Vermont Fish and Wildlife officials are reminding the public about wildlife management areas around the state. Reporter Adam Sullivan visited the Pine Mountain wildlife management area in Groton.
Sullivan: First of all, tell us what a wildlife management area is?
John Buck, wildlife biologist: The wildlife management area is a piece of property owned by the Fish and Wildlife Department. It is one of over 80 parcels that the department owns that is dedicated to habitat management, wildlife population, conservation and wildlife-based recreation.
Sullivan: What kind of wildlife would we see in a forest like this one?
Buck: Pine Mountain is an upland forest, for the most part, so we would expect to see a host of species found in our northern hardwood forest which would include yellow birch and sugar maple, hemlock, spruce and fir. A dozen or more species of trees that we would typically find that are common in Vermont. We would find the birds and mammals species, the reptile species. Pine Mountain, being as large as it is, almost 2,500 acres, give us quite a breadth of species that we would hope to see here.
Sullivan: You can hear those birds making noise out there right now?
Buck: It is a perfect time of year to be out birding. A lot of birds are back staking out their territory. Not only can you hear them but you can see them, too.
Sullivan: And what kind of birds would we typically see here and around the state?
Buck: There are a number of warblers moving in now. Listening for them cues us in. There are songs that you get to know, like you get to know songs of your favorite musicians.
Sullivan: What about other animals besides the birds?
Buck: Well the large mammals, deer, moose, foxes, bobcats. I know that bobcats reside here on the property. We get to see them every once in a while. They are very reclusive but we see their tracks so we know they are here.
Sullivan: How many wildlife management areas like this one do you have throughout the state?
Buck: The department owns 88 parcels totaling 133,000 acres. They are all over the state, the Connecticut River, Lake Champlain. The foothills leading up the western and eastern sides of the Green Mountains. On a wildlife management area, I find it very easy to find solitude which is really an important quality of life and something I think most Vermonters recognize and appreciate.
Sullivan: And the department is constantly working to keep them pristine?
Buck: We manage the properties to promote conservations. The uses are somewhat restrictive to maintain that wild character. In general, anything that is not wildlife-related is something that is not permitted-- motorized vehicles, mountain bikes, snowmobiles. By and large, it is foot traffic only.
Sullivan: The public is welcome pretty much at any time?
Buck: Anytime year-round. These lands are dedicated to wildlife-based use. Photography, watching, hunting, those are all part of the mix of wildlife-based recreation.
Sullivan: What is your pitch to the public? Just a great area to get out and enjoy the outdoors? Enjoy Vermont?
Buck: Absolutely and a very simply way. You don't need a lot of equipment. You don't need a lot extra. You just come as you are. Dress appropriately. Pack it a lunch, bring you binoculars. Hunting season, abide by the rules of hunting season and everyone is encouraged to use the land that way.
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