For the past few months, we have been excited to share that MassWildlife will be moving forward on several of our regulatory priorities. These include ending hunting hour restrictions imposed on Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs) stocked with pheasants and extending the season on gray squirrels. Presently, hunters pursuing game other than pheasants (deer, small game, waterfowl, etc.) on WMAs that are stocked during the season were unable to hunt the ½ hour before sunrise and the ½ hour after sunset, which as any hunter knows is often the best time to be in the woods. In total, this would provide an additional 6 hours a week of opportunity for deer and small-game hunters (3 for waterfowl, since migratory bird hunting ends at sunset) on these properties. The proposed expanded gray squirrel season will provide small-game hunters an additional two months to be in the woods, with the season being extended from January 2 to the last day of February.
A key step in the regulatory amendment process will be for the hunting community to come out in support of these changes during public comment period. MassWildlife is now accepting written comments through July 6 and a public hearing will take place on June 22 at MassWildlife’s Headquarters in Westborough, MA. We’ve created an Action Alert that you can utilize to quickly let the Massachusetts Fisheries and Wildlife Board know that you are in support of these regulatory amendments that will expand access and opportunity for Massachusetts hunters. In addition, below you will find useful links and information, that should you wish, you can use to draft your own comments. Please keep in mind, that written comments are due Wednesday, July 6 at 5:00 p.m.
Click Here to Take Action Now! Send a letter to the Massachusetts Fisheries & Wildlife Board in Support of these Regulatory Amendments!
Summary of Proposed Regulatory Amendments DFW-321 CMR 3.00
- Hunting Hours – Only the hunting of pheasant and bobwhite quail on each calendar day of the open season shall begin at sunrise and end at sunset. No other game species will be impacted by these hunting hour restrictions on properties where these birds are stocked and hunted.
- Pheasant & Bobwhite Quail Hunting – The hunting of pheasants and bobwhite quail (Zones 11 – 14) is permissible from the first Saturday after Columbus Day to December 31st (previously the season would end November 30th). No additional stocking of pheasants will support the extended season.
- Hunting of Gray Squirrels – The season will begin the first Tuesday after Labor Day and run until the last day of February (March 15 for falconry) in all zones, except during the shotgun deer season. Previously, the season would begin the first Saturday after Columbus Day and close January 2nd.
- Hunting Hares & Rabbits – There are also some proposed amendments that will cleanup some of the regulations for rabbits and hares. The open season for cottontail and snowshoe hare can be hunted in Zones 1 – 14 (previously 1 – 12) from the first Saturday after Columbus Day to the following last day of February (March 15 for falconry).
- Hunting Implement Restrictions on WMAs - The amendment would no longer restrict already legal hunting implements on WMAs stocked with pheasants, particularly in relation to the hunting of other species. For pheasants, a bow or shotguns must be used statewide.