Monthly Archives: June 2014

Kansas Handfishing Season Kicked off June 15

You won’t find any hotdogs or chicken livers with a “noodler,” but that doesn’t mean these anglers are fishing without bait. Using their hands as the bait and hook, handfishermen will find a suspected catfish hole, barricade possible exits the fish might escape through, stick their arm inside, and lurk around for a catfish mouth to grab. Although somewhat simple in theory, handfishing is an angling technique not for the faint of heart.

Adding to the challenge of handfishing, regulations do not allow man-made objects that attract fish, such as a barrel, box, or bathtub to be used. Handfishing anglers are also prohibited from using snorkel or scuba gear. A stringer may be used, but not until the catfish is caught by hand and is at or above the water’s surface.

Luckily, Kansas is one of a handful of states that offer this special season. With a special permit, anglers can handfish for flathead catfish in select waters from sunrise to sunset June 15-Aug. 31.

Kansas waters open to handfishing include:

● the entire length of the Arkansas River,

● all federal reservoirs from beyond 150 yards of the dam to the upstream end of the federal property, and

● the Kansas River from its origin, downstream to its confluence with the Missouri River.

Handfishing permits can be obtained for $27.50 at license vendors or online. Anglers participating in this special season will need to have a handfishing permit in addition to a regular fishing license.

To purchase a handfishing permit online, visit www.ksoutdoors.com and click “License/Permits.”

DO THEM A FAVOR LEAVE THEM ALONE!

It’s common to encounter young wild animals, especially in spring and summer. Some people have an irresistible attraction to these wild youngsters, and want to take them home. Every year, the lives of young wild animals are needlessly jeopardized by well-intentioned people who take them from the wild in the mistaken belief that the animals are abandoned or orphaned and will die if not given care. In fact, rescuing wildlife from the wild often results in the death of the animal.

FIVE GOOD REASONS TO LEAVE THEM IN THE WILD

1. They’re not abandoned. Bird and animal mothers will leave their young while they search for food during the day. This is the time when the young are most vulnerable to well meaning humans. Young fawns, for example, are quite safe when left alone because their color pattern and lack of scent help them to remain undetected until their mothers return. The adult animal is probably waiting for you to leave so it can return to care for its young.

2. It’s illegal. Picking up young animals is against the law. Both the KansasDepartment of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism and the Kansas Department of Health and Environment have regulations against such activity. Fines can be up to $1,000. State permits are required to legally possess most species of wild animals. For some species, federal permits are required and fines are more severe.

3. They may carry disease. Even though they may look cute and fuzzy, wild animals carry a number of potential health threats. Rabies can be transmitted from a bite or saliva contacting an open would. Distemper and rabies are the most common illnesses that household pets acquire from wild animals. Ticks and fleas borne by some animals carry Lyme and other diseases. Wild animals may also carry bacteria, roundworms, tapeworms, mites, and/or protozoans that can cause diseases in humans or their pets.

4. They’re not pets. Although young animals may be cute and cuddly, they are wild animals. Many well-meaning people have taken young animals home, and then quickly learned that they’re not equipped to handle the animal as it matures. “Adopting” young wild animals may be an irresistible urge for some people, but wild animals typically make poor pets as adults. Many people have been injured by animals that initially seemed easily tamed.

5. Good intentions can be deadly. Many animals taken into captivity soon die. Those that don’t are denied the opportunity to learn how to survive in their natural environment, so they seldom develop the skills necessary for them to survive when they are eventually returned to the wild. Their ability to find natural foods is hindered, and the natural wariness that is learned in the wild is impaired. Young wildlife raised in captivity often develop an attachment to humans. Upon their release to the wild, they may have little fear of people and return to make nuisances of themselves, or put themselves in danger of traffic, or attack from domestic animals. Further, when released to the wild they may be thrust as unwelcome intruders into the home range of another member of their species. And you might relocate an animal with disease into a population that did not have the disease.

A list of licensed Kansas wildlife rehabilitators and their phone numbers is at http://kdwpt.state.ks.us/Services/Rehabilitation.

 

KDWPT Law Enforcement to Participate in Operation Dry Water

Heightened enforcement of BUI laws will take place June 27-29

 

The Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism (KDWPT) will be participating in Operation Dry Water (ODW), June 27-29, as part of a nationally-coordinated effort to reduce the number of accidents and deaths related to boating under the influence (BUI). During this three-day period, KDWPT officers will be on the water, reminding boaters about the dangers of boating under the influence and detecting boaters who are impaired. ODW efforts will include increased patrols, breathalyzer tests, and checkpoints, as well as boater education and outreach.

“There is a big misconception out there that operating a boat while intoxicated is not as dangerous as driving a car. This simply isn’t true,” said KDWPT assistant director of law enforcement Major Dan Hesket. “In fact, studies have found that people become impaired faster when boating as opposed to driving due to additional factors such as heat, dehydration, wind and wave action. “Our goal is to promote awareness of the hazards relating to boat operations while intoxicated and to prevent any accidents, injuries, or deaths due to operating while impaired.

“If you suspect a boater is intoxicated, dial 911, and try to get the registration numbers from the boat, as well as a complete description of the operator and passengers,” Hesket adds. “Under no circumstances should you confront the other boater.”

Boaters whose blood alcohol content (BAC) level exceeds the state limit of .08 percent can expect to be arrested for BUI and face other serious penalties including fines, jail time and loss of boating or even driving privileges.

According to Hesket, the KDWPT Law Enforcement Division averages approximately 11 special enforcement efforts over the ODW weekend, resulting in 4 to 8 boating under the influence arrests each year.

For more information on Operation Dry Water, visit operationdrywater.org.

 

Kansas Grazing Lands Coalition Schedules Two Range Schools

Adapting Your Management to a Changing Climate is the theme for the Kansas Grazing Lands Coalition (KGLC) summer range schools.  The Mid-/Shortgrass Range School runs from August 5-7 at Camp Lakeside, Lake Scott, and the Tallgrass Range School is set for August 19-21 at Camp Wood YMCA, Elmdale.  We have a great line-up of topics for both schools, so don’t wait to get your scholarship form returned.

The climate in Kansas continues to change – the uncertain weather, uncertain markets and diminishing wildlife species and their habitat needs are among the tough challenges facing ranchers today.  This situation calls for action – rethinking your management options and strategies.  The intent of the schools is to help inform decision-makers and provide them with sound grazing principles that they can take home and employ on their operations.

The 2014 registration fees – $300 per person. The fee covers course materials, on-site lodging and meals, and other related costs.  Ranchers, landowners, and students may qualify for a $150 scholarship if they meet eligibility and request one using KGLC’s scholarship form.  Agency staffs may qualify for $100 in scholarships.  The form and more information on the Schools are available at www.kglc.org under 2014 Range Schools found in the navigation bar.  Also, find the form (Word and PDF) attached.  We have a new sponsor this year – the National Grazing Lands Coalition – and they are helping underwrite the scholarship program.  Look for more information on the schools and sponsors to come along with the 2014 brochure.

Scholarship applications must be submitted by July 22 for the Mid-/ShortgrassSchool and August 5 for theTallgrassSchool.

For more information contact Tim Christian at 620-241-3636, or reply email.

Critters need water too!

By Jim Mason

Naturalist

Great Plains NatureCenter

Citizen of Kansas

 

A quick glance at the list of animal species in decline within the state of Kansas reveals that dangerously large percentages of those animals most closely tied to water habitats are in trouble. According to the most recent accounting available:

Mussels: 31 out of 48 (64%) 8 Extirpated, 7 Endangered, 4 Threatened, 12 SINC

Amphibians: 12 out of 29 (40%) 3 Endangered, 7 Threatened, 2 SINC

Fish: 47 out of 144 (32%) 5 Endangered, 13 Threatened, 29 SINC

For the fish, the indications are now that 2 species are extirpated from the state.

These figures should be a wakeup call to all of us that our stewardship of Kansas’ surface waters is seriously lacking. Preservation and restoration of water quality and baseline stream flow regimens is essential for survival of aquatic species, and ultimately, ourselves also. These creatures are the “canary in the coal mine” that we should be paying attention to. If we can succeed in returning these various species to a healthy population level, we will be doing ourselves a favor too.

Agriculture accounts for more than 80% of water usage in the state, and as the major player in the game, the involvement of the agricultural sector is critical to the success of any attempt to address the three big problems identified in the 50 Year Vision process: water quantity shortages in the western half of the state, water quality problems in the eastern half and reservoir sedimentation. I applaud the efforts of the Vision Team to seek a realistic way forward, and I also applaud Governor Brownback for elevating this discussion within the state. Unfortunately, Kansas has a long history of giving overriding priority to consumptive use of water, to the extent that sometimes I wonder that any water leaves the state at all.

Small streams and long reaches of some rivers have disappeared from the western half of the state because the Ogallala has been emptied to the extent that it no longer supports those streams and rivers. We are mining the aquifer and exporting it as pork and fat beef. Over the last 30 years I have watched as the cottonwood trees along the Arkansas River in western Kansas have died. When there isn’t enough ground moisture to keep a riverbank cottonwood going, you know things are getting serious. And this is not just a matter of keeping trees and minnows and frogs alive. Many farmers who were not fortunate enough to be situated over the “fat” part of the aquifer have already given up irrigation because either their part of the aquifer is just plain gone, or they can no longer pump the water at a reasonable cost. There is no equally profitable agricultural paradigm they can transition to. Will the rest of the irrigators just keep drawing the aquifer down until every producer is out of business? Where do the municipalities get their water at that point? You cannot have cities without a water supply for the people living in them. Every year that this situation goes on unchanged, we get closer and closer to creating the Buffalo Commons. And no nefarious government body is responsible; we are doing this to ourselves.

Regarding water quality, I believe the Clean Water Act set a very reasonable, common-sense standard: Surface waters should be fishable and swimmable. You should be able to go fishing at a stream, river or lake and find a diverse and healthy population of fish that are safe to eat. And you should be able to jump into the local swimming hole and not worry about being exposed to toxic chemicals or catching a debilitating disease. I think those are goals every Kansan would see as desirable. I hope we can all agree to make them attainable as well. We have come a long ways from the bad old days of the 1970s when the CWA was passed. Point sources of pollution have largely been taken care of.

What remains is to address non-point sources, and, again, agriculture must be involved to reach those goals. It is to every producer’s advantage to fully implement Best Management Practices on their land. Every ton of topsoil that washes off a crop field is a blow to the farmer’s main capital resource. And every pound of fertilizer or chemical that does not stay where it was applied is a waste of the farmer’s money, reducing the profitability of their operation. It only makes sense to keep the soil, fertilizer and chemicals in place and not let them get away.

Reservoirs will inevitably silt in over time. Each river, particularly in a state like ours, will carry suspended material in the water column and when that water slows down, in an impoundment for instance, that material will fall out. However, there is a reason why El Dorado Lake is in much better shape in that regard than so many of our other lakes, namely most of its watershed is in the Flint Hills and the topsoil is anchored by a continuous cover of prairie grasses and forbs. This is instructive for how we can make progress and reduce the sedimentation going forward. We must do all we can to keep topsoil on the land and not allow it to be stolen from farmers by erosion. I know there are numerous cost share programs and advisory capabilities among the different state and federal agencies to help producers get this done, and I hope more can be done to augment these programs and increase participation in them by producers.

I hope I have demonstrated that when I speak out for protection of aquatic species of wildlife, I am not ignoring theKansas economy or the future of the people who live here and their descendants. It’s all part of one piece. Critters need water, and people are critters too. I hope the 50 Year Vision that comes out of the current planning effort recognizes the importance of water to maintain all the living creatures that inhabit this state. It’s a matter of enlightened self interest to do so.

Editor’s Note: Jim submitted the above comments to the Governor’s Water Vision Team as recommendations regarding the 50-Year Vision. The Kansas Water Office has scheduled 12 meetings in mid-July to collect input into the first draft for theVision for the Future of Water in Kansas. You can attend and provide your input. See the locations and dates for the meetings in another article in this newsletter.

 

 

 

Water Vision Tour Locations Announced

 

Team leaders to share first draft of the 50-Year Vision the week of July 7-11 on statewide tour

 

Twelve locations throughout the state have been set for Governor Sam Brownback’s Water Vision Team to visit and receive input on the first draft of the Vision for the Future of Water in Kansas.

“To date the Team has attended more than 160 meetings with more than 9,000 Kansans to gather input on what should be addressed in this Water Vision,” said Tracy Streeter, Kansas Water Office Director. “It is so important that all water users have a chance to share their comments on this first draft as this could be a turning point for addressing our state’s water issues.”

The input sessions will be held July 7-11, 2014 at the following locations:

Monday, July 7 – Wichita, St. John

Tuesday, July 8 – Liberal, Garden City, Dighton

Wednesday, July 9 – Colby, Stockton, Assaria

Thursday, July 10 – Manhattan, Washington, Kansas City

Friday, July 11 – Ft.Scott

For a detailed list of the addresses and times for each stop on the Vision Tour, visit:http://www..kwo.org/50_Year_Vision/50_Year_Vision.htm.

 

 

Nine-banded Armadillo (Dasypus novemcinctus)

Nine-banded Armadillo by Tom Friedel / Creative Commons

Nine-banded Armadillo by Tom Friedel / Creative Commons

Nine-banded Armadillo (Dasypus novemcinctus)

Photo Credit: Tom Friedel/Creative Commons

Nine-banded armadillos are typically found in the southeastern United States, but their range has been expanding northward for the last hundred years. Climate warming will further extend their northern range. In Kansas they are typically found in shrubby or woodlands. Their most conspicuous trait is their protective armor. It consists of front and rear upper bony plates that are joined by nine moveable bony bands. Armor helps to protect armadillos from predators. However their tendency to jump up when threatened makes them frequent “road kill”. Nine-banded armadillos are nocturnal but their eyesight is poor because they lack cone cells in their retinas. Therefore they lack color vision. Their abandoned burrows are used by rabbits, opossums and burrowing owls. They feed on insects and their larvae, beetles, snails, white grubs and ants. Their young are identical quadruplets, each vulnerable to predation since they have not yet formed their hardened carapace.

Registration Open for Tuttle Creek Assisted Deer Hunt

Youth and disabled hunters are encouraged to apply for this limited hunt now through July 31

 

The Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism, Riley County Fish and Game Association, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers atTuttleCreekLake are currently accepting applications through July 31 for the upcoming 2014 Tuttle Creek Youth/Disabled Assisted Deer Hunt, September 6 and 7. This hunt, which is offered free of charge, is open to resident youth age 11-16 and those with a certified disability.

Participants will need a Kansas hunting license, deer permit, and, if required by Kansas law, must have completed an approved hunter education course. Assistance meeting these requirements, including scholarship assistance to purchase a hunting license and deer permit, can be provided.

If needed, rifles and ammunition will also be available to hunters. Each participant will be guided by an experienced hunter, and arrangements have been made with area lockers to provide basic processing of harvested deer free of charge. Other items provided for this hunt include accessible hunting blinds, hunting locations, hunter orange hats and vests, and transportation to and from the field.

Participants will be required to attend a firearm safety presentation and sight-in at the FancyCreekShootingRange at 4 p.m., Sunday, August 17.

For more information, or to obtain an application, contact U.S. Army Corps of Engineers natural resource specialist Steve Prockish at (785) 539-8511, ext. 3167, or by e-mail at [email protected]. Applications can also be found by visiting:http://www.nwk.usace.army.mil/Portals/29/docs/lakesites/tuttlecreek/DeerHunt.pdf

This event is made possible by Friends of Fancy Creek Range, Kansas City Chapter of Safari Club International, Kansas State Rifle Association and the Tuttle Creek Lake Association.

Western Ornate Box Turtle

 

Photo from Catcher in My Eye

Photo from Catcher in My Eye

 

Western Ornate Box Turtle (Terrapene ornate) is the Kansas State Reptile.

The following comments are adapted from Catcher In My Eye’s Flicker album.

The Western Ornate Box Turtle is 4-5 inches long with a flattened-dome carapace (top shell) that is dark brown or black with bright yellow lines that radiate to form a starburst pattern. The plastron (under shell) is marked with yellow and brown lines. The head is dark brown with spots of white or yellow. I have found her enjoying Mulberries fallen off the Mulberry tree on my property. A mature female box turtle will lay 3-6 eggs each spring in a shallow nest. The unguarded eggs hatch in late summer or early fall. Box turtles commonly reach 25-30 years of age (some have lived 40-50 years).The habitat of a Western Box Turtle is grasslands and open wooded areas of the Plains states. Generally male box turtles have orange or red eyes and a slightly concave plastron, while females have brown or light orange eyes and a nearly flat plastron.

Plant Materials Center to Host 40th Annual North American Butterfly Association Count

Butterfly

The 40th Annual North American Butterfly Association (NABA) Count will kick off at the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Manhattan Plant Materials Center (PMC), Thursday, July 10, 2014, beginning at 9 a.m.  There is no charge to participate in the count, but volunteers need to register by Monday, July 8, 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, and camera (if you have them) 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 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.

“The PMC is excited to host the NABA count again this year and it provides a way for volunteers to help scientists monitor butterfly migration and get a good estimate of the different species and their numbers.”

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 http://plant-materials.nrcs.usda.gov/kspmc  or http://ks.nrcs.usda.gov

Directions

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.

Peregrine Falcon

Peregrine Falcon by Bob Gress

Peregrine Falcon by Bob Gress

Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus).        Photo Credit: Bob Gress The peregrine falcon has a distinctive black head with a “moustache” over its beak, continuing onto a blue-grey back. Its white underparts are barred. They nest as far north as the  Arctic tundra and winter in South America. Homing instincts lead them back to their nesting sites (aeries) that have often been used by uninterrupted generations of falcons. Peregrine populations became endangered because of the widespread use of DDT during the 1950s, 60s, and 70s but have responded to curtailed use of DDT and other pesticides. DDT was believed to reduce the amount of calcium in their eggshells. Thinner shells broke prematurely resulting in poor hatching success. The peregrine falcon was removed from the U.S. Endangered Species list on August 25, 1999 and from the Kansas list in 2009. In natural surroundings, the peregrine falcon nests in a scrape on cliff edges. The female scrapes a shallow depression in loose soil, sand or gravel in which to lay eggs. No nest materials are used. In cities, man-made structures like bridges and building ledges have become substitutes for the cliffs as nesting locations. The peregrine is renowned for its speed, reaching more than 200 mph during high speed hunting dives known as stoops (wings tucked in close to the body). These dives take many different waterfowl and shorebirds plus pigeons, doves, flickers and meadowlarks. Their dramatic courtship flights showcase aerial acrobatics, spectacularly steep dives and precise spirals.