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Daily Archives: March 5, 2016

Enjoy Spring Break at the Great Plains Nature Center

 

You don’t have to be a student to enjoy spring break at the Great Plains Nature Center (GPNC). From March 14-18, staff at the GPNC will celebrate the wildlife food chain, dedicating each day to a specific level. 

● Monday – Plant Life Day (Producers)

● Tuesday – Herbivore Day (Primary)

● Wednesday – Omnivore Day (Secondary)

● Thursday – Top Dog Day (Tertiary)

● Friday – Snail and Fungi Day (Decomposers / Detritivores)

 

Each day, guests will have the opportunity to create fun and unique crafts specific to that day’s theme. Naturalists will also present daily morning and afternoon programs in the auditorium, and hikes will be offered twice a day on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. 

 

This week promises to be fun and educational for the whole family, so join the GPNC this spring break and explore a new side of nature!

 

For more information, visit www.gpnc.org, call (316) 683-5499 ext. 105, or find the Great Plains Nature on Facebook and Twitter.

“Wing Bee” is a Central Flyway tradition

 

Everyone has heard of, and probably participated in, a spelling bee. But did you know there is such a thing as a wing bee? There is and it is well-known among waterfowl biologists. While it’s not a competition, the wing bee is part of the annual waterfowl harvest monitoring process, and each year it brings professional biologists and enforcement officers to a single location to analyze approximately 18,000 duck wings and 6,000 goose tail fans.

 

This year marks the 52nd year of the Central Flyway Wing Bee, which has been hosted for the last 25 years by the by Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism and Flint Hills National Wildlife Refuge.

 

Wing bee participants gathered in Hartford on Feb. 16-19, 2016 to examine wings and tail feathers in order to estimate the species, age, and sex of waterfowl harvested in the Central Flyway. Each year since 1964, a sample of waterfowl hunters have been asked to send a wing from each duck and primary wing feathers and tail from each goose they harvested.

 

The task of reading or classifying the large sample of wings and tails requires an extensive cadre of willing, dedicated and often highly experienced workers. In a typical year, about 40 biologists and enforcement officers from state wildlife agencies, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and universities assemble for four days to “read” wings. In the 25 years that Kansas has hosted the wing bee, more than half-a-million parts have been analyzed.

2015 Kansas hunting-related incident report

 

Just six hunting-related incidents were reported in Kansas in 2015, tying the record low set in 2013. Unfortunately, one hunter lost his life. While six incidents is an amazingly low number considering hunters recorded more than 5 million hunter-days last year, it doesn’t lessen the impact on a family and community who lost one of their members.

 

Once again, most of incidents were the result of careless firearm handling. These types of incidents concern those involved in hunter education because they are preventable and stem from a violation of one of the four basic firearm safety rules: treat every firearm as if it loaded; always point the muzzle in a safe direction; keep your finger off the trigger until you’re ready to fire; and never climb a fence or other obstacle with a loaded gun. All hunters must remember to: “Load your brain before you load your gun,” because the most important piece of safety equipment a hunter can have in the field is between his or her ears.

 

There were also five elevated stand incidents, including one fatality, reported last year. A full body harness/fall arrest system should be correctly used any time a hunter leaves the ground. But a full body harness/fall arrest system is not a parachute, so it will not protect a hunter if not attached to the tree.

 

When you compare hunting-related incidents to the number of incidents reported for other activities per 100,000 participants, hunting is safer than cheerleading. And the trend in safe hunting can be directly attributed to the dedicated efforts of the 700 Kansas Hunter Education Program volunteer instructors, who have taught and certified more than 500,000 Kansas students since 1973.

 

To find a Hunter Education class near you, visit www.ksoutdoors.com/Services/Education/Hunter.

KDWPT offices to be closed March 10-11

 

Staff at the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism (KDWPT) will be participating in a two-day training workshop March 10-11 in Manhattan and during this time, all department offices will be closed.

 

Most licenses and permits can be purchased online at www.ksoutdoors.com or through the more than 600 license vendors across the state. Park daily vehicle and camping permits can be obtained at entrance kiosks, and cabin reservations may be made online at reserveamerica.com

 

Department offices will resume regular business hours of Monday-Friday, 8 a.m.-5 p.m. beginning Monday, March 14.

Anglers’ secret weapons

 

Every angler is searching for that secret lure that will catch more fish than all the others. However, if they exist, they’re expensive and don’t come with a guarantee. Fortunately, there are a few tools designed to help you catch more fish and they are free. The 2016 Kansas Fishing Regulations Summary, 2016 Fishing Atlas, and the 2016 Fishing Forecast are available online and wherever licenses are sold.

 

To catch fish, you have to be in the right spot with the right equipment at the right time. And to ensure your fishing days are enjoyable, you need to know the regulations. These three publications produced by the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism will help you find the right spot and know the regulations.

 

The 2016 Kansas Fishing Regulations Summary includes critical information about license requirements and fees, creel and length limits, special fishing programs, and color illustrations for fish identification. The pamphlet has a complete listing of public waters in the state, including locations and any special regulation. Special fishing programs, such as the trout program and urban fishing program, are highlighted with locations and stocking schedules.

 

The 2016 Fishing Atlas is an 80-page color publication with maps showing all public fishing areas, including state and federal waters and the Fishing Impoundments and Stream Habitats program (F.I.S.H.) waters. The F.I.S.H. program leases private ponds and stream and river access and opens them up to public fishing. In recent years, the program has opened more than 1,900 acres of private ponds and more than 70 miles of streams to anglers. Most areas are open from March 1-Oct. 31, but some are open to angling year-round. Lease dates, special regulations, and boating restrictions are also designated for each leased tract in the atlas.

 

The final piece of the angler’s arsenal is the 2016 Fishing Forecast, which is available as a printed brochure, can be downloaded from www.ksoutdoors.com and is included in the March/April issue of Kansas Wildlife & Parks magazine. The forecast summarizes data collected by fisheries biologists throughout the year to help anglers find the best fishing spots statewide. The forecast includes Density, Preferred, and Lunker ratings for 17 species of sport fish in more than 200 state fishing lakes, community lakes and reservoirs. Anglers can use the forecast to find a lake that has a good population of the species they like to catch. For example, if you like to catch white bass, you’ll see that Pomona Reservoir has the No. 1 Density Rating, which refers to the number of white bass that were 9 inches long or longer the biologists caught per unit of sampling effort. Pomona also has the highest Preferred Rating of 11.58, which means that of the fish sampled almost half were longer than 12 inches. However, if you’re interested in large white bass, you might want to try Cedar Bluff Reservoir, which had the No. 1 Lunker Rating, which refers to white bass in the samples longer than 15 inches. Lengths for the various ratings are different for each species, and there are also categories for the biggest fish caught during sampling and the biologist’s ranking. Ratings are separated among reservoirs, lakes and ponds, so anglers can also select the size of the water they prefer to fish.

 

These three tools, along with the Weekly Fishing Reports at www.ksoutdoors.com, will help you catch more fish this season, guaranteed. Don’t get caught on the water without them.

Running season opened March 1

 

Except for beaver trapping season, which runs through March 31, all other furbearer trapping and hunting seasons closed Feb. 15. However, the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism reminds hound enthusiasts that the furbearer running season begia March 1. This is the time for houndsmen and their dogs to hone skills necessary during the furbearer hunting seasons.

 

During the running season, no furbearer may be killed or taken. In addition, it is illegal for runners to possess any firearm or other weapon while pursuing furbearers during the running season. Legal hours for running furbearers are 24 hours daily, and a furharvester license is required. The running season is open through Nov. 8.