Category Archives: Lake Life

Life on and in Lake Champlain

Volunteers Needed for Turtle Beach Clean Up Day

Volunteers Needed for Turtle Beach Clean Up Day


Volunteers Needed for Turtle Beach Clean Up Day

Once again it’s time for the annual spiny softshell turtle beach cleanup day, and Vermont Fish & Wildlife is looking for volunteers to help on Saturday, October 22. Participants are asked to arrive at North Hero State Park between 10 and 11 AM, because the group may move on to another site by 11 o’clock.

Volunteers will help by pulling up vegetation on nesting beaches to prepare the turtle nesting sites for next year. They may also find a few hatchlings that have remained in nests underground this late in the year. In addition to threatened spiny softshell turtles, these nest sites are also used by map turtles, painted turtles, and snapping turtles.


Volunteers Needed for Turtle Beach Clean Up Day Spiny Softshell Turtle

Spiny Softshell Turtle

Vermont Fish & Wildlife biologist Steve Parren will have hatchling spiny softshell and other turtles on hand and will talk about his long-term recovery efforts with the species. Some hatchling turtles will be raised in captivity by the ECHO Lake Aquarium and Science Center while they are small and are most vulnerable to predation. They will then be released back into Lake Champlain next spring.


“This is a great way to help conserve a threatened species right here in Vermont,” said Parren. “It’s also a fun way to learn more about the turtles and to see some recently hatched baby turtles.”


Volunteers Needed for Turtle Beach Clean Up Day Snapping turtle hatchling

Snapping turtle hatchling next to my granddaughter Gabby’s foot.
Photo taken in North Hero, Vermont by Molly McHugh

What You’ll Need For The Turtle Beach Clean Up

Participants are asked to dress in layers of warm clothes and to bring work gloves, a leaf rake, short-handled tools such as trowels, and their own lunch. Families and kids are welcome. The cleanup may run until 4 p.m., although participants can choose how long to help.

“This has turned into a very popular annual event for people interested in conservation,” said Parren. “We’ve had nearly 100 people show up to help in recent years, so we’re glad to see so many people care about wildlife.”

How To Get To North Hero State Park

To get to North Hero State Park, follow Route 2 north past Carry Bay in North Hero. Take a right on Lakeview Drive, just before Route 2 swings west toward Alburg. Follow Lakeview almost to the end until you reach the North Hero State Park entrance sign on the left. Drive to the end of the road always bearing right.

For more information, please contact Eric Lazarus at 802-658-8505 or


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Vermont’s Snakes Are on the Move

Vermont’s Snakes Are on the Move

Vermont’s Snakes Are on the Move

Help biologists document them by reporting a sighting

Fall marks the time when Vermont’s snakes may travel long distances to return to their den sites for the winter. The Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department is asking people to keep an eye out for snakes while driving to avoid running them over and also to report any snake they see while out and about. These sightings will help to document the distribution of different snake species in Vermont.

According to Jim Andrews, coordinator of the Vermont Reptile and Amphibian Atlas, roads can be great places to find snakes in the fall, but they can also be deadly for the reptiles.

“To a snake, a road is essentially a warm and sunny ledge that serves as a perfect place to bask and raise its body temperature,” said Andrews, who is collaborating with the Department to document and conserve snakes in Vermont. “Sadly, this often results in a fatal encounter with a car. We’re asking people to please try to avoid hitting them on the road whenever safely possible.”

Wildlife biologist Doug Blodgett works to conserve snakes for the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department. According to Blodgett, snakes provide important services to people like eating disease-carrying rodents and garden pests. He believes that while some people may fear snakes, the creatures are too often misunderstood.

“Vermont’s snakes are generally harmless. Even timber rattlesnakes, which live only in isolated pockets of western Rutland County, are extremely shy and nearly always try to hide or avoid an encounter with people,” said Blodgett. “Despite their low profile, snakes are extremely important animals in the ecosystem.”

Blodgett and Andrews are asking the public to help efforts to conserve snakes by submitting sightings that document where different species are found. Citizen reports will also be useful in indicating where important road crossings exist so that appropriate road crossing structures can be considered. These sightings might also raise early warning signs, such as if species seem to be absent where they used to be common, or other trends that indicate when additional conservation action may be needed.

“Our knowledge of the current range of snakes is largely dependent on photos provided by citizens who happen to find them during their day-to-day activities outdoors,” said Andrews. “Keep your eyes open this fall and, if you do encounter a snake on the road or anywhere else, please snap a photo and send us a report.”

To send a report, go to, or email Andrews directly at

Threatened Northern Sunfish Discovered in Lake Champlain Tributary

Threatened Northern Sunfish Discovered in Clinton County


Threatened Northern Sunfish Discovered in Lake Champlain Tributary- Great Chazy River in the village of Champlain, Clinton County, New York.

                           Northern Sunfish

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s Rare Fish Unit has confirmed the presence of northern sunfish in the Great Chazy River in the village of Champlain, Clinton County, New York.

In early September Biologist Doug Carlson and technician Eric Maxwell identified nearly a dozen of the threatened fish species in the river.

“We are ecstatic for this discovery and it adds to the unique species in the Great Chazy River that showcase its diversity and fishing appeal,” said Carlson.

Also known as the longear sunfish, the northern sunfish is a small, thin, deep-bodied fish that averages three to four inches in length. It is sometimes a colorful fish with an olive to rusty-brown back, bright orange belly, and blue-green bars on the side of the head. The northern sunfish has short, round pectoral fins and an upward-slanting gill cover flap that has a white and red flexible edge.  It is often mistaken for a pumpkinseed sunfish.

The northern sunfish is a threatened species in New York State and it has suffered immense losses in Western New York.  Biologists have speculated that several factors are involved, including interactions with non-native fish like green sunfish and round goby. The population of this recent discovery in the Chazy appears robust and quite localized.


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Now is the Time to Spot Shorebirds in Vermont


Now is the Time to Spot Shorebirds in Vermont

The final weeks of August and beginning of September mark a unique birding opportunity in Vermont. Shorebirds such as plovers and sandpipers are migrating through the state on their southern journey from northern Canada to the Caribbean and beyond.

One of the best places to spot shorebirds this time of year is at Dead Creek Wildlife Management Area in Addison, Vt. The Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department lowers water levels on Dead Creek in late summer to provide habitat for migrating shorebirds and other species. Bird-watchers have also reported spotting shorebirds around Sandbar Wildlife Management Area in Milton, Vt this year.

“The lack of rainfall has led to low water levels this year providing ample habitat for shorebirds, particularly along Lake Champlain,” said John Buck, migratory bird biologist for the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department. “I’d encourage people to grab your binoculars and camera and take advantage of this brief and exciting birding opportunity.”

Anyone interested in donating to habitat conservation for shorebirds and all species can buy a Vermont Habitat Stamp, available at


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Four New Vermont State Record Fish in 2015

Four State Record Fish Caught in Vermont in 2015

Vermont’s Fish & Wildlife Department has certified four new all-time state record fish, all caught in 2015. 

Four state record fish caught in Vermont in 2015


New Vermont state records were set for yellow perch, redhorse sucker, cisco and bowfin (taken by bow and arrow). 

“2015 was another great year for record fish catches in Vermont. And, what’s even more exciting is the fact that anglers are really starting to understand the wide diversity of fishing opportunities we have throughout the state. Three of the four species that had records set this past year are not what most anglers typically think of as sport fish. Fishing in Vermont can go way beyond bass, trout and some of the other more commonly targeted species.” – Shawn Good, fisheries biologist with Vermont Fish & Wildlife.

Vermont’s new record yellow perch, which weighed in at 2.4 pounds, and was caught in March by Keith Sherwood of Hinesburg while ice fishing on Caspian Lake in Greensboro. The fish was 16 inches long and had a girth of 12.5 inches. It topped the previous record of 2.1 pounds by over 4 ounces. 

In April, Brian Latulippe of Hinesburg landed the new state record redhorse sucker from the Otter Creek in Ferrisburgh. The fish was caught using a night crawler and weighed 9.01 pounds. It was 27.5 inches long and had a girth of 16.5 inches. The former record weighed 8.6 pounds. 

The new state cisco was caught by Brian’s niece, Montanah Latulippe, of Winooski. Montanah caught the fish in August on Lake Champlain in South Hero. It weighed 1.09 pounds, was 14.5 inches long, and had a girth of 7.5 inches. Since this was the first cisco ever officially submitted to the Department’s record fish program it automatically takes the top spot on the record fish list. 

A new state record was also set for bowfin taken by bow and arrow. The fish was harvested in August by Louis Phelps of St. George on Lake Champlain in Grand Isle. It weighed 12.09 pounds, was 30.75 inches long, and had a girth of 17.25 inches. The previous record weighed 11.6 pounds. 

Vermont Fish & Wildlife recognizes state records for both traditional angling and for bow and arrow fishing for the species of longnose gar, carp, redhorse sucker and bowfin. 

“The Vermont Record Fish Program continues to serve as a testament to the health and quality of fisheries around the state,” said Good. “Many record fish programs in other states only see new records established every few years. In Vermont, anglers have been setting multiple records each year, and since 2010, 16 new records have been recognized, which is an astounding number. It truly speaks to the excellent fishing opportunities we have here in Vermont.” 

To learn more about Vermont Fish & Wildlife’s record fish program, view record fish entries, or purchase a Vermont fishing license click here…  




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