Daily Archives: October 3, 2014

Distinguishing Sandhill cranes from Whooping cranes.

Sandhill crane photo by Nigel Winnu

Sandhill crane photo by Nigel Winnu

Whooping crane photo from Arkive.org

Whooping crane photo from Arkive.org

Since whooping cranes are occurring more frequently in Kansas, especially at Cheyenne Bottoms and the Quivira National Wildlife Refuge and their surrounding areas, waterfowl hunters must be able to identify the endangered Whooping crane (only a few hundred exist in the wild). Whooping cranes (Grus americana) and Sandhill cranes (Grus canadensis) are similar in size and shape. Therefore it is important to be able to distinguish them. Sandhill cranes generally have grey plumage with a red forehead and crown and a white cheek patch; whereas, Whooping cranes have white plumage with red forehead and cheeks, and have black wing tips that are only visible in flight.

The penalty for shooting a whooping crane is a fine of up to $100,000 and/or up to one year in prison. Kansas is the only state in the Central Flyway to have delayed shooting hours to help protect whooping cranes. Quivira National Wildlife Refuge and Cheyenne Bottoms Wildlife Area have contingency plans if whooping cranes are present during hunting seasons and can be reached for information online. Hunters can visit the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks & Tourism to take the online test to get their federal sandhill crane hunting permit, which has help for identifying Sandhill cranes plus download a brochure for identifying Whooping cranes and distinguishing them from other similar species.

For an excellent album of Sandhill crane photos visit Nigel Winnu https://www.flickr.com/photos/winnu/sets/72157603860826307/

For an excellent album of Whooping crane photos visit http://www.arkive.org/whooping-crane/grus-americana/image-G113760.html

by Ted Beringer

National Wildlife Refuge Week is October 12-18

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service invites America to celebrate National Wildlife Refuge Week (October 12-18, 2014) with a visit to a national wildlife refuge. While you are enjoying the fishing or hiking or just the tranquility, learn how wildlife refuges conserve your wildlife heritage and enrich your life.

National wildlife refuges help conserve wildlife, protect against erosion and flooding, and purify our air and water. They also support regional economies, teach children about nature, and offer protected places to be outdoors. Find a refuge near you: www.fws.gov/refuges.

“National wildlife refuges include some of America’s most treasured places, from the coastal islands of Maine to the deserts of the Southwest to Alaskan mountain ranges,” said Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell. “National Wildlife Refuge Week is a perfect time to discover everything that refuges have to offer.”
“Americans cherish their natural heritage,” said Service Director Dan Ashe. “Since President Theodore Roosevelt established the first national wildlife refuge on Pelican Island, Florida, in 1903, we’ve learned that this precious legacy can’t be taken for granted. I hope that citizens across the country will use this occasion to visit to a wildlife refuge, enjoy the festivities and learn more about conservation.”

U.S. Senator Chris Coons led a resolution to commemorate the week of October 12th as National Wildlife Refuge Week to raise awareness about the importance of the Refuge System to wildlife conservation and the recreational opportunities available in our wildlife refuges. Cosponsors of the resolution included: U.S. Senators Jeff Sessions (AL), Dianne Feinstein (CA), Mazie Hirono (HI), Mary Landrieu (LA), Edward Markey (MA), Benjamin Cardin (MD), Barbara Mikulski (MD), Susan Collins (ME), Carl Levin (MI), Tom Udall (NM), Jeff Merkley (OR), Ron Wyden (OR), Tim Kaine (VA), Mark Warner (VA), Maria Cantwell (WA) and Patty Murray (WA).

“Wildlife refuges bring people together from all walks of life for hunting, birding, fishing, and simply enjoying the great outdoors,” Senator Coons said. “Delaware is fortunate to have two wonderful refuges – Bombay Hook and Prime Hook – that attract hundreds of thousands of visitors each year and help support our local economy. National Wildlife Refuge Week is a great opportunity to celebrate our nation’s extraordinary Refuge System and commit to preserving these resources for generations to come.”

Since 1995, refuges across the country have celebrated National Wildlife Refuge Week in early October with festivals, educational programs, guided tours and other events. Many state and local governments proclaim the week every year, and for the past four years Congress has officially recognized it.

Nationwide, refuges support more than 35,000 jobs and pump $2.4 billion into local communities, according to a Service report issued last year. More than 47 million people visited a refuge last year. “Nowhere else do I feel such a deep sense of connection with the land, the plants, and the wildlife,” offered one visitor.

The National Wildlife Refuge System, which turned 111 years old this year, is the nation’s premier habitat conservation network, encompassing more than 150 million acres in 562 refuges and 38 wetland management districts. Every state has at least one national wildlife refuge. There is a national wildlife refuge within an hour’s drive of most major cities.

Refuges also offer world-class recreation, from fishing, hunting and wildlife observation along 2,500 miles of land and water trails to photography and environmental education.

Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever Habitat Specialist expansion in Kansas

Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism provides vital support for expansion

Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever are pleased to announce the expansion of habitat specialist positions in conjunction with the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks, and Tourism (KDWPT). The expansion marks the fourth habitat specialist position in Kansas and is designed to provide habitat management and restoration for many public KDWPT properties throughout the state.

“The Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism is a key agency partner for Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever throughout the state. Their support is critical to making these positions and the habitat acres that follow a reality,” commented Zachary Eddy, Pheasants Forever’s senior Farm Bill wildlife biologist in central Kansas. “Clearly, the public benefits in the form of increased wildlife habitat and recreational opportunities on our state wildlife areas as a result of this partnership.”

Habitat specialists are experts in planning, developing and implementing wildlife habitat management projects for each of the assigned public wildlife areas in Kansas. These specialists plant native grasses, perform prescribed burns, and carry out a host of other specific practices to maximize each area’s wildlife and natural resource values.

“The partnership we’ve created with Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever allows us to keep staffing capacities consistent on high-use public wildlife areas during times of budgetary challenges,” said Brad Simpson, KDWPT public lands section chief. “All of our habitat specialists come highly trained in the field of wildlife habitat management and this helps us to maintain quality cover and services at some of our most popular recreation destinations in Kansas.”

Kansas Habitat Specialist Program

Luke Winge – The most recent staff member employed by Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever, Luke Winge is the current habitat specialist working to improve wildlife resources for the Cedar Bluff Wildlife Area near Hays, Kansas. With an available 10,300 acres open for public access, this wildlife area is a popular destination for local residents. Among the hunting opportunities available for big game, turkey, upland birds and waterfowl, Cedar Bluff Wildlife Area is also an excellent fishery. Winge focuses his efforts on creating diverse habitat with a mixture of crops, grasses and weeds to provide excellent recreation opportunities for many visitors throughout the year. For more information about Cedar Bluff Wildlife Area, Luke Winge can be reached at [email protected].

Alex Thornburg – The habitat specialist at Tuttle Creek Wildlife Area, Alex Thornburg is responsible for the management of 12,200 acres of wildlife habitat. This area consists of TuttleCreekLake, the second largest body of water in the state which acts as a flood control unit for the Kansas River Basis. Thornburg is one of two main employees for Tuttle Creek Wildlife Area and actively manages for multiple wildlife species through mowing, food plots, controlled burns and various other habitat improvements. For more information Tuttle Creek Wildlife Area, Alex Thornburg can be reached at[email protected].

Andrew Page – Working to support multiple wildlife species, habitat specialist Andrew Page is an active leader in habitat improvements for the Perry Wildlife Area located north of Topeka, Kansas. The Perry Wildlife Area consists of 10,500 acres of wetland/upland complexes surrounding the Delaware River. Management of upland habitat over the years has consisted of cropland conversion, native grass establishment, planting of shrubby cover, cutting of shrubby vegetation, and prescribed burning to stimulate warm season grasses and forbs. For more information about Perry Wildlife Area, Andrew Page can be reached [email protected].

Brock Wilson – Located east of Wichita, habitat specialist Brock Wilson is responsible for the management of 9,352 acres in the Fall River Wildlife Area. Known for its flood plain valley surrounded by rolling prairie country, this wildlife area consists of 2,300 acres of riparian timber, 2,500 acres of native grassland, 2,988 acres of cropland and 960 acres of the Fall River Reservoir. Wilson’s management techniques are focused on increasing the quality of wildlife habitat to provide ample recreational opportunities for hunters to harvest game species such as deer, turkey, waterfowl, doves and quail. For more information about Fall River Wildlife Area, Brock Wilson can be reached at [email protected].

Zebra mussels discovered in Pomona Reservoir

Invasive, sharp-shelled mollusk discovered in ManagementPark cove

Zebra Mussels

Zebra Mussels

The Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism (KDWPT) has confirmed the presence of invasive zebra mussels in Pomona Reservoir inOsageCounty. A small adult group was discovered on a single rock by U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) staff on September 23 in ManagementPark cove near the south end of the dam. KDWPT staff found more zebra mussels the next day. KDWPT is sampling other parts of the lake to determine if the population has spread. Twenty-three Kansas lakes now have confirmed zebra mussel populations. Other reservoirs in northeast Kansas with zebra mussel infestations include Milford, Perry, John Redmond, Clinton and Melvern.

Pomona Reservoir covers approximately 4,000 acres and is located 24 miles south of Topeka. It is managed by the USACE, and KDWPT manages the fishery. The lake, completed in 1963, is home to PomonaState Park and several USACE parks. It is a popular destination for fishing, camping, swimming, hiking, and a variety of boating and other water-related activities.

USACE and KDWPT officials stress that there is no known method to completely rid a lake of zebra mussels. If the population appears to be limited to Management Cove, officials may attempt to treat the cove within the next week to kill as many of the mussels as possible to slow their spread. The cove and boat ramp will be closed for at least 72 hours if the chemical is used. Generally, fish will move out of an area where treatments are applied. As a result, officials don’t expect a large fish kill, though there may be some mortality among fish remaining in the cove.

Officials emphasize that everyone using the lake plays a key role in stemming the spread of mussels to uninfested lakes. “This situation shows how important it is for boaters, anglers, swimmers and skiers to be aware of aquatic nuisance species (ANS) and to take precautions to prevent their spread,” said Jessica Howell, KDWPT Aquatic Nuisance Species Coordinator.

Prevention is the best way to avoid spreading ANS. They often travel by “hitchhiking” with unsuspecting lake-goers. “Always clean, drain, and dry boats and other equipment and don’t transfer lake water or live fish to another body of water. This can help stop the spread of not only zebra mussels, but most aquatic nuisance species that may be present,” Howell said.

The lake will be added to the list of ANS-designated waters in Kansas, and notices will be posted at various locations around the reservoir. The sharp-shelled zebra mussels attach to solid objects, so lake-goers should be careful when handling mussel-encrusted objects and when grabbing an underwater object when they can’t see what their hands may be grasping. Visitors should protect their feet when walking on underwater or shoreline rocks.

Zebra mussels are just one of the non-native aquatic species that threaten our waters and native wildlife. After using any body of water, people must remember to follow regulations and precautions that will prevent their spread:

Clean, drain and dry boats and equipment between uses

Use wild-caught bait only in the lake or pool where it was caught

Do not move live fish from waters infested with zebra mussels or other aquatic nuisance species

Drain livewells and bilges and remove drain plugs from all vessels prior to transport from any Kansas water on a public highway.

For more information about aquatic nuisance species in Kansas, report a possible ANS, or see a list of ANS-designated waters, visit ProtectKSWaters.org.