Daily Archives: September 20, 2013

Youth Waterfowl Season just around the Corner

Youth waterfowl seasons offer hunters age 15 and under a noncompetitive hunting environment

There’s nothing quite like the sights and sounds of a waking marsh first thing in the morning. Crawling out of bed before dawn may be an unappealing concept for some youth, but waterfowl hunting is more than worth the sacrifice when done right. With milder temperatures and youth waterfowl season just around the corner, it’s the perfect opportunity to introduce young hunters to the world of hunting ducks.

The 2013 youth waterfowl season will kick off with the High Plains and Low Plains Early zones, Sept. 28-29, followed by the Low Plains Late Zone, Oct. 19-20, and the Southeast Zone, Oct. 26-27.

Daily bag limits are the same as those of the regular duck season and may consist of six ducks including no more than 5 mallards, of which only 2 may be hens; 3 wood ducks; 3 scaup; 2 pintails; 2 redheads; and 2 canvasbacks. Possession limit is three times the daily bag limit.

For a detailed map of duck zone boundaries and other waterfowl hunting regulations, consult the 2013 Kansas Hunting and Furharvesting Regulations Summary available at all KDWPT regional offices, most license vendors, and online at ksoutdoors.com

In an effort to get more youth involved with hunting, the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism (KDWPT) hosts free youth hunting events, and one such event will be a youth duck hunt at the Milford Wildlife Area, Sunday, Oct. 19. Youth ages 10-15 are invited to participate. There is no cost to attend and ammunition will be provided. Other hunting equipment will also be available for use on a first-come, first-served basis.

Hunters must register no later than Oct. 14, 2013. Space is limited, so early registration is encouraged. Hunters will meet at the Milford Wildlife Area office, 

1782 10th Road

Clay Center, just prior to the hunt. Breakfast will be provided.

For more information on this event, or to register, contact public land manager Kristin Kloft at (785) 461-5402.

Mountain Men to Rendezvous at Fall River State Park

Park visitors will step back in time at this living history event

On Sept. 28, Fall River State Park will host the 11th Annual Fall River Rendezvous. The event celebrates our rich hunting and trapping heritage by recreating the annual rendezvous that occurred in the early 1800s when trappers and Native Americans camped together to trade with fur companies. Visitors will see mountain men and American Indian encampments, blackpowder and archery shooting demonstrations, tomahawk and skillet throws, living history presentations, flint knapping, blacksmiths, and much more. Youngsters will love the gold rush and candy canon.

Traders and artisans will ply their crafts, sell historical goods, and conduct demonstrations throughout the day. Lunch will be available at Popo Annies Historical Eatery. Contests for the whole family will make the day even more exciting.

The event coincides with National Public Lands Day and Free Park Entrance Day at Fall River, so no daily vehicle permit is required. (Camping permits are still required.) The rendezvous is open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. in the Fredonia Bay Area.

Enjoy the day learning about the 1800 to 1840 time period in American history in this scenic state park on the shores of Fall River Reservoir in Greenwood County. For more information, phone (620) 637-2213 or email[email protected].

Tree Time: A Kids’ Guide to Tree Facts and Fun

By Lindsay Legendre

Wildlife Promise

“I think that I shall never see a poem as lovely as a tree,” wrote poet Joyce Kilmer. In addition to their beauty, trees are regal and leafy friends that play an important role in our environment and serve all kinds of useful purposes. March 18-24, 2013 was National Wildlife Week (http://www.nwf.org/national-wildlife-week.aspx) and we celebrated trees!

Did You Know?

• Trees provide a comfortable home for all sorts of animals and birds

• Trees offer us shade and protection from the elements

• Trees give us fruit and nuts to eat

• Trees are natural monkey bars for kids to climb on

• Trees help keep our air safe and clean

Now that you know a little more about trees, here are some Activi-trees to do in your own backyard or local park!  http://blog.nwf.org/2013/03/tree-time-a-kids-guide-to-tree-facts-and-fun/?s_email_id=20130917_BOT_ENG_Newsletter_September_Edition|MTActBot

House leader says farm bill probably will pass

Measure could be last farm bill Congress ever writes

by Peter Harriman

Argus Leaser

There’s a chance Congress could pass a new farm bill by the end of September, House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas said here Friday.

If it passes, it probably will require farmers who want to buy federal crop insurance to be in compliance with conservation program requirements, he said.

And it might be the last farm bill of its kind Congress ever tries to write, Rep. Kristi Noem added. Comprehensive farm legislation that includes titles for crop subsidies, conservation programs, rural development and nutrition programs such as food stamps is so divisive in a highly partisan federal government that it might no longer be worth trying.

Noem and Lucas, an Oklahoma Republican, answered questions for an audience of about 70 Friday at the South Dakota State Fair.

Predictably, government gridlock was in for harsh criticism. The pair spent most of an hour tying it to the frustrating effort to pass a new farm bill to replace the 2008 law that expired last September but lives on through a one-year extension and still sets federal agriculture policy.

The Senate has passed such a bill, and just before the August congressional recess it appointed members to a conference committee to reconcile its legislation with whatever the House passes, Lucas said.

The Senate version saves $7 billion, Lucas said.

But there’s a whole prairie horizon of difference between the Senate effort and a powerful Republican bloc in the House that is holding out for a bill that saves $40 billion, including $20 billion from nutrition programs, such as food stamps, according to Lucas.

After Labor Day, the chairman said he hopes the House will pass a new farm bill that does not include nutrition programs, so Congress will deal with those separately.

But he and Noem emphasized the challenge of passing or attempting to block legislation in a divided government. President Obama and House conservatives regularly are at odds, said Lucas, and the Senate lacks a functioning majority to break the deadlock.

            “In a stalemate, the president attempts to use bureaucracy to drive his agenda. It’s maddening. Folks in this country have to decide which way we should go,” Lucas said.

Ideally, in a partisan Congress, he said, he would like to see a stripped-down farm bill that offers a choice of safety net programs for farmers.

“You pick which one you want. We tie down the resources for five years, and get back to farming,” he said.

However, he acknowledged whatever Congress passes must be acceptable to President Obama. Toward that end, he said a reasonable goal for a new farm bill is a balance of cuts between subsidy and conservation programs.

“If we can come up with a policy we can live with, so if five years from now we can’t pass anything, we have a policy we can live with in years five and six and 10. Having something we defend in the long-term is a whole lot better than reinventing the wheel. Because, at some point, they might take the wheel away from you,” he said.

Former South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks Secretary John Cooper, South Dakota Grasslands Coalition Chairman Jim Faulstich of Highmore and South Dakota Ducks Unlimited Chairman Jeff Heidelbauer of Custer pressed Lucas with their insistence crop insurance be tied to conservation compliance.

“From 1985 to 1996, we had compliance with all direct payment programs,” said Cooper. “Compliance was taken care of, and it was well done. The facilities, the process and the regulatory procedures are certainly there.”

Faulstich praised Noem for her efforts to encourage cattle producers and to safeguard native prairie. She talked briefly about her proposal that prairie broken for crop production be ineligible for subsidies for four years to discourage such conversion. She related her interest in saving grass to the high regard she holds for the 600 acres of unbroken prairie on her family ranch. “It’s extremely special to me,” she said.

“I’m proud to champion this bill and get it in the farm bill.”

Heidelbauer said taxpayers who fund crop insurance do not want to see it uncoupled from conservation compliance.

Lucas told Cooper there is a strong sentiment in Congress to allow the federal government to exert influence over the production decisions of farmers who take subsidies and crop insurance.

“That perspective is very strong. In the final farm bill, I suspect there will be conservation compliance,” Lucas said, and he told Heidelbauer, “I think you are going to be really quite pleased with what ultimately comes out of this.”

Christmas Island’s Facebook Booby Bust

by J.R. Absher, Editor

The Birding Wire

When the Christmas Island tourism board recently promoted its eco-tourism opportunities on social media by posting photographs and descriptions of its most prolific indigenous bird species, it never expected to experience the wrath of Facebook censors.

All the tourism folks from tiny external territory of Australia were trying to do was to promote the annual Bird ‘n’ Nature Week, in addition to highlighting its population of the Abbott’s Booby, Red-footed Booby and Brown Booby.

But Facebook claimed the posting of a Brown Booby chick along with the text: “Some gorgeous shots here of some juvenile boobies,” breached its decency guidelines, and it promptly removed the horribly offending photograph and copy.

According to Travel Daily News, a subsequent appeal from Christmas Island Tourism Association to Facebook failed to gain traction with the behemoth Internet social-networking site.

“We presumed our original advert was blocked automatically so we appealed to Facebook directly who re-affirmed the campaign was banned due to the sexual language, particularly the use of the word ‘boobies,'” said Linda Cash, the association’s marketing manager.

Fortunately, the Facebook Boobie Bust has made no significant impact to birding-related tourism to the island, and accommodations for the special event were booked solid for weeks, reported Ms. Cash.

The tiny Australian territory located 360 miles south of Java has been called “Australia’s Galapagos” and renowned British naturalist and broadcaster David Attenborough called footage of him being overrun by red crabs during Christmas Islands annual crab migration in 1990 one of his top 10 most memorable experiences.

Travel Daily News reports that with the closure of the island’s Detention Center, its 1,350 permanent residents have turned to eco-tourism – and particularly to international birders. As a result, one of the key promotions has been the Bird ‘n’ Nature Week every September, attracting bird enthusiasts from around the globe to see the island’s endemic landbirds and 80,000 nesting seabirds — including the endangered Abbott’s Booby.

Sam Collins, founder of London‘s Ethos Travel, the first UK company to offer travel to the island, said Bird ‘n’ Nature Week is one of the best times to visit the island and the economy there is becoming increasingly reliant on holiday travelers from the UK and the rest of Europe.

Christmas Island tourism is in its infancy, but there are few places in the world where you can find such a magical concentration of rare species of sea and land animals.” He said. “By blocking the tourist board’s campaign, one of the world’s great eco-tourism destinations is being deprived of its lifeline because someone at Facebook cannot comprehend that a Booby is a bird. Dare I say it, but with so many Boobies to see, it is like all your Christmases come at once.”

We’d have to agree, there’s so many Boobies, and so little time.

Feds’ Final Decision for Barred Owl Removal Announced

As part of the comprehensive effort to help recover the threatened northern spotted owl, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) has announced its Record of Decision for the experimental removal of barred owls from up to four test areas in the Pacific Northwest.

The Service has identified habitat loss and competition from recently arrived barred owls as the most pressing threats to the northern spotted owl. Barred owls are larger than northern spotted owls, more aggressive and have a broader diet, which makes them more resilient to declines in habitat quality.

In early September, the Service announced its decision to use the Preferred Alternative as described in the Final Environmental Impact Statement. The experiment will remove barred owls from parts of up to four study areas in the northern spotted owl’s range using lethal and non-lethal methods of removal, and then monitor the effect of such removal on northern spotted owl population trends. The Service plans to begin some barred owl removal this fall.

“We chose this alternative because it would provide for a strong, scientifically credible experiment with a high power to detect the effect of the barred owl removal on spotted owl populations,” said Paul Henson, State Supervisor of the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Office. “These test areas will provide results applicable across the range of the northern spotted owl in a timely manner.”

The Service will attempt to implement the entire experiment on all four study areas, but may implement the experiment on only a subset if insufficient funds become available to support the full experiment. Any subset would fall within the boundaries of identified study areas.

“We can’t ignore the mounting evidence that competition from barred owls is a major factor in the northern spotted owl’s decline, along with habitat loss,” said Service Director Dan Ashe. “We are working with our partners to improve forest health and support sustainable economic opportunities for local communities, and this experimental removal will help us determine whether managing the barred owl population also helps recover the northern spotted owl.”

The experiment would be conducted on four study areas spread across the range of the northern spotted owl, including the Cle Elum in Washington, half the combined Oregon Coast Ranges and Veneta in northernOregon, the Union/Myrtle (Klamath) in southern Oregon, and the Hoopa (Willow Creek) in California. Given the size and number of northern spotted owl sites in the combined study areas, this alternative would require an estimated four years of barred owl removal to detect significant results.

The Service listed the northern spotted owl as threatened under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) in 1990. Based on the 2009 demographic analysis, northern spotted owls have been declining at an average annual rate of 2.9 percent rangewide.

Barred owls are native to eastern North America, but only recently arrived in the West. They were first documented in the range of the northern spotted owl in Canada in 1959 and in western Washington in 1973. The range of the barred owl in the western United States now completely overlaps with the range of the northern spotted owl.

If barred owl removal proves to be a feasible and effective method to increase spotted owls, the Service may consider using barred owl removal as part of a larger barred owl management strategy. This management strategy would involve a separate National Environmental Policy Act process. For more information about the barred owl Decision of Record, visit http://www.fws.gov/oregonfwo/.

The ESA provides a critical safety net for fish, wildlife and plants and has prevented the extinction of hundreds of imperiled species, as well as promoting the recovery of many others. The Service is actively engaged with conservation partners and the public in the search for improved and innovative ways to conserve and recover imperiled species. To learn more about the Service’s Endangered Species program, visit:http://www.fws.gov/endangered/.

Images of barred owls and northern spotted owls are available atwww.flickr.com/photos/usfwspacific/sets/.

Council Grove 10th Annual Outdoor Youth Event

Saturday, October 5 – Noon to 4:00 p.m.

Area youth are invited to attend a FREE shotgun, pellet rifle, and archery shooting and safety clinic at CouncilGrove Lake. Registration is required by September 27.

The Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism (KDWPT), the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (COE), the Flint Hills Chapter of Quail and Upland Wildlife Federation (QUWF), and the Morris County Hunter Education instructors are sponsoring this special event, which will provide participants with an opportunity to enhance firearm and archery shooting and safety skills.

            Participants will be provided safety and shooting instruction by certified firearm and archery skills instructors. All gear and supplies, including shotguns, pellet rifles, shells, bows, arrows, targets, and eye and ear protection will be provided by KDWPT’s “Pass It On” and Hunter Education Programs. Participants need only a desire to learn some valuable techniques and have fun! Teaching methods almost guarantee that students will be breaking shotgun targets by the end of the session.

            Anyone, age 11 through 16 may participate. Participants are required to pre-register for the event. Students are not required to have completed a hunter education course, but prior completion is preferred. The event will begin at 12:00 p.m. at the COE managed area between Marina Cove and Neosho Park, approximately 0.25 miles west of the COE office at the west end of the dam. Check-in and a free lunch provided by QUWF, will be between 12:00 p.m. and 12:30 p.m. Instruction will then begin at 12:30 p.m. and will end at approximately 4:00 p.m.

Persons interested in registering or learning more about this special event can contact:

Brent Konen – Council Grove Wildlife Area Manager #620/767-5900

Can Political Pressure Derail Feds’ Effort To Cull Hatcheries?

By Etta Pettijohn

The Outdoor Wire

There have been several new developments since we reported on Tuesday, September 3 the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s plans — being kept well away from public and media scrutiny for fear of political backlash — to shutter most if not all of the agency’s mitigation hatcheries.

For more than a dozen years and under multiple administrations, agency hierarchy has pointed to budget constraints as the reason to shed the Congressionally mandated responsibility for mitigating the loss of native fisheries caused by the federal dams built in the past century.

Although FWS officials would not confirm these plans, insiders apparently contacted some media outlets in South Dakota as they began reporting that the historic D.C. Booth Hatchery, built in 1896 and home to the largest collection of freshwater aquatic research in the U.S., had received orders to close by Oct. 1.

The response to questions from The Outdoor Wire directed to several agency officials, like Laury Parramore, FWS Office of Communications, included statements like: “Leadership within the Service conducted an extensive review of propagation hatcheries within the NFHS to ensure we are best positioned to address the agency’s highest priority aquatic resource needs now and into the future. Outcomes from the review are now guiding a decision-making process toward more strategic, priority-driven investments and operating our hatcheries within available funds.”


Questions began surfacing about the agency’s reasons for planning to close these facilities, considering the FWS’s “FY 2014 Budget Request and Justification,” included in President Obama’s FY 2014 budget submitted to Congress on February 12, 2013. In this document the agency requested funding these facilities at the same level as in recent years, and no cuts were mentioned.

“The 2014 budget request for the National Fish Hatchery System Operations is $46,528,000 and 355 FTE, a net program change of -$172,000 and -3FTE from the 2012 Enacted,” said Rick Nehrling, a 38-year veteran of the FWS, with 19 years overseeing southeastern U.S. hatcheries, “This statement informs us that all hatcheries – including the mitigation hatcheries – are fully funded.”

Seems someone in FWS has some explaining to do, and if some members of Congress have anything to say about it, it won’t be long.


The current climate in Washington D.C. is heated, as both sides of the aisle clash over cutting spending to try to stem the runaway deficits. Both sides agree wasteful spending must be curtailed, but neither will agree throwing out the baby with the bathwater is a prudent idea.

The 70 federal hatcheries support at least 3,500 jobs and have an annual economic impact of more than $325 million. These facilities lead to major economic advantages for the communities that house them, and are a beacon of sound government management. Besides the economic advantages, these provide the means to fulfill President Barak H. Obama’s “2012 Great Outdoors Initiative,” designed to increase and enhance outdoor recreation.

On Sept. 11, Senators Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Mark Pryor (D-AR), John Boozman (R-AR) – along with House members Rick Crawford, Doug Collins, Tom Cotton, Tim Griffin, Phil Roe and Steve Womack – sent a letter to Department of the Interior Secretary Sally Jewell requesting for a 60-day delay in the implementation of any recommendations for closure of any national fish hatcheries or other plans, so the public could review them.

“It is our understanding that this study is soon to be released, along with decisions about hatchery closures,” Alexander and his colleagues stated in the letter. “We are gravely concerned that Congress has not been consulted on the matter.”

In another development, Sen. Tim Johnson, (D-SD), on Sept. 4 in a letter to Secretary Jewell requesting that the FWS “maintain funding for the D.C. Booth National Fish Hatchery,” and that he be apprised of the any decisions made about the status of the facility. Johnson, like Sen. Alexander, is a member of the powerful Senate Appropriations Committee.

It appears the FWS’s plans to quietly eliminate these hatcheries from its overall responsibilities have surfaced – catching the attention of some mighty big fish in Congress, those with the ability to get to the bottom of what’s really on the line.