Advanced Hunter Education seminar series. The seminar, held at Sessions Woods WMA in Burlington, took participants through all the steps from skinning a deer to packaging venison. The instructors also shared cooking tips and samples.

Providing Habitat for New England Cottontails
In 2014, Old Newgate Coon Club, located in Norfolk, Connecticut, began clearing 21 forested acres to provide young forest habitat for the New England cottontail, Connecticut's only native rabbit. Consisting of dense small trees, young forest habitat provides thick cover and protection from bad weather and predators for not only cottontails but other species, including the American woodcock, ruffed grouse, and eastern box turtle. These low, thick growth habitats have been declining, in part, due to a decrease in agriculture.  

As of this winter, the Old Newgate Coon Club, in collaboration with the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), CT Wildlife Division, and Wildlife Management Institute's Young Forest Project, has begun improving habitat on an additional  9 acres. Providing more young forest habitat will benefit approximately 50 "species of greatest conservation need."

Bobcat Research Project Update
A collared bobcat released back into the wild.
The Wildlife Division recently launched a new research project to determine habitat use by bobcats in Connecticut. As of February 3, 2018, 50 bobcats are now being tracked with GPS collars. Data are currently being collected and will help to determine important information such as home range size and how housing density might affect bobcat behavior. 

Citizen scientists are asked to report bobcat observations. Observations can be recorded online at www.iNaturalist.org or by contacting the Wildlife Division at deep.ctwildlife@ct.gov or on the Connecticut Fish and Wildlife Facebook pageEligible reports can be live sightings, deceased bobcats, or signs and tracks of bobcats. When reporting an observation, please provide a date of when the sighting took place, town, number of individuals observed, and whether any individuals had ear tags or a collar.

Great Backyard Bird Count February 16-19, 2018
In 1998, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and National Audubon Society launched the Great Backyard Bird Count, the first online citizen-science project to collect data on wild birds.

Today, more than 160,000 people worldwide participate in the four-day count each February to create an annual snapshot of the distribution and abundance of birds.

Join in this year's count on February 16-19. All you have to do is tally the numbers and kinds of birds you see. You can count from any location, anywhere in the world and for as long as you wish! If you're new to the count, you must create a free online account to enter your checklists. 

Species of the Month: Great Horned Owl

An incredible diversity of wildlife species can be found in our state. Take some time to discover Connecticut's wildlife!

Hoo, hoo-oo, hoo, hoo, hoo...

Nicknamed the "tiger of the night," the great horned owl is one of Connecticut's most formidable and opportunistic birds of prey. This owl is most often heard as it establishes its territory before nesting occurs in early winter.  

Its heavily mottled gray/brown plumage allows the great horned owl to blend into the trunks of trees during the daylight hours. Once nightfall arrives, this stealthy apex predator will prey on almost any animal it can catch. Its primary diet is comprised of rodents, rabbits, and skunks, but it will also hunt ducks, turkeys, and other species of birds.  

Learn more about the great horned owl . . .
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