Monthly Archives: April 2014

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.

Willis Scholarship Application Deadline Correction

Interested applicants have until April 30 to apply

The Willis Scholarship Foundation, in conjunction with the Governor’s One Shot Turkey Hunt, invites students currently enrolled in a Kansas regent’s institution pursuing a degree relating to wildlife, natural resources, and/or natural resource management to apply for a scholarship. The application period is open now through April 30, 2014 at 7 p.m. In a Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism news release dated April 3, the deadline was incorrectly listed as June 10.
Successful applicants can be awarded $500 – $1,250 per semester, based on grade point average and the following criteria:
– Desire to pursue a career in wildlife or natural resources
– Maintain at least a 2.5 GPA, pursuing a bachelor’s degree or higher
– Commit to attending the Governor’s One Shot Turkey Hunt, providing assistance where necessary
For more information on the Willis Scholarship Foundation, Inc., and to receive an application, visitwww.centralkansascf.org/non-profit-organizations/scholarships/.

The Pope & Young Club Stands for Wild, Free Ranging North American Big Game

The Pope & Young Club is proud of the “Fair Chase” ethics they have implemented, fought for and defended since 1961. The Club and its membership steadfastly support and promote the North American Wildlife Conservation Model. This model faces a serious threat from today’s captive cervid industry. The practices of “canned” hunting, transporting and selling “farm raised” cervids threaten the very existence of North American Big Game and hunting as we know it.
The Pope & Young Club official position statement:
“The Pope and Young Club and its membership strongly condemn the killing of big game animals in artificial situations. An “artificial situation” is defined as a situation where animals are held in captivity, game-proof fenced enclosures or released from captivity. These unethical practices are often referred to as “canned hunts.” This shall be considered an unethical practice devoid of fair chase hunting ethics as the animals are not free-ranging.
These canned shoot situations present further concerns that impact the future of bowhunting. They weaken the public acceptance of legitimate fair chase bowhunting, provide possibilities for transmitting diseases, and corrupt the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation. Animals held, or bred and raised for the purpose of trophy harvest, in these facilities are not considered wildlife. The killing of these animals is not managed by the authority of a wildlife management agency and the killing, itself, is devoid of any values embodied by legitimate hunting.
The Pope and Young Club does not accept into its Records Program any animal taken under any captive scenarios and considers these practices extreme examples of unethical hunting. The Pope & Young Club also considers this practice unethical treatment of North American big game animals.”

Agencies Release Rockies’ Wolf Numbers

Gray Wolf. By Gary Kramer / USFWS

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), in collaboration with other federal, state and tribal agencies, is announcing the 2013 Northern Rocky Mountain (NRM) Gray Wolf Population numbers. This annual report is conducted as part of the Service’s work to monitor the wolf population to ensure that it continues to exceed recovery goals under professional state management, and no longer requires federal protection under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).
As of December 31, 2013, there were at least 78 breeding pairs and 1,691 wolves within the NRM area. The wolf population remains well above the recovery levels identified by Service and partner biologists in the recovery plan. Minimum management targets are at least 45 breeding pairs and at least 450 wolves across the NRM area.
The report is posted online at http://www.fws.gov/home/wolfrecovery/ and http://westerngraywolf.fws.gov. The report is a cooperative effort by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Idaho Department of Fish and Game, Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks, Wyoming Fish and Game, the Nez Perce Tribe, National Park Service, Blackfeet Nation, Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, Wind River Tribes, Colville Tribe, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, Utah Department of Natural Resources, and USDA Wildlife Services.

Ted Turner: Time to finally protect wetlands, streams

By Ted Turner
Editor’s note: Ted Turner, founder of CNN and Turner Broadcasting, is chairman of Turner Enterprises, Inc., and oversees 2 million acres of land in 12 states and in Argentina, as well as more than 55,000 bison. He is also chairman of the Turner Foundation, the United Nations Foundation and the Turner Endangered Species Fund. The opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author.
            Clean water is vital to every single American. Families should be able to turn on the tap and have safe drinking water for their children, vacationers expect healthy rivers for fishing and swimming, and businesses need a steady supply of clean water to make products.
The administration is proposing a clean water rule to better protect America’s most vulnerable waters — the streams and wetlands that feed our larger rivers, lakes and bays. These bodies of water were clearly protected by the Clean Water Act when it was passed more than 40 years ago. Unfortunately, two convoluted Supreme Court decisions, actions of the previous administration and inaction by Congress have left these water bodies in a legal limbo. This poses a threat to all of us.
            Without this common-sense new rule, about 2 million miles of streams and 20 million acres of wetlands are at risk. These bodies of water may seem small, but they form part of the drinking water supplies for more than one third of Americans.
Clean, healthy waters are also the engines behind a strong outdoor recreation economy. Nationally, hunters and anglers spent $90 billion in 2011 and wildlife watchers spent an additional $55 billion, according to the National Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife-Associated Recreation.
These dollars translate into economic vitality — filling beds in hotels and making the cash registers ring in restaurants and sporting goods stores. All told, hunting and angling expenditures contribute about $200 billion to the economy each year.
            Like many Americans, I treasure our waters, and I am proud that I am able to manage my properties to preserve their natural streams, wetlands and grasslands.
On my Ladder Ranch in southern New Mexico, you can see the importance of small streams in action. These tiny streams, in a very arid area, support a diversity of animal and plant life that make this place special. InNew Mexico, 55% of all vertebrate species depend on wetland habitats, and nearly 25% of the threatened or endangered species in the state live in wetlands.
It feels good to do my part to protect and restore small streams and riparian areas where I can. But water flows downhill. In order to ensure we have safe drinking water for all, communities upstream and downstream must work together.
I applaud the administration’s initiative to restore Clean Water Act protections to these vulnerable waters and to keep them from pollution, and I urge the President to follow through and finish the effort this year. I urge members of Congress to support the Environmental Protection Agency’s public process to clarify and restore these protections — a public process called for by the U.S Supreme Court.
Our waters have been threatened by this uncertain status quo for more than a decade. We can’t wait any longer. Now is the time to ensure the Clean Water Act effectively protects the water our children drink — and the businesses that keep our economy strong.
Poll after poll shows that a strong majority of Americans value clean drinking water. I write now to add my voice to the chorus demanding clean water.
 

Scholarships Available for Students Studying Wildlife, Natural Resources

Interested applicants have until June 10 to apply

The Willis Scholarship Foundation, in conjunction with the Governor’s One Shot Turkey Hunt, invites students currently enrolled in a Kansas regent’s institution pursuing a degree relating to wildlife, natural resources, and/or natural resource management to apply for a scholarship. The application period is open now through June 10, 2014.

Created in memory of Wayne Willis, a long time supporter of the Governor’s One Shot Spring Turkey Hunt and renowned wildlife artist from the Wichita area, the scholarship foundation started in 1996 when the Past Shooters & Guides Association offered two $1000 scholarships. Since then, approximately $400,000 has been awarded to Kansas students.

Successful applicants can be awarded $500 – $1,250 per semester, based on grade point average and the following criteria:

     – desire to pursue a career in wildlife or natural resources

     – maintain at least a2.5 GPA, pursuing a bachelor’s degree or higher

– Commit to attending the Governor’s One Shot Turkey Hunt, providing assistance

 where necessary

The 28th annual Kansas Governor’s One Shot Turkey Hunt will be held April 10, 11and 12, 2014 in El Dorado. Hunters from across the U.S. are participating this year, including Kansas Governor Sam Brownback.

Passing on the hunting heritage to the next generation remains a continued focus for the event. Twenty-three Kansas youth applied for a chance to participate in the Kansas Governor’s One Shot Turkey Hunt Youth Program 2014. Riley Brown of El Dorado, Allison Dix of Stockton, Joseph Heimann of Hays, Avery Lewellen of Wellington, Ethan Shaw of Logan and Jenna Smithson ofOsageCity are the six chosen this year.

For more information on the Willis Scholarship Foundation, Inc., and to receive an application, visitwww.centralkansascf.org/non-profit-organizations/scholarships/.

Federal decision reignites prairie chicken debate

House committee takes up bill barring federal government from regulating non-migratory birds

 

THAD ALLTON/THE CAPITAL-JOURNAL
A display showing the lesser prairie chicken stands in
the hallway on the second floor of the Kansas statehouse.

 

Topeka Capital-Journal
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s decision to list the lesser prairie chicken as “threatened” spurred House members to act Tuesday, passing a Senate bill telling the feds to back off.
Rep. Sharon Schwartz said the listing, which also caused Gov. Sam Brownback to announce the state will join an Oklahoma lawsuit against the federal action, led her to bring Senate Bill 276 back to the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee she chairs.
“If this branch of government wants to have a position on this issue, this is our opportunity,” Schwartz said.
Prairie chicken numbers in their five-state range have dropped from almost 100,000 in 2001 to about 17,500 last year. ButKansas is working with the other four states on a regional conservation plan and had asked the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to go along with that.
In rendering the decision to list the bird as threatened, the service said it had carefully weighed those requests against the concerns of environmentalists who said the only way to prevent the species extinction would be to give it the more stringent “endangered” label.
Ron Klataske, executive director of Audobon Kansas, said the state had lost conservationists’ trust with half-hearted attempts to stem the declines of species like whooping cranes, black-tailed prairie dogs and black-footed ferrets.
“Unfortunately the state of Kansas is threatening to discard sound science and imperiled species, and its own credibility,” Klataske said.
The fish and wildlife service said that in writing its protection rules for the lesser prairie chicken under the threatened designation it would give “unprecedented” deference to the regional five-state plan.
The protection rules haven’t yet been published, but Schwartz echoed dire predictions by Brownback and Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism Secretary Robin Jennison.
“It’s going to be devastating to western Kansas,” Schwartz said.
Still, Schwartz moved to soften the bill, offering an amendment.
As brought by Secretary of State Kris Kobach and passed by the Senate 30-10, the original bill would have made it a felony for a federal agent to regulate lesser and greater prairie chickens within Kansas.
Schwartz’ amendment, adopted by the committee, would decriminalize the actions of federal wildlife agents performing their job duties, while still offering the opportunity to petition courts to stop them.
Rep. Tom Moxley, R-Council Grove, said the bill still runs a strong risk of embroiling the state in a lawsuit that it will be unlikely to win because court precedents have frequently affirmed that federal law trumps state law when the two conflict.
“When it comes to the supremacy clause, it’s been successful to challenge that one or two times in history,” Moxley said. “And how many times was it tested? Thousands.”
Rep. Ed Trimmer, D-Winfield, questioned some of the language in the bill, but said he didn’t believe it would be relevant to the prairie chicken question in the end.
“This is going to end up in litigation anyway and the court’s going to make that determination,” Trimmer said.
Rep. Tom Sloan, R-Lawrence, called the bill “unnecessary” given the state’s lawsuit with Oklahoma, but “much more palatable than the original version.”

Yellowstone Grizzlies Progress Towards Federal Delisting

By Daniel Xu
The OutdoorHub
 
Yellowstone‘s grizzlies could be delisted as early as next year.
 
Federal officials say that a study on whether Yellowstone’s grizzly bears should be removed from the Endangered Species List could be finished as early as this fall. According to the Jackson Hole News and Guide, Grizzly Bear Recovery Coordinator Chris Servheen said in an interagency meeting that Yellowstone’s grizzlies could be delisted by this time next year.
Former US Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced last year that the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) will be seeking to delist the estimated 600 grizzlies in YellowstoneNational Park. After more than 30 years of restoration efforts, the agency considers the species to be recovered. Not all conservationists agree with this sentiment, saying that the position occupied byYellowstone’s bears is fragile.
In 2007, the USFWS managed to successfully delist Yellowstone’s grizzlies, but restored the species’ federally protected status less than two years later due to a court case. The plaintiffs behind the lawsuit argued that the USFWS did not account for the dwindling number of whitebark pine in the park. The pine’s nuts are a major food source for the bears, and their decline could threaten the grizzly population.
“The gains are precarious,” Louisa Willcox of the National Resources Defense Council said at the time. “Grizzles are low-reproducers. You can turn increased numbers into a decline very quickly.”
However, a later report by the Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team found that the whitebark decline had little impact on the bears. Wyoming and federal biologists added that bears thrive in plenty of areas where whitebark pine is not available.
The USFWS is currently conducting a five-pronged study into whether Yellowstone’s largest carnivore should be delisted. Factors taken into account are the status of Yellowstone’s bear habitat, threats from disease or predation, protection given to the bears by other laws, threats to the species from commercial or recreational overuse, and other issues that might affect the continued survival of the population.
“That will all be done, we expect, by this fall,” Servheen said.
At that point the USFWS will decide whether it will further pursue efforts to delist Yellowstone’s bears.
 
 
 
 

White-tailed Deer

IMG_2668cropetcSmal

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.