Monthly Archives: December 2014

Cedar Waxwing

Cedar Waxwing eating berries from Eastern Red Cedar (Ted Beringer photo)

Cedar Waxwing eating berries from Eastern Red Cedar (Ted Beringer photo)

Kansas Trails Advisory Board to hold public meeting Feb. 5

Projects submitted for funding will be discussed

 

The Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism Trails Advisory Board will hold a public meeting Thursday, February 5, 2015, at the Great Plains Nature Center, 6232 E. 29 Street N, Wichita. Projects previously submitted for funding under the Recreational Trails Fund Act will be discussed at the meeting, which begins at 1 p.m. in the Coleman Auditorium. Signs on the premises will provide directions to the meeting room.

Anyone interested in commenting on projects should attend this meeting. Grant applicants are encouraged to attend and discuss their proposals. Time for comments will be limited. Final decisions about proposals will not be made at this meeting. The board will review and evaluate all applications before making recommendations.

For more information, contact Kathy Pritchett, Trail Grant Coordinator, at (620) 672-5911.

If notified in advance, the department will have an interpreter available for the hearing impaired. To request an interpreter, call the TDD Service at 1-800-766-3777. Requests for other accommodations can be made by contacting Kathy Pritchett at (620) 672-5911.

2014 Hunting & Fishing licenses expire Dec. 31

Buy your 2015 licenses before hunting, fishing Jan. 1

 

Before hitting the outdoors this new year, check to make sure your Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism (KDWPT) licenses are up to date. All 2014 hunting and fishing licenses will expire Dec. 31, 2014. While unfilled deer permits purchased in 2014 remain valid through the January 2015 seasons, hunters will need a 2015 hunting license before venturing out in January. Fishing licenses, trout stamps and third pole permits also expire Dec. 31. The only exceptions to this are HIP Permits, State Waterfowl Permits, and Federal Waterfowl Stamps, which expire June 30, 2015.

To make sure you start off the New Year on the right trail, update your licenses ahead of time by visiting your local license vendor, any KDWPT state park or regional office, or by visiting www.ksoutdoors.com and clicking “Licenses/Permits.”

All 2015 licenses and permits went on sale Dec.15, 2014. A new year means new seasons. Be prepared and buy ahead!

 

January ideal time to view Bald Eagles in Kansas

The nation’s symbol can be spotted in Kansas throughout winter.

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Winter temperatures may have you hunkered down, but Kansas skies will soon give you a reason to look up. Throughout the months of December and January, the nation’s symbol, the bald eagle, can be viewed in Kansas, and with the right know-how, you might spot more than one. Because their diet consists primarily of waterfowl, fish, and carrion, bald eagles can commonly be seen along major river courses and reservoirs this time of year as severe weather pushes the large birds south. Look for them roosting in tall trees along the shoreline, especially near open water or large concentrations of waterfowl, or attend one of the organized eagle viewing events listed below.

2015 Eagle Day events:

TUTTLE CREEKSTATE PARK, Jan. 3

The 27th annual Tuttle Creek Eagle Day will start at 9 a.m. at the Manhattan Fire Station, 2000 Denison Avenue,Manhattan, with a program about bald eagles nesting in Kansas. This will be followed by a live raptor program featuring hawks and owls and a mounted bald eagle. Free bus tours through areas near TuttleCreekLake will be given throughout the day. Knowledgeable bird watchers from the Northern Flint Hills Audubon Society will share information and assist with eagle viewing. Viewers should dress appropriately for the weather and bring binoculars and spotting scopes if they have them; however equipment will be available. There is no cost to attend. For more information, contact Steve Prockish at (785) 539-8511, ext. 3167.

MILFORD LAKE, Jan. 17

Eagle Day at MilfordLake will begin at 9 a.m. at the MilfordNatureCenter, 3415 Hatchery Drive, Junction City. Programs featuring live raptors begin at 9:30 a.m. and will be repeated throughout the day. Bus tours will depart from the nature center parking lot beginning at 10 a.m., with the last tour departing at 3:30 p.m. Popcorn and hot chocolate will be available, as well as a kids’ tent with activities and crafts. There is no cost to attend. For more information call (785) 238-5323.

LAWRENCE FREE STATEHIGH SCHOOL, Jan. 24

The Annual Kaw Valley Eagles Day will be hosted at Lawrence Free State High School, 4700 Overland Drive, Lawrence, from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. Up to 20 exhibitors will provide hands-on activities for kids including dissecting owl pellets, making eagle head bands, exploring “what’s in it” boxes, checking out skins and skulls of prairie animals, and turning pennies into copper eagles. Presentations will also be given throughout the day. For more information and to view a list of presentations and times, visit www.kawvalleyeaglesday.com. There is no cost to attend.

WYANDOTTE COUNTYLAKE, Jan. 24-25

Raptors Day will take place Saturday, Jan. 24 from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m., and Sunday Jan. 25 from 12 p.m. – 4 p.m. at Schlagle Library, 4051 West Dr, Kansas City. Operation Wildlife volunteers will have live birds of prey on exhibit, including owls, hawks and falcons and will talk about the birds and their natural history. A craft area will also be available for children. Birdwatchers can enjoy viewing eagles and other water birds outside. For more information, please visit www.kckpl.org, or call (913) 299-2384.

 

Extended whitetail antlerless-only season begins Jan. 1

Unfilled deer tags may be used to take antlerless whitetails with legal equipment

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The New Year may be ringing in, but there’s still time for hunters to use any unfilled permits from the 2014 deer season. Beginning Jan. 1, 2015, hunters make take antlerless white-tailed deer using any legal equipment. Deer Management Unit (DMU) restrictions listed on the permits are still in effect, and season length varies, depending on the DMU. While hunters must have a permit that allows the harvest of an antlered deer before purchasing antlerless-only permits during the regular seasons, whitetail antlerless permits can be purchased over the counter by anyone during the extended season.

Hunters may purchase up to five whitetail antlerless-only permits; however, unit and public land restrictions may apply. See your2014 Kansas Hunting and Furharvesting Regulations Summary, or visit ksoutdoors.com and click “Hunting/Big Game Information/Deer”, for details.

2015 Extended Firearm Season dates, by DMU, are as follows:

Units 6, 9, 10, 17: Jan 1-4

Units 1-5, 7, 8, 11-14, and 16: Jan. 1-11

Units 10A, 15, and 19: Jan. 1-18

There is also an Extended Whitetail Antlerless-only Archery Season in DMU 19 Jan. 19-31, 2015.

Holiday Gift to Help Birds (Catios)

Looking for that last-minute gift for someone who cares about birds?  The experts at American Bird Conservancy have a suggestion that can help solve that gift-giving dilemma and make a real difference for the thousands of bird species that call the Americas home.

Catios: There are 84 million owned cats in the U.S., and at least 35 million of them are let outside to roam. Unfortunately, in the course of roaming, those owned cats—as well as at least another 50 million feral cats—are devastating bird populations, killing about 2.4 billion birds annually.

The good news is that cat owners who wish to allow their cats outdoors without the worry of their pet either killing wildlife or getting injured from a variety of other predators have an alternative. It is called a “catio,” and it comes in a variety of configurations available in various sizes and finishes. Check out these sources for catios: Catio ShowcaseCatio Spaces.

President Obama Protects Alaska’s Bristol Bay from Future Oil and Gas Drilling

President Obama has designated the pristine waters of Bristol Bay as off limits to consideration for oil and gas leasing. This action safeguards one of the nation’s most productive fisheries and preserves an ecologically rich area of the Bering Sea off the coast of Alaska that is vital to the commercial fishing and tourism economy and to Alaska Native communities.

Bristol Bay is at the heart one of the world’s most valuable fisheries, helping to provide 40 percent of America’s wild-caught seafood and support a $2 billion annual fishing industry.  The beautiful and remote area is also an economic engine for tourism in Alaska, driving $100 million in recreational fishing and tourism activity every year. Bristol Bay hosts the largest runs of wild sockeye salmon in the world, and provides important habitat for many species, including the threatened Stellar’s eider, sea otters, seals, walruses, Beluga and Killer whales, and the endangered North Pacific Right Whale.

South Dakota rancher lets the land point the way

By Steve Kline

TRCP Director of Government Relations.

 

I remember the first time I met Lyle Perman.

I had been worried about recognizing him, but the worry was misplaced. His bolo tie and cowboy hat set him a world apart from the buttoned-up navy suits of downtown Washington, D.C. This was his first trip to the nation’s capital since he had visited the city with the College Republicans decades earlier. Now, the TRCP hosted his return as part of an effort to educate his South Dakota congressional delegation on the importance of conserving native prairie.

As a lobbyist, I can attest that most Hill meetings run about the same way, with little variation. But when you fly somebody like Lyle to Washington to meet with senators and representatives that he knows personally, the meetings take on an entirely different tone. First, the senator has to catch up on all the latest gossip from home, including a serious dissertation on the weather. In South Dakota, rain is still considered a blessing. Talk then turns to neighbors and church; only after a full debrief can the conversation focus on the comparatively mundane: Farm Bill conservation programs working to keep South Dakota’s essential grasslands intact.

Lyle Perman’s farm in Lowry, SD Image courtesy of Rock Hills Ranch

Lyle Perman’s farm in Lowry, SD
Image courtesy of Rock Hills Ranch

Lyle understands that he must learn from his forebears, question the assumptions of conventional wisdom and heed the ample advice the land offers. His Rock Hills Ranch is among the last vestiges of a great American ocean of grass. Much of that epic landscape has been replaced by row crops, bit by the plow, the grass long ago turned upside down. Lyle has seen firsthand what that means for the long-term health of the place he loves, the place where he raised his family. A lifetime spent in the prairies has convinced him grass is what God intended to be here.

After showing Lyle Washington, D.C., I was thrilled just a few months later that he could show me Lowry, South Dakota, and the place he calls home. Two worlds connected by a Farm Bill and a friendship. I am thrilled that my friend Lyle and his family ranch have received this award, where two new generations (and two sets of twins!) roam the countryside and plan for the future of their grass.

The 2014 Leopold Conservation Award could not go to a more deserving recipient. A tip of the cowboy hat from all of us here at the TRCP.

TRCP Director of Government Relations Steve Kline reflects on his relationship with 2014 Leopold Conservation Award winner Lyle Perman of South Dakota. Read more about Lyle and the award here.

One of the best conservation programs you’ve never heard of

Private Lands Primer: A SAFE place for Wildlife

 

By Ariel Wiegard

The Roosevelt Report

 

Just before Thanksgiving, the U.S. Department of Agriculture quietly announced an additional 86,000 SAFE acres across seven states: GeorgiaIdahoIndianaKansasMinnesotaNorth Dakota and South Dakota. These acres are a boon to private landowners and sportsmen. But I’d wager that most hunters and anglers, and probably many farmers and ranchers, don’t know what SAFE is or just how beneficial the program can be.

For the unfamiliar, SAFE— State Acres For Wildlife Enhancement —is part of the USDA’s Conservation Reserve Program, or CRP. The general CRP asks landowners to voluntarily conserve large tracts of previously cropped land to achieve a wide range of environmental benefits. As a part of CRP, SAFE is also a voluntary land conservation program, but here USDA works with landowners, state and federal agencies, non-profit organizations and the public to identify strategic projects that conserve land in specific parts of the country. SAFE distinctively focuses on habitat for species that are threatened or endangered, have suffered significant population declines or are considered to be socially or economically valuable.

That last phrase, “socially or economically valuable,” is key for sportsmen. SAFE authorizes your local decision makers to identify which acres will best target the needs of “high-value” wildlife, and that includes for hunting and fishing. SAFE projects have provided habitat for the plains sharp-tailed grouse, sage grouse, American woodcock, northern bobwhite quail, ring-necked pheasant, a wide variety of waterfowl, cottontail rabbits, black bears, mule deer, elk, salmon, steelhead trout and many other species, across 36 states and in Puerto Rico. That’s nothing to shake a tail at.

Landowners can benefit from SAFE too especially at a time when crop prices are low and land prices are high. USDA offers a signing incentive of $100 per acre to landowners who convert idle cropland into SAFE; pays landowners up to 90 percent of the cost of planting trees, forbs and grasses that benefit wildlife; and provides guaranteed rental payments on that land for the length of a contract, usually for 10 to 15 years. SAFE can improve farm income while incentivizing on-the-ground practices that benefit our favorite critters on an ecosystem-wide scale.

Although the extra 86,000 acres comprise only a fraction of the 24 million acres enrolled in CRP, at the TRCP we were thrilled by USDA’s announcement. Since SAFE’s introduction in 2007, many states have maxed out their allotted acres and maintain waiting lists for landowners hoping to enroll stream buffers, restored wetlands, newly seeded grasslands and longleaf pine stands in the program. The TRCP welcomes any additional chances to provide habitat for fish and wildlife and access for sportsmen.

Landowners can enroll qualified acres in a designated wildlife project in their state at any time. We especially encourage those in the seven states listed above to take advantage of this new opportunity. For more information, visit www.fsa.usda.gov/conservation or visit a local USDA office.