Public Hearings for Otter, Muskrat Proposal in Vermont

Public Hearings for Otter, Muskrat Proposal in Vermont

Public Hearings Set for Otter, Muskrat Proposal in VermontVermont Fish & Wildlife Department and Vermont Fish and Wildlife Board have set three public hearings to gather advice on proposed changes to otter and muskrat trapping regulations. 

The otter, muskrat proposal began as a petition from a member of the public and has passed first vote by the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Board. The proposed changes would extend the otter trapping season by an extra month through then end of March to align with beaver trapping season. The proposal would also extend muskrat colony cage trap check times to 72 hours to align with the check time requirements for all other kill type traps set in aquatic environments. 

After receiving public comment through emails, letters and public hearings, the Board will go through two more rounds of voting before the rule is finalized. 

The proposal is available for public review at Comments on the proposal can be sent to 

The hearings are from 6:30 to 9:00 p.m. as follows: 

  • Monday, April 3 – Lyndon State College, Burke Mountain Room (Conference Center), Lyndon, VT 

  • Tuesday, April 4 – Kehoe Conservation Camp, 636 Point of Pine Road, Castleton, VT 

  • Thursday, April 13 – St. Albans Town Education Center, 1695 Main St., St Albans, VT 

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Carleton’s Prize – Lake Champlain Islands

Carleton’s Prize

Carleton's Prize. Lake Champlain  Islands

Carleton’s Prize

Carleton’s Prize is a small rock island in Lake Champlain’s Vermont waters. Carleton’s Prize was conserved in 1978, and it was the first property that was donated to the Lake Champlain Land Trust.

It is a plateau that rises 30 feet from the water in Crescent Bay off the southwest tip of South Hero. Located between Stave Island and Providence Island, it has been called Carleton’s Prize since the American Revolutionary War when it was named after Sir Guy Carleton actions following the Battle of Valcour Island on October 11, 1776,


History of Carleton’s Prize:

Legend has it that it was very foggy on Lake Champlain as Benedict Arnold escaped from behind Valcour Island with the remnants of his small fleet. The British didn’t think that the Americans could have slipped by in the dark and so  they searched to the north and east of Valcour Island. In the heavy fog they spotted what appeared to be a ship and opened fire, unleashing a fierce bombardment on what was believed to be a ship. No doubt the smoke from the black powder added to the poor visibility.

After an hour or so and no returning fire, either a breeze came up or the fog burned off, and the British realized they had not been firing on a ship after all. This misdirection let Arnold escape up the lake to Addison, Vermont, where he scuttled and burned the remnants of his battered fleet to prevent capture.

Some say that the locals had erected logs on the island to resemble a ship’s masts, but this is unlikely. Rust marks are visible on the rock to this day. Whether the rust streaks on the sheer cliffs of the islet are from oxidizing iron ore within the rock outcroppings or the cannonballs showered down by the British gunners is part of the mystery of Carleton’s Prize.



Vermont’s earliest inhabitants, the Abenaki, knew Carleton’s Prize as odzihózoiskwá, or “Odzihozo’s wife”. Odzihozo, “the transformer”, was the supernatural being who created Lake Champlain, the mountains and all the lands that made up their homeland.

According to the legend, Odzihozo was an impatient deity, and before he was even completely formed with a head, legs and arms, he set out to change the earth. His last creation was Lake Champlain, which he considered his masterpiece. He was so pleased with his work that he climbed onto a rock in Burlington Bay and turned himself to stone so he could watch and be near the lake for the rest of eternity. The rock in Burlington Bay, and is known to boaters as Rock Dunder – several miles away from his wife.


Other Articles About Lake Champlain Islands:   List of Lake Champlain's Islands

Ausable Marsh Wildlife Management Area

Ausable Marsh Wildlife Management Area



Lake Champlain and Valcour Island from Ausable Marsh Wildlife Management Area

Lake Champlain and Valcour Island from Ausable Marsh Wildlife Management Area


The Ausable Marsh Wildlife Management Area is a 660-acre parcel next to Lake Champlain along U.S. Highway Route 9 in the Town of Peru, Clinton County, New York. Its primary purpose is for wildlife management, wildlife habitat management, and wildlife-dependent recreation.

For thousands of years, the Ausable River has deposited material where it meets Lake Champlain, creating a fertile delta at the river’s mouth which has been used by humans for centuries. Prior to state ownership, the area was used primarily for agriculture and timber harvesting.

Ausable Marsh Wildlife Management Area signThis WMA’a land was acquired from the Peru Development Company in 1950. Now it is managed by the DEC for recreational and scientific purposes, including: natural resources education, wildlife observation and photography, fishing, trapping, hunting, and canoeing. One of the primary aims is to offer nesting and feeding habitat to a variety of waterfowl.



Ausable Marsh WMA consists of 12 ecological communities that range from emergent marsh to floodplain forest. This habitat variety supports diverse fish and wildlife populations. DEC employs various management techniques within some of these different habitats to improve breeding and feeding conditions for many wildlife species.

Ausable Marsh Wildlife Management Area - Bluewing Teal

Bluewing Teal

One of these ecological communities is the marsh headwater stream. This area has populations of brown bullhead and has breeding habitat for northern pike and largemouth bass. The plentiful supply of fish within the marsh and the Ausable River (especially landlocked Atlantic Salmon) lures not only anglers but osprey, a threatened species in New York, to the Ausable Marsh.

To increase the breeding success of the vulnerable osprey, DEC, with help from New York State Electric and Gas, has placed 2 artificial osprey nest platforms in the WMA. As a result, ospreys have successfully bred and raised young at Ausable Marsh.


Fish and Wildlife

Ausable Marsh wildlife habitats range from marsh and sandy dunes to floodplain forest. These habitats support many types of fish and wildlife. Streams, marsh and the Ausable River are breeding grounds for several species of fish and frogs, which attract several mammal species and many types of birds. A variety of turtles can be seen basking on logs in the mid-summer sun.


Wood duck and Ausable Marsh Wildlife Management Area

Management techniques such as the construction of potholes, dikes and islands, as well as ditching and shoreline clearing, have greatly increased the amount of waterfowl nesting and feeding habitat at the site. In addition, wood duck nest boxes have been erected throughout the area. These artificial nest locations mimic the natural, but scarce, tree cavities used by this species of duck.


Wildlife to Watch

Black bear, Great blue heron, Wood duck, Osprey, Bald eagle, Eastern bluebird, Beaver, Muskrat, Snapping turtle

Where to Watch

Accessible trail and Viewing platform



Hunting and Trapping

Ausable Marsh Wildlife Management Area is open to the public throughout the year. Hunting and trapping are allowed in season on the entire area in accordance with the Environmental Conservation Law and regulations. (See: NY hunting seasons and NY trapping seasons)


There are multiple waters bodies within this WMA, or that can be accessed from, the Ausable Marsh WMA.

Lake Champlain has a variety of fish species. Yellow perch, sunfish, pike, bullhead can all be fished in Dead Creek, trout and salmon in the Ausable River, and bass, bullhead, and catfish in the Little Ausable River.


The following activities are prohibited in Ausable Marsh WMA:

  • Using motorized vehicles, including: all-terrain vehicles, snowmobiles, motorboats
  • Swimming or bathing
  • Camping
  • Using metal detectors, searching for or removing historic or cultural artifacts without a permit
  • Damaging or removing gates, fences, signs or other property
  • Overnight storage of boats
  • Cutting, removing or damaging living vegetation
  • Construction of permanent blinds or other structures such as tree stands
  • Littering
  • Storage of personal property



Outdoor Safety Tips

Ticks are active when temperatures are above freezing but especially in the late spring and early fall. Deer ticks can transmit Lyme and several other diseases.

Practice ‘Leave No Trace Principles’ when recreating on state land to enjoy the outdoors responsibly; minimize impact on the natural resources and avoid conflicts.


The Ausable Marsh Wildlife Management Area has a wheelchair accessible wildlife viewing platform along the Ausable Point Campground Road.

Ausable Marsh Wildlife Management Area viewing platform

Viewing platform overlooking Ausable Marsh

The viewing platform has its own parking area with one designated parking spot for people with disabilities with parking for two more vehicles. A level board walk extends out into the marsh terminating at the viewing platform. There is a large bench on the platform and room for several wheelchairs.




Ausable Marsh Wildlife Management Area map

Ausable Marsh Wildlife Management Area Map
Click to enlarge

From Exit 35 of the Adirondack Northway (I-87). Turn east on Bear Swamp Road (Route 442). Take Bear Swamp Road about 3 miles to State Route 9. Ausable Marsh WMA can be accessed from several points along Route 9.

  • Turn left on State Route 9 north to use the Ausable Point Campground Road which will be on the right in about 0.4 miles.
  • Turn right on State Route 9 south to use the Ausable Marsh Access Road which will be on the left in 0.1 mile.
  • The Ausable Point Campground boat launch to use Lake Champlain is on the Ausable Point Campground Road
  • The boat launch to use Ausable March and Dead Creek is located on The Ausable Point Campground Road at the main parking area just before entering the Campground/Day Use Area through the toll both


Lake Champlain Muskie Catches Point to Restoration Progress

Lake Champlain Muskie Catches Point to Restoration Progress


Lake Champlain Muskie Catches Point to Restoration Progress- Ryan Carpentier with the 14-pound, 38-inch muskie

Ryan Carpentier with the 14-pound, 38-inch muskie he caught and released in Missisquoi Bay on February 12.
(Photo provided by Ryan Carpentier)


Recent northern Lake Champlain muskellunge ice fishing catches have given Vermont Fish & Wildlife’s fisheries biologists further evidence that the muskie stocking and restoration efforts in Missisquoi Bay and the Missisquoi River have been successful.

Vermont anglers Ryan Carpentier and Gage Honsinger both landed muskie through the ice in last February at two different locations on the northern end of the lake. Carpentier’s fish, caught and released in Missisquoi Bay, measured 38″ long and weighed 14.1# (see: Milton, Vermont Angler Catches Muskie Through Ice). Honsinger’s muskie, which measured 35″, was caught and released in the Inland Sea.


Lake Champlain Muskie Catches Point to Restoration Progress


Large adult muskie have been caught occasionally in northern Lake Champlain over the years, but biologists say the two February catches probably are the result of the department’s recent muskie stocking efforts which began in 2008 and are part of the department’s long-term muskie restoration plan.

“Based on known age-at-length data, we estimate these two fish to be between six and eight years old,” said Shawn Good, fisheries biologist with Vermont Fish & Wildlife who has led the muskie restoration program. “Given the age estimate and locations of these two catches in proximity to our muskie stocking sites, there is a strong likelihood that these fish are a product of our initial stocking efforts, which is incredibly encouraging and satisfying to see.”

Muskellunge, which can grow to over 50 inches in length and weigh over 50 pounds, are one of four species of esocids (pike family) native to Vermont, along with northern pike, chain pickerel and redfin pickerel.

Although the Lake Champlain muskie population was once widespread, it declined in the 1960’s and 1970’s and is thought to have been completely eliminated from the lake by the early 1980’s after a spill of untreated waste from a Missisquoi River mill.


Muskie Restoration in Lake Champlain

Lake Champlain Muskie Catches Point to Restoration Progress - stocking

Muskie fingerlings being stocked in Swanton, Vermont


Since 2008, the department has stocked over 50,000 fingerling muskellunge into the Missisquoi Bay and Missisquoi River area, working to restore the species to northern Lake Champlain (Muskellunge Released Into Missisquoi River in Swanton, VT).

“Our goal is to return the species to Lake Champlain and reestablish its place in the fish community,” said Good. “Muskie are an apex predator that once played an important role in the lake’s aquatic ecosystem. It’s really exciting to see these catches and gather more evidence that the stocked fish are succeeding.”

Good, reminds anglers that any muskie caught in Vermont must be immediately released based on state law, and is eager for the future recreational opportunities that the fish will provide.

“People who have caught them, like Ryan and Gage, will attest to the incredible fight they provide and what an experience it is to catch them. They are known for vicious strikes, powerful runs and acrobatic leaps. It’s an exciting prospect for Lake Champlain sport fishing and we’re thrilled to see progress.”

To learn more about fishing in Vermont, the department’s fisheries programs, or to purchase a fishing license, visit



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