Monthly Archives: October 2014

Boone and Crockett Club Supports New Funding for Conservation

Four Boone and Crockett Club members are serving on a panel charged with developing new funding mechanisms for conservation. The goal is bridging the funding gap between game and nongame species – a concept heartily endorsed by the Club.

The 20-member Blue Ribbon Panel on Sustaining America’s Diverse Fish and Wildlife Resources was announced at a recent Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies meeting.

The panel is co-chaired by Johnny Morris, CEO of Bass Pro Shops and regular member of Boone and Crockett Club. The panel also includes three professional members of the Club including Becky Humphries, Steve Williams and John Tomke.
Outdoor recreation retail and manufacturing sectors, energy and automotive industries, private landowners, educational institutions, conservation organizations, sportsmen’s groups and state conservation agencies are represented on the panel. Over the next year, the group will produce recommendations and policy options to fund conservation of the full array of fish and wildlife species.

Those recommendations will be presented to Congress and the President.

“Sportsmen don’t just advocate for game species, but for all wildlife, and the Boone and Crockett Club enthusiastically supports the concept of new funding sources and a more comprehensive approach to conservation,” said Bill Demmer, Club president.

Demmer added that increasing public and private funding for conservation was listed as a priority action item in a White House conference convened by President Bush in 2008. Since then, it’s become even more apparent that America’s historic successes in conservation are not sustainable under current funding models – especially given today’s growing challenges to fisheries, wildlife and other natural resources.

Goals and actions from the White House conference included identifying and developing new sources of dedicated, long-term funding for federal, state, and tribal fish and wildlife agencies to support conservation and hunting, and establish a blue ribbon panel of experts on wildlife funding to do so.

Morris said, “By assembling this panel of highly regarded leaders and problem solvers, we will find a way forward that safeguards not only vital natural resources, but also our nation’s economic prosperity and outdoor heritage.”

Former Wyoming governor Dave Freudenthal, who co-chairs the panel alongside Morris, said, “With fish and wildlife species and natural resource-based enterprise at stake, we can’t afford an ‘us vs. them’ mentality. It is time to create certainty for both industry and the conservation community by building a 21st Century funding model.”

State hunting and fishing license dollars, federal excise taxes on hunting and fishing gear and motorboat fuel taxes established a “user pay-public benefit” model that has provided the backbone for funding states’ fish and wildlife personnel and conservation programs over the past century.

Despite the success of this funding model, the costs of fish and wildlife conservation are increasing with public demands for new and expanded services. There has also always been a significant gap in dedicated funding for conserving the 95 percent of all species that are neither hunted nor fished. Professional managers and the organizations and individuals that help support them now must address a large number of new pressures on the landscape that are rapidly changing the outlook for North America’s fish and wildlife.

The co-chairs expect to add approximately three more individuals and four ex officio participants to the panel before it convenes its first meeting in early 2015.

 

Game Wardens & Kansas Highway Patrol to conduct checkpoint

Joint effort will check drivers’ licenses and possession of wildlife.

 

Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks, and Tourism (KDWPT) game wardens and Kansas Highway Patrol (KHP) troopers will conduct a joint checkpoint in north central Kansas in mid-November. The regular pheasant and quail seasons open November 8, the greater prairie chicken regular season starts November 15 and duck and goose seasons will also be underway. The checkpoint is intended to help enforce state and federal wildlife laws, as well as the state’s driver’s licensing laws.

KHP troopers will operate the first stage of the checkpoint to be sure drivers are properly licensed to be driving. If a driver does not have a valid license, appropriate enforcement actions will be taken. Travelers should not expect major delays from this portion of the checkpoint.

Occupants of vehicles in the first check lane will be asked if they are hunters or are transporting wildlife.  If they are in either case, drivers will be directed to a nearby KDWPT check lane where game wardens will check for required licenses and permits, count the game and gather biological, harvest, and hunter success information. This portion of the checkpoint should also cause minimal delay.

Additional wildlife checkpoints will occur around the state during the fall and winter hunting seasons.

Saving Animal Tracks as Plaster Casts – Education for Kids from the USGS

USGS Education

USGS Education

Identifying animals from the tracks they leave behind in the snow or dirt (especially along the banks of streams or ponds) is a satisfying learning experience for anyone, especially kids. Here is an interesting resource from the United States Geological Survey (USGS) that describes how to make plaster casts from animal tracks you may discover in your area. Click on Plaster Casts of Animal Tracks to see the printable pdf document.

USGS Education

USGS Education

Bringing back the Bobwhite Quail

                                                                      Bringing back the Bobwhite

By David Rainer

Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources

From The Outdoor Wire

The familiar whistle of the bobwhite quail has almost disappeared throughout its traditional range, mainly because of a significant change in land use.

The familiar whistle of the bobwhite quail has almost disappeared throughout its traditional range, mainly because of a significant change in land use.

One of the most endearing aspects of living in semi-rural Alabama in the mid-to-late 1990s was a sound emanating from a 20-acre pecan grove adjacent to our home.

During the spring and summer, just about every morning during that time, the familiar “bob-white” call would echo through the pecan trees and fall pleasingly on my ears.

During my formative years in the 1960s and ’70s, the call of the bobwhite quail was a common occurrence for those who spent most of their time outdoors.

Although my late father was involved in just about every outdoors pursuit imaginable, he was probably best known as a “bird” hunter. That bird was the bobwhite quail, and my dad always had at least two bird dogs to pursue the quarry.

On special occasions, my mother would make her famous biscuits to go with the fried quail, a testament to the number of birds that roamed the woods and fencerows of that era.

However, as agricultural practices changed and the majority of the human population migrated to more urban environments, the quail population suffered. Gone were the pea patches and numerous fencerows where quail found safety and sustenance.

Sadly, it’s been more than five years since I’ve heard a bobwhite whistle in the pecan grove next door.

While most of the quail hunting these days is done on preserves with release birds, there is a renewed effort to try to re-establish wild populations in suitable habitat.

The National Bobwhite Conservation Initiative (NBCI) was formed several years ago but struggled to gain a foothold in the conservation world because of a lack of funding.

Last week at the Southeastern Outdoor Press Association (SEOPA) Conference in Fontana Village, N.C., I had a chance to sit down with John Doty of the NBCI to talk about the future of quail. Doty had some good news to share.

“The National Bobwhite Conservation Initiative was created by the state wildlife agencies in the 25 states that make up the core bobwhite range,” Doty said. “We do not do the same things the state agencies do. They created NBCI to work at the regional and national levels to look at opportunities and obstacles to quail restoration.

“One of the biggest things that has happened lately is the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has approved NBCI as a Pittman-Robertson program so we can receive Wildlife Restoration Act funding.”

That funding will allow NBCI to expand its outreach program as well as hire a grasslands coordinator and a central database coordinator.

“The grasslands ecosystem is a really critical part of bobwhite restoration,” Doty said. “When all the states feed in their information on habitat and restoration work, the database person will coordinate the information on the response to the habitat work.

“The Pittman-Robertson funds will allow us to work on bobwhite restoration on a landscape scale, which is pretty exciting.”

There have been many theories about the decline of the bobwhite, including fire ants and increased predation, but there is one cause that has emerged as the prevalent theory.

“The states got together and got on the same page some time ago,” Doty said. “It’s disappearing habitat and fragmentation of habitat. It’s not only development, but it’s the way people used the land for decades. That has changed.

“People remember when bobwhites were numerous, and they didn’t have to do anything to make that happen. It was just a function of the way the land was being used. Now so much has changed – from the way we manage our forests to the way we have industrialized agriculture, as well as the demise of small family farms across the region. The fencerows are gone. We’re row cropping from border to border. We’re replacing native, warm-season grasses with fescue.”

The good news is that the state wildlife agencies and general public are now paying attention to the demise of the wild quail populations.

“There is more momentum right now among these 25 states to restore wild bobwhite populations than there has ever been,” Doty said. “You’ve got 25 states working together on this, which is very unusual.

Although mainly ground dwellers, bobwhites will fly into trees when flushed to escape predators.

Although mainly ground dwellers, bobwhites will fly into trees when flushed to escape predators.

For those of us who grew up when quail were plentiful, a fried quail dinner was still a special treat.

For those of us who grew up when quail were plentiful, a fried quail dinner was still a special treat.

 

“One of the things NBCI brings to the table is there is a coordinated implementation plan now. This will get much more discussion among the public in coming years. There is a specific plan for the creation of bobwhite focal areas and how they’re monitored. We’re working with the National Park Service to restore National Battlefields to native vegetation. That’s bobwhite habitat.”

Doty said the next several weeks are crucial for the bobwhite restoration efforts in the form of the Farm Bill under consideration by Congress.

“I hope that we will be able to announce in the next three to six weeks the addition of at least a quarter-million acres of bobwhite habitat through the Farm Bill program,” he said. “Also, we are working with the U.S. Forest Service to create a bobwhite emphasis areas in national forests.”

Doty said he is working with Mark Sasser of the Alabama Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Division to try to assist in Alabama’s quail project.

“NBCI is making a range-wide, coordinated effort in bobwhite restoration,” Sasser said. “What they’re trying to help us do, where a state can’t individually do this, is affect policy in the Farm Bill and the Farm Services Agency through the NRCS (Natural Resources Conservation Service).

“They really went to bat for us with the new Farm Bill to help promote the Pine Savanna Initiative proposal to the Farm Services Agency in Washington, which would pay landowners for thinning their CRP (Conservation Reserve Program) timber stands at an earlier age and prescribed burning, which helps quail and a variety of other species. NBCI gives us a national voice and national attention on quail restoration.”

Doty said the longleaf pine restoration projects have garnered a great deal of attention. Now the next focus will be on shortleaf pines, which will have more of a widespread impact.

“The pine initiatives are going to be premier avenues for bobwhite restoration in the longleaf and shortleaf regions,” Doty said. “So there is a whole lot going on that’s very good for bobwhites.”

Alabama’s quail season runs from November 8 through February 28 with a daily bag limit of eight birds per person.

Elk

Elk Photo by Jeff Heidel of HeidelPhotography.com

Elk Photo by Jeff Heidel of HeidelPhotography.com

 

Elk (Cervus canadensis)     Photo Credit: Jeff Heidel, HeidelPhotography.com

The Shawnee & Cree Indian term for Elk is Wapiti or “white rump”. Elk historically lived across the North American continent north of Mexico. Today they naturally occur in prairies and woodlands of the American & Canadian Rockies as well as the Pacific Northwest. Elk graze on grasses and forbs in the summer. As winter snows move in, they feed on the bark and twigs of shrubs and trees. The fall rut determines which dominant male can breed with a harem of cows. Their antlers are shed in the spring.   The following text is from the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks & Tourism.

Elk were another big game species that were common in pre-settlement Kansas. They were also extirpated at the turn of the century. However, a small herd was maintained at the Maxwell Wildlife Area near McPherson. The 2,200-acre enclosure is operated as a refuge and also features bison. In 1981, elk from Maxwell were released at the Cimarron National Grassland, and that herd was free-ranging. To keep that herd from growing too big and causing crop damage, a limited resident-only season was opened in 1987. Later in the 1980s, elk were captured at Maxwell and released on the Ft. Riley Military Reservation. That herd is also free-ranging, and a season was established for the fort in 1990. Today, elk are primarily hunted on and around Ft. Riley, but individual elk or small herds may be found at other locations around the state, and hunting is permitted everywhere except Morton County. About 900 applications are received for the 20 or so permits allotted each year, and they are divided among military personnel and Kansas residents.

 

 

The Hummingbird is the most viewed by people visiting the KWF website.

Anna's Hummingbird by Ted Beringer

Anna’s Hummingbird by Ted Beringer

Anna's Hummingbird by Ted Beringer

Anna’s Hummingbird by Ted Beringer

The Archived Kansas Animals is the most popular page on the Kansas Wildlife Federation website. Among the most popular animals/wildlife from a list of over 60 examples in ascending order are the Green Dragonfly, Greater Sage Grouse, Barred Tiger Salamander, White Bass, Peregrine Falcon, Native Minnows in the Flint Hills, and the Red Fox. But easily topping the list with the most views by people visiting our website is the hummingbird. So for those still interested, here are two photos of an Anna’s Hummingbird drinking nectar from a Jewel flower. The Jewel flower thrives in moist to wet soils in Kansas. This hummingbird not only feeds at nectar-providing flowers but also includes insects in its diet for protein. This is a good reason to avoid using pesticides in our flower gardens since it reduces the number of insects in the hummingbird’s diet and because pesticides themselves can poison hummingbirds. If your keen interest in hummingbirds includes other birds, try visiting Ted Beringer’s Picasa photo album for photos of many birds that visit Shawnee Mission Park in northeast Kansas throughout the year. The photos are viewed best on full screen.

Unfortunately, Senator Roberts Opposes the clean Water Rule.

ditchthemyth_infograph1_7-9

EPAgraphicWOTUS

The Water Rule proposed by the EPA was requested by many stakeholders to help clarify the Clean Water Act. The Water Rule has accomplished this by clarifying the types of waters covered under the Clean Water Act. It is important to understand that this rule does not broaden coverage of the Clean Water Act nor does it regulate groundwater or ditches. All exemptions and exclusions have been preserved. Plus, it was supported by invited input from the agricultural community. The rule is supported by more than 1,000 scientific publications. It is about as uncontroversial as legislation can be. Unfortunately, Kansas Senator Pat Roberts does not support the clean Water Rule and has introduced legislation to prevent the EPA from continuing to protect creeks & streams in Kansas and across the country. To read the Clean Water Act and express your own opinion, visit http://www.regulations.gov/#!submitComment;D=EPA-HQ-OW-2011-0880-0001.

Roadside Habitat Enhancement Coalition

www.xerces.org

www.xerces.org

The Roadside Habitat Enhancement Coalition attended a meeting of the KDOT Superintendent’s in Wichita on Oct. 22. The coalition includes Troy Schroeder (President of the Kansas Wildlife Federation), Ron Klataske (Audubon of Kansas), Jordan Martincich, Steve Riley and Zac Eddy (Pheasants Forever) Chip Taylor (Monarch Watch), and Fred Coombs & Krista Dahlinger (Kansas Native Plant Society). The meeting was designed to convince the KDOT to recognize the importance and benefits that unmowed roadside vegetation provide for wildlife, esthetics and economic savings. Kansas Integrated Roadside Management is one of the Kansas Wildlife Federation’s resolution for 2014. To read the resolution visit

< http://www.kswildlife.org/ww/kansas-integrated-roadside-management/>.

Missouri Commission Moves to Regulate Preserves to Prevent Spread of Chronic Wasting Disease

The Archery Wire

 

The Conservation Commission unanimously voted to approve proposed amendments to regulations regarding the operation of hunting preserves and wildlife breeding facilities that hold white-tailed deer, mule deer, their hybrids, and other members of the deer family, known as cervids, to prevent the spread of diseases, including chronic wasting disease, to the state’s deer herd.

Actions by the Commission include:

  • Banning the importation of live white-tailed deer, mule deer, and their hybrids from other states. The regulation still allows for the importation of semen for artificial insemination.
  • Requiring all facilities, existing and new, to maintain or construct a single 8-foot fence following specific standards detailed in the Wildlife Code of Missouri. Existing facilities would have 18 months to bring fencing into compliance.
  • Requiring Class I and Class II wildlife breeders and big game hunting preserves to test all mortalities of deer that are older than six months for chronic wasting disease and allow permittees to apply for an exemption from mandatory testing requirements in the event of a mass-casualty event.
  • Requiring Class I and Class II wildlife breeders that hold deer to participate in a United States Department of Agriculture-approved chronic wasting disease herd certification program.
  • Set requirements for disease testing, record-keeping, reporting disease test results, and complying with an established disease response plan in the event a disease is discovered.
  • Prohibiting any new captive-cervid facilities within 25 miles of a confirmed chronic wasting disease location for five years.

The regulation changes will go into effect Jan. 30, 2015.

More than 500,000 Missouri citizens enjoy deer hunting, sharing their hunting heritage and passing that heritage onto future generations. The spread of chronic wasting disease could negatively impact the future of Missouri deer hunting as well as negatively impacting deer-dependent businesses that support more than 12,000 Missouri jobs and generate over $1 billion in economic activity annually.

“Chronic wasting disease is a neurological disease that affects members of the deer family and, with no known cure, it is 100 percent fatal,” said MDC Deputy Director Tom Draper. “These amendments work to reduce the risk of chronic wasting disease spreading beyond the limited area where it has been found in northern Missouri to ensure the health of Missouri’s entire deer herd, including free-ranging and captive-cervids.”

In June, proposed amendments to the Wildlife Code of Missouri were filed with the Secretary of State and published in the Missouri Register with a 30-day public comment period, beginning July 16, with comments provided to the Conservation Commission for its consideration.

In addition, MDC held public meetings around the state last summer to share information and gather public feedback. More than 40,000 comments were received with strong support for each of the proposed amendment changes.

The final regulations will minimize risk associated with the movement and holding of captive deer and help protect Missouri’s deer herd from chronic wasting disease.

In 2011, the Conservation Commission approved regulation changes related to the free-ranging deer herd to help limit the spread of chronic wasting disease in northern Missouri.

To learn more about these regulations or chronic wasting disease, go online to www.mdc.mo.gov.

185 Sportsmen Groups Come Together in Support of Clean Water Rule

From The Outdoor Wire

 

One-hundred eighty-five sportsmen groups, including the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, the National Wildlife Federation, Trout Unlimited and the Izaak Walton League of America, have released a letter to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy and Assistant Secretary of the Army Jo-Ellen Darcy expressing their support for the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers’ clean water rulemaking on the heels of the Clean Water Act’s 42nd anniversary on Oct. 18.

The agencies’ proposed clean water rule would clarify Clean Water Act protections for water bodies that provide drinking water for one in three Americans and benefit fish and wildlife and their habitats. The rulemaking process responds to two Supreme Court rulings (in 2001 and 2006) and subsequent agency actions, all of which muddied the proverbial waters by creating uncertainty about which bodies of water were protected under the Clean Water Act, leaving many of our nation’s waterways at increased risk of pollution and destruction.

“The Clean Water Act is the most successful tool we have to protect our water sources. Yet for the past decade, we haven’t had a clear understanding of its scope,” said Jan Goldman-Carter, senior manager of wetlands and water resources at the National Wildlife Federation. “As a result, wetlands are being destroyed, and water quality in our streams is decreasing. We need to see the rulemaking process through and restore clarity to our regulations so that we can begin to reverse the damage that’s been done.”

Sportsmen have been actively engaged on the issue and are particularly concerned that efforts to derail the clean water rule would harm the U.S. hunting- and fishing-based economy, which generates $200 billion in annual economic activity and supports 1.5 million jobs.

Of particular importance for sportsmen is the 140-percent increase in the rate of wetlands loss between 2004 and 2009, which has caused the destruction of critical waterfowl habitat and decreased hunting opportunities.

“A suitable Clean Water Act anniversary present would be for the White House to move swiftly to finalize the rule – and for all of us to recommit to completing the process, improving the proposed rule and finalizing a rule that provides clarity and certainty to the regulated community while conserving fish and wildlife and sustaining America’s outdoor traditions,” said Jimmy Hague, director of the Center for Water Resources at the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership.

According to a recent report, nearly 60 percent of all stream miles in the U.S. are considered small, intermittent or headwater, and protecting these seasonal waterways from foreign materials and toxins is critical to maintaining clean water for drinking and recreation, as well as safe and healthy fish and wildlife habitats.

“While Saturday was the anniversary of the Clean Water Act, America’s anglers celebrate clean water every day they spend a day out fishing,” said Steve Moyer, vice president for government affairs at Trout Unlimited. “We intimately know the importance of headwater streams for providing habitat for spawning and young fish, as well as preserving water for larger downstream rivers, which is why Trout Unlimited and our 150,000 members strongly support the proposed rule to restore protections to these headwater streams.”

“For 30 years the Clean Water Act stood for the basic idea that we all should be responsible for what we put in the water and what we do to wetlands and streams,” said Mike Leahy, conservation director for the Izaak Walton League of America. “With the clean water rule, the Clean Water Act will once again say we are all responsible for our nation’s waters, whether we live upstream or down.”

The agencies are accepting public comment on the proposed rule through Nov. 14, 2014. Members of the public interested in commenting can do so here.