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Connecticut Migratory Bird Conservation Stamp
DEEP is holding an artistic competition to select the image for the 2019 Connecticut Migratory Bird Conservation (Duck) Stamp.  Artists are invited to enter an original piece of artwork that depicts an eligible waterfowl species (duck, goose, or brant) that occurs in Connecticut. Images that include a Connecticut scene or landmark in the background are preferred.   Entries for the art contest must be received in person or postmarked on or before April 15, 2018, to be eligible.


Migratory bird hunters are required to purchase a Connecticut Duck Stamp to participate in migratory bird hunting seasons. Other licensed hunters are encouraged to purchase a stamp (even if they do not participate in the migratory bird hunting seasons) to show their support for the conservation and acquisition of wetland habitats. Non-hunters and others who wish to support wetland habitat protection can also purchase Connecticut stamps for $17 from the Online Sportsmen Licensing System under the "Other" category. Those who are not already licensed hunters or anglers will need to get a Conservation ID number to use the site. Stamps can also be purchased at DEEP License and Revenue in person or by sending a check for $17 to DEEP License and Revenue, 79 Elm Street, Hartford, CT 06106 (ordered stamps will be sent through the mail).

More information on the CT Duck Stamp . . .
 
Trails Closed at Camp Columbia State Forest in Morris
Until further notice, most hiking trails at Camp Columbia State Forest in Morris will be closed due to an active logging operation. Contractors have begun a routine harvest to thin 46 acres of hardwoods for the DEEP Forestry Division. The time frame is uncertain, but the harvest and trail closures will probably persist for at least the remainder of winter.

Note that the green trail accessing the stone tower from the parking area on Route 109 is still open. The tower was just repaired in 2017 and reopened to the public for the first time in years.

For questions, contact DEEP Forester David Irvin at 860-379-7085 or email to david.irvin@ct.gov.
Use Your Tax Refund to Protect Wildlife and Habitat
Connecticut's "Endangered Species/Wildlife Income Tax Check-Off Fund" was created in 1993 by the State Legislature to allow state income taxpayers to voluntarily donate portions of their tax refund to support efforts aimed at helping Connecticut's endangered species, natural area preserves, and watchable wildlife.

When you donate all or a portion of your tax refund for wildlife and endangered species, funds will be used for projects to help state-listed plants, reptiles, amphibians, bats, ospreys, and more. Look for the Refund section on your tax return and check the box for the Wildlife Fund. On behalf of Connecticut's wildlife and natural areas -- we thank you!

Deer Season Tally for 2017
The harvest numbers for the 2017 deer hunting season have been finalized by town and season (archery, landowner, shotgun/rifle, and muzzleloader). The report also contains annual totals for the 2014 through 2016 seasons for comparison. 

Keep Your Distance When Observing Snowy Owls
Snowy owls periodically make an appearance in Connecticut during winter, and this year is no exception. Their occurrence is highly variable -- some winters the owls are quite rare, while during other winters, just like this year, the owls seem to be more numerous and show up in odd places. Snowy owls are usually found in wide open habitats, such as farmland, marshes, airports, and along the shoreline.

When large numbers of snowy owls move south into our area, it is usually related to high food availability during the breeding season. This situation allows adults to raise more young than normal, resulting in a southward "irruption" of owls in winter. This happens about every four years. The young birds that move south in irruption winters are inexperienced when it comes to encountering humans, development, vehicles, and roads.

Snowy owls are highly visible and often attract the attention of numerous spectators. Their white plumage and brilliant yellow eyes are a spectacular sight that many people find spiritual. Wildlife watchers are reminded to be respectful of private property, as well the welfare of the owl. Give the owl plenty of space. Keep your distance by using binoculars, a telephoto lens, or a spotting scope. Keep pets, particularly dogs, away. Above all, use common sense to know when you may be getting too close. Watch the owl's behavior. If you get too close to an owl, it will probably fly away, using energy and potentially giving away its presence to crows or hawks, which will harass it. In such situations, the owl will be forced to move to a new location, which may be less safe.  Wildlife  watching should be an enjoyable and educational experience for everyone, and the Wildlife Division hopes you remember these reminders when watching wildlife throughout the year. 

Alliance for America's Fish & Wildlife
The  Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies established The Blue Ribbon Panel on Sustaining America's Diverse Fish & Wildlife Resources to explore ways to address the looming wildlife conservation crisis in America. Despite some remarkable success stories, thousands of other fish and wildlife species have been lost in the conservation shadows. Without an investment in proactive efforts, many of these species will continue to slowly decline, impacting our natural heritage, ecosystems, and economy.

In 2016, the Blue Ribbon Panel issued a recommendation calling for the U.S. Congress to dedicate up to $1.3 billion annually in existing revenue from the development of energy and mineral resources on federal lands and waters into the Wildlife Conservation and Restoration Program. This recommendation is a variation on the highly successful  Pittman-Robertson and Dingell-Johnson Acts that have enabled states to restore and enhance game and sport fish populations across the country.

The Alliance for America's Fish & Wildlife was created this year to help implement the funding recommendations of the Blue Ribbon Panel. Many of our long-standing conservation partners, such as the  Connecticut Forest and Park AssociationAudubon Connecticut, and  Connecticut Audubon Society, are part of the Alliance. If you enjoy spending time in nature with your friends and family or watching birds in your backyard, or if you want to make sure clean air, clean water, and wildlife should be sustained for future generations to enjoy, it is  important for all of us to step up and support these efforts.

To learn more about the Alliance for America's Fish & Wildlife and how you can help, visit www.OurNatureUSA.com.
Feeding Our Feathered Friends in Winter
Dark-eyed juncos competing at a bird feeder.
If you enjoy watching wildlife, you may decide to keep a bird feeder stocked throughout winter. Providing a feeder is a great way to observe birds and their behavior from the comfort of your own home. 
Once you have placed your feeder and filled it, it is just a matter of time before the birds find it. To avoid having squirrels raid your feeder,  place it approximately 10 feet away from structures (fence, shed, etc.) and overhanging branches. Baffles, also called predator guards, can be attached to feeders to keep mammals, such as squirrels, raccoons, and mice from eating all of the seed.  To prevent black bears from visiting and potentially damaging feeders, be sure to take them down by late March and put them back up at the beginning of December. For more detailed information on selecting feeders and seed and where to place feeders, please refer to the  Audubon Guide to Bird Feeding.
Bobcat Program at Sessions Woods WMA
Join DEEP Wildlife Division Biologist Jason Hawley on
Thursday, January 25, 2018, at 6:00 PM, for a presentation on bobcats. Jason will discuss a new research study to evaluate the diet, habitat use, and abundance of bobcats in Connecticut. This presentation will be held in the large meeting room of the Sessions Woods Conservation Education Center. Sessions Woods is located at 341 Milford Street in Burlington. Pre-registration is required for this program. Send an email to laura.rogers-castro@ct.gov to pre-register.

More events at Sessions Woods WMA . . .
CWA Aids Wetland Conservation in Connecticut
The Connecticut Waterfowlers Association (CWA) has a "Conservation Connecticut Fund," which can only be used for wetland conservation in our state. Since its founding in 1967, CWA has been a frequent "conservation partner" with the DEEP Wildlife Division. The organization has been instrumental in the acquisition of some of the State's finest marshes, including Charles E. Wheeler Wildlife Management Area (WMA) ("Nell's Island") and Quinnipiac Meadows WMA. In recent years, CWA has contributed matching funds to several federal grants that the Wildlife Division has received for wetland restoration and enhancement. You can help CWA continue its important conservation work by participating in a raffle featuring an original painting by Chet Reneson, an acclaimed Connecticut artist who created the artwork featured on the 2018 Connecticut Migratory Bird Conservation Stamp.

Learn more . . .
Ring in the New Year with Connecticut Wildlife Magazine
Whether or not you make resolutions, this new year presents an opportunity for all of us to be advocates for natural areas and for the fish and wildlife that need these habitats to survive. Get informed on state conservation efforts, wildlife events, and natural resource topics through a subscription to the DEEP Bureau of Natural Resource's 24-page, full-color, bimonthly magazine. Every issue of Connecticut Wildlife includes:
  • Outstanding wildlife photography
  • In-depth features on hunting, fishing, and native birds species, and more
  • Conservation news straight from DEEP biologists 
  • Tips on how to safely coexist with wildlife
  • NO advertising!
The magazine is published six times a year, and is available by subscription for $8 a year, $15 for two years, or $20 for three years To receive a subscription or order a gift subscription, send a check or money order payable to: Connecticut Wildlife, P.O. Box 1550, Burlington, CT 06013-1550. Credit card orders can be taken through the DEEP Store via the  DEEP website . Recipients of gift subscriptions will be sent a postcard to notify them of their gift.
Species of the Month: River Otter
A river otter in the beaver marsh at Sessions Woods WMA in Burlington.
An incredible diversity of wildlife species can be found in our state. Take some time to discover Connecticut's wildlife!

Most Connecticut residents rarely have an opportunity to observe river otters in the wild, as otters generally avoid contact with humans. However, even though otters may not be seen often, the state's river otter population is healthy and stable.

A thick coating of insulating fat that overlays the body and soft, dense, and durable underfur enable otters to remain active in winter and tolerate cold water temperatures. Air becomes trapped in the fur and helps insulate the otter when it is underwater. In snow, an otter can  move quickly by throwing itself forward  on its belly and sliding with all four legs tucked backwards. A similar motion on ice is extremely efficient.

You are most likely to find river otters  where beavers are present. Marshes created by beaver activity provide ideal otter habitat, and otters will often use aband oned beaver lodges.

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