Daily Archives: April 2, 2014

White-tailed Deer


Photo Credit: Ted Beringer White-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) can be found virtually all over Kansas wherever there are natural woodlands, riparian corridors and grasslands, especially near cropfields. Their highest densities occur in the eastern third of the state. White-tailed deer feed mostly at dawn and dusk on leaves, stems, buds and bark, acorns, grain crops and alfalfa. They have relatively short ears and are tawny brown in color.

Their bushy tail, brown above and white below, “flags” fromside to side when they are running. Whitetails are excellent swimmers, can run 35 miles per hour and jump an 8-foot fence. Bucks have antlers with 3-6 unforked points on each beam that are shed in late winter. The peak of the whitetail breeding season, or rut, occurs in November. Young does usually have one fawn in May or June while twins are usually the norm in older does. They can live up to 15 years in the wild. For more on Kansas ungulates, visit the Great Plains Nature Center at http://www.gpnc.org/deerwt.htm.



Photo Credit: Ted Beringer

In 1804 Lewis & Clark camped on the Kansas side of the Missouri River.

They witnessed an abundance of turkeys in Kansas. However turkey populations in Kansas declined and it is believed they were extirpated between 1900 and 1950. In the late 1950s, Rio Grande turkeys entered Kansas from a reintroduced population in Oklahoma. During the 1960s, the Kansas Department of Wildlife & Parks reintroduced Rio Grande turkeys into Kansas to supplement other reintroductions from Oklahoma and Texas.

According to the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks & Tourism, the Rio Grande subspecies dominates the western two-thirds of the state. Hybrid Rio Grande/Eastern birds are found in north central Kansas. The Eastern subspecies is common in eastern Kansas where numbers have grown tremendously in recent years.

NEW Map Guides Marine Bird Conservation Priorities

The National Marine Bird Association (NMBA) just released a report on marine waterbird priorities for the sovereign waters and lands of the United States. The map will be used to guide continent level resources to areas deemed most important for marine bird conservation as determined by a panel of experts.

“This is ground-breaking work and we’re very excited to get this targeting tool out there,” said one panelist. “It delights us to no end that a map developed for one purpose is proving so useful in many other applications.”

While still in a preliminary draft form, the map can be used for everything. One member of the panel was excited to report that the map was being considered by officials from the National Transportation Department to prioritize repairs of America‘s aging transportation infrastructure.View the map here.

Sign Up Now for National Water Quality Initiative Applications Accepted Until April 18

Farmers and forest landowners in three Kansas watersheds can apply now for help to improve water quality in their watershed from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).  Funding to install conservation practices that manage nutrients, pathogens, and sediments comes from the agency’s National Water Quality Initiative (NWQI).  NRCS accepts applications for financial assistance on a continuous basis throughout the year, but applications for funding consideration during this fiscal year must be received by April 18, 2014.

            NRCS collaborated with Kansas state agencies, partners, and the NRCS Kansas Technical Committee to select which watersheds would benefit most from additional conservation treatments and decided to offer the program to the same three watersheds as previous years.

            Through this effort, producers in Headwaters Grasshopper Creek in the Delaware River Watershed in southcentral Brown County and small portions of Atchison and Jackson Counties; Town of Munjor-Big Creek in the Smoky Hill River Watershed in southeast Ellis County; andCity of Hesston and City of Canton-West Emma Creek in the Little Arkansas Watershed in portions of Harvey, Marion, and McPherson Counties may apply.

            All three watersheds are identified as impaired, with degraded water quality issues.  Using funds from the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), NRCS will provide financial and technical assistance to producers interested in addressing resource concerns using conservation practices such as field borders, cover crops, waste storage facilities, heavy use area protection, and nutrient management.

            EQIP offers financial and technical assistance to eligible participants to install or implement structural and management practices on eligible agricultural land.  In Kansas, socially disadvantaged, limited resource, and beginning farmers and ranchers will receive a higher payment rate for eligible conservation practices applied.

            For additional information specific to NWQI, or to sign an application, stop by yourUSDA Service Center (listed in the telephone book under United States Government or on the internet at www.offices.usda.gov).  More information is also available on the Kansas Web site at www.ks.nrcs.usda.gov.

Human Dimensions Research Helps Burrowing Owl Conservation Efforts

For years the ultimate cause of declining Burrowing Owl populations has remained unknown. Though many factors have been investigated — from pesticide use and lack of prairie dog burrows to habitat fragmentation — none have proved a smoking gun. But human dimensions research may provide an answer for conservation of the species.

Last year, focus groups were conducted throughout the owl’s range. Surprisingly, despite the owls’ natural charisma, participants repeatedly identified poor branding as a major roadblock to public support of Burrowing Owl conservation. “They’re cute and all, but the name reminds me of some kind of fly that digs under your skin,” stated one participant.

In order to maximize brand awareness and reach new audiences, the owls have decided to change their common name to “Hobbit Owl.” MartinUnderhill, a spokesman for the Burrowing Owls, says this change will capitalize on the popularity of the novel by J.R.R. Tolkien and recent movie franchise by Peter Jackson. While representatives from the Tolkien Estate and New Line Cinema have yet to comment, it appears news of the rebranding has already gone viral. The American Ornithologists’ Union records committee will take it under consideration at their next meeting scheduled in August near middle Earth. Whether the owls can parlay this new found fame into conservation on, or under, the ground is yet to be seen.

We’re All Connected Downstream

Jeff Wiedner

American Rivers

It seems logical: small streams lead to rivers and what happens upstream affects those downstream. If they are all connected, then small streams should have the same protections as rivers, right?

Unfortunately, that is not the case.

Over the last decade, two Supreme Court rulings have created confusion about which waters are covered by the Clean Water Act. This has made it difficult for the Environmental Protection Agency [EPA] to enforce the Clean Water Act consistently, which has allowed polluters to get away with dumping toxins into small streams and wetlands without repercussions.

But the good news is the EPA released a draft rule that should help close some of the loopholes polluters use to avoid penalties. [1] It would also reduce some of the uncertainty around existing regulations, helping to ensure the Clean Water Act is enforced consistently for everyone.

Right now, the EPA is accepting comments from the public on the rule. Can you tell the EPA that you support improving protections for our small streams and wetlands?

Approximately 117 million Americans rely at least in part upon small streams and wetlands for their drinking water supply. That’s more than one third of the entire population.

These streams also provide buffers for absorbing and reducing the impacts of flooding, help recharge groundwater supplies, and retain and filter nutrients that can cause water pollution. [2] So it is critical that protections are restored.

Please send your comments today in support of the Administration’s efforts to better protect our clean water and the health of our communities. And as always, thanks for your support!

1 Proposed Rule Marks an Important Step for Clean Waterhttp://www.americanrivers.org/blog/proposed-rule-marks-important-step-clean-water

2. Where Rivers Are Born: The Scientific Imperative for Defending Small Streams and Wetlandshttp://www.americanrivers.org/newsroom/resources/where-rivers-are-born-the-scientific-imperative-for-defending-small-streams-and-wetlands