Tag Archives: usfws northeast

A non-hunter’s guide to hunting

You may be wondering how regulated hunting contributes to conservation, the mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and if it’s a sustainable practice.

Let’s start with the mission of the Service: working with others to conserve, enhance, and protect fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. A key component enabling the Service to carry out their mission is conserving and enhancing habitat, managed under the National Wildlife Refuge System. The purchase of federal duck stamps, required by all waterfowl hunters, provides the funding needed to conserve new lands, enhancing opportunities for outdoor activities where people can connect with nature.

Outdoor opportunities, including regulated hunting, are among the benefits people enjoy through the work of federal and state partnerships. For many, hunting is a family activity that transcends generations. Many feel hunting not only teaches the value and importance of wildlife conservation, but teaches imperative life lessons such as patience, respect, solitude, and self-awareness. Scott Kahan, Regional Chief of the National Wildlife Refuge System, for example, feels hunting is an important way to reconnect with nature and spend quality time with his two sons. He writes, “I will cherish the opportunity to get out in the woods to hunt with my sons and reconnect with those things that are truly important to me.”

Scott Kahan and his son at Tamarac National Wildlife Refuge in Minnesota.

So how do hunters contribute to the Service’s mission to conserve, enhance, and protect wildlife? First, biologists study and monitor the populations of wildlife species that are hunted to ensure populations are sustainable and healthy, while law enforcement officers ensure that regulations are being followed by hunters. In some areas, populations of game species can become overabundant, limiting the amount of suitable habitat available for other wildlife. In these situations, hunting contributes to the conservation, enhancement, and longevity of habitat for all wildlife through the regulated take of an overabundant species.

A meat processor participating in the Hunters Sharing the Harvest Program.

In addition to conservation benefits, hunting is a sustainable way to provide food for your family. Alternatively, if you enjoy hunting and have game meat to share, you can supply nutritious food for over 200 people by donating a single deer! Programs such as “Hunters Helping the Hungry” in New Jersey and “Hunters Sharing the Harvest” in Pennsylvania, allow hunters to donate their harvest to help feed those in need. Even if you are unsuccessful in harvesting a deer, you still had the opportunity to enjoy the outdoors, spend time with family and friends, and participate in a wildlife-dependent activity!

Pennsylvania’s pheasant propagation program provides enhanced hunting opportunities for junior hunters. Photo by Hal Korber.

Are you interested in learning how to hunt? To obtain a hunting license, a prospective hunter must participate in and pass a hunter’s education course. These courses are funded by the Service through the Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration program and are carried out by state agencies, and are designed to teach students to be safe, responsible, and conservation-minded hunters. Many programs are specifically designed for youth hunters, such as the Pennsylvania Junior Pheasant Hunt Program, where young hunters are guided by an experienced mentor throughout the hunt.

For experienced hunters who wish to expand their hunting knowledge, many states offer advanced hunting courses. For example, Vermont offers advanced hunting courses focusing on hunting Vermont black bears, white-tailed deer tracking and processing, and small game hunting with dogs.

Learn more about hunting on public lands here.

Click here to learn more about hunting on national wildlife refuges.

For links to state fish and wildlife agencies, click here.

A Heaven Scent Nose Knows Hometown Heroes

Dianne Thees of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Pennsylvania Field Office, her husband Mike, along with their dogs Luke and Belle, were honored by their town of Tyrone, Pennsylvania, with the Hometown Hero award for their incredible volunteer service in canine search and rescue.

Initially inspired by her brother, Dianne began volunteering in canine search and rescue as a way to give back to others. Realizing her passion, canine search and rescue quickly became a lifestyle for Dianne, and in 2007, Dianne and Mike founded Heaven Scent Search and Rescue.

Dianne and Mike, along with their two beloved bloodhounds, have been an active part of search and rescue efforts in their community and in surrounding counties. Partnering with state and local police, they have helped locate missing children and adults, lost hunters and hikers, and suspects in a variety of criminal investigations.

Dianne and Belle running a trail.

In addition to active search and rescue, the Thees team provides educational programs to police and fire departments, school programs, Boy Scout troops, church groups, and other civic organizations. They also provide opportunities for volunteers to act as “runners”, or the persons of interest, during training.

Dianne and Mike only use bloodhounds in their search and rescue efforts, since bloodhounds are bred specifically for finding humans. Mike says, “bloodhounds are scent discriminatory and are unique in what they do. No two people smell the same, not even identical twins or triplets and we’ve worked with both. Your scent is like a thumb print to them,” each one is different.

Dianne and Mike’s heroic work does not go unrecognized. “To have the community nominate and select you, and recognize the thousands of volunteer hours you’ve put in training and traveling, is extremely humbling,” says Dianne. She spends most of her vacation time on search calls.

Lora Lattanzi, project leader and supervisor for the Pennsylvania Field Office, feels incredibly fortunate and proud to have Dianne as part of her team and their community. “With over 33 years as a federal employee, and 18 years spent training and working with bloodhounds for search and rescue, Dianne truly epitomizes hard work, dedication, and selfless service to others.”

Thank you Dianne, Mike, Luke, and Belle for all that you do!




Woodland Owners are Key to Improving Wildlife Habitat

The northeast region of the United States is home to some of the most densely forested lands throughout the country. With more than half of these forests owned by private landowners, residents play a vital role in conservation efforts of many threatened wildlife species and healthy wooded ecosystems. The American Forest Foundation, in partnership with the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, are working with family woodland owners to enhance and promote the region’s habitat.

Historically, the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service has worked beside landowners to boost habitat with outstanding results. Below, we showcase just how much we can accomplish when we work as a team.

delmarvafoxThe Delmarva Fox Squirrel is a great example of a conservation success story by landowners. More than 80 percent of the squirrels forested habitat is privately owned. As landowners continue to support the squirrels with routine timber harvest and farming with sufficient mature forest nearby, the species continues to thrive and expand across the working landscapes of the Delmarva Peninsula.

Rick and Donna Ambrose, landowners and cottontail conservationists. (Photo credit: Kate Whitacre, USFWS)

Rick and Donna Ambrose, landowners and cottontail conservationists. (Photo credit: Kate Whitacre, USFWS)

Landowners, Rick and Donna, along with numerous foresters, farmers, birdwatchers, biologists, hunters and conservationists, have been part of a coordinated effort aimed at conserving the New England cottontail. Rick and Donna have improved and created young forest habitat on their land to benefit New England cottontail and numerous other species, including woodcock, bobcats, snowshoe hares, a broad range of songbirds, box turtles, and frosted elfin butterflies. Their tremendous efforts have helped keep the cottontail off the Endangered Species List.

This is a New England cottontail. Credit: Tom Barnes / USFWS

This is a New England cottontail. Credit: Tom Barnes / USFWS

Additional efforts to support New England cottontail conservation are happening all throughout the Northeast! Benny Caiola is a real estate developer, but for the next several years, he’s going to be developing some of his land with a different goal in mind — restoration of the New England cottontail rabbit. Caiola, who lives in Larchmont, NY, owns 300 acres in Patterson, in Putnam County, that adjoins about 1,000 acres of state land. The land will now be managed to benefit young forest for the cottontails. This type of habitat restoration also benefits approximately 40-plus species, like turkey and deer!

Partners (loggers Joe Zarecki and Faun Koplovsky, forester Doug Ramey, Ted Kendziora with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service) stand in front of our first private landowner project in New York. Photo courtesy of Benny Caiola

Working together with motivated landowners and partners is crucial to conservation success. These relationships have been instrumental in developing key projects with great benefit to the species.

Check out the blogs below to see more great stories like these!

Working Lands for Wildlife

Cooperation, Conversation, and Conservation