Daily Archives: November 9, 2014

Greater Prairie-chicken research leads to great award

A KansasStateUniversity professor is part of a group of researchers receiving a national award for the best journal article from The Wildlife Society for research on Greater Prairie-chicken population declines that may change conservation practices.

Brett Sandercock, KansasStateUniversity professor of wildlife ecology, and his colleagues, wrote the award-winning article “Demography of Greater Prairie-chickens: regional variation in vital rates, sensitivity values, and population dynamics.” Sandercock’s co-authors include two KansasStateUniversity alumni, Lance McNew, assistant professor at MontanaStateUniversity, and Andrew Gregory, assistant professor at Bowling GreenStateUniversity; and Samantha Wisely, associate professor at the University of Florida.

The article, published in the Journal of Wildlife Management, investigates demographic mechanisms driving the population declines of Greater Prairie-chickens at three sites in Kansas: one site in the Smoky Hills and two sites in the Flint Hills.

“A lot of wildlife agencies monitor prairie-chickens by counting birds at leks, so they know population trends but they don’t know what is driving the numbers,” Sandercock said. “This research — one of the most comprehensive analyses of any grouse species — identifies that reproductive failure is driving the population declines.”

The researchers did a complete demographic analysis, which included estimates of clutch size, nest survival, brood survival, juvenile survival and female survival, across two ecoregions and multiple years. According to Sandercock, prairie-chickens have poor reproduction in managed grasslands, with an average productivity of one juvenile for every seven nesting females.

Their results suggest that the rate of population decline was sensitive to the patterns of landscape fragmentation and land use, and that the Greater Prairie-chicken population would benefit from immigration and better productivity. The research also indicated that nest and brood survival were low because of land management practices and changes in predator numbers.

The article was written as part of McNew’s dissertation while he was a graduate student in the Division of Biologyat KansasStateUniversity. The award was presented at the society’s annual conference Oct. 25-30 in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania.

Volunteers needed for prairie restoration project

Seeds collected will be planted at the Kansas Children’s DiscoveryCenter

Seeds collected will be planted at the Kansas Children’s DiscoveryCenter

Kansas Native Plant Society (KNPS) members are looking for volunteers to help collect prairie wildflower and grass seeds at Burnett’s Mound, 3511 SW Skyline Pkwy, Topeka,  from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. on Nov. 16. Seeds collected will be planted as part of a prairie restoration effort at the Kansas Children’s DiscoveryCenter. The Kansas Children’s DiscoverCenter is a facility nestled on 4.5 wooded acres at Topeka’s GagePark where children can explore, create, discover and learn through play.

Burnett’s Mound contains substantial upland prairie along with views of the city from its highest point. The scenic landscape offers plenty of opportunity to collect seeds of grasses, asters, goldenrods and more. Volunteers should dress appropriately for weather and wear sturdy footwear and long pants. No experience is necessary and all ages are welcome.

The group will meet at the main gate to the park, one block west of 35th and Skyline Pkwy. Bring a plastic pail or paper sack for collecting seeds, and pruning sheers, if available.

Following seed collection, volunteers are welcome to join KNPS members at the Blind Tiger Brewery and Restaurant, 417 SW 37th St, Topeka, for drinks and refreshments on your own.

For more information, or if you plan on attending this event, contact Vivien Smith at (785) 231-4030.

 

Ethan Carroll memorial coyote calling contest

Event to honor young; outdoorsman, support 4-H shooting sports

Event to honor young; outdoorsman, support 4-H shooting sports

To honor the life of a young outdoorsman and past 4-H Shooting Sports member, members of the Morris County Sharp Shooters club invite hunters to join them for the annual Ethan Carroll Memorial Coyote Calling Contest Nov. 29. The event will be based at the MorrisCounty 4-H Building, 612 US Highway 56, Council Grove and is open to hunters of all ages.

The cost to enter is $100 per team, which may be comprised of two hunters age 15 or older, with the option of including one youth age 14 or younger. The top five placing teams will receive cash prizes, and youth prizes will be available for participants 14 or younger. Entries must be postmarked by Nov. 16 in order to receive an event t-shirt, and a pre-contest meeting will be held at the 4-H building Nov. 28 at 7 p.m. for those interested.

Apart from the competition, attendees can also enter into adult and youth raffles, and a 50/50 drawing. All proceeds will go toward purchasing new equipment and supplies for the Morris County Sharp Shooters 4-H Shooting Sports Project.

For an entry form and rules, contact Tim King, (620) 767-2133, or e-mail [email protected], or Clifford Carroll, (785) 466-1405, or e-mail [email protected].

Eight hunters face federal charges linked to dove hunt

Eight hunters – seven from Kansas – were charged November 4l court in Wichita with violating the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.

The men are accused of violating the federal law protecting migratory birds when they participated in an annual opening weekend dove hunt in GrahamCounty on the first two days of September, U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom said in a statement.

The Migratory Bird Treaty Act classifies mourning doves as migratory game birds, he said. It classifies owls as migratory non-game birds. Restrictions on hunting mourning doves include a daily bag limit of 15 and a possession limit of twice the daily bag limit.

Those charged include three men from Derby and one from El Dorado.

Daniel R. Dinkel, 63, of HillCity is charged with one count of exceeding the daily bag limit for mourning doves.

Kent Webber, 52, of Derby faces one count of exceeding the daily bag limit for mourning doves and one count of taking an owl.

Evan Webber, 25, of Derby is charged with one count of exceeding the daily bag limit for mourning doves and one count of taking an owl.

George Morgan, 52, of Gordonville, Texas, faces one count of exceeding the daily bag limit for mourning doves.

Kenneth Beran, 67, of Derby is charged with one count of exceeding the daily bag limit for mourning doves.

Clark Law, 57, of HillCity is charged with one count of exceeding the daily bag limit for mourning doves.

Tracy Higgins, 54, of El Dorado faces charges of one count of exceeding the daily bag limit for mourning doves and one count of taking an owl.

John Kobler, 62, of Topeka is charged with one count of exceeding the daily bag limit for mourning doves.

If convicted, the eight men face a maximum penalty of six months in prison on each count and a fine of up to $15,000.

Strengthening and protecting the Clean Water Act

By Jimmy Hague and Jan Goldman-Carter

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

 

The Clean Water Act, which turned 42 this year, is the most successful tool our country has to protect our water. In the past four decades, it has been responsible for reducing pollution, making our drinking water safer. It has increased hunting and fishing opportunities, and provided an economic boost to a myriad of industries, including outdoor recreation, beer brewing and many more.

Yet, for the last third of its lifetime, the effectiveness of the act has been in decline because we no longer have a clear understanding of its scope. This lack of clarity came about as a result of two Supreme Court rulings, in 2001 and 2006, that created uncertainty about which bodies of water were to be protected under the Clean Water Act, ultimately leaving a large part of the nation’s drinking water supply at increased risk of pollution and destruction.

In the years immediately following the Supreme Court decisions, this confusion reversed some of the remarkable gains our nation has enjoyed as a result of the act. One stark example of this is wetland deterioration: between 2004 and 2009, there was a 140 percent increase in the rate of wetlands loss, which translates to the destruction of critical waterfowl habitat and decreased hunting opportunities.

Earlier this year the federal government began a public process to resolve this problem by proposing a new rule to clarify the Clean Water Act. The proposed rule has the potential to definitively restore protections to headwater streams and wetlands while maintaining our longstanding commitment to agricultural producers.

In addition to improving the safety of drinking water sources for 1 in 3 Americans, the proposed rule can provide clean water for trout streams, salmon spawning grounds, duck habitat and other waterfowl breeding grounds. This is good news for America’s sportsmen, who fuel a $200 billion sporting economy that supports 1.5 million jobs each year. Simply put, clean water means good hunting and fishing.

Although the public comment period on the proposed rule doesn’t close until Nov. 14, critics bent on blocking the rule are stoking fears about the proposal by spreading hyperbolic misinformation. Many of these critics are the same groups that have been asking for just such a public process for years. Protecting our waters shouldn’t be a political issue – it should be common sense.

Sportsmen are supporting this rulemaking because it can improve hunting and fishing access and increase the number of quality days in the field. Once finalized, the proposed rule can help us sustain these traditions and the associated economic benefits for generations to come.

A suitable anniversary present for the Clean Water Act 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 clean water rule so that it provides clarity and certainty to the regulated community while conserving fish and wildlife. The health of our economy and longevity of America’s outdoor traditions depend on it.

Jimmy Hague is the director of the Center for Water Resources at the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. Jan Goldman-Carter is the senior manager of Wetlands and Water Resources at the National Wildlife Federation.

Public meeting to discuss Mined Land Area improvements

Upcoming projects necessary for public safety will also enhance access and habitat

 

A public information meeting to discuss improvements planned at several Mined Land Wildlife Area units will be conducted on Wednesday, Nov. 12 at the Southeast High School Auditorium, 126 W 400, Cherokee. The meeting will begin at 6:30 p.m., and Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) and Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism (KDWPT) staff will provide an overview of upcoming reclamation projects designed to address safety hazards on the area.

The Surface Mining Section of KDHE has several reclamation projects planned that will address numerous safety hazards while minimizing impacts to existing vegetation, wildlife and aquatic habitats. In the process, improvements such as alignment, grade, sight of travel and surface course will be made to interior roadways. Popular fishing areas will be improved by raising water levels, increasing shoreline foot access, and enhancing fish habitat by adding large boulders to the ends of strip mine lakes.

According to David Jenkins, KDWPT wildlife area manager, “The Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism and the Surface Mining Section of KDHE have worked together to design an end product that will improve vehicle safety, increase shoreline access and improve wildlife habitat. The improvements will greatly decrease future maintenance costs, improve the long-term stability of roads and improve habitat diversity.”

The 14,500-acre Mined Land Wildlife Area is a product of coal surface mining and is a public wildlife area like no other in the state. The distinctive topographical features, numerous strip-mine lakes and abundant wildlife make the Mined Land Wildlife Area a favorite destination for many anglers, campers, hunters, trappers and other outdoor enthusiasts.

Although the roads dissecting these rugged properties are needed to access many of the more remote fishing areas, many of the interior roads were not constructed with safety or long-term use in mind, posing significant safety hazards and maintenance problems.

Construction will begin this spring on one of the three upcoming safety reclamations.  The first project will affect units No. 2, No. 3 and No. 4 and is called the “Lee Hurt Road Project.”  This area is located near the intersection of 570 and 260 avenues east of Pittsburg, a few miles along the Kansas and Missouri state line in CrawfordCounty.

The second project to undergo construction will take place on Unit No. 11 and is called the “Southwest Scammon Project.” Once this project has been completed, the unit, which has been closed for two years, will be re-opened to fishing. The closure has allowed the game fish to grow in size and numbers, and a fish feeder has been maintained throughout the closed period to enhance the fishery. This opener should provide some excellent angling opportunities. Unit No. 11 is located on NW Coalfield Road, one-half mile west of NW Coalfield Road and 7 Hwy in Cherokee County.

The third reclamation project will occur on units No. 20, No. 22 and No. 23 and is called the “Belleview Road Project.” This project is located near the intersection of NW 80 and NW Belleview Road in CherokeeCounty, south and west of the field office, which is located on Belleview Road. Most of the Belleview Road project will consist of road widening and a few minor end-fills on strip mine lakes. Temporary closing may occur to allow projects to be completed.  Signs will be posted on the boundaries to make constituents aware of the closures.

For more information, call David Jenkins at the Mined Land Wildlife Area office, (620) 231-3173.