Monthly Archives: October 2014

Volunteer Water Monitoring Training by Kansas Riverkeeper

Friends of the Kaw is hosting a second 3 hour, hands-on, super fun volunteer training session on Saturday, October 18 from 1 to 4pm at the De Soto Access Ramp.  In this training, you will conduct both chemical and non-chemical water monitoring tests.  You will seine for macroinvertebrates and learn to identify them.  You will measure impervious surface area and determine runoff volumes.  You”ll have lots of fun and you might even accidentally learn something! Most of the training will be outside at a water site so please dress appropriately and wear shoes that can get wet! Lunch will be provided at 12:30pm.

We are training volunteers to help us with our new Kids About Water (KAW) project that we will implement in middle school and high school classes this year.  We had six people attend the session on Oct. 7 and all had a great time.

For more information or to RSVP contact the Kansas Riverkeeper!

Water Monitoring

Habitat Tip – Monarch Butterfly Life History and Habitat

From: Peter S. Berthelsen | Director of Habitat Partnerships

Pheasants Forever, Inc. and Quail Forever, Elba, Nebraska

Colleagues,

This weeks ‘Video Monday Habitat Tip’ provides a look at the life history of the iconic Monarch Butterfly.  The Monarch is a species that relates well to everyone from young children to the mature generations, but there isn’t always a strong connection to the fact that well designed wildlife habitat projects will benefit this species and many more.

This tip is designed to outline how properly designed habitat projects will benefit a wide range of wildlife species that can include Monarch Butterflies, Honey Bees, Pheasants, Quail, Grassland Songbirds and many other species.  Considering all of these species when designing a habitat project seeding mix or planning future management activities will produce the best results for many years to come.

You can view this habitat tip at:

Habitat Tip: The Life History of Monarch Butterflies

Kansas Hunting Showcase to Spotlight Economic Benefits of Hunting, Fishing – Robin Jennison to Host

The Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism is hosting the 2014 Kansas Hunting Showcase on Friday, October 24, at HorseThief Reservoir near Jetmore in HodgemanCounty. The event will spotlight the economic benefits of hunting and fishing in Kansas, focusing on the2014 Tourism Economicsdata.

At 10 a.m., host Robin Jennison, Secretary of the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism will welcome guests to the showcase, which will feature Kansas hunting- and fishing-related small businesses, as well as hands-on shotgun wingshooting and archery activities. The event, which is free and open to the public, will kickoff with a traditional hunters’ breakfast of biscuits and gravy beginning at 9:30 a.m.

Outdoor sports writers and other media representatives attending are invited to join a pheasant hunt on Friday afternoon at Big Prairie Hunts, a private controlled bird hunting operation near Pierceville. Space is limited, so interested outdoor travel writers are invited to email [email protected] to reserve a spot for the afternoon hunt. Reservations will be on a first-come-first-served basis.

Deer poachers caught early Friday

From KSAL

 

Sheriff deputies and game wardens arrest a couple of men illegally hunting early Friday morning, October 3rd.

According to the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism, at around 1:30 in the morning a Kansas Game Warden and deputies with the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Department made a stop on some spot lighters, or hunters using off-road vehicles and high-powered lights or spotlights to illegally poach animals at night. One of the illegal hunters had poached a deer from the road in the Mined Land Wildlife Area.

Two men involved were arrested on numerous charges. All equipment was seized and two vehicles were towed.

The state has a hunter involved program to help fight poachers like this. Operation Game Thief is a program that provides a toll-free number for anyone witnessing wildlife-related violations to call immediately and make a report. All calls received are immediately relayed to the natural resource officer nearest the violation. The line is available anytime of day or night, every day of the year, and callers may remain anonymous. The number to call is 1-877-426-3843.

Future of Our Public Lands

It Might Not Sound Sexy, But It’s the Future of Our Public Lands

 

By Ann Morgan

National Wildlife Federation

 

Except for a minute number of policy wonks, what could be more uninteresting and bureaucratic than land use planning? Maybe land use planning for lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management. Yet I would argue that it should be of interest to many, many Americans. After all, this is something that affects 250 million acres of your lands — lands where you hike, bike, camp, fish, hunt and watch wildlife.

Land use planning for these federal lands, found mostly in the 11 Western states and Alaska, is driven by a complex suite of federal laws, regulations, and agency policy handbooks. On top of that, they are interpreted by case law, illustrated with dozens of maps, written on many hundreds of pages, accompanied by dozens of appendixes, filled with scientific and bureaucratic jargon, and can cover millions of acres.

Even the terminology the BLM is using to describe its latest initiative — Planning 2.0 — conjures up visions of another dense file to put on a shelf or banish to a hard drive.

But here’s why you should care. BLM’s land use plans, called Resource Management Plans, decide how your lands will be managed. These plans can affect the size and health of mule deer herds and sage-grouse habitat. BLM management plans identify where oil and gas leases will be offered and determine where roads and trails can be built. These decisions are crucial to those who live in nearby communities, hunt and fish and camp on public lands, cherish and record the vast archeological resources hidden there, or make their living ranching or outfitting on public lands.

Because this is complicated, it is important for those who understand the process to participate and to help others participate. The National Wildlife Federation has worked with hunters, anglers, wildlife lovers and outdoor enthusiasts for decades to help their voices be heard. Denver is the site of one of two public sessions on a new approach to planning that could, with the right guidelines, ensure the integrity of important wildlife habitat, watersheds and recreation areas for generations to come.

So, when you break it down, this process is really about what we value. It’s about a great American legacy — public lands. And it’s about whether that legacy — along with our great deer, elk and pronghorn herds, sage-grouse, native cutthroat trout, pristine waters, remote backcountry — will endure.

The National Wildlife Federation, its partners in the Sportsmen for Responsible Energy Development coalition — Trout Unlimited and the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership — and six NWF state affiliates have submittedrecommendations for improving the public lands planning process. We want to keep key landscapes intact and conserve important ecosystems. We need to consider mule deer migration corridors and species and habitats in the bull’s eye of climate change. We need to be smart from the start when deciding where to drill or install utility-scale solar and wind projects.

A critical part of any planning process is identifying the places to just leave alone. Instead of saying that areas are open to development unless specifically closed, let’s try a “closed-unless-deemed-appropriate” approach.

The demands of the West’s growing population, the increasing conflicts between energy development and fish and wildlife resources, and the challenges of juggling all the competing uses, which is BLM’s mission, means the agency will have its work cut out for it.

The Country Loses a Courageous Wildlife Conservationist in Larry Haverfield!

Audubon of KansasThe following was posted October 7, 2014 by Audubon of Kansas regarding the passing of Kansas rancher Larry Haverfield:

With the passing of rancher Larry Haverfield on September 21, the country and especially Kansas lost a courageous conservationist dedicated to doing all he could on the 10,000 acres of Logan County, Kansas rangeland to provide a refuge for short-grass prairie wildlife.  He and two other private landowners hosted one of the most promising reintroduction sites in the Great Plains for endangered Black-footed Ferrets.

Larry releases a Black-footed Ferret onto his property in 2007

Larry releases a Black-footed Ferret onto his property in 2007

Ferrets are one of the rarest mammals in North America.  Many species of wildlife benefit from the presence of prairie dog colonies, but Black-footed Ferrets rely on them for prey and for burrow habitat used as dens to raise young and for shelter.   Captive-raised ferrets were released on the ranch complex in 2007.  Burrowing Owls also depend on prairie dog burrows and associated habitat, whereas Golden Eagles, Ferruginous Hawks and Swift Foxes depend substantially on prairie dogs as prey.  Black-tailed Prairie Dogs are a keystone species but their numbers have been decreased by over 95% in the past 150 years.

It takes courage and commitment for ranch landowners to maintain prairie dog colonies in some Kansas counties where an antiquated century-old state statute calling for eradication of prairie dogs, gophers and moles is imposed on landowners.  Larry Haverfield and his conservation partners stood up against and fought, in court, the Logan County commissioners who attempted to impose poisoning programs on their land.  With the presence of the endangered species the courts in Kansas held at bay the Logan County Commission and the Kansas Farm Bureau, which advocated poisoning to achieve eradication.

One is reminded of the near extinction of American Bison and other wildlife in the prairies with a statute of Buffalo Bill in the county seat of Oakley.  Larry’s dedication to conserve prairie dogs and all of the associated wildlife in the 21st century is a reminder of the drumbeat to kill all of the Bison on the plains in the 19th century.

Articles about the struggles that Haverfield overcame appeared nationwide in newspapers and magazines.  A recent article that details Larry’s efforts was published in our Summer 2014 PRAIRIE WINGS magazine.  An earlier article was also featured in the Fall 2011 issue of PRAIRIE WINGS. .

 

Larry’s wife Bette, their five children and many grandchildren are dedicated to continuing his legacy of wildlife conservation on the ranch. “His family is proud of the ranch’s part in reintroducing the Black-footed ferret to Kansas and devoted to its continued success. They strongly believe that wildlife conservation is as Larry would say “the right thing to do”.

 

Funeral Services were held on September 26, the 33rd anniversary of the rediscovery of the ferrets, thought extinct until that date in 1981. Condolences and memorials can be mailed to the funeral home at:

 

Price & Sons Funeral Home

PO Box 161

Scott City, KS 67871

 

The family requested that memorials be given to Audubon of Kansas, the Defenders of Wildlife or the donor’s choice.

Larry and Bette Haverfield (left) stand with Gordon and Martha Barnhardt at the Black-footed Ferret reintroduction site in 2008. Note the ferret

Larry and Bette Haverfield (left) stand with Gordon and Martha Barnhardt at the Black-footed Ferret reintroduction site in 2008. Note the ferret

Larry Haverfield (right) talks with participants preparing for a night spotlight survey of Black-footed Ferrets on the ranch in 2009

Larry Haverfield (right) talks with participants preparing for a night spotlight survey of Black-footed Ferrets on the ranch in 2009

One of the first ferrets reintroduced to the Haverfield property in December 2007.

One of the first ferrets reintroduced to the Haverfield property in December 2007.

Sandhill Crane

Sandhill crane photo by David Roemer.

Sandhill crane photo by David Roemer.

Lesser Sandhill Crane (Grus Canadensis Canadensis)

Photo by David Roemer

The body plumage of Lesser sandhill cranes is a gradient of grays but its forehead and crown are covered with a reddish skin. Adults exhibit a white cheek patch that interrupts the pale gray face, chin, upper throat, and nape. Legs and toes are black. Sandhill cranes’ 5 1/2 to 7 ½ feet wingspan allows them to soar on thermals, saving energy on long migratory flights.

People in Kansas are very familiar with Nebraska’s Platte River that attracts 450,000 Sandhill cranes in the spring preparing for their long journey north to breeding grounds in the boreal forests of Canada and Alaska. However, if you missed them in the spring, you can also observe them (albeit in smaller numbers) during their fall migration. A smaller number of Sandhill cranes stop in Nebraska while migrating south than visited during their northern migration. Instead, as many as 48,000 birds stop at the Quivira National Wildlife Refuge in central Kansas between October 8th and late November. The Salt Plains National Wildlife Refuge in Oklahoma may attract as many as 25,000 birds. From here they will continue to their final winter destinations in Arizona, New Mexico, Texas and northern Mexico completing a 4,000 mile journey that began in Siberia and Alaska, mostly by the collective memories of the flock.

Habitat:  Sandhill cranes require freshwater wetlands, such as marshes, wet grasslands and river basins. They breed mostly in open sedge meadows in wetlands that are contiguous to uplands with short vegetation.

Predators: Mammalian predators: foxes, raccoons, coyotes, wolves, bobcats and lynx. Aerial predators: eagles, large owls and Peregrin falcons. Sandhill cranes jump into the air and kick when defending themselves from aerial predators. Land predators can be stabbed with a crane’s bill with enough power to penetrate its skull. But in Alaska different predators are threats: golden eagles and arctic foxes.

Diet: Sandhill Cranes are generalists that feed on planted agricultural seeds such as corn, tubers, grains, mice, snakes, insects and worms.

Dancing: Sandhill cranes engage in exuberant dancing (jumping, running, and wing flapping) especially during courtship. This includes a variety of neck positions and vocalizations. These calls can be heard at https://www.savingcranes.org/sandhill-crane.html

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].