Monthly Archives: December 2014

What’s good for the Lesser Prairie-chicken Is good for rangeland

Healthy rangelands help the long-term sustainability of the landowner and the Lesser Prairie-chicken. Practices that bolster the bird’s habitat are also good for ranching, and can lead to improved rangeland health. NRCS provides technical and cost-assistance for grazing management programs under the Lesser Prairie-chicken Initiative.

Hear what ranchers have to say about it in these episodes of the Playa Country radio show.

♦ Grazing Management for Lesser Prairie-Chicken

♦ Initiative Helps New Mexico Rancher Manage Rangeland and Habitat

♦ Conservation Plan Helps Texas Rancher Adapt to Fire and Bird Listing

♦ Oklahoma Ranchers Benefit from Lesser Prairie Chicken Initiative

 

Keep your dog safe during trapping season

With trapping seasons underway, dog owners are reminded to be aware that there could be traps in areas where they walk or hike.

Traps may be present on public land. Traps can also be set on private land by permission of the landowner.

Dogs running loose can be accidentally captured in legally set traps, causing injury or even death. To keep your dog safe during trapping seasons, take the following steps:

♦ Keep your dog on a leash.
♦ Or, keep your dog in sight and under voice command—don’t let your dog wander off, especially out of sight.

♦ Keep your dog on designated trails and within designated public use areas. Traps must be set a certain distance away from these locations (more information below).

♦ Remember lures and baits used by trappers can attract dogs too (another reason to keep your dog under your control).

♦ Understand how to release a dog from a trap. Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks & Tourism (page 36 of the 2014 Regulation Summary http://kdwpt.state.ks.us/Hunting/Hunting-Regulations) and Alaska Fish and Game (http://www.adfg.alaska.gov/index.cfm?adfg=trapping.sharing) have brochures and videos with detailed how-tos.

♦ Carry the appropriate tools (cable cutter and length of rope) to be prepared in case you need to release your dog from a trap or snare.

Furbearer regulations set restrictions on where trappers may set traps and snares on state and federal lands. Snares are prohibited in dryland sets within 50 feet of the outside edge of a public road or within 5 feet of a fence bordering a public road (landowners and tenants or their family members or agents may use snares in rights-of-way adjacent to their lands). Also, killing traps with a jaw spread 8 inches or foothold traps with jaw spreads greater than 7 inches may only be used in water sets (defined as at least half-submerged in flowing or impounded waters and remains in contact with the water).

It is illegal to disturb or remove the traps or snares of another person. Individuals that see traps they believe are illegally set should not disturb the trap, but contact the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks & Tourism (Operation Game Thief 1-877-426-3843). KDWPT can identify the owner of a legally set trap through a unique branding number required on each trap.

Kansas has about 5,000 licensed trappers. Persons born on or after July 1, 1966, must successfully complete a furharvester education course approved by KDWPT to purchase a furharvester license or hunt, run, or trap furbearers or trap coyotes on lands other than their own. Course information: (620) 672-5911 or www.ksoutdoors.com.

Most trapping seasons opened Nov. 12 and end Feb. 15 or March 31 (for beaver and otter). A few seasons are open the entire year, such as coyote trapping, but winter is the most popular time to trap because pelts are in prime condition.

 

Kansas Geology as Landscape Art: Interpretation of Geology from Artistic Works

Kansas River, by Louis Copt (2005) (oil)

Kansas River, by Louis Copt (2005) (oil)

The Kansas Geological Survey has a fascinating report on how many regional artists have portrayed the geology of Kansas faithfully and with realism.

The report is by by
Daniel F. Merriam, John R. Charlton, and William, W. Hambleton demonstrate how to interpret geology in their landscapes using eight prominent regional artists, Louis Copt, J. Steuart Curry, Raymond Eastwood, Phil Epp, J.R. Hamil, Stan Herd, Birger Sandzén, and Robert Sudlow. The written report along with wonderful Kansas landscape art is available at http://www.kgs.ku.edu/Publications/OFR/2006/OFR06_11/ or search the Kansas geological Survey for Kansas Geological Survey, Open-file Report 2006-11.

There is also a pdf of just the artwork at kas06.pdf

 

 

Cougar

Cougar      Photo Credit: Art G. (Flickr)

Cougar Photo Credit: Art G. (Flickr)

Cougar     Photo Credit: Art G. (Flickr) https://www.flickr.com/photos/digitalart/

 The following text is from Wikipedia:

The cougar (Puma concolor), also commonly known as the mountain lion, puma, or catamount, is a large felid of the subfamily felinae native to the Americas. Its range, from the Canadian Yukon to the southern Andes of South America, is the greatest of any large wild terrestrial mammal in the Western Hemisphere. An adaptable, generalist species, the cougar is found in most American habitat types. It is the second heaviest cat in the New World, after the jaguar. Secretive and largely solitary by nature, the cougar is properly considered both nocturnal and crepuscular, although sightings during daylight hours do occur. The cougar is more closely related to smaller felines, including the domestic cat (subfamily Felinae), than to any subspecies of lion (subfamily Pantherinae).

An excellent stalk-and-ambush predator, the cougar pursues a wide variety of prey. Primary food sources include ungulates such as deer, elk, moose, and bighorn sheep, as well as domestic cattle, horses and sheep, particularly in the northern part of its range. It will also hunt species as small as insects and rodents. This cat prefers habitats with dense underbrush and rocky areas for stalking, but can also live in open areas. The cougar is territorial and survives at low population densities. Individual territory sizes depend on terrain, vegetation, and abundance of prey. While large, it is not always the apex predator in its range, yielding to the jaguar, gray wolf, American black bear, and grizzly bear. It is reclusive and mostly avoids people. Fatal attacks on humans are rare, but have been trending upward in recent years as more people enter their territory.

Prolific hunting following European colonization of the Americas and the ongoing human development of cougar habitat has caused populations to drop in most parts of its historical range. In particular, the cougar was extirpated in eastern North America in the beginning of the 20th century, except for an isolated Florida panther subpopulation. However, in recent decades, breeding populations have moved east into the far western parts of the Dakotas, Nebraska, and Oklahoma. Transient males have been verified in Minnesotta, Missouri, Wisconsin, Iowa, Michigan & Illinois.

Trails of Kansas

Table Mound National Recreation Trail / Elk City SP

Table Mound National Recreation Trail / Elk City SP

Trails of Kansas

‘by Ted Beringer

Here is a great website that features some of the best trails in Kansas whether they are for hiking, biking, horseback riding, camping or automobiles. Visit http://www.trailsofkansas.com/index.html and then click on “Kansas Trail” in the top menu. The hiking trails include out of the way places like Horsethief Trail in Kanopolis State Park, Rocktown Natural Area at Wilson Lake and the Multipurpose trail at Cedar Bluff State Park. And of course Table Mound National Recreation Trail at Elk City State Park. If you click on the photos beside the trail descriptions, a short photo album will open to provide some tantalizing views of each area. Plus they have a list of outdoor clubs in various parts of the state for you to join. It also has information on obtaining an informative handbook on Kansas Outdoor Treasure by Julie M. Cirlincuina.

 

 

Celebrate the New Year with a First Day Hike in Kansas

Usher in the New Year with other outdoor lovers at one of the many First Day Hikes offered Jan. 1 at some of Kansas’s state parks. The First Day Hike is a national program hosted by America’s State Parks. All 50 state park systems will sponsor free, guided First Day Hike Programs on New Year’s Day 2015.

America’s State Parks First Day Hikes offer individuals and families an opportunity to begin the New Year rejuvenating and connecting with the outdoors by taking a healthy hike on January 1, 2015. First Day Hikes offer a great way to get outside, exercise, enjoy nature and welcome the New Year with friends and family.

First Day events at Kansas State Parks are:

  • Elk City SP, 1 p.m.: Meet at Day Use Parking Area to hike along South Squaw Trail for wildlife pictures. No pets. For more information, call 620-331-6295.
  • Green Property, 1 p.m.: Meet at Green Recreational Trail Head in Pratt to hike Green Recreational Trail. For more information, call 620-672-5911.
  • Hillsdale SP, 10 a.m.: Meet at HillsdaleState Park office to hike Hidden Springs Nature Trail. For more information, call 913-783-4507.
  • Perry SP, 9 a.m.; Meet at SP Biking/Hiking trails on Kimberly Drive off West Lake Road to hike Skyline Trail. For more information, call 785-246-3449.
  • Pomona SP, 1 p.m.; Meet at Shelter to hike Buck-Brush Trail. For more information, call 785-828-4933.
  • Tuttle Creek SP. 10:30 a.m.; Meet at the Tuttle Creek State Park office for short hikes for guided bird watching on Cottonwood Trail. No pets. For more information, call 785-539-7941.

Participants should dress warmly in layers, wear comfortable hiking shoes, wear gloves and hats, bring camera and binoculars and carry water. The events are free and open to the public, but a KansasState Park permit is required which can be obtained at the park office on the day of the hike. A daily permit is $5.00 and an annual permit is $25.50.

Some trails are handicapped accessible, others are not. For detailed information on individual hikes go to http://kdwpt.state.ks.us/news/State-Parks/First-Day-Hikes.

More information about the national program can be obtained at http://naspd.org/.

Currier & Ives lithograph of country living

Home on the Western Frontier by Currier & Ives, 1867

Home on the Western Frontier by Currier & Ives, 1867

The Pioneer’s Home

by Ted Beringer

This is a digital image from the original lithograph printed in 1867 by Currier & Ives entitled The Pioneer’s Home on the Western Frontier. Although it is obviously not Kansas, it depicts a bucolic scene that visitors to the Kansas Wildlife Federation website may enjoy. It is from the National Archives in Washington that can be accessed by anyone willing to visit and search their vast digital holdings. Their website is http://www.archives.gov. You can search the site for a multitude of things or historical events that piques your interest. You can download this png file here or visit the archives and search for the 245 MB image.

 

Restoring the Gulf of Mexico for fish and wildlife: New report

By Vanishing Paradise

 

On December 10, one of America’s leading wildlife conservation groups released a report outlining 47 projects that would improve the health of the Gulf of Mexico in the wake of the 2010 oil spill.

“We can’t undo the oil spill, but we can take concrete steps to make the Gulf of Mexico a better place for fish and wildlife,” said Steve Bender, director of National Wildlife Federation’s Vanishing Paradise campaign. “This type of comprehensive habitat restoration will measurably boost populations of fish and waterfowl.”

Restoring the Gulf of Mexico for People and Wildlife: Recommended Projects and Priorities takes a broad look at restoration efforts that would benefit all five Gulf Coast states—Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas. The recommendations emphasize restoring the areas where rivers flow into the Gulf of Mexico, such as the Mississippi River Delta. These places are important nurseries for marine life and provide wintering habitat for waterfowl.

Money for restoration projects could come from the billions that BP and the other companies responsible for the 2010 spill will pay in fines and penalties. Much of this money will ultimately be distributed to the Gulf states for restoration.

“Over the past hundred years, we’ve made major changes to the way our rivers flow into the Gulf of Mexico,” added Bender. “The results have not been pretty for fish and wildlife. Restoring degraded coastal habitats will help numerous species of fish and these habitats are also critical for the millions of waterfowl that winter or stopover on the GulfCoast.”

The report’s 47 proposals can be grouped into these five general categories:

  1. Restoring Wetlands:Wetlands play a critical role in the Gulf ecosystem—creating habitat for fish and wildlife, filtering pollutants, stabilizing shorelines and providing protection from storms. Over the past eight decades, the GulfCoast has lost an area of wetlands larger than the state of state of Delaware, largely in the area of Louisiana known as the Mississippi River Delta.
  2. Restoring Sediment:The Mississippi River is hemmed in by man-made levees; the river sediment that once nourished the delta’s wetlands is now propelled deep into the Gulf. If all of the 19 recommended projects in Louisiana were built, together they would sustain, restore and rebuild as many as 300 square miles of wetlands that would otherwise be lost by 2060.
  3. Restoring the Balance between Fresh and Saltwater:Estuaries are created where fresh water from rivers mixes with saltwater from the Gulf. In most of the Gulf’s estuaries the natural balance of fresh and salt water has been dramatically altered. The report recommends fixes for many of the Gulf’s major estuaries, including the Everglades and ApalachicolaBay in Florida as well as five systems in Texas.
  4. Restoring Oyster Reefs:An adult oyster can filter as much as 50 gallons of water per day, and oyster reefs provide important habitat for many economically important species of fish, such as redfish, shrimp, and blue crabs. Oyster reefs also create physical structures that can protect coastal communities from storms. Restoring oyster reefs is a key element in several of the recommended projects in the report, for example in Mississippi’sBiloxiBay and Bay St.
  5. Protecting Critical Landscapes:In a few select places, the report recommends purchasing key parcels of coastal lands to protect them in perpetuity. For example, the report recommends adding lands to Alabama’s GrandBay and Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuges.

The report is aimed at informing a series of decisions that will be ultimately made for funds flowing from the Gulf oil disaster, including those to be made by Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council. The federal-state council is tasked with implementing a comprehensive restoration plan to include a list of projects prioritized for their impact on the Gulf ecosystem. The council recently released a list of projects and programs proposed for funding with oil spill penalty money.

“America’s hunters and anglers want to enjoy a restored Gulf of Mexico,” said Bender. “We owe it to future generations to make sure the oil spill dollars are spent on projects that will really make a difference.”

To find out more about Vanishing Paradise, visit http://vanishingparadise.org.

 

Condors and lead in Arizona and Utah

The California Condor recovery effort in Utah and Arizona has been a cooperative venture among federal, state, and private partners. The partners include The Peregrine Fund, the Arizona Game and Fish Department, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Bureau of Land Management, the National Park Service, and the U.S. Forest Service.

Recently, these partners have touted some good news. Apparently, the number of California Condors treated for lead exposure from lead-bullet ingestion in Utah and Arizona recently dropped to its lowest level since 2005. Between September of last year, and the start of September of this year, a total of 13 condors were treated for lead poisoning. During the same period the previous year, there were 28 birds treated. The average over five years had been 26 condors per year.

The problem, of course, is that condors can be at risk of death if they ingest carrion that contains lead fragments.

To help the California Condor, the state wildlife agencies in both states have asked hunters in southern Utah and northern Arizona to use non-lead ammunition. In an effort to offset the cost and encourage hunter participation, both agencies have run voluntary programs to provide hunters with a free box of non-lead bullets. The voluntary response from hunters has been significant.

Lynda Lambert, a spokeswoman for the Arizona Game and Fish Department, said that she’s cautiously optimistic. She added, “We have between 80 and 90 percent of hunters participating in any given year.”

‘Wired Arrow Outdoors’ owners, pro staff, charged with illegal harvest of 18 deer

Illinois Conservation Police document 134 wildlife violations

 

An Illinois Conservation Police investigation into the Wired Arrow Outdoors television show has resulted in the company’s owners, pro-staff members and guests being charged with 134 wildlife violations, including the taking of 18 deer illegally in Illinois. After viewing videos of hunts, Conservation Police determined that hunting and filming were conducted on properties in the Chicago region without permission from landowners making hunting permits invalid. Hunting and filming allegedly took place on properties owned by several private companies, the Forest Preserve District of Cook County, and the Village of Lansing.

During the investigation, it was determined the pro-staff members had unlawfully harvested a total of 18 white-tailed deer, including 10 bucks and eight does, nearly all of which were aired on the Wired Arrow program. On Sept. 16, 2014, a joint operation involving several state and federal agencies was conducted to interview all pro-staff members who had previously hunted in Illinois. Cooperating agencies included the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources, Missouri Department of Conservation and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Seized during the joint operation were eight unlawfully-taken white-tailed deer heads, one set of antlers attached to a skullcap, and one unlawfully-taken turkey fan, beard, and spurs. Charges include violations documented from the 2012 and 2013 deer seasons.

“The Illinois Conservation Police will aggressively investigate whenever someone violates hunting laws, violates another’s private property rights, or otherwise tries to exploit Illinois’ natural resources at the expense of law-abiding hunters,” said Rafael Gutierrez, Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) Chief of Law Enforcement.

“Hunting is a great privilege to be cherished and respected,” said IDNR Director Marc Miller. “Those who violate laws intended to protect Illinois’ wildlife resources and take game illegally will face the full consequences of the law.”

The names of those charged and a list of violations follows:

David T. Brugger – Co-owner of Wired Arrow – 7 Counts of Hunting without Permission, 7 Counts Hunting with Invalid Archery Deer Permits, 7 Counts of Unlawful Take of Whitetail Deer, 1 Count Unlawful Attempt to Take Whitetail Deer, 2 Counts Failure to Report Harvest by 10:00 PM, 1 Count Unlawful Possession of Unlawfully Taken Whitetail Deer or Parts Thereof, 6 Counts Accessory Hunting Without Permission, 6 Counts Accessory Hunting with Invalid Archery Deer Permits, 5 Counts Accessory To the Unlawful Take of Whitetail Deer. Total Violations (42)

Jessica E. Stoner – Pro-Staff – 1 Count Hunting without a License, 1 Count Hunting without a Habitat Stamp, 1 Count Hunting without Permission, 2 Counts Hunting with Invalid Archery Deer Permits, 1 Count Unlawful Take of Whitetail Deer, 1 Count Unlawful Attempt to Take Whitetail Deer, 1 Count Accessory Hunting without Permission, 1 Count Accessory Hunting with Invalid Archery Deer Permits, 1 Count Accessory Unlawful Take of Whitetail Deer. Total Violations (10)

Ryan T. Ederer – Co-Owner of Wired Arrow – 6 Counts Hunting without Permission, 6 Counts Hunting with Invalid Archery Deer Permits, 4 Counts Unlawful Take of Whitetail Deer, 2 Counts Failure to Report Harvest by 10:00 PM, 2 Counts Hunting without a Habitat Stamp, 6 Counts Accessory Hunting without Permission, 6 Counts Accessory Hunting with Invalid Archery Deer Permits, 7 Counts Accessory Unlawful Take of Whitetail Deer. Total Violations (39) Pending Falsification charges through the Attorney General’s Office.

Nathan C. Fahndrich – Pro-Staff – 3 Counts Hunting without Permission, 3 Counts Hunting with Invalid Archery Deer Permits, 2 Counts Unlawful Take of Whitetail Deer, 2 Counts Hunting without a Habitat Stamp, 4 Counts Accessory Hunting without Permission, 4 Counts Accessory Hunting with Invalid Archery Deer Permits, 2 Counts Accessory Unlawful Take of Whitetail Deer, 1 Count Accessory Unlawful Attempt to Take Whitetail Deer. Total Violations (21)

Joseph M. Cater – Pro-Staff – 1 Count Hunting Without Permission, 1 Count Hunting with Invalid Archery Deer Permits, 1 Count Unlawful Take of Whitetail Deer, 1 Count Accessory Hunting Without Permission, 1 Count Accessory Hunting with Invalid Archery Deer Permits, 1 Count Accessory Unlawful Take of Whitetail Deer. Total Violations (6)

Wade R. Childs – Pro-Staff – 2 Counts Accessory Hunting Without Permission, 2 Counts Accessory Hunting with Invalid Archery Deer Permits, 2 Counts Accessory Unlawful Take of Whitetail Deer. Total Violations (6) Jeremy F. Howard – Pro-Staff – 1 Count Hunting Without Permission, 1 Count Hunting with Invalid Archery Deer Permits, 1 Count Unlawful Take of Whitetail Deer, 1 Count Hunting without a Habitat Stamp. Total Violations (4)

Michael W. Porter – Guest – 1 Count Hunting without Permission, 1 Count Hunting with Invalid Archery Deer Permits, 1 Count Unlawful Take of Whitetail Deer. Total Violations (3)

Susan J. Porter – Guest – 1 Count Accessory to Hunting without Permission, 1 Count Accessory Hunting with Invalid Archery Deer Permits, 1 Count Accessory Unlawful Take of Whitetail Deer. Total Violations (3)

Deer Seized as a result of this investigation:

(1) 10 Point Whitetail Buck shoulder mount (Porter)

(1) 10 Point Whitetail Buck head frozen (Howard)

(1) 8 Point Whitetail Buck shoulder mount (Cater)

(1) 10 Point Whitetail Buck shoulder mount (Fahndrich)

(1) 8 Point Whitetail Buck shoulder mount (Ederer)

(1) 12 Point Gross Boone and Crockett Whitetail Buck shoulder mount (Ederer)

(1) 8 Point Whitetail Antler Skull Plate (Brugger)

(1) 11 Point Whitetail Buck shoulder mount (Brugger)

(1) 8 Point Whitetail Buck shoulder mount (Brugger)

(1) Turkey Fan, Beard, and Spurs (Brugger)

Assisting Agencies include the Michigan DNR, Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources, Missouri Department of Conservation, Ohio Department of Natural Resources, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Union Pacific Railroad Police, Cook County Forest Preserve Police, and the Lansing Police Department.