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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 vtfishandwildlife.com. Comments on the proposal can be sent to ANR.FWPublicComment@vermont.gov. 

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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Lake Champlain is located between New York’s majestic Adirondacks and Vermont’s famed Green Mountains. Yet despite the beauty of this region, it has been the site of dark and mysterious events; it is not surprising that some spirits linger in this otherwise tranquil place. Fort Ticonderoga saw some of early America’s bloodiest battles, and American, French and British ghosts still stand guard.
Champlain’s islands–Stave, Crab, Valcour and Garden–all host otherworldly inhabitants, and unidentified creatures and objects have made appearances on the water, in the sky and in the forests surrounding the lake.
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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 www.vtfishandwildlife.com.


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Land Donation Expands Dead Creek WMA in Addison County, VT 

Land Donation Expands Dead Creek WMA in Addison County, VT

Popular Vermont bid-watching and waterfowl destination to increase by 37 acres



One of Vermont’s premiere wildlife hotspots, the Dead Creek Wildlife Management Area in Addison has expanded according to the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department. A donation by Dubois Farm Inc of Addison will expand the property by 37 acres, bringing the property up to a total of 2,895 acres.


“We are grateful to the Dubois Farm for donating this land,” said Louis Porter, Vermont’s commissioner of the Fish & Wildlife Department. “Their generosity contributes to a growing legacy of conservation that will last for generations.”


The new parcel hosts rare and ecologically important clay-plain forest. These forests contain oak and hickory trees that attract turkeys, gray squirrels, and deer, making them popular destinations for hunters. Because the forest is next to wetlands, it is particularly important for amphibians such as frogs, toads, and salamanders.
Land Donation Expands Dead Creek WMA in Addison County, VT

“Birdwatchers and hunters have coveted access to this property for many years,” said Porter. “The diversity of bird species found in this forest is incredible for bird enthusiasts. Previous owners closed the land to the public to conduct private turkey hunts. Now, any hunter may now access the land to try their luck at calling in a turkey.”

For almost forty years the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department has partnered with The Nature Conservancy in Vermont and local landowners to place a conservation easement on this property after recognizing the forest’s significance to wildlife. That project began a multi-decade partnership between the two organizations that has resulted in many conservation success stories.


Wildlife Management Areas (WMA’s) are conserved lands throughout the state of Vermont, owned by the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department. They are managed for fish and wildlife habitat and wildlife-based recreational access. Dead Creek Wildlife Management Area hosts 200 bird species, and is one of the most popular Vermont destinations for bird-watchers and waterfowl hunters.


Vermont has more than 80 state wildlife management areas covering well over 100,000 acres. Management activities on these areas vary by habitat type, but perhaps none are more intensively managed than wetland wildlife management ares. Although wetland areas like the Dead Creek WMA in Addison look often like they do not need any improving, behind the scenes state biologists and volunteers work year-round to make them as attractive and beneficial to wildlife as possible.


Landowners wishing to donate land to be permanently conserved are encouraged to contact the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department. Anyone can donate to the department’s land conservation efforts by purchasing a 2017 Vermont Habitat Stamp, available at vtfishandwildlife.com.



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New York 2017-2018 Freshwater Fishing Regulations Guides available

New York 2017-2018 Freshwater Fishing Regulations Guides available

New York 2017-2018 Freshwater Fishing Regulations Guides availableThe New York 2017-2018 Freshwater Fishing Regulations Guide is now available. Regulations in the guide are in effect from April 1, 2017, through March 31, 2018. Anglers should review a copy of the guide before casting a line after April 1.


Lake Champlain Special Focus

This year’s guide showcases Lake Champlain, with feature articles on Lake Champlain Fishing and Fisheries Management.


How to Get Your Copy

To get your copy, you can:

A summary of the fishing regulation changes that take effect on April 1, 2017, can be viewed on the DEC website at regulation changes.

Take someone fishing on Free Fishing weekend

Be a fishing ambassador and take someone fishing during free fishing weekend: June 24-25, 2017. Visit the Free Fishing Days webpage for a list of all the upcoming Free Fishing dates.



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