Burrage Pond Wildlife Refuge

Proposed Dog Regulations at Burrage Pond

On Tuesday, February 6, 2018, the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife will hold a public Hearing at 7 p.m., at the Division of Fisheries and Wildlife’s (MassWildlife) Field Headquarters, Richard Cronin Building, 1 Rabbit Hill Road, off North Drive, Westborough, Massachusetts, to amend and establish rules relating to the leashing of dogs, and the restraint of domesticated animals (as listed in 321 CMR 9.02(3)), on MassWildlife Wildlife Management Areas.

The Burrage Pond Wildlife Refuge is one of the areas that would be affected by this change and visitors to the refuge from Halifax and other communities, whether they visit with or without dogs, may be interested in this.

Here are links to two versions of the proposed change:

There is a synopsis of the changes:

Summary of Proposed Leash & Waste-disposal Requirements for Dogs on Wildlife Management Areas

The Division of Fisheries and Wildlife (MassWildlife) has a long tradition of welcoming dogs on Wildlife Management Areas (WMA), and dogs are still welcome on WMAs under this proposal.

MassWildlife proposes to take this action due to repeated complaints from WMA users about negative and unsafe encounters with unleashed dogs and issues with dog waste. MassWildlife protects and manages its WMAs primarily for wildlife to thrive and for wildlife-related recreation such as hunting, fishing, and wildlife-watching. At the same time, MassWildlife strives to provide a safe and enjoyable outdoor experience for all visitors.

  1. The proposed regulations require the leashing of dogs and other domestic animals on WMAs. Dogs may be off-leash only when hunting or hunt-training with licensed hunters or at permitted field trials. Leashing dogs decreases conflicts with both people and other dogs, resulting in a safer and more positive experience for everyone.
  2. The proposal requires dog owners to pick up dog waste and dispose of it offsite. Removing dog waste reduces nuisance and health risks for dogs and other pets, people, and wildlife.

The Fisheries and Wildlife Board will accept written comment on the proposals at any time prior to the public hearings, and will accept either written or oral comment at public hearings. Unless otherwise noted, the Board typically extends the comment period on regulations for an additional 2 weeks following the public hearing, and votes on the proposal at its next regularly scheduled meeting. Comments (both oral and written) must focus on the changes to the regulation as proposed.

Send written comments to:

Chairman, Fisheries and Wildlife Board, c/o Director of MassWildlife, Mass. Division of Fisheries and Wildlife, 1 Rabbit Hill Road, Westborough, MA 01581 - Comments by e-mail may be sent to [email protected], to the attention of the Fisheries and Wildlife Board.

The Division of Fisheries and Wildlife has suggested that the Town of Halifax send someone to the hearing to provide testimony concerning the proposed changes in the regulations (I'm not sure whether someone will be sent). The Board of Selectmen has not discussed this matter but it will be on the list of items to be discussed at the Board’s meeting on Tuesday, January 23. Residents can send any comments, questions, or concerns to the Board (499 Plymouth Street or fax to 781-294-7684 or e-mail to me at [email protected] or post here on Halifax Locals (I’ll print it out and make copies for the Board)). Of course, anyone can send comments directly to the Fisheries and Wildlife Board at the addresses listed above.

Please note that Burrage Pond is not a Town facility and neither the Board of Selectmen nor any other Town official has any jurisdiction in this matter. The regulations are not specific to Burrage Pond; that’s why the hearing is being held at a location that is not near Halifax.

Burrage Pond Wildlife Refuge

Located in Halifax and Hanson, the Burrage Pond Wildlife Refuge is composed of 1,638 acres from the original Northland Cranberries parcel purchased in 2002 and other parcels purchased by the Commonwealth since that time.

State information on Burrage Pond

Please contact Southeast District of Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife at 508-759-3406 for more information about the Wildlife Refuge. A somewhat dated map and general information are available.

Video drone footage produced by Wally Hawker.

On the Access Point in Halifax

In 2002, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts purchased a large parcel of land owned by the Northlands Cranberry Company that straddled the border between Hanson and Halifax. The two towns contended that state law required that "rollback taxes" be paid to the two towns as the property was being taken out of agricultural use (many pieces of property in agricultural use receive significant reductions in property taxes; in many circumstances, if a property is taken out of agricultural use, the property owner is assessed property taxes for past years based on the "full and fair use" of the property without the agricultural exemption).

The State disagreed with the two towns but reached a settlement with each community which included a cash payment and a transfer of land. The transfer of the land to Halifax never occurred. In 2012, legislation was filed and approved for the land transfer. The necessary steps for the transfer included a survey of the property which the DEP recently completed. The parcel was transferred to the Town in 2015.

Since 2002, the Department of Environmental Management/Division of Fisheries and Wildlife has operated the Burrage Pond Wildlife Refuge (the former Northlands property) and has included two major access points, one on Hawks Avenue in Hanson and one off of Elm Street in Halifax. The survey work included a survey of the access point in Halifax. That survey showed that a significant portion of the access point was owned by private landowners, not the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Once that was determined, the owners indicated that they did not want the public to access the Burrage Pond Wildlife Refuge using their property and they were within their rights to block the access on their property.

The Commonwealth has determined that the best option to establish a new access point is to use its own land, a little bit away from the old access point. It will need to appropriate money for this project, hire an engineering firm and then a firm to build the new access. The Town does not play a role in this and the timetable for this work is uncertain.

For the time being, however, the only major access point to the Wildlife Refuge is via the Hawks Avenue access point in Hanson.

Charlie Seelig, Town Administrator, July 1, 2016

On Dogs at Burrage Pond

In regards to dogs, dogs must be restrained (by leash/chain or strict voice control) and all dog waste is to be removed from all areas (particularly from roads, trails and trail edges) for people to be in compliance with several laws/regulations that might apply. There are several laws and regulations that apply:

These have to do with dogs that are not controlled and the potential for them to run/harm/harass deer

Please see Section 3.01(1)(e) regarding dumping or discarding trash/waste.....this would include dog waste)

There are obviously exemptions for the use of hunting dogs for training, field trials and hunting purposes.