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Monthly Archives: May 2016

Application deadline for Antelope permit June 10

 

Among Kansas’ big game species, antelope, also commonly referred to as pronghorn because of their hook-shaped horns, are some of the most elusive mammals to hunt in the state. With vision that can span distances as far as three miles out, and top speeds that easily rival most interstate drivers, it’s a wonder how any hunter manages to fill a tag in the species’ preferred habitat: wide open prairie. For Kansas residents willing to take on the challenge, the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism (KDWPT) is accepting firearm and muzzleloader permit applications for the 2016 antelope season through June 10. Huntable populations of antelope exist only in the western portion of the state, and a limited number of muzzleloader and firearm permits are available by a lottery draw.

 

Applications can be made online by visiting www.ksoutdoors.com and then clicking “Hunting,” “Fees, Licenses and Permits,” then “Antelope & Elk,” or by calling the KDWPT Pratt Operations Office at (620) 672-5911. Hunters may apply for either a general resident permit, a landowner/tenant permit, a youth permit, or purchase a preference point.

 

Pricing for 2016 (including application and online convenience fees) are as follows:

General Resident Application: $62.50

Landowner/Tenant Application: $37.50

Resident Youth Application (age 15 and under): $22.50

Nonresident Tenant Application: $97.50

Preference Point only: $11.50

 

Applicants who are unsuccessful in drawing a permit for the 2016 season will be given a preference point. Only one preference point may be obtained per year.

 

The 2016 Muzzleloader Season is Oct. 3-10, and the Firearm Season is Oct. 7-10. Archery permits are available online and wherever hunting licenses are sold from Aug. 3-Oct. 31, 2016. The 2016 Archery Season is Sept. 24-Oct. 2 and Oct. 15-31.

Tick Busters

 

There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to tick prevention – the only guarantee is that ticks will be around – but a proactive approach can minimize the potential for lifelong health issues, and reduce these pests to a simple, minor annoyance.

 

Tick numbers usually peak in early June, but depending on spring temperatures, they can be common from April through July. If you spend time in the woods and in grassy areas, you’re going to attract ticks. And we know that in addition to being bloodsucking pests, they can spread serious blood-borne diseases such as Rocky Mountain spotted fever and Lyme disease. So how do you protect yourself?

 

Start by wearing light-colored clothing with long sleeves and pants. Keep the pantlegs tucked into your socks. Do periodic checks and be sure to examine yourself after your outing.

 

Use a repellent. Most people who spend time outdoors are familiar with the ingredient DEET, contained in many commercial insect repellents. It can be sprayed directly on your skin, and repellents that contain 20 percent to 30 percent DEET will repel ticks for several hours. Permethrin is another option. Unlike DEET, which only repels ticks, permethrin causes muscle spasms, paralysis, and death for ticks if they touch it or consume it. Permethrin-based products currently on the market can also last up to six washes, making a bottle go a long way. And the best part? It’s odorless; however, because of its potent abilities, permethrin can only be applied to clothing and fabric.

 

Permethrin-based sprays can be purchased at most major retailers and is roughly the same price as popular repellents containing DEET. Look for a spray that contains at least 0.5 percent of permethrin. Pre-treated clothing containing permethrin is also available.

 

When treating clothing with permethrin on your own, be sure to read the instructions carefully. Apply the spray in a well-ventilated area, or outside. Then, let clothes air-dry by hanging them up on a line, or by leaving them out on a porch or outdoor table. Once dry, the treated clothing can be worn immediately.

 

The next time you embark on an outdoor adventure, make sure you’ve got the right spray, and prevent these tiny critters from creating big problems.

Learn to sail from the pros

 

Anyone 18 or older with an interest in “riding the wind” or gliding down a Kansas lake or reservoir in style is a perfect candidate for the Ninnescah Sailing Association’s (NSA) “Learn to Sail” program. Open to members and non-members, the program is led by experienced, certified U.S. Sailing instructors who will share their knowledge of basic boat-handling skills, sailing terminology, knot tying, and more.

 

The three-day course consists of an introductory classroom session, followed by two water days. After completing the classroom session, participants will receive sailing instruction on a Sunfish sailboat, hands-on keelboat training, and get to sail with experienced NSA keelboat owners and their crews. Both days of sailing on the water will include brief periods of onshore demonstrations and classroom work.

 

The cost to participate is $250 per non-member, and $195 for NSA members. Life jackets, course materials, use of sailboats, and safety equipment are provided. Graduates of the class interested in joining NSA will have their initiation fee waived and pay half-price on their first year of membership.

 

For information, visit www.ninnescah.org, or contact Kent Carter at (316) 655-4993 or learn2sail@ninnescah.org.

Walleye study at El Dorado, Cheney relies on anglers

 

Fisheries biologists with the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism will conduct a study during the month of May at Cheney and El Dorado Reservoirs examining the age and sex of angler-harvested walleye. Windshield cards will be placed on vehicles at the two reservoirs during the month of May, asking anglers who harvest walleye to contact the phone number during the survey time period provided on the card. An on-site clerk will then quickly collect information from the harvested fish before returning them back to anglers.

 

Apart from feeling good about providing critical information to fisheries staff, participants can also walk away with a walleye research team hat in exchange for their cooperation.

 

Fisheries staff expect the information collected will be helpful in gaining a better understanding of harvested walleye sex ratios, as well as aid in the management of walleye statewide.

 

For more information on this study, contact Fisheries regional supervisor Sean Lynott at sean.lynott@ksoutdoors.com.

Fish for free June 4 and 5

 

There’s not much today you can get for free, especially a weekend’s worth of entertainment for the whole family, but thanks to the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism, there’s an exception to this – Free Fishing Weekend.

 

The 2016 Free Fishing Weekend will take place June 4 and 5 and is the perfect opportunity to introduce others to the joys of angling. Typically held the first full weekend in June in association with National Fishing Week, free fishing weekends are two-day periods when fishing licenses are not required to fish Kansas lakes and reservoirs. The only thing anglers need to keep in mind is while license requirements are waived for the weekend, anglers must still abide by all other regulations such as length and creel limits, equipment requirements, etc.

 

If you’re looking for a place to drop a line during Free Fishing Weekend, visit www.ksoutdoors.com/fishing and click “Where To Fish” for a list of fishing locations near you. You can also check out the 2016 Fishing Forecast and the Weekly Fishing Reports to you decide where to fish.

 

After you’ve found an ideal spot or two, consult the 2016 Kansas Fishing Regulations Summary prior to hitting the water. The summary contains vital information specific to all public waters and even includes color illustrations to help identify fish. View an electronic version at www.ksoutdoors.com/fishing, or pick up a hard-copy wherever licenses are sold.

 

With the right location, a variety of baits to choose from, and some cooperative weather, Kansas fishing can be a blast. Give it a try; we bet you’ll be hooked.

Agencies cooperate to control carp In Milford Reservoir

 

The Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism (KDWPT) is working with the Kansas Department of Health and Environment to remove carp from Milford Reservoir. Research indicates large numbers of carp can increase the potential for harmful blue-green algae blooms because of the sediment the fish stir up while feeding.

 

KDWPT fisheries biologists work diligently to control sport fish numbers through stocking, habitat enhancement and regulations such as creel and length limits. However, large populations of nonsport, or rough, fish such as carp and buffalo are more difficult to manage and can negatively impact the populations of more desirable species. Carp and buffalo are difficult for anglers to catch because of the fish’s diet and eating habits, nor are they desired or targeted by anglers. Buffalo are filter feeders, eating zooplankton, and carp are bottom feeders, eating zooplankton, insects, crustaceans and worms. In addition to increasing water turbidity and potential for blue-green algae blooms, large populations of these rough fish compete for space and food with sport fish.

 

Through a bid process, a commercial fisherman is contracted to catch and remove rough fish from Kansas reservoirs. The removal process usually takes place when large numbers of carp and buffalo can be caught without impacting sport fish. Commercial fishing operations are going on this spring at Milford, and anglers may see nets in the upper end.

 

At times, the market for the meat of certain rough fish species makes the effort profitable. However, KDWPT subsidizes the removal of carp, paying for each pound of carp removed and ensuring that commercial efforts continue even when markets are down.

 

Agency officials hope that removing carp from Milford will improve water quality and reduce the potential for blue-green algae blooms, while also providing benefits to sport fish.

Playa Recharge Summit provides answers to common questions

 

Playas are a major source of recharge to the Ogallala Aquifer, contributing up to 95 percent of inflow of water to the aquifer and improving the quality of that water. For those who may have doubts, it was confirmed by 14 playa experts who participated in Playa Lakes Joint Venture’s (PLJV) Playa Recharge Summit last November. The Summit was designed to get answers to questions often heard by those working in playa conservation: “How much groundwater recharge goes through playas?” “How long till the water reaches the aquifer?” and “Will that water benefit me directly?”

 

The scientists and researchers concurred that playas recharge the aquifer at the rates described in the USGS Recharge Rates and Chemistry Beneath Playas Literature Review (Gurdak and Roe, 2009), which is about 3 inches per year, on average. While they agreed that this rate was not fast enough to counter the amount of withdrawals due to irrigation agriculture, they also agreed that the amount of recharge could support a small family farm, a rainfed (or dryland) production system or a grazing system. They also recommended recharge through playas be incorporated into water conservation plans for municipalities that depend on the aquifer.

 

In addition, the benefit of a healthy playa —a playa with a grass buffer and no hydrological modifications such as pits or ditches — goes beyond simple recharge. The water that reaches the aquifer through playas is cleaner than water that enters through other channels, such as through upland soils or from around center pivot wells. Playas are wetlands and thus provide the same water cleaning services as other wetlands. Sediment, and the attached pesticide contaminants, are removed from water flowing overland through a grass buffer. After the water reaches the playa basin, denitrification occurs with the help of soil bacteria. The result is high quality water reaching the aquifer that can then be used by those living on the land.

 

As part of the Summit, a number of communication messages were discussed and vetted by the participants. PLJV then developed messaging that can be used by the Joint Venture partnership and those talking about playa conservation. The full report and a tip sheet on communicating about playas and recharge are available as part of PLJV’s Playas & Recharge Communications Kit. The downloadable zip file also includes the USGS Recharge Rates and Chemistry Beneath Playas Literature Review (both the executive summary and full report) and a Playas and Ogallala Aquifer fact sheet that can be printed and distributed.

 

The Playa Recharge Summit was funded in part by the Great Plains Landscape Conservation Cooperative. Participants included 14 scientists and researchers who study various aspects of playas — including hydrology, wildlife ecology, economics and communications.

 

Get Report & Communications Kit

 

Outdoor writers challenge to benefit disabled veterans

 

The Outdoor Writers of Kansas (OWK) organization recently donated $1,000 to help purchase hunting and fishing licenses for Kansas disabled military veterans. OWK challenges all organizations to match or beat their donation.

 

Each fiscal year, the Kansas Legislature appropriates funding to the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism (KDWPT) to provide hunting and fishing licenses for Kansas military veterans with service-related disabilities of 30 percent or more. Initially the funding was adequate, but as the number of veteran license applications has increased, the funding has run out before the end of the fiscal year. When that happens, KDWPT uses donations to pay for licenses. Currently, there are several hundred unfilled veteran license applications awaiting funding.

 

Anyone can donate, and hunters and anglers who purchase licenses online can check a donation box. Any individual or organization interested in helping can mail a donation made out to WildTrust, specifying the Disabled Veterans License account. Checks can be mailed to KDWPT, c/o WildTrust, 512 SE 25th Ave., Pratt, KS 67124. Visit www.ksoutdoors.com/License-Permits-Veteran-Hunting-and-Fishing-Licenses for more information.

 

OWK is a nonprofit professional organization made up of members dedicated to communicating about Kansas’ hunting, fishing, and other outdoor and wildlife-related recreation. Members meet twice a year and raise money to send youngsters to the Kansas Wildlife Federation’s Outdoor Adventure Camp, purchase equipment for the KDWPT Pass It On youth program, the Steve Harper OWK/Kansas Wildscape scholarship, as well as other outdoor programs.

Leave wildlife wild

 

It’s human nature to “save” a young animal that appears abandoned or lost. However, when a person with good intentions picks up a baby bird, squirrel, or deer, the young animal is usually as good as dead. The best option is always to leave them alone and let nature take its course, even though it’s not always pretty. Often, the young animal is still being cared for by its parents and will have a better chance of surviving if simply left alone.

 

Unless you’re a licensed wildlife rehabilitator, it is not legal to possess live wild animals. And it can be dangerous because they may carry rabies or distemper. Wild animals commonly have fleas and ticks, which can transmit blood-borne diseases, and they carry bacteria, roundworms, tapeworms, mites and other protozoans that     could infect humans and their pets.

 

Unfortunately, fawn deer are commonly “saved” by people who find them alone and assume they’ve been abandoned. Most of the time, the doe is nearby, but the mother instinctively stays away from her newborn except at feeding time to avoid drawing the attention of predators. Fawns are scentless and survive by holding absolutely still, even when humans approach.

 

Storms may blow young birds out of their nests. If the young have feathers and can perch, place them back in a tree or shrub, away from cats or other pets. The parents will still care for them. And don’t worry, they’ll care for them even if you touch them. Birds have a very poor sense of smell and human touch won’t drive the parents away. If you find a nest with featherless nestlings, place it in a plastic bowl and back in the tree. This will be their best chance of survival.

 

Enjoy watching wildlife this spring, especially if you see youngsters. But make a pact to leave them alone. Let nature take its course and know they have the best chance of survival by staying wild.

U.S. won’t appeal court rulings on lesser prairie-chicken

 

Fish and Wildlife Service to reassess status of species

 

By The Associated Press

 

The U.S. government said May 11 that it won’t appeal recent court rulings in Texas that stripped the lesser prairie-chicken of federal protection under the Endangered Species Act.

 

The Fish and Wild Service said in an emailed statement that the Justice Department filed a motion Tuesday to dismiss its appeal of rulings in September 2015 and February 2016 by the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas. That court ruled that the Fish and Wildlife Service failed to make a proper evaluation of a conservation plan from affected states when the agency listed the lesser prairie-chicken as threatened.

 

The Fish and Wildlife Service said despite seeking to drop the appeal, it “intends to reassess the status of the species based on the court’s ruling and the best available scientific data.”

“The USFWS will continue working with states, other federal agencies, and partners on efforts to conserve the lesser prairie-chicken across its range,” the statement said.

 

Oil and gas groups had opposed the threatened listing. The Permian Basin Petroleum Association said it would impede operations and cost companies hundreds of millions of dollars in oil and gas development in one of the country’s most prolific basins, the Permian Basin in the Texas Panhandle and eastern New Mexico.

 

The lesser prairie chicken’s Great Plains habitat has shrunk by more than 80 percent since the 1800s, and its population by 99 percent. It lives primarily in Kansas, but also in Texas, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Colorado. About 95 percent of the bird’s range is on private lands.

 

In an effort to keep the bird off the endangered species list, the five states organized their own conservation program, offering economic incentives to landowners and companies that set aside land. Still, the Fish and Wildlife Service last year designated the lesser prairie-chicken as threatened, one step beneath endangered status. The classification means federal officials think the bird soon will be in danger of extinction.

 

Kansas Republican Sen. Pat Roberts, who has long opposed listing the bird for federal protection, noted the Fish and Wildlife Service’s intention to reassess the bird’s status.

 

“We have certainly not seen the last of the Obama administration’s regulatory agenda,” Roberts said.

 

The Center for Biological Diversity, which filed a lawsuit in 2014 seeking to force the federal government into more aggressive steps to preserve the lesser prairie chicken, said it was disappointed with the Fish and Wildlife Service.

 

“My fear is that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has gotten into the routine of bending over backward to do whatever conservative Western states want it to do to such a point that it cannot appeal court orders won by those states against it,” Kieran Suckling, executive director of the nonprofit environmental group, said.

 

He added that the agency’s statement that it will review the bird’s status is “just an excuse to pretend they’re still taking action” and that a review can take years and even decades.

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