The Pomainville Wildlife Management Area in Pittsford, VT covers 360 acres of former farmland along the east bank of the Otter Creek. Thanks to partnerships with the Pomainville family, Ducks Unlimited and other conservation groups, this unique property was acquired by the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department in 2005, and its diverse habitats are now being managed and restored for the benefit of both fish and wildlife.
Every October, the skies over Addison, Vt., are alive with geese. That's when thousands of migrating Canada and snow geese descend on the Dead Creek Wildlife Management Area for a little feeding and lots of honking on their way south for the winter. It's an area where hunters and bird watchers co-exist. Host Marianne Eaton and Bryan Pfeiffer of Vermont Bird Tours visit Dead Creek to see the geese make the annual stopover. While there, they venture into the management area to explore other habitats where wildlife exist.
Vermont has more than 80 state wildlife management areas covering well over 100,000 acres. Management activities on these areas vary by habitat type, but perhaps none are more intensively managed than wetland wildlife management ares. Although wetland areas like the Dead Creek WMA in Addison look often like they do not need any improving, behind the scenes state biologists and volunteers work year-round to make them as attractive and beneficial to wildlife as possible.
The centerpiece of the nearly 5,000-acre Victory Basin Wildlife Management Area is Victory Bog. This shrubby, peat-moss wetland is fed by small streams that drain the mountains that ring the basin, which eventually flow into the Moose River. Victory Bog is home to several unusual plants, including the insect-eating pitcher plant. With its diversity of rare bird species and network of maintained trails, Victory Basin attracts bird watchers from across the region. But it also hosts a variety of other outdoor activities.
Bird Mountain WMA straddles the towns of Castleton, Ira and Poultney. It gets its name from the prominent 2,216-foot outcrop on the northeastern edge of the property locally known as Birdseye Mtn. It was purchased in 1976 shortly after the banning of DDT, a chemical pesticide that led to the demise of the state's peregrine falcon population. Common wildlife species include deer, wild turkeys, gray squirrels, rabbits, ruffed grouse and woodcock, along with numerous songbirds.
Since its inception back in the fall of 2002, Dead Creek Wildlife Day has become an annual event held on the first Saturday in October. Activities include everything from decoy carving and building bluebird boxes to an owl walk and viewing snow geese during their fall migration. The event is a showcase for the Dead Creek Wildlife Management Area as well as a fun and exciting way to introduce the entire family to dozens of outdoor activities and wildlife exhibits.
In 1919 the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department made their first purchase of wildlife habitat. This one thousand acres of wetlands established the Sandbar Waterfowl Refuge and was the precursor of today’s Wildlife Management Areas. Since that initial purchase the department now owns over 118,000 acres throughout Vermont as part of the states Wildlife Management Area program. Managing these diverse habitats for the benefit of both wildlife and human use is a logistical and budgetary challenge. A unique and energetic group of friends may be the solution to keep these Wildlife Management Area’s a thriving resource for all Vermonter’s to enjoy.
Foraging for delicious wild edibles in northern Vermont, Marianne Eaton and her guests look far beyond the usual berries and fiddleheads. A duck banding operation in Addison County is critical to managing waterfowl populations. Lawrence Pyne gets the lowdown on Vermont's 87 Wildlife Management Areas to learn how they benefit both wildlife and human use.