Tag Archives: Wildlife

VT Fish & Wildlife Manages Popular Wetland Area

Fish & Wildlife Manages Popular Wetland Area To Promote Bird Habitat, Improve Water Quality


Every August, biologists with the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department intentionally lower water levels along several impoundments at Dead Creek Wildlife Management Area in Addison. The goal of these annual water drawdowns is to promote healthy wetlands on the almost 3,000 acre property.

According to Amy Alfieri, a Vermont Fish & Wildlife biologist who manages Dead Creek Wildlife Management Area, systematically flooding the wetlands and exposing the soil allows plants that migrating waterfowl eat to grow. Many of these plants are annuals, such as smartweed, beggarticks, and millet. By mimicking the water level fluctuations of a natural wetland, cattails, bulrushes, and sedges flourish, providing food and nesting habitat for waterfowl. The drawdowns also create mudflats which attract migrating shorebirds in August and September that feed on invertebrates burrowed in the mud. Shallow flooding in September and October increases availability of seeds and invertebrates for wading shorebirds.

‘The wetlands promoted by the annual drawdowns provide places for a variety of birds to thrive from spring through fall,’ said Alfieri. ‘By the time the ducks and geese are done nesting among the reeds in the summer, shorebirds are passing through to feed in the mud flats and shallow waters. This is followed shortly by the arrival of thousands of migrating waterfowl, including snow geese. All the while, hawks and eagles can be seen soaring over the marshes and fields in pursuit of these birds.

Dead Creek remains one of the most popular destinations in Vermont for duck hunters, in large part because various species of waterfowl are attracted to its nesting and feeding sources. Bird watchers have documented more than 250 species of birds at the wildlife management area, and late August through September is one of the best times to spot shorebirds at Dead Creek. Statewide, wildlife-watchers and hunters each contribute roughly $290 million to Vermont’s economy each year, according to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.

In addition to providing wildlife habitat, these wetlands also improve water quality and help buffer against flooding.

‘By managing water levels and promoting wetland plants, we’re creating giant sponges of vegetation that soak up excess water during rainstorms,’ said Alfieri. ‘The wetland plants also filter nutrients and pollutants out of the water, improving water quality on Lake Champlain for fishing, swimming, and drinking.’

As costs from flood damage and Lake Champlain cleanup mount, conservationists are increasingly turning to conserving wetlands and other natural infrastructure as one of many cost-effective solutions to address these issues.


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Everyone Enjoys Lake Champlain Sunsets

Everyone Enjoys Lake Champlain Sunsets


Great Blue Heron. Everyone Enjoys Lake Champlain Sunsets

This Great Blue Heron is watching something very intently. Do you wonder what it Is?

It’s another beautiful Alburgh sunset over Lake Champlain.

Everyone Enjoys Lake Champlain Sunsets in Alburgh Vermont

Everyone Enjoys Lake Champlain Sunsets in Alburgh Vermont


These photos by Kathy Longe show that everyone enjoys Lake Champlain sunsets … even Blue Herons.

Great Blue Heron.. Everyone Enjoys Lake Champlain Sunsets

Great Blue Heron


Baby turtles released into Lake Champlain

Nearly 20 baby spiny softshell turtles were recently released into Lake Champlain. For about 10 years, Vermont Fish and Wildlife has captured the babies in the fall, kept them safe through the winter and then released them again in the summer.

Experts believe there are about 300 of the turtles in the lake, but because the babies are easy prey, they’re considered a threatened species.

Many of the turtles were sponsored by families who get to play a crucial role in the release.

Here’s a species that’s probably been here for 10,000 years. It’s been in Lake Champlain since it’s been the current Lake Champlain,” said Steve Parrin, of Vermont Fish and Wildlife. ” We would try to raise turtles in captivity, give them a head start so that they would be bigger and more resistant to predation where they would be larger, maybe quicker, and have a better chance at survival.

The release attracted the attention of Massachusetts native Michael Henry who made a special trip. “Big turtle fans, definitely. It’s not too far, three and a half hours, but definitely worth it,” Henry said.


“I’m hoping that’s a memory that’s going to stick with them and that they’re going to catch fire in the belly and they’re going to really care about what a tremendous place Vermont is,” Parrin said.



Other Lake Champlain Wildlife Articles:


Family of Canada Geese swimming in Lake Champlain

Family of Canada Geese swimming in Lake Champlain at Alburgh, Vermont

Family of Canada Geese swimming in Lake Champlain

I grabbed a quick shot of this family of Canada Geese swimming in Lake Champlain at Alburgh, Vermont on June 15, 2017.



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Watch out for Turtles

Keep an Eye Out for Turtles

Watch out for Turtles

Springtime means turtles on are on the move. The Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department is asking for the public’s help in keeping them safe. Female turtles are looking for places to deposit their eggs, sometimes choosing to lay along the shoulders of roads, which can end in tragedy.


“Turtles often cross roads as they search for a nest site,” said Steve Parren, biologist for the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department. “They are a slow-moving animal in today’s fast-paced world, so they have a tough time making it safely across the road. Turtles grow slowly and live a long time, so losing a mature breeding female is a huge loss to the turtle population.”

Turtle nesting activity peaks from late May through June. At this time of year, drivers should keep an eye out for turtles in the road, especially when driving near ponds and wetlands.

To decrease the number of turtles killed by vehicles, the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department has collected data to find stretches of road that are hot-spots for wildlife migrations. They are working closely with VTrans, and with Jim Andrews from the Vermont Reptile & Amphibian Atlas, among other partners.


“When you spot a turtle in the road, you may be able to help it across. First be sure you’re in a safe spot to stop and get out of your car, as human safety comes first,” said Andrews. “If you’re going to move a turtle off the road, always move it in the direction it was traveling. They know where they’re going.”


Watch out for Turtles - Snapping turtle

Snapping turtle

According to Andrews, most turtles can simply be picked up and carried across the road. However, if the turtle has no colorful lines, spots, or other markings, it is probably a snapping turtle, so people should not get too close to the animal to avoid being bitten. Snapping turtle’s necks are nearly as long as their shell. Instead, people should push the turtle across the road with an object like a shovel or broom.


Andrews is also asking paddlers, boaters, and anglers to report turtle sightings throughout the state to the Vermont Reptile & Amphibian Atlas website at vtherpatlas.org. The reports help conservationists keep track of the status of these species so they can act if a species appears in decline.

“Sending in a report is quick and easy,” said Andrews. “Just snap a photo or two of the turtle, and submit your observation via the website or email. We’re constantly impressed with Vermonters’ commitment to conservation and willingness to help us save turtles.”

Observations can be submitted to the Vermont Reptile and Amphibian Atlas online at vtherpatlas.org or jandrews@middlebury.edu.



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