Join National Wildlife Federation’s 11th annual Great American Campout


Tens of thousands of people across the nation will be camping for a cause on Saturday with the kickoff of the 11th Annual National Wildlife Federation Great American Campout. In conjunction with Great Outdoors Month, the annual event runs through September 7, 2015 encouraging people of all ages to camp in their parks, campgrounds, backyards and neighborhoods as a way to reconnect with nature.

“Spending time in America’s great outdoors is not only a chance to renew our own spirit, it’s a chance to inspire our next generation of outdoor enthusiasts and public land stewards,” said Collin O’Mara, president and CEO of National Wildlife Federation, who’ll be taking part in his home state’s Delaware Capital Campout. “That’s why I spend as much time as I can camping, hiking and fishing with my daughter – to share the rejuvenating conservation values and love for the natural world that my parents instilled in me. This helps us live the adage that we only conserve what we love, love what we understand, and understand what we are taught.”

To participate, National Wildlife Federation asks people of all ages to pledge to camp or get outdoors anywhere – a forest, a local park, or their own backyards – at least once this summer. The event website at NWF.org/Campout provides all the information needed, including a directory of public Great American Campout locations, tips on what to bring, lists of campout activities and recipes, and more. Campers are encouraged to take #Campies (Camping Selfies) and submit them to NWF’s Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages to share their experiences.

Nick Offerman, star of NBC’s Parks & Recreation, serves as Official Celebrity Spokesman in promotional online and print ads for the cause. “Of course it’s great. It’s camping. And it’s American,” said Offerman.

Activities and highlights of Great American Campout 2015 include:

  • Virginia: All 36 of the Virginia State Parks will be hosting a Great American Campout. There will be parks with special overnight campout events, parks that offer campsites visitors can reserve with related programming on Saturday and Sunday, and a few of our day use parks with programs only. Please find more information here.
  • California: 5th Annual Discovery Bay Community Campout will be held on June 27 at Cornell Park. Discovery Day has the largest Campout in the nation with more than 2,000 attendees last year. For complete details and registration, please go to this link.
  • NWF Staff: The National Wildlife Federation’s National Advocacy Center in DC is hosting camping, hiking, and good times with NWF staff and friends in Shenandoah National Park on Friday, June 26 through Sunday, June 28 for Great American Campout.
  • Great Outdoors Month and Capital Campouts: Governors are taking an active role in Great Outdoors Month 2015 by hosting young campers at an appropriate location in each state capital. These campouts can be at the governor’s residence, at the state capitol or at an urban green space in the capital city. Here is a listing of Capital Campouts. There are fun and exciting events taking place throughout June (and beyond), please go to: http://www.greatoutdoorsmonth.org.
  • Top 10 Cities for Wildlife: The Top 10 Cities for Wildlife are a great place to Campout. Here is a listing of parks to camp that are great places to get outdoors and see wildlife, especially in cities. Whether a park is 100 acres or 4000 acres, wildlife is sure to be found in the trees, on the ground, in the water. Please check it out here.
  • Share Your Campie: What is a campie? camping + selfie* = campie. *A selfie is a self-portrait photograph or group photograph featuring the photographer, typically taken with a hand-held digital camera or camera phone. Just snap a photo at your next camping adventure and be sure to share it on social media using the hashtags #campie and #campout2015.
  • All Summer Long: Great American Campout is a summer-long celebration of camping as a way to connect with nature and wildlife. This year, top NWF supporters have agreed to donate $1 for every person who participates in the Great American Campout – up to $100,000. These donations will support our ongoing efforts to protect the great outdoors for all Americans. Take the pledge.

The National Wildlife Federation has worked to connect people with nature for decades, inspiring people through is award-winning Ranger Rick, Ranger Rick Jr. and National Wildlife magazines, through numerous outdoor events, and by working with educators to get kids greening their schools and learning outdoors.

The National Wildlife Federation is one of America’s largest and oldest conservation organization inspiring Americans to protect wildlife for our children’s future. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Flathead handfishing season open to adventure-seekers

To explore the unknown and murky depths of a catfish nest, to be willing to wrestle a male flathead to the water’s surface bare-handed, to feel the unforgiving grinding of a bristly tooth patch rubbing against your skin ­- that is handfishing.


“Handfishing is a challenging sport that only a small portion of our anglers are willing to attempt,” said Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism (KDWPT) Fisheries section chief, Doug Nygren. “It’s really a unique opportunity for the adventurers out there.”

Handfishing requires an angler to use their hands as the bait and hook. They will find a suspected catfish hole, barricade possible exits the fish might escape through, stick their arm inside, and lurk around for a catfish mouth to grab. Although somewhat simple in theory, handfishing is an angling technique not for the faint of heart. And according to KDWPT license records, only 578 anglers were willing to take on the sport in 2014.

Adding to the challenge, regulations do not allow man-made objects that attract fish, such as a barrel, box, or bathtub to be used. Handfishing anglers are also prohibited from using snorkel or scuba gear. A stringer may be used, but not until the catfish is caught by hand and is at or above the water’s surface.

Luckily, Kansas is one of a handful of states that offer this special season. With a special permit, anglers can handfish for flathead catfish in select waters from sunrise to sunset June 15-Aug. 31.

Kansas waters open to handfishing include: the entire length of the Arkansas River, all federal reservoirs from beyond 150 yards of the dam to the upstream end of the federal property, and the Kansas River from its origin, downstream to its confluence with the Missouri River.

“These fish are going to be found in areas that have structures beneath the water, like rocks and old trees,” said Nygren. “An angler’s best bet is to try a federal reservoir with rip-rap areas open to handfishing.”

Handfishing permits can be obtained for $27.50 at license vendors, or online at www.ksoutdoors.com/License-Permits.

For more information, consult the 2015 Kansas Fishing Regulations Summary, or visit www.ksoutdoors.com/Fishing.

Two Kansas Hunter Education instructors make Hall of Fame

The Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism is proud to announce two of the Department’s very own hunter education instructors have been inducted into the International Hunter Education Association’s (IHEA-USA) Hall of Fame. Ray Fischer and Dennis Vincent were inducted at the IHEA-USA’s annual conference May 18-21, 2015 in Des Moines, IA. Fischer, a veteran instructor of 20 years, received the Volunteer Hunter Education Hall of Fame Award, and Vincent, a veteran instructor of 25 years, received the Professional Hunter Education Hall of Fame Award.

Fischer became involved with the Kansas Hunter Education program in 1995 serving as an instructor. Just two short years later, he was named an area coordinator. To date, he has served in several capacities, including serving on the program’s advisory committee for the past seven years.

“Fischer makes learning a fun and rewarding adventure for his students,” said nominator and Kansas Hunter Education coordinator, Kent Barrett. “As busy as he is with family, work and other activities, he always finds time to volunteer.”

Vincent, named the 2014 Kansas Hunter Education Instructor of the Year, is also a committed member of the program.

“Dennis is a down-to-earth spokesman for hunting and shooting,” Barrett said of Vincent. “He is able to communicate with everyone from the politician in the statehouse, to the hunting veteran with 30 years of field experience, to the apprehensive mother watching her 12-year-old son shoot a shotgun for the first time.”

IHEA-USA is the professional hunter education association affiliated with the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies and the 50 state fish and hunter education programs. These programs throughout the US utilize 55,000 instructors, many of whom are volunteers, who teach hunting and shooting safety, as well as hunter ethics and responsibilities.

Through the Hall of Fame program, IHEA-USA annually recognizes professionals and volunteers who go “above and beyond” the call of duty to bring hunter safety education to students and instructors in their states; assist IHEA-USA in a manner that exceeds a general effort; and benefit hunter safety education nationally, including involvement within the community as well as with conservation partners and the hunting and shooting sports industries at the state and national levels.

For more information on the IHEA Hall of Fame, visit www.ihea.com.

Two Salina High School students win state fishing championship


Nickolas Davenport and Hunter Baird, members of the Salina Stix Fishing Team, took first place at the 2015 Kansas State High School Fishing Championship at Milford Lake in Junction City May 31. One of 14 teams, the first place duo was able to tip the scales in their favor by reeling in three bass that weighed a combined 6 pounds and 7 ounces. Their first place spot at the championship qualified them for the High School Fishing Southern Conference Championship in Pine Bluff, Ark. this October, and earned them the title of state champions.

Coming in second place were Zach Vielhauer and Nathanial Thompson, members of the Kansas Student Angler Federation, followed by Thomas Heinen and Brock Bila of Hayden High School in third place. Veilhauer and Thompson had a weigh-in of 4 pounds and 6 ounces, followed closely by Heinin and Bila with a weigh-in of 4 pounds and 1 ounce.

For complete results and photos from the tournament, visit highschoolfishing.org.

Persons interested in starting a high school fishing club can visit www.highschoolfishing.org/getting-started/ to learn how.

New film released: Co2ld Waters

We wanted to share with you the release of a new film by Conservation Hawks, a group of hunters and anglers working to defend America’s sporting heritage – – Co2ld Waters, a 10-minute film shot on a spectacular southwestern Montana spring creek, celebrates the joy and passion of fly fishing while discussing threats to the sport, including those of climate change.

About the film: In October 2014, five respected fly fishermen – Craig Mathews of Blue Ribbon Flies, Yvon Chouinard of Patagonia, Steve Hemkens of Orvis, Tim Romano of Angling Trade, and Todd Tanner of Conservation Hawks – came together to fish for wild trout and share their thoughts on angling and climate change. Cold Waters, which is a collaboration between Conservation Hawks and the cinematic team at Conservation Media, focuses on our responsibility to protect cold, clean waters and healthy landscapes, and to stand up for future generations of Americans. The movie has been touring the U.S. as part of the 2015 Fly Fishing Film Tour.

Cold Waters was made with unprecedented support from the fly fishing industry. The film’s sponsors included iconic brands, businesses and organizations like Patagonia, Orvis, Scientific Anglers, Costa, Winston, Sage, RIO, Redington, Abel, AFFTA, National Wildlife Federation, Trout Unlimited, TroutHunter, Linehan Outfitting Co., Sweetwater Travel Co., WorldCast Anglers, Emerald Water Anglers, Hatch Magazine, The Lodge at Palisades Creek, Angling Trade Magazine and Blue Ribbon Flies.

You can watch the film on Vimeo: vimeo.com/124560152 or YouTube: youtu.be/9NSkPWfhdsg.

Contact KWF at [email protected] if you are interested in educational opportunities surrounding the film’s release.

Spring habitat conditions

Significant precipitation will be needed to maintain or improve wetland habitats in many important waterfowl breeding areas

By DU Field Biologists  

  1. BRITISH COLUMBIA Despite a well below-average snowpack along the coast and an early runoff, wetland conditions remain good throughout most of this province.


  1. ALBERTA In the prairie region, below-average runoff will likely result in dry to average wetland conditions. To the north, spring conditions are expected to be average in the aspen parklands, average to wet in the Boreal transition zone, and dry to average in the Peace parklands.


  1. SASKATCHEWAN Runoff in this province started in mid-March, and Canada geese, mallards, northern pintails, and common goldeneyes began arriving by the end of the month. Spring runoff will likely be average in central areas and near average in the south.


  1. MANITOBA Wetland conditions were generally favorable at freeze-up, but below-average winter precipitation and snowpack has limited runoff potential, resulting in mixed wetland conditions in key waterfowl breeding areas.


  1. ONTARIO Despite below-average winter precipitation, a good snowpack was maintained by bitter-cold temperatures. Given that water levels were high at freeze-up, favorable spring wetland conditions are expected across much of this province.


  1. QUEBEC Winter precipitation was also generally below average in this province, but unusually cold temperatures have persisted, which could increase the likelihood of spring flooding in some areas.


  1. ATLANTIC CANADA This region received above-average winter precipitation, and bitter-cold temperatures have delayed the spring runoff. The migration has also been behind schedule, forcing returning waterfowl to congregate on coastal waters.   8. NORTH-CENTRAL U.S. Most northern states received significantly below-average winter snowfall, and an early March thaw melted what snow was present, with little runoff. Central South Dakota is particularly dry in comparison to recent years. In North Dakota, larger, deeper wetlands still have good carryover water, but significant spring precipitation will be needed to supply the temporary and seasonal wetland habitats that are especially important to breeding waterfowl.


  1. GREAT LAKES AND NORTHEASTERN U.S. With timely spring precipitation, overall breeding habitat conditions are expected to be good in these regions. However, if dry conditions prevail, pair ponds will be limited and fair breeding conditions are anticipated.


  1. WESTERN U.S. Continued severe drought has resulted in poor spring habitat conditions in California and much of the Great Basin. In Alaska, the outlook for breeding waterfowl is very good along the coast and good in the interior.

Fight the bite: Tips to prevent tick bites, tick-borne disease

Spring and summer are hunting, fishing, camping, and hiking seasons. It is also the time of year when ticks are out. The Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) and the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism (KDWPT) remind those spending time outdoors to take precautions to avoid tick bites.

In 2014, 212 cases of tick-borne diseases including ehrlichiosis; anaplasmosis; spotted fever rickettsiosis, also known as Rocky Mountain spotted fever; tularemia; and Lyme disease were reported in Kansas, and 75 of those patients required hospitalization. Kansans are encouraged to follow these steps to prevent tick bites: Dress, DEET, Avoid and Check.

DRESS: Wear protective clothing when practical (long sleeves and pants). Clothing should be light-colored to make ticks more visible. When hiking, wear a long-sleeved shirt tucked into pants, long pants tucked into high socks and over-the-ankle shoes to keep ticks out. Products containing permethrin, which kills ticks rather than merely repelling them, can be applied to clothing and equipment but not directly to skin. Garments must be allowed to dry thoroughly before wearing. Clothing and tents pre-treated with permethrin are available, and the protection can remain active through several washings. Be sure to follow label directions.

DEET: Insect repellents also reduce the risk of being bitten. When outdoors, use insect repellant containing 20 percent to 30 percent DEET on exposed skin and clothing for protection that lasts up to several hours. Follow the directions on the label. Other repellents registered by the Environmental Protection Agency can be found at http://cfpub.epa.gov/oppref/insect/.

AVOID: Ticks are usually found on vegetation close to the ground. In addition to regular mowing, avoid wooded or bushy areas with tall grass and leaf litter and walk in the center of trails.

CHECK: Check yourself at least every two hours for ticks when outside for extended periods of time. Pay special attention to areas in and around your hair, ears, armpits, groin, navel and backs of the knees. Promptly remove a tick if one is found. The sooner a tick is removed, the less chance it will transmit a disease to its host. If you find a tick, grasp the tick with tweezers as close to the skin as possible and slowly pull it straight out. Do not crush or puncture the tick and try to avoid touching the tick with your bare hands. Thoroughly disinfect the bite area and wash your hands immediately after removal. Be sure to also examine pets and gear, as ticks can ride into the home on animals, coats, backpacks and blankets, etc.

Symptoms of tickborne disease can include any unusual rash and unexplained flu-like symptoms, including fever, severe headaches, body aches and dizziness. Prompt treatment with antibiotics can prevent serious illness or even death. See your doctor immediately if you have been bitten by a tick and experience any of these symptoms.

For more information about tick-borne diseases, visit cdc.gov/ticks/resources/Hunterfactsheet.pdf and cdc.gov/ticks/diseases/.

Switchgrass dubbed most popular mountain bike trail in Kansas

Singletracks.com, an online website for outdoor enthusiasts that centers around camping, hiking, skiing, and mountain biking, recently came out with a list of the Most Popular Mountain Bike Trails for 2015 and Switchgrass Trail at Wilson State Park in Russell County took the lead for Kansas.

Open year-round in the Hell Creek area of the Park, Switchgrass Trail is nearly 24 miles of biking paradise. Awarded the “Epic” designation by the International Mountain Bicycling Association in 2012, Switchgrass Trail has consistently proved to be a trail worth visiting.

Rated as moderate to easy, Switchgrass Trail can be enjoyed by the whole family, especially when taking shorter “green” sections such as the EZ loop, or utilizing the trail’s intermediate “blue” paths. For experienced bikers, technically difficult sections of the trail also exist, including “black” sections that consist of rocky terrain, sandy areas, elevated paths, and steep drops.

Apart from the wide variety of loops and paths within Switchgrass Trail suited to bikers of all skill levels, the area also boasts incredible wildlife viewing opportunities, and the beautiful 9,000-acre Wilson Reservoir.

For more information on Wilson State Park’s Switchgrass Trail, contact the Wilson State Park office at (785) 658-2465.

Singletracks compiled the list by taking into consideration a given trail’s average reviewer rating, total number of reviews, number of Singletracks members who have ridden the trail, and number of Singletracks members who want to ride the trail.

To see Singletracks’ complete review of Switchgrass Trail, including the list of top trails for other states, visit www.singletracks.com.

Oklahoma man lands largest fish in state history

By Daniel Xu



Paul Easley with his new state record alligator gar. Image courtesy Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation

On Thursday, April 23rd, an Oklahoma angler crushed the record for the largest fish ever caught in the state with an alligator gar that weighed a staggering 254 pounds. Paul Easley of Mead snagged the beast of a fish in Lake Texoma and was able to have the fish certified by a state wildlife biologist before releasing the eight-foot gar back into the water.

“It did swim off,” Matt Mauck, regional fisheries supervisor for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation (DWC), told The Oklahoman. “They made their best attempt to get it back in the water alive. She did not appear to need any encouragement to leave.”

Mauck recalled receiving a phone call from Easley on Thursday describing the fish, but initially had his doubts about the fish’s size. After hearing that the anglers measured the gar to a girth of 44 inches, however, Mauck rushed over to Lake Texoma to see for himself if the fish was real. As it turns out, this was no tall fish tale.

“Not only is this a massive fish, but it is also a very special and unique fish,” stated the DWC on Facebook. “Alligator gar are long-lived with only periodic spawning opportunities.”

Officials estimated that the record-sized gar could be upwards of 50 years old. Alligator gar are among the largest freshwater fish in North America and among the longest-living ones as well. These toothy predators have been known to live well past 70 years. Gar mature slowly and usually reach sexual maturity in their second decade of life. Due to their large size, older females can lay an average of 150,000 eggs per spawning period.

In Oklahoma, anglers are allowed to harvest one alligator gar per day during the permitted season. Easley decided to release his record-sized fish back into the lake from where it came. In time, perhaps the fish will even break the world record, which is listed by the International Game Fish Association as a 279-pound gar caught in Texas by Bill Valverde. That record has stood since 1951.

Video cams nationwide offer nest observation opportunities

If you are interested in watching young bird behavior as they grow up, there are numerous websites available for your endless viewing. Check out these video cams.

Video Streaming Begins on American Kestrel Nest Box in Boise


Wild Birds Unlimited Presents Live Streaming Barred Owl Cam with Intimate Glimpse into Nesting Season – www.wbu.com

See more at – http://www.birdingwire.com/releases/344275/#sthash.7RURS6VI.dpuf

Missouri Falconcam Offers Bird’s-Eye-View of Chicks – http://mdc.mo.gov/discover-nature/wildlife-cameras/peregrine-falcon-web-camera

See more at: http://www.birdingwire.com/releases/344881/#sthash.KVdAMuai.dpuf

Atlanta Peregrine Falcons on Live Stream


See more at: http://www.birdingwire.com/releases/344883/

For Pennsylvania Bald Eagle Cam Viewers, Egg Watch Has Begun


See more at: http://www.birdingwire.com/releases/342424/#sthash.p0qbCDxh.dpuf

New Peregrine Falcon Webcam in Downtown Baltimore


See more at: http://www.birdingwire.com/releases/341973/

Osprey has a Nest Full of Eggs!

Rachel and Steve, the beloved couple making their home on the Hog Island Osprey nest, have gotten back into the swing of things without missing a beat. After wintering apart 2600 miles away in South America, they reunited in Maine and began successfully mating, with Rachel laying three cream-colored eggs, wreathed and spotted in reddish brown.

We will add additional sites as they become available.