Monthly Archives: January 2015

President signs Duck Stamp bills into law

From The Birding Wire

In a major win for wetlands and waterfowl conservation, President Obama has signed into law both the Duck Stamp Act of 2014 and a bill making the federal duck stamp permanently available for purchase online.

“It’s great that both Republicans and Democrats can come together to pass legislation of such importance to conservation efforts nationwide,” said Ducks Unlimited CEO Dale Hall. “The additional duck stamp funding provided by waterfowl hunters and other conservationists will not only conserve critical 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 will 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.

Along with the Duck Stamp Act of 2014, President Obama also signed into law the Permanent Electronic Duck Stamp Act, which will allow people to purchase the duck stamp online. Physical stamps will still be mailed to buyers, but the online proof of purchase provides new convenience to sportsmen and women by immediately fulfilling the requirement of possessing a stamp to hunt waterfowl. After 45 days, the proof of purchase expires and purchasers must carry the traditional paper stamp when hunting waterfowl.

“Anyone with an internet connection and a credit card can now purchase federal duck stamps from the comfort of their own home,” said Kellis Moss, DU’s director of public policy. “State hunting and fishing licenses have been available online for years, and this is one more step in making waterfowl hunting more accessible to everyone.”

Kansas Native Plant Society scholarship available

The Kansas Native Plant Society (KNPS) is accepting applications for a $1,000 scholarship in support of graduate student research that enhances our understanding of native plant species or their ecosystems and conservation.  This scholarship is open to all graduate students regularly enrolled in a Kansas college or university.  Proposals must be technically sound and directly applicable to our priorities in Kansas.

A complete proposal shall include the application form, two letters of support from the student’s major professor and/or advisors, and copies of your college/university transcripts. The application form includes a project description, time line, budget, career goals, and a statement of your interest in plants.

Proposals will be assessed based on the merits of the proposed project and how well they fit the objectives of the scholarship. The budget will not be used as a basis for assessing or ranking proposals.

Reviewers will consist of scientists and non-scientists, so keep your narrative readable to a wide audience. The KNPS Awards Committee will review applications and announce results in mid-April.

Awardees will receive recognition at the KNPS annual meeting. They will also be recognized in the KNPS newsletter and on the KNPS website.

Successful applicants will agree to include the following acknowledgement in all publications resulting from research supported under this program: “The Kansas Native Plant Society provided partial support for this work.”

The deadline for receipt of proposals is March 15, 2015. Award recipients will be notified by April 15, 2015.

Mary A. Bancroft Scholarship contains the application and more information about the scholarship.

This 2015 Scholarship Request for Proposal (PDF) can be downloaded & printed.

Study: Ancient humans developed weaker bones as they hunted less

By Daniel Xu

The OutdoorHub

For much of human history, our ancestors lived in nomadic, hunter-gatherer societies. It was only a few thousand years ago that humans began moving toward agriculture as a way of life, which drastically changed not only food production, but human civilization as a whole. Scientists now say that the invention of farming may have had a physical effect on early humans as well. A recent study conducted in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) found that human hunter-gatherers from around 7,000 years ago had much stronger bones compared to their farming descendants 1,000 years later. According to the study, the bone mass of hunter-gatherer humans was about 20 percent higher than that of the farmers. This loss in bone density is attributed to the increasingly sedentary lifestyle provided by efficient agricultural practices, as opposed to strenuous activity of hunting and foraging.

“Sitting in a car or in front of a desk is not what we have evolved to do,” said study co-author Colin Shaw of CambridgeUniversity in a press release.

An earlier study by researchers at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History found that the change in bone density first occurred about 12,000 years ago, when humans started to explore farming. The bone strength of the hunter-gatherer humans was similar to that of a modern orangutan, whereas farmers from the same area many years later would have lighter and weaker bones more susceptible to breaking. Discovery Magazine reported that both studies were interested in changes to trabecular bone, the spongy honeycomb-like structure inside our bones. Trabecular bone provides bone with added strength and durability, but can also adjust to increased stress. This is why regular exercise can increase the strength of your bones.

“It can change structure from being pin or rod-like to much thicker, almost plate-like. In the hunter-gatherer bones, everything was thickened,” said Shaw. “The fact is, we’re human, we can be as strong as an orangutan—we’re just not, because we are not challenging our bones with enough loading, predisposing us to have weaker bones so that, as we age, situations arise where bones are breaking when, previously, they would not have.”

0          There are other theories regarding why humans have developed a weaker, more fragile skeleton. Some scientists say that the change in diet may have caused the decrease in bone mass, or that humans simply adapted to their new role with a lighter, more agile frame. One thing that did surprise researchers is how rapid the change was, and how recently it took place.

“This was absolutely surprising to us,” Habiba Chirchir, a co-author on the second study also published in PNAS, told NPR. “The change is occurring much later in our history.”


Just before wrapping up business last month on 16 December, the U.S. Senate passed a resolution by unanimous consent, calling attention to the 100th anniversary of the extinction of the last known Passenger Pigeon. The resolution was pioneered by Ohio’s two Senators, Sherrod Brown (D) and Rob Portman (R). Ohio, not coincidentally was where the last known Passenger Pigeon, “Martha,” died  – at the Cincinnati Zoo in 1914.

“The extinction of plants and animals from our planet should serve as a wakeup call,” Senator Brown said.

Senator Portman added, “The loss of this species is one of the greatest examples of what can happen if we are not committed to conserving our wildlife. We must learn from their example, and I am proud that this Resolution brings light to this important issue.”

The reasoning for the resolution and its exact wording can be found on this original release:

Genomic Sequencing Breakthrough Maps the Avian Family Tree

Last month, a remarkable consortium of more than 200 scientists from 20 countries released the results of an enormous cooperative research endeavor – the mapping of an expansive avian family tree that demonstrates how birds evolved their amazingly colorful feathers, lost their teeth, learned to sing, and how their brain circuitry functions.

Members of the project, named the Avian Phylogenomics Consortium, published their family-tree findings in eight different papers in the journal Science, and also in more than 20 other scientific journals. No one had ever before used so much genome data from so many species to determine evolutionary relationships.

This project has re-arranged what we know about birds and has revealed unexpectedly close family relationships. For example the study clearly established that falcons are more closely related to parrots than to eagles or vultures (neither Old World nor New World vultures), and that flamingoes are actually evolutionarily and genetically closer to pigeons than they are to pelicans!

“It’s mind-blowing,” said Per Ericson, an evolutionary biologist at the SwedishMuseum of Natural History in Stockholm.

According to an article by Ian Sample in The Guardian, an analysis of the genomes indicated that the common ancestor of living birds lost its teeth more than 100 million years ago. But the significant rise of the birds began about 65 million years ago. A mass extinction – probably caused by an asteroid collision – extinguished most of the larger-bodied dinosaurs, but left a few feathered creatures. The loss of so many other species freed up significant ecological niches, giving these feathered animals a unique chance to diversify.

You can find more on this genome story here:  and here:

National Wild Turkey Federation (Flint Hills Gobblers Chapter) Wins Two National Awards

The National Wild Turkey Federation, located in Edge Field, South Carolina, notified the Flint Hills Gobblers Chapter from Emporia, that it will be receiving two national awards for two of the chapter’s 2014 programs. Receiving awards includes the March 15th, 2014 Women in the Outdoors Archery Day which featured 2013 Miss Kansas Theresa Vail. The Flint Hills Gobblers Women in the Outdoors members won the “Special Event” category.

The other national award won by the Flint Hills Gobblers Chapter was for “Best JAKES Event” for last year’s March 29th, 13th Annual Spring Turkey Hunting Clinic and Hunter’s Education Class. This is the largest JAKES (youth) event held in Kansas. Last year, 147 youth attended. This was the second year in a row that the Flint Hills Gobblers Chapter has won a national award for this event.

Both national awards will be presented at the 39th Annual NWTF Convention & Sport Show held in Nashville, TN, on Friday, February 13th.

Bald Eagle

The Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus): Photo by ForestWonder

The Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus): Photo by ForestWonder

The Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus): Photo by ForestWonder Nature Photography

The white head and tail feathers of an adult Bald eagle are conspicuous identifying features. Females can weigh 14 pounds with wingspans of 8 feet. Male eagles weigh less, 10 pounds with a wingspan of 6 feet.

At one time its historic range (Alaska and Canada to northern Mexico) supported 500,000 birds. Its numbers declined dramatically when DDT was introduced after World War II to kill mosquitoes and other insects. DDT rendered eggshells of Bald eagles, peregrine falcons and brown pelicans too fragile to survive incubation. Some eagles also died from lead poisoning probably ingested from prey. Since Bald eagles are at the top of the food chain, toxic chemicals are concentrated in the contaminated fish or other ingested prey. Habitat destruction and illegal shooting also played a crucial role in their decline. From a low of 417 breeding pairs in 1963, populations in the lower 48 states grew to a high of 9,789 pairs today. Habitat protection provided by the Endangered Species Act, the Environmental Protection Agency’s banning of DDT, and other conservation actions sparked a dramatic recovery of bald eagles. During winter, migrants are found near large reservoirs and rivers in Kansas. Bald eagle nests have increased in Kansas since 1989. A bald eagle’s can lift a 4-pound fish out of the water. An eagle’s vision is at least four times that of a person with perfect vision. In 2007, the U. S. Fish & Wildlife Service announced the recovery of the Bald eagle and removed it from the threatened and endangered species lists. Bald eagles will continue to be protected by the federal Bald Eagle Protection Act and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act that prohibit killing, selling, or otherwise harming eagles, their nests, or eggs.

January ideal for Bald Eagle viewing in Kansas

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

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:


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.


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 There is no cost to attend.


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, or call (913) 299-2384.

Spring turkey permits go on sale Jan. 12

Hunters have through Feb. 13 to apply online for Unit 4 Spring Turkey Permits

Have you been dreaming of longbeards? Do you find yourself spending extended periods of time listening for gobbles in the distance? Are you driving your family nuts practicing clucks and purrs on your turkey call? If your answer is yes to any of these questions, you may be experiencing spring turkey hunting withdrawals. But don’t worry, help is on the way!

All 2015 Spring turkey permits will be available over-the-counter and online beginning Jan. 12, except for Unit 4 permits, available only to Kansas residents and are disbursed through a lottery drawing. Applications for the 500 permits allocated in Unit 4 will be accepted from Jan. 10-Feb. 14. Applications can be made by visiting Hunters may apply for a Unit 4 Spring Turkey Permit or a Unit 4 Spring Turkey Permit/Game Tag Combo; however the game tag will only be valid in Units 1, 2, 3, 5, and 6.

Kansas youth (15 and under) may purchase a spring turkey permit valid statewide over the counter or online and will not need to enter the Unit 4 draw. Unit 4 spring turkey permits are also valid in adjacent Units 1, 2, and 5.


General Application: $27.50

Landowner/Tenant Application: $17.50

General Combo Permit/Game Tag Application: $32.50

Landowner/Tenant Combo Permit/Game Tag Application: $22.50

Preference Point only: $6.50

There is a $6.50 nonrefundable application fee. Unsuccessful applicants will receive a refund check and be issued a preference point. If you do not want to apply for a permit and want to purchase a preference point only, you may do so online by selecting Spring Turkey Preference Point Application. Only one point may be obtained per year.

Any individual who has purchased a Spring Turkey Permit is eligible for one Second Turkey Game Tag. Game tags are valid in Units 1, 2, 3, 5 and 6 ONLY. Individuals who possess a Spring Turkey Permit and Turkey Game Tag may harvest both turkeys the same day to obtain their bag limit.

The spring turkey season will open April 1-14 for youth and hunters with disabilities, and April 6-14 for archery hunters. The regular spring season is April 15-May 31, 2015.

For more information, including pricing on all other turkey permits and game tags, visit, or call (620) 672-5911.

Maxwell elk herd tour Jan. 17

Tours begin at 10 a.m., courtesy of Friends of Maxwell

Join the Friends of Maxwell on Jan. 17 in a unique tour of public land elk at the Maxwell Wildlife Refuge, 2565 Pueblo Road, Canton. Tours of the 2,200-acre enclosure will begin at 10 a.m. and are by reservation-only. An elk chili lunch will be offered after the tour, both of which are offered at no cost, however donations are appreciated.

Maxwell Wildlife Refuge is located six miles north of Canton, in the very southeastern tip of the scenic Smoky Hills, an area of large rolling hills. It is the only location in Kansas where public herds of both bison and elk can be viewed in a native prairie environment, and it’s also home to the state’s largest public herd of bison.

For more information on this event, or to reserve a spot on this unique tour, call (620) 628-4455, or visit today.