Daily Archives: February 16, 2017

National Fish and Wildlife Foundation grant to benefit Lesser Prairie-chickens


The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) has awarded a grant to the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (WAFWA) to restore lesser prairie-chicken habitat. The $197,309.25 grant is funded through NFWF’s ConocoPhillips SPIRIT of Conservation and Innovation Program.


“We appreciate our partnership with NFWF and ConocoPhillips and look forward to applying these funds as we continue to implement the Lesser Prairie-chicken Rangewide Plan,” said Alexa Sandoval, Director of the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish and Chairman of the Lesser Prairie-chicken Initiative Council. “Restoration work is key to the long-term survival of the bird and this grant will contribute to the combined efforts to keep the bird off the endangered species list.”


The bird was listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act in 2014, but was de-listed in 2016 after a federal judge ruled on a lawsuit and vacated the listing. The judge ruled that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service did not thoroughly consider active conservation efforts in making the listing decision, namely the activities associated with WAFWA’s Lesser Prairie-chicken Rangewide Plan. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is currently reviewing the status of the lesser prairie-chicken across its five-state range to determine whether it should be listed again.


The NFWF grant will fund restoration work on up to 1,000 acres of private land that will connect larger fragmented pieces of prairie-chicken habitat. Good habitat must be contiguous to benefit lesser prairie-chickens.


“The rangewide plan calls for us to focus our efforts as strategically as possible,” said Bill Van Pelt, WAFWA Grassland Coordinator. “By connecting good bird habitat, more acreage will be available for the birds to thrive.”


The rangewide plan is a collaborative effort of WAFWA and the state wildlife agencies of Kansas, Colorado, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas. It was developed to ensure conservation of the lesser prairie-chicken by providing a mechanism for voluntary cooperation by landowners and industry, and improving coordination between state and federal conservation agencies. Funding for WAFWA’s conservation efforts comes from voluntary mitigation payments by industry partners that are enrolled in the plan, along with grants from partners like NFWF. The plan allows agriculture producers and industry to continue operations while reducing impacts to the bird and its grassland habitat.


For more info on NFWF’s ConocoPhillips SPIRIT of Conservation and Innovation Program, visit www.nfwf.org/spirit/Pages/home.aspx

Light Goose Conservation Order open now


Waterfowl hunting addicts may be having withdrawals since the duck seasons closed on Jan. 29 and regular goose seasons closed Feb. 12. But they will find temporary relief in the Light Goose Conservation Order, which is open Feb. 13-April 30, 2017. In an effort to reduce the population of snow and Ross’ geese, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) authorized this special hunting season for light geese.


To increase hunter success, the conservation order authorizes hunting methods not allowed during the regular seasons, including the use of electronic calls and unplugged shotguns. Extended shooting hours are one-half hour before sunrise to one-half hour after sunset. And there is no daily bag or possession limits.


The conservation order was first established in 1999 when it was determined that the population of light geese had increased more than 300 percent since the mid-1970s. Extraordinary numbers of geese have denuded portions of their fragile tundra breeding habitat in the arctic, which may take decades to recover. And the damage is impacting other bird species that nest there, including semi-palmated sandpipers and red-necked phalaropes.


For more information on this season, visit www.ksoutdoors.com and click on “Hunting/When to Hunt/Migratory Birds.”

Kansas Wildlife, Parks and Tourism gets new licensing system


In late February, the computer license sales and reservation system the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism (KDWPT) has used for many years will be no more. A new and improved system, provided by Active Network, will go into full operation. Active Network has provided the software and point-of-sale hardware for 11 years that allowed KDWPT to accept campsite and cabin reservations and sell licenses online, maintaining all license records electronically. That contract expired and a new contract, with some changes, is now in place.


License buyers and campers won’t notice a big difference; however, the current license sales system will shut down at 9:45 p.m. on Feb. 18, and the new system will be online at 8 a.m. on Feb. 22. No license or permit sales will be available through the system for roughly three days. The campsite and cabin reservation system will shut down at 12:01 a.m., Feb. 20 and go back online at 6 p.m., Feb. 21.


While it may be inconvenient for anyone who tries to buy a license or make a reservation during the downtime, this time is important to allow data to be transferred, configurations to be completed and to ensure everything is working properly before going live. The new system will retain the KDWPT numbers of everyone who purchased a hunting or fishing license in the old system, and there will be no changes in pricing.


The new system will provide some advantages to users, including allowing customers to purchase hunting and fishing licenses at the same time they make camping or cabin reservations. It will allow customers to reprint licenses within 48 hours if they were unable to print during the transaction. Other features include allowing customers to browse available licenses and permits before they make a purchase, buy licenses or permits for multiple years when available (such as buying a 2017 hunting license and a 2016 HIP stamp) and logging in with an email address to edit personal information on record such as address and phone number.


One significant change with the new system involves permits that have carcass tags attached, such as deer, turkey, elk, and antelope, which could have been purchased from home and printed out on a desktop printer under the old system. This caused many issues for Law Enforcement since there was no way to prohibit someone from printing multiple carcass tags with one permit. In the new system, permits with carcass tags will have to be purchased and issued through a license agent or over the phone, in which case the permit/carcass tag will be mailed to the customer.

Tuttle Creek State Park selected for BlueCHIP award


Tuttle Creek State Park near Manhattan was recently chosen to receive a $2,500 BlueCHIP Award by BlueCross BlueShield of Kansas (BCBSKS) and the Kansas Recreation and Parks Association (KRPA). BlueCHIP Awards are issued through a community health improvement program created seven years ago by KRPA and BCBSKS to recognize and reward Kansas communities that encourage and support healthy lifestyles through programs, initiatives, policies and/or community-wide events.


In addition to Tuttle Creek State Park, communities recognized this year include Baldwin City, Derby, City of Lindsborg, Shawnee County – Topeka, and Wellington. Each received $2,500 to assist with continued efforts to improve the health of their communities. The awards were presented at the 2017 KRPA Annual Conference and Trade Show in Manhattan.


According to Tuttle Creek State Park manager Todd Lovin, the BlueChip award will be used to purchase additional canoes, kayaks and paddling equipment. The state park sponsors several floats on the Kansas River each year, and boats and equipment are made available to those who don’t have their own.


Tuttle Creek State Park includes four units (River Pond, Fancy Creek, Cedar Ridge and Randolph) around Tuttle Creek Reservoir. In addition to a swimming beach, boat ramps, courtesy docks and dump stations, the park offers 159 water/electric campsites, eight electric/water/sewer campsites, 24 electric-only campsites, 500 primitive campsites and 11 rental cabins. Activities offered include hiking, biking and equestrian trails; disc golf; volleyball; horseshoes; a state-of-the-art shooting range; and archery range. Learn more about Tuttle Creek State Park at www.ksoutdoors.com or call the park office at 785-539-7941.

Apply now for spring turkey special hunts


It’s still early to think about scouting turkeys for the spring season because the big birds are still in their winter flocks. However, it’s not too early to be thinking about finding a place to hunt. One way to find a great hunting spot is through the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism’s (KDWPT) Special Hunts Program.


There are 84 spring turkey hunts offered this year with a total of 165 Special Hunt permits available. Twenty-five are Mentor Hunts, 29 are Open Hunts and 30 are Youth Hunts. Hunters must apply online by March 6, 2017 to be drawn for a hunt. There’s no fee to apply, and the draw is open to residents and nonresidents. Apply at http://ksoutdoors.com/Hunting/Special-Hunts-Information.


Special hunts are part of KDWPT’s recruitment and retention program, Pass It On. These hunts are conducted on department lands, including state parks, wildlife areas, and refuges. The hunts also occur on Walk-in Hunting Areas; national wildlife refuges; city and county properties; and other locations where access may be limited. The hunts limit the number of participants to ensure high-quality experiences.


Open Hunts are open to all persons with no age or experience restrictions. Youth Hunts are open to youth16 and younger, who must be accompanied by adult mentors 18 or older (adults may not hunt). Mentor Hunts are open to youth and/or inexperienced (novice) hunters who are each supervised by a licensed adult mentor. Both the novice and mentor may hunt. Several hunts allow for additional hunters to accompany a permit holder.


Successful applicants will be notified by email shortly after the computer-generated drawing has occurred. Special Hunt permits only provide access, so hunters must purchase all necessary licenses, permits and have hunter education certification, unless exempt.


The 2017 Spring Turkey Season opens April 1-11, 2017 for youth and hunters with disabilities; April 3-11, 2017 for archery only; and April 12-May 31, 2017 for the regular season. Permits and game tags are available over the counter for all turkey management units except Unit 4. Hunters who have purchased a spring turkey permit may also purchase a second turkey game tag valid in units 1, 2, 3, 5 and 6. For information on permits, regulations and other spring turkey hunting opportunities, visit ksoutdoors.com and click “Hunting,” then “Turkey Information.”