Daily Archives: April 13, 2014

Cutoff Date Extended to April 18 for Forestry Cooperative Conservation Partnership Initiative

State Conservationist Eric B. Banks for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) has announced the extension of the cutoff date to April 18, 2014, for the Cooperative Conservation Partnership Initiative (CCPI). Even though CCPI is no longer a program under the 2014 Farm Bill, NRCS will honor existing CCPI agreements through fiscal year 2014. The CCPI provides financial and technical assistance through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program to owners and operators of agricultural land and nonindustrial private forestlands.
This year, the program is funded for shelterbelt renovation and forested riparian buffers. “For farmers and ranchers that need to restore a shelterbelt or want to plant riparian forest buffers, CCPI can provide financial assistance to help with the project,” said Banks.
In Kansas, socially disadvantaged, limited resource, and beginning farmers and ranchers will receive a higher payment rate for conservation practices related to CCPI.
For more information on CCPI projects and other natural resources conservation programs, please contact your local NRCS office or conservation district office. The office is located at your local USDA Service Center (listed in the telephone book under United States Government or on the internet at http://offices.usda.gov/). More information is also available on the Kansas Web site at www.ks.nrcs.usda.gov.

Conservation Organizations Join Forces to Support Conservation in the Prairies

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
From The Outdoor Hub

A coalition of conservation organizations announced March 26th the launch of a coordinated, partner-driven “Prairies Conservation Campaign” to bring public attention to the dramatic conversion of grasslands and wetlands to cropland in one of America’s last intact grassland ecosystems – the prairie pothole region.
“More than 50 percent of North American migratory waterfowl depend upon the mix of wetlands and grasslands found in the prairie pothole region,” said Noreen Walsh, Regional Director for the Mountain-Prairie Region of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, a partner in the campaign. “This area is called America’s ‘duck factory’ because it is the most productive area for nesting waterfowl on the continent, perhaps the world. These prairies and all the wildlife that they support are currently stressed by many factors acting together to threaten our natural heritage. By joining together as stewards, we can shed light on this problem and find solutions.”
Among other goals, the campaign will seek to create grassroots awareness in the region about landowner conservation programs and tools currently available to help prevent the loss of grassland. While this strategy will primarily focus on stakeholder cooperation in local communities, partner organizations invite the public to follow and participate in the conversation online using the #ConserveThePrairies hashtag.
Campaign partners are working together to find conservation solutions, additional resources, and win-win solutions for landowners. In order to do this, one of the campaign’s primary goals is to increase opportunities for voluntary incentive-based tools to keep livestock producers profitable. This will ensure that the region has healthy fish and wildlife populations, healthy soil and water resources, and an assurance that ranch families will always be an integral and profitable component of the region’s economy. More information is available at: www.fws.gov/prairiesconservation.
Partner organizations include: the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Ducks Unlimited, World Wildlife Fund, Delta Waterfowl, North Dakota Game and Fish Department, South Dakota Game, Fish & Parks, Pheasants Forever, and North Dakota Natural Resources Trust.

Researchers Use GPS to Track Whooping Cranes

A study conducted by a partnership of researchers from multiple organizations is using lightweight GPS devices to track individual whooping cranes of the Aransas – Wood Buffalo population, the only naturally wild flock of whooping cranes in existence.
Efforts have focused on putting tracking devices on adult whooping cranes captured on Aransas National Wildlife Refuge, where the birds winter on the Texascoast, and on chicks at Wood Buffalo National Park, the birds’ nesting grounds inCanada. To date, 68 birds have had tracking devices attached.
The GPS units are attached to a bird’s upper leg and record four to five locations every 24 hours, information that is uploaded to a satellite every two and half days. These data reveal migration routes, habitat use, nesting locations, and much more. Biologists in the United States and Canada will use the results of this work to identify management and conservation priorities in both countries.
The research partnership is made up of governmental and non-profit partners working on the recovery of the whooping crane. Representatives include the U.S. Geological Survey, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Canadian Wildlife Service, Platte River Recovery Implementation Program, Crane Trust, Parks Canada, Gulf Coast Bird Observatory, and International Crane Foundation.
Whooping cranes are an endangered species with more than 300 birds in the Aransas-Wood Buffalo population. All of the whooping cranes alive today, both wild and captive, are descendants of the last 15 cranes found wintering at the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge in 1941.
A video of the banding operation can be seen on YouTube athttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YtVt842trpo. Video is courtesy of Texas Parksand Wildlife Department.

Drone Use Barred in Boone and Crockett Records

Trophies scouted or taken with the assistance of drones/unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) are not eligible for entry in Boone and Crockett records, the Club announced today.
“These highly sophisticated, remote-controlled aircraft have no place in fair-chase hunting,” said Richard Hale, chairman of the Club’s Big Game Records Committee. “The Boone and Crockett Club stands with state wildlife agencies, the Pope and Young Club and hunter-conservationists everywhere who are discouraging the use of drones in hunting.”
In the early 1960s, the Boone and Crockett Club barred trophies taken with use of aircraft. “Spotting or herding game from the air, followed by landing in its vicinity for the purpose of pursuit and shooting” was deemed unethical. The Club’s policy spawned regulations in Alaska and elsewhere designed to protect the integrity of hunting and conserve game.
Hale said Boone and Crockett is always on alert for new technologies that could erode the time-honored traditions of fair chase.
Fair chase is defined by the Club as the ethical, sportsmanlike and lawful pursuit and taking of any free-ranging wild, native North American big game animal in a manner that does not give the hunter an improper advantage over such animals.
North America’s first hunting and conservation organization, the Boone and Crockett Club was founded by Theodore Roosevelt in 1887. Its mission is to promote the conservation and management of wildlife, especially big game and its habitat, to preserve and encourage hunting and to maintain the highest ethical standards of fair chase and sportsmanship. Join us at www.boone-crockett.org.

Obama places Lesser Prairie-chicken on threatened species list

Jon McRoberts | AP A male lesser prairie chicken

The decision by the Fish and Wildlife Service is a step below “endangered” status and allows for more flexibility in how protections for the bird will be carried out under the Endangered Species Act.
Dan Ashe, the agency’s director, said he knows the decision will be unpopular with governors in the five affected states — Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Colorado and New Mexico — but said the agency was following the best science available.
“The lesser prairie-chicken is in dire straits,” Ashe said in an interview. “The bird is in decline and has been in decline for more than a decade.”
The prairie chicken, a type of grouse known for its colorful feathers and stout build, has lost more than 80 percent of its traditional habitat, mostly because of human activity such as oil and gas drilling, ranching and construction of power lines and wind turbines, Ashe said. The bird, which weighs from 1-1/2 to 2 pounds, has also been severely impacted by the region’s ongoing drought.
Biologists say a major problem is that prairie chickens fear tall structures, where predators such as hawks can perch and spot them. Wind turbines, electricity transmission towers and drilling rigs are generally the tallest objects on the plains.
Last year, the prairie chicken’s population across the five states declined to fewer than 18,000 birds — nearly 50 percent lower than 2012 population estimates.
A conservation plan adopted by the five states has a goal of increasing the population to 67,000 birds.
The listing decision, which will take effect around May 1, includes a special rule that Ashe said will allow officials and private landowners in the five affected states to manage conservation efforts. The rule, which Ashe called unprecedented, specifies that activities such as oil and gas drilling and utility line maintenance that are covered under a five-state conservation plan adopted last year will be allowed to continue.
The plan, developed by the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, establishes that conservation practices carried out through usual agricultural and energy development are not subject to further regulation under the Endangered Species Act.
Governors of the five affected states — including four Republicans — opposed listing the bird under the Endangered Species Act. In a joint statement last year, Govs. Rick Perry of Texas, Mary Fallin of Oklahoma, Sam Brownback of Kansas, Susana Martinez of New Mexico and John Hickenlooper of Colorado, said their states have all worked with a wide variety of affected groups to develop conservation plans to improve the bird’s habitat while “taking into account economic development needs.”
All but Hickenlooper are Republicans.
Oklahoma’s attorney general filed a lawsuit this month over the Obama administration’s decision to settle a lawsuit with an environmental group over the listing status of the lesser prairie chicken and other species.
Attorney General Scott Pruitt claims in the lawsuit that federal agencies are colluding with like-minded special interest groups and using “sue and settle” tactics that encourage lawsuits that can be settled on terms favorable to the groups that filed them.
Ashe denied collusion with any group and said the agency hopes to avoid litigation over the listing decision.
Oil and gas companies, ranchers and other landowners have pledged to devote more than 3 million acres in the five states toward conserving the bird’s habitat. Most of the acreage was set aside in the aim to prevent the bird from being given federal protection as a threatened species, but Ashe said states and private landowners will play a significant role after the listing decision.
“The key thing is, states will remain in the driver’s seat in management and conservation of this bird,” he said.
Read more here: http://www.kansascity.com/2014/03/27/4919586/obama-places-lesser-prairie-chicken.html#storylink=cpy

Kansas Threatened and Endangered Species List under Review

Five-year review allows for petitioned species to be removed or added to state lists

The Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism (KDWPT) is charged with conserving and protecting all Kansas wildlife, including those considered rare and in need of conservation. The Nongame and Endangered Species Act of 1975, requires KDWPT to review all current and proposed threatened and endangered species every five years.
A Threatened and Endangered Species Task Force comprised of members from state and federal agencies and nongovernmental organizations will review the currently-listed species and those species proposed for listing. During this review, species can be added, removed, or status changed based on petitions and documented scientific evidence. The task force then makes a recommendation for each species. As part of this review, which is currently underway, a total of five public informational meetings will be held statewide throughout the month of April. Meeting dates, times, and locations can be found below:
-April 11, 3:00 p.m. at Southeast Kansas Nature Center, Schermerhorn Park, 3511 S. Main St., Galena
-April 14, 3:00 p.m. at Johnson County Park and Recreation District Board Room, 7904 Renner Road,Shawnee Mission
-April 15, 3:00 p.m. at KDWPT Region 2 Office, 300 SW Wanamaker Rd., Topeka
-April 22, 3:00 p.m. at Lee Richardson Zoo, Finnup Center, Lecture Hall, 312 E Finnup Drive, Garden City
-April 23, 3:00 p.m. at Sternberg Museum, 3000 Sternberg Dr., Hays
According to state statute, threatened species are any form of wildlife that appears likely, within the foreseeable future, to become an endangered species. Endangered species are any species of wildlife whose continued existence as a viable component of the state’s wild fauna is determined to be in jeopardy. Out of the 60 species currently listed, 36 are defined as threatened and the remaining 24 are defined as endangered.
The following species are currently under review to be removed from the endangered list, except for the Northern Long-eared Bat (Myotis septentrionalis), which has been requested as an addition to the Threatened list:
-Eskimo curlew (Numenius borealis)
-Black-capped vireo (Vireo atricapilla)
-Many-ribbed salamander (Eurycea multiplicata)
-Silverband shiner (Notropis shumardi)
-Chestnut lamprey (Ichthyomyzon castaneus)
-Spring peeper (Pseudacris crucifer)
-Longnose snake (Rhinocheilus lecontei)
-Redbelly snake (Storeria occipitomaculata)
-Smooth earth snake (Virginia valeriae)
The last review, held in 2009, was responsible for the change in listing of the bald eagle and peregrine falcon, both of which were removed from the endangered list. That same year, the delta hydrobe, shoal chub, and the plains minnow were added to the threatened list.
For more information on Kansas threatened and endangered species, visit www.ksoutdoors.com and click “Services/Threatened and Endangered Wildlife.”

New State Record Rainbow Trout Tips Scales at 15.72 pounds

Angler Josh McCullough caught the behemoth trout from KillCreekParkLake in JohnsonCounty

In Kansas trout waters, it’s not uncommon to drop a lure and get a bite after a few minutes, but to drop a lure, get a bite, and reel in a 15.72-pound rainbow trout is almost unheard of. That’s what angler Josh McCullough of Spring Hill experienced on Feb. 23 earlier this year. Fishing at Kill Creek Park Lake in Johnson County, McCullough had no idea the hook he had just fitted with a piece of Berkeley Gulp corn bait would land him a fish for the books.
When McCullough’s catch surfaced, he knew this was no ordinary fish. As he landed the trout ashore, McCullough quickly realized that fish on the end of his hook could very well be a new record. McCullough grabbed his gear, snapped a few photos with a phone, and then did what any angler should do when potentially holding a new state record fish – he took it to a certified scale to get weighed.
The 28.5-inch long fish tipped the scale at 15.72 pounds, a mere .29 of a pound heavier than the former state record rainbow trout weighing in at 15.42 pounds caught by Nicole Wilson. Wilson made the books in 2012 with her catch from LakeShawnee in Topeka.
Before a new state record can be accepted, the following steps must occur:
-The fish must be identified and witnessed by a Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism (KDWPT) district fisheries biologist or regional fisheries supervisor
-The fish must be weighed before it is frozen
-The angler must submit an official Kansas state record fish application, accompanied by a sharp, color photo of the fish
-The angler must undergo a mandatory 30-day waiting period following application
Only species listed on the KDWPT state record list will be accepted. A tissue sample may also be required.
To view a complete list of current Kansas state record fish, visit www.ksoutdoors.com and click “Fishing/State Record Fish.”

Unusual Fish Discovered In Arkansas River

Emory Bryan, News On 6
Tulsa, Oklahoma

Most of us look at the Arkansas River and wonder what it would be like with more water. But there’s another view of the river that you haven’t seen, because it’s only possible on a rare few days of clear water. Those rare days allowed researchers to document a population of an unusual fish for this area, the shovel nose sturgeon.
The Arkansas River usually only has strands of what appears to be muddy water. Biologists know there’s a rich diversity of fish, but only through a remarkable bit of luck, were they able to show the rest of us.
“And we found just wads of fish that you wouldn’t think would be here in our backyard,” said Josh Johnson with the Department of Wildlife Conservation.
It started with an idea to see if any sturgeon were still in the river. Hardly anyone in the Wildlife Department had ever seen one.
“We never even took into consideration that this might have been a better place to look for them, and all of a sudden this guy calls in and he’s caught one,” Johnson said.
That led to an underwater survey on what turned out to be three days of clear water in unbearable cold, the water was just above freezing but there was 20 feet of visibility. They saw stripers and buffalo fish and photographed five shovelnose sturgeon.
“I know it was a big deal for us and we have biologists who have been around 35 years and still never seen one, so it’s kind of amazing,” Johnson said. Back in the office, they’re still going over hours of video that detail the remarkable diversity and incredible numbers.
“But there’s a hole that went six or seven feet, and it was just holding all these fish,” he said. The Wildlife Department said in one hole in the river, they believe they saw a school of 100,000 channel catfish.
The fact that it was in the middle of Tulsa amazed even the biologists. The video was shot at Christmas in 2012, and almost every day since they’ve gone back to check the water.
“It’s never cleared up like that again, ever since,” Johnson said.