Wildlife is generally referred to as any living organism, including non-domesticated plants. Wildlife lives in a free condition, providing for its own food, shelter and other needs in environments that provide suitable habitat. Wildlife refers to species that are not domesticated, and include (but is not limited to) spiders, birds, reptiles, fish, amphibians and mammals.

Massachusetts Division of Fisheries & Wildlife (MassWildlife)

Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife (MassWildlife) is responsible for the conservation – including restoration, protection and management – of fish and wildlife resources for the benefit and enjoyment of the public.

The Division works to balance the needs of people and wildlife today so wildlife will be available for everyone’s enjoyment today and for future generations.

MassWildlife was founded as a state fisheries commission in 1866 in response to citizen concerns about the loss of Atlantic salmon to dams and pollution. The continuing development of the agency from that time until the present reflects the will of the citizens of Massachusetts to protect and restore our natural resources.

The conservation – including protection, restoration, and management – of Massachusetts’ fauna and flora is the statutory responsibility of MassWildlife. Specifically, MassWildlife’s charge is the stewardship of all wild amphibians, reptiles, birds, mammals, and freshwater and diadromous fishes in the state, as well as endangered, threatened, and special concern species, including native wild plants and invertebrates. This responsibility is established and articulated in the Constitution and General Laws of Massachusetts.

As the base of scientific knowledge regarding the interdependence of all environmental factors has grown, coupled with progressive, pragmatic leadership, MassWildlife’s mission has evolved to include all aspects of the environment and is committed to an evolving stewardship philosophy and continued leadership in conservation and management of the environment.

Wildlife Learning Objectives

Use the learning objectives & Correlations to the National Science Standards provided by the North American Envirothon, https://envirothon.org/the-competition/curriculum-guidelines/ as your study guide to master the wildlife portion of the Envirothon. Wildlife Learning Objectives 2021 (pdf to download) These learning objectives will also provide direction to the wildlife topics (habitat, biodiversity, food chains and webs, nutrient exchange, population dynamics, wildlife management, carrying capacity, rare and endangered species, laws and regulations, wildlife diseases, wildlife resources, and legislation, etc.) to be incorporated into your current issue presentation. The topic manual provided to teams will provide supporting material for a number of learning objectives.

Hone your Wildlife Skills with a Wildlife Resource Professional

Pam Landry, Wildlife Education Coordinator, MassWildlife is available to consult with teams between September and February, as her schedule permits, to help you obtain the skills, knowledge and understanding necessary to master the wildlife portion of the Envirothon. Please contact Pam (pam.landry@mass.gov) directly if you wish to schedule a time to focus on wildlife!

Interpreting Wildlife Habitat from Aerial Photographs

Aerial photographs can be used to evaluate potential habitat for wildlife. The general habitat type and the specific features of a habitat determine the wildlife species found in an area. By understanding habitat types certain species of wildlife prefer, you can infer which areas may be suitable for which species. Become familiar with interpreting aerial photographs.

Team Resources

The PowerPoint, Wildlife in Massachusetts, is designed based on the wildlife learning objectives  –  Download the presentation here. 2020 Version with notes

Functions of Riparian Areas for Wildlife Habitat download (mass.gov)

Offline engagement activities: Get outside and look around!

All team members & coaches should become familiar with these downloadable or for purchase resource documents:

Quick Reference Guide to Hunting, Fishing and Trapping Seasons – This pdf link is a handy 2-page color publication containing only the hunting, fishing and trapping seasons and bag limits.

Guide to Hunting, Freshwater Fishing, & Trapping

Migratory Game Bird Hunting Regulations in Massachusetts – This publication contains the hunting seasons and bag limits for migratory birds (ducks, geese, woodcock and other birds). These regulations are set annually by the Fisheries and Wildlife Board in late August.

Wildlife Fact Sheets Library – A PDF library of the Living with Wildlife series fact sheets and articles about wildlife that answer the most inquiries by homeowners and community officials.

Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Program – NHESP is responsible for the conservation and protection of hundreds of species that are not hunted, fished, trapped, or commercially harvested in the state. The Program’s highest priority is protecting the 176 species of vertebrate and invertebrate animals and 259 species of native plants that are officially listed as Endangered, Threatened or of Special Concern in Massachusetts. MESA list (pdf)

Mammals List (pdf)

Reptiles and Amphibians List (pdf)

Snakes of Massachusetts Identification Guide

Wildlife Diseases

Vernal Pools

Using Field Guides

Field Guide Fun-damentals
This Field Guide Fun-damentals inquiry sheet is a beneficial tool for you to use to increase your knowledge of wildlife, conservation and management, and your understanding of wildlife ecology and issues involving wildlife and society. These topics are the pillars of the wildlife learning objectives. Individually look at a mystery Massachusetts wildlife ‘artifact’ (feather, skull, pelt, photo, etc.), provided by a teammate or coach, and thoroughly answer the following questions. Write down the resource(s) you used to find your answer to each question.  Be prepared to share your findings with your coach and team.


How to Identify Birds
For additional learning on identifying local birds visit the Cornell Lab of Ornithology site

Additional Classroom/Team Resources

MassWildlife Publications –Each team should purchase the following to add to their learning toolbox at https://www.mass.gov/guides/masswildlife-publications

Field Guide to the Amphibians and Reptiles of MA
Field Guide to the Animals of Vernal Pools
Field Guide to MA Dragonflies & Damselflies
Guide to Invasive Plants in Massachusetts
Massachusetts Homeowners Guide to Bats

The North American Conservation Education Strategy (CE Strategy)- An array of tools developed by state fish and wildlife agencies to help support conservation educators to guide students in grades K-12 on their way to becoming involved, responsible, conservation-minded citizens. Free downloadable resources include: landscape investigation, schoolyard biodiversity, field investigation, fostering outdoor observation skills, applying systems thinking, photo point monitoring, technology for field investigations, and much more. Download resources at https://www.fishwildlife.org/afwa-informs/ce-strategy/north-american-conservation-education-strategy

Climate Change and Massachusetts Fish and Wildlife:

MassWildlife and Climate Adaptation Learn how MassWildlife and others in the Northeast are cooperating to plan for the impacts of climate change.

Climate Change Wildlife and Wildlands Toolkit for Formal and Nonformal Educators
A Toolkit to aid educators in teaching how climate change is affecting our nation’s wildlife and public lands, and how everyone can become a ‘climate steward’

The Massachusetts State Wildlife Action Plan (SWAP), as required by Congress, presents the 570 Species of Greatest Conservation Need in the Commonwealth, the 24 types of habitat that support these species, and the actions necessary to conserve them.
Chapter 5 of the State Wildlife Action Plan:  Climate Change and Massachusetts SGCN (species of greatest conservation need)

The Massachusetts Wildlife Climate Action Tool is designed to inform and inspire local action to protect the Commonwealth’s natural resources in a changing climate.

Resilient MA Climate Change Clearinghouse

MA Climate Change Clearinghouse (mass.gov)

MA Climate Change Clearinghouse – Forestry (mass.gov)

MA Climate Change Clearinghouse – Water

Adaptation Clearinghouse – Ecosystems and Wildlife

National Park Service – Wildlife and Climate Change

National Wildlife Federation – Climate Change

World Wildlife Federation – Wildlife in a Warming World

Birds and Climate Change 2019 (MassAudubon)

Taking Cues from Nature to Adapt to Climate Change

Climate Adaptation Network :: Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies (fishwildlife.org)

Books for Team’s Wildlife Reference Library

Field Guide to New England
National Audubon Society Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. New York, 1998 Peterson’s Guides to mammals, birds, freshwater fish, reptiles & amphibians, and insects

Tracking and the Art of Seeing, How to Read Animal Tracks and Signs
Paul Rezendes, Camden House Publishing, Inc. 1992

New England Wildlife: Habitat, Natural History and Distribution
Richard M. DeGraaf & Mariko Yamasaki, University Press of NE, Hanover, NH 2001

Massachusetts Wildlife Magazine
A quarterly publication of various natural resource topics within the Commonwealth.
Cost $6.00/yr or $10.00/2 years. Back issues on desired topics can be obtained for $3.00. Contact MassWildlife at 508-389-6300

Project WILD & Aquatic WILD
Interdisciplinary conservation and environmental education program emphasizing terrestrial and aquatic wildlife and ecosystems. Activity guides are available through a six-eight hour teacher training workshop. Contact Project WILD Coordinator, MassWildlife at 508-389-6310

For more information, contact Pam Landry – Pam.Landry@mass.gov