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Easement to protect Lesser Prairie-chickens in shortgrass prairie

 

From Outdoor News Daily

 

The Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (WAFWA) has finalized permanent conservation agreements with three private landowners to conserve 3,682 acres of high-quality Lesser Prairie-chicken habitat in northwest Kansas.

 

“These are the first easements obtained by WAFWA in the shortgrass ecoregion, as called for by the Lesser Prairie-chicken Rangewide Conservation Plan,” said Brad Odle, WAFWA’s regional wildlife biologist, who worked closely with the landowners to secure the easements.

 

“We applaud these visionary landowners who are protecting and conserving the landscape as working ranches, ensuring they will be enjoyed by future generations. These easements will protect habitat that benefits a whole host of wildlife species, including the Lesser Prairie-chicken. This is another positive step toward establishing a stronghold for lesser Prairie-chickens in this area,” Odle added.

 

The complex of properties is located near Smoky Valley Ranch in Logan County, which is owned and managed by The Nature Conservancy. The 17,290-acre ranch is identified in the rangewide plan as a potential target, around which a stronghold for Lesser Prairie-chickens could be established. A stronghold is defined as a block of fairly contiguous grassland consisting of at least 25,000 acres that contains at least six active lek sites, which are mating areas for the birds. There must also be assurances that all the properties contributing to a stronghold will be protected from future development and managed in a way that is beneficial to Lesser Prairie-chickens into the future. With additional easements like the ones just finalized, Smoky Valley Ranch and nearby permanently conserved properties could become a stronghold for the species.

 

The permanent conservation easements on the private properties were purchased by WAFWA and will be held and monitored by The Nature Conservancy. The easements restrict future development and activities that would be detrimental to the bird’s habitat. All other property rights associated with the land will be retained by the private landowners. WAFWA has also established an endowment that will provide the landowners with sufficient annual payments to implement a Lesser Prairie-chicken conservation plan in perpetuity. The primary conservation practice that will be implemented is prescribed grazing, which will be used to maintain sufficient vegetative structure for every phase of the Lesser Prairie-chicken life cycle. This transaction not only permanently protects key prairie habitat, but also ensures that the properties will remain a working ranch.

 

“There’s no better approach to long-term conservation than a mutually beneficial partnership,” said Matt Bain, western Kansas conservation program manager for The Nature Conservancy. “It’s been an honor for us to be a part of this and help these landowners achieve their long-term visions for their ranches.”

 

The rangewide plan is a collaborative effort of WAFWA; the state wildlife agencies of Kansas, Colorado, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas; U.S. Department of Agriculture; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; and many non-government conservation organizations. It was developed to conserve the Lesser Prairie-chicken by providing another voluntary conservation program for landowner and industry cooperation 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. The plan provides certainty to participants that they will be able to continue operations without interruption, and when fully implemented produces a net conservation benefit to the Lesser Prairie-chicken.

 

Contact Roger Wolfe at (785) 256-3737 for more information. The Lesser Prairie-chicken Rangewide Conservation Plan can be found at www.wafwa.org.

Construction taking place at Jamestown Wildlife Area

 

Hunters planning to waterfowl hunt at Jamestown Wildlife Area this season will notice several changes taking place, some of which may affect hunting opportunities. Gamekeeper Marsh and Gun Club Marsh will both be temporarily drained and kept dry in preparation for upcoming enhancement projects. During this time, waterfowl hunting access will be extremely limited, but opportunities still exist.

 

While construction is taking place, hunters can find huntable habitat on the south end of the property throughout the waterfowl season. Staff have pumped select off-channel storage pools from Marsh Creek and Buffalo Creek Marshes for the season. A PDF map of these pools can be accessed by visiting ksoutdoors.com, then clicking “Hunting,” “Reports and Forecasts,” and scrolling down to “Jamestown Wildlife Area.”

 

“These areas have excellent moist soil food production and teal are now using them,” said Matt Farmer, Public Lands manager for Jamestown. “We just ask that the public be mindful of the tighter spaces this season, and we appreciate their patience while we make improvements to the wildlife area.”

 

Over the coming months, construction crews will build a division berm in Gamekeeper Marsh, and raise Gamekeeper Dam 18 inches to accommodate the increased sediment load the marsh has taken on the last several decades. The berm construction and dam increase will allow area managers to flood a larger area and better control water elevations, to manage for optimum moist soil production and increased hunting opportunities.

 

For more information on the construction taking place at Jamestown Wildlife Area, contact area staff at (785) 439-6243.

Kansas native tribes to receive wildlife grant

 

U.S. Deputy Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt announced $162,127 in funding will go to Kansas Native tribes and more than $720,000 to Kansas state wildlife agencies through the Tribal Wildlife Grant (TWG) program and the State Wildlife Grants (SWG) program. The funds, which are provided by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, give support for a diverse array of species and habitats across the country.

 

Through the TWG program, the Iowa Tribe of Kansas and Nebraska will receive $162,127 for a fish community assessment in streams with a focus on rare species.

 

“The work of Kansas Native American tribes and state wildlife agencies is absolutely critical to wildlife conservation in the United States,” said Deputy Secretary Bernhardt. “We’re thrilled to be able to collaborate with them, their local communities, and other partners to ensure important fish, wildlife, habitat and cultural needs are met.”

 

The $724,487 in funding through the SWG program, which is part of $48 million being distributed nationwide, will support imperiled species and habitats listed in approved state wildlife action plans. All 50 state and U.S. territorial wildlife agencies have these plans, which proactively protect species in greatest conservation need. Projects funded through SWG involve research, monitoring, wildlife surveys, species and habitat management and other activities.

 

Through the TWG program, more than $4 million funds were given to tribes in 14 states to support fish and wildlife conservation and key partnerships. The awards will benefit 25 projects that encompass a wide range of wildlife and habitats, including species of Native American cultural or traditional importance and species that are not hunted or fished.

 

SWG funds are administered by the Service’s Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration (WSFR) program and are allocated to states and territories according to a congressionally-mandated formula based on population and geographic area. Grant funds must be used to address conservation needs, such as research, wildlife surveys, species and habitat management, and monitoring identified within state wildlife action plans. The funds may also be used to update, revise or modify a state’s plan.

 

TWG funds are provided exclusively to fund wildlife conservation by federally-recognized Native American tribal governments, and are made possible under the Related Agencies Appropriations Act of 2002 through the State and Tribal Wildlife Grants Program. Proposals for the 2018 grant cycle are due Sept. 1, 2017.

 

For additional information about Native American conservation projects and the Tribal Wildlife Grants application process, visit http://www.fws.gov/nativeamerican/grants.html or http://www.grants.gov/.

2017 Hunting Regulations and Atlas online now

 

Two Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism (KDWPT) publications hunters anxiously await are available now: The 2017 Kansas Hunting and Furharvesting Regulations Summary and the 2017 Kansas Fall Hunting Atlas. Both publications are available online at www.ksoutdoors.com and both are being shipped to hundreds of license vendors and KDWPT offices around the state this week. Copies can be mailed by calling (620) 672-5911.

The hunting summary includes regulations such as methods of take, season dates, bag and possession limits, as well as a listing of public wildlife areas. One section features color photographs and range maps for popular game species. There is also a list of phone numbers for game wardens by the counties they patrol.

The 2017 Kansas Fall Hunting Atlas includes maps showing all Walk-in Hunting Access (WIHA) areas, as well as state and federal public wildlife areas. WIHA is private land leased by KDWPT and opened to public hunting. More than 1 million acres of WIHA lands are mapped in the atlas, more than tripling the amount of public access open to hunters.

The atlas is available online, and soon Garmin GPS and Google Earth files will be available to download. All WIHA tracts are marked with signs showing the lease dates, which start either Sept. 1 or Nov. 1 and end either Jan. 31 or March 31.

Pick up your copy of the regulations summary and hunting atlas wherever licenses are sold. No hunter should be without them.

Cheney to host upcoming Wildlife, Parks and Tourism Commission meeting

 

The Kansas Wildlife, Parks and Tourism (KDWPT) Commission will conduct their next public meeting on Thursday, August 10, 2017 at the Ninnescah Sailing Club in Cheney State Park. The afternoon session will begin at 1 p.m. and recess at 5 p.m. The evening session will convene at 6:30 p.m. The public is invited to attend both sessions and time will be set aside for public comment at the beginning of each for discussion of non-agenda items.

The afternoon session will begin with a report on the agency and state fiscal status and an update on the 2017 Kansas legislative session. The General Discussion portion of the meeting will include a review of big game regulations, Tourism update, Mined Land Wildlife Area project review, and an update on current Walleye Initiative efforts.

The Workshop Session will include reviews of turkey regulations for 2018, park regulations, privately-owned cabin permit fees, boating registration fees, license expiration dates, and threatened and endangered species regulations.

The evening portion of the meeting will convene at 6:30 p.m., during which time the Workshop Session will continue with a review of fishing regulations. No items will be voted upon at this meeting.

If necessary, the Commission will reconvene at the same location at 9 a.m., August 11, 2017, to complete any unfinished business. Information about the Commission, as well as the August 10 meeting agenda and briefing book, can be downloaded at ksoutdoors.com/KDWPT-Info/Commission/Upcoming-Commission-Meetings.

Live video and audio streaming of the August 10, 2017 meeting will be available at ksoutdoors.com. If notified in advance, the department will have an interpreter available for the hearing impaired. To request an interpreter, call the Kansas Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing at 1-800-432-0698. Any individual with a disability may request other accommodations by contacting the KDWPT Commission secretary at (620) 672-5911.

The next KDWPT Commission meeting is scheduled for October 19, 2017 at the Bryan Conference Center, 101 S Main, in Scott City.

Blue-green algae information

 

Blue-green algae look much like other, more common algae but they’re really a type of bacteria called “cyanobacteria.” The Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) samples recreational bodies of water for blue-green algae when they are alerted to a potential algae bloom. Contact with high concentrations of the cyanobacteria can cause illness. KDHE issues a Public Health Watch or Public Health Warning based on either the presence of certain toxins, the number of cyanobacteria cells in the water or a combination of the two.

 

The Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism (KDWPT); the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USCE); and the Bureau of Reclamation (BOR) cooperate with KDHE when a Watch or Warning is issued to alert the public about potentially harmful algae blooms.

 

To see the current KDHE blue-green algae watches and warning, go to their website at: http://www.kdheks.gov/algae-illness/index.htm.

Pheasants Forever/Quail Forever announces job vacancies

 

These positions will be located within USDA Service Centers, and will provide conservation technical assistance and conservation program delivery to private landowners within their assigned districts and other priority areas as appropriate.  The incumbent will work in a joint capacity with USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), and other State and Federal partners to promote, accelerate enrollment, coordinate and implement the conservation provisions of the Federal Farm Bill and other wildlife related conservation programs. Position locations are Oberlin, Burlington and St. John, Kansas. Apprilation deadline is August 11, 2017.

 

To apply visit the PF/QF website at: www.pheasantsforever.org/jobs

 

ONLY ON LINE APPLICATIONS WILL BE ACCEPTED. Please include your cover letter, resume and 3 references as a single Microsoft Word document or PDF file on the Recruitment website.

Contact:  Chris McLeland, South Region Director, cmcleland@pheasantsforever.org or (573) 355-6530

 

KDWPT: 30 Kansas deer reported for foot rot disease in 2016

 

Shawnee County had deer reported for disease

 

The Topeka Capital-Journal

 

The Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism recently released information regarding the testing of area deer for a rare type of potentially fatal foot rot disease.

 

Shawnee County had one report of a sick or dead deer thought to be afflicted with hoof disease in 2016-17, according to a map provided by the KDWPT. The hardest hit counties were in the southeast portion of Kansas — namely Bourbon, Butler and Anderson. Bourbon had between five and eight reports, while Butler and Anderson had between three and four apiece.

 

Lyon County, which is south of Wabaunsee County, had two reports of hoof disease. Reports also were made farther out west in Decatur, Phillips and Russell counties. In all, 25 cases were reported to the KDWPT by the public, making 30 total cases of suspected hoof disease in Kansas.

 

Beginning in January, the KDWPT began shipping fresh hooves from deer thought to be afflicted with the disease to be studied at the Southeastern Cooperative Wildlife Disease Study, which is operated through the University of Georgia’s College of Veterinary Medicine.

 

“Diagnostics showed the hoof disease story is more about trauma to the hooves with the onset of secondary bacterial infections,” Shane Hesting, wildlife disease coordinator for the KDWPT, said in an email. “The cause of the trauma is unknown. I hypothesize that several things are possibly causing the trauma, such as cut soybean stems at ground level, jagged frozen soil, barbed wire, locust thorns, stress fractures during fighting and chasing does, weakened bones due to poor physical condition (rut), etc.”

 

Hesting emphasized that the surge in reports of hoof disease in white-tailed deer can mostly be credited to increased awareness via social media posts and email blasts. He said the uptick in reporting may also be connected with the greater-than-normal amounts of rainfall the state saw during 2016. Parts of Shawnee County saw between 4 and 12 inches of precipitation more than average in 2016, according to the Midwestern Regional Climate Center. The averages are calculated based on annual precipitation measured between 1981 and 2010.

 

“Deer live with a plethora of bacterial species on a daily basis, and some of these bacterial species cause problems when injury and/or immunosuppression occurs, like we see when bucks are worn down from rutting,” Hesting said.

 

He said that some hooves had been damaged by hemorrhagic disease viruses during the summer months, which then progress to hoof infections in the fall and winter. He said bacterial species accumulate in the soil at deer feeders and other areas where deer congregate, and the thawing and freezing of soil at these spots often creates a jagged soil surface that can injure hooves.

 

Hesting added that this is another reason to limit the baiting and feeding of deer.

 

“In 2016, stressed and immunosuppressed post-rut animals in the population merged with an environment of wetter soil during a wetter-than-normal year, varying bacterial loads and other conditions leading to hoof infections,” Hesting said. “Even though hoof infections occur every year in Kansas, it is currently thought that these cases have not and will not affectthe overall deer population in the state.

 

“The current statewide average — based on 2016 distance sampling — of the Kansas deer herd is estimated to be approximately 636,000.”

Aerial surveys to document Lesser Prairie-chicken population trends

 

Aerial surveys to count Lesser Prairie-chickens will begin March 16 and run through mid-May over five states containing Lesser Prairie-chicken habitat. The Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (WAFWA) conducts the surveys each spring when the birds gather at traditional leks, or dancing grounds. As part of the Lesser Prairie–chicken Range-wide Conservation Plan, the surveys are designed to document population trends and determine how birds are responding to the plan’s management strategies. The surveys will be conducted by helicopter in locations chosen randomly within Lesser Prairie-chicken range, which is part of the methodology strategy. In previous years, some of the fly paths prompted calls, which is why WAFWA is getting the word out about the start of aerial survey work.

The range-wide plan is a collaborative effort of WAFWA and the state wildlife agencies of Texas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Kansas and Colorado. It was developed to ensure conservation of the Lesser Prairie-chicken with voluntary cooperation of landowners and industry. The plan allows agriculture producers and industry to continue operations while reducing impacts to the bird and its grassland habitat.

“We’ve established a consistent methodology for these aerial surveys, working closely with the wildlife agencies of each of the states involved,” explained Roger Wolfe, WAFWA’s Lesser Prairie-chicken Program Manager. “We’re documenting population trends over time that will allow us to see how various management strategies for the bird are working on the ground.”

Results from this year’s surveys will be available on July 1 via www.wafwa.org.

Fall hunting seasons to be voted on March 23

 

The Kansas Wildlife, Parks and Tourism Commission will conduct its March public meeting on Thursday, March 23, 2017 in Topeka at the Capitol Plaza Hotel, Emerald Rooms I and II, 1717 SW Topeka Blvd. The afternoon session will begin at 1 p.m. and recess at 5 p.m. The evening session will convene at 6:30 p.m. The public is invited to attend both sessions and time will be set aside for public comment at the beginning of each for discussion of non-agenda items.

 

The afternoon session will begin with a report on the agency and state fiscal status and an update on the 2017 Kansas Legislative Session. The General Discussion portion of the meeting will include recognition of Tuttle Creek State Park’s Blue Chip Award, a Blue Cross Blue Shield parks support update, and an overview of the agency’s new consolidated licensing/reservation system.

 

The Workshop Session will include reviews of webless migratory bird and waterfowl season recommendations, as well as threatened and endangered species regulations. Regulations concerning hunting on Glen Elder and Marion wildlife areas and the deer season dates on Fort Riley Military Reservation will also be discussed.

 

The evening portion of the meeting will convene at 6:30 p.m. for the Public Hearing. Commissioners will hear proposals for, and vote on, the 2017 fall seasons for antelope, elk, turkey and deer. Deer permit allocations will be set by Secretary’s Orders.

 

If necessary, the commission will reconvene at the same location at 9 a.m., March 24, to complete any unfinished business. Information about the Commission, as well as the March 23 meeting agenda and briefing book, can be downloaded at ksoutdoors.com/KDWPT-Info/Commission/Upcoming-Commission-Meetings.

 

Live video and audio streaming of the March 23 meeting will be available at ksoutdoors.com. If notified in advance, the department will have an interpreter available for the hearing impaired. To request an interpreter, call the Kansas Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing at 1-800-432-0698. Any individual with a disability may request other accommodations by contacting the Kansas Wildlife, Parks and Tourism Commission secretary at (620) 672-5911.

 

The next Kansas Wildlife, Parks and Tourism commission meeting is scheduled for April 20, 2017, at the KDWPT Headquarters, 512 SE 25th Ave., in Pratt.