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Back-to-back birding events coming up

 

Kansas bird enthusiasts, get your pens and keyboards ready because two exciting events in April and May should be on your calendars. The 2016 Kansas Birding Festival will be held April 29-30 at the United Methodist Church, Wakefield, at the north end of Milford Lake. Highlights of this event include guided field trips to the lake area marshes, parks and woodlands; finger food, wine and cheese reception at Tom’s Taxidermy in Wakefield; early morning field trips to see and hear the booming of greater prairie chickens on Saturday; and a banquet, featuring Dr. David Rintoul of Kansas State University, giving festival attendees an insight on birdlife and bird conservation efforts in New Zealand.

 

Local experts will also give attendees advice on best locations for those who wish to explore the area on their own.

 

The second organized birding event that is a must-do is the Kansas Ornithological Society’s (KOS) spring meeting, May 6-8 at Camp Horizon, just east of Arkansas City. This traveling annual spring event provides opportunities for birders to experience Kansas birding during one of the best bird watching weekends of the year. The event will kick off with a welcome reception at Camp Horizon Friday evening and include all-day fieldtrips on Saturday, and half-day trips on Sunday led by enthusiastic experts.

 

The Saturday evening program, “Wildlife Down Under,” will feature a presentation from Bob Gress, retired director of the Wichita Great Plains Nature Center, who will share his recent experiences observing and photographing wildlife in Australia.

 

If you’re excited about Kansas birds, don’t miss out on these opportunities to meet folks with a shared passion, and experience some great birding!

 

For more information on the 2016 Kansas Birding Festival and to register, visit http://ksbirds.org/KBF2016.htm

 

For more information on the KOS spring meeting and to register, visit http://ksbirds.org/kos/KOS_Spring_2016.html

 

2016 Fishing Forecast ready for anglers

 

Anglers like to keep their best fishing holes secret, but that’s hard to do now that the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism (KDWPT) produces the annual fishing forecast. The forecast is a compilation of data gathered by KDWPT district fisheries biologists throughout the year. The data comes from sampling efforts, including test netting, electroshocking and creel surveys. The forecast presents this data in a format that lets anglers find waters that contain their favorite species in both good numbers and the size they prefer.

 

For example, if you like to catch crappie, you can use the forecast to find a reservoir, lake or pond where the biologist found lots of crappie during sampling efforts last fall. A quick look at the reservoir category for white crappie shows that John Redmond Reservoir is ranked No. 1 for Density Rating, which is the number of crappie longer than 8 inches caught per unit of sampling effort. If you’re more interested in quality-sized crappie, then look at the Preferred rating, which is the number of fish caught during sampling that were 10 inches long or longer. Again, John Redmond is No. 1, by a large margin. Two-thirds of the fish sampled in John Redmond last fall were longer than 10 inches. The Lunker Rating (crappie longer than 12 inches) for this lake is also No. 1 among Kansas reservoirs. So, John Redmond will be a great place to catch crappie this year, both in terms of numbers and size.

 

Theoretically, a reservoir with a Density Rating of 32 will have twice as many crappie 8 inches long or longer than a lake with a Density Rating of 16. However, there are often other factors that may influence sampling results, and some lakes may not be sampled every year, so the forecast includes other ratings such as the Biologist’s Rating. A biologist may feel that the numbers don’t accurately reflect the fish population, so they enter a rating of Excellent, Good, Fair or Poor. The Three-year Average is there because a lake may not have been sampled this past year. It shows an average of the past three years of Density Ratings. And finally, there is a Biggest Fish rating, which simply lists the biggest fish caught during sampling.

 

Anglers can view the forecast at www.ksoutdoors.com, and in printed brochures that will soon be available at KDWPT offices. Use the 2016 Fishing Forecast to find your own fishing hot spots this spring.

Thirty-two fishing spots to catch trout in Kansas

 

We know what you’re thinking: trout in Kansas? Impossible. But, it’s true. While these spotted beauties may not be native to the Sunflower state, that doesn’t mean anglers fishing in Kansas can’t enjoy luring one ashore this winter. Thanks to a special program offered by the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism, anglers can catch stocked rainbow trout at more than 30 public waters across the state. Trout are stocked in a total of 32 spots during the trout season, which is open through April 15. Waters are categorized as Type 1, which require all anglers to possess a $14.50 trout permit, and Type 2, which require only those fishing for or possessing trout to purchase the permit.

 

The $14.50 permit is valid for the calendar year and can be purchased wherever licenses are sold and online at ksoutdoors.com. In addition to the trout permit, resident anglers age 16-74 and nonresidents 16 and older must also have a fishing license. Unless posted otherwise, the daily creel limit is 5 trout. Anglers 15 and younger do not need a trout permit, but they may only keep two trout per day.

 

TYPE 1 WATERS: TROUT PERMITS REQUIRED OF ALL ANGLERS

Cedar Bluff Stilling Basin

Dodge City Lake Charles

Fort Scott Gun Park Lake

Glen Elder State Park (SP) Pond

Kanopolis Seep Stream

KDOT East Lake in Wichita

Lake Henry in Clinton SP

Mined Land Wildlife Area (WA) Unit #30

Pratt Centennial Pond

Walnut River Area in El Dorado SP

Willow Lake at Tuttle Creek SP

Webster Stilling Basin

Sandsage Bison Range and WA Sandpits (Periodically Dry)

Vic’s Lake and Slough Creek in Sedgwick County Park

Topeka Auburndale Park

Garnett Crystal Lake

 

TYPE 2 WATERS: TROUT PERMITS REQUIRED ONLY FOR TROUT ANGLERS

Sherman County Smoky Gardens Lake (Periodically Dry)

Solomon River between Webster Reservoir and Rooks County #2 Road

Fort Riley Cameron Springs

Lake Shawnee - Topeka

Salina Lakewood Lake

Moon Lake on Fort Riley

Scott SP Pond

Hutchinson Dillon Nature Center Pond

Atchison City Lake # 1

Belleville City Lake (Rocky Pond) (Periodically Dry)

Holton-Elkhorn Lake

Syracuse Sam’s Pond

Cimarron Grasslands Pits

Colby Villa High Lake

Great Bend Vet’s Lake

 

TROUT PERMIT REQUIRED YEAR-ROUND*

Cherokee County – Mined Land WA No. 30

*Because trout survive through the summer here, a trout permit is required year-round for anglers utilizing the lake.

 

Residents 16-74 years old, and all non-residents 16 and older must also have a valid fishing license. The daily creel limit is five trout unless otherwise posted. Anglers 15 and younger may fish without a trout permit, but are limited to two trout per day, or they may purchase a permit and take five trout per day. Possession limit for trout is 15.

 

For information on trout stocking schedules, visit www.ksoutdoors.com and click Fishing/Special Fishing Programs for You/Trout Fishing Program.

Waterfowl enthusiasts invited to Kansas Ducks Unlimited State Convention

 

You don’t have to be a waterfowl hunter, or a hunter at all, to be welcomed at the 2016 Kansas Ducks Unlimited State Convention in Hutchinson, Feb. 19-20. If you have a passion for conserving waterfowl and believe in the magic of a marsh, there’s a seat for you at this fun event. The convention will take place at the Atrium Hotel and Conference Center, 1400 North Lorraine, and rooms can be reserved at a discounted rate by calling (620) 669-9311.

 

Event activities include a kick-off party Friday evening, followed by a Kansas Conservation Update Saturday morning and an awards ceremony and banquet Saturday night. Optional wine tasting will be available for ladies only on Saturday with prior registration, and vendor merchandise will be on sale throughout the two-day event.

 

For more information, and to purchase admission tickets, contact Lynne Rozine at (913) 909-0622.

Look for El Niño surprises during the Great Backyard Bird Count

 

 

From The Outdoor Wire

 

 

With the El Niño weather phenomenon warming Pacific waters to temperatures matching the highest ever recorded, participants in the 2016 Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC), may be in for a few surprises. The 19th annual GBBC is taking place worldwide February 12 through 15. Information gathered and reported online at birdcount.org will help scientists track changes in bird distribution, some of which may be traced to El Niño storms and unusual weather patterns.

 

“The most recent big El Niño took place during the winter of 1997-98,” says the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s Marshall Iliff, a leader of the eBird program which collects worldwide bird counts year-round and also provides the backbone for the GBBC. “The GBBC was launched in February 1998 and was pretty small at first. This will be the first time we’ll have tens of thousands of people doing the count during a whopper El Niño.”

“We’ve seen huge storms in western North America plus an unusually mild and snow-free winter in much of the Northeast,” notes Audubon chief scientist Gary Langham. “And we’re seeing birds showing up in unusual places, such as a Great Kiskadee in South Dakota, as well as unseasonal records like Orchard Oriole and Chestnut-sided Warbler in the Northeast. We’re curious to see what other odd sightings might be recorded by volunteers during this year’s count.”

Though rarities and out-of-range species are exciting, it’s important to keep track of more common birds, too. Many species around the world are in steep decline and tracking changes in distribution and numbers over time is vital to determine if conservation measures are needed. Everyone can play a role.

“Citizen-science projects like the Great Backyard Bird Count are springing up all over the world,” says Jon McCracken, national program manager at Bird Studies Canada. “More and more, scientists are relying on observations from the public to help them gather data at a scale they could never achieve before. The GBBC is a great way to get your feet wet: you can count birds for as little as 15 minutes on one day or watch for many hours each day at multiple locations-you choose your level of involvement.”

Learn more about how to take part in the Great Backyard Bird Count at birdcount.org. The GBBC is a joint project of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the National Audubon Society with  partner Bird Studies Canada and is made possible in part by sponsor Wild Birds Unlimited.

Sign up for women-only workshop to Become an Outdoor Pro

 

If you’ve ever wanted to pick up a bow and hit a bullseye, pitch a tent without any help, clean a fish you caught, or start a fire in no time flat, sign up for the 2016 Spring Becoming An Outdoors-Woman (BOW) workshop May 13-15. Participants of BOW will spend a weekend away at Camp Wood YMCA in Elmdale learning anything and everything they want to about the outdoors. And the best part is, there’s no pressure.

 

Offered through the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism, BOW is designed to teach women outdoor skills in a fun, friendly, and laid-back atmosphere. With 27 different classes to choose from, participants can have fun mixing and matching the topics they learn about.

Cost for the three-day workshop is $235, which includes lodging, meals and class supplies. Three $100 scholarships are available to first-time participants based on financial need.

 

Early registration will be open to first-time participants through March 27. If spots still remain, past participants may register beginning March 28. Applicants are encouraged to apply early as the spring workshop is limited to 40 participants. To register, visit www.ksoutdoors.com and click “Education,” then “Becoming an Outdoors Woman.”

 

For questions, call or email Jami McCabe at (785) 845-5052 or kansasbow@sbcglobal.net.

 

To learn more, and view pictures of past workshops, visit the BOW Facebook page found under “Becoming an Outdoors Woman KANSAS.”

 

Get an eye on eagles Jan. 16

 

If you’ve never watched a bald eagle soar across a powder-blue Kansas sky, or witnessed a flock of the nation’s treasured symbol perched on a tree like nature’s very own Christmas ornaments, the staff at Milford Lake have an opportunity for you.

 

Eagle Day at Milford Lake, an annual event that provides visitors a chance to view eagles and eagles’ nests in a natural setting, will be held Jan. 16, beginning at 9 a.m. and everyone is welcome to join.

 

Participants will meet at the Milford Nature Center, 3415 Hatchery Drive, Junction City, where a variety of bus tours and programs will be conducted. Programs featuring live raptors, owls, nesting eagles, and birds of prey will begin at 9:15 a.m. and will be repeated throughout the day.

 

Bus tours will depart from the nature center parking lot every half-hour beginning at 9 a.m. with the last tour departing at 2 p.m. Popcorn and hot chocolate will be served courtesy of the Milford Friends Group, and a kids’ tent with activities and crafts will be available. There is no cost. For more information, call (785) 238-5323.

2016 Fishing Regulations Summary available online

 

A new year means new seasons ahead, and it’s never too early to start planning. Anglers with an itch to get the low-down on all things fishing related in Kansas this year should check out the online version of the 2016 Kansas Fishing Regulations Summary. Simply visit ksoutdoors.com and click “Fishing / Fishing Regulations” to download your copy of the free, easy-to-use, full-color pamphlet. Printed copies will be available wherever licenses are sold by mid-January.

Apart from a helpful section highlighting new regulations for the 2016 season, the summary also includes information on important fishing regulations such as special seasons, creel and length limits, license fees and legal fishing methods. Because creel and length limits vary from lake to lake, the2016 Kansas Fishing Regulations Summary is a must-read for all anglers.

The summary also lists all public waters, along with their location and any special regulations in effect. At the turn of a page, anglers can see which community lakes don’t charge extra fees for fishing, as well as community lakes designated as Family Friendly Facilities (FFF) that will include flush toilet facilities, security patrols, security lighting, easy access to the water and do not allow alcohol.

Anglers can also read up on aquatic nuisance species (ANS), as well as regulations governing the use of live baitfish. Select pages are devoted to fish identification, featuring color illustrations by renowned fish illustrator Joe Tomelleri. Current state record fish are listed, and there is also a Master Angler Award Application for anglers who catch fish that qualify for this certificate award program.

For more information on Kansas fishing, visit www.ksoutdoors.com/Fishing .

2016 Fish Consumption Advisories issued

 

The Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) and the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism (KDWPT) are issuing revised fish consumption advisories for 2016. The advisories identify types of fish or other aquatic animals that should be eaten in limited quantities or, in some cases, avoided altogether because of contamination. General advice is also provided to aid the public in making informed decisions regarding the benefits as well as the risks associated with eating locally caught fish from Kansas waters.

Statewide Advisories

The following consumption restrictions are recommended because of mercury in fish:

Women who are pregnant, may become pregnant, or are nursing and children age 17 or younger should restrict consumption of all types of locally caught fish, from waters or species of fish not specifically covered by an advisory, to one meal per week because of mercury.

Women who are pregnant, may become pregnant, or are nursing and children age 17 or younger should restrict consumption of largemouth, smallmouth, and spotted bass (black basses) to one meal per month because of mercury.

The general public (men and women 18 or older)should restrict consumption of these species to one meal per week because of mercury.

Recommendations include not eating specified fish or aquatic life from the following locations:

  1. The Kansas River from Lawrence (below Bowersock Dam) downstream to Eudora at the confluence of the Wakarusa River (Douglas and Leavenworth counties); bottom-feeding fish such as buffalo, carp, carpsuckers, catfishes (except flathead catfish), sturgeons, and suckers because of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs).
  2. The Spring River from the confluence of Center Creek to the Kansas/Oklahoma border (Cherokee County); shellfish because of lead and cadmium.
  3. Shoal Creek from the Missouri/Kansas border to Empire Lake (Cherokee County); shellfish because of lead and cadmium.
  4. Cow Creek in Hutchinson and downstream to the confluence with the Arkansas River (Reno County); bottom-feeding fish such as buffalo, carp, carpsuckers, catfishes (except flathead catfish), sturgeons, and suckers because of PCBs.
  5. The Arkansas River from the Lincoln Street Dam in Wichita downstream to the confluence with Cowskin Creek near Belle Plaine (Sedgwick and Sumner counties); bottom-feeding fish such as buffalo, carp, carpsuckers, catfishes (except flathead catfish), sturgeons, and suckers because of PCBs.
  6. Antioch Park Lake South in Antioch Park, Overland Park (Johnson County); all fish because of the pesticides dieldrin, heptachlor epoxide, chlordane, and dichlorophenyltrichloroethanes (DDTs).

Consumption of bottom-feeding fish such as buffalo, carp, carpsuckers, catfishes (except flathead catfish), sturgeons, and suckers should be restricted to one meal per month from the following location because of PCBs:

  1. The Little Arkansas River from the Main Street Bridge immediately west of Valley Center to the confluence with the Arkansas River in Wichita (Sedgwick County).

Women who are pregnant, may become pregnant, or are nursing and children age 17 or younger should consider restricting their total mercury intake for both supermarket fish and locally caught species. Concerned parents and other persons may wish to consult with a physician about eating fish and mercury exposure. Mercury exposure can be reduced by limiting the consumption of large predatory fish.  Larger/older fish of all types are more likely to have higher concentrations of mercury. Avoid the consumption of fish parts other than fillets, especially when eating bottom-feeding fish. Fatty internal organs tend to accumulate higher levels of fat-soluble contaminants such as chlordane and PCBs than fillets. Consumers can reduce their ingestion of fat-soluble contaminants such as chlordane and PCBs by trimming fat from fillets, and cooking in a manner in which fat drips away from the fillet. In waterbodies where watches or warnings related to harmful algae blooms have been applied, fish should be consumed in moderation and care taken to only consume skinless fillets. Avoid cutting into internal organs and rinse fillets with clean water prior to cooking or freezing.

To view the advisories online and for information about KDHE’s Fish Tissue Contaminant Monitoring Program, visit www.kdheks.gov/befs/fish_tissue_monitoring.htm

Application period for Unit 4 spring turkey permits Jan. 12-Feb. 12

 

It may not be spring yet, but it’s time to prep like it is. The application period for those looking to hunt turkeys in Unit 4 this spring begins Jan. 12. Spring turkey permits are sold over-the-counter or online for all but the southwest portion of Kansas, Unit 4. A limited number of permits are issued to residents only through a lottery drawing. Hunters can apply online only, or over the phone, from Jan. 12-Feb. 12 by visiting ksoutdoors.com. Hunters may apply for a Unit 4 Spring Turkey Permit or a Unit 4 Spring Turkey Permit/Game Tag Combo; however the game tag will only be valid in Units 1, 2, 3, 5, and 6.

 

Five hundred Unit 4 permits will be made available for the 2016 spring season, with half of those permits designated as landowner/tenant permits. Kansas youth (15 and under) may purchase a spring turkey permit valid statewide over the counter or online and will not need to enter the Unit 4 draw. Unit 4 spring turkey permits are also valid in adjacent Units 1, 2, and 5.

 

Unit 4 Spring Turkey Application Fees:

General Application: $32.50

Landowner/Tenant Application: $20.00

General Combo Permit/Game Tag Application: $42.50

Landowner/Tenant Combo Permit/Game Tag Application: $25.00

Nonresident Tenant Application: $ 37.50

Nonresident Tenant Combo Permit/Game Tag Application:  $50.00

Preference Point only: $6.50

 

There is a $6.50 nonrefundable application fee. Unsuccessful applicants will receive a refund check and be issued a preference point. If you do not want to apply for a permit and want to purchase a preference point only, you may do so online by selecting Spring Turkey Preference Point Application. Only one point may be obtained per year.

 

Any individual who has purchased a Spring Turkey Permit is eligible for one Second Turkey Game Tag. Game tags are valid in Units 1, 2, 3, 5 and 6 ONLY.

 

The spring turkey season will open April 1-12 for youth and hunters with disabilities, and April 4-12 for archery hunters. The regular spring season is April 13-May 31.

 

For more information, visit www.ksoutdoors.com, or call (620) 672-5911.