Fish & Wildlife news and announcements

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Halloween Wildlife Festival and Jack-O'-Lantern Hike at Kehoe Conservation Camp

Looking for a "wild" family-based adventure for Halloween this year? The Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department is inviting families to attend the 5th annual Halloween Wildlife Festival and Jack-O'Lantern Hike at the Edward F. Kehoe Green Mountain Conservation Camp Education Center on 636 Point of Pines Road in Castleton. The event takes place on Oct. 28, from 5 p.m. to 8.

The festival features fun and educational programs led by students from Green Mountain College's environmental education and interpretation program. Kids will learn about the creepy, crawly critters that reside in Vermont and have a chance to get decked out in their costumes before the traditional trick-or-treat night.

Activities include a nature hike along a trail that's lit by carved pumpkins, campfire program, wildlife-related activities, face painting and more! Snacks provided include apple cider, caramel apples and other seasonal treats.

"October is a perfect time to highlight the fun of Halloween while focusing on the critters that make it so special," says Alison Thomas, Education Manager. "This event gives families a chance to enjoy the season in a different way and learn that all of the animals often considered scary are really neat and play an important role in the ecosystem."

Admission and activities are free and open to the public, and all ages are welcome. No registration is required. Costumes are encouraged, but not required.

The Edward F. Kehoe Green Mountain Conservation Camp is operated by the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department, and this event is sponsored by Fish & Wildlife and Green Mountain College. For directions, visit http://tinyurl.com/Kehoe-Camp.

For more information, contact Corey Hart, Kehoe Facility Manager, at 802-265-2279.

Take a time out for turtles: Volunteers needed for nesting beach clean up day

The annual spiny softshell turtle beach cleanup day is Oct. 22, and Vermont Fish & Wildlife is looking for volunteers to help. Participants are asked to arrive at North Hero State Park between 10 a.m. and 11 as the group may move on to another site by 11 a.m.

Volunteers will pull up vegetation on nesting beaches to prepare turtle nesting sites for next year. They may also find a few hatchlings that occasionally remain 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.

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 most vulnerable to predation. They will 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."

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 assist.

"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."

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 lazarericus@gmail.com.

Wilmington man arrested for allegedly feeding bears

Vermont Fish & Wildlife wardens have arrested a Wilmington man for allegedly intentionally feeding bears. James Burke, 60, was charged with three misdemeanor counts of illegally feeding bears and faces fines of more than $1,300.

On Sept. 29, Vermont Game Wardens Richard Watkin and Lt. Greg Eckhardt, with assistance from the Wilmington Police Department, executed a search warrant at Burke's Wilmington residence.

It is illegal in the state of Vermont to intentionally feed bears. The law was passed in 2013 in an attempt to reduce bear-human conflicts. Bears that have been fed by people will continue to seek out human sources of food, presenting a potential danger to human safety and property.

"A bear that has been fed no longer behaves like a wild bear," said Forrest Hammond, bear biologist for the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department. "Too often, these instances end tragically for the bear. The bear ends up being hit by a car as they go from house to house foraging for food, or they lose their fear of people and become aggressive and need to be put down. Bears that have been fed can present a danger not just to the person feeding the bear, but also to their neighbors for many miles around."

"The Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department and our many conservation and sporting partners work hard to ensure that Vermont's bear population remains healthy and wild," added Hammond.

Burke is summoned to answer to these charges at Windham County Court on Nov. 15.


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