Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries

Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries
Outdoor Report

Managing and Conserving Our Wildlife and Natural Resources

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

VDGIF is an agency of the Virginia Secretariat of Natural Resources
In this issue:
  • Kid's Day Trout Fishing in Madison This Weekend!
  • Bear, Deer, Turkey Harvest Data Announced
  • Hunters for the Hungry Receives Record Breaking Donations
  • CWD Not Found in Virginia
  • Spring Gobbler Forecast Varies Across Regions
  • People and Partners in the News
    • Wildlife Center Has Record Year for Aiding Wildlife
    • Virginia Migratory Waterfowl Stamp Grant Applications Period Open
    • Fulfillment Farms Offers Youth Turkey Hunt April 7
    • April Fishing Workshop Scheduled in Chesapeake
  • In Case You Missed It...
    • General Assembly Legislation Update
    • Remember Tax Refund Checkoff
    • Wheelin' Sportsmen Add Spring Turkey Hunt and Fishing Rodeo
    • Reminder to Buy Hunting and Fishing Licenses
  • Be Safe... Have Fun
    • Take a Kid Spring Gobbler Hunting!
    • Gobbler or Hen? How to Tell the Difference
    • Heed "Red Flag" Wildfire Warnings

Kid's Day Trout Fishing in Madison This Weekend!

The annual Kid's Day Trout Fishing event is this Saturday, March 17th on the Robinson River in Madison County where Routes 600 and 643 cross, near the village of Syria. The event is exclusively for children age 12 and under and will start at 9:00 a.m. This is a joint effort of Graves Mountain Lodge, Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (VDGIF) and the Rapidan Chapter of Trout Unlimited. Contact Graves Mountain Lodge at (540) 923-4231 for information. This is a great way to celebrate spring with family and friends - take the kids fishing!

2006-2007 Bear, Deer, Turkey Harvest Data Announced

Hunters experienced another successful hunting season in 2006. Wildlife biologists with VDGIF have compiled preliminary figures for bear, deer, and turkey harvests for the 2006-2007 fall seasons. Wildlife Division Director Bob Duncan commented, "Overall, there were no surprises. Bear numbers continue to trend upwards as the bear population continues to grow. At 223,198 the deer harvest was higher than the 10 year average but not as high as the record of 235,944 set in 2003-2004. The fall turkey harvest is down which is not surprising given poor reproduction since 2001 due to a number of factors." The extended deer season in certain Northern Virginia counties was successful in increasing harvest to help manage the deer population.

Hunters for the Hungry Receives Record Breaking Donations - Tops the Three Million Pound Mark

The generous hunters of Virginia donated 356,054 pounds of venison in 2006, exceeding last year’s record-breaking total by 16,000 pounds. Since the founding of the program in 1991, by the late David Horne, total distribution now exceeds three million pounds of donated venison. Over 12 million servings of nutritious venison have now reached the plates of the less fortunate.

Current Hunters for the Hungry director and long-time employee Laura Newell-Furniss noted, "I think all of us are impressed and pleased with the generosity of Virginia hunters and the financial contributors which have allowed this program to grow into such a success." She continued, "Founder, David Horne, was a caring and intelligent man who, through his work with a nationwide produce salvage program, recognized the need food banks had for lean protein. Being a hunter himself, he also knew that the hunters of Virginia needed to harvest more deer than their families could use to keep the deer herd in proper balance. Being an excellent problem solver, David put these two facts together – the need for the meat, and a vast renewable natural resource and created a charity, which, at the time of his death in 2002, had grown into the largest effort of its kind in the country. We can all be thankful that this wonderful man put his caring and skills together to benefit those in need throughout the Commonwealth." Donations of funds are still needed to pay the costs for processing deer harvested during the extended deer season.

Please consider contributing to Hunters for the Hungry through the $2 check-off when purchasing a license, or at any time through our online Outdoor Catalog.

To learn how you can help, visit www.h4hungry.org or call toll free (800) 352-4868.

CWD Not Found in Virginia

After extensive testing, the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries has not found any evidence of chronic wasting disease (CWD) in Virginia's white-tailed deer population. In 2006, over 800 samples were collected from white-tailed deer throughout the state. Approximately 500 samples were collected from the active surveillance area, which includes the western and northern parts of Shenandoah, Frederick, Clarke and Loudoun Counties, the area of Virginia closest to where CWD has been detected in West Virginia.

Spring Gobbler Forecast Varies Across Regions

Turkey population levels are near record highs for Virginia. Last year 17,195 gobblers were taken in the spring season. Youth hunters took 341 birds on the special youth season hunt. Due to cold rainy springs, reproduction has been down over the past two years. Wildlife biologists do not expect a significant change in the spring gobbler harvest this year. VDGIF Wild Turkey Project Leader Gary Norman noted, "Weather always plays an important role in the spring harvest as good gobbling generally requires good weather conditions. The Department encourages hunters to be safe and identify your target during the spring gobbler season." Only bearded turkeys are legal during the spring season. Hunters can take advantage of all-day hunting during the last two weeks of the season. Afternoon hunting is timed to minimize the incidental kill of female turkeys, which should be nesting at this time. VDGIF annually conducts a survey of spring gobbler hunters. Interested hunters are encouraged to contact Gary Norman at Gary.Norman@dgif.virginia.gov to participate in the survey or call (540) 248-9389.

People and Partners in the News

More Than 2,300 Animals Admitted to Wildlife Center During 2006

The Wildlife Center of Virginia, an internationally acclaimed teaching and research hospital for wildlife and conservation medicine located in Waynesboro, admitted a total of 2,354 animals for treatment during 2006 - injured, ailing, and orphaned wildlife from all across Virginia. The Center holds state and federal permits that allow them to possess, treat and release wildlife.

As expected, the 2006 total included many common species: 392 Eastern Cottontail Rabbits; 203 Eastern Gray Squirrels; 170 Virginia Opossums; 103 American Robins; and 101 White-tailed Deer.

The Center's President and Co-Founder, Ed Clark, noted that a number of threatened species, or species designated by the VDGIF as species of special concern in the state's Wildlife Action Plan were also admitted for treatment, including 29 Bald Eagles - a single-year record for the Center; two Barn Owls; two Peregrine Falcons; a Northern Harrier; and a Golden-crowned Kinglet. View a complete list of 2006 animals by species.

The Center will be celebrating its 25th anniversary in November with a gala fundraising event. For more information on the Center visit www.wildlifecenter.org.

Virginia Migratory Waterfowl Conservation Stamp Grant Application Period Open

VDGIF is soliciting applications for the 2007 Migratory Waterfowl Conservation Stamp grant cycle. This grant is open to non-profit organizations for cooperative waterfowl habitat improvement projects in Virginia. There are two grant application windows. Grant applications are due on March 30, 2007, and June 29, 2007, before 5:00 p.m. Successful applicants will be notified within 30 days of the submission deadlines.

Fulfillment Farms Offers Youth Turkey Hunt April 7

A special opportunity for young turkey hunters is being offered by The Virginia Wildlife Foundation at Fulfillment Farms in Albemarle County on April 7. Details and registration information can be found at www.vawildlife.org or by calling at (434) 286-2656.

Fishing Workshop for Beginners Scheduled in Chesapeake

Do you want to learn to fish? The VDGIF Outdoor Education Program is hosting a Fishing Workshop at Oak Grove Lake Park in Chesapeake on Saturday, April 28, 2007. This is a freshwater fishing workshop for beginners. The lake is reported to have plenty of bass and bluegill, so it should be a lot of fun. The cost is $15. Tell a friend and make it a family outing to remember!

In Case You Missed It...

Editor's note: As our subscriptions have grown to over 8,000 and new readers continue to sign up, we realize that some of our seasonal features are important and timely enough to bear repeating. So you can easily note repeated items we have added this section, "In case you missed it..." to the Outdoor Report.

General Assembly Completes Passage of Legislation

There has been a lot of legislative action this year on issues that may affect you as an outdoor enthusiast, landowner, or concerned citizen.

Still Working On Your Taxes?

Remember when you complete your Virginia state income tax form, you can support wildlife by simply marking the Nongame Wildlife Program checkoff box and filling in the amount of your donation. Your contribution will help support essential research and management of native birds, fish, and other nongame wildlife.

Additional Spring Hunting and Fishing Events Offered for Sportsmen with Disabilities

Virginia Wheelin' Sportsmen and VDGIF have added two new outings for April and May to the five previously announced in the last edition of the Outdoor Report. If you have a disability and would like to apply for these hunting or fishing opportunities, applications are available online at www.vanwtf.com. All of the events are free and open to anyone with a disability. Participants are responsible for having all required Virginia hunting and fishing licenses.

See the Upcoming Events section for dates and locations. The application deadline is April 1st. For more information, or to get an application by mail, please contact, Robin Clark at (434) 979-6154, or via email weeeelz@aol.com.

Reminder to Buy Hunting and Fishing Licenses

Most licenses now sold by the VDGIF are valid for one year from the date of purchase with two exceptions: the Deer, Bear, Turkey license and the National Forest Permit.

VDGIF operates a Customer Service Center to assist purchasers of hunting and fishing licenses. Representatives are available 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday, except holidays, to answer your questions about the appropriate licenses you need for your hunting or fishing outing and to re-issue a lost license. You can purchase licenses online, by telephone toll free at (866) 721-6911, or direct from hundreds of local license agents.

Help Spread the News!

We hope you enjoy the new, electronic Outdoor Report and invite you to share this information with your friends and colleagues. Simply visit the Department's Web site and click on the Outdoor Report link to subscribe. New editions are sent directly to your email address every two weeks. Stay informed on issues and opportunities about Virginia's outdoors!

Be Safe... Have Fun

Planning to Take a Youngster on a Spring Gobbler Hunt? Schedule a Hunter Education Class Now!

Now is the time to enroll in a Hunter Education Class for spring gobbler season. Class schedules are available on the Department's Web site. Hunter Education is mandatory for all hunters age 12 and older.

Don't forget about the special Youth Spring Turkey Hunt that will take place on April 7th for youth age 15 and under. Youth hunters between the ages of 12-15 must have appropriate valid hunting licenses. Hunters under the age of 12 are not required to have a license, but must be accompanied by a licensed adult. See the Department's Web site or Hunting & Trapping in Virginia Regulations and Information digest for more information on Hunter Education requirements. The youth turkey hunt is a great way for an experienced hunter to introduce a youngster to the great outdoors.

Is it a Gobbler or a Hen? The Beard is Not the Best Clue!

Sportsmen Help Prevent Wild Fires - Heed "Red Flag" Warnings

March winds may be great for flying kites, but gusty winds and dry forest conditions can quickly spread a small ember into a raging wildfire destroying the landscape and endangering lives and property. Hunters, hikers, campers and anglers, please remember the Virginia 4:00 PM Burning Law is in effect from February 15 - April 30. Any outdoor burning, including campfires, is banned before 4:00 p.m. As you go afield, check weather forecasts for "red flag" warnings which warn of dangerous winds and subsequent bans on any outdoor burning until dangerous conditions are alleviated by rain.  For more information, see the Virginia Department of Forestry's Frequently Asked Questions: Can I Burn?.

In upcoming issues of the new Outdoor Report, look for:

  • Spring turkey hunting tips
  • Leave baby wildlife alone!
  • Eagle Cam update
Bald Eagle. Artwork copyright Spike Knuth.
BE WILD, VIRGINIA!

Bald Eagle
by Spike Knuth

This large raptor, with the long broad wings, is a bird of coastlines, lakeshores, large rivers and tidal rivers. They rely on the diverse food supply that waterways offer, especially fish. While they are mainly carrion eaters, they will occasionally pluck their own fish meal from the surface.

An early nester, nests are usually located high in a loblolly pine or cypress, sometimes over 100 feet up! They use the same nests year after year, adding new sticks, vines and aquatic vegetation. Some nests are about 15 feet deep, and 9 feet across. They only use the shallow platform atop the huge nest, which may weigh thousands of pounds!

Eagles mate for life but will find a new mate if one dies. Two eggs are normally laid in mid-January to March, and in 30 to 38 days the young hatch. They acquire full plumage, and fledge in 9 to 14 weeks. It takes thee years for the young birds to reach adult plumage.

The first and second year young are mostly dirty brown and gray in color on the outside. Adult birds have the distinctive white heads and tails, dark brown bodies, and a yellow bill and feet. Females are larger than the males, but the young are often larger than the adults with wingspans a foot or so longer!

Eagles are nearly non-migratory. Northern breeders move south only when the waters freeze over, shutting off their food supply. Southern breeders may actually move north for the summer after breeding season.

·    ·    ·

This section of each issue of the Outdoor Report features one of the 925 animals that have been identified in Virginia's Wildlife Action Plan whose existence is at risk.

Think you can't make a difference? You can! Be wild and work with your local officials and in your local communities to conserve Virginia's wildlife resources. Find out how you can help and join our team!

UPCOMING EVENTS
March 2007
10-11, 17-18 Highland Maple Festival, Highland County
16-18 Becoming an Outdoors-Woman (BOW) (PDF), Holiday Lake
17 Kid's Day Trout Fishing, Robinson River, Madison County. Exclusively for children 12 and under, starts at 9 a.m. Contact Graves Mountain Lodge at (540) 923-4231 for information.
27 Board of Game and Inland Fisheries Meeting, Richmond
April 2007
7 Youth Spring Turkey Hunt (statewide)
7 Trout Heritage Day
7 Youth Turkey Hunt, Fulfillment Farms, Albemarle. Visit vawildlife.org or call (434) 286-2656 for information.
10-12 Environment Virginia Conference, Lexington (VMI)
13-14 Hunter Education Instructors Advanced Training, Holiday Lake. If you are interested in becoming a Hunter Education volunteer, please email Sgt. David Dodson.
21 Covey Kids Event: Educational Workshop, Quail Unlimited, White Oak Preserve, Clarksville. Call (434) 374-2025 for information.
20-21 Butch Trinca Memorial Spring Gobbler Hunt - Central Virginia Chapter, Charlottesville
28 New Kent Forestry Center Spring Gobbler Hunt I, Providence Forge
28 James River Chapter NWTF Spring Gobbler Hunt, Bedford
May 2007
5 Virginia Wheelin' Sportsmen Spring Gobbler Hunt, Buckingham County
6 Virginia Wheelin' Sportsmen Trout Rodeo, Broadway
11-13 Great Dismal Swamp Birding Festival. Call (757) 986-3705.
12 New Kent Forestry Center Spring Gobbler Hunt II, Providence Forge
19-21 Mountain Lake Migratory Birding Festival
June 2007
5 Board of Game and Inland Fisheries Meeting, Richmond
MAKE IT A FAMILY ADVENTURE!
The Department offers numerous hunting, fishing, and outdoor education programs designed for families, women, beginners and seasoned outdoor enthusiasts.
LOOKING FOR A PLACE TO HUNT OR FISH?
Visit Find Game, the Department's award-winning online public hunting lands locator!

A calendar of hunts and skill-building events designed for persons with disabilities can be found on the Department's online events calendar or at vanwtf.com.

Find accessible fishing areas.

QUICK GLANCE
AT HUNTING SEASONS
For a quick reference to the season dates for hunting and trapping for all game species visit our online quick reference or refer to page 77 of the 2006-07 Hunting & Trapping Regulations Digest.
April 2007
7 Youth Spring Turkey Hunt
14-May 5 Spring Gobbler Season (Hours: one-half hour before sunrise to noon)
May 2007
7-19 Spring Gobbler Season (Hours: one-half hour before sunrise to sunset)
Please consider contributing to Hunters for the Hungry through the $2 check-off when purchasing a license, or at any time through our online Outdoor Catalog.
REPORT
WILDLIFE VIOLATIONS
To report a wildlife violation, call 1-800-237-5712, or email WildCrime@dgif.virginia.gov.

FOR AN EMERGENCY SITUATION, contact the local game warden immediately through the local sheriff's office or police department.

Don't allow the actions of a few to tarnish the reputation of Virginia's sportsmen and sportswomen!

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Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries
4010 West Broad Street, Richmond, Virginia 23230
(804) 367-1000 - www.dgif.virginia.gov