Please share this edition of Wildlife Highlights with other outdoor enthusiasts
and help our subscription list grow! 
Thirty Years of Piping Plover Management
2016 marked the 30th year of piping plover management by the DEEP Wildlife Division. In 1986, when the piping plover was added to the federal Threatened and Endangered Species List, only 20 pairs nested on nine Connecticut beaches. Thirty years later, in 2016, Connecticut had a record 63 pairs of plovers nesting on 15 beaches! Those 63 pairs successfully fledged (able to fly) 87 chicks (a decline from the 112 chicks fledged in 2015). High tide nest wash-outs, human disturbance, and predation contributed to the reduced number of successfully hatched and fledged chicks.

Since 1986, the number of people actively involved with protecting piping plovers in Connecticut has increased exponentially. In the beginning, the Division hired one to two seasonal research technicians to assist a wildlife biologist in monitoring and protecting plover nests. Today, efforts are augmented by many conservation partners, including Audubon Connecticut, Roger Tory Peterson Institute, The Nature Conservancy, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Stewart B. McKinney National Wildlife Refuge, and over 100 volunteers. Are you interested in volunteering as a plover monitor next summer? You can learn more from the Audubon Alliance for Coastal Waterbirds or a future article in Connecticut Wildlife magazine.
Upcoming Free Seminars for Hunters:
Wild Turkey Hunting Safety and Venison Processing
The following FREE seminars are sponsored by the Wildlife Division's Conservation Education/Firearms Safety Program and are taught by certified volunteer instructors. Those interested in attending MUST PRE-REGISTER by calling the Division's Sessions Woods office at 860-424-3015 (Monday through Friday, from 8:30 AM-4:30 PM).  Maximum enrollment for each seminar is 50 participants.

Venison Processing Seminars: 
Western Connecticut -- Sunday, February 12, 2017, from 9:00 AM to 1:00 PM, at the Sessions Woods Wildlife Management Area.
Eastern Connecticut -- Sunday, February 19, 2017, from 9:00 AM to 1:00 PM, at the Franklin Swamp Wildlife Management Area.

Wild Turkey Hunting Safety Seminars: 
Western Connecticut: Saturday, March 11, 2017, from 8:00 AM to 2:00 PM, at Fairfield County Fish and Game Protective Association in Monroe.
Eastern Connecticut: Saturday, April 1, 2017, from 8:00 AM to 2:00 PM, at the Franklin Swamp Wildlife Management Area.

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 and amphibians, bats, ospreys, and more. Look for the Refund section on your tax return, and check the box for the Wildlife Fund. You can deduct your donation from next year's federal income tax. On behalf of Connecticut's nature -- we thank you!

Pictured: Once more common, yellow-fringed orchid (Patanthera ciliaris) is threatened by development, natural succession, and invasive species.

Connecticut Conference on Natural Resources
The 11th Annual Connecticut Conference on Natural Resources (CCNR) is a multidisciplinary conference bringing together individuals working with natural resource and environmental management in Connecticut to share research, information, and ideas. It is scheduled for Monday, March 13, at the University of Connecticut, Storrs campus.

The conference features a mix of professional and informal forums to promote information exchange, networking, and a sense of community regarding Connecticut's natural resources, as well as recognize achievements of dedicated individuals and groups. The keynote speaker will be Dr. J. Drew Lanham of Clemson University, a talented naturalist with a passion for birds. Dr. Lanham recently published " The Home Place: Memoirs of a Colored Man's Love Affair with  Nature" where he articulates his connection to the land in a way that is honest, sincere, and brings inclusivity to conservation.

Registration will open in mid-January, so mark your calendar!
Thank a Private Landowner for Access
Private landowners provide opportunities for outdoor recreation by granting outdoor users access to their property. This access is a privilege, so please remember to take time every year to extend your appreciation to private landowners who offered you access for fishing, hunting, hiking, or wildlife watching opportunities on their properties.

Upcoming Programs at Sessions Woods WMA
Public programs are offered at least once a month at the DEEP Wildlife Division's Sessions Woods Conservation Education Center and Wildlife Management Area in Burlington. Check out the schedule through April. Of special note is the 2017 Friends of Sessions Woods Annual Meeting scheduled for April 30, starting at 12:30 with a Dessert Extravaganza Potluck. At 1:00 p.m., there will be a brief, 10-minute business meeting before the featured presentation. This year's program will be "Talons! A Birds of Prey Experience" with Master Falconer Lorrie Schumacher. Lorrie will provide an up-close opportunity for the audience and enlighten attendees about the conservation of these beautiful birds.

You are also encouraged to check out the DEEP Calendar for programs offered at other DEEP facilities.
Discover Belding Wildlife Management Area
Belding Wildlife Management Area (WMA) is a 282-acre parcel of land in Vernon that was donated by Maxwell Belding to the State of Connecticut. A 1981 Memorandum of Understanding identifies DEEP as the steward of the land, and in 2002, the Belding Wildlife Management Area Charitable Support Trust was established to provide DEEP with the resources to conduct professional management, enhancement, and long-term maintenance of the area.

A diversity of habitat types, including fields, forest, and wetlands, are found at Belding WMA. A section of the Tankerhoosen River that flows through the WMA is a Class 1 Wild Trout Management Area. Wild brown and brook trout thrive in the clean, cool water of the river.

Public programs are offered at the area, including seasonal walks to learn about the resident plants and animals. School groups also use the WMA as an outdoor classroom to learn about habitats and the species that depend on them.

Belding WMA has its own special webpage on the DEEP website where every week a new " Species of the Week" is highlighted. This week it is the winter stonefly.
MDC Controlled Deer Hunt at Barkhamsted Reservoir
In an effort to maintain healthy forests and promote quality drinking water, the Metropolitan District Commission (MDC) has an active forest management program, which maintains a variety of forest age classes to ensure that forests remain diverse and productive. Timber harvest is an important tool for reaching this goal. During routine monitoring of forest regeneration, MDC foresters documented that white-tailed deer browsing had begun to impact tree species diversity and hinder tree growth. This research raised a red flag, prompting MDC to contact the DEEP Wildlife Division's Deer Program to identify what could be done to address this issue. After much discussion, it was decided that a deer hunt was the most efficient and economical means to deal with the overabundant deer population. Therefore, during the 2016 firearms deer hunting season, MDC opened up approximately 4,300 acres in the vicinity of Barkhamsted Reservoir to a controlled deer hunt.

A total of 120 deer permits were made available for two nine-day hunt periods in Barkhamsted and Hartland through the annual deer lottery. Preliminary harvest totals indicated that 37 deer were removed from the Barkhamsted Reservoir watershed. Through a cooperative effort between MDC, DEEP, and the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station, a variety of research techniques will be used to monitor deer browsing and evaluate the effectiveness of the controlled deer hunt.
Tally of Deer Season Results
Keep track of the deer season harvest for the 2016 archery, landowner, shotgun/rifle, muzzleloader, and January (2017) seasons.

-- Quick Links --
Your Feedback Is Important to Us!
Send your comments or suggestions to deep.ctwildlife@ct.g ov
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!
Stay Connected!

You'll find each issue packed with information about wildlife, hunting, fishing, and natural resource-related issues in Connecticut.
The Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection is an Affirmative Action/ Equal Opportunity Employer committed to complying with the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Please contact us at 860-418-5910 or if you: have a disability and need a communication aid or service; have limited proficiency in English and may need information in another language; or if you wish to file an ADA or Title VI discrimination complaint.