Wednesday, May 30, 2012


English: Standard universal life jacket Україн...
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
National Safe Boating Week raises awareness of water safety issues prior to Memorial Day Weekend
TOPEKA — Whether part of a vacation or an ordinary summer day, boating can be fun for the entire family — as long as everyone remains safe. The U.S. Coast Guard reports that an estimated 85 percent of boating-related drownings could be prevented by the use of life jackets. Nationally, of the children who drowned while boating in 2003, more than 60 percent were not wearing life jackets, also known as personal flotation devices, or PFDs.
“On a boat, everyone should wear a life jacket at all times,” says Cherie Sage, state director of Safe Kids Kansas. “Look for a life jacket approved by the U.S. Coast Guard. Water wings and other inflatable swimming aids such as inner tubes do not prevent drowning.”
Safe Kids Kansas recommends that children ages 14 and younger wear PFDs not only on boats but near open bodies of water or when participating in water sports. Kansas law requires that all boats have one U.S. Coast Guard-approved, readily-accessible PFD for each person on board. (For details, look on the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism [KDWPT] website,, under “Boating.”) Anyone 12 years old or younger must wear a life jacket at all times when on board a boat.
Safe Kids Kansas urges parents and caregivers to wear life jackets on boats or other watercraft as well. According to a 2005 study by Safe Kids Worldwide, children are much more likely to practice safe habits when they witness similar behavior by parents and caregivers. “Your children will pick up and embrace your safety habits,” says Sage.
Safe Kids Kansas also reminds parents and caregivers to follow these safety rules:
  • always wear life jackets when in or around open bodies of water and on boats. Make sure the life jacket fits snugly. Have the child make a “touchdown” signal — if the life jacket hits the child’s chin or ears, it may be too big or the straps too loose;
  • enroll your kids in swimming lessons taught by a certified instructor, but don’t assume swimming lessons or life jackets make your child “drown proof”;
  • remember that any person ages 12 through 20 must have completed an approved boater education course before operating a vessel without direct supervision of an adult 18 or older who has completed the course or an adult who is 21 or older. No one younger than 12 may operate a vessel without supervision regardless of boater education certification;
  • avoid alcoholic beverages while boating;
  • when there are several adults present and children are swimming, designate an adult as the “water watcher” for a specific amount of time to prevent lapses in supervision;
  • install a carbon monoxide detector on inboard and cabin motorboats to alert you to dangerous levels of exhaust fumes; and
  • learn infant and child CPR. Many local hospitals, fire departments, Red Cross offices, and recreation departments offer CPR training.
National Safe Boating Week is an annual educational campaign coordinated by the National Safe Boating Council,, running the week prior to Memorial Day. For more information about drowning and boating-related injuries, call Safe Kids Kansas at 785-296-0351 or visit For more information about safe boat operations, contact the Coast Guard Info line at (800) 368-5647 or visit
And don’t forget boating safety classes. Class schedules and a home study course may be found online at the KDWPT website,, under “Boating/Education.”

Tuesday, May 29, 2012


Taken in Rock Creek, DC Brian Gratwicke Catego...
 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Everyone may fish without a license; scout hotspots online
PRATT — The Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism (KDWPT) will offer 2012 Free Fishing Days on June 2-3, helping launch the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation’s (RBFF) National Fishing Week, June 2-10. On the weekend of June 2-3, anglers of all ages may fish without a fishing license. Ordinarily, nonresidents 16 or older and residents age 16 through 64 must have a fishing license to fish in Kansas, but on Free Fishing Days, everyone gets to fish for free, making this the ideal time to introduce curious would-be anglers of any age to an outdoor pastime that will provide pleasure throughout their lives.
In conjunction with National Fishing Week, RBFF has launched the “Nature’s Waterpark Showdown,” which uses the Facebook page to highlight parks around the country. In Kansas, El Dorado State Park has been nominated, one of 23 parks in the nation to receive the honor. The promotion will run for eight weeks and will culminate in a list of the top eight parks in the country based on fan votes. Once fans have voted, they can also register to win weekly prizes and one Grand Prize. The Grand Prize winner will receive a trip for four to one of the top-eight parks of their choice.
Kansas has hundreds of lakes and streams, including numerous conveniently-located community lakes. Finding the ideal fishing location is simple: go to the KDWPT website,, click "Fishing" at the top of the page, then “Where to Fish in Kansas” in the left-hand column.
Public fishing waters also are listed in the Kansas Fishing Regulations Summary, available on the KDWPT website or in printed form at KDWPT offices and license vendors around the state. The summary also provides a fish identification guide, length and creel limits, and a variety of additional information for anglers. The 2012 Kansas Fishing Atlas includes maps with locations of all state-managed and F.I.S.H. waters.
For information on fishing prospects, lake ratings for all sportfish may be found on the KDWPT’s online Fishing Forecast. In addition, the most recent biologists' fishing reports may be found on the Fishing Reports page.
Late May and early June are some of the best times to take advantage of Kansas angling opportunities. If you haven't already bought a license or are curious about fishing, take advantage of this opportunity on June 2-3.

Monday, May 28, 2012


Micropterus salmoides
 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Revitalized fishery, improved water quality, new facilities enhance lake
HORTON — Renovation of Horton Mission Lake East (½ mile north of Highway 20 on the east edge of Horton) is complete, and it is time to get out and enjoy this revitalized fishery. Mission Lake was opened to fishing on May 23.
Since the fishery was cleaned out last August, several thousand fish have been stocked, including fathead minnows, bluegill, black crappie, and largemouth bass. Some of these were smaller hatchery fish; however, a good portion were adults that were relocated from surrounding waters.
Is there a keeper fish behind every clump of vegetation or in every new brush pile? Probably not, but when Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism (KDWPT) biologists sampled the lake in mid-May, they saw a healthy young fishery. And since the renovation, water clarity has improved to more than 4 feet, much better than the 4-7 inches the lake used to have.
In addition to improving the fishery, staff have made several new additions to lake facilities, including a concrete boat ramp, courtesy dock, several fishing piers, two fish feeders, and several new campsites with electrical hookups.

Sunday, May 27, 2012


Fawn Under a tree
 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Taking fawns from wild is usually a death sentence
PRATT — Recently, Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism (KDWPT) staff have received numerous reports of individuals taking young fawns from the wild and either attempting to raise them or taking them to licensed wildlife rehabilitators. KDWPT reminds everyone that picking up these young animals — under any circumstances — is against the law. Both the KDWPT and the Department of Health and Environment have regulations against such activity.
Often, well-meaning Kansans see a deer fawn by itself and assume that it has been abandoned by its mother. In almost all cases, the mother is actually nearby, keeping a hidden eye on the young. If those well-meaning folks decide to "rescue" the young animal, they are usually giving it a death sentence.
The majority of fawns are born in late May and early June. However, some whitetail does may breed for the first time in late winter, so newborn fawns may be seen as late as July or even August. If found alone, these charming young animals are tempting targets for the misinformed wildlife lover.
“Wildlife kidnapping" incidents are reported each year. The young often fail to survive in captivity, and if they do, they almost always lose the instincts that allow them to survive in the wild and are thus condemned to a life in captivity.
Wild animals are better off left in the wild. They cannot legally be inoculated by veterinarians, and few people really know how to care for them. Due to the threat of chronic wasting disease, KDWPT discourages wildlife rehabilitators from accepting them. In at least one case, a “rescued” fawn infected with the disease was transported from northwestern Kansas to Hutchison.
"We encourage the public to leave fawns in the wild," said Shane Hesting, wildlife disease coordinator for KDWPT. "As we all know, in many cases, lone fawns are seldom 'orphaned'. The mother is usually nearby but out of sight, keeping watch. The risk of spreading such a dangerous disease should override the emotion of wanting to 'save' a fawn."
If you see young animals in the wild this spring or summer, consider yourself lucky to have seen them. But remember, their mother is most likely watching nearby. Leave them in the wild world where they were born and where they belong.

Saturday, May 26, 2012


Pronghorn antelope on the Fort Keogh rangeland.
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Applications accepted only online; archery permits over the counter July 25
PRATT — The Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism (KDWPT) is accepting applications for the resident firearm and muzzleloader antelope permit drawing. Applications may be submitted online through the KDWPT website, Click "License/Permits" in the upper right-hand corner of the page to begin the process. Paper applications are not available. For more information, phone 620-672-0728.
Open to Kansas residents only, more than 1,000 applications are expected for the 150 firearm and 46 muzzleloader permits available this year. Hunters who are unsuccessful in the drawing receive a preference point. It may require six or more preference points for a general resident to draw a firearm permit, or three or four preference points to draw a muzzleloader permit, depending on the number of applicants. Half the permits allocated in each unit are set aside for landowner/tenant applicants. Those who do not want to apply for a permit and want to purchase a preference point only may select "preference point only" online for $6.50. Only one preference point may be obtained per year.
Archery antelope permits are unlimited, and both resident and nonresident hunters can purchase permits over the counter. One open archery unit comprises the same area as the three firearm units combined. On average, fewer than 200 archery permits are sold each year. Archery antelope permits will be available over the counter from July 25 through Oct. 30.
2012 antelope season dates:
  • firearm season — Oct. 5-8;
  • muzzleloader season — Oct. 1-8; and
  • archery season — Sept. 22-30 and Oct. 15-31.
Shooting hours for all seasons are one-half hour before sunrise to one-half hour after sunset.
Firearm and muzzleloader antelope general resident permits are $47.50, and resident landowner/tenant permits are $27.50. General resident archery antelope permits are $42.50; landowner/tenant archery permits are $22.50; and nonresident archery permits are $202.50. (Internet and processing fees also apply.) Unless exempt, all permit holders must also possess a Kansas hunting license.
The first modern-day antelope (properly called "pronghorn") hunting season in Kansas was held in 1974. Nearly 500 hunters applied for 80 permits, and 70 animals were harvested. Today, hunting is restricted to three management units that include parts or all of Sherman, Thomas, Wallace, Logan, Gove, Trego, Greeley, Wichita, Scott, Lane, Ness, Hamilton, Kearny, Finney, Gray, Hodgeman, Ford, Stanton, Grant, Haskell, Morton, Stevens, Seward, Meade and Clark counties.
For more information on hunting antelope in Kansas, go to Hunting/Big Game/Antelope on the KDWPT website.

Public Health Advisory Issued for Portion of Arkansas River

English: Map of the Arkansas River watershed i...
Map of the Arkansas River watershed in the south-central United States. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Advisory extends from Lincoln Street Bridge in Wichita to Oklahoma state line
TOPEKA — The Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) has issued a public health advisory for a portion of the Arkansas River due to elevated levels of bacteria discovered during routine stream sampling by KDHE’s ambient water quality monitoring program. KDHE has also confirmed a report of a fish kill in the Arkansas River in areas where there is black, odiferous water.

The health advisory covers a the stretch of the Arkansas River from the Lincoln Street Bridge in central Wichita to the Oklahoma state line.

KDHE advises individuals to have no contact with the Arkansas River between the locations identified above until further notice. Residents are also advised to keep their pets and livestock from making contact with the water.

The cause has not been identified. KDHE is conducting an investigation and will follow up with additional water testing to determine when this notice can be lifted.

Friday, May 25, 2012


May 24, 2012
Survey indicates highly-satisfied Memorial Day weekend visitors
PRATT — Looking for a peaceful, uncrowded Memorial Day weekend outdoor experience? Try one of the more than 40 Kansas state fishing lakes. Anglers surveyed who fished state fishing lakes reported low levels of crowding, high satisfaction, and sufficient access from shore at these small Kansas gems. In most cases, there is minimal to no wait time to launch a boat and plenty of parking available.
In addition to fishing, picnicking and primitive camping are popular activities at state fishing lakes. Some — including Kingman, McPherson, Mined Land, and Ottawa — offer modern, affordable cabins for those who prefer not to camp. Many state fishing lakes also have ADA-compliant facilities, such as accessible docks and piers.
You don’t need a boat to enjoy the state fishing lake angling experience because numerous piers, jetties, and accessible shoreline are available for easy access. Almost half of anglers visiting these lakes fish from shore and find plenty of access without a boat.
As the name suggests, most state fishing lakes are managed for anglers, so no pleasure boating, skiing, or swimming is allowed. However, because Crawford, Meade, and Scott are also state parks, they provide full-service camping and allow swimming, and Crawford and Scott allow some recreational boating and offer recreational facilities such as sand volleyball courts, bathhouses, and horseshoe pits. Chase State Fishing Lake also has a swimming beach. Water-use restrictions may limit their appeal to some outdoor users, but for others, the limitation may be a peaceful plus.
Most visitors do not feel crowded at Kansas state fishing lakes, even on this busiest weekend of the year, so these lakes are great alternatives to large federal reservoirs. If you just want to enjoy nature, camp, and fish, you may be able to find a great family-friendly spot all to yourself.

Friday, May 18, 2012


U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary Official Mark Websa...
 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Certification required of boat operators ages 12 through 20
PRATT — Summer is just around the corner, and many Kansas boaters have already begun a new boating season. For those who haven’t, there are the usual preparations such as changing the lower unit grease and putting new spark plugs in the outboard, making sure life jackets are in good condition, and checking the fire extinguisher charge. And the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism (KDWPT) reminds boaters about the importance of boater education before taking to the water.
Any person age 12 through 20 who wishes to operate a vessel (personal watercraft, power boat, sailboat) in Kansas without direct supervision must complete an approved boater education course. Direct supervision means being able to take over in case of an emergency. For a personal watercraft, this means that the supervising adult must be on the same vessel, not riding next to it. The supervising adult must be at least 18 years old and either have completed a boater education course or be exempt because they are older than 21. No one younger than 12 may operate a vessel without supervision regardless of boater education certification, and the course is recommended for everyone.
Courses are offered in three different formats: traditional classroom, home study, or Internet-based. Traditional instruction is provided by trained volunteers, KDWPT natural resource officers, and members of the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary. Home study and online Internet course work are also provided. All courses must be at least eight hours long. A list of courses and more details may be found on the KDWPT website,, under “Boating/Boating-Education.”
The Kansas Boating Education Program is designed to reduce boating accidents and violations while promoting legal, courteous, and responsible boating practices. Boating safety and responsibility are stressed throughout the course. Additional topics include ethics and courtesy, accident prevention, general information about boats, safe operating procedures, required safety equipment, boating laws, and general boating safety concerns.
More 80,000 boats are registered in the state of Kansas, so being aware of boating regulations and safe boating practices is essential. Taking a boating education class will help ensure that your trip to the lake is safe and enjoyable for the whole family, and completion of an authorized course might even entitle you to a discount on boat insurance.

Thursday, May 17, 2012


May 17, 2012
KDWPT programs enhance fishing opportunity statewide
PRATT — May is the busiest month for Kansas anglers. Most sport fish species are in shallow water — some just done spawning and others just getting ready. All are more accessible to anglers and easier to catch now than at other times of the year. A look at state records and the Master Angler Award program provides more evidence.
The Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism (KDWPT) issues Master Angler Award certificates to applying anglers who catch fish as long or longer than minimum lengths set for each species (see KDWPT website or the 2012 Kansas Fishing Regulations Summary for minimum lengths and applications). Of the more than 200 certificates that are issued each year, more than 30 percent are caught in May. And 30 percent of the fish species listed as Kansas state records were caught during the month of May. For more information, look on the KDWPT website,, under “Fishing/Special Fishing Programs for You/Master Angler Award Program.”
Other KDWPT programs help anglers catch more fish. Under the Community Fisheries Assistance Program (CFAP), the agency uses matching funds from federal excise taxes on fishing equipment and motor boat fuel to lease fishing rights to nearly 240 community lakes statewide, removing fishing and boating fees for anglers on approximately 13,000 acres of water. The Urban Fishing Program stocks 80 lakes with 3/4- to 1 1/2-pound channel catfish, hybrid sunfish, and wipers as often as every two weeks from April through September. All cities with available public fishing waters and populations larger than 40,000 are served by this program.
A rising star among KDWPT fishing programs is the Fishing Impoundments and Stream Habitat (F.I.S.H.) program. The program enrolls 1,500 acres of ponds and more than 90 miles of streams on private land for public fishing access. The program includes ponds and lakes ranging from 5 acres to more than 100 acres, as well as access to stream reaches formerly unavailable to the public. F.I.S.H. sites are open to public access from March 1 through October 31. The 2012 Kansas Fishing Atlas, available wherever licenses are sold, provides detailed maps showing all public fishing waters in Kansas, including CFAP and F.I.S.H.
In addition to these programs, KDWPT conducts numerous fishing clinics for youngsters throughout the state, and several how-to fishing videos may be found on the KDWPT website under “Fishing/How to Fish.”
Finding the ideal fishing location is simple. Go to the KDWPT website and click "Fishing" at the top of the page, then “Where to Fish in Kansas” in the left-hand column. Public fishing waters also are listed in the Kansas Fishing Regulations Summary, available on the website or in printed form at KDWPT offices and license vendors around the state. The summary also provides a fish identification guide, length and creel limits, and a variety of additional information for anglers.
For information on fishing prospects, lake ratings for all sportfish may be found under Fishing Forecast. Anglers can report their own experiences and read those of others on the department's Public Fishing Reports page.
KDWPT is participating in Cabela’s Wanna Go Fishing for Millions? contest by tagging fish in the following Kansas reservoirs: Milford, Glen Elder, Cheney, Clinton, El Dorado, Cedar Bluff and Hillsdale. The competition began May 5 and gives anglers a chance to win as much as $2 million in cash and more than $225,000 in additional prizes by catching tagged fish in select lakes across 19 states. Anglers must register online at to participate in the contest. In addition, anglers must comply with Kansas fishing regulations and licensing and permit requirements.
If these programs are not enough to entice you to go fishing, check out Kansas Free Fishing Days, June 2-3. On these days, anglers of all ages may fish without a fishing license. Ordinarily, nonresidents 16 or older and residents age 16 through 64 must have a fishing license to fish in Kansas, but on June 2-3, everyone gets to fish for free, making this the ideal time to introduce youngsters to a healthy, challenging pastime that offers a lifetime of pleasure. So get out and enjoy the weather — fish Kansas!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012


White-tailed deer in Toronto, Canada
 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
PRATT — The Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism (KDWPT) has completed the nonresident deer permit drawing for the 2012 seasons, and for those applicants who were unsuccessful, there’s good news: more than 4,000 permits are left over from the initial drawing. These permits will go on sale first-come, first-served beginning June 18, online at
Nonresident hunters who were successful in the drawing should expect their permits in the mail about the second week in June. Those who were unsuccessful — more than 600 applicants — will be notified about the same time. Applicants can check the number of deer permits by unit that are still available online at the KDWPT website,, under “Hunting/Applications-and-Fees/Deer/Quotas-and-Draw-Stats.” Department staff will update this site frequently.
Applicants will be able to check the status of individual applications at about June 1.
June 8 is the deadline for resident-only firearm and muzzleloader antelope permits. Antelope archery permits may be purchased online and over the counter July 25 through Oct. 30. Archery antelope permits are available to both resident and nonresident.