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Monthly Archives: November 2015

Mexico hopes to see 3-4 times more monarch butterflies

 

By Mark Stevenson

Associated Press

 

The number of monarch butterflies reaching their wintering grounds in central Mexico this year may be three to four times higher than the previous season, authorities said Thursday.

 

Speaking during a visit to a monarch reserve with U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell, Mexican Environment Secretary Rafael Pacchiano said initial reports suggest the butterfly population is rebounding.

 

“We estimate that the butterfly population that arrives at the reserve is as much as three and could reach four times the surface area it occupied last season,” Pacchiano said.

 

He did not explain how the government made the calculation, but authorities conduct informal tracking of monarch butterflies as they enter Mexico from the United States.

 

The population of orange-and-black butterflies making the 3,400-mile (5,500-kilometer) migration from the United States and Canada declined in recent years before recovering slightly in 2014, when the insects covered about 2.79 acres (1.13 hectares) in the mountains west of Mexico City.

 

The monarchs cluster so closely in trees that their numbers are measured by the area they cover. They once blanketed as much as 44 acres (18 hectares).

 

Pacchiano said the butterfly colonies could cover 3 or 4 hectares (7.8 to 9.9 acres) this year, and officials hope to reach 6 hectares (14.8 acres) in the reserves by 2020.

 

“The United States is very committed to protecting the monarch butterfly, but we need the help of Mexico and Canada,” Jewell said before hiking an hour into the mountains to see the trees where the monarchs roost.

 

She said the United States is working to reintroduce milkweed, a plant key to the butterflies’ migration, on about 3 million hectares (1,160 square miles) within five years, both by planting and by designating pesticide-free areas.

 

Milkweed is the plant the butterflies feed and lay their eggs on, but it has been attacked by herbicide use in the United States.

 

“Our agricultural practices must be adapted. … We have to look at our use of pesticides,” Jewell said. “We have the goal of 225 million monarch butterflies returning right here, to Mexico, every year. We believe we can get there by working together.”

 

Mexico, too, still has problems.

 

Illegal logging more than tripled in the monarch butterflies’ wintering grounds last year, reversing several years of steady improvements.

 

Pacchiano said the reserve’s buffer area lost more than 20 acres (9 hectares) due to illegal logging in one area this year, but the tree cutting was detected and a number of arrests were made.

Loggers cut down 47 acres (19 hectares) of trees in San Felipe de los Alzati in Michoacan state last year, the biggest loss since 2009.

 

Illegal logging had fallen to almost zero in 2012.

 

The forest canopy acts as a sort of blanket against the cold for butterflies that form huge clumps on tree branches during their winter stay in Mexico.

 

The migration is an inherited trait: No butterfly lives to make the full round trip, and it is unclear how they find their way back to the same patch of pine forest each year.

 

Some scientists suggest the butterflies may release chemicals marking the migratory path and fear that if their numbers fall too low the chemical traces will not be strong enough for others to follow.

 

Two years ago the butterflies reached a low point, covering only 1.65 acres (0.67 hectares), the lowest since record-keeping began in 1993.

 

At their peak in 1996, the monarchs covered more than 44 acres (18 hectares). But since then, each time the monarchs have rebounded, they have done so at lower levels. The species is found in many countries and is not in danger of extinction, but experts fear the migration could be disrupted if very few butterflies make the long trip.

 

Largely indigenous farm communities in the mountain reserve have received government development funds in return for preserving the 139,000-acre (56,259 hectare) reserve that UNESCO has declared a World Heritage site.

 

Some of the communities earn income from tourist operations or reforestation nurseries to grow and plant saplings.

 

But Omar Vidal, head of the World Wildlife Fund in Mexico, said poverty remains a problem among the communities.

 

Game Wardens, Sheriff’s Deputies to conduct checkpoints

 

Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks, and Tourism (KDWPT) game wardens and Kiowa County sheriff’s officers will conduct one or more joint checkpoints on Sunday, December 6, 2015. Deer, upland bird, and migratory game bird seasons will be underway. Checkpoints are intended to help enforce state and federal wildlife laws, as well as the state’s driver’s licensing laws.

 

Kiowa County deputies will operate the first stage of the checkpoints to be sure drivers are properly licensed to be driving. If a driver does not have a valid license, appropriate enforcement actions will be taken. Travelers should not expect major delays from this portion of the checkpoints.

 

Occupants of vehicles in the first check lane will be asked if they are hunters or are transporting wildlife. If yes in either case, drivers will be directed to a nearby KDWPT check lane where Kansas game wardens will check for required licenses and permits, count the game and gather biological, harvest, and hunter success information. This portion of the checkpoints should also cause minimal delay.

 

The following locations may be used if weather conditions and manpower allow:

 

  • U.S. HWY 183  MILEPOST 68 – KIOWA COUNTY
  • U.S. HWY 400 MILEPOST 110.5  – KIOWA COUNTY
  • U.S  HWY 400 MILEPOST 122 -  KIOWA COUNTY
  • U.S. HWY 54 MILEPOST 97.5– KIOWA COUNTY
  • U.S. HWY 400 MILEPOST 106 – KIOWA COUNTY
  • U.S. HWY 183 MILEPOST 51.5 – KIOWA COUNTY

 

Additional wildlife checkpoints will occur around the state during the fall and winter hunting seasons.

 

Game wardens seek public assistance in poaching cases

 

If you’ve ever seen a photo of a poached deer, chances are you wish you hadn’t. The sad reality is countless numbers of big game animals are illegally killed in Kansas each year. While Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism game wardens make every effort to solve these cases, lack of evidence often leaves criminals unpunished. The good news is you don’t have to be a game warden to play a significant role in helping solve a poaching case.

 

WITNESSES-OF-WILDLIFE-RELATED-CRIMES-CAN-REPORT-ANONYMOUSLY_frontimagecrop

 

Operation Game Thief (OGT), 1-877-426-3843, is a toll-free line available 24/7, 365 days a year, where citizens can anonymously report wildlife-related crimes. Once a call has been placed, the message is relayed to the game warden nearest the violation.

 

If you suspect you are witnessing a wildlife crime do not confront the suspects. Pay attention to detail so you can provide as much specific information as possible when you call OGT. Information such as vehicle model and color, license tag numbers, descriptions of people involved, location, and the time the incident occurred will help game wardens find the poachers.

 

OGT calls have resulted in numerous arrests and convictions on violations ranging from deer poaching to public lands vandalism. In many cases, poachers have been arrested within minutes of the call. If you think picking up the phone can’t make a difference, think again. Those who commit wildlife crimes aren’t just stealing from the land; they are stealing from us all. Help bring them to justice by calling OGT at 1-877-426-3843.

Women and youth invited to celebrity pheasant hunt Dec. 12

 

Women and youth ages 11-16 are invited to the 18th Annual Youth and Women’s Celebrity Pheasant Hunt at Waconda Lake on Saturday, December 12 beginning at 7:15 a.m. This special hunt is geared toward providing a comfortable and positive hunting environment for new and inexperienced hunters. To be selected for one of the 40 slots available for this hunt, contact the Glen Elder Area Office at (785) 545-3345 by Thursday, December 3.

 

Event festivities will begin with a hunters’ breakfast in the Hopewell Church basement at Glen Elder State Park, followed by a pre-hunt safety discussion before participants are divided into hunting groups. Hunters, guides, and mentors will then head out to various refuge areas around Glen Elder Reservoir where only a very limited amount of hunting is allowed. Parties will hunt through the morning and early afternoon before breaking for lunch, courtesy of the Waconda Lake Association.

 

A unique aspect of this event is that participants will get to interact with and hunt alongside a few Hero-celebrities who have been invited to serve as hunting mentors. Event celebrities range from former professional athletes and TV personalities to military personnel who have recently returned from deployment.

 

In addition to field time, trap shooting stations will be set up for hunters wanting to refine their shooting skills.

 

All participants will receive a commemorative t-shirt, and each youth hunter will receive an additional gift courtesy of sponsors.

 

A hunters’ banquet will be held in the evening. All participants are invited to attend and will be asked to RSVP when they sign up for the hunt.

 

For more information or to volunteer as a mentor for this event, contact Chris Lecuyer at (785) 545-3345.

State competition tests students’ plant and animal knowledge

 

Think you know Kansas’ flora and fauna inside and out? Would you be willing to put your knowledge to the test? Seventy-nine students from 12 schools across the state did just that during the 17th Annual Kansas ECO-Meet State Finals competition on November 5, and the results were impressive. Held at the Camp Wood YMCA, near Elmdale, the ECO-Meet tested students’ knowledge via a wetlands and aquatic ecosystems test, invertebrates test, live plant scavenger hunt, and an interpretive event.

 

To compete at the state level, students had to qualify at one of seven regional competitions held in September and October at Milford Nature Center, Lakewood Discovery Center, Dillon Nature Center, Wilson Lake, Great Plains Nature Center, Southeast Kansas Education Service Center, and Ernie Miller Nature Center.

 

At the state competition, a total of 21 teams participated, along with six students who qualified as individuals in the two test events. Schools represented at the state competition included Clay Center, Goddard, Goessel, Inman, Maize, Miltonvale, Nickerson, Pike Valley, Pratt, Salina South, Shawnee Mission South, St. Mary’s-Colgan of Pittsburg, Tescott, Tonganoxie, Wakefield, and Wilson.

 

2015 Kansas ECO-Meet State Finals Results are as follows:

Overall Team

1st – Shawnee Mission South High School Team A: Megan Jenkins, Joe Petty, Kara Pringle and team coach PJ Born - $300/student scholarships awarded.

2nd – Goddard HS: Sarah Tomtschick, Clara Towey, Brooke Wentz, Brooke Wetta and team coach Marylee Ramsey - $200/student scholarships awarded.

3rd – Wilson HS Team A: Anna Criswell Aaron Dlabal, Trey Fink, Kyle Goldwater and team coach Melanie Falcon - $100/student scholarships awarded.

Individual Events

Invertebrates

1st – Joe Petty, Shawnee Mission South High School A - $200 scholarship

2nd – Kara Pringle, Shawnee Mission South High School A - $100 scholarship awarded.

Wetlands/Aquatic Ecosystem

1st – Joe Petty, Shawnee Mission South High School A - $200 scholarship

2nd – Aaron Dlabal, Wilson High School A - $100 scholarship awarded.

Pheasant and quail seasons continue tradition

 

Kansas pheasant and quail seasons open November 14, honoring an opening-day tradition that draws hunters to Kansas from all parts of the country and from all walks of life. The second Saturday in November is marked on bird hunters’ calendars and holds the same excitement for them that Christmas Day holds for youngsters.

 

The seasons are Nov. 14, 2015-Jan. 31, 2016. The daily bag limit for pheasants is four roosters per day, and the possession limit 16 on and after the fourth day. The daily bag limit on quail is eight, and the possession limit is 32 on and after the fourth day. Pheasants must retain proof of sex while in transit. Unless exempt by law, resident hunters age 16-74 must have a resident hunting license and all nonresident hunters must have a nonresident hunting license. Hunter education certification is required except for youth under 16 hunting under the direct supervision of an adult. Hunters must carry the hunter education certificate while hunting until they reach 28 years of age. Hunters 16 and older without hunter education certification may purchase an apprentice license and hunt with adult supervision.

 

Pheasant populations have rebounded nicely in many parts of the state as drought conditions, which persisted from 2011 through 2013, have abated. Hunting prospects are much better this year than they have been in more than three years although the overall pheasant harvest may be below average. Bobwhite quail numbers have rebounded even better and in many areas will provide excellent hunting opportunities. With a return to more normal rainfall amounts, habitat conditions are good in most regions.

 

The Walk-in Hunting Access (WIHA) program has more than 1 million acres enrolled this year, much of it in prime pheasant country. Printed versions of the2015 Kansas Hunting Atlas, which includes maps of all WIHA tracts, as well as all state and federal public hunting areas, can be picked up at Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism (KDWPT) offices and wherever licenses are sold.

 

For more information about regulations, license fees, and other season dates, consult the 2015 Kansas Hunting and Furharvesting Regulations Summary, available at KDWPT offices and wherever licenses are sold. The regulations pamphlet and hunting atlas are also available online at www.ksoutdoors.com.

Kansas Game Wardens needed

 

If you want an office with a view, enjoy the outdoors and like working with both wildlife and people, the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism (KDWPT) may have an opening for you. KDWPT invites qualified applicants to test for entry-level game warden positions in the Law Enforcement Division. Successful applicants will enter a pool of eligible persons who may receive offers to become a Natural Resource Officer I, commonly known as a game warden or conservation officer.

 

Applications must be postmarked on or before December 11, 2015. The testing event will be held January 16, 2016 at the Crisis City Complex southwest of Salina, Kansas.

 

Interested applicants must have a bachelor’s degree in natural resources, or a bachelor’s degree with a minimum of 24 semester hours of natural resources coursework. The preferred degrees include fisheries, wildlife, conservation ecology/management/biology, biology with field coursework emphasis, environmental ecology, wildlife range management, wildlife and outdoor enterprise management. Coursework in the following or similar courses is preferred: ornithology, ichthyology, mammalogy, entomology, limnology, fisheries/wildlife management, parasitology, population biology, wildlife and fisheries related ecology courses, conservation related coursework that covers wildlife and fisheries related topics, range ecology and management, and those courses that are closely related to the above listings. Wildlife law enforcement experience may be substituted for education as determined relevant by KDWPT.

 

Kansas game wardens are responsible for enforcing wildlife laws and regulations, patrolling the waters of Kansas, investigating hunting and boating accidents and conducting boat safety inspections and BUI checks. Wardens also promote outdoor safety by conducting hunting and boating safety programs and teaching hunter education and boating safety courses. As certified law enforcement officers, game wardens also assist other law enforcement agencies with search and rescue operations, fugitive searches, illegal drug investigations and more.

 

For complete information and application requirements, visit ksoutdoors.com/KDWPT-Info/Jobs then click on “Current KDWPT Employment Opportunities – Permanent Positions.” Applicants can email their application information to kdwprecruitment@ksoutdoors.com.

 

Questions regarding the Natural Resource Officer I hiring process can be directed to the KDWPT Human Resources Section at the Pratt Operations Office, (620) 672-5911, or by email at kdwprecruitment@ksoutdoors.com, or contact Captain Marvin Jensen at the KDWPT Region 3 Office, 1001 McArtor Road, Dodge City, Kansas 67801, 620-227-8609 (office), 620-966-0073 (cell), or at marvin.jensen@ksoutdoors.com.

 

Westar Energy Green Team hosting youth deer hunt

 

The Westar Energy Green Team invites young hunters with little or no deer hunting experience to apply for special deer hunting opportunities. Hunts will be conducted at Jeffrey Energy Center, located 7 miles north of St. Marys, during the firearm deer season, Dec. 2-13. Hunts are open to youth 12 and older, and each young hunter must be accompanied by an adult mentor. Hunts will be held in the early morning or late afternoon. Slots will be awarded to applicants on a first-come, first-served basis with priority given to those who have little or no deer hunting experience.

 

Youths will hunt from blinds led by volunteer, experienced hunters. Hunters are encouraged to bring their own rifle, but one can be provided if needed.

 

Every hunter must have a Unit 9 deer permit. Hunters 16 and older must also possess a hunting license and hunter education certificate.

 

An orientation session will be held on Saturday, Nov. 21. Organizers will instruct on safety and deer biology and assist hunters with sighting in rifles.

 

The Green Team’s annual youth deer hunts are designed to encourage youth interested in learning about hunting to give it a try. The hunts provide safe and fun hunting experiences in an area with an abundance of deer.

 

Applications will be accepted through Nov. 6 and successful hunters will be notified by Nov. 13. To apply, contact Barb Cornelius at 785-575-8125.

Surplus buffalo to be auctioned at Maxwell Wildlife Refuge

 

The Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism (KDWPT) will auction off surplus buffalo at the Maxwell Wildlife Refuge on Wednesday, November 18, 2015 beginning at 11 a.m.  Corrals are located 6 miles north and 1.75 miles west of Canton. Those interested in bidding are encouraged to arrive early to receive a bidder number. The auction is open to the public, and lunch and concessions will be served.

 

Each fall, surplus buffalo are sold as available habitat can support only a finite number of animals. This year, a total of 56 buffalo will be auctioned, including five cows, seven yearling heifers, 10 yearling bulls, eight two-year-old bulls, 13 heifer calves, nine bull calves, and two cow/calf pairs. Buffalo over 1-year-old will be brucellosis and tuberculosis tested and accompanied by a health certificate. Heifer calves will be vaccinated for brucellosis and certificates issued. Prices paid per animal range from several hundred dollars to several thousand, depending on market demand, condition, sex and age of the animal.

 

Cash and personal checks (if accompanied by a notarized authorization letter from the issuing bank) will be accepted. KDWPT reserves the right to reject any or all bids. Buyers must pick up the bison the day of the sale or make arrangements with the refuge manager prior to the sale. Animals become the buyer’s responsibility upon settlement on sale day. Load-out assistance is available until dusk the day of the sale. Stock racks and trailers should be covered or lined because bison transport best in dark conditions.

 

The sale will be outside and will take place rain or shine, so attendees are encouraged to dress accordingly. For more information, contact Maxwell Wildlife Refuge manager Cliff Peterson at (620) 628-4592, or KDWPT’s office in Wichita at (316) 683-8069.

 

Commission approves proposed hunting and fishing license fees

 

The Kansas Wildlife, Parks and Tourism (KDWPT) Commission approved a proposal to raise fees for fishing and hunting licenses at their public meeting in Burlington on October 22, 2015. The new fees will be effective January 1, 2016. KDWPT staff have been discussing fee increases since early last spring and presented a draft proposal before the Commission at their public meeting in August.

 

Fee increases were deemed necessary to ensure pivotal programs important to hunters and anglers can be maintained and enhanced. Basic hunting and fishing license fees haven’t increased since 2002, and the price of resident deer and turkey permits haven’t increased since 1984. Inflation has increased the cost of doing business by almost 30 percent since 2002, and the uncommitted balance of the Wildlife Fee Fund was beginning to decline. License and permit revenues go into the Wildlife Fee Fund to pay for wildlife and fisheries programs, which receive no State General Fund money.

 

By unanimously approving the proposed increases, the Commission ensured that programs such as Walk-in Hunting Access (WIHA), Community Fisheries Assistance (CFAP), Pass It On, Fishing Impoundment and Stream Access (FISH), and Wildlife Habitat Improvement (WHIP) will continue to provide hunters and anglers with high-quality outdoor opportunities. Increased revenues will also help fund day-to-day business such as operation of four fish hatcheries, law enforcement, public lands management and private land programs.

 

Beginning January 1, 2016 a resident annual hunting or fishing license will cost $25. The current fee is $18. However, value-added options are built into the new fee structure, including a discount for purchasing a combination hunt/fish annual license ($45) and an early-buy combination discount ($40) if purchased before February 1. Also included are multi-year hunting and fishing licenses that will provide savings. A five-year fishing or hunting license is priced at $100, and a five-year combination hunting/fishing license is $180, a savings of $70 if those licenses were purchased individually each year.

 

Nonresidents will pay $95 for an annual hunting license and $50 for an annual fishing license.

 

Resident deer permits will go from $30 to $40; nonresidents will pay $415 for the combination (one antlered deer/one antlerless whitetail) permit. Resident turkey permits are set at $25 and nonresidents will pay $50 for a fall turkey permit and $60 for a spring turkey permit.

 

Lifetime hunting and fishing licenses will go from $440 to $500 and $880 to $960 for a combination.

 

Youth license and permit fees were not changed, and the senior lifetime hunt/fish combination license ($40) will not change.

 

Vendor and convenience fees of $2.50 are added at the point of purchase. For a complete listing of fee changes see K.A.R. 115-2-1 at: http://ksoutdoors.com/KDWPT-Info/Commission/Upcoming-Commission-Meetings/October-22-2015/October-22-2015-Approved-Regulations.

 

In other business, commissioners approved an amendment to the definition of a setline, allowing anglers to anchor a setline with a 25-pound weight, and use a closed-cell float to mark it. Amendments to the creel and length limit reference document were approved, including several changes to length and slot-length limits for blue catfish. To see all approved creel and length limits see K.A.R. 115-25-14 at: http://ksoutdoors.com/KDWPT-Info/Commission/Upcoming-Commission-Meetings/October-22-2015/October-22-2015-Approved-Regulations

 

And in final action, commissioners approved staff’s proposal for duck zone boundaries. After months of public meetings, discussion and surveys, KDWPT staff proposed a new map that will go into effect for the 2016 fall duck seasons and remain in place for five years. The only change was a boundary shift to move Cedar Bluff Reservoir out of the Low Plains Early Zone and into the Low Plains Late Zone. All other duck zone boundaries remained the same.

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