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Why did the turtle cross the road? Because it's mating season.

Byline: Mark Blazis


With the current mating season for turtles comes the unavoidable consequences of crossing roads to get from their wetlands home to their dry, soft egg-laying habitat. Thousands are annually killed on the asphalt killing grid that is their unnatural gauntlet. Beware of their presence and give them a break, and I don't mean a crushed carapace.

Turtle mortality is particularly high near wetlands. In the past, oblivious to wildlife needs and inevitable fatalities, planners didn't hesitate to build roads adjacent to waterways and wetlands.

If you observe a road-crossing painted or snapping turtle, our most common species, and decide to assist it, be careful with traffic - and best use a big shovel to move a powerful-jawed big mother snapper in the same direction she was headed. Returning any turtle to the water it was coming from will just prolong its journey and increase the likelihood of its being hit when it resumes its trek.

And don't be tempted to remove a turtle from the wild to keep it as a confined pet. That's sure to diminish its breeding pool and some uncommon species like spotted, Blanding's, box, and red-bellied turtles can't withstand that extra pressure.

Enjoying shad

Last week, 38,982 shad passed over the Hadley Falls Fish Lift on the Connecticut River. To date this spring, 309,780 have been lifted over the falls. A surge of 832 blueback herring brought their total up to 966. For the season, 44 stripers were also tallied going over the dam along with 20,031 sea lamprey. Three salmon last week brought their numbers up to 35. While some species numbers are disheartening, shad are giving us reason to celebrate. They are great fighters both on a line and in a world becoming increasingly more challenging to survive in. Their reputation on the table tempts many to bring them home to cook.

Unfortunately, shad have 252 bones and three sets of ribs, which are arranged - for me, at least - in an undecipherable pattern. I think I've unintentionally tasted most of them. I just can't seem to master the art of deboning them, so I saute just the marvelous roe - and give my fish to those more proficient with a knife.

Many shad lovers are thankful that it's possible to buy deboned shad fillets at the Rocky Hill/Glastonbury Ferry or the Shad Shack in Old Saybrook, Conn. Special shad restaurants are briefly serving both roe and fillet dinners from Middletown to Old Saybrook.

My son Matt recently shared a great pickling recipe, which might persuade some to keep their shad, which are the biggest and most delicious of the herring family. As a tiny jar of pickled herring sells for almost $5, this recipe is worth trying.

After scaling and cutting out and discarding all obvious rib bones, the fish is cut into small chunks about an inch thick. They're refrigerated for two days in a brine consisting of 1-1/2 cups of kosher salt and two quarts of water. The brine is then poured off, and the chunks are covered with white vinegar and refrigerated for an additional two days. All this acid softens the calcium and disintegrates the bones. Metal containers should never be used during this acid process.

To finish the pickling, pour off the vinegar and place the chunks in jars containing sliced onions and a marinade made of 1 cup of white vinegar, 1 cup of pineapple juice, 3/4 cup of sugar, and 2 tbsp. of pickling spice, all previously boiled, strained, and cooled. The chunks should be totally covered by the marinade and refrigerated for at least one more week. The simple process is time-consuming but results in herring that surpass any I've bought in a store.

Antlerless permits

Mark your calendars: July 16 is the deadline for Massachusetts antlerless deer permit applications. Every year, many hunters have to pass up a nice doe because they were remiss in applying for their permit on time.

First, if you've already bought your license, check to see if you've already applied for the permit by looking at your license. It should say under Items Purchased "Antlerless Deer Permit Application /Zone xx." Then on August 1, return to the MassFishHunt website to actually win the antlerless permit you applied for. Enter your last name, and Customer ID number (your license number). Click on "Enter Sales;" then click on "Hunting Permits and Stamps"; then "Antlerless Deer Permit." You will see a message informing you if you have won your permit or not. Winners can pay the $5 permit fee immediately with a credit card and print the permit - or leave the winning permit in the shopping cart where it will remain until payment is made or until the permit expires at the end of 2013.

Ziemba honored

Local Environmental Police Lt. Charles "Stu" Ziemba, one of many great EPO's that protect our state's wildlife, was named 2012 Officer of the Year by the Conservation Law Enforcement Chiefs Association. Bravo, Stu!

Contact Mark Blazis at
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Title Annotation:SPORTS
Publication:Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA)
Date:Jun 4, 2013
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