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Town of Dennis, Massachusetts
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Frequently Asked Questions





1.  Who should I contact if I have a problem regarding a wild animal?

The Department of Natural Resources is available to help with emergencies regarding wild animals, Monday thru Friday, 8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.  Should you encounter an emergency with a wild animal outside of these hours, you may contact the Police Department at 508-394-1314. For safety reasons, do not attempt to handle the animal yourself.  

2.  What constitutes an emergency?

  • A hurt wild animal that may pose a danger to the public.
  • A wild animal that becomes trapped in your home and poses an immediate threat to your safety.
  • Any animal that appears to be in distress (rabid, mange, etc.)
Other possible issues that the Department of Natural Resources does NOT constitute as an EMERGENCY are as follows:

  • Animals that may nest under decks, sheds, in gargages (skunks, raccoons, rabbits, etc.)
  • Animals that may lay eggs on or near your property (i.e., turtles, snakes, etc.)
  • Animals that may wander through your property
  • Dead animals found on your property
You may refer to the Department of Natural Resources page on "Living with Wildlife" for helpful tips for homeowners by clicking here.

The Department of Natural Resources does not remove dead animals from your property.  The property owner is responsible for the removal of all dead animals located on the property.  

3.      What if I see a bird (i.e., sea gull, crow, etc.) that appears to be injured?

Please contact the Department of Natural Resources during operating business hours.  Please note that the Department will respond to these calls as an officer is available.  The Department may not be readily available to come out right away, but, will respond when available.  During non-business hours, please contact the Police Department's NON-EMERGENCY line at 508-394-1314.

4.      Who should I contact regarding domestic animal issues?

All domestic animal calls should be referred to the Town of Dennis Animal Control Department.  The office can be reached by calling 774-352-1400.


1.      How can I find a map showing Conservation Areas for the Town of Dennis?

Currently, the Town of Dennis has a map outlining Conservation Areas on the web.  Access this map by clicking here

2.      What are the Rules and Regulations for usage of Conservation Areas?


1.      When do I have to apply for a Conservation Commission hearing?

There are several reasons why a homeowner may have to file with the Conservation Commission.  Generally, if a homeowner is doing work located within a certain number of feet to any wetland or resource area, it will need to be reviewed by the Town of Dennis Conservation Commission.  

To best determine if you will need a filing, it is best to contact the Department of Natural Resources at 508-760-6123, or in person.  You should be able to tell the agent the location of the project, what work is proposed, and, bring with you any and all materials that will help to determine if a filing is necessary.  For example, the following will be useful in determining what kind, if any, filing you will need:
  •         Site Plans
  •         Septic System Plans
  •         Any Wetland Delineations
2.      Does the Conservation Office need to sign off on my Building Permit?

The Conservation Office (Department of Natural Resources) will have to sign off on your building permit application, prior to your filing with the Building Department.  Please bring in your application during normal business hours (Monday-Friday, 8:30- 4:30).  The Conservation Agent will not sign off any building permit application until all necessary documentation is in place with the Department of Natural Resources.

3.      What if I am not in a Conservation/Wetland area?  Do I still need a sign off with the Conservation Office for my building permit?

ALL Building Permit applications must be signed by the Conservation office, prior to submittal in the Building Department.

4.      When does the Conservation Commission meet?

The Conservation Commission schedules its hearings the first and third Thursdays of every month.  In addition to the regularly scheduled public hearings, the Commission also may meet on the second Tuesday of every month for a Work Session.  Be sure to check the Commission's webpage for agendas, minutes, schedules, etc. by clicking here.

5.      When are the filing deadlines for Conservation Commission hearings?  How much is it for a filing?

You can find a full hearing and deadline schedule, along with a fee schedule by clicking here.  


1.      How much are Recreational Shellfish Permits?

The recreational shellfish permit fees are as follows
  • Household Permits (Residents and Property Owners) $20.00
  • Residents over 70 years of age                                $3.00*
  • Non-Residential Permit                                               $65.00
* please note that if you purchase an Over 70 permit, the owner of said permit MUST be present during shellfishing.

2.   Can I take someone out shellfishing with me?

As a shellfish permit holder, you are more than welcome to have someone accompany you while shellfishing. Please remember that you are only allowed one limit per permit (please refer to the Recreational Shellfish Regulations).

3.      What is open for shellfishing?

There is always some form of shellfishing available year round in the Town of Dennis.  Please refer to the Recreational Shellfish Regulations for available dates and species.  Also, there is a helpful link on the Shellfish Webpage with Maps of the areas.

4.      What are the hours of operation for shellfishing?

A permit holder may shellfish on the appropriate day between the hours of Sunrise and Sunset.

5.      What do in need to go shellfishing?

All shellfishing requires a permit.  In addition, certain tools will make the harvest more rewarding.  Here are some useful tools:

Long handled tool with curved tines at the base (with or without basket)
Allows the digger to stand and scratch the surface to a depth of six inches, which is where the animals can be found.
Steamer Clams (Soft Shell)
Razor Clams
A short handled hoe, which has tines of about 12 inches in length.
Allows the digger to dig a trench about 10 inches deep and uncover the clams.
May be harvested by hand or using a quahog scratcher
These animals do not burrow.  They live on the surface and may be harvested by hand.  When searching for these species, be mindful of the fact that your activity will likely turn the water muddy (Much of the technique uses the sense of feel).

Be sure to protect your feet with boots or old sneakers.  Broken shell fragments can inflict a serious cut.  

A hat, insect repellent and sunscreen are also recommended.

6.      Where can I go shellfishing?

Each species has specific dates for harvesting.  Please check the recreational shellfish regulations for the dates.  Useful maps are located on the webpage for each specific species of shellfish.

7.      What will I be able to harvest?

Generally, quahogs, steamers, oysters, blue mussels and scallops are available in their respective season.

8.      What is the difference between a clam and a quahog?

What's in a name?  The Native American name for the hard shell clam (Mercenaria mercenaria) is Quahog (also spelled quahaug, quohog and others) and the name is unique to the Cape and Islands region, as well as Rhode Island.  Elsewhere, along the East Coast, it is referred to as a "clam".  Locally, the term "clam" is used to describe the soft shell or steamer clam (Mya arenaria).  Just to confuse matters further, the younger, smallest (barely legal size) quahog is designated Littleneck.  Somewhat larger specimens of the same animal are called Cherrystone.  Both are typically eaten on the half shell.  The largest quahogs are called Chowders.

9.      How much can I take home?

All limits for each particular species are described in the Recreational Shellfish regulations.  Each permit is allowed one limit per week.  Any number of helpers can accompany the family members in whose name the permit is issued.  However, the transfer of the permit to another person who is not normally living with the licensee is prohibited.  Other species also have catch limits and are described in our regulations.

10.     How about "Senior Permits"?

A person may obtain an "Over 70" permit, if they meet the age requirement.  The cost of this permit is $3.00.  The limits remain the same of those with a "Household" license, and all other regulations do apply.  Again, the person in whose name the permit is issued MUST BE PRESENT.

11.     Is shellfish safe to eat?

The waters from which shellfish may be harvested are tested on a regular basis to insure public safety.  This protocol is established by Federal guidelines and is implemented by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.  Should the index exceed the threshold for safety, then the area will be closed to harvest and will be posted and patrolled.  Eating raw shellfish may pose potential health risk for some individuals and consumers should be mindful of the potential health effects.  Occasionally, persons may have allergic reactions to eating shellfish.

12.     What about Red Tide?

Red Tide in New England waters is somewhat of a misnomer as it has no discernable red color.  however, the term is used to describe Harmful Algae Blooms which occur worldwide and which can render shellfish which filter these algae to become toxic to warm blooded animals- such as humans.  Although not perfectly understood, we do know that the most common Red Tide occurs locally during the spring months although not every year.  The algae which is the problem suddenly grows very quickly and since shellfish are filter feeders, they consume it, and concentrate a toxic chemical in their tissue.  It does not affect the shellfish, but if a warm blooded animal were to eat the shellfish, it has the potential to disrupt the central nervous system function of heartbeat and breathing.  This phenomenon has evidently been happening for many years and was understood by the Native Americans so there is no clear link to pollution or other environmental degradation.  Testing of the shellfish is done on a weekly basis to insure the safety of harvesters, and the protocol for re-opening an area affected by Red Tide is very conservative.  No known instances of Red Tide poisoning have occurred in Eastham, although closures have been frequent in the past decade.

Dennis Town Seal
Town of Dennis, Massachusetts
685 Route 134
South Dennis, MA 02660
PH: 508.394.8300    FAX: 508.394.8309
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