APRIL 2002 NEWS RELEASES 

 

Week of April 25, 2002

Week of April 18, 2002

Week of April 11, 2002

Week of April 4, 2002

Commission Tours McCurtain County

Instead of meeting at Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation headquarters in Oklahoma City, the Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Commission had a change of venue for its regular monthly meeting held April 1. The Commission met in Broken Bow and combined the meeting with special tours the Three Rivers Wildlife Management Area in McCurtain County.

During the meeting held at the Forest Heritage Center within Beaver's Bend State Park, the Commission voted to approve a resolution in support of State Question 698. The state question would raise the percentage of legal voters from eight to fifteen percent required to sign a petition that would bring to the vote of the people a proposal to abolish or diminish legal hunting, fishing and trapping activities. Although the state question addresses other forms of recreation involving animals, the Commission's resolution focuses exclusively on the outdoor recreation aspects of SQ 698.

Commissioners heard a presentation on the lower Mountain Fork River trout fishery, one of the state's most important trout fisheries. According to James Vincent streams biologist with the Wildlife Department, approximately 35 percent of statewide trout stamp sales occur in the Mountain Fork area. Combining beautiful scenery with first class trout fishing, the 12-mile stretch of river offers opportunities for beginners and pros alike. Each year around 100,000 trout are stocked in the cool waters. Established in 1989, biologists are continuing to improve the trout fishery by maintaining optimum water temperatures, improving access and increasing habitat by adding boulder clusters and check flow dams.

In association with their regular meeting, the commission toured the Three Rivers Wildlife Management Area. The area was established in May 1998 through a cooperative agreement between Weyerhaeuser Company and the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation and to date has been deemed an outstanding success. Covering 450,000 acres of mountainous woodlands, the area offers sportsmen excellent hunting for Eastern wild turkeys and white-tailed deer as well great fishing away from the crowds, all for only $16 a year ($25 for non-residents). As part of the unique partnership each cooperator has different responsibilities; the Wildlife Department responsibilities include making habitat recommendations and cooperating in reporting illegal activities and Weyerhaeuser Company responsibilities include maintaining recreational access and managing streamside zones to minimize land disturbance.

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Sand Bass Biting

South winds and warm rains mean one thing across Oklahoma; it is time to go white bass fishing. White bass, or sandbass as they are called, migrate into streams and rivers feeding lakes in late March and April.

"It looks like the sand bass should be hitting their peak run (migration) here in the very near future," said John Stahl northwest region supervisor for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.

According to Stahl, he looks for blooming red bud trees and water temperatures in the low 50's as good signals to when the silver-sided fish begin their run. Oklahoma's state fish, the white bass is an aggressive feeder, particularly during the spring spawn. White bass make excellent tablefare and can be found in every large reservoir throughout the state.

"Jigs, spinners and minnows are all good choices for sandies during the spring," Stahl said.

White bass fishing can also be a great way to introduce kids to fishing.

"It can really be a lot of fun for the whole family," said Damon Springer, aquatic resources education coordinator for the Wildlife Department. "There is often plenty of action to keep kids interested, plus it is great just to get outside on a beautiful spring day."

Great white bass fishing can be found in every corner of the state. The spring run may already have begun in the warmer southern half of the state. Southern Oklahoma anglers should find some good action at Gains Creek above Lake Eufaula and upper Mountain Fork above Broken Bow Lake. Savvy anglers have long known that Hickory Creek above Lake Texoma and the Little River above Lake Thunderbird consistently produce stringers of sand bass.

White bass in the northern half of the state should be beginning their run during the next extended warm spell. Fishermen may find the Canadian River above Canton Lake, feeder creeks on Lake Ft. Gibson and the Horseshoe Bend area of Lake Tenkiller to be white bass hotspots.

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Red Slough Wetland Receives Award

The U.S.D.A. Forest Service recently awarded the Ouachita National Forest and Ducks Unlimited the prestigious National "Taking Wing" Award for habitat restoration at Red Slough Wetland in McCurtain County. The award, which was established in the mid-80s to improve wetland habitat for waterfowl on national forests and grasslands, was presented April 3 in Dallas.

"Habitat at the Red Slough Wetland demonstrates the ability to work together to deliver effective land stewardship and integrated bird conservation," said U.S. Forest Service Chief Dale Bosworth in a memo to regional foresters this month. "Many voices echoed that we are indeed working hand-in-hand with partners and the public in the conservation of natural resources."

An inter-agency team comprised of the Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS), the USDA Forest Service, the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation (ODWC) and Ducks Unlimited, Inc., shares responsibility for restoration, enhancement, and day-to-day management of the more than 7,000-acre Red Slough Wetland.

"Ducks Unlimited has been a partner of the Forest Service since 1984," said Ross Melinchuk, director of state and federal relations, Ducks Unlimited, Inc. "We are excited about the success of the Red Slough restoration and pleased to be among the partners receiving the Taking Wing Award."

According to Ouachita National Forest Supervisor Alan Newman the Red Slough Wetland has become increasingly important for numerous species of waterfowl and neotropical migrants since coming into public ownership in 1997.

"The Red Slough Management team has done an outstanding job of increasing wetland habitat by transforming the slough from a working rice farm to a unique habitat for wintering, migrating, and breeding species," Newman said. "It's fast becoming a premier birding and waterfowl hunting destination in Oklahoma."

Waterfowl hunters and bird watchers have traveled from as far away as Minnesota, North Carolina, Florida, and Illinois to see some of the nearly 300 species at Red Slough. Managers say as word gets out about this hidden treasure, visitation to the area will increase even more.

Taking Wing, led by the USDA Forest Service, is a partnership program that brings together, the public, and partnering agencies to increase conservation for waterfowl, shorebirds, and water birds.

For more information on the Red Slough Wetland log on to the U.S. Forest Service web site at www.fs.fed.us/oonf.htm

Youth wildlife camp deadline approaching

The application deadline is quickly approaching for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation's fourth annual Wildlife Youth Camp. Youth interested in wildlife, fisheries or law enforcement have until April 15 to submit their application.

The camp, scheduled June 9-14 at Camp McFadden near Ponca City, is open to Oklahoma youths ages 14 to 16. Additionally, applicants must have been enrolled in school during the 2001-2002 school year. Participants will attend courses in firearms handling, wildlife law enforcement, wildlife and fisheries biology, water safety, self-defense, rifle and shotgun training, waterfowl hunting, and archery. Course instruction is provided be Oklahoma game wardens and other wildlife professionals.

The camp is free of charge but will be limited to 35 participants. Applicants should be interested in fish and wildlife management or law enforcement and must submit a 75-word essay explaining why they want to attend the camp, why they believe they should be selected and what they expect to learn while attending. They must also submit a letter of recommendation from a person of their choice other than a family member.

To obtain applications, contact the Wildlife Department's Law Enforcement Division at P.O. Box 53465, Oklahoma City, OK 73152, or by calling 405/521-3719. Applications may also be available from local wardens or from the Wildlife Department's Web site at www.wildlifedepartment.com. Simply print off the application, fill it out and mail it in with the essay and letter of recommendation.

Controlled hunts application online

Oklahoma hunters wanting to apply for the Department of Wildlife Conservation's controlled hunts can now do so online through the Department's Web site www.wildlifedepartment.com. The system was recently activated and allows hunters to apply for controlled hunts including deer, turkey, elk, antelope, upland birds, and pursuit with hounds-raccoon hunts. The application deadline is May 3, 2002.

Before online applicants can apply in the various hunt offerings, the system requires each applicant to pay a $5 processing fee via secure credit card transaction. The $5 fee is required of all persons who apply for controlled hunts, including lifetime hunting or lifetime combination license holders. The fee was authorized by the 2001 Legislature to offset rising costs for administering the program.

According to Melinda Sturgess-Streich, chief of administration for the Department, the fee is required per person, and not per application. Once a hunter pays his $5 fee to enter the system, he can apply for hunts in multiple categories.

"We have had some overpayments sent in by hunters using the conventional mail-in applications which we've had to refund to them," said Sturgess-Streich. "For this and other reasons, we're really encouraging hunters who still haven't applied for controlled hunts to use the secure online system. Upon applying for a person's first hunt category, the system requires the $5 credit card payment and doesn't allow overpayment. Once a hunter is registered as a paid applicant, they are then free to continue applying for additional categories."

Sturgess-Streich added that the online application also ensures that applicants provide all the information required to apply. Missing information such as social security numbers, hunting license numbers, and date of birth, will halt the application system until they are filled in correctly.

"Also for those hunters apprehensive about using a credit card over the Internet, we've taken the appropriate steps to ensure our system is completely secure," Sturgess-Streich added.

In 2001, nearly two-thirds of all hunters used the online application method for controlled hunts. For more information regarding controlled hunts, log on to www.wildlifedepartment.com, or pick up the hard copy Oklahoma 2002 Controlled Hunts booklet available wherever hunting and fishing licenses are sold.

Float tubes good for pond catfish

Since their invention in the 1940s, bass anglers have used float tubes to access hard to reach fishing spots, especially on farm ponds. Bass aren't the only fish that float tubers can catch however. With a few tackle considerations, float tubes can be very effective on ponds stocked with channel catfish.

"Several years ago, we had a chance to film a unique fishing segment for ‘Outdoor Oklahoma’ with some expert catfish anglers who used float tubes," said Rich Fuller, information supervisor with the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. "The preferred tube fishing catfish pole is a 10- to 13-foot telescoping fiberglass panfish pole. Some tackle stores in Oklahoma stock the inexpensive poles, but they are more common in southern states like Louisiana and Florida where they're called 'bream' poles."

Fuller added that the poles have a small built in reel that is spooled with six- or eight- pound monofilament line which feeds through the center of the long pole. The monofilament line should be replaced with the new 30-pound test braided line that some anglers are using on conventional spinning reels or level wind reels.

Hooks used with the catfish pole rig should be small number six or eight sized light wire treble hooks. If the hooks get caught in submerged snags, then they will straighten out before the 30 pound braided line breaks. A small pair of needle-nosed pliers can put the bend back in the hook, which lets the angler quickly resume fishing. This can usually be done several times before the hook needs to be replaced.

Fuller said that any popular catfish baits will work with the rig, but a favorite used by float tubers is chicken blood.

"Channel catfish have tremendous olfactory senses and congealed chicken blood is very effective," said Fuller. "The fellas we filmed also use a thin ‘porcupine quill’ type of slipcork. While the thin float keeps the bait up off the bottom, it doesn't provide any resistance to the fish when he bites the bait and so you rarely have a fish spit it out before getting hooked."

Fuller said an upcoming episode of "Outdoor Oklahoma" will again feature float tube fishing for catfish on Sunday, April 14 at 8:00 a.m. on OETA-The Oklahoma Network.

"Blake Podhajsky not only works on our ‘Outdoor Oklahoma’ program, but in his spare time he plays in a rock band," said Fuller. "We had a chance to film Blake and his bandmates on their introduction to the sport of float tubing for catfish. For some it was their first fishing experience and certainly the first time they've ever been in a float tube.

"I think they had quite an adventure."

Outdoor Oklahoma features such topics as fishing, hunting; and fisheries, game and non-game wildlife management. The 30-minute program can be seen on OETA-The Oklahoma Network Sundays at 8:00 a.m. and Saturdays at 6:00 p.m. Outdoor Oklahoma can also be seen on the following television stations: KSBI Network (greater OKC metro area), Mondays-5:00 p.m., Thursdays-10: 30 p.m., Saturdays-1:30 p.m., KTEN (south-central and southeastern Oklahoma) Sundays-5 a.m., KWEM (Stillwater), Wednesdays-8:00 p.m., Fridays-7:00 p.m. and Sundays-8:00 p.m.

For a complete listing of show times and channels in your viewing area, consult the Department's Web site at www.wildlifedepartment.com or your local TV guide.

Statewide quail meetings proposed

Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation personnel will be addressing various quail management issues in a series of public meetings to be held across the state.

"This is a great opportunity for individuals interested in quail management to come out and talk about topics affecting quail including, predators, hunting pressure and the quail initiative," said Mike Sams, upland game biologist for the Wildlife Department.

Sams said that the state's new 10-point quail initiative focuses on maintaining healthy quail populations in Oklahoma. Parts of the plan include seeking funding to provide incentives to landowners to enhance habitat, identifying key areas for habitat improvements, educating the public about quail and working with public utilities and the Department of Transportation in developing right of way management practices that conserve nesting habitat for quail and other grassland birds.

 

Population surveys show quail numbers are down over most of the state, a trend observed throughout the entire southeastern United States. Even with recent declines, Oklahoma is one of the few remaining states where hunters can pursue relatively large numbers of wild quail. Hunters harvest an estimated one to two million birds a year in the state, which consistently ranks nationally in the top three for harvest.

Sams added that through sound management and cooperation with landowners, Oklahomans can ensure that the state remains one of the top quail states in the nation.

"Through the meetings we hope to provide some insight on the status of quail in Oklahoma and the things that we can do to ensure that the quail population continues to thrive in Oklahoma," Sams said.

The following is a list of the meetings and their locations. All meetings begin at 7 p.m.

March 28 - Tulsa
Tulsa Central Library, 400 Civic Center, Aaronson Auditorium.

April 1 - Oklahoma City
Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, 1801 N. Lincoln Blvd.

April 8 - Clinton
Clinton City Hall, 415 Gary Blvd.

April 11 - Enid
Enid Fire Department, 301 W. Owen K. Garriot

April 15 - McAlester
Kiamichi Technology Center, 69 By-pass

April 19 - Idabel 
Kiamichi Technology Center, 3 miles North on Hwy 70

April 22 - Lawton
Lawton Public Library, 110 S.W. 4th St.

April 25 - Ardmore
Southern Oklahoma Technology Center, 2610 Sam Noble Parkway

April 29 - Woodward 
Northwest Electric Cooperative, 2925 Williams

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Crappie spawn coming soon

Spring is here and it's time for Oklahoma sportsmen to dust off their fishing tackle.

The warmer weather predicted for the next few weeks will be a great time to get outdoors and take advantage of Oklahoma's excellent crappie fishing opportunities. Crappie are one of the most sought after fish and the angling action is heating up across the Sooner State.

"The crappie are starting to bite, and it's only going to get better during the next month," said Paul Mauck, southcentral fisheries supervisor for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. 

Mauck said crappie can be found moving into shallow water to spawn once the water temperature reaches the upper 50s. 

 

"They will generally start spawning first in the southern half of the state," he said. "A general rule of thumb is that for every 100 miles north from the Red River you travel, you can expect the crappie to spawn a week later."

Crappie spawning generally takes place in fairly shallow water, often only 18 to 36 inches deep. Females may deposit between 25,000 and 75,000 eggs before returning to deeper water, leaving the males to guard the eggs. Once the eggs hatch, males linger for a few additional days to continue guarding the fry. 

"They seem to prefer gradually sloping points with firm bottoms. The upper areas of the reservoirs that have some brush or other cover are usually the most productive spots," Mauck said.

He added that a wide variety of lures can be used, including small spinners, jigs and minnows.

"It is tough to beat the old stand-by minnow and bobber. That is probably the most consistent way to catch crappie," Mauck said.

Crappie are fun to catch, but that is not the only thing that has made them so popular. They are also one of the tastiest fish around. Lightly bread fillets in cornmeal and fry in vegetable oil until they float, and you will soon be heading to the lake to catch more.

For a complete list of regulations anglers should pick up a copy of the 2002 Oklahoma Fishing Guide before heading out on any fishing adventure or log on to the Departments web site at www. wildlifedepartment.com.

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Relocated elk to help Pushmataha herd

Recently, the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation relocated eight elk to the Pushmataha Wildlife Management Area (WMA) in an effort to improve the herd's vigor and genetic variability.

Once common in pre-settled Oklahoma, elk shared the same fate as the buffalo and were eliminated by market and subsistence hunters by the 1870s. Along with restoration of white-tailed deer, the wildlife department released elk in the early 1970s on several WMAs including Spavinaw Hills, Cookson Hills and Pushmataha. The herds expanded rapidly, but over several generations have lost genetic diversity and have become encapsulated. According to Jack Waymire, senior southeast region wildlife biologist with the Department, relocation of eight new animals to the herd at the Pushmataha WMA should benefit the health of the herd.

 

"We have approximately 40 animals in the Pushmataha herd. Our herd is isolated and unlike the large herds in western states, does not have the capability to mix with other elk and ensure genetic variability. Genetic diversity promotes greater immunity to certain illnesses and also results in better reproduction. These eight new animals should help restore some diversity back to the herd."

The elk, composed of three adult bulls and five adult cows were released on the Pushmataha WMA in late March. In addition to providing new bloodlines to the existing herd, biologists will also use the new animals to learn more about elk movement and habitat use on the area. 

Six of the eight animals have been affixed with radio telemetry collars so biologists can determine their location and whether they have mixed with the existing herd. Additionally, the collars will help biologists determine if the new bulls have been successful in acquiring a dominant position as a breeding bull and what types of habitat they prefer at different times of the year. 

Through donations by the Oklahoma Station of Safari Club International, the elk were purchased from Timberline Ranch, a private commercial elk ranch in Cushing. The elk have been inoculated for tuberculosis and brucellosis and are determined to be in good health by the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture.

"We want to extend our greatest thanks to the Safari Club and Timberline Ranch for making this restoration project possible," said Waymire. "Transporting something as large as one bull elk can prove to be a challenge, much less three bulls and five cows, but all of the animals made the trip in excellent condition and have adjusted well to their new surroundings."

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Hummingbirds need your help

The onset of spring is a signal to backyard birders that its time to put up their hummingbird feeders. Birders may not be aware, however, of the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation's hummingbird citizen monitoring project.

"The numbers of hummingbird survey participants have dwindled over the past few years, and we still need input on the numbers and types of 'hummers' people are seeing at the feeders," said Melynda Hickman, wildlife diversity program biologist with the Wildlife Department. "Although these birds are familiar to many, we hope to learn more about the four species of hummingbirds that visit Oklahoma each spring.

Along with the common ruby-throated hummingbird, Hickman said three other species, the black-chinned, rufous and broad-tailed hummingbird, also visit Oklahoma. The Oklahoma Hummingbird Survey is designed to help Department biologists and other wildlife professionals track the populations of these sometimes rare and always beautiful visitors.

 

 

The Wildlife Diversity Program provides a free brochure that describes the biology of these smallest of Oklahoma's birds and contains a survey form which birders can use to report their hummingbird observations.

The free brochure also contains information about plant species that can be used to attract hummingbirds, as well as butterflies, to the backyard. The Department’s "Oklahoma Wildscapes" program provides information and guidance for individuals on landscaping their properties with a wide variety of wildlife species in mind,” said Hickman.

Besides the hummingbird brochure, people also can order the $5 Oklahoma Wildscapes Certification Packet, which features ways to attract wildlife and shows how to certify your efforts of creating a wildscape. The packet includes information on plantings, creating various water sources for wildlife and tells how to get started with your wildscape.

To request more information, contact the Wildlife Diversity Program at 405/521-4616, or go online to www.wildlifedepartment.com.
com.

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Paddlefish run spawns fast fishing

Recent heavy rains could kick this year's paddlefish run into high gear, according to Wildlife Department fisheries biologists.

Paddlefish, one of Oklahoma's most unique fish, begin staging at the upper end of reservoirs in early spring in anticipation of the spawning run. As water temperatures rise and rains bring water levels up, paddlefish begin moving upstream to spawn.
Due to changes in their habitat, paddlefish only occupy a small percentage of their former range in the U.S. Oklahoma, however, has maintained a healthy population of paddlefish in northeast Oklahoma. The Neosho River system and Grand Lake in particular supports a thriving paddlefish fishery according to Barry Bolton, assistant chief of fisheries at the Wildlife Department. 

 

During their annual spring spawning run paddlefish can be more vulnerable to overharvest. To provide the maximum sustainable fishing opportunities and to ensure the long-term health of the paddlefish population, the Wildlife Department has established special fishing regulations during the spring spawning run.


From March 15 to May 15, anglers may not cull fish, they must keep what they catch until they reach their daily limit of three fish. Anglers must also distinctly label their catch with their name and address.

"During the spring, paddlefish are concentrated in the river systems. Also, this species is slow to mature, so regulations are designed to protect large, mature females from overharvest," Bolton said. "Paddlefish regulations are designed to ensure that our paddlefish fishery is viable for future generations of Oklahomans."

Paddlefish have also become an international commodity according to David Deckard, Department law enforcement training coordinator.

"Paddlefish are highly sought after for their caviar which is a substitute to traditional caviar that comes from sturgeon in Russia and eastern Europe," Deckard said. "Due to the overexploitation of wild sturgeon stocks in Europe, paddlefish have become more valuable and unfortunately the target of unscrupulous poachers who exceed their legal limit." 

According to Deckard, Wildlife Department law enforcement personnel have recently put an emphasis on paddlefish poachers. Individuals who see suspicious behavior are encouraged to call Operation Game Thief at 1-800-522-8039 to anonymously report game or fish law violations.

Before heading out after paddlefish consult the 2002 Oklahoma Fishing Guide for a complete listing of paddlefish seasons and limits or log onto the Department's web site at www.wildlifedepartment.com.


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Mabrey appointed to Wildlife Commission
Bruce R. Mabrey, Okmulgee, was recently appointed by Gov. Frank Keating to serve on the Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Commission. Mabrey's term will run through 2006.

A lifelong resident of Okmulgee, Mabrey has been the executive officer of a family owned bank holding company with ownership in several eastern Oklahoma banks. and is currently the executive vice president of Citizens Bank & Trust Company in Okmulgee. 

Mabrey, who earned a Bachelor of Science degree from Northeastern State University in Tahlequah will serve as the Wildlife Commission's District 2 representative. The district includes Adair, Sequoyah, Cherokee, Wagoner, Muskogee, Haskell, McIntosh and Okmulgee counties.

The Wildlife Conservation Commission is the eight-member governing board of the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation (ODWC). The Wildlife Commission establishes state hunting and fishing regulations, sets policy for the ODWC, and indirectly oversees all state fish and wildlife conservation activities. Commission members are appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the Senate. 

“I enjoy the outdoor experience and the resulting fellowship of family and friends," Mabrey said. "I appreciate the lessons learned from my father that hunting and fishing were a privilege and I believe it is our responsibility to preserve and conserve wildlife resources for future generations of hunters and anglers."

Active in a number of local conservation organizations including Friends of the Deep Fork National Wildlife Refuge, National Rifle Association, National Wild Turkey Federation, Okmulgee County Bowhunters, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and the Boone and Crockett Club, Mabrey has also served as the past president for Okmulgee County Cattlemen's Association, Okmulgee Chamber of Commerce and Okmulgee Main Street Association. 
Mabrey and his wife Karen have four children: two daughters, Mollye and Melanie, and two sons, Matt and Mark. 

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Project WILD teaches teachers
More than 18,000 educators across the state have become trained in Project WILD since it's inception in 1984. Sponsored by the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation (ODWC) and the Oklahoma Conservation Commission, Project WILD is a conservation education program that gives state educators training and materials to assist them teach students about wildlife and the environment. 

"When you consider how many teachers and youth leaders have gone through a Project WILD workshop, and then how many dozens or hundreds of students that they've reached, it's no accident when we hear from parents who say that their kids often know more about Oklahoma wildlife than they do," said Lisa Anderson, education specialist and ODWC Project WILD coordinator. "We feel the program has significantly raised the awareness and appreciation for wildlife in Oklahoma."
Anderson explained that once educators attend a six-hour Project WILD workshop, they receive a complete curriculum to incorporate wildlife and conservation education into their normal school day. The curriculum is inter-disciplinary and therefore can be used to supplement a variety of existing subjects such as mathematics, language arts, physical education, science and many others."

Anderson added that the program is designed to give students problem solving and decision making skills that will assist them in making informed decisions and responsible behavior concerning wildlife and the environment. Educators can learn more about Project WILD including a list of upcoming workshops by logging onto the Department's official Web site: www.wildlifedepartment.com and clicking on the link for education programs. Additionally, Project WILD will be the feature subject of an upcoming episode of the "Outdoor Oklahoma" television program on OETA-The Oklahoma Network Sunday, April 21 at 8:00 a.m.

Outdoor Oklahoma features such topics as fishing, hunting; and fisheries, game and non-game wildlife management. The 30-minute program can be seen on OETA-The Oklahoma Network Sundays at 8:00 a.m. and Saturdays at 6:00 p.m. Outdoor Oklahoma can also be seen on the following television stations: KSBI Network (greater OKC metro area), Mondays- 5:00 p.m., Thursdays-10: 30 p.m., Saturdays-1:30 p.m., KTEN (south-central and southeastern Oklahoma) Sundays -5 a.m., KWEM (Stillwater), Wednesdays -8:00 p.m., Fridays-7:00 p.m. and Sundays-8:00 p.m.
For a complete listing of show times and channels in your viewing area, consult the Department's Web site at www.wildlifedepartment.com or your local TV guide.

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Statewide quail meetings continue

Sportsmen and other interested parties are encouraged to attend a series of public meetings designed to address various issues regarding bobwhite quail. The meetings are being conducted by Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation biologists and will be held at four sites in the month of April.

"This is a great opportunity for individuals interested in quail management to come out and talk about topics affecting quail including, predators, hunting pressure and the quail initiative," said Mike Sams, upland game biologist for the Wildlife Department.

Sams said that the state's new 10-point quail initiative focuses on maintaining healthy quail populations in Oklahoma. Parts of the plan include seeking funding to provide incentives to landowners to enhance habitat, identifying key areas for habitat improvements, educating the public about quail and working with public utilities and the Department of Transportation in developing right of way management practices that conserve nesting habitat for quail and other grassland birds.

Population surveys show quail numbers are down over most of the state, a trend observed throughout the entire southeastern United States. Even with recent declines, Oklahoma is one of the few remaining states where hunters can pursue relatively large numbers of wild quail. Hunters harvest an estimated one to two million birds a year in the state, which consistently ranks nationally in the top three for harvest.

Sams added that through sound management and cooperation with landowners, Oklahomans can ensure that the state remains one of the top quail states in the nation.

"Through the meetings we hope to provide some insight on the status of quail in Oklahoma and the things that we can do to ensure that the quail population continues to thrive in Oklahoma," Sams said.

The following is a list of the meetings and their locations. All meetings begin at 7 p.m.

April 19 - Idabel

Kiamichi Technology Center,

3 miles North on Hwy 70

April 22 - Lawton

Lawton Public Library,

110 S.W. 4th St.

April 25 - Ardmore

Southern Oklahoma Technology Center,

2610 Sam Noble Parkway

April 29 - Woodward

Northwest Electric Cooperative, 2925 Williams

 

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BioBlitz! reveals hundreds of species

Organizers have announced the second annual BioBlitz! will be held this September around Broken Bow Lake in McCurtain County. A BioBlitz brings a variety of natural resource professionals together to categorize the biodiversity of a particular area.

Last year biologists with the Oklahoma Biological Survey along with others from the University of Oklahoma and the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation used the relatively new method of measuring biodiversity in an intensive 24-hour species inventory of a Norman area park.

The first BioBlitz attracted wildlife and fisheries biologists, botanists, entomologists (those who study insects), ornithologists (those who study birds), mycologists (those who study fungi) and several other natural resource experts. The group of nearly 35 scientists descended on the Sutton Urban Wilderness Area on the northeast edge of Norman and found more than 275 different species of animal life and over 220 species of plants and fungi.

"Last years BioBlitz was a tremendous success," said Julian Hilliard, Wildlife Department natural resources information specialist. "We are excited about going to the southeast part of the state. We hope to find an even higher number of species."

BioBlitzing began five years ago in Washington, D.C., and has since been conducted in many states. The event in Norman was the first of its kind in Oklahoma. One of the more high-profile BioBlitzes took place in 1998 around the area of Walden Pond, of Henry David Thoreau fame.

According to Hilliard, the Norman event not only yielded valuable information, but was also a challenging event for the participants.

"BioBlitzing isn't a competitive event, but it can get pretty crazy with biologists of several different disciplines with nets, jars, and mysterious-looking pieces of scientific equipment used to sample an area," said Hilliard. "The ability to discover so much about an area in such a short period of time makes the BioBlitz not only fun to participate in, but also a valuable research tool."

General BioBlitz information, as well as links to other sites can be found at www.im.nbs.gov/blitz.html.

In addition, an upcoming episode of the Outdoor Oklahoma television program will feature a documentary on the bio-blitz held in Norman. The program will air on OETA-The Oklahoma Network Sunday, April 28 at 8:00 a.m.

Outdoor Oklahoma features such topics as fishing, hunting; and fisheries, game and non-game wildlife management. The 30-minute program can be seen on OETA-The Oklahoma Network Sundays at 8:00 a.m. and Saturdays at 6:00 p.m. Outdoor Oklahoma can also be seen on the following television stations: KSBI Network (greater OKC metro area), Mondays- 5:00 p.m., Thursdays-10: 30 p.m., Saturdays-1:30 p.m., KTEN (south-central and southeastern Oklahoma) Sundays -5 a.m., KWEM (Stillwater), Wednesdays -8:00 p.m., Fridays-7:00 p.m. and Sundays-8:00 p.m.

For a complete listing of show times and channels in your viewing area, consult the Department's Web site at www.wildlifedepartment.com or your local TV guide.

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Deadline near for controlled hunts

It is that time of year again. Time for hunters to submit their controlled hunt applications offered by the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. Those interested in applying have until May 3.

"We're approaching the home stretch," said Melinda Sturgess-Streich, chief of administration for the Department. "We want to remind everyone that applications must be made by May 3, or they will not be accepted."

Sturgess-Streich added that the best way to assure the Department receives their application is to apply online. The online application system will accept applications until 11:59 p.m., May 3. By logging onto the Department's official Web site, www.wildlifedepartment.com, applicants will be assured that they provide all the necessary information for their application to go through.

"Applying online helps to eliminate concerns about lost, incomplete or incorrect applications. The program will not accept an application if there are discrepancies or incomplete information, and it will inform the applicant how to correct the application," Sturgess-Streich said. "The applicant can double-check to make sure the application was accepted by going back into the Web site's controlled hunt page and clicking on the confirmation link."

So far, there have been few problems with hunters using the online application system, however Sturgess-Streich said one problem has surfaced with some AOL subscribers.

"Some users of AOL versions 6.0 and 7.0 have experienced difficulty with some of the information 'fields' not showing up correctly. This problem can easily be remedied however, by users accessing wildlifedepartment.com via the Internet Explorer browser located on their machine's desktop."

For those unable to apply online, the Oklahoma Controlled Hunts 2002 booklets are available at Department installations and hunting and fishing license vendors across the state. Mailed applications must be post-marked no later than May 3, 2002, to be accepted.

Hunters applying for the Wildlife Department's controlled hunts will notice a number of changes, including provisions designed to spread out hunter opportunity and a $5 per person application fee.

The fee is required of all applicants, including lifetime hunting or lifetime combination license holders, and is collected via credit card payment for online applicants. Mail-in applicants can pay via cashier's check or money order and should refer to the Oklahoma Controlled Hunts 2002 booklet for more instructions. The fee was authorized during the past legislative session to offset rising costs for administering the controlled hunts program.

Other significant changes for this year's drawing involve combining all archery, muzzleloader, deer gun and non-ambulatory deer hunts into one general deer category. The Department also has implemented a progressive draw, whereby the elk hunts are drawn first, then antelope, and then deer. If an applicant is selected for an elk hunt, they earn preference points in the antelope and deer categories (if they applied for those categories) but are not eligible to draw either of those hunts. The new progressive drawing system was implemented to spread out hunter's opportunity to draw a hunt by preventing individual hunters from drawing multiple big game hunts.

For a number of years, hunters who apply for certain categories but do not successfully draw a permit have been awarded preference points. Within Oklahoma's preference system, hunters with the most preference points have greater chances of being drawn, but the system does not guarantee that those with the most points get drawn - only that their odds improve. In fact, first-time applicants with no preference points can get drawn over those with many points.

According to Sturgess-Streich, hunters who have previously applied for the various deer categories will carry over their highest preference point total to the new deer category. In other words, if a hunter had one point in the archery and five in muzzleloader category, they will have five points in the new combined deer category.

 

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QU youth camp slated June 2-7

Youngsters interested in expanding their outdoors skills can participate in the eighth annual Oklahoma COVEY Kids Camp June 2-7 at Camp Redlands in Stillwater.

The week-long camp, hosted by the Oklahoma Council of Quail Unlimited, the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation and local Quail Unlimited chapters, is open to all Oklahoma youngsters ages 13 to 16. According to Bob Hayes, camp coordinator, the camp teaches kids to better appreciate Oklahoma's natural resources and exposes them to wide variety of outdoor endeavors.

"COVEY Kids camp is an excellent way to ensure that future generations of sportsmen, conservationists and outdoor enthusiasts will have the same opportunity as previous generations, to experience what the great outdoors has to offer," Hayes said.

Attendees will receive professional instruction in archery, sporting clays, muzzleloading, taxidermy, dog training, radio telemetry, hunting safety, wildlife career opportunities, habitat evaluation, first aid and much more.

"One of the nicest things about the camp is that we are able to cover so many different aspects of the outdoors," Hayes said. "We have volunteer teachers who come from all over the state to share their time and knowledge with the kids."

A maximum of 35 students will be selected for this years camp. To apply, applicants must write a short essay explaining why they wish to attend, why they should be selected and what they expect to learn. It should also explain their involvement in extracurricular activities.

The camp costs $250 per person, although scholarship funds are available from each local Quail Unlimited chapters. The application deadline is May 15, 2000.

For more information, contact Bob Hayes at 918/542-1403.

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Aquatic education reaching thousands

Thousands of Oklahoma children have experienced the thrill of a tug on the end of their line thanks to a dedicated corps of volunteer aquatic education instructors, according to Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation personnel.

"The program has been a real success," said Damon Springer, AREP coordinator for the Wildlife Department. "We begun in 1998 and about 18,000 kids go through the program each year. They learn about everything from how to cast a rod and reel to outdoor ethics. And virtually all of the clinics include a chance to catch a fish."

More than 175 clinics are held each across the state from isolated farm ponds to parks in the heart of metropolitan areas.

"The success of the program really goes back to all the hardworking volunteers that love children and love fishing," Springer said.

Certified volunteer instructors conduct fishing clinics after attending a three hour training workshop. The workshops, held at various locations throughout Oklahoma, are open to groups or individuals interested in volunteering to train and educate tomorrow's anglers. According to Springer, the clinics provide an excellent means for bass clubs, civic organizations, church groups and others to give something back to their community.

A variety of literature and fishing equipment is available for certified volunteer instructors to use during fishing clinics. Certified instructors receive a patch to sew onto a khaki (tan) shirt of their choice, a uniform cap, and a window sticker to display on their vehicle, as well as participating in an incentive program which rewards them for their service.

Individuals or groups interested in participating can find more information at the Department's Web site at www.wildlifedepartment.com or contact Damon Springer, at 405/521-4603.

A number of fishing clinics are available to the public this spring. For a complete list of clinics scheduled in Oklahoma log on to: www.wildlifedepartment.com.

Baron Fork River Float Featured

Native Americans share a unique relationship with rivers and living things around them. An upcoming episode of the Outdoor Oklahoma television program features the natural and cultural history of the area along the Baron Fork River in northeast Oklahoma.

Cherokee Indian and former biology teacher, Al Herrin shares his perspective on the importance of the river to Native Americans and to the community as a whole. Herrin joins Jim Burroughs, fisheries biologist with the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, on a float down the river to fish for smallmouth bass and to take in the scenery.

"The rivers were once a central part of the daily lives of the Cherokee people," Herrin said. "The area has a fascinating history including Civil War battles and long gone railroads."

According to Burroughs, the Wildlife Department is working with landowners to make sure the river runs clear and maintains its biodiversity for future generations of Oklahomans.

"Protection of the riparian areas is very important," Burroughs said. "Fencing off areas along the riverbanks is one of the best things that landowners can do to protect streams.

"This benefits the river by keeping sediment out of the stream bed and also benefits the landowner by stopping erosion."

Using ultra-light equipment, the pair take advantage of the rivers healthy population of smallmouth bass. The Baron Fork River is one of the top river smallmouth bass fisheries in the state. The program will air on OETA-The Oklahoma Network Sunday, May 5 at 8:00 a.m.

Outdoor Oklahoma features such topics as fishing, hunting; and fisheries, game and non-game wildlife management. The 30-minute program can be seen on OETA-The Oklahoma Network Sundays at 8:00 a.m. and Saturdays at 6:00 p.m. Outdoor Oklahoma can also be seen on the following television stations: KSBI Network (greater OKC metro area), Mondays- 5:00 p.m., Thursdays-10: 30 p.m., Saturdays-1:30 p.m., KTEN (south-central and southeastern Oklahoma) Sundays -5 a.m., KWEM (Stillwater), Wednesdays -8:00 p.m., Fridays-7:00 p.m. and Sundays-8:00 p.m.

For a complete listing of show times and channels in your viewing area, consult the Department's Web site at www.wildlifedepartment.com or your local TV guide.

 

Fun Family Fishing Destinations

For Oklahomans who couldn't wait for warmer weather and longer days, springtime is here. It's now time for you and your family to grab a pole, pack a picnic basket and head out to your favorite fishing hole.

Oklahoma is blessed with a tremendous number of lakes, ponds and creeks that can provide some great family fishing.

"Time on the water connects people. Fishing is a wonderful way to spend time with your family and friends," said Barry Bolton, assistant chief of fisheries for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.

Bolton added that you can just about drive any direction and find good fishing in Oklahoma.

"The fishing is really picking up right now all across the state," Bolton said. "But you don't have to travel to one the big reservoirs to find fish, often some of the best fishing can be found on smaller bodies of water such as municipal lakes or Wildlife Department lakes."

Those looking for more family fishing fun may want to wet a line in one of the following lakes.

American Horse Lake, located in Blaine County 10 miles west of Geary, has long been known for its outstanding panfish population. The 100-acre Wildlife Department owned lake also has a nice population of largemouth bass. With picnic tables, grills, bathrooms and a boat ramp, the lake is the perfect spot for a family to spend the day.

Hunter Park Lake, located in Tulsa at 5804 East 91st Street between Yale and Sheridan, is an ideal place for the family to spend an entire day. This city park pond not only has three fishing docks on it, but the park also features a water playground where kids can cool off after a morning of fishing. The Wildlife Department offers several fishing clinics at the park each year for more information go to www.wildlifedepartment.com.

Pretty Water Lake in Sapulpa offers year-round fishing fun. Stocking of rainbow trout in the winter and channel catfish in the summer means there are plenty of hungry fish no matter when you go. The 20-acre spring fed lake has several additional amenities including three fishing piers, picnic tables and a recreation trail. In addition to a state fishing license, a $7.50 Sapulpa summer fishing license is needed. For more information, contact the Sapulpa Parks and Recreation Department at (918) 227-1534.

Dolese Lake located at NW 50th and Meridian in Oklahoma City is a good close to home fishing spot and is the site of many kid's fishing clinics each year. Children can learn how to identify certain fish species, how to cast a fishing line and much more and have the opportunity to catch a fish afterwards. For more information about Dolese Lake fishing regulations or other Oklahoma City fishing opportunities call the Oklahoma City Parks and Recreation Department at 405/755-4014.

Lake Scott King, operated by the city of Ardmore, is snuggled up against the scenic Arbuckle mountains. The lake has an excellent population of crappie and catfish and offers picnic areas and a fishing dock. Children under the age of 16 are not required to purchase the $12.50 city fishing license. For more information concerning Lake Scott King or other Ardmore City lakes contact the Ardmore Parks and Recreation Department at 580/ 223-4844.

No matter where you choose to go, fishing with family and friends can be a great way to spend an evening or weekend. It is fun and relaxing and allows everyone the opportunity to connect with each other. Many lakes are located in the most scenic areas the state has to offer.

If you are planning a trip, be sure to get a copy of the 2002 Oklahoma Fishing Guide. The regulations, as well as additional fishing information, are also available on the Department's Web site at www.wildlifedepartment.com.

Controlled Hunt Deadline May 3

For hunters who haven't applied for a Controlled Hunt, it's not too late, but the May 3 deadline is coming soon.

Sponsored by the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, the Controlled Hunt Program offers sportsmen special opportunities to harvest elk, antelope, deer, turkey, quail and more, all for a $5 application fee.

Participants may pick up an application booklet at department installations or license vendors. The most accurate and efficient way to apply is to apply online. The online application system will accept applications until 11:59 p.m., May 3. By logging onto the Department's official Web site, www.wildlifedepartment.com, applicants will be assured that they provide all the necessary information for their application to go through.