Monthly Archives: May 2013

Bradford Pear a Poor Choice for Birds, Wildlife

An oft-planted ornamental tree – Bradford pear – has become an invasive species that harms native plants or trees that support wildlife. Property owners and managers are urged to consider native alternatives, such as the downy serviceberry tree, as they plant new trees this spring.

Bradford pears are a common landscaping tree because they’re adaptable to soil and shade conditions, and in early spring they produce a profusion of white blooms. They were long considered safe for the environment because it was believed the hybrids could not produce viable seed.

However, various cultivars were used and some managed to cross pollinate and produce viable seed. Birds eat the fruit and distribute the seeds across the landscape. Bradford pears, sometimes called callery pears, also leaf out early and that helps them out compete native grasses, wildflowers, shrubs and young trees, said Wendy Sangster, an urban forester for the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC).

“It’s also not a good tree because they’re not strong,” Sangster said. “They don’t stand up well in storms and the limbs break easily.”

Serviceberry trees, a Missouri native, offer an excellent alternative. In late March or April, serviceberry produces heavy white blooms that signal spring. Their small red fruit is also edible for people and wildlife. Those who harvest serviceberries use them as food in ways comparable to blueberries. But they must be picked quickly when ripe because birds love them, too.

Wild plum is another good alternative tree, Sangster said. For spring blooms, the redbud tree is a showy and reliable native. Dogwood trees will also produce early spring blooms in the Kansas City region, although they require shade.

For more information about urban trees, go to Heartland Tree Alliance offers information

Using native plants and trees in landscape settings helps wildlife from butterflies to birds and avoids invasive species. For more information, go online to  

KDWPT Law Enforcement Division holds K-9 Recertification Training

Four K-9 law enforcement teams recently took part in recertification training, an annual requirement of the unit

The Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism (KDWPT) Law Enforcement Division recently held its 11th annual K-9 recertification training, April 22-25 at Milford Reservoir, despite wintery conditions. This four-day training period is conducted each year to ensure that every dog and handler meets or exceeds current agency standards. For nearly 30 hours, each team partook in a variety exercises designed to mirror real-world scenarios and environments.

In order to successfully pass recertification training, each team must prove proficient in the following three areas:


K9s and handlers must be able to continually track for a required distance, picking up on multiple scent articles along the trail. In order to create a realistic setting, each team had to combat a variety of challenges including dead ends, surface changes, multiple turns, and cross tracks.


In order to qualify in detection, each team is required to quickly and efficiently locate hidden wildlife both indoors and outdoors. Wildlife used in this training included deer, turkey, pheasant, quail, dove, and various waterfowl. These animals were hidden in and around buildings, boats, vehicles, coolers and other various locations.

Area Searches

To certify in area searches, each team is required to conduct an area search of a field, picking up a variety of hidden objects along the way. Hidden items included guns, shell casings, spotlights, wallets, cell phones, knives, back packs, and other items containing a human scent.

Those in attendance were LT. Jason Sawyers and the following K-9 teams:

–K-9 “Meg” and handler Lance Hockett

–K-9 “Lucy” and handler Jeff Goeckler

–K-9 “Cocoa” and handler Jake Brooke

–K-9 “Libby” and handler Ben Womelsdorf

For more information on the KDWPT K-9 unit, visit and click “Services/Law Enforcement/K-9 Unit.”

Farm Bill Work Begins Again

from the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition

In late April, Agriculture Committee leaders announced plans for starting the 2013 Farm Bill process. Because a new Congress started this year, Congress cannot pick up where it left off with the farm bill last year and must start the process over again. Currently, USDA is operating under an awful 9-month farm bill extension that Congress passed in January as part of the fiscal cliff deal. The extension ends September 30.

            Senate Plans

Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Stabenow (D-MI) announced that she plans to hold Committee mark up of the 2013 Farm Bill during the first, or possibly second, week in May. She has indicated that the starting point for the debate in Committee will be the Senate-passed bill from last year. She has also said that the bill will achieve the $23 billion in savings that last year’s bill achieved, and that the cuts to achieve the savings will be distributed as they were in last year’s bill – i.e., approximately $6 billion from conservation, $4 billion from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), and $16 billion from the commodity and crop insurance titles, with the balance above $23 billion targeted to renew programs that do not have automatic funding baselines.

Senate Majority Leader Reid (D-NV) also announced this week that he hopes to have the full Senate debate the farm bill before the chamber debates immigration reform in June. This means that the farm bill could possibly be debated in the full Senate before Memorial Day or at the beginning of June.

            House Plans

House Agriculture Committee Chairman Lucas (R-OK) announced that he plans to hold the House Agriculture Committee farm bill mark up on May 15. He has indicated that he expects a shorter mark up with fewer amendments than last year’s full day mark up. In sharp contrast to the Senate’s plans, Lucas intends to change the framework of his bill to achieve $38 billion in savings (instead of the $35 billion achieved from the House Committee-passed bill last year).  According to several published accounts, he also intends to take a much bigger chunk of cuts than last year from SNAP and from conservation, including especially from the Conservation Stewardship Program and the Conservation Reserve Program, and significantly less from commodity subsidies.

            What does this mean?

This is the third time that Congress has started the process of writing a new farm bill in the past two years. It is not clear whether Lucas and Stabenow have an end-game for the 2013 Farm Bill in mind, but they are moving forward with the process nonetheless. Without an overarching budget agreement that would start each house off on the task of writing a bill with the same budget assumptions, getting a bill to the finish line becomes much harder. It becomes harder still with the increasingly partisan battle being waged over SNAP.

While Congress has faced many obstacles in passing a farm bill, each version has been informed by the previous version, which makes it critical to defend and build upon the wins for sustainable agriculture from last year in this year’s process. And who knows, maybe, despite mounting obstacles, the third time’s the charm.

Are Bird Seed Products Pesticide-Free?

American Bird Conservancy has sent letters to two of the nation’s largest manufacturers of wild bird seeds, Scotts Miracle-Gro Company and Kaytee Products, seeking assurance that the company supply chains remain free of neonicotinoid insecticides, which can be fatally poisonous to birds.

“American Bird Conservancy (ABC) would like to direct your attention to the neonicotinoid coatings that are commonly applied to corn, canola, sunflower, millet, and other types of seeds,” says theletter. “Our recently completed scientific assessment concluded that these insecticides routinely are incorporated into seeds and are lethal to birds. We want to ensure that these insecticidal treatments are never found on the bird seed that your companies sell to consumers for feeding pets and wild birds.”

            ABC recently released a 100-page scientific report on the effects of neonicotinoid insecticides on birds, The Impact of the Nation’s Most Widely Used Insecticides on Birds. These chemicals are applied as seed treatments in agricultural and horticultural seed products. For some crops such as corn, close to 100 percent of seed on the market is treated. ABC reviewed 200 studies on neonicotinoids, including industry research obtained through the U.S. Freedom of Information Act.

Humane Society Pushes for Deer Birth Control in Washington, D.C.

The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) has recently offered their suggestion on how to cut an increased deer population in Washington, D.C. – birth control.

Deer populations in Rock Creek Park in D.C. have increased to 3-5 times more than what the National Park Service (NPS) deems sufficient, causing the NPS to take action. Controlled hunting has been successfully used as a means to limit the population – something hunters are willing to do and even to pay for the opportunity.  But HSUS sees this as a “wasteful killing program.”

HSUS is pushing the NPS to administer a form of birth control known as porcine zona pellucida (PZP) that causes antibodies to bind to a deer’s eggs to block fertilization. Administering PZP is expected to cost taxpayers $340,000 for just the Rock Creek Park alone according to  HSUS has offered to pay for half of the program, leaving taxpayers “holding the bag” for the rest of the cost.

Hunting has proven to be a successful means of population control, while also providing vital dollars to state wildlife agencies to maintain wildlife populations.  HSUS ignores this fact, and instead is asking taxpayers to use their hard earned money to pay for their unproven “birth control agenda.”

In addition, the NPS has set criteria for birth control vaccines to follow in order to be administered, and luckily, PZP does not meet the full criteria.

This is just one case of many where HSUS has pushed for a no-hunting agenda, including recent anti-bear hunting and bear trapping legislation introduced in Maine. HSUS fills the number one spot on U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance’s Dirty Dozen list of anti-hunting organizations.

Great American Backyard Campout, June 22nd

Think back a moment to some of your favorite summer memories from your childhood. Chances are, many of them involve family vacations and spending time outside with your friends.

So what will your kids remember about this coming summer?

Here’s your chance to create memories that will last your kids a lifetime by taking part in this summer’s 9th Annual Great Backyard Campout.

On June 22, families across the country will spend a night camping out under the stars in their own backyards, neighborhoods and local parks. We hope you will be one of them!

Whether you are a camping pro or new to pitching a tent, we have everything you need to make your campout one to remember—from camp songs to games to recipes to camping tips.

Click here to learn more about this fun, FREE outdoor event.

Camping with family, friends, scout troops and classmates is a simple way to get your kids outdoors and connected with the nature all around them. And it’s a guaranteed way to create a night they will remember!

            Check out the following website for Camping Tips, Campfire Songs and Stories, Camping Recipes and Camping Games and Activities:

Caney Teens Create YouTube Channel for Hunting, Fishing Fans.

                                         Chance Brake and Sidney Smith
 A pair of Caney-area teenagers aren’t quite ready to host their own show on the Outdoor Channel. But Chance Brake and Sidney Smith are cutting their teeth in the outdoor television market with their own YouTube channel devoted to all-things outdoors.
    Brake, a freshman and Smith, an eighth grade student, at Caney Valley Jr.-Sr. High School are avid outdoor enthusiasts, spending their after-school hours with a shotgun, bow, or fishing reel in hand.  They’ve taken their love of their outdoors to the internet, where the duo has created a series of videos on their own YouTube channel. 

Called BS Boys Outdoors (B as in Brake and S as in Smith), the channel shows the two teenagers offering their advice on hunting, fishing and cooking wildlife.  YouTube viewers can watch Smith explain how to disassemble and clean a shotgun—or how to catch and clean rabbits. 

    Want to learn how to trap a coyote?  BS Boys Outdoors has prepared that Video.  Need to know how to prepare deer meat for an evening meal?  You can watch Chance fry deer back straps (with fried mushrooms as a culinary complement).

   “We love hunting and fishing,” said Chance.  “And we just thought it would be neat to offer our take on how to enjoy the outdoors.”  Brake and Smith also said they were recently interviewed by KVOE, Phil Taunton’s radio show , an Emporia radio station, which caught wind of the Caney teenagers’ online outdoor channel. 

The ease of using a hand held video camera—combined with some easy-to-use computer software—allow Brake and Smith to create their videos in little time, they said.

    We’ve got more ideas for upcoming videos,” said Sid.

Besides taking outdoor sports to an online level, they are also taking their love of fishing to a level of generosity.  BS Boys Outdoors will sponsor a benefit catfishing tournament on Saturday and Sunday, May 18-19, for Garrett Battige, a Copan teenager who has been diagnosed with brain cancer.

   We’ve never sponsored a tournament on our own, but we know people who love to fish will enjoy that weekend , and it’s going to a good cause,” said Chance.  We understand the members of the TV show “Mudcats” will be participating.

State and International Winners Selected in 2013 State-Fish Art Contest

                                          Art by Ziche Wang (Grades 4-6)

Wildlife Forever is proud to announce the winners of the 2013 State-Fish Art Contest supported by NRG. A distinguished panel of fish artists and honorary judges selected 141 winners from a field of thousands to be “the best of the best” in their state and grade category and for the international entries in each grade category.

“Wildlife Forever is pleased to honor the talented young artists, educators and parents who make the State-Fish Art Contest such a successful program,” said Douglas H. Grann, President & CEO of Wildlife Forever. “Together, we are using art to empower a new generation of conservationists. By sharing their fish art with family, friends and the general public, our young people are becoming ambassadors for good stewardship of our aquatic resources.”

All winning entries can be seen at:

Each state’s winner will have the opportunity to join talented young artists from across the country at the 15th Annual State-Fish Art EXPO July 12 and 13 at the Go Fish Education Center in PerryGeorgia. All winning artwork will be on display and an awards ceremony, at the Perry Arts Center, will recognize the winners before the crowd. Each winning artist, attending the EXPO, will receive an award, great prizes, art supplies, goodie bags, and a fishing rod & reel from Rapala.

The “Top 12” National Awards will be announced at the State-Fish Art EXPO honoring the top three pieces of artwork in each grade category selected from all the states, Ontario and international first place winners.

An overall “Best of Show” winner will be announced to receive the “Seth Thomas Spradlin Best of Show Award” given in honor of the 2008 winner who lost his life in an Alaska bush plane accident in August of 2010.

The People’s Choice Award will be determined by a world-wide public online vote through links on the State-Fish Art website and on the Contest Fan page: Online voting will begin on Friday, May 17th and conclude on Friday, June 28th with additional votes collected in person at the State-Fish Art EXPO. Over 54,000 views and votes were cast in the 2012 contest!

One outstanding piece of artwork will win the “Art of Conservation” Stamp Award and be reproduced as the 2013 Wildlife Forever State-Fish Art Conservation Stamp. Proceeds from the stamp will be used to fund the Contest.

The “Smile Award”, will be given to a piece of art, selected from all the entries, that just “makes you smile and feel good inside” … how cool is that!

This year’s “Invader Crusader” will be chosen from the entries in the Silent Invader Category. The art and essay include both a state-fish and an invasive species.

For the second year, the essays accompanying each piece of art will be judged and 1st, 2nd and 3rd place essays in each grade category will receive the new national Fish Make You Smarter Award. The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service judged the Grade 10-12 Category and will be on hand to award the trophies for excellence.

Wildlife Forever’s 15th annual State-Fish Art Contest and EXPO is made possible by support from NRG, as Title Sponsor, North American Fishing Club, U.S. Forest Service, Rapala, Blick Art Materials, Cheap Joe’s Art Stuff, U.S Fish & Wildlife Service Fisheries and the Georgia Department of Natural Resources.

Kansas Ash Trees in Danger!

The Emerald Ash Borer is an invasive species of beetle that has begun to spread into Kansas over the last year. It has killed tens of millions of ash trees in other states, and may have the same devastating effect in Kansas. The annual cycle of the beetle dictates that it will begin emerging as early as mid May, and Ash Borer activity will peak in June.

            In order to prevent damage to Ash trees, and to slow the spread of the Emerald Ash Borer, many individuals are choosing to preemptively use pesticides on their ash trees. Tree owners are encouraged to inject their trees rather than spray pesticides on ground around the tree because chemicals are very harmful to aquatic ecosystems.   

            The practice of using pesticides or insecticides may be necessary to protect Ash trees, but it is important to do so in the correct and responsible manner. Inject the trees when possible but if you do spray please avoid over saturating the ground, and avoid direct application near water ways or storm drains. If you are treating your trees with pesticides or insecticidesplease make sure to follow all labels. Imidacloprid is one of the more common chemicals used to treat for Emerald Ash Borer and it is designated as highly toxic to aquatic invertebrate populations as well bee populations. Aquatic invertebrates make up many of the keystone species in aquatic ecosystems, and it is crucial that they maintain a healthy population.

            A few easy tips to remember:

♦ When using insecticides to protect from the Emerald Ash Borer; inject whenever possible!

♦ If you have to spray make sure to follow correct application rates.

♦ If you must spray then avoid spraying close to waterways, or storm drains, and avoid spraying prior to rain events.

For more information please visit: Kansas Department of Agriculture – or

Boating Safety Class – May 11

Members of the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary will offer a one-day boating safety class to the boating public on Saturday May 11, 2013. The class will be held at the Lawrence Fire & Medical Department facility (Jayhawk Room) located at 

1911 Stewart Ave.

 in LawrenceKansas66046. The class will start at 8:30 a.m. and will conclude by 5:00 p.m. While the course is free-of-charge, purchase of the course textbook “About Boating Safely” is optional ($15).

Topics covered by the course include boat types and marine motors, pre-underway activities and trailering, boat handling and navigation rules, legal requirements of boating, boating emergencies, operator responsibilities and water sports. A closed-book examination will be administered at the conclusion of the course. Successful completion of this safe boating class will satisfy the educational requirement of the State of Kansas for persons 12 years of age or older and less than 21 years of age, to operate a motorboat, sailboat or personal watercraft, and will help persons become safer, more informed boaters.

Pre-registration for the course is required. To pre-register, contact Pam Chaffee at [email protected] or (785) 550-4074.