Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Biologists Take Tissue Samples To Evaluate Bass Stocking Program

EMPORIA – Fisheries biologists at the Meade Fish Hatchery have been fooling Mother Nature to get largemouth bass to spawn earlier than normal. By controlling water temperature and photo-period (day length), along with other biological factors, hatchery staff are able to create an environment where largemouth bass spawn up to two months earlier than they would in the wild. The fry produced have a huge advantage over naturally-spawned bass because they are large enough to feed on small fish through the spring and summer. By fall, these larger bass are more likely to survive their first winter in a Kansas lake.
So far, early-spawn bass have been stocked into select Kansas reservoirs where bass are popular with anglers but natural reproduction and normal stocking practices aren’t maintaining good bass populations. To evaluate the success of the early-spawn program, fisheries staff have conducted creel surveys to determine if catch rates have improved. In addition, DNA testing of adult bass caught in these lakes will tell biologists what percentage of the bass population is made up of early-spawn fish.
A unique quality of the early-spawn program is that genetic records kept on the brood fish allow each bass produced to be traced back to the hatchery. KDWPT biologists are working with bass tournament organizers to obtain samples from bass brought to tournament weigh-ins at select lakes. Recently, staff worked with the East Kansas Bassmasters club during a tournament on Hillsdale Reservoir where early-spawn bass have been stocked since 2012. Fingernail-sized clippings from the upper caudal fin were collected from fish at the weigh-in before the bass were released. The tissue samples will be tested to determine if they came from fish produced at the Meade Fish Hatchery.  
In the past five years, more than 10 million largemouth bass have been produced and stocked through the early-spawn procedure. The evaluation efforts will help biologists determine the program’s effectiveness in bolstering bass populations, as well as what changes should be made to improve stocking success.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Master Angler Awards Go To Lucky Anglers

PRATT ­– So, you caught a big fish; was it luck or was it skill? There’s no doubt a little luck never hurts, but good anglers make their own luck by refining their skills, paying attention to environmental conditions and being persistent. And for that, the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism (KDWPT) wants to recognize them when they catch trophy-class fish.
KDWPT’s Master Angler Award program provides anglers with a certificate when they catch a fish that is at or above the minimum length set for that species. All an angler needs is a tape measure and a camera. Measure the fish, snap a color photo and fill out the application, available in the 2016 Kansas Fishing Regulations Summary or at; click on “Fishing” then click on “Special Fishing Programs.”
Minimum lengths are listed for 33 different species of fish in the regulations summary and online. For example, to receive a Master Angler Award for a largemouth bass, the fish must measure at least 23 inches. The color photo allows species identification.
Even if you are luckier than you are good, and you catch that monster bass, send us an application and we’ll mail you a custom certificate suitable for framing. May is one of the best months of the year to catch big fish, so what are you waiting for?

Friday, May 20, 2016

Leave Wildlife Wild

It’s human nature to “save” a young animal that appears abandoned or lost. However, when a person with good intentions picks up a baby bird, squirrel, or deer, the young animal is usually as good as dead. The best option is always to leave them alone and let nature take its course, even though it’s not always pretty. Often, the young animal is still being cared for by its parents and will have a better chance of surviving if simply left alone.
Unless you’re a licensed wildlife rehabilitator, it is not legal to possess live wild animals. And it can be dangerous because they may carry rabies or distemper. Wild animals commonly have fleas and ticks, which can transmit blood-borne diseases, and they carry bacteria, roundworms, tapeworms, mites and other protozoans that     could infect humans and their pets.
Unfortunately, fawn deer are commonly “saved” by people who find them alone and assume they’ve been abandoned. Most of the time, the doe is nearby, but the mother instinctively stays away from her newborn except at feeding time to avoid drawing the attention of predators. Fawns are scentless and survive by holding absolutely still, even when humans approach.
Storms may blow young birds out of their nests. If the young have feathers and can perch, place them back in a tree or shrub, away from cats or other pets. The parents will still care for them. And don’t worry, they’ll care for them even if you touch them. Birds have a very poor sense of smell and human touch won’t drive the parents away. If you find a nest with featherless nestlings, place it in a plastic bowl and back in the tree. This will be their best chance of survival.
Enjoy watching wildlife this spring, especially if you see youngsters. But make a pact to leave them alone. Let nature take its course and know they have the best chance of survival by staying wild.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Walleye Study at El Dorado, Cheney Relies on Anglers

RATT – Fisheries biologists with the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism will conduct a study during the month of May at Cheney and El Dorado Reservoirs examining the age and sex of angler-harvested walleye. Windshield cards will be placed on vehicles at the two reservoirs during the month of May, asking anglers who harvest walleye to contact the phone number during the survey time period provided on the card. An on-site clerk will then quickly collect information from the harvested fish before returning them back to anglers.
Apart from feeling good about providing critical information to fisheries staff, participants can also walk away with a walleye research team hat in exchange for their cooperation.
Fisheries staff expect the information collected will be helpful in gaining a better understanding of harvested walleye sex ratios, as well as aid in the management of walleye statewide. 
For more information on this study, contact Fisheries regional supervisor Sean Lynott at

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Agencies Cooperate to Control Carp In Milford Reservoir

PRATT – The Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism (KDWPT) is working with the Kansas Department of Health and Environment to remove carp from Milford Reservoir. Research indicates large numbers of carp can increase the potential for harmful blue-green algae blooms because of the sediment the fish stir up while feeding.
KDWPT fisheries biologists work diligently to control sport fish numbers through stocking, habitat enhancement and regulations such as creel and length limits. However, large populations of nonsport, or rough, fish such as carp and buffalo are more difficult to manage and can negatively impact the populations of more desirable species. Carp and buffalo are difficult for anglers to catch because of the fish’s diet and eating habits, nor are they desired or targeted by anglers. Buffalo are filter feeders, eating zooplankton, and carp are bottom feeders, eating zooplankton, insects, crustaceans and worms. In addition to increasing water turbidity and potential for blue-green algae blooms, large populations of these rough fish compete for space and food with sport fish.
Through a bid process, a commercial fisherman is contracted to catch and remove rough fish from Kansas reservoirs. The removal process usually takes place when large numbers of carp and buffalo can be caught without impacting sport fish. Commercial fishing operations are going on this spring at Milford, and anglers may see nets in the upper end.
At times, the market for the meat of certain rough fish species makes the effort profitable. However, KDWPT subsidizes the removal of carp, paying for each pound of carp removed and ensuring that commercial efforts continue even when markets are down.
Agency officials hope that removing carp from Milford will improve water quality and reduce the potential for blue-green algae blooms, while also providing benefits to sport fish.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Dodge City Team Wins Second Straight State Archery Competition

PRATT – Kansas Archery in the Schools hosted its 7th Annual State Archery Tournament,  Saturday, April 9, at Clearwater High School. Three hundred and fifty-five students from 16 schools vied for the state title and a chance to compete nationally. The top 10 male and female competitors from each grade division at the state tournament qualified to compete at the 2016 National Archery in the Schools Tournament in Louisville, Kentucky, May 12-14.
The 16 schools represented at the Kansas state tournament included: Chapman Middle School, Heritage Academy (McCune), Service Valley Charter Academy (Parsons), Clearwater, Norwich Elementary and Middle Schools, Southeast Junior High School (Cherokee), Dodge City High School, Straight Up Archery (Clay Center), Erie Arrows (Erie), Jackson Heights (Holton), Pittsburg High School, Prairie Trail Middle School (Olathe), Chaparral High School (Anthony), Greeley County Schools (Tribune), and Rose Hill.
Divisions include Elementary School (grades 4-5), Middle School (grades 6-8), and High School (grades 9-12). Each competitor shoots 30 arrows over three rounds. A round consists of five arrows from 10 meters and five arrows from 15 meters. A bullseye scores 10 points, so a perfect score would be 300. A team is made up of 12-24 shooters, and the team score is the sum of the top 12 scores.
Team standings by division:
Elementary School
1st Place – Clearwater Team No. 1: 2,799
2nd Place – Clearwater Team No. 2: 2,017
Middle School
1st Place – Chapman Team No. 1: 3,182
2nd Place – Clearwater Team No. 1: 3,176
3rd Place – Service Valley Carter Academy: 3,063
High School
1st Place – Dodge City Team No. 1: 3,166
2nd Place – Pittsburg Team No. 1: 3,102
3rd Place – Erie Arrows: 2,888

Individual standings by division and gender:
Elementary – Kalea Gooch, Clearwater: 252
Middle School – Avery Schill, Clearwater: 269
High School – Jasmin Havens, Pittsburg: 277 *Top girls’ score
Elementary – Bryson Snell, Clearwater: 251
Middle School – Zachery Ferris, Chapman: 280
High School – Justin Ostrom, Dodge City: 287 *Top boys’ score, top overall score
If the name Ostrom appears familiar, Justin’s older brother, Jhett won state last year with the top score of 279. Justin secured the top score this year using the first place awarded Genesis bow that Jhett won last year!
Operating under the umbrella of the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism (KDWPT) and the National Archery in the Schools (NASP) program, the Kansas Archery in the Schools program promotes international-style target archery among students in grades 4-12. Program coordinators introduce archery as a fun, lifelong activity to young people who may have never taken up the sport otherwise.
A 3D archery range was also set up as a separate activity for the students to take their archery skills to another level. The 3D animal targets are made of high density foam and show scoring rings that are anatomically placed over the animal’s vitals. The 3D challenge was added by NASP to show students just one of the many options to grow in archery after NASP. 
For more information, visit or email Aaron Austin at

Aerial Surveys Monitor Lesser Prairie Chicken Population Trends

PRATT – According to the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (WAWFA), aerial surveys for lesser prairie chickens will begin March 17. The surveys, which will continue through mid-May, will be conducted by helicopter throughout the five-state lesser prairie chicken range. The surveys are conducted annually by WAFWA to ascertain population trends and how the bird is responding to management strategies identified in theLesser Prairie Chicken Range-wide Conservation Plan.
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 from landowners and industry. This plan allows agriculture producers and industry to continue operations while reducing impacts to the species and its grassland habitat.
“Working with the wildlife agencies of each of these five states, we’ve established a consistent methodology to conduct these aerial surveys,” explained Bill Van Pelt, WAFWA’s grassland coordinator. “This allows us to get the most accurate information possible so we can see how various management strategies for the bird are working on the ground.”
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.
Last year’s aerial surveys brought good news: an abundance of spring rainfall in 2015, along with ongoing efforts associated with the range-wide plan and other conservation initiatives, helped increase the lesser prairie chicken population by approximately 25 percent from 2014 to 2015. Results from this year’s surveys will be available on July 1.
Despite last year’s encouraging news, the population is still low compared to historical numbers, and concern for the lesser prairie chicken and its habitat still exist. WAFWA is committed to continued successful implementation of the range-wide plan and the long-term recovery of this iconic grassland bird.
For more information about the lesser prairie chicken and the conservation work being done to support it, see the Lesser Prairie Chicken Range-wide Plan at