Monthly Archives: July 2015

Enter your favorite outdoor photos in the 2015 Wild About Kansas photo contest

The peak of summer and start of fall can provide stunning lighting and subject matter for outdoor photographers. Whether it’s a catfish fresh out of the water, a crimson sunset over a pasture, or a whitetail peeking through a tree line, Kansas Wildlife & Parks magazine staff want to see what makes you Wild About Kansas.

 

Enter-Your-Favorite-Outdoor-Photos-in-the-2015-Wild-About-Kansas-Photo-Contest

 

Photographers of all skill levels are encouraged to submit their favorite wildlife, outdoor recreation, and landscape photos before Oct. 23. There is no fee to enter, and the contest is open to both residents and nonresidents.

 

Photographers can submit up to three original photos taken in the state of Kansas. Photos must fit into one of the three categories – wildlife, outdoor recreation or landscape – and will be judged on creativity, composition, subject matter, lighting, and the overall sharpness.

 

First, 2nd, and 3rd place prizes will be awarded in each category, and one honorable mention per category will be named, as well. Winners will be featured in the 2016 Kansas Wildlife & Parks January/February photo issue.

 

Entries must be received no later than 5 p.m. on Oct. 23. An entry form must be submitted for each participant and can be obtained by visiting www.ksoutdoors.com/Services/Publications/Magazine/Wild-About-Kansas. Photo format should be JPEG or TIFF and file size should be not less than 1mb and not more than 5mb.

 

For more information, visit ksoutdoors.com/Services/Publications/Magazine/Wild-About-Kansas, or contact contest coordinator Nadia Marji at [email protected].

 

Pheasants Forever to host youth instructional shooting clinic

 

From Outdoor Daily News 

 

The Smoky Hill Chapter of Pheasants Forever, in partnership with the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism, invite youth of all ages to attend a free instructional shooting clinic on Saturday, August 8. The clinic will be held from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. at the Hays City Sportsmen’s Club and all equipment will be provided.

 

Participants will receive instruction with shotguns and pellet rifles in a controlled, safe, live-fire environment guided by experienced instructors. Participants do not need to preregister and lunch will be provided.
For additional information, contact Smoky Hill Pheasants Forever Chapter member Luke Winge at (785) 726-1600.

 

This event is part of the Pheasants Forever/Quail Forever No Child Left Indoors (NCLI) initiative, which encourages chapters to collaborate with conservation partners and provide youth and their families opportunities to learn about our outdoor traditions and conservation ethic.

 

Nationwide, Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever chapters hold more than 1,000 youth events a year, connecting more than 50,000 youth to the outdoors. They reach out in their communities to sponsor youth mentor hunts, outdoor conservation days, shooting sports, conservation camps, fishing tournaments, outdoor expos, hunter education classes, habitat projects and much more.

 

To find a chapter near you, visit www.pheasantsforever.org and www.quailforever.org.

Youth Outdoor Festival in Hays August 15

 

If you’re interested in introducing your child to the world of shooting sports, hunting, fishing and other outdoor-related activities, mark your calendar for August 15. Hays area businesses, conservation groups and shooting sports groups have teamed together to offer a free day of target shooting and outdoor activities for youth 17 and younger at the 18th Annual Youth Outdoor Festival. The event will be held Saturday, August 15 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Hays City Sportsman’s Club located 1/4 mile north of I-70 Exit 157.

 

Youth will learn about and experience trap and skeet shooting, archery equipment, air rifles and BB guns, muzzleloaders, small-bore rifles, and more. There will also be a BASS casting competition, paintball target shooting, and a furharvesting demonstration.

 

Youth will be closely supervised at each station by expert volunteer instructors, and all equipment will be supplied.

 

Hunter Education certification is not required, and youth must be accompanied by an adult.

 

Registration for the event can be completed onsite prior to participation. Lunch will be provided, and youth will have a chance to win prizes, including guns, fishing tackle and other outdoor equipment.

 

For more information, contact Kent Hensley at (785) 726-3212 or Troy Mattheyer at (785) 726-4212.

 

Kansas Native Plant Society to host 2015 annual Wildflower Weekend

Wildflower enthusiasts from across Kansas are encouraged to meet in Manhattan on September 25-27 for the Kansas Native Plant Society’s 37th Annual Wildflower Weekend (AWW). Those attending the three-day event will enjoy opportunities to explore and learn about the native plants in the northern Flint Hills.

 

Kansas-Native-Plant-Society-to-Host-2015-Annual-Wildflower-Weekend

 

Six unique sites will be visited, including the Konza Prairie and Tuttle Creek Lake, and attendees will also have the opportunity to hear from guest speakers Kelly Roccaforte and Shelly Wiggam, doctoral candidates at Kansas State University, as they discuss their prairie pollinator research projects.

 

The annual meeting, speaker presentations, awards ceremony, and silent auction will take place Saturday evening.

 

For more details on this event, and to register, visit www.kansasnativeplantsociety.org/annual_event.php

Sportsmen’s coalition defends federal fracking rule

 

Time to modernize 30-year-old rule to protect fish, wildlife, water

 

As a new federal fracking rule continues to come under fire, a national sportsmen’s coalition is defending it as a commonsense update of 30-year-old regulations aimed at safeguarding fish, wildlife, water and other valuable resources on our public lands.

 

The Sportsmen for Responsible Energy Development coalition reacted July 15th to criticisms aired during a hearing of the House Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources. The updated regulations for national public lands, released by the Bureau of Land Management in March, are intended to complement state regulations to ensure that fracking fluids and wastewater are handled safely; well casings are strong enough to stand the high-pressure fluids; and that companies disclose what chemicals they’re injecting underground.

 

“As the technology has advanced, where and how fracking occurs has changed dramatically in just the last 10 years while rules to safeguard our water and wildlife have not been updated for more than three decades. The BLM’s new rule is a reasonable upgrade to ensure there’s a minimum standard for national public lands that are managed for a number of uses, including hunting, fishing and recreation,” said Kate Zimmerman, the National Wildlife Federation’s public lands policy director.

 

Corey Fisher, the energy team lead for Trout Unlimited, noted that a recent Environment Protection Agency study of existing data on fracking revealed gaps in information, including the frequency of on-site spills, but did point out potential vulnerabilities to water sources such as inadequate well casings and spills of fracking wastewater.

 

“The BLM’s new fracking rule includes important changes to protect water quality, such as robust well-casing standards and the requirement that wastewater be stored in tanks rather than pits, which are more vulnerable to leaks and spills,” Fisher said. “These changes help address potential impacts to water resources on public lands. The EPA study makes clear the science hasn’t kept pace with the scale and scope of hydraulic fracturing. More study is needed, additional monitoring is necessary, and documented impacts necessitate a cautious approach and risk management that emphasizes avoiding impacts altogether.”

 

The BLM has said that where rules are at least as strong as the federal regulations, states can request a variance and companies can carry on as they have. The rule also applies to tribal lands. However, the fracking rule is on hold as a federal judge considers a challenge to the rule by the states of Colorado, Wyoming, North Dakota, Utah and trade associations.

 

“The SFRED coalition appreciates that some of the biggest oil- and gas-producing states have taken steps to strengthen their rules and that many companies are responsible operators. However, it takes just one bad operator to seriously damage an aquifer or foul waterways that are vital to wildlife and communities,” said Ed Arnett senior scientist for the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “The federal fracking rule is a crucial safeguard in states without their own rules—about half the 32 states with drilling on public lands, according to the BLM. It is important that we have a minimum national standard for lands that are managed for multiple purposes and are, in fact, owned by all Americans.”

 

Sportsmen for Responsible Energy Development is a coalition of more than 1500 businesses, organizations and individuals dedicated to conserving irreplaceable habitats so future generations can hunt and fish on public lands. The coalition is led by Trout Unlimited, the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership and the National Wildlife Federation.

Kansans can help grow butterfly-friendly plants in pollination project

 

By Kelly Meyerhofer

The Wichita Eagle

 

The White House’s pollination project, which will cover 200 miles from northern Minnesota to Texas with native plants to help monarch butterflies, will include large parts of Kansas, said Orley “Chip” Taylor, a professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of Kansas.

 

Common Milkweed by Kevin Adams

Common Milkweed by Kevin Adams

 

Kansans can help by growing a variety of pollinator-friendly plants that bloom at different times of the year. Scott Vogt, executive director of Dyck Arboretum of the Plains in Hesston, recommended liatris and black-eyed susans for the summer and asters in the fall.

 

Milkweed plants are by far the best option for monarch conversation, though some gardeners shy away from the aggressive plant.

 

There are a few types, like butterfly milkweed, that do not form colonies and can be incorporated into a formal bed. This type of milkweed can serve as a food source for an adult monarch.

 

But the more aggressive varieties of milkweed – Common, Sullivan’s and Showy – grow wider leaves that caterpillars prefer to munch. Vogt advises people to plant these in an informal area of the yard where “they can do their own thing.”

Milkweed planting season is over right now, but begins again in early September. Fall planting actually gives milkweed a jump, Vogt said. Milkweed planted in the spring can struggle from a barely established root system, he said.

 

The plant is seasonally sold at some garden stores, including Dyck Arboretum, for $3 to $5 depending on the size of the pot.

 

Monarch Watch – a national conservation group headed by Taylor, the KU butterfly biologist – is offering free milkweed plants for people willing to cover the cost of shipping. Monsanto is funding the cost of 100,000 plants this summer and another 100,000 next summer.

 

“We are looking for people who are interested in restoring the habitat,” Taylor said. “Not for your garden, not for retail, but for restoration.”

 

A minimum order is a flat with 32 plugs. A shipment of 50 plugs is estimated to cost between $10 and $15.

 

To learn more, visit www.monarchwatch.org or call 785-864-4441.

Federal pollinator plan needs 1 billion milkweed plants for monarch butterflies

 

By Josephine Marcotty

Minneapolis Star Tribune

 

Monarch feeding on thistle.

Monarch feeding on thistle.

 

Starting as soon as this fall, America’s midsection could begin to look strikingly different to a monarch butterfly fluttering south for the winter.

 

Oceans of corn would be dotted with islands of native plants. Homeowners would have fewer lawns – and a lot less mowing. Roadsides would grow thick with grasses and flowers. And more than a billion unruly milkweed plants would pop up along a 200-mile-wide corridor along I-35 from Minnesota to Kansas to Texas.

 

That’s the ambitious vision buried in a national pollinator plan released by the White House – an epic attempt to save the gaudy symbol of the prairie from its steady slide toward the Endangered Species list. The key is milkweed, the one and only food source for monarch caterpillars, which has all but disappeared from Midwestern landscapes, thanks largely to GMO crops and the widespread use of Roundup.

But if it succeeds, the plan would rescue pollinators considered vital to a healthy environment, and in five years the number of monarchs that travel 3,000 miles every year from the Midwest to the mountains of Mexico and then back again, would increase by nearly tenfold.

 

“We are going to get the most bang for our buck by concentrating on the prairie corridor,” said Karen Oberhauser, a University of Minnesota professor and one of two key scientists advising federal agencies on the monarch plan.

 

And monarchs won’t be the only ones to benefit.

 

“It’s a flagship species for a lot of other critters that will enjoy that habitat,” said Tom Melius, director of the Midwest region for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which is leading the monarch restoration plan. That includes grassland birds, which are also disappearing from the landscape, and pollinators of all kinds, he said.

 

Monarchs earned a place in the White House pollinator plan in part because they are wildly popular, and because they have an extraordinary migration that makes it easy to measure their shocking decline.

 

In January this year, monarchs covered about 2.8 acres of trees in Mexico, their primary overwintering site, where they droop from the branches in great fluttering clusters through the cold months.

 

That’s better than the all-time low of 33 million butterflies spread over 1.6 acres, in 2014. But their numbers have crashed since the mid-1990s, when they covered 30 to 40 acres of acres of trees every winter.

The trend is so alarming that last year a number of environmental groups petitioned the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to put the butterfly on the federal Endangered Species list, which the agency is now considering.

 

Scientists have cited a number of reasons for the decline. For a time, logging in and around Mexico’s mountain forests deprived them of critical winter protection, but that’s been largely stopped. Now their numbers are so low that there’s room to spare in the mountains.

 

Climate change and the severe weather events it brings, like drought and flooding, can wipe out the milkweed plants that monarchs need to lay their eggs and the flowers they need for nectar throughout their migration route.

 

Pesticides may also play a part – chief among them a class known as neonicotinoids that are now embedded in virtually all row crops planted across millions of acres. A recent study by the U.S. Department of Agriculture found that milkweed growing near farm fields absorbed the pesticide, most likely from the soil. And 50 to 80 percent of the monarch eggs on contaminated plants died before or soon after hatching.

 

But the biggest reason, scientists say, is that between Duluth and Texas there’s just not much milkweed anymore.

 

Farmers used to pull the plant out with machines when they cultivated the rows, and year after year it would simply grow back. But in the 1990s, Monsanto revolutionized Midwestern agriculture with seeds resistant to the herbicide Roundup, and now the widespread use of that combination means that most row crops are, for the most part, completely bare of all weeds.

A 2012 study by Oberhauser and John Pleasants, a scientist at Iowa State University, showed the consequences for monarchs: Half the milkweed in the corn belt disappeared between 1999 and 2010.

 

The number of eggs that monarchs produce took an even greater hit, declining 81 percent during that same period. Turns out, the milkweed plants inside farm fields were more important to the butterflies than those outside.

 

The monarchs laid four times as many eggs on milkweed plants in farm field plants than on those growing in pastures or roadsides. The scientists weren’t sure why – maybe the eggs were better protected from predators, or perhaps the farm fertilizers made the plants more nutritious.

 

Since then, the loss of milkweed has only accelerated as row crop agriculture has continued to expand across the country. Between 2008 and 2012, another 5.7 million acres of grasslands were converted to row crops, primarily corn, according to a University of Wisconsin study published earlier this year.

 

And that, said Pleasants, means the loss of about another 53 million milkweed plants per year.

 

Ten Kansas deer test positive for CWD in 2014-2015

From Outdoor News Daily

 

A total of 640 deer were tested for chronic wasting disease (CWD) during the 2014-2015 seasons, and 10 of those were confirmed positive. Samples were obtained from deer killed by hunters in southcentral and southwest parts of Kansas and from sick and/or suspect deer observed in the eastern, northcentral and northwest parts of the state. The 10 confirmed positives included two mule deer, one from Rawlins County and one from Scott County; and eight whitetails including two from Decatur County and one from each of the following counties, Norton, Meade, Hodgeman, Pawnee, Kearny, and Gray.
CWD testing began in 1996 to help track the occurrence of CWD in the state’s wild deer, and nearly 25,000 tissue samples have undergone lab analysis since. The first CWD occurrence documented in a wild Kansas deer was a whitetail doe killed by a hunter in 2005 in Cheyenne County. Seventy-four deer have tested positive since testing began, and most have occurred in northwest Kansas, specifically Decatur, Rawlins, Sheridan and Norton counties.

 

Although research is underway, there is currently no vaccine or other biological method of preventing CWD. The only tool is to prevent the spread of CWD to new areas. Once the infective particle (an abnormal prion) is deposited into the environment – either through an infected carcass or from a live animal – it may exist for a decade or more, capable of infecting a healthy deer.

 

Despite the recent occurrences, the likelihood of finding CWD in a wild deer harvested in Kansas is small. That small likelihood decreases even more the farther from northwestern Kansas the deer live. In recent years, numerous cases of CWD have been documented in neighboring areas of Colorado, Nebraska and Wyoming.

 

While CWD is fatal to infected deer and elk, humans have never been known to contract the disease. CWD is a member of the group of diseases called transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs). Other diseases in this group include scrapie in sheep and goats, bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE or mad cow disease) in cattle, and Cruetzfeldt-Jacob disease in people.

 

CWD is a progressive, fatal disease that results in small holes developing in the brain, giving it a sponge-like appearance under the microscope. Decreased brain function causes the animal to display neurological signs such as depression, droopy head, staggering, loss of appetite, and a lack of response to people. The continuing deterioration of the brain leads to other signs such as weight loss, drooling, rough coat, and excessive thirst. Caution is advised because of unknown factors associated with prion diseases, but no human health risks have been discovered where CWD occurs. Any sick deer or elk with signs listed above or exhibiting behaviors such as stumbling, holding the head at an odd angle, walking in circles, entangled in fences or staying near farm buildings for extended periods of time should be reported to the nearest KDWPT office or the Emporia Research Office, 620-342-0658.

 

Hunters can help protect the health of the Kansas deer herd and slow CWD’s spread by not introducing the disease to new areas in Kansas through disposal of deer carcass waste. Avoid transporting a deer carcass from the area where it was taken, especially from areas where CWD has been detected. If the carcass is transported, dispose of carcass waste by double-bagging it and taking it to a landfill. Landowners can also bury carcasses on their own property.

 

The Chronic Wasting Disease Alliance maintains an online clearinghouse of information about the disease. More information is also available at www.ksoutdoors.com.

Statewide Deer permit up for auction

 

The Kansas Alliance for Wetlands and Streams has won a 2015 Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism Commission Big Game Permit!

 

The Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism Commission is authorized to issue up to seven Commission Big Game Permits per calendar year. These permits are only available to nonprofit organizations like the Kansas Alliance for Wetlands and Streams (KAWS) that actively promote wildlife conservation and the hunting and fishing heritage.

 

The permit is currently up for bid on the KAN-PIC Auction site at http://www.kan-pic.org/Listing/ListingConfirmation/174351

 

You will need to register on our site before bidding. Just click on the register link at the upper right and fill out the information. You will need to pick a conservation group to receive a small percentage of the proceeds. If you are not familiar with some of the groups listed or are not particular as to the group you support, pick our organization, Kansas Alliance for Wetlands and Streams (KAWS).

 

After the permit is issued in the name of the final recipient, it shall not be transferred to any other individual for any reason. The permit shall be subject to the restrictions of the Statewide Any Deer Permit as issued by KDWPT. Good luck!!

Range School scholarship deadline nears

 

“What does soil health, improved water quality, diverse plants communities, drought-proofing your ranch, or considering a conservation easement have to do with leaving a legacy?”, said Tim Christian, state coordinator for the Kansas Grazing Lands Coalition (KGLC). “The 2015 KGLC Range School’s instructors and guest speakers will provide answers to those and other topics.  And, if you are interested in securing a scholarship note the deadline is approaching quickly.”

 

The Mid-/Shortgrass Range School runs from August 4-6 at Camp Lakeside, Lake Scott, and the Tallgrass Range School is set for August 18-20 at Camp Wood YMCA, Elmdale with the theme Sustaining Rangelands by Leaving A Legacy, Christian said. We have a slate of instructors and guest speakers that will give attendees much to think about and perhaps act on as they return to their operations. A featured speaker at the Mid-/Shortgrass School is Jim Hoy, Emporia Sate University professor and author, and his wife Cathy who ranch in the Flint Hills and placed a conservation easement on their property. Other ranchers with easements will be featured at the Tallgrass School.

 

Registration is $350 per person and covers course materials, on-site lodging and meals, and other related costs. Ranchers, landowners, and students may qualify for a $175 scholarship, and agency staffs may qualify for $125 in scholarship help. Forms and more information on the Schools is available at www.kglc.org under 2015 Range Schools found in the navigation bar. Scholarship applications must be submitted by July 24 for the Mid-/Shortgrass School and August 7 for the Tallgrass School.

 

KGLC depends on its partnering individuals, organizations and agencies to help underwrite the scholarships provided. To date, sponsors include USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, Kansas State University Research and Extension; US Fish and Wildlife Service Kansas Partners Program; Kansas Section of the Society for Range Management; The Nature Conservancy; William F. Bradley, Jr.; Trust; Richard and Pat Schroder; Westar Energy; ITC Great Plains; Security State Bank, Scott City; and Feed-Lot Magazine.

 

KGLC organized in 1991 as a non-profit educational organization and its vision is to regenerate Kansas grazing lands. This is achieved through the management, economics, ecology, production, and technical assistance programs provided by voluntary methods to reach landowners, ranchers, and others making decisions on grazing lands.

 

For more information on the 2015 KGLC Range Schools, contact Tim Christian, state coordinator, at 620-242-6440, email to [email protected]. You may also go to the web at www.kglc.org.