Wednesday, December 15, 2010


Compound bow for huntingImage via Wikipedia
Many seasons open during holidays; 2011 hunting license required in January
PRATT — Many Kansas hunters look forward to the Christmas and New Year holidays as an opportunity to get outdoors and enjoy some of the best hunting of the season. Early January antlerless deer seasons are especially popular for hunters who have not filled a permit or who want to put more deer in the freezer. Unfilled permits purchased in the fall of 2010 are valid for these seasons, but all hunters should remember that a 2011 Kansas hunting license is also required once the new year begins.
For outdoorsmen and women, this is a special time to go afield in pursuit of their favorite game, not just deer. Cool weather often makes game easier to locate, and competition for places to hunt is lighter than earlier in the seasons. For those looking for a good holiday hunt, the following season dates remain or will be open in late 2010 and into 2011:
  • Fall turkey — Dec. 13-31 and Jan. 10-31, 2011;
  • Archery Deer — Sept. 20-Dec. 31;
  • Extended Firearm Season (whitetail antlerless only, open statewide) — Jan.1-9, 2011;
  • Special Extended Firearm Season (whitetail antlerless only, units 7, 8, and 15 only) — Jan. 10-16, 2011;
  • Extended Archery Season (whitetail antlerless only, Unit 19 only) — Jan. 10-Jan. 31, 2011;
  • Exotic Dove (Eurasian collared and ringed turtle doves only) — Nov. 20-Feb. 28, 2011;
  • Ducks, Early Zone — Dec. 18-Jan. 2, 2011;
  • Ducks, High Plains Zone — Oct. 9-Jan. 3, 2011 and Jan. 22-30, 2011;
  • Ducks, Late Zone — Oct. 30-Jan. 2, 2011 and Jan. 22-30, 2011;
  • Canada Geese (including Brant) — Nov. 10-Feb. 13, 2011;
  • White-Fronted Geese — Nov. 10-Jan. 2, 2011 and Feb. 5-13, 2011;
  • Light Geese — Nov. 10-Feb. 13, 2011 and by special conservation order from Feb. 14-April 30, 2011;
  • Pheasant — Nov. 13-Jan. 31, 2011;
  • Quail — Nov. 13-Jan. 31, 2011;
  • Prairie Chicken — East and Northwest zones, Nov. 20-Jan. 31, 2011 and Southwest Zone, Nov. 20-Dec. 31;
  • Squirrel — June 1-Feb. 28, 2011; and
  • Rabbits — open year round.
For detailed information on hunting units, bag and possession limits, and other information, consult the 2010 Kansas Hunting and Furharvesting Regulations Summary, available wherever licenses are sold or on the KDWP website,

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Birding, star gazing, wetland van tours on the agenda
PRATT — The Kansas Wetlands Education Center — 10 miles northeast of the intersection of U.S. highways 281 and 156, northeast of Great Bend — will conduct a number of special events in the last weeks of 2010. On Thursday, Dec. 16, the Cheyenne Bottoms Christmas Bird Count (CBC) will run from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. The public is invited to participate in this educational information-gathering activity. Participants will meet at the Kansas Wetlands Education Center at 8 a.m. The Nature Conservancy and the Kansas Wetlands Education Center will provide lunch. Those planning to participate should phone 620-786-7456, so planners will know how many to expect for lunch. Be sure to wear warm clothing.
On Sunday, Dec. 19, the center will host a waterfowl identification workshop at 2 p.m. Waterfowl enthusiasts of all ages, novice or experienced, are invited to come to attend this free workshop focusing on all things waterfowl. Tom Bidrowski, migratory bird specialist for the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks, will present tips on identifying the numerous species of waterfowl seen in Kansas. In addition, Kansas waterfowl viewing opportunities will be covered.
On Monday, Dec. 20, the universe will unfold at the Wetlands Center with a star-gazing program at 7:30 p.m. If the weather cooperates, participants will have the opportunity to view a total lunar eclipse, constellations, planets, and clusters through telescopes. Fort Hays State University (FHSU) professors Dr. Paul Adams and Dr. Jack Maseberg, along with the FHSU Astronomy Club, will lead the evening activities. Participants will also be able to make a “Big Dipper star clock.” The program is free. Participation is limited to 30, with preregistration required. Register by calling 620-786-7456 or 877-243-9268. The registration deadline is Dec. 18. Participants should bring chairs and warm clothing.
In addition to these events, the center offers guided van tours of Cheyenne Bottoms Wildlife Area every weekend, and by special arrangements during the week. These are 30-minute and 90-minutes tours in a 12-passenger van.
The Kansas Wetlands Education Center also has many great gifts to complete visitors’ Christmas shopping lists. This includes a wide selection of nature-based merchandise, wildlife-related toys, science kits, Kansas-made products, field guides, T-shirts, and Kansas Sesquicentennial (150th Anniversary) commemorative Christmas Ornaments.
For more information on any of the events or tours, phone the center toll-free at 1-877-243-9268 or email

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Male mallard duckImage via Wikipedia
Four January events planned; Dec. 31 application deadline
MEADE — In January, Lake Meade State Park and the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks will host four youth waterfowl hunts. Hunts will take place on a Saturday and will begin in the early morning. All participants will be required to attend a pre-hunt meeting.
Youth ages 8 through 15 are eligible for this hunt, which is designed to introduce waterfowl hunting to new or inexperienced hunters. KDWP employees will be on hand to assist in each hunt, which will include as few as two hunters. Previous hunting experience is not required, and arrangements will be provided to applicants who do not have access to their own equipment. An adult parent or guardian will be required to attend, but the adult may not hunt.
To participate, submit a 4-inch by 6-inch card with the name of youth, the name of parent or guardian attending, address, and phone number to Meade State Park, 13051 V Rd., Meade, KS 67864. All Applications must be post marked by Dec. 31. For more information, phone the Meade State Park Office at 620-873-2572 (8 a.m.-5 p.m., Monday-Friday).

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Mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus) in Modoc Count...Image via Wikipedia
Busy deer seasons, lack of funds curtail service during January antlerless seasons
TONGANOXIE — With the help of hunters, meat processors, and private donors, Kansas Hunters Feeding the Hungry (KSHFH) has been providing thousands of meals to those in need, but this year, the service will stop at year’s end. Because KSHFH's entire deer processing budget was used to process large numbers of deer donated in the early months of deer season, they will not be able to accept deer during any January whitetail antlerless season.
“It would take an estimated $15,000 of end of the year financial donations to cover the short but productive doe seasons,” says KSHFH director Tony DeRossett. “The program uses hunter harvested deer to supply meat to more than 140 food pantries across the state, and we’ve used our budget for this year.”
Just one deer can feed nearly 200 hungry people in the state. In 2009, 1,010 deer were donated through KSHFH, providing nearly 225,000 meals.
For more information on this program, go online to

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Wednesday, December 8, 2010


1-877-427-3843 makes reporting wildlife crime easy
PRATT — Each year, Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks (KDWP) natural resource officers (NROs) check approximately 60,000 hunters in the field, and about 96 percent of them are found to be law-abiding sportsmen and women. Although the vast majority of hunters are ethical, they have to deal with that small percentage who are not. KDWP has 73 NROs to cover the entire state, so they need the help of hunters — and anyone else who enjoys the outdoors — to keep their eyes out for those who don't take wildlife crime seriously.
There is an easy way to combat this problem: phone KDWP's Operation Game Thief hotline, 1-877-426-3843. Using this toll-free number, concerned hunters and landowners can quickly turn in wildlife criminals simply by picking up the phone. All calls received through the Operation Game Thief line are immediately relayed to the natural resource officer nearest the violation. The line is available anytime of day or night, every day of the year, and callers remain anonymous.
Nothing can spoil a good hunt more than that small percentage of unethical “hunters." Although they may seldom describe themselves as such, these people are more properly called poachers. These are the people who trespass, road hunt, litter, take more than their bag limit, drink while they hunt, use illegal equipment, take game out of season, take wildlife for which there is no season, or vandalize. While such behavior is the exception, poachers not only damage the natural resources they should be committed to conserving, they reflect poorly on all hunters in the eyes of the general public.
Operation Game Thief calls have resulted in arrests and convictions on violations ranging from public lands vandalism to deer poaching. In many cases, poachers have been arrested within minutes of the call. Even drug operations have been uncovered by alert hunters using this number.
Never confront suspects, but providing information such as vehicle descriptions and license tag numbers, descriptions of people involved, locations, and the time and location the incident occurred will greatly aid law enforcement. The more specific the information is, the easier it is for natural resource officers to investigate the case.
Remember, when you see someone violating wildlife laws, they are stealing from you and damaging the image of legal hunters. Help bring them to justice by phoning 1-877-426-3843.


Kansas Ornithological Society Christmas Bird Count runs Dec. 14-Jan. 9; Audubon count runs Dec. 14-Jan. 5
PRATT — It’s been a mild fall in Kansas, but winter has arrived, bringing bird watchers the opportunity to bundle up and participate in a Christmas bird count (CBC). Christmas bird counts are great for making new acquaintances, renewing old friendships, and learning more about birds and birdwatching in Kansas.
This is the 111th year for organized Christmas bird counts, and more than 2,000 counts are held across the nation each year. Kansas averages 50 counts per year, with 40 scheduled so far this year and others yet to be announced. Many counts are concentrated in the eastern and southern parts of the state, but in recent years, more have been conducted in western portions of the state — such as Elkhart and Ulysses — providing additional opportunities to participate.
Christmas bird counts are conducted in circular census areas with a 7.5 mile radius. This is consistent from count-to-count and year-to-year, always surveying the same location and ensuring that data collected is comparable for population trends over time.
CBCs are easy to prepare for, the best tools being a pair of binoculars, a good field guide, and appropriate clothing and footwear for possible extreme weather. For those counting in an area with a lake, a good spotting scope can be extremely helpful in identifying birds at a distance. It’s also a good idea to study what the expected species are for your location.
There are many count compilers in Kansas who only send data to the Kansas Ornithological Society (KOS), and these counts are free. The KOS will accept data collected on counts from Dec. 14 through Jan. 9, 2011, giving counters two more weekends to help survey their favorite areas. However, the official Audubon Christmas Bird Count period is Dec. 14 to Jan. 5 every year. The Audubon counts requir a $5 participation fee for persons 18 and older, with the money going toward the cost of data publication.
Information about Kansas CBCs can be found at the Kansas Ornithological Society website, For details, just click 2010-2011 Kansas Christmas Bird Counts.


(KDWP) Milford Nature Center, near Junction City, has recently been awarded the 2010 Master Front-Line Interpreter by the National Association for Interpretation (NAI). Silvosky received the award at an NIA national workshop in Las Vegas on Nov. 18.
The Master Front-Line Interpreter is presented annually to an NAI member who has worked for five or more years in the profession and whose current duties are at least 60 percent front-line interpretation. The recipient must demonstrate a mastery of interpretive techniques, program development, and design of creative projects.
Silovsky has been director of the Milford Nature Center since 1989, where she has developed and maintains dioramas of fish and wildlife, oversees exhibits of live animals, and conducts numerous educational workshops throughout the year, often using live animals — including both bald and golden eagles — that she cares for year-round. She also works throughout the state with interpretive events and nature education competitions such as Eco-Meets and provides classroom presentations, among many other activities.
“Pat demonstrates a mastery of interpretive techniques,” said Lisa Cole, education coordinator for the Lewisville Lake Environmental Learning Area in Lewisville, Texas. Cole, who works in NAI Region 6 (Arkansas, Kansas, Louisiana, Missouri, Oklahoma, and Texas), nominated Silvosky for the award at the regional level, where she won before being honored nationally. “While her topics and themes are similar to what is available at many other nature centers, Pat’s programs are loaded with unusual props, live animals, and plenty of engaging activities,” Cole added. “In addition to being an excellent interpreter, she is a leader and mentor. Pat has served as Region 6 director and as the Kansas state coordinator. She is able to work with people of all ages and spark in them wonder and a greater awareness of Kansas’ natural resources.”
Through its awards program, NAI recognizes outstanding achievements and showcases the successes of NAI members and others working to advance the profession of interpretation. Members have been involved in the interpretation of natural and cultural heritage resources in settings such as parks, zoos, museums, nature centers, aquaria, botanical gardens, and historical sites for more than 50 years. For more information on NAI, go online

Wednesday, December 1, 2010


PRATT — To monitor the health of fisheries and help anglers find the best places to fish, Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks (KDWP) fisheries biologists spend most of each fall sampling lakes throughout the state. In addition, the agency raises and stocks millions of fish throughout the state annually, providing anglers with special opportunities to catch a wide variety of species. Sampling lakes is the best way to determine population health and stocking needs, and fall is the best time to sample fish because it’s the end of the growing season.
Although KDWP biologists can't sample every lake in the state every year, periodic sampling results are assembled to show trends and multi-year averages for some lakes. This information is posted online with the KDWP Fishing Forecast, available on the KDWP website ( in January and published in the March/April issue of Kansas Wildlife & Parksmagazine. The forecast and lake data are valuable tools that can help anglers decide where to fish.
Across the state, 18 district fisheries biologists are responsible for 26 large reservoirs, 40 state fishing lakes, and more than 230 community lakes. KDWP biologists have completed the 2010 sampling and are in the process of compiling results. This data will be used for next year's stocking requests, recommendations for future length and creel limit regulations, other management recommendations, as well as the annual Fishing Forecast.
In September, fisheries biologists may use electroshocking for bass, and in October and November, gill-nets and trap nets are used to sample all sportfish. The nets are pulled onto a boat and the fish removed. Biologists then count, weigh, and measure each fish and record this information, taking care to get the fish back in the water quickly. Netting results are recorded on waterproof paper or a laptop computer.
With a laptop, biologists can enter data on the water, then enter it directly into the department's Aquatic Data Analysis System (ADAS) when they get back to the office, eliminating paperwork. ADAS also allows biologists to enter paper-recorded testing data into the system through a desktop computer. They can then compare results with past years' data, which lets them know the population dynamics of the lake tested and make management decisions, from stocking plans to length and creel limits.

Biologists also use Fisheries Analysis and Simulation Tools (FAST) software program, developed in conjunction with 20 other states. This computer application allows the field biologist to use data from the ADAS system and separate age and growth testing to predict what would happen if certain length or creel limits were imposed on a given lake. Tools such as this allow biologists to better manage fish populations and enhance angling opportunities.
Now that sampling is complete, anglers across Kansas can look forward to the 2011 Kansas Fishing Forecast, which will be available on the KDWP website,, in early 2011.


Trespassers face stiff penalties, damage landowner-hunter relations
PRATT — With the firearm deer season in full swing as of Dec. 1 — and other seasons ongoing — the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks (KDWP) reminds all hunters that it is illegal to hunt on private land, posted or not, without the owner's permission. Whether someone actually enters private land without permission or shoots onto it from the road or another landowner's property without permission, it is illegal.
Geese pouring into corn stubble or deer standing in an open field can be temptations to break the law, especially when hunters are driving country roads. Such temptations should be resisted; not only is trespassing illegal, but hunting from public roads requires permission of landowner adjoining the side of the road being hunted, the center of the road defining who must grant permission. Railroad rights-of-way require permission from the railroad. In addition, written permission is required to enter land posted with hunting and/or trapping "By Written Permission Only" signs or bordered by trees or fence posts painted purple.
In any situation, shooting from a vehicle is illegal unless legally hunting with a disability permit on land where permission has been granted. Shooting from a road is also extremely dangerous, threatening landowners, other hunters, livestock, and equipment.
According to KDWP’s Law Enforcement Division, Kansas convicted 210 poachers for trespassing-related violations in 2009. "This problem drives a wedge between all hunters and landowners, often making it difficult for hunters who once easily obtained permission and have not broken the law," said Mark Rankin, Law Enforcement Division assistant director.

Whether trespassing is accidental or intentional, it damages the hunting heritage. Because trespassing harms landowner-hunter relations — and because the penalties for trespassing can be severe — hunters should be aware of the following trespass issues:

  • landowner permission should be obtained before pursuing wounded game onto private property. If the landowner cannot be found, contact a local natural resource officer or sheriff's office;
  • hunting from roads or railways without legal permission is a form of trespassing called criminal hunting;
  • conviction of trespass or criminal hunting may prevent the convicted person from enjoying hunting privileges in other states. The Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks is a member of the Wildlife Violator Compact, to which 34 other states currently belong. Under this compact, anyone who has had hunting, fishing, or furharvesting privileges revoked or suspended in a member state cannot hunt, trap, or fish in other member states;
  • conviction of simple criminal hunting can result in a maximum fine of $500, plus court costs, and one month in jail on the first conviction. Additionally, the court can suspend or revoke license privileges for up to a year. A second conviction requires at least a one-year suspension of privileges in addition to any fines or jail time;
  • if big game or turkey hunting is involved, the penalties get stiffer. Upon first conviction, the law states that the violator "shall not be fined less than $500 nor more than $1,000 or be imprisoned in the county jail for not more than six months, or both." The law requires fifth and subsequent conviction penalties of a minimum $1,000 fine and minimum 90 days in jail;
  • criminal trespassing is when the violator does not leave property when told;
  • it is illegal to hunt on land requiring written permission without having written permission on one's person;
  • in any of these cases, hunting privileges may also be revoked; and
  • by law, all hunters must have permission whether the land is posted or not.

Hunters can address this problem by always asking for permission courteously and accepting denial in the same manner. Hunters can also help by reporting trespassers. Take down the license tag number and all other details of the violation before phoning a local natural resource officer, sheriff's office, or KDWP's Operation Game Thief toll-free hotline, 1-877-426-3843. (Do not confront the violator.) A list of phone numbers for all natural resource officers, listed by counties they cover, can be found in the 2010 Kansas Hunting & Furharvesting Regulations Summary available wherever licenses are sold, or online at


New youth hunting and/or fishing licenses available Dec. 15
PRATT — Beginning Dec. 15, the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks (KDWP) will offer a resident multi-year youth hunting and/or fishing license, providing convenience and saving money for young hunters and anglers. The new youth licenses will be available for resident youth age 16 through 20. After purchasing the multi-year license, no hunting or fishing license will have to be purchased until the person turns age 21. The one-time purchase, multi-year youth fishing or hunting license is $40. A one-time purchase multi-year youth fishing/hunting combination license is $70.
KDWP Secretary Mike Hayden believes the new youth license will encourage young hunters and anglers — and their parents — to get outside and enjoy what Kansas has to offer. “Hunting or fishing with a son or daughter is a wonderful way to build memories and spend time together as these skills are passed from generation-to-generation,” Hayden said.
All resident hunters and anglers age 16-64 must purchase an annual hunting, fishing, or combination license, so the new multi-year license is a great bargain. The cost of an annual resident hunting or fishing license is $20.50. The annual resident combination license is $38.50. Resident youth will save $62.50 if they purchase the multi-year fishing or hunting license when they turn 16. A 16-year-old will save $122.50 if they buy the multi-year combination license.
In addition to these licenses, all 2011 licenses and permits go on sale Dec. 15 and are valid for the remainder of 2010 and all of 2011. Online license and permit sales are available at the KDWP website,, under “License/Permits” at the top of the home page. Licenses and permits may also be purchased over-the-counter at sporting-good stores.