(Note: the issue below is resolved, but we're leaving it up so you can see the problem.)
The draft letter for the Chicopee River marsh area proposed ban on the discharge of firearms will not be needed:
Note: The Division of Fisheries and Wildlife was seeking the help of WMDH's over a situation that concerned our interests as well. Connecticut Valley district manager Ralph Taylor advised us to make personal contact with Marie Ciensiwa instead of sending the letter (see below), which was designed to deter Marie from urging the city of Chicopee to put a ban on shooting in the 220 acre marsh near her home. WMDH's member Ed Snyder agreed to meet with her to find out what the problem was. The outcome was much different than expected:
A. It turns out that Marie has a heart condition and has emergency heart shocking paddles ready in case she is startled upon being awoken by water-fowling gunshots that echo loudly need her home. She believes she could die (as did her cousin) from her condition brought on by the noise. She had put in for sound proof windows from Westover Airforce Base, but has never received them.
B.The map she received from Ralph Taylor had a blue safety zone line that was off by about 200 feet, leading her believe that hunters were in violation of the safety zone. They were not and the environmental police confirmed this. Ed pointed this error out to her so she would understand and stop calling the EPO's.
C. Additionally, she had persuaded her husband to cut a half mile path through some dense brush out to the main river for F&W waterfowl biologist H. Heusmann to launch his airboat for banding ducks. She did not have to do this, and probably wouldn't maintain the road if she did not get some kind of satisfaction over the situation affecting her health. This would explain the Division's personal interest in the sensitive matter.
At the recent club meeting the situation was discussed a length and it was determined that WMDH's made the right decision to make personal contact with Marie, instead of sending the letter.
We decided that for (A.) we could find out from Westover what kind of sound proof windows were available so she could buy some herself or have her insurance buy them for her.
For (B.) We will put up new safety zone signs the right distance from her home. Plus, we will make contact with waterfowlers living on her shoreline, (that she was unaware of) and inform them of the situation that could lead to a shooting ban and ask them to hunt on the opposite shoreline farther away from Marie.
Concerning (C.): After contact with WMDH's Marie wrote back to F&W, and Ralph Taylor forwarded to Ed:
I had the fortunate opportunity to meet with Ed Snyder. He had some good suggestions and I look forward to working with every one for an amicable resolution.
If possible, can you have Ed provide me with a contact email address for him so that I may share any pertinent information as it may arise. It has always been a pleasure speaking with you and I greatly appreciate the assistance.
I (Ed) spoke with Ralph Taylor and he and "H," were very happy about Marie's new attitude. So this matter was not just to appease Marie, it was in keeping with our our bylaws concerning:
A.) To Maintain and restore the habitats and natural sport of waterfowling in Western Massachusetts and it's flyways.
C.) To promote the highest standards of sportsmanship and to strengthen understanding and co-operation between migratory waterfowl hunters and regulatory agencies.
This is the original draft letter that was not sent, (below) that Marie agreed was a concern when I verbally brought up the topics to her.
611 East Main Street
My name is Ed Snyder, I’m a wildlife artist and a twenty five year member of Western Mass Duck Hunters Association (W.M.D.H). We are a locally based organization of conservation oriented sportsmen who care about wildlife. We have been notified by State Fisheries and Wildlife officials of your condition and with your concerns relating to noise from waterfowl hunters near your residence.
We would like to provide you with some information so you can make an educated decision before you start a campaign to ban the discharge of firearms on the 220 acre Chicopee River marsh area. We need to inform you that your actions might cause catastrophic results to the overall health and welfare of the wildlife that inhabit the marsh.
First, you should know that our organization works closely with the State Division of Fisheries and Wildlife’s waterfowl biologists. Since 1975 we have built and put out thousands of wood duck nesting boxes throughout Massachusetts. There are several dozen successful boxes in use on the Chicopee River and many in the backwaters near your home. Our organization has received awards for the efforts we have made to bring back the population of these beautiful ducks.
Each year during the early September hunting season for nuisance resident geese, most of the resident wood ducks migrate south before the regular migratory duck and goose hunting season starts and they survive to return to nest in the spring. Our big concern, as well as that of the Div. of F&W, is that a ban on discharging shotguns for hunting will adversely affect our efforts by allowing the resident goose population to explode. Hunting pressure has kept the goose numbers in check, but if allowed to go unchecked it could turn the marsh into an incubator where several thousand geese could adversely affect the biodiversity of all the wildlife that inhabit the marsh.
It is well documented that the overpopulation of geese causes high concentrations of e-coli bacteria to form because of excess fecal matter introduced into the water by geese, especially in shallow water. I witnessed this on a large marsh in NY State where about 1200 resident geese caused high e-coli counts.
Their excrement also acted like fertilizer depleting the oxygen levels in the water. This resulted in a total fish kill that also caused significant damage to all the other aquatic wildlife that depend on the water for survival. In addition to fish, all that perished that year included species such as frogs and turtles, bait-fish and crustaceans, as well as salamanders, some that are listed as endangered species.
The dead pond also effected birds like egrets, kingfishers, common and hooded merganser ducks and the great blue heron, that all feed on minnows and frogs. The thousands of dead fish were not only unsightly but caused the water to smell like the stench of death. The geese then moved on to spoil other nice bodies of water including drinking water reservoirs.
The State Divisions of F&W can only issue hunting licenses, then hope that the number of geese can be significantly reduced by private citizens through hunting. If they are not, one of the options the State has is to implement large propane charged gas cannons, that are ten times louder than a shotgun.
Unlike occasional migratory season shooting, these cannons go off non-stop all year, just like those used at airports. The constant all year long noise stresses all the other birds in the area during the nesting season too, and will impact the wood ducks as well. Obviously this will not help your condition either.
We are generally concerned for the welfare of the marsh and wish to preserve the balance of all the wildlife and save it from becoming a lifeless bio-hazard, a situation where the State has to step in.
We know you don’t want these things to happen either and I hope we have opened your eyes to the dilemma you might be causing. So, please don’t disturb the harmony that has been achieved through a co-operation between the State biologists and sportsmen and women, who act as a tool for the Division’s proven scientific wildlife management efforts, one that is presently working in your area.
We are sympathetic to your health issues as well, and will do our part to encourage other hunters who are not members of W.M.D.H’s, not to set up near your shoreline. We will also reset the safety zone signs that have fallen over due to ice flows.
You must also be aware that there are several duck hunting boats just down from your shoreline. They are obviously hunters, so we will distribute this letter to other residents in the area in an effort to reach out to them. Even those who do not hunt should be aware of the situation, as they might not want their yards full of goose poop or Federal agencies imposing new regulations for the area if endangered species involved might be at risk. The area is already labeled "sensitive."
We are also enclosing a 2016 Div. of F&W waterfowl regulation flier so you can get to know the season dates, and can take appropriate measures to protect yourself from occasional shooting noise, which is primarily in the morning and at sunset. ( A little loosely placed cotton in your ears goes a long way.)
Just so you know, the season dates are set by the State and U.S. Federal Wildlife agencies who take the resident goose problem very seriously, and this is why they have included extended early and late residential “nuisance” goose seasons.
In closing, if you suspect hunters are shooting out of season or within 500 feet of your residence, then you should call your local police or the environmental police at: 1 (888) 846-5283
Thank you for your understanding of all the issues at stake.
Ed Snyder, W.M.D.H.
The first club wood duck box servicing "event"for the Warren - Brimfield area was completed. Charlie, Ed, Paul and Maurry worked hard all morning and afternoon to service all the boxes in nice warm weather. Many boxes had usage by both wood ducks and hooded mergansers.
Second event : March 26, we will meet at the Big Y in Lee, Mass. to service and erect wood duck houses in the Housatonic River area. We need more guys please! You'll need a partner and a canoe, a hammer and some wood chips. A small step ladder will be helpful too.
Meeting time will be 8:00am and it would be helpful if anyone interested in participating would reply to this email so we will know what equipment and food we will need. For more details contact Charlie at email@example.com
New WMDH's P.O Box!
When George Leclerc passed away no one kept track of our post office box and some of our mail was returned as "undeliverable". In case you were one of the members that sent in your 2016 dues and had them returned we apologize for the inconvenience. Please try again, but this time use our new address:
Western Mass. Duck Hunter's Assoc.
P.O. Box 2350
Westfield, MA 01086
Note: These are updates and events from 2016