Daily Archives: July 13, 2013

Problems for North American Atlantic Puffins

Paul J. Baicich

Birding Community E-bulletins

Atlantic Puffins are in some serious trouble in U.S./Canadian waters. In the Gulf of Maine, these birds have been losing body weight and even dying of starvation, possibly as a result of shifting fish populations caused by an increase in ocean temperature. Shifting fish populations can impact the productivity of puffins and other local seabirds. In this region, the lack of herring is perceived to be the major problem species.

At most colonies, Atlantic Puffins are typically able to continue to produce chicks when there is a food shortage, but often these chicks are smaller and will weigh less, says USFWS biologist Linda Welch.

Last summer, the survival rates of fledglings on Maine‘s two largest puffin colonies plunged, and currently puffins are in declining health at the largest puffin colony in the Gulf. This colony, on Machias Seal Island on the Maine-Canada border, has witnessed some drastic changes. At Machias Seal Island, the average body weight of both adult and young puffins is declining, according to Tony Diamond, aUniversity of New Brunswick professor who studies the birds on Machias Seal Island. The amount of herring in the birds’ diet there has also been falling by about five percent a year, Diamond said.

According to Steve Kress, who has worked to restore and sustain the Atlantic Puffin population off the Maine coast over four decades, the diet issue is a very serious concern. Instead of primarily feeding their youngsters a herring diet, Atlantic Puffin parents have been attempting to feed their young butterfish, normally a more southerly fish that has become increasingly abundant in Gulf waters. Butterfish has become more accessible to seabirds because the fish have moved higher in the water column in response to temperature change. Unfortunately puffin chicks can still starve to death because the butterfish are too big and round for the youngsters to readily swallow, Kress said. Piles of uneaten butterfish have been found next to some of the dead puffin chicks.

Interestingly, Atlantic Puffins in the Gulf of Maine seem to be particularly vulnerable since they live on the southern periphery of the species’ breeding range.

“You never know what climate change will bring,” Kress says. “We don’t know how the puffin will adapt to these changes ­ or if they’ll adapt to these conditions,” he adds.

Related problems plague other seabirds in the region, such as Arctic and Roseate Terns and Razorbills. You can read a recent USFWS review of the issue here:

Manhattan Plant Materials Center to Host North American Butterfly Association Count

The North American Butterfly Association (NABA) Count will kick off at the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Manhattan Plant Materials Center (PMC), Saturday, July 13, 2013, beginning at 9 a.m.  There is no charge to participate in the count, but volunteers need to register by Wednesday, July 10, by calling 785-539-8761, to assure adequate supply of materials and handouts.  Those attending should bring a sack lunch, water, bug spray, binoculars, field guides, camera, and dress appropriately for the weather conditions. Attendees at the event will be on their own for transportation.  If special accommodations are needed, please let the PMC know.

The annual count program is intended to promote interest in butterflies and provide results useful for scientific monitoring of this beautiful and fascinating group of insects.

“People are drawn to butterflies because of the beauty they bring to our natural world, but they are equally important to the environment as pollinators, consumers, and food sources for other animals,” said Rich Wynia, PMC Manager.

Volunteers should meet at the PMC and from there will get instructions on how to participate in the count.  The count area covers a 15-mile diameter circle with the PMC, Konza Prairie, and Manhattan located in the circle.  Due to the size of the survey area, PMC staff will organize volunteers to cover as much area as possible.  More information about the butterfly count is available at www.naba.org.

Those attending the event will also learn more about the PMC and its purpose of developing plants for conservation and have the opportunity to see some of the pollinator projects at the PMC.  For more information about the PMC, go to plant-materials.nrcs.usda.gov/kspmc/.


From Manhattan: From Fort Riley Blvd. or Tuttle Creek Blvd. (east side of Manhattan by Manhattan Town Center Mall) cross the Kansas River Bridge.  Immediately after crossing the bridge, turn right on Riley Co. 901-McDowell Creek Road, travel 6.0 miles, turn right on Riley Co. 424. Follow Riley Co. 424, 3 miles north and 1 mile west to the PMC.

            From I-70: Travelers on I-70 should exit 

307-McDowell Creek Road

 Interchange.  Eastbound travelers should turn left, westbound travelers should turn right on Riley Co. 901-McDowell Creek Road, travel 3.6 miles to west 40th Avenue, turn left and travel 3 miles north to PMC.

How Two Supreme Court Justices Became Hunting Buddies

Daniel Xu

Outdoor Hub

It is hard to picture Supreme Court Justices Elena Kagan and Antonin Scalia as friends, and even harder to imagine the two spending time together in Wyoming’s wilds.

Relative newcomer and liberal-leaning Kagan was appointed to her post by President Barack Obama in 2010 to replace departing Justice John Paul Stevens. Scalia has been seated since his appointment by Reagan in 1986, and is a cornerstone of the Court’s conservative wing. So what do these two justices have in common besides seemingly disagreeing on every issue? According to Kagan, she and Scalia take time to go bird hunting several times a year, and even made a trip to Wyoming in hopes of bagging deer.

“We disagreed on a lot of stuff, and we’re going to disagree on a lot of stuff but I enjoy every moment I spend with him,” Kagan said of Scalia during an interview with Jeff Rosen, president of the National Constitution Center.

It all began just shortly before Kagan’s confirmation to the Supreme Court.

“I met with about 80 senators individually and quite a lot of them, both Republicans and Democrats, ask you about your views on the Second Amendment,” she said in the interview. “But because you don’t say anything about your views on anything, when they ask you, they’ll try to figure out what your views on the Second Amendment are likely to be and they’ll say, ‘Well, have you ever held a gun? Have you ever gone hunting? Do you know anybody who’s gone hunting?’ And you know me, Jeff, I grew up on the Upper West Side of Manhattan and this was not something we really did, you know.”

Kagan did decide though, that hunting was something she had to experience. As a joke, she told the inquisitive senators that she would “ask Justice Scalia to take me hunting” if she ever got confirmed. Sure enough, Kagan followed through on her promise and went to Scalia after her confirmation proceedings.

“He thought it was a total crackup,” she recalled.

However, he did not say no. It is, Kagan states, a remarkable example of how two Justices with different politics can still be friends. At the end of last year Kagan and Scalia went to Wyoming to pursue deer and antelope and during the trip Kagan bagged her first deer.

The two plan on going duck hunting sometime in the future.

You can watch the full interview here:  http://www.outdoorhub.com/news/how-two-supreme-court-justices-became-hunting-buddies/?utm_source=SilverpopMailing&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=July%202%202013%20Daily%20Newswire%20(1)&utm_content=

2013-2014 Special Hunt Application Period Opens July 16

Hunters can gain access to exclusive hunting areas statewide through Special Hunts Program

Each year, hunters can apply for exclusive entry into areas with limited access through the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism (KDWPT) Special Hunts Program. This special access tends to mean a higher quality hunt and potentially greater harvest rates, but just like with any other outdoor activity, nothing is guaranteed. Because access to these areas is limited, hunters must apply online for the hunts they desire. The application period for Fall and Winter 2013/2014 Special Hunt opportunities will open July 16 and close Aug. 11.

During the application process, hunters will select what type of species they would like to hunt as well as what type of hunt they prefer, be that an open hunt, a youth hunt, or a mentored hunt. Open hunts are available to all successful applicants, regardless of age or hunting experience. Youth hunts require parties to include at least one youth 18 or younger, accompanied by an adult 21 or older who will not hunt. And mentored hunts are open to both youth and novice hunters supervised by a mentor 21 or older who may also hunt.

Applicants will be entered into a random computer drawing conducted within one week of the application deadline. Successful applicants will then be emailed their hunt permit, as well as any necessary maps and other pertinent information.

2013/2014 Fall and Winter Application Deadlines:

– 1st Draw (Sept. and Oct. Special Hunts): August 11, 2013

– 2nd Draw (Nov., Dec., Jan., Feb. Special Hunts): Sept. 29, 2013

Last year, the Special Hunts Program made 646 hunts in 13 counties available for the fall/winter hunting season. Depending upon the location and species being hunted, special hunts can range from a half-day up to the entire length of the season.

Although similar to the Walk-In Hunting Access (WIHA) program in that private landowners are compensated for the use of their land, the Special Hunts Program allows landowners to exercise more control over the use of their land. Rules such as which dates hunting can occur, how many people can hunt, as well as what species can be hunted are all left to landowners’ discretion. In addition, land areas designated for special hunts provide limited access to the public, whereas WIHAs provide open access to hunters.

For more information on the Special Hunts Program, visit ksoutdoors.com and click “Hunting/Special Hunts Information,” or contact KDWPT public land supervisor Mike Nyhoff at (785) 628-8614 or by email at [email protected] 

Hunter Education Classes being Offered Now

Kansas Hunter Education courses teach new hunters how to be ethical, safe and knowledgeable, free of charge

The Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism is currently offering Hunter Education classes throughout the state, providing a variety of class times, formats, and locations to meet nearly any schedule. Kansas law currently states that anyone born on or after July 1, 1957 must be certified by an approved course in hunter education before they can hunt in Kansas, except that anyone 15 years old and under may hunt without hunter education certification provided that they are under the direct supervision of an adult 18 years old or older. Students must be 11 years old to be certified.

In an effort to provide greater accessibility to students, Kansas Hunter Education courses are given in one of two formats: traditional or internet-assisted. Traditional hunter education courses are 10 hours long, typically in a classroom setting, and are usually held over the course of two to three days. Internet-assisted courses are designed to meet the needs of individuals with conflicting schedules by providing online classwork that can be done at home. After the internet work is completed, students must attend a field day, which often includes live-fire, trail-walk and safe gun handing exercises before final testing and certification. Students must register for an internet-assisted course before completing the internet portion.

Subjects covered include hunter responsibility, ethics, fair chase, history of firearms, firearms basics, ammunition, basic gun safety, field safety, bowhunting, conservation and wildlife management, wildlife of Kansas, outdoor emergencies, Kansas hunting regulations and boating safety for hunters.

Students should pre-register because space is limited and classes fill up quickly. New classes are scheduled weekly, so visit ksoutdoors.com and click “Services,” “Education,” and then “Hunter,” for more information and up-to-date schedules.

Leftover Nonresident White-tailed Deer Permits Still Available

Approximately 940 leftover nonresident permits in five deer management units still up for grabs

Nonresident hunters who were unable to draw a Kansas deer permit during the April nonresident application period shouldn’t consider themselves out of the running just yet. As of July 10, the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism (KDWPT) still had 902 leftover nonresident deer permits available for purchase. These Nonresident Either-sex White-tailed Deer Combo Permits will be sold online, first-come, first-served basis, and are available for Deer Management Units (DMUs) 9, 10, 11, 13, and 14.

Up-to-date information on the total number of permits available for any given unit can be viewed by visiting ksoutdoors.com and clicking “Hunting,” “Applications and Fees,” “Deer,” and “Quotas and Draw Stats.” To purchase a 2013 Nonresident Either-sex white-tailed deer permit, visit ksoutdoors.com and click “License/Permits.” Permits may also be purchased from KDWPT license vendors or by calling (620) 672-5911.

During the time of purchase, hunters may designate equipment and season, as well as one adjacent unit to hunt in. Hunters who purchase a leftover permit will lose any preference points they may have accumulated for next year’s drawing. No hunter may purchase more than one permit that allows the taking of an antlered deer. An antlered deer permit is required before purchasing additional Antlerless-only White-tailed Deer Permits. All nonresident White-tailed Either-sex Deer Combo Permits include two tags; one good for a buck or doe, and one valid for a white-tailed antlerless deer.

CORRECTION – First Week of July Turns Tragic

The news release issued late Tuesday afternoon, July 9, contained an error. The victim listed for June 8, John Freeman, III, died in 2012, not 2013The correct number of fatalities is 12 so far in 2013. We sincerely regret the error.

Four people perish in Kansas waters over the four-day July 4th holiday period

Each year, millions of people enjoy spending time at Kansas lakes and rivers and return home with happy memories to share with others. Sadly, outdoor fun turned fatal for five people who drowned in Kansas waters the first week of July – including four who perished over the extended July 4th holiday. This brings the number of people who have been fatally injured or drowned in Kansas lakes, ponds and rivers so far this year to 12. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that nearly half of all drownings in the U.S. occur in natural water settings.  

Nine of the 12 incidents occurred when the victims were swimming or wading and were not boating related. Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism (KDWPT) investigates boating accidents. Only one of the victims was wearing a life jacket. The following list of incidents was compiled from KDWPT and news reports:

July 6 – George Willenberg, 38, Hoisington, died at Wilson Reservoir while trying to swim across a cove in the Rock Town area after the boat he was on had mechanical problems.

July 5 – Oscar N. Rodriguez-Vargas, 29, Wichita, died at El Dorado Reservoir when he stepped from shallow water into deeper water while wading to a boat drifting offshore.

July 5 – Tommy Watt, 15, Clay Center, drowned while swimming in a private farm pond near Longford in Clay County.

July 4 – Khai Pu, 27, Thailand, drowned while swimming at the Hillsdale State Parkswim beach in Miami County.

July 1 – Blake Chavez, 24, Oswego, died when he fell into the Neosho River below the Oswego dam.

June 29 – Marcus Marqaiz Hutton, 19, Wichita, died at Cheney Reservoir while swimming with friends after he helped another struggling swimmer to safety.

June 28 – James Struthers, 47, Junction City, died after falling from a boat near the city of Milford boat ramp.  

June 11 – Derek Wheeler, 18, Salina, died at Kanopolis Reservoir after his kayak capsized. 

June 10 – Nicolas Frazer, 14, Centralia, was fatally injured at Centralia City Lakewhen he was thrown from an inner tube being pulled behind a boat. He was wearing a life jacket, and was later pronounced dead at Nemaha Valley Community Hospital in Seneca.

May 27 – Travis Webb, 14, Haysville, drowned at Wellington City Lake while wading with friends.

May 26 – Vincent Rice, 37, Melvern, drowned at Melvern Reservoir while scuba diving in the area of the Coeur D’Alene swimming beach.

May 18 – Robert Duff, Jr., 2, City, fell from a boat and was airlifted to a Topekahospital where he passed away.

According to Maj. Dan Hesket, KDWPT Boating Law Administrator, drowning incidents may be prevented with a few simple precautions:

Wear a life jacket at all times. Kansas law requires that all boats have one Type I, Type II, Type III, or Type V PFD of proper size, in serviceable condition, not in an enclosed compartment and readily accessible for each person on board. Anyone 12 years old and younger must wear a life jacket at all times when on board a boat. KDWPT strongly recommends that everyone wear a life jacket at all times when boating or swimming. It’s a great way for adults to set a good example.       

Swim and wade with caution. Lakes and rivers aren’t swimming pools and shouldn’t be treated as such. Kansas lakes have wind, waves, underwater obstacles, sudden drop-offs and soft bottoms. Rivers can have deceptively strong currents. Many Kansas lakes also have currents because they were built by flooding a river channel. Also, most Kansas lakes are murky, making it nearly impossible to quickly locate someone who has slipped beneath the surface.           

Don’t dive into a lake since you can’t see the water depth or underwater debris.

Know your limitations. Many people over estimate their ability to swim in open water. No one is drown-proof, no matter how much training or experience they have. Swimming in a lake is strenuous, and even strong swimmers can quickly become fatigued, disoriented, or overwhelmed by wind, waves and currents. Be particularly cautious if you have underlying medical issues or take medications that could impair your abilities.         

Don’t swim at night and don’t swim alone. No one can see you if you get into trouble. 

Avoid horseplay and risk-taking. Practical jokes or childish challenges like breath-holding contests have no place while swimming or boating. Most drownings in the U.S.happen to males – possibly because they may be more inclined to take risks than females.     

Avoid alcohol and other drugs. In addition to impairing a person’s judgment about lake conditions, alcohol increases the likelihood a swimmer will tire or become disoriented, hyperventilate, or gasp involuntarily.

Designate a lookout – Unlike the local swimming pool, there are no lifeguards on duty on Kansas waters, so it’s a good idea to designate someone who can sound the alarm and respond appropriately if a swimmer gets into trouble. Rescuers should not attempt to approach a person struggling to stay afloat unless they are trained to do so. Even strong swimmers can drown trying to help others. Instead, stay on the boat or dock and extend a pole, oar, stick, rope, or clothing to reach the victim or throw something floatable to them.

Learn cardio-pulmonary resuscitation (CPR). You could save someone’s life in the time it takes for emergency responders to arrive at a rural location.

Following these precautions can help make your next outdoor adventure a fond – rather than a tragic – memory for you, your family and friends.

Miss Manners Should Make a Visit to the Boat Launch Ramp

Impolite, self-centered behavior could well describe a kindergarten sandbox at recess, but it also fits the description of the mayhem that some boat launch ramps experience on a busy summer weekend. If America‘s famed etiquette expert, Miss Manners, were to visit a launch ramp, what lack of courtesy would she find? Boat Owners Association of The United States (BoatUS) has the answer with these top five launch ramp etiquette rules that can make the task go a lot easier and faster for all.

Be talkative: The most surefire way to cause ramp snafus is to be silent with your guests. Speak up. Let them know they should avoid parking in spaces reserved for trailers/tow vehicles. Tell them how you will load and unload (more on that in a second). Before your return to the launch ramp dock, let your crew know what they can do to help. One more friendly tip: don’t yell.

Know where to load and unload: Unloading your gear at the bottom of the boat launch ramp, which could have been done while waiting in line at the top of the boat ramp, shows a lack of courtesy Miss Manners would detest. It also is an all-too-common mistake boaters make when launching and one of the biggest causes of delays. Plan ahead. Put a checklist on your sun visor.

Don’t be the launch ramp hog: Tying up your boat at the launch dock right next to the ramp, and then going to park the tow vehicle means the next person in line can’t launch until you get back. Save everyone time by immediately moving your boat to the far end of the dock so there’s room for the next person to launch or retrieve.

Delay-of-launch penalty: Not launching the boat immediately when it’s off the trailer and, instead, waiting for the crew to return from the bathrooms again adds delays and simmers tempers. This is true at the gas dock, too. Tie up at the dock, refuel the boat, and leave as quickly and safely as possible. Don’t keep others waiting to refuel because your crew has walked to a nearby restaurant – that earns you a serious “delay-of-launch” penalty.

Lend a hand: We all need help from time to time. Be kind to your boating neighbor.

Duck Numbers Remain Strong this Year

Despite slight declines, most species remain well above long-term averages

The US Fish and Wildlife Service released its report on 2013 Trends in Duck Breeding Populations on July 12, based on surveys conducted in May and early June. Total populations were estimated at 45.6 million breeding ducks in the surveyed area. This estimate represents a 6-percent decrease from last year’s estimate of 48.6 million birds, and is 33 percent above the 1955-2012 long-term average.

Of the 10 species surveyed, 7 were similar to last year’s estimates, including mallards. Scaup and blue-winged teal were significantly below last year’s estimates. Wigeon were 23 percent above last year. Mallards, similar in number to 2012, are 36 percent above the long-term average. Two species (northern pintail and scaup) remained below their long-term average and North American Waterfowl Management Plan goals.

View all the data and get a species-by-species breakdown atwww.ducks.org/2013ducknumbers.

Keep kids safe outdoors from bees, wasps, ticks and mosquitos

David Mizijewski

National Wildlife Federation

Summertime is all about the outdoors. Yet, Americans spend more and more time indoors–and this sedentary lifestyle affects the health of our children. The average school-aged child spends almost 8 hours a day indoors in front of electronic media. Research and common sense tell us that kids who play outside are less likely to be obese, have diabetes, suffer from attention deficit issues and vitamin D deficiencies, and even be nearsighted. Kids that play outside are not only physically healthier, but they are more creative and do better in the classroom. Our families need less screen time and more green time.

Getting your family outdoors is not only good for their health, it’s a great way to explore nature. However, the fear of getting bitten or stung by bugs is a top reason why parents decide to keep their kids inside. But nobody should be terrified of the outdoors. Here’s how you can keep your family safe from bees, wasps, ticks and mosquitoes this summer, so they can enjoy all of the benefits of outdoor time.

Do learn how to identify bugs

The vast majority of insects and spiders are beneficial to your garden and the environment in general. Learning which ones actually pose a problem will help ease your anxiety about being outside. Understanding the habitat of problematic species will tell you exactly which areas to avoid and what times of day to stay inside.

Do wear long sleeves

Wearing long sleeve shirts and pants can help minimize that amount of time your skin is exposed to mosquitoes and ticks. If it is warm outside, wear loose fitting, lightweight clothing as it breathes best.

Do use repellents

Repellents can be effective at deterring mosquitoes and ticks. DEET-based repellents provide the longest protection. If you want to avoid spraying chemicals directly on your skin, choose a natural repellent that includes lemon eucalyptus. However, remember that natural repellents need to be applied more frequently.

Do use fans

Mosquitoes are weak flyers, and sometimes all you need is the wind from fans to keep them away from your deck or patio. Additionally, fans disperse the chemical trail of carbon dioxide that we exhale and exude from our skin, which female mosquitoes (the only ones that bite) use to target us. A fan is a simple and chemical-free way to avoid these insects.

Do teach your kids to be unafraid of nature

Children are not born to be afraid of the outdoors. In fact, they are naturally inquisitive. Kids learn their fear of insects from adults. Teach them that most bugs are okay, and that they don’t need to run screaming indoors every time they see one. By teaching them that bugs are not bad, you’ll both stop the spread of misinformation, and you will ultimately position your kids to avoid the negative consequences of a sedentary indoor lifestyle.


Do not spray pesticides

Spraying pesticides around your yard does little to actually eliminate insects in the long term. And these pesticides potentially expose your family, pets and wildlife to dangerous toxins.

Do not use a bug zapper

Mosquitoes are not generally attracted by light and very few are killed by electronic bug zappers. Instead, these zappers actually kill thousands of beneficial night-flying moths, beetles and other insects.

Do not destroy every bee or wasp nest

Did you know that the vast majority of the 4,000 bee species in North America won’t sting, and that ⅓ of all the food we eat is because bees pollinated our crops? Or that wasps are highly effective predators of parasites and garden pests? Killing every bee or wasp out of ignorance and fear does little to protect you–but does a great deal of harm to agriculture and the environment. If a nest is situated near your door, a walkway or your children’s play area, call a professional to remove it. Otherwise, let it be, and you shouldn’t have problems.
Do not burn or smother a tick

If you find a tick on you, simply use a pair of tweezers to grasp it by the head and pluck it out. Never burn or smother a tick because this may cause it to regurgitate disease-infected body fluids into the open wound. Don’t worry if a bit of the head remains. Disinfect the bite area and watch to see if a red swelling occurs. If it does, head to the doctor. Tick-borne diseases are easily treatable if diagnosed immediately.

Do not swat at a bee or wasp

Bees and wasps only sting defensively. Wildly swatting at one of these insects is the best way to provoke a sting. If one does fly near you, simply move away from it in a calm manner, and you won’t get stung.


            While summer is the perfect time to get your family outdoors into the fresh air and sunshine, it does not necessarily mean you will get eaten alive by the outdoor bugs. These simple tips will help you avoid getting bitten or stung, while you enjoy your summer outside.