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Outdoors notebook: Turtles, the Buffalo River and more

The Department of Environmental Conservation has begun a homework requirement before youths and others can attend in-class instruction for the completion of a hunting or trapping certification course.

These free courses are provided through the DEC’s Sportsmen Education Program with offices in each region. Acting Commission Basin Seggos noted, “Establishing a new homework portion of the courses enhances the quality of the training and will improve our excellent record of safe hunting and trapping in New York.”

Classes are provided throughout the year and the DEC Web site lists all certification-required course dates and locations statewide. Details for registration and preparation are given for each course site.

To learn more about the new course format and find class location sites closest to your residence, visit dec.ny.gov/oudoor/7860.

Tending to turtles

The spring turtle egg-laying season is here and turtles frequently cross roads and vehicles strike and kill thousands each year as these slow-moving, large female beasts migrate to and from nesting areas.

DEC surveys show all 11 species of land turtles in New York State are declining in numbers.

A greater number of turtles are found along roads near marshy areas and rivers. Officials suggest being on the lookout and attempt to safely avoid turtles on the road. When possible on less traveled roads, experts recommend moving turtles off the road, placing them on the roadside in the direction in which they were facing.

However, the DEC cautions willing Samaritans not to move snapping turtles. Other turtle species such as painted turtles are less harmless to handle. While lacking the snapping turtle’s bite, all turtles have sharp front and rear claws. When picking up and moving these breeders, try to find a midpoint on each side of the shell well away from the claws on its lengthy rear feet.

Deer hunter survey

If you missed the Department of Environmental Conservation deer management meetings held recently in Western New York, an on-line survey offers hunters a means to read up on some aspects of DEC management directions and to offer input on many issues hunters and wildlife watchers have about deer dynamics.

The survey takes 10-15 minutes, depending on extent of input offerings. To complete the survey, visit surveygizmo.com/s3/2767830/NYSDEC-Deer-Management-Planning-2016.

River forum

Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper is offering a free public forum “Habitat Restoration on the Buffalo River” from 6 to 8:30 p.m. Tuesday evening at Tewksbury Lodge in Buffalo River Fest Park at 249 Ohio St.

Doors open at 5:30 p.m. and attendees can stroll around the park and view the river sites. To register for this event, visit bnriverkeeper.org/forums.

Pier project

Anglers and waterscape watchers will have to wait about six weeks before regaining access to the popular Dunkirk Fishing Pier in the City of Dunkirk.

DEC officials announced the closing of the pier to make needed repairs and upgrade the structure for angler use, including the installation of railings and benches.

Work is expected to be completed later this summer in time for the fall run of trout, bass panfish and walleye.