MAY 2002 NEWS RELEASES 

 

WEEK OF MAY 30, 2002

 

WEEK OF MAY 23, 2002

 

WEEK OF MAY 16, 2002

WEEK OF MAY 9, 2002

WEEK OF MAY 2, 2002

Fishing clinic & derby planned for Zoo Lake

Although a handful of metro area anglers are taking advantage of Oklahoma City's newest fishing hole, many still aren't aware that Zoo Lake is open to public fishing. Zoo and city parks officials hope a family fishing clinic and derby will help publicize the area to local anglers.

On the weekend of May 17-18, a free family fishing clinic and derby is scheduled at both Zoo Lake and nearby Millwood High School. On Friday, May 17, from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m., a fishing clinic is scheduled for Millwood High School ("Old Gymnasium" - not the Field House) located one mile north of the Zoo on Martin Luther King Blvd. The next day's fishing derby at Zoo Lake will run from 8:00 a.m. to noon.

The clinic is free and will include fishing instruction provided by volunteers of the Wildlife Department's Aquatic Resources Education Program (AREP). Knot tying, fish identification, water safety, fishing ethics, casting safety, and advice on the best fishing baits and equipment for Zoo Lake will be given. According to Damon Springer, AREP coordinator, the clinic is geared for all ages.

"We put on more than 170 fishing clinics annually for more than 18,000 participants, most of which are school-aged kids," said Springer. "However, we encourage parents to attend these clinics with their children as much as possible so they can reinforce their knowledge once they go fishing."

Springer said for families to participate in the fishing clinic, they are required to pre-enroll by calling the H.B. Parson's Fish Hatchery (405/755-4014). Participation in the fishing clinic is not required, but is highly recommended, to participate in the fishing derby the following day.

The next day's free fishing derby is scheduled to begin at 8:00 a.m. on the east side of Zoo Lake. The park can be entered from Remington Place (Grand Boulevard) just east of the dam. Volunteers will be giving parking instructions at the front gate as well as handing out tickets for door prizes.

"This event will be a lot of fun for the entire family," Bob Martin, fisheries biologist for the Oklahoma City Parks and Recreation Department. "We're going to hand out tickets to everyone as they arrive for special door prizes. We're going to be giving away new fishing tackle of all description, which has been donated from local tackle retailers."

Derby participants will need to provide their own fishing tackle and bait, however some vendors will be on hand to not only purchase miscellaneous hooks, bobbers and bait, but also refreshments.

Special "Close to Home" fishing regulations will be in place for Zoo Lake which include the following: boats are prohibited, a maximum of three rods and reels are allowed per person, both a city fishing permit and state fishing license are required of anglers aged 16-62. Anglers aged 63 and above are exempt from the city fishing permit, however, must comply with state fishing license requirements. State fishing regulations require any angler born on or after January 1, 1923, to possess a state fishing license or a senior citizen's fishing license that can be obtained upon reaching age 64. Anglers born before January 1,1923, are exempt from all fishing licenses.

Daily City fishing permits are $2. Annual City permits are $12.50. State fishing licenses are $12.50. Permits may be purchased at the Zoo's Gift Shop, which is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. For a list of permit vendors, call 405/297-2191.

Daily possession limits and length limits for "Close to Home Fishing" waters:

• Largemouth Bass

Catch and Release

• Channel & Blue Catfish

6 (combined)

• Crappie

37

• Flathead Catfish

10 (20-inch minimum)

Through a cooperative measure between the Zoo, Oklahoma City Parks and Recreation Department and Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, Zoo Lake was designated in January as an official "Close to Home" fishing area. For decades, the 68-acre lake was closed to public fishing, but is now open year-round for fishing off the east bank and dam area from daylight to dark.

"Zoo Lake offers a wonderful community fishing opportunity for northeast Oklahoma City anglers," said Martin. "The lake has an abundant bluegill sunfish population, nice-sized black bullheads and a few largemouth bass and channel catfish.

"Lately with the warmer weather, we're starting to see a few anglers using the lake, but it seems like many folks still haven't heard it's open. We hope our upcoming fishing clinic and derby will spread the word to area residents," said Martin.

Zoo Lake was originally named Northeast Lake when it was developed during the Depression. A local businessman had the dream to build a park on each corner of Oklahoma City. At the time Grand Boulevard circled the city and each park could be adjacent to that street. But, Oklahoma City grew too quickly for the dream to be fulfilled. In the 1940's Zoo Lake was the "swimming pool" of Oklahoma City. White sand was trucked into the area to finish off the beaches. Families came from all parts of the City to spend the day swimming, fishing and enjoying the outdoors.

For more information about the Zoo Lake Family Fishing Clinic & Derby, or information about fishing on City lakes, call the HB Parsons Fish Hatchery at 405/755-4014.

May is migratory bird month in OKC

Birdwatching and birdfeeding is gaining popularity among Oklahomans. People can learn more about the growing sport of birding at a pair of upcoming events held in Oklahoma City.

The Oklahoma City Zoo and Botanical Garden will host the International Migratory Bird and Plant Conservation Day Celebration May 11 and the OKC Birdfest 2002 will take place May 18 at Martin Park Nature Center.

The OKC Zoo's International Migratory Bird and Plant Conservation Day will begin with an early morning bird count at Zoo Lake. Over 60 species were counted at the event last year. Plant tours and a scavenger hunt for kids are just some of the activities offered from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.. Personnel with the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, ZooFriends and the Oklahoma City Chapter of the American Association of Zookeepers will be on hand to provide information about Oklahoma's connection to international bird migrations. For more information call the OKC Zoo at 405/425-0247.

The Oklahoma City Birdfest 2002 will be held May 18, participants will find a variety of activities and information on the state's wide variety of feathered friends. The festival will include workshops, tours and exhibits that will appeal to all ages

"Birding is one of the fastest growing hobbies in the nation," said Bill Horn, chairman of the OKC Birdfest. "This event is a great for families to come out and see what it is all about. There will be a lot of educational things offered, but mostly it will be a lot of fun."

A bird walk, photography workshop, bird banding display, as well as live bird exhibits will be featured at the festival. In addition organizations and agencies such as the Audubon Society and the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation will be on hand to offer advice on how to attract birds to your backyard and how to identify bird species.

Martin Nature Park is located just west of Mercy Hospital on Memorial Road. The festival will run from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information about the OKC Birdfest 2002 call 405/359-9725.

For more information about the Wildlife Department's Wildlife Diversity Program call 405/521-4616 or log onto www.wildlifedepartment.com.

Squirrels great hunting opportunity

While some may lament the close of another turkey season, many hunters know the fun is just beginning. Some of the state's finest hunting will soon be under way with the opening of squirrel season. Running May 15 through Jan. 31, squirrel season is the longest continuous hunting season available to Oklahoma hunters.

"It's a great time to get outdoors and enjoy the spring weather," said Lance Meek, hunter education coordinator for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. "Squirrel hunting is also a perfect opportunity to introduce a youngster to hunting. There is enough walking and action so kids don't get bored, plus you don't even have to get up early to be successful."

Once an important part of Oklahoma's hunting culture, squirrel hunting has taken a backseat to species such as deer and turkey, but experienced hunters know the action is often fast paced and the weather is comfortable. Squirrels were once one of the state's most sought after game species, providing countless meals of squirrel stew and other dishes.

"One of the best things about hunting squirrels is that you can often have the woods to yourselves," Meek said.

Both the gray and fox squirrel are abundant on many of the Department's wildlife management areas. A generous ten squirrel limit offers a challenge to those going afield with a .22 caliber rifle. Other sportsmen prefer carrying a shotgun while going after squirrels. Another option that is increasing in popularity are pellet rifles. The pellets do not travel nearly as far as a .22 bullet, however are very effective on squirrels.

To hunt squirrels in Oklahoma, all you need is a resident or non-resident hunting license. Hunters younger than age 16 can hunt squirrels without a license. For a complete list of squirrel hunting regulations consult the 2002 Oklahoma Hunting Guide and Regulations or log on to the Department's Web site at www.wildlifedepartment.com.

Oklahoma NWTF earns national recognition

The National Wild Turkey Federation presented the L.A. Dixon Memorial Banquet Achievement award to the Oklahoma State Chapter during its 26th Annual Convention in Charlotte, N.C.

L.A. Dixon Awards are given to local and state chapters that set a standard of excellence for conservation fund raising, education and spending. The Oklahoma chapter was recognized for its outstanding performance in conservation fund raising. NWTF chapters host fund-raising banquets annually to help promote federation conservation initiatives. The Oklahoma State Chapter was the winner in the chapter category of best state chapter between 2,000-5,000 members.

Since inception in the early 1980's the NWTF has assisted in excess of 50 cooperative projects with the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation to improve wild turkey habitat. Additionally, the NWTF has assisted the Department in several trap and transplant efforts to restore turkey populations throughout the state.

Slot limits important bass management tool

Oklahoma bass fishermen may be missing out on one of the best parts of the sport, a meal of fresh fish.

Protected slot limits are special size regulations (usually for bass) that are placed on certain lakes to improve the fish population. Fish that measure within the protected slot limit must be released immediately, while fish that are either shorter or longer than the protected range may be kept.

"These slot limits are in place to properly balance the predator prey relationship," said Gene Gilliland, fisheries biologist with the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. "Many of these slot limit lakes have an overabundance of small bass. By harvesting these fish it reduces the overall competition for food and allows the other bass to grow quicker."

"We really need anglers help at these lakes. If anglers want a top quality fishery, the best thing they can do is take home some fish on these slot limit lakes."

Gilliland added, that catch and release has been a valuable management tool over the years, but selecting the overabundant small bass (those shorter than the slot length limit) to harvest is the only way the slot length limits will improve the fishery.

Largemouth bass fishing and management will be the featured topic of an upcoming episode of "Outdoor Oklahoma" May 12 at 8:00 a.m. on OETA-The Oklahoma Network. ODWC fisheries biologist, Gene Gilliland joins well-known bass fisherman, Chuck Justice, on McGee Creek Lake in southeast Oklahoma. Among many topics the pair will discuss the concern surrounding the Largemouth Bass Virus which has been documented on several Oklahoma lakes.

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.

Prairie dog management meetings scheduled

Landowners and other interested parties are encouraged to attend a series of public meetings to address various prairie dog management issues. The meetings are being conducted by Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation biologists and will take place at four sites in the month of June.

"This is a great opportunity for individuals interested in prairie dogs to come out and talk about topics affecting prairie ecosystems and to learn more about Oklahoma's black-tailed prairie dog management draft plan," said Larry Wiemers, grassland coordinator for the Wildlife Department.

The black-tailed prairie dog, whose populations declined in the last century, is an important species in grassland habitat throughout its range. The management plan is in draft form and was developed by the Wildlife Department and the black-tailed prairie dog state working group to address declining populations and landowner concerns.

"This draft plan is the result of a cooperative effort between partners with a wide range of interests, including biologists, landowners and people from the agricultural industry," Wiemers said. "The main focus of the draft is to work with landowners to conserve habitat with measures that will be compatible with standard agricultural practices. Because so many prairie dog towns are located on private lands, landowners are vital to the success of this species."

According to Wiemers, the plan is a pro-active approach to ensure that the black-tailed prairie dog population remains healthy for future generations.

"By keeping the black-tailed prairie dog off the Endangered Species list, management of prairie dogs remains in the hands of Oklahomans, without federal regulations and restrictions," Wiemers said. "We want to act early to find a positive solution for both landowners and prairie dogs."

Part of the draft plan includes an agreement between the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and private landowners in Oklahoma. The agreement was developed to assist landowners in implementing prairie dog conservation measures under the state management plan, and thereby avoiding possible federal involvement.

Landowners with black-tailed prairie dogs, or individuals with an interest in prairie dogs and their habitat are encouraged to attend one of the four meetings scheduled next month.

For more information, contact Larry Wiemers or Julianne Hoagland with the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation at 405/521-4616. All meetings begin at 7 p.m.

June 4 - Woodward Northwestern Electric Coop,

2925 Williams Ave.

June 11 - Guymon Texas County Activity Center,

Fifth St. and Sunset

June 18 - Oklahoma City

Wildlife Department Auditorium, 1801 N. Lincoln

June 20 - Lawton Great Plains Museum,

601 N. W. Ferris

colorcarp.jpg (596225 bytes)Carp record broken

No fancy, high dollar lures needed - Brandon Hughes broke the Oklahoma state record for common carp with a worm he found underneath a rock.

"I was bass fishing, but I saw several carp so I switched to a hook and bobber and started looking around for a worm," Hughes said.

A resident of Marlow, Hughes caught the 39-pound, 10-ounce fish April 23 in a Grady County farm pond.

"It took almost all the line off my reel before I finally got it in," Hughes said. "I knew it was big when I was fighting it, but I couldn't believe how big it was when I got it in."

Hughes, 15 years old, was using a baitcasting reel and 20-pound test line when he hooked the monster.

"A friend fishing in the same pond convinced me to go into town and have it weighed and I am glad I did," Hughes said.

The record was weighed on certified scales at Cable Meat Center in Marlow, and witnessed by Bill Hale, Stephens County game warden with the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. The fish beat the previous record of 35 pounds set by Kenneth Patton at Lake Spavinaw in 1997.

For a complete list of record fish and the procedures regarding state record fish consult the 2002 Oklahoma Fishing Guide. If you think you may have hooked a record fish it is important that you weigh the fish on a Oklahoma State Department of Agriculture certified scale and the weight is verified by a Wildlife Department employee.

Commission approves antlerless deer dates

Oklahoma sportsmen will once again have plenty of opportunity to harvest a whitetail deer next season.

At its regular monthly meeting, held May 6 in Oklahoma City, the Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Commission voted to establish antlerless deer hunting dates in each of the state's 10 deer hunting zones. They again approved a special antlerless gun season in late December for much of the state. Boundaries of the deer hunting zones have not changed and seasons coincide with last year's dates, adjusted to coincide with changes in the calendar. For a complete list of 2002 antlerless hunting dates and zones go to www.wildlifedepartment.com

Oklahoma hunters had another outstanding deer season according to Alan Peoples, wildlife chief for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.

"Hunters harvested 101,612 deer in 2001 despite poor weather conditions in both muzzleloader and modern gun seasons," Peoples said.

Peoples also pointed out the success of last year's special antlerless seasons. Almost 8,500 deer, or eight percent of the total deer harvest were taken during the antlerless seasons.

"We were also pleased to see the doe harvest percentage increase from 40 percent in 2000 to 44 percent in 2001," Peoples said. "This is important because the harvest of does helps to maintain the overall health of the herd."

The total deer harvest in 2001 was down only slightly from 102,100 in 2000.

Commissioners also approved regulations for private land elk hunts in Kiowa, Comanche and Caddo counties. These dates will also coincide with last year's dates. For a complete list of those dates go to the hunting link at www.wildlifedepartment.com

Fisheries chief Kim Erickson presented the Commission with a report on the Oklahoma trout program. The Department recently conducted a scientific survey of 3,800 trout anglers to aid in future management decisions for the popular program.

In other action, the commission approved a resolution to declare June 1-2 Free Fishing Days in Oklahoma. Oklahoma was the first state in the nation to offer free fishing days 22 years ago and have since been followed by dozens of other states that have established similar free fishing days.

"Free fishing days are a great opportunity to introduce family and friends to fishing or to go and try it yourself," said David Warren, information and education chief for the Wildlife Department.

State fishing permits are not required on the free fishing days, although anglers should note that local or municipal permits may be required on those days.

Wildlife Department Director Greg Duffy updated the Commission on the status of wildlife legislation in this year's legislative session. A bill that would raise lifetime license fees was not passed by the Legislature. Several bills have already passed both houses and have been signed by the Governor, while other bills such House Bill 2329 which establishes a game bird stamp, are being heard in conference committees. For an updated list of bills affecting wildlife and fisheries in Oklahoma, go to www.wildlifedepartment.com.

In the Director's awards presentation, Duffy recognized Lonnie Cook, Manning Fish Hatchery manager, for his 35 years of service to the Department. Among many accomplishments, Cook developed a technique for raising channel catfish to a catchable size in one growing season instead of two. Cook's techniques improved hatchery efficiency and have saved the Department thousands of dollars in catfish production.

The Commission will hold a special meeting on June 2 to discuss the 2003 budget. The next regular scheduled meeting will be held on June 3 in Oklahoma City at 9 a.m.

Oklahoma Aquarium taking shape

No need to worry, but sharks are now swimming near the banks of the Arkansas River.

Construction crews are making quick progress on the Oklahoma Aquarium in Jenks and several sharks have now been moved into quarantine facilities.

"It is really exciting to see everything coming together," said Doug Kemper, Aquarium director. "Everything is going as planned and we are on schedule to open this September."

The aquarium, located on 66 acres, will display thousands of aquatic animals, as well as provide hands-on educational opportunities in the facility's wet labs.

"This is really going to be a first class facility," Kemper said. "Many of the aquariums and buildings are over halfway complete so the whole complex is really taking shape."

Upon completion, the Oklahoma Aquarium will cover 82,000 square feet, including a 400,000 gallon shark tank. The facility will feature 200 exhibits and will showcase many of Oklahoma's native fish species in exhibits depicting their native environments.

Along with the natural exhibits, the Oklahoma Aquarium will also display a historic collection of over 20,000 antique lures and tackle pieces at the Karl and Beverly White National Fishing Tackle Museum. The $4 million dollar collection is one of the most complete and comprehensive collections of vintage fishing gear in existence.

Not only will there be plenty to see at the Oklahoma Aquarium, there will also be plenty to learn. The aquarium will have wet labs where students can conduct freshwater and marine experiments. These learning laboratories will assist students of all ages in discovering fascinating aquatic environments.

"There will be a constant flow of students and other visitors from all over the state who will learn about the Department's role in managing Oklahoma's aquatic resources," said Colin Berg, education supervisor for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.

The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation has a working relationship with the Oklahoma Aquarium and will relocate its Tulsa-area offices at the Aquarium complex.

"We are excited about the new outreach opportunities that will be available to us at the Oklahoma Aquarium. Our association with this fine new facility will allow us to continue providing a high level of personal service to our northeast Oklahoma constituents," Berg said.

For more information about the Oklahoma Aquarium go to okaquarium.org or check out the Department's Web site at www.wildlifedepartment.com.

“Operation Game Thief” receives donation

Members of the Oklahoma State Game Warden Association recently put their money where their heart is, donating $2,000 to the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation's "Operation Game Thief" program.

"We feel this is an excellent program and we wanted to give this money to ensure its future success," said Anthony Clark, state game warden and president of the Oklahoma State Game Warden Association.

"Operation Game Thief" allows citizens the opportunity to anonymously report wildlife violations and receive cash rewards for arrests that lead to convictions.

Last April, an "Operation Game Thief" call led to the arrest and conviction of eight individuals in northeast Oklahoma. The violators were convicted on state and federal charges relating to illegal commercialization of paddlefish.

During the investigation, wildlife law enforcement officers from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation uncovered 120 wildlife violations, including snagging in a restricted area, abandoning paddlefish without proper disposal, and exceeding the limit of paddlefish.

"Thanks to the help of concerned citizens, 'Operation Game Thief' has led to the conviction of 18 individuals since January 2001," said Dennis Maxwell assistant chief of law enforcement for the Wildlife Department. "The donation by the Oklahoma State Game Warden Association is sincerely appreciated and will help protect our state's wildlife and fisheries resources."

Anyone with information regarding illegal harvest of fish and wildlife is encouraged to call the Wildlife Department's Operation Game Thief Hotline at 1-800-522-8039 Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Callers can remain anonymous and are eligible for a cash reward.

Biologists tracking Oklahoma bears

Black bears are slowly expanding their range in the deep woods and steep ridges of southeastern Oklahoma.

According to Joe Hemphill, southeast region supervisor for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, nearly 200 bears inhabit the state and are primarily found in the Ouachita mountains. Hemphill and graduate students from Oklahoma State University have placed radio collars on 25 bears and plan to track their movements for the next three years.

More information on black bears and the biologists studying them can be seen on an upcoming episode of "Outdoor Oklahoma" on OETA-The Oklahoma Network Sunday, May 19 at 8:00 a.m.

Also featured on the program, will be a hybrid striped bass fishing trip with husband and wife team Terry and Sheila Crissman. The pair fished last spring on Waurika Lake and caught several bragging sized hybrids.

Since they were introduced to Oklahoma reservoirs in 1977, hybrid striped bass have become a favorite sportfish of a growing number of anglers, particularly those who know how to drift fish from boats. In many hybrid lakes, drifting live bait such as shad, minnows, gold fish or small sunfish has become a preferred method for catching the hard fighting brutes.

Hybrid striped bass are cultured in state fish hatcheries by crossbreeding male white bass with female striped bass. The resulting offspring are best known for their rapid growth and hard-fighting ability. They can attain weights of six to seven pounds by three years of age and 18 to 20 pounds by eight to nine years of age.

"Hybrids are a valuable put, grow and take sportfish in lakes with large shad populations but with marginal habitat for striped bass and white bass," said Kim Erickson, chief of fisheries for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. "Lakes like Konawa, Altus-Lugert, Canton and Waurika are quietly gaining a reputation for outstanding hybrid angling at certain times of year."

Paul Hollister caught the current state record hybrid in 1997 from Altus-Lugert Lake. The big fish weighed 23 pounds, 4 ounces. Other lakes stocked with hybrids include Optima, Ft. Supply, Tom Steed, Overholser, Grand, Heyburn, Atoka, Ft. Cobb, Salt Plains, and Ellsworth.

"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.

 

Wildlife habitat seed available

Landowners can give quail and other wildlife species a helping hand this spring by implementing practices on their land such as strip disking, controlled burning and planting food plots.

Over the past 17 years the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), a voluntary cropland retirement program, has greatly benefited wildlife populations in the state and across the nation. The CRP's principle objective was to prevent erosion, but its potential benefits to wildlife have become an integral part of the program. Returning cropland to native vegetation under the CRP benefits many wildlife species, including quail and other imperiled grassland birds.

"While the establishment of native vegetation provides the foundation for quail habitat, additional management is necessary for quail to thrive on CRP lands," said Mike Sams, upland game biologist for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.

Fortunately, landowners can amend existing CRP contracts to implement management options beneficial to quail. These options include controlled burning, strip disking, food plantings, interseeding and brush establishment.

"Because grazing is typically not allowed on CRP enrolled lands, burning becomes a necessary and vital management practice for quail," Sams said.

In the absence of fire, dead plant material accumulates and interferes with quail movement and covers available food.

Under CRP guidelines up to 10 percent of a CRP field (not to exceed 100 acres) may be manipulated for wildlife via strip disking, food plantings, seeding between rows and brush establishment.

"Such activities may be important if the original seed mix did not included broadleaf plant species which provide brood rearing cover and seeds for quail," Sams added.

Individual habitat practices must be approved by the local Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) field office. Weather concerns, sight conditions or other factors will determine what practices are acceptable.

In an effort to encourage Oklahoma hunters, landowners and lease holders to initiate active management, Quail Unlimited chapters across the state are offering free milo and sunflower seed for wildlife food plantings.

"Active habitat management is the key to restoring quail populations in the Sooner state," said Don Black Oklahoma's regional director for Quail Unlimited. "Our seed program has been well received among sportsmen and landowners and is a way to enlist the private sector in habitat management."

Nationally, Quail Unlimited distributes more than one million pounds of seed annually for wildlife plantings. The seed is free, but local Quail Unlimited chapters may ask for a $3 per bag donation to cover freight. The seed is chemically treated for planting and cannot be fed to birds or animals and it may not be harvested.

If you are interested in improving your CRP land for wildlife, contact your county NRCS field office prior to implementation. To inquire about Quail Unlimited's seed program contact Don Black at 580/233-0316.

 

Oklahoman named to top shooting post

Miles Hall has been named president of the National Association of Shooting Ranges (NASR), a division of the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF). Hall is the founder and president of H&H Gun Range in Oklahoma City.

"This is a tremendous honor and I look forward to working with the leaders in the firearms industry and range owners around the country to promote the shooting sports, and to build and protect ranges that provide people with a first-class recreational experience the whole family can enjoy," said Hall.

Hall operates H&H Gun Range, a privately owned indoor shooting facility offering recreational opportunities in pistol, rifle and airgun shooting. Besides being selected as the first range in the nation to receive the coveted Five-Star Rating from NASR, H&H Gun Range is a "Metro 50" honoree and has been recognized two years in a row as one of the fastest growing businesses in central Oklahoma.

Hall and the staff at H&H Gun Range have worked closely over the years with the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation's Hunter Education program.

"Miles Hall is passionate about responsible handling of firearms and hunter safety," said Lance Meek, hunter education coordinator for the Wildlife Department. "His commitment to kids and to outdoor sports have been an important part of our hunter education program."

During the past year, 17 hunter education clinics were held at H&H Gun Range and nearly 500 students were certified at those courses.

For more information about the Wildlife Department's Hunter Education Program call 405/521-3856 or log onto the Department's Web site at www.wildlifedepartment.com

"Miles Hall is an outstanding example of the professionalism and expertise found in today's shooting range operators. He has successfully faced challenges that all small businessmen and women confront, and his experience and leadership will play an important role in the future of America's shooting ranges," said Rick Patterson, NSSF director of facility development and executive director of NASR.

For more information about the NSSF contact Rick Patterson at rpatterson@nssf.org or by phone at 203/426-1320.

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Wildlife Web site to debut

Fishing tackle, shotgun, binoculars - these are all standard equipment items of the successful outdoorsmen. Add one more item to the list, a mouse.

On May 30 the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation will unveil its new and improved Web site at www.wildlifedepartment.com. The online information source can be great tool for Oklahomans preparing for an outdoor adventure.

"We have worked hard to make this site useful and informative for sportsmen," said Kristen Gillman, webmaster for the Wildlife Department. "With improved graphics, up to date information and ease of navigability, the Web site can be a great resource for anybody who loves the outdoors."

The Web site features online brochures, outdoor news reports, information on public hunting and fishing areas and much more. For more information on the site's debut, tune into "Outdoor Oklahoma" Sunday, May 26, at 8:00 a.m. on OETA-The Oklahoma Network.

Also featured in the show will be the top locations in the state to catch sunfish. Early summer is one of the best times of the year to catch the scrappy fighters. Although bluegill, redear and green sunfish can be found statewide, some places are much better than others. Tune into to maximize your next sunfish fishing trip.

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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Online fishing reports are a great resource

"Should have been here yesterday, the fish were really biting!"

Any fishermen who has spent much time on the water has surely heard this all too familiar refrain. With so many outstanding reservoirs in Oklahoma it is tough to keep up with current fishing conditions, unless, that is, you go online to get up to the day fishing reports.

Smart anglers can find out where the hottest fishing action is taking place by logging onto www.wildlifedepartment.com. Anglers can find out how some of the state's most popular gamefish are biting including bass, catfish, crappie and others. Compiled by Wildlife Department personnel and independent reporters, the reports even include techniques and locations to increase angler success.

"These reports can be a great tool for anglers as they plan their fishing trips," said Barry Bolton, assistant chief of fisheries for the Wildlife Department. "Particularly during the spring, the reports can be a excellent way to track spawning activity."

Broken into five state regions, the pages also include other valuable information for the informed angler. Water temperature, water conditions and lake levels can help fishermen get the most out of their outings.

To sign up for the weekly electronic news release, which also includes the weekly fishing report, go to www.wildlifedepartment.com

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Take advantage of Free Fishing Days

They say the best things in life are free and on the first weekend of June (June 1-2) that includes fishing in Oklahoma. State fishing licenses or permits are not required anywhere in the state these two days.

"We hope everyone takes advantage of this opportunity to go fishing," said Kim Erickson, fisheries chief for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. "It is a great activity for families and friends because it allows people to connect to one another. One of the reasons we offer free fishing days is to allow the entire family to get out for a fishing trip together."

According to Erickson, the timing for the Free Fishing Days could not be any better. Not only do the days coincide with National Fishing and Boating Week, many of Oklahoma's most sought after fish species, including bass, catfish and bluegill are active in early June.

"One of the best things about Oklahoma is that no matter where you live you don't have to travel very far to find some good fishing," Erickson said.

Wildlife Department Aquatic Education Coordinator Damon Springer reminds adults that fishing can be a great way to spend time together with children.

"Keep things simple and fun to ensure that kids will have a great experience and make a memory that will last a lifetime," Springer said.

Those headed out for a trip will want to pick up a copy of the 2002 Oklahoma Fishing Guide because all other statewide regulations will still apply. Although many towns and cities waive municipal licenses in celebration of Free Fishing Days, anglers should check with local authorities before fishing in city-managed waters. Fishing Guides are available at Department installations and hunting and fishing license dealers across the state. The regulations are also available on the Department's Web site as well as information about fishing in Oklahoma and fishing reports from across the state. To log onto the Wildlife Department's Web site, go to www.wildlifedepartment.com.

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Channel catfish record smashed

Just about everyday in Oklahoma someone, somewhere is fishing for catfish, but not once in the last 28 years has anyone caught a channel catfish over 30 pounds. That changed the morning of May 16 when Barry Bond of Clinton reeled in a monster 34-pound, 11- ounce channel catfish.

Bond was fishing from a boat during the annual Canton Walleye Rodeo on Canton Lake when he hooked the huge fish using spinning tackle and 30 pound test line. He used a sunfish for bait and was fishing for walleye when the record fish hit.

"We were on the upper end of the lake and when it hit, it hit pretty hard," Bond said. "After I set the hook, it got real stiff, like I just had a log or a turtle."

It wasn't until the dark fish came to the surface that Bond realized what he had hooked.

"I was pretty excited when I saw how big it was. It really took off after that, but I finally got it into the boat," Bond said.

The huge fish measured 34 1/4 inches long and 25 inches in girth. It was weighed on certified scales at the Canton Post Office and was verified by John Stahl, northwest region fisheries supervisor for the Wildlife Department.

The previous channel catfish record of 30 pounds was caught by Richard Simmons in the Washita River in 1974.

Bond has donated the fish to the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation and the Oklahoma Aquarium and the fish will be housed and available for public display at the Aquarium, which is scheduled to open this fall in Jenks. According to Beau Dempsey, fisheries biologist for the Oklahoma Aquarium, the fish is eating and remains in good health. It will be one of the largest captive channel catfish in the nation.

For a complete list of record fish and the procedures regarding state record fish consult the “2002 Oklahoma Fishing Guide.” If you think you may have hooked a record fish it is important that you weigh the fish on a Oklahoma State Department of Agriculture certified scale and the weight is verified by a Wildlife Department employee.

For the complete story about the new record channel catfish and information on other state record fish, log on to www.wildlifedepartment.com

Who: Barry Bond of Clinton, OK

What: new record Channel Catfish, 34 pounds 11 ounces, broke the previous record of 30 pounds set in 1974.

When: Thursday, May 16, 2002

Where: Caught from Canton Lake during the 35th annual Canton Walleye Rodeo. The fish will be housed and available for public display at the Aquarium, which is scheduled to open this fall in Jenks (for more information contact the Aquarium at (918) 296-3474).

How: The record fish was caught from a boat using a rod and reel with a sunfish for bait.

 

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Free fishing classes for OKC kids

Oklahoma City kids may be ready for an entirely different kind of class now that they are out of school for the summer.

Free fishing clinics are being offered by the Oklahoma City Parks and Recreation Department and Oklahoma City Police Department. Open to the public, the classes will be held at several locations throughout the city.

"The program has been very popular and a real success over the years," said Bob Martin, fisheries biologist with the parks and recreation department. "It is a lot of fun to see a kid catch their first fish and to help them learn a sport that will last a lifetime."

Over the years, thousands of Oklahoma children have experienced the thrill of a tug on the end of their line thanks to Martin and his dedicated corps of volunteer aquatic resource education instructors.

"They not only learn how to cast and how to tie knots, but also how to be good sportsmen. The kids also have a chance to go fishing," Martin said.

The clinics are a part of the Close To Home Fishing program which promotes urban fishing opportunities. Classes are open to the public, but reservations are required. Fishing tackle and bait are provided and parents are encouraged to attend. For more information or to make reservations call the H.B. Parsons Fish Hatchery at (405) 755-4014.

Individuals interested in becoming a certified aquatic resources education program volunteer can find more information at the Wildlife Department's Web site at www.wildlifedepartment.com or contact Damon Springer at (405) 521-4603.

A number of other fishing clinics will be held throughout the state this spring. For a complete list of clinics scheduled in Oklahoma log on to: www.wildlifedepartment.com.

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Oklahoma City Parks and Recreation Department 2002 Fishing Classes
All classes begin at 8:00 a.m.

Metro Tech Springlake Campus - 1900 Springlake Drive

June 8
July 13
August 10

Dolese Lake - NW 50 & Meridian

June 15
July 20
August 17

Crystal Lake - SW 15 & MacArthur

June 29
July 27
August 24

 

Spotted gar record broken

The clear waters of Lake Arbuckle in southern Oklahoma recently yielded a new state record spotted gar.

Dale Starry of McLoud took the 7-pound, 12-ounce fish while bowfishing in the Murray County reservoir. The fish measured over 37 inches long and is the new standard in the unrestricted (non rod and line) tackle division.

The record was weighed on certified scales in Shawnee and was witnessed by Ronnie Arganbright, state game warden assigned to Pottawatomie County with the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.

For a complete list of record fish and the procedures regarding state record fish consult the "2002 Oklahoma Fishing Guide." If you think you may have hooked a record fish it is important that you weigh the fish on a Oklahoma State Department of Agriculture certified scale and the weight is verified by a Wildlife Department employee.

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Wildlife Department to recommend suspending import of deer and elk

In an effort to protect Oklahoma's deer herd against the spread of diseases from outside states, personnel from the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation will recommend that the Wildlife Conservation Commission suspend the importation of deer and elk from states where chronic wasting disease (CWD) has been identified in free ranging deer.

The Commission will hear the recommendation at its regularly scheduled meeting at 9:00 a.m. on June 3 at Wildlife Department headquarters in Oklahoma City.

The recommendation rises from concerns about captive herds and the possible spread of diseases, particularly chronic wasting disease. CWD is an infectious disease of wild and captive elk and deer that results in progressive degeneration of the brain tissue in infected animals. First recognized in 1967, the disease has been found in wild herds in limited areas of several western and northern states. There is no evidence that CWD has ever been transmitted to people, livestock or other kinds of animals.

"Although this disease has never been documented in wild deer or elk herds in Oklahoma, it is important that we be proactive in our approach to ensure the safety of the deer herd," said Mike Shaw, wildlife research supervisor for the Wildlife Department.

Shaw said the whitetail deer is part of a rich hunting heritage in the state and also provides a significant annual economic impact. A recent survey showed the total economic impact from deer hunting in Oklahoma exceeded $600 million annually.

Over the past three years biologists and veterinarians have examined 399 deer and elk taken during Oklahoma's hunting seasons as part of the CWD monitoring program. All samples have tested negative. Department personnel will continue to closely monitor the deer and elk herd for signs of the disease.

"The proposed import suspension, along with the continuation of the surveillance program, will help ensure a healthy future for one of Oklahoma's prized natural resources," Shaw said.

According to current research, there is no scientific evidence linking CWD to human diseases. Shaw recommends that hunters practice standard safety practices when handling any wild game including the use protective gloves when dressing animals and avoiding consumption of brain and spinal cord tissue as general precautionary measures.

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

2002 Selman bat watch dates scheduled

Every night during the summer months, a stream of a million or more Mexican free-tailed bats spiral out of northwest Oklahoma's Selman Bat Cave into the evening sky. Now in its sixth year of operation, the bat watches at Selman Bat Cave Wildlife Management Area (WMA) allow registered visitors the chance to witness a unique bat emergence event, which is guided and coordinated by the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation (ODWC).

"As word gets out about the bat watches, more and more people come to see the emergence and bring lot of friends and family," said Melynda Hickman, ODWC biologist. "This is the only public opportunity in Oklahoma to get close to wild bats leaving their cave in search of insects. Because of this, the event has a ton of entertainment and educational value."

The Selman Bat Watches begin at Alabaster Caverns State Park near Freedom, Oklahoma. Visitors are taken by bus to Selman Bat Cave WMA due to the delicate natural balance of cave systems, access to the area is restricted to registered guests at certain times of the year only.

Hickman also said that as interest in the bat watches increases, those who contact the wildlife department earliest are most likely to get registered for the date they would prefer. Each evening's event can be attended by a maximum of 75 people, and a total of eight a dates have been scheduled for this year.

Besides the standard bat watch, two additional Nature at Night events are available which include viewing of the bat emergence, as well as programs on identification of natural nighttime sounds and wildlife tracking.

Contact the Wildlife Diversity Program to receive a Selman Bat Watch registration brochure, by calling (405) 424-0099 or (405) 521-4616. This form, as well as more information about bats, can be found online by clicking on the Watchable Wildlife Opportunities link at www.wildlifedepartment.com.

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SE turkey hunters have great season

Hunters in the hills of southeast Oklahoma had another outstanding spring turkey season. The 2002 harvest was up 57 percent over the previous year.

"It really was a great season. Eastern turkey populations were up and the habitat was in better condition compared to previous years," said Jack Waymire, southeast region wildlife biologist for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.

Waymire added that the statewide spring opener also brought more hunters to the area. In previous years the southeast region has opened later than the rest of the state.

"The turkey population in this part of the state is really doing very well," Waymire said. "Hunters also had the opportunity to bag two birds this year in the southeast region instead of one. Many individuals took advantage of this and the increased bag limit certainly played a role in the increased harvest."

A total of 3,025 birds were harvested in the eight county area during the three week season. Harvest estimates for Rio Grande turkeys, in the western two-thirds of Oklahoma, are still being processed. According to Waymire, Wildlife Department personnel and private landowners have worked to manage habitat for turkey and other wildlife species.

"One of the most beneficial things we can do for deer, turkey and many other forest animals is to conduct prescribed burns," Waymire said. "We annually burn approximately 70-80,000 acres. These burned areas promote weed growth and provide places for turkeys to strut and look out for predators."

Waymire said that private landowners are an integral part of the management puzzle. He said WHIP (Wildlife Habitat Improvement Program) participants are encouraged to conduct burns, thin overgrown forests and make canopy openings all of which are beneficial to turkeys.

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Southern Oklahoma offers great birding spots

The opportunity to view some beautiful Oklahoma visitors has enthusiasts flocking to southern Oklahoma.

Hackberry Flat and Red Slough Wildlife Management Area offer bird watchers premier locations to see a fantastic variety of birds.

"With a bird book and a pair of binoculars even a beginner can take a trip to one of these areas and see quite a few different species," said Julian Hilliard, natural resource information specialist for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. "From right now through June is great time to see birds in their spring migration."

According to Hilliard. Hackberry Flat, located in southwest Oklahoma, is an excellent location to view nesting birds.

"Black-necked stilts, snowy plovers, black-crowned night herons, even blue winged teal can all be seen building their nests and raising their young at the wetland," Hilliard said.

Another popular destination for birders in the spring is Red Slough WMA. Located 17 miles east of Idabel in McCurtain County, Red Slough represents the far-western edge of the gulf coastal plain and offers individuals a chance to see birds they may not see anywhere else in Oklahoma. More than 230 species of birds have been identified on the 3,500-acre area including white ibis, roseate spoonbills and black-bellied whistling ducks.

"Red Slough is really a neat place and it is one of the best places in the state to see songbirds," Hilliard said. "There is quite a diversity there, a variety of warblers, tanagers, vireos and buntings can all be seen at Red Slough."

A bird watching tour of Red Slough WMA is the topic of an upcoming episode of "Outdoor Oklahoma" on Sunday, June 6, at 8:00 a.m. on OETA-The Oklahoma Network.

“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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Free fishing days coming soon

The longer and warmer days has many Oklahomans remembering some great fishing in summers past. On the first weekend of June (June 1-2) friends and families can make new memories, for free. State fishing licenses or permits are not required to anyone, anywhere in the state these two days.

"We hope everyone takes advantage of this opportunity to go fishing," said Kim Erickson, fisheries chief for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. "It is a great activity for families and friends because it allows people to connect to one another. One of the reasons we offer free fishing days is to allow the entire family to get out for a fishing trip together."

According to Erickson, the timing for the Free Fishing Days could not be any better. Not only do the days coincide with National Fishing and Boating Week, many of Oklahoma's most sought after fish species, including bass, catfish and bluegill are active in early June.

"One of the best things about Oklahoma is that no matter where you live you don't have to travel very far to find some good fishing," Erickson said.

Although most municipalities, such as Oklahoma City, waive city licenses in celebration of Free Fishing Days, anglers should check with local authorities before fishing in city-managed waters. Those headed out for a trip will want to pick up a copy of the "2002 Oklahoma Fishing Guide" because all other statewide regulations will still apply. Fishing Guides are available at Department installations and hunting and fishing license dealers across the state. The regulations are also available on the Department's Web site as well as information about fishing in Oklahoma and fishing reports from across the state. To log onto the Wildlife Department's Web site, go to www.wildlifedepartment.com.

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Don't forget your passport

The Blue River in southern Oklahoma is widely known as one of the most scenic areas in the state. The tumbling waterfalls, rolling hills and excellent facilities of the Blue River Public Fishing and Hunting Area attract visitors from miles around.

The state legislature recently authorized the Wildlife Conservation Commission to establish a Blue River Conservation Passport for entering or using the Blue River Public Fishing and Hunting Area.

Individuals who hold valid hunting or fishing licenses are exempt from purchasing the passport, which will cost $13.50. Exemptions will also be allowed for those under 18 years of age, students on educational tours and those participating in organized events sanctioned in advance by the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.

This special use permit will be used to maintain camping locations, upkeep roads and manage wildlife habitat. The Blue River Public Fishing and Hunting Area is one of the top trout fishing destinations in the winter and a favorite outdoor recreation place in the summer, the passport will help to ensure the area is conserved for future generations.

Several other bills affecting wildlife were passed by both the House and the Senate and have been signed by the Governor.

Senate Bill 938 exempts individuals under age 18 who are in the physical custody of child care facilities from hunting and fishing license requirements.

Senate Bill 920 transfers administration of commercial aquaculture businesses from the Wildlife Department to the State Department of Agriculture. This laws requires a $10 license from the Department of Agriculture to commercially raise fish, frogs and other aquatic species.

House Bill 2150 authorizes the Wildlife Conservation Commission to establish a residents only, three-day special use permit for privately owned lands managed by the Wildlife Department, specifically Honobia and Three Rivers Wildlife Management Areas in southeast Oklahoma. The land access fee allows for non-hunting or non-fishing activities for up to three consecutive days with the fee not to exceed $5.

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