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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.

Kansas boat taxes affordable

 

If you’re a Kansas boat owner or are thinking of buying a boat, you should know that property taxes on recreational boats have gone down as much as 75 percent since 2013. Before that, Kansas boat owners paid property taxes based on an assessed value that was 30 percent of the boat’s market worth. So if you owned a $30,000 boat, the assessed value was $9,000, and depending on the mill levee in the county you lived in, you could have paid more than $1,000 in annual property taxes.

 

Boats must be registered with the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism (KDWPT) to operate on public waters, and that registration fee is just $32.50 for three years. Since counties use KDWPT’s registration lists to assess property taxes, many Kansans opted to register their boats in neighboring states where the property taxes were much less. In fact, according to the Oklahoma Department of Conservation, more than 5,000 Kansas boats were registered there in 2013.

 

Reducing the tax rate on Kansas boats required an amendment to the state’s constitution, and the Kansas legislature put that question on the ballot in November 2012. Voters approved the amendment and a new law took effect in 2013, reducing the assessment rate in phases – 11.5 percent in 2014 to 5 percent in 2015 where it remains.

 

The result has been a significant reduction in property taxes on boats. Take that $30,000 boat for example. If you own that boat in Pratt County, where the mill levee is 120, you’ll pay just $180 annually.

 

To get the word out, KDWPT began a campaign titled: “Own It Here, Use It Here, Register It Here.” The idea is to encourage Kansas boat owners to voluntarily register their boats locally, but KDWPT law enforcement officers will also step up enforcement of the law, which requires boats to be registered in the state of principal use. Boat registration fees fund boater education programs, construction and enhancement of boat access facilities, as well as other recreational boating programs. And Kansas counties depend on property taxes to fund county services.

 

Remember: Own It Here, Use It Here, Register It Here.

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.

Kansas Bowhunters to meet in Hutchinson

 

The Kansas Bowhunters Association invites you to join them for their 44th Annual State Convention and Banquet in Hutchinson Feb. 24-26. If you have a passion for bowhunting, bowfishing, archery, outdoor gear, photography, paintings, arts and crafts, custom made knives, bows, antlers, wildlife or taxidermy, make plans to attend this fun-filled weekend. The Atrium Hotel and Conference Center, 1400 North Lorraine, will host the event. Rooms can be reserved at a discounted rate by calling 620-669-9311 by Feb. 17.

 

Friday evening will feature an informal gathering with Colorado-based bowhunter and writer Lou Phillipe, who has 45 years experience bowhunting big game. Saturday morning events include exhibitor displays, as well as a ladies’ get-together.  Saturday afternoon and evening include an informal question and answer period with staff from the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism, an awards ceremony and banquet with guest speaker presentation, fundraising auction, raffle drawings and kids pizza party. Sunday morning events include a worship service and guest speaker presentation.       

 

For more information and to purchase admission tickets, contact Barry at 316-299-8845 or e-mail kbasec@gmail.com.

KDWPT biologists discuss bobwhites In new TV series

 

“Bobwhites on the Brink,” a five-part film series by the syndicated television conservation news magazine, This American Land, examines the reasons for the nationwide decline of the bobwhite quail and the efforts being made to reverse the trend on the American landscape. In the fourth segment (#604) of the series, viewers are brought to Kansas in large part due to the success of the state’s Conservation Reserve Program in providing species habitat. The segment explores how agricultural operations in the U.S. have morphed from small field/multi-farm set-ups, to giant corporate expanses of row crop acreage, and how Kansas is leading the country in demonstrating how bobwhite habitat can be successfully integrated on working lands.

 

Some Kansans may have viewed the series on Smoky Hills Public Television and on the Kansas Topeka Washburn University PBS stations late last year, but for those who missed it, there’s still time to tune in. “Bobwhites on the Brink” will air on KTWU Channel 11, Topeka, Sundays at 3:30 p.m., beginning January 15. However, the last two shows of the series (#604 and #605) will air at 3:30 p.m. and 4 p.m. on February 5 in a 1-hour block. The series will also be available online on the This American Land website, www.thisamericanland.org/Episodes/season-six; on NBCI’s YouTube channel, www.youtube.com/user/BringBackBobwhites; and on the KDWPT website, ksoutdoors.com/Hunting/Upland-Birds/Bobwhite-Quail.

 

The National Bobwhite Conservation Initiative (NBCI), in partnership with select states, worked over a period of several months to help develop the story. The Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism worked directly with NBCI to demonstrate how the expansion of mechanized clean-farming techniques in row crop agriculture have effected bobwhite quail, among other grassland birds and wildlife species.

 

In addition to Kansas, film crews visited South Carolina, Texas, and Kentucky to document how a decline in active forest management and the conversion of livestock grazing operations from native grasses to exotic fescue across millions of acres, combined with changes in row-crop agriculture, have decimated habitat range-wide for bobwhites and related wildlife over time.

2017 fish consumption advisories

 

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 2017. 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 and internet resources are 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.

 

Definitions:

Bottom-feeding fish: buffalos, carp, carpsuckers, catfishes (except flathead catfish), sturgeons, and suckers.

Predatory fish: black basses, crappies, drum, flathead catfish, perches, sunfish, white bass, wiper, striper, walleye, saugeye, and sauger.

Shellfish: mussels, clams, and crayfish.

General Population: Men and women 18 years of age or older.

Sensitive Populations: Women who are pregnant, may become pregnant, or are nursing and children age 17 or younger.

 

Meal size (before cooking):

Adults and Children age 13 and older = 8 ounces

Children age 6 to 12 = 4 ounces

Children younger than 6 = 2 ounces

 

Statewide Advisories

Kansas recommends the following consumption restrictions because of mercury in fish:

  1. Sensitive Populations 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.
  2. Largemouth, smallmouth, and spotted bass (black basses):
  3. Sensitive Populations should restrict consumption of these species to one meal per month because of mercury.
  4. General Public should restrict consumption of these species to one meal per week because of mercury.

 

Waterbody specific advisories for all consumers

Kansas recommends 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 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 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 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).

 

Kansas recommends restricting consumption of bottom-feeding fish 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).

 

General advice for eating locally caught fish in Kansas

  1. Sensitive populations 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Avoid subsistence level (relying on wild-caught fish for daily nutritional needs) fishing activities in large rivers within or immediately downstream of large urban/industrial areas and wastewater outfalls. Fish in these areas are more likely to contain traces of chemical contaminants.
  6. 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.

 

Internet resources from KDHE, KDWPT, EPA, FDA, and the American Heart Association

 

To view the advisories online and for information about KDHE’s Fish Tissue Contaminant Monitoring Program please visit our website at: http://www.kdheks.gov/befs/fish_tissue_monitoring.htm

 

For information about harmful algal blooms, including current watches and warnings, visit this KDHE website: http://www.kdheks.gov/algae-illness/index.htm

 

For information about fishing in Kansas including licensing, regulations, fishing reports and fishing forecasts please visit the KDWPT fishing website: http://ksoutdoors.com/Fishing

 

For general information about mercury in fish, national advisories, and advisories in other states please visit this EPA website: http://www2.epa.gov/choose-fish-and-shellfish-wisely

 

For information about sensitive populations and mercury in fish please visit this FDA website: http://www.fda.gov/food/resourcesforyou/consumers/ucm110591.htm

 

For information regarding personal care products and pharmaceuticals in fish please visit this EPA website: https://www.epa.gov/fish-tech/pilot-study-pharmaceuticals-and-personal-care-products-fish-tissue

 

For information about the health benefits vs. the risks of including fish in your diet please visit this American Heart Association website: http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/GettingHealthy/NutritionCenter/Fish-101_UCM_305986_Article.jsp

 

For technical information regarding the EPA risk assessment methods used to determine advisory consumption limits please visit: http://www2.epa.gov/fish-tech

Kansas Alliance for Wetlands and Streams hosts playa workshop

 

The Kansas Alliance for Wetlands and Streams (KAWS) is conducting a free Playa Lake Workshop and Tour on Jan. 10-11, 2017. The event will feature an optional landowner tour on Jan 10, followed by the workshop at Finnup Center For Conservation Education, 312 E Finnup Drive in Garden City on Jan. 11. Landowners with an interest in playa lakes and wetland conservation should make plans to attend.

 

The Jan. 10 playa lake tour in Lane County will feature onsite demonstrations from playa lake landowners. Information provided also includes advice on program cost delivery and how playa lakes can be managed for better conservation, recharge and recreational enjoyment. Sharp Brothers Seed Co. will be provide lunch at their headquarters in Healy.

 

The workshop will feature speakers who have decades of experience in playa lake management, ecology, hydrology research and program cost delivery. Three local landowners will share their personal experiences with playa lakes on their farms and ranches. Lunch will be provided.

 

To register for the free conference, go to the KAWS website, www.kaws.org. For more information contact Joe Kramer, jkramer@kaws.org, Mary Howell, kfu.mary@gmail.com or Jessica Mounts, jmounts@kaws.org.

Wild about Kansas photo contest winners selected

 

Kansas Wildlife and Parks Magazine, a bimonthly, subscription-based publication of the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism, will publish winning entries from the 2016 Wild About Kansas Photo Contest in the 2017 January/February photo issue. This year’s judges reviewed 213 submissions from 113 photographers of all ages and skill levels, providing a tough job for the panel of five. After much deliberation, 39 entries were selected to be published in the magazine’s special photo issue.

 

Photos were judged based on creativity, composition, subject matter, lighting, and overall sharpness. Categories included wildlife, outdoor recreation, landscapes, other species, and hunting and fishing. The 2016 results are as follows:

 

Adult

Wildlife

1st: Tony Pianalto, “Majestic”

2nd: Kevin Fruechting, “Twin Toms”

3rd: Chuck Gibson, “Hummingbird”

Honorable Mention: Frank Orth, “Screech Owl”

 

Outdoor Recreation

1st: Chenoa Casebier, “Sleeping Under The Stars”

2nd: Jeff Doggendorf, “Dry Rattlesnake Creek Riverbed”

3rd: Kayla Borell, “Rise To Wake”

Honorable Mention: Rick McPherson, “Frostbite Regatta”

 

Landscapes

1st: Robert Dilla, “Sunset Through The Keyhole”

2nd: Tim Wood, “On Konza Prairie”

3rd: Nicki Tomlinson, “Autumn Reflections”

Honorable Mention: Chuck Gibson, “Lovewell”

 

Other Species

1st: Jaci Novak, “Snack Time”

2nd: Mary Mejia, “Honey Bee At Sunflower”

3rd: Chuck Gibson, “Frog”

Honorable Mention: Rick McPherson, “Bison At Maxwell Refuge”

 

Hunting and Fishing

1st: Dale Benedict, “Spring Turkey Opening Day”

2nd: Clarence Maedgen, “Breaking Ice”

3rd: Tony Pianalto, “Rooster”

Honorable Mention: Kristin Vinduska, “My Retirement Plan”

 

Youth

Wildlife

1st: Isaac Schultz, “Buddy”

2nd: Solomon Schultz, “Cute”

3rd: Madison Larson, “Groundhog”

Honorable Mention: Lily Schultz, “Lily Frog”

 

Outdoor Recreation

1st: Madison Larson, “Watching Fireworks”

2nd: Elly Gossard, “Sisters Exploring”

3rd: Isaac Shultz, “Family Time”

Honorable Mention: John Walker, “Nice Shot”

 

Landscapes

1st: Johanna Walker, “Cider”

2nd: Yazmin Adams, “Fun Under The Sun”

3rd: Elly Gossard, “Calm Lake Day”

Honorable Mention: Cloey Kennemur, “Sitting On The Dock Of The Bay”

 

Other Species

1st: Lily Shultz, “Gathering”

2nd: Kieren Shultz, “Big”

3rd: Corley Becker, “Resting Frog”

Honorable Mention: Johanna Walker, “Blending In”

 

Hunting and Fishing

1st: Ashley Fields, “Crappie Bait”

2nd: Kieren Shultz, “Peaceful”

3rd: Solomon Shultz, “Fishin’”

 

To subscribe to Kansas Wildlife and Parks Magazine today and start receiving Kansas’ premiere outdoor magazine, call (620) 672-5911, or visit www.ksoutdoors.com Services/Publications/Magazine.

 

Details on the 2017 contest will be made available on www.ksoutdoors.com in early spring.

2016 Mountain Lion reports

 

Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism biologists have been busy investigating a flurry of mountain lion reports lately. Three more mountain lion reports were confirmed in Kansas recently, bringing the total number of confirmed sightings for the year to four.

 

A hunter recently checked his trail camera on Fort Riley to find a photo of a mountain lion taken on Nov. 9. On Nov. 20, about 55 miles away, another hunter’s trail camera in Shawnee County snapped several photos of a mountain lion passing by at around 1 a.m.

 

Four days later and about 20 miles away, a couple of young raccoon hunters in Wabaunsee County were hunting with a single hound when it bayed “treed.” They were quite surprised when they shined their lights into the tree and found a mountain lion staring back at them. They had the presence of mind to take some video and snap a few photos for evidence, and even called a few friends and family out to see the lion for themselves. Biologists later visited the site and were able to recover a few hairs from the tree limbs. It is uncertain at this time whether sufficient material was present for DNA extraction, but if so, it can help biologists determine the animal’s sex, where it came from, where it has been, and where it may end up.

 

It is uncertain whether these recent confirmations are the result of a single or multiple cats. Young male mountain lions can wander great distances in search of a home range, and the proximity and timing of these latest sightings indicate a single lion is a possibility, but this is not a certainty. An additional sighting is still being investigated, and if confirmed, Kansas may have a record year for mountain lion sightings.

 

Since 2007, when the first mountain lion was confirmed in Kansas, 18 more have been added to the total. Most are presumed to be transient young male lions displaced from states north or west of Kansas. Consistent with this theory, the presence of arm barring on several of these recent confirmations is an indicator of a young (less than 3 year old) lion. A resident population, as indicated by the presence of kittens, adult females, or repeated documentations in the same vicinity, has not been observed nor confirmed.

 

Visit www.KSOutdoors.com, Wildlife & Nature, Wildlife Sightings for more information.