Monthly Archives: November 2014

Green Heron

Green Heron by Ted Beringer

Green Heron by Ted Beringer

Green Heron (Butorides virescens)     Photo Credit: Ted Beringer

 

The Green heron is found throughout the eastern United States but in Kansas often breeds in the eastern to predominantly southeastern portion of the state. It is a short stocky bird with a neck that is often held close to its body. When startled, however, the neck can extend in length significantly and a short dark crest is raised to signify alarm. Even its neck feathers can be raised. Adults have glossy feathers with a green sheen on its back and wings that is most obvious in bright light from certain angles. Its neck feathers are chestnut or rusty in color with grey underparts and relatively short orange legs. Green Herons live around wooded ponds, marshes, rivers, creeks, reservoirs, and estuaries where they sit motionless near the water’s edge waiting for the arrival of a small fish to swim near enough to capture with its stout dark beak. They have been seen baiting fish with insects or anything that seems to work. While fish are their main dietary staple, their diet also includes crustaceans, frogs, insects, and even small rodents.

Ban bee-killing pesticides

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Due to the use of bee-killing neonicotinoid pesticides, Bees and other pollinators are dying-off at an alarming rate with dire implications for our food supply and domestic agriculture industry.

The federal government’s response to this crisis has been totally inadequate – but that could soon change.

In June, President Obama created the Pollinator Health Task Force with the goal of focusing federal efforts to research, prevent, and recover from pollinator losses.1

Now, for the first time, the Pollinator Health Task Force is accepting public comments on what it should do to protect bees and other pollinators.2We know a ban on bee-killing neonicotinoid pesticides is what’s needed to save the bees, but we only have a few days to pressure the task force to act before this crucial public comment period closes.

Tell the Pollinator Health Task Force: Ban bee-killing neonicotinoid pesticides. Submit a public comment before the November 24 deadline.

Bees and other pollinators play a vital role in our food production system by enabling the production of many of the nuts, fruits and vegetables in our diets. In total, pollinators make possible an astounding 35% of global food production and contribute more than $24 billion annually to the U.S. economy. But the number of managed honeybee colonies in the United States has declined from 6 million in the 1940s to just 2.5 million today – jeopardizing our food supply and domestic agriculture industry.3

Having healthy, growing honey bee and native pollinator populations will help to produce abundant food resources for our wildlife during the winter. Just like increased pollination from honey bees creates more apples in an orchard, it will also create more of the seeds that wildlife will be foraging on this winter. Making the connection between supporting healthy pollinator populations and helping get more wildlife through the winter in better physical condition!

That’s why President Obama tasked the Secretary of Agriculture and the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency with co-chairing the Pollinator Health Task Force and leading the federal response to the devastating decline in populations of bees and other vital pollinators.

So far, both the USDA and EPA have displayed a disturbing lack of urgency when it comes to saving bees from deadly pesticides. In fact, the EPA’s current plan is to continue studying neonicotinoid pesticides until 2018 before it takes action to save our pollinators.4

We can’t afford to wait four more years to do what’s necessary to save bees from deadly pesticides. With the White House paying attention to the issue and the Pollinator Health Task Force soliciting public input, now is the time to demand an immediate ban on bee-killing neonicotinoid pesticides.

Tell the Pollinator Health Task Force: Save the bees by banning neonicotinoid pesticides. Submit a public comment before the November 24 deadline.

Go to the Credo Action page and fill out your public comments today. Thanks. http://act.credoaction.com/sign/ban_neonics?nosig=1&t=1&akid=12199.1767730.Afwozp

Duck Stamp Act of 2014 Passes House; Heads to Senate

In a major win for wetlands and waterfowl conservation, the House of Representatives passed the Duck Stamp Act of 2014 today. This critically important conservation legislation increases the cost of the federal duck stamp from $15 to $25.

“Ducks Unlimited strongly supports this effort to increase the conservation impact of the federal duck stamp,” said Ducks Unlimited (DU) CEO Dale Hall. “The additional duck stamp funding provided by waterfowl hunters and other conservationists will not only conserve critical waterfowl habitat, but will also help ensure the future of our waterfowling traditions.”

Since 1991 – the last time the price of the duck stamp was increased – its purchasing power has declined due to inflation and rising land costs. The Duck Stamp Act of 2014 would build on this program’s long tradition of helping to conserve vital waterfowl habitat across America, especially in the Prairie Pothole Region, one of the continent’s most important production areas.

“We would like to thank Members of the House for their strong showing of support in passing the Duck Stamp Act of 2014,” said Katie Murtha, DU’s chief policy officer. “Now on to the Senate, where we anticipate having the same showing of support for this much-needed legislation. DU’s goal is to have the Duck Stamp Act of 2014 signed into law by the end of the year. The time is now.”

Since the federal duck stamp’s introduction in 1934, it has raised more than $750 million and has conserved more than 6 million acres of waterfowl habitat.

The Senate is expected to take up the legislation sometime in the next few weeks. Interested individuals should contact Senator Jerry Moran and Senator Pat Roberts and let them know how you feel.

For more information, visit www.ducks.org.

Jordan Buck on Display at Springfield Bass Pro Shops

The whitetail buck of the century – the James Jordan buck taken in Wisconsin in 1914 – is now on display at Bass Pro Shops in Springfield, Missouri. Visitors to the granddaddy of all outdoor stores in Springfield will see the original rack from the buck Jordan shot 100 years ago. Jordan buck on display at Bass Pro Shops Springfield, Missouri, store in honor of iconic whitetail’s 100th anniversary.

Not only is this giant the number two typical whitetail on Boone and Crockett’s all-time list with a score of 206 1/8, it still holds the honor of being the world record 10-pointer. And the story behind the rack is as extraordinary as the buck itself.

In the fall of 1914, a young James Jordan grabbed his Winchester Model 1892 and headed out on a snowy morning in Wisconsin’s BurnettCounty. At a time when white-tailed deer were scarce, Jordan took a doe early that morning before he connected with the behemoth buck. Feeling certain he had a solid hit, Jordan began tracking the trophy, downing him with a final shot along the bank of the Yellow River.

Jordan knew he had to commemorate this amazing hunt with a neck mount and delivered the monster antlers to a local taxidermist. What happened next was almost unthinkable – the taxidermist moved to another state without leaving word with Jordan or a forwarding address. Jordan’s huge deer had vanished and remained out of circulation for 50 years. In 1964, a man named Bob Ludwig bought the mega mount at a garage sale for $3. In what can only be considered a bizarre coincidence, Ludwig was Jordan’s nephew, but Ludwig had no idea who the deer belonged to. When Ludwig showed his Uncle James the buck he had bought, Jordan knew in an instant it was the trophy he had taken back in 1914.

Unfortunately, more years passed before the big buck was officially listed. When the announcement was finally made that the buck would be listed in the B&C’s all-time book as the James Jordan buck from Burnett County, Wisconsin, the hunter had already passed away.

To read the full account of this incredible story, check out the November 2014 issue of the Kansas Wildlife Federation’s newsletter. Then actually see this legendary whitetail at Bass Pro Shops flagship superstore at 1935 S. Campbell in Springfield, Missouri. For information about the Springfield Bass Pro Shops, visit http://www.basspro.com/springfield.

The original Jordan buck is part of Bass Pro Shops King of Bucks collection. This awe-inspiring collection includes more than 200 of the world’s greatest whitetails including three current world record trophies and 24 state and provincial records.

Look for Kansas Wildlife Federation membership renewal letters for 2015 in your mailbox!

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You should be receiving your membership renewal for 2015 in the mail soon. It will describe all of our successful initiatives conducted this past year. The Kansas Wildlife Federation depends upon your support to achieve our goals each year all across the state. Thanks and regards for your continuing support.

If you are not currently a member, you can join by choosing from among the available membership categories that suits you. Read about them at http://www.kswildlife.org/ww/donate/.

North American Wetlands Conservation Act proposal approved for $1,000,000

Matt Hough, the regional biologist (NE-KS) for Ducks Unlimited, confirmed that their North American Wetlands Conservation Act proposal was approved for $1,000,000 by the Division of Bird Habitat Conservation of the US Fish & Wildlife Service. Ducks Unlimited spearheaded the initiative. The Kansas Wildlife Federation was one of the partners in the proposal that included The Nature Conservancy; Natural Resource Damage Assessment Board of Trustees; Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks & Tourism; George Stumps Trust; Neosho County; Kansas Alliance of Wetlands and Streams; National Wild Turkey Federation; Barton County; and the Watershed Land Trust. KWF donated $500 to enhance wildlife habitats on the Neosho Wildlife Area benefiting tens of thousands of waterfowl and migratory birds that use wetlands as breeding, migration and wintering habitat. This will increase available habitat for waterfowl, shorebirds, wading birds, songbirds, and raptors, including threatened species such as Whooping Crane, Least Tern, and Piping Plover.

The Clean Water Network Celebrates Clean Water Act 40th Anniversary

This is a guest blog from Natalie Roy, Executive Director, Clean Water Network that was presented on the American Rivers website.

Natalie Roy, Executive Director, Clean Water Network.

Natalie Roy, Executive Director, Clean Water Network.

When I was ten years old, I wrote letters to President Lyndon Johnson and New York Mayor John Lindsey.

The letters conveyed my ten-year-old sense of outrage about polluted air and water as well as dismay about litter on the streets.  My friends and I even made up a song about pollution on our way to an outdoor field trip.

My teacher that year had us make a film (no videos back then) about taking care of our natural resources. I played the role of kid who abused the environment.  The year was 1968.

It is an understatement to say there was plenty of turmoil that year.  Protests, riots, and assassinations were in the fabric of the time, but so were advances in civil rights and women’s rights.  We were about solving problems then.  Everyone wanted to change the world and make a difference.  Activism was not only a good thing, but something cool.

Activism was also the only way to save the planet.  This was the time of burning rivers, raw sewage spewing into waterways, and dead lakes.  Everyone seemed to recognize that something had to change or we were going to destroy ourselves and our planet. Whatever side of the political isle people were on, they were, at least in my ten year old mind, all on the same environmental team. Clean Air and Water were essential to life, end of discussion.

During this heightened period of environmental consciousness, the Clean Water Act was enacted, forty years ago this October 18th. Even though President Nixon vetoed the Act, Congress overrode the veto by a margin of more than 10-1. It seemed unfathomable that anyone could not see how fighting to protect our precious water resources was not in everyone’s best interest.

Since the passage of the Clean Water Act (CWA) in 1972, many of our waterways have become less polluted.  Lake Erie, for example, which was declared “dead” in the 1960’s, now supports a multi-million dollar fishery. Pollution in river systems like the Mississippi from “point sources” such as sewage treatment plants and industrial facilities, has been dramatically reduced.  In 1970, point-source contaminants from industrial facilities accounted for 85% of the pollutants in our waters, and today account for only 15%.  The rate of wetland loss has declined by 90% since the 1970’s.

We are indebted to the visionaries responsible for crafting the Clean Water Act, landmark legislation that protects our nation’s precious water resources. But many challenges remain. Forty years later, nearly half of all rivers, lakes and streams are still not swimmable and fishable. Funding levels and federal regulatory safeguards have not kept pace with our evolving water pollution and infrastructure problems.  Worse, exemptions in current law allow the natural gas industry, agribusiness and other industries to pollute our water supplies. While today burning rivers are a thing of the past, we have a wide range of serious pollution challenges on our radar screen for the 21st century.

These challenges include detectable amounts of pharmaceuticals in drinking water, legacy mining waste polluting our waterways, hundreds of new chemicals being introduced into the marketplace every year, a nearly threefold increase in nitrogen pollution entering the Gulf of Mexico from the Mississippi River and its tributaries, a natural gas drilling boom threatening drinking water supplies, new crops of emerging contaminants, invasive species threats, and pollution from agricultural and stormwater runoff.

Clean water is also under attack by many Members of Congress – agencies are being defunded and numerous pieces of legislation and policy riders have been introduced to limit the scope and enforcement teeth of the Clean Water Act.  Sadly, environmental activism is no longer considered cool. We do not all seem to be on the same team.  There are endless attacks by polluters to roll back federal authority to protect water quality in rivers, streams, lakes, bays, wetlands and coastal areas nationwide.

We are at a clean water crossroads. Really it is an environmental crossroads. We need to re-engage fellow citizens about the threats to our freshwater resources, both in our own communities and nationally.   Public opinion polls consistently show that Americans care about clean water and worry about pollution in rivers, streams and lakes.  Americans do not want to go back to the days when states had inconsistent water quality protections, when they discharged untreated sewage and other pollutants into waterways, creating environmental and health problems for their downstream neighbors.

This year, during the 40th anniversary of the Clean Water Act, it is important to not only celebrate this milestone, but redouble our clean water advocacy efforts going forward. It is time to rekindle that environmental activism energy! More than forty years ago the country’s water pollution problems were easy for a ten year old to spot. It was easy to see the pollution back then.  Today the problems are more complex and difficult to detect for a ten year old or for anyone for that matter. The Clean Water Act anniversary is a great time for all of us to reflect on past successes as well as scope out the serious clean water challenges of the 21st century.

Our challenge is simple. Leave this planet in better shape than when we found it so we are not leaving problems for the ten year old kids of today. Join the Clean Water Network as we celebrate the 40th Anniversary and look forward, this Thursday on Capitol Hill – details here.

– See more at: http://www.americanrivers.org/blog/the-clean-water-network-celebrates-clean-water-act-40th-anniversary/#sthash.6mQaaWZ6.dpuf

 

South Texas Whooper migration delayed

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By Wade Harrell

U.S. Whooping Crane Recovery Coordinator

Aransas National Wildlife Refuge

While it was reported back in September that we had a few earlier than expected whooping crane arrivals, it now seems that fall migration is shaping up to be a bit delayed this year. We have received several reports of whooping cranes still on the staging grounds in the Saskatchewan prairies this past week. There have been a few birds reported from traditional stopover sites in the US, such as Quivira NWR (http://www.fws.gov/refuge/Quivira/what_we_do/science/whooping_crane_sightings.html) in central Kansas and Salt Plains NWR in northern Oklahoma. Presumably the mild fall in the northern plains states is contributing to a somewhat delayed migration. Other waterfowl species (ducks & geese) appear to be following a similar pattern.

Whooping Cranes on the Refuge

Whooping crane tour boats and Refuge staff have reported only a handful of whooping cranes along the marshes of the BlackjackPeninsula. We have had a couple reports of a pair of whooping cranes observed from the Heron Flats platform, although they aren’t there on a consistent basis. I have not received reports of whooping cranes from the observation tower at the Refuge yet, but it shouldn’t be long before visitors can expect to be able to view whooping cranes there. Only 2 of 25 currently active GPS marked whooping cranes have made their way to the Texas coast and have been moving around area coastal marshes off-Refuge. I expect that we will have quite a few more arrivals after the next few frontal passages.

Texas Whooper Watch

Texas Whooper Watch is up and running and has done a great job in getting the word out on whooping crane migration to the public this year. Take some time to check out their website here: http://tpwd.texas.gov/huntwild/wild/wildlife_diversity/texas_nature_trackers/whooper-watch/

Be sure to report any Texas sightings beyond the known Aransas/Lamar area via email: [email protected] or phone: (512) 389-TXWWW (8999)

Food & Water Abundance: 

Reports by area guides and Refuge staff indicate that blue crabs and other whooping crane food items are a bit more abundant this year than in the past few years. Wolfberries seem to be abundant in the marsh this year as well. A big thanks goes out to the Mid-Coast Chapter of the Texas Master Naturalists for completing a wolfberry planting in whooping crane habitat on the Refuge a few weeks ago.

With financial and administrative assistance from San Antonio Bay Partnership and other partners, we were able to complete the rehabilitation and conversion to a solar pump of one old windmill site on the BlackjackPeninsula and a new well completion. We have game cameras established on these new watering sites and hope to share some nice wildlife photos in future updates. The Victoria Advocate published a news article about the “Water for Wildlife’ project that can be found here: https://www.victoriaadvocate.com/news/2014/oct/28/wildlife-advocates-enter-state-water-wars/.

Precipitation/Salinity:

The Refuge received 13.42″ of rain from July-October 2014, similar to that same time period last year although over 9″ (70%) of the rainfall total occurred in September. This week’s rains will help continue to fill area wetlands used by whooping cranes. Salinity levels in San AntonioBay are currently around 30 ppt. We do expect to see a dip in salinities in the next few days as water from recent rains in the GuadalupeRiver watershed reaches the bay.

http://www.fws.gov/refuge/aransas/

http://www.whoopingcranefestival.org/

Study to uncover the unknown lives of Whooping Cranes

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Whooping Cranes

A new, innovative research study is underway that will help wildlife biologists discover important information about one of the most interesting birds in the world, whooping cranes.

Biologists from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Texas Parks & Wildlife, U.S. Geological Survey, Crane Trust, the Platte River Recovery Implementation Program, and the International Crane Foundation have teamed up to tag and monitor adult whooping cranes to learn more details about their everyday life. The adult cranes will be tracked using satellite GPS technology which can uncover unknown migration stops, habitat use, nesting areas, and more.

Although this highly endangered species has been studied for years, new innovative ways to gain information is as important as ever to help keep the species on the road to recovery.

Learn more about this new study through a great 9 minute video from one of the partners, TexasParks and Wildlife. See the video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oPjPmdVf36k

Senator Pat Roberts of Kansas Attacks the EPA

Commentary by Ted Beringer

Northeast Director of the Kansas Wildlife Federation (KWF)

 

It is an unfortunate reality that Senator Pat Roberts, based upon his comments in a letter to the Kansas Wildlife Federation and the Kansas City Star (Nov 12, 2014), could have lived in Kansas his entire political life and come to the conclusion that clean water and air are a threat to the people of Kansas.

He has chosen to shuffle along with six other powerful senators across the country in an attempt to force the country to ignore science and embrace the idea that the Environmental Protection Agency is somehow harming us: Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, James Inhofe of Oklahoma, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Orrin Hatch of Utah, Thad Cochran of Mississippi, and Bob Corker of Tennessee. Being from energy producing states, their motivation is to protect business as usual, even if it harms the country’s air, water & climate. The collective comments these senators have made in attacks on the EPA have been refuted at every turn. Even China has recently agreed to make significant reductions in planned carbon emissions. It is important to hold every one of these senators scientifically accountable for their expressed intention of gutting the EPA as they assume positions of power 2015.

My comments are not necessarily those of the KWF.