Daily Archives: June 28, 2014

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.