SEPTEMBER 2003 NEWS RELEASES 

 

WEEK OF SEPTEMBER 25, 2003

WEEK OF SEPTEMBER 18, 2003

WEEK OF SEPTEMBER 11, 2003

WEEK OF SEPTEMBER 4, 2003

Little birds, big birds

Nothing like having your cake and eating it too.

Hunters anxious for the opening of another waterfowl season will be treated to a double header with both the fall teal season and resident goose season opening September 13.

Bluewing and greenwing teal are the first ducks to migrate through Oklahoma each fall and a little scouting can go a long way in improving your hunting success. Teal prefer shallow water and rely on tender vegetation to provide fuel for their long journey. Large migrations can occur through the state as the days grow shorter and northern cool fronts give hunters the first taste of fall. Hunters will have the opportunity to pursue the small birds September 13-28 as they migrate southward on their traditional journey to wintering grounds in Mexico and Central and South America.

As an added bonus, the resident goose season (Sept. 13-22) opens the same day as teal season. Sportsmen in the right place could have the chance at bagging both the largest and smallest waterfowl species in Oklahoma, all in the same day.

Non-migratory Canada geese can be found all across the state and for the past three years sportsmen have had the opportunity to harvest the big birds. Although the birds may be full time residents that does not mean they are not a challenge to hunt. Sportsmen will meet with more success if they spend some time scouting and patterning the birds’ movements before the hunt.

To participate in the fall teal or resident goose season, you need a resident or non-resident Oklahoma hunting license, an Oklahoma waterfowl hunting permit, a federal duck stamp and a $3 Harvest Information Program (HIP) permit available from any license dealer. For complete regulations, consult the “2003 Oklahoma Hunting Guide" or log onto www.wildlifedepartment.com.

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Teachers and students eligible to win great outdoor prizes

Tucked away in elementary schools and high schools all across Oklahoma are knowledgeable teachers and talented students who are keenly aware of the importance of our state’s outdoor heritage.

The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation (ODWC) and Oklahoma Station Chapter Safari Club International (OSCSCI) are looking to reward the top students and teacher through a youth writing contest and a conservation education leadership scholarship for teachers.

"We have some great teachers and students across the state, and this contest is designed to recognize those who excel," said David Warren, information and education chief for the Wildlife Department. "Oklahoma has a rich hunting heritage and the theme of the contest is Hunting: Sharing the Heritage."

Students aged 11-17 are eligible to enter the competition, added Warren. Two (one boy and one girl) winning essays will be selected in an 11-14-age category, and two (one boy and one girl) winners will also be selected from youth aged 15-17.

Students in the 11-14 age category are competing for an all expense paid trip to the Apprentice Hunter Program at the YO Ranch in Mountain Home Texas. The Safari Club International’s Apprentice Hunters’ Program is a unique, hands-on experience which covers a wide range of topics including; the history of hunting, the ethical basis of modern sport hunting, wildlife management, field identification, and wild game cooking. There are three sessions, each one-week long, during the summer of 2004. The Oklahoma Station Chapter Safari Club International will provide travel reimbursements to attend the weeklong course.

Winners in the 15-17-age category will receive an all-expense-paid guided antelope hunt in New Mexico. Winners in this category must comply with all requirements of New Mexico game laws for the 2004 hunting season. Funding for the trips is provided by the Oklahoma Station Chapter Safari Club International.

The four statewide winners and their legal guardians will be invited to Oklahoma City to attend an awards ceremony in March. In addition, the top 25 essay entrants will receive a one-year youth membership to Safari Club International. The winning student essays will be published in the OSCSCI newsletter Safari Trails. Publication qualifies the winning entries for the National Youth Writing Contest sponsored by the Outdoor Writers Association of America. Several past winners have come from Oklahoma.

Students aren’t the only ones eligible to win. A conservation education scholarship is also available for educators. One teacher will be awarded an all-expenses-paid scholarship for an eight-day conservation education school at Safari Club International’s American Wilderness Leadership School (AWLS) at Granite Ranch near Jackson, Wyoming.

The AWLS program is conducted during the summer and presents an outdoor program for educators, which concentrates on natural resource management. Participants learn about stream ecology, map and compass, language arts and creative writing in an outdoor setting, fly tying, shooting sports, wildlife management, the Yellowstone ecosystem, camping, white-water rafting, educational resources and how to implement outdoor education ideas. Lodging, meals and training materials will be provided by Oklahoma Station Chapter Safari Club International. The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation will cover transportation to Jackson, Wyoming.

Both the essay contest rules and scholarship applications are available from the Department's Web site www.wildlifedepartment.com. Essays and applications must be postmarked no later than Nov. 14, 2003 or delivered by 5:00 p.m. Nov. 14, 2003 in person to the Department of Wildlife’s Jenks Office at 201 Aquarium Drive, in Jenks. Address entries to: Essay Contest, Education Section Supervisor, ODWC Jenks Office, PO Box 1201, Jenks, OK 74037.

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Don’t wait! Attend a hunter education clinic this weekend

“Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today.”

Whoever coined that phrase was pretty smart, and they also must have had a lot of time on their hands. In today’s world of busy schedules and packed calendars, it is easy to procrastinate. But signing up for a hunter education class is something you certainly do not want to postpone.

“With the fall hunting seasons just starting to kick in, this is the perfect time of the year to attend a hunter education class. Right now there are a number of courses scheduled all over the state, but don’t wait until it is too late to find one near you," said Lance Meek, hunter education coordinator for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. "With the first youth antlerless youth deer gun season coming up October 17-19, now is the time to get your young hunter in a class."

Approximately 14,000 hunter education students are certified annually at over three hundred courses statewide. To find out more about the hunter education program or to find a course near you, log on wildlifedepartment.com or call (405) 521-4636.

Anyone born on or after January 1, 1972, upon reaching 16 years of age must have completed a certified hunter education course in order to purchase a hunting license. Additionally, any hunters under the age of 16 (below the age required to purchase a hunting license) must complete a hunter education course in order to use a firearm to hunt big game (deer, elk or antelope).

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Wildlife Commission approves waterfowl season dates

Populations of most duck and goose species are high, and waterfowl hunters are looking forward to another rewarding season this fall and winter.

The Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Commission approved waterfowl hunting regulations for the 2003-2004 season. Duck and goose seasons and bag limits will remain essentially the same as last year with a few notable exceptions. A shortened pintail and canvasback season will take place as part of the established duck seasons. For complete details pick up a copy of the "2003 Oklahoma Waterfowl Hunting Guide" available at hunting license vendors around Oct. 1, or log onto www.wildlifedepartment.com.

Also at their September meeting, the Commission accepted a donation of a portable blind tower from the Paralyzed Veterans of America. The innovative blind allows hunters with disabilities to enter the blind from the ground and then raise it up to 20 feet in the air. The solar-powered blind will be used primarily on the Department’s non-ambulatory controlled hunts.

The Commission also accepted a donation of $3,000 from the Mid-America Chapter of the Paralyzed Veterans of America and a donation of $1,000 from the Oklahoma City Sportsman’s Club. Both donations will go toward the purchase of a second portable blind tower.

In other business, the Commission approved increasing the Lake Texoma license fee from $7.75 to $12. The license allows anglers to fish both the Oklahoma and Texas portions of the lake with only one license. Last year approximately 45,000 Lake Texoma licenses were sold. Texas has already approved the fee increase which goes into effect January 1, 2004.

A proposal to sell approximately 100 surplus firearms to dealers who possess Federal Firearms Licenses was approved by the Commission. The firearms were either seized pursuant to wildlife violations and forfeited to the Department, or are old firearms that were donated and previously used for demonstration purposes in hunter education classes. Details about the sale will be announced at a later date.

The Commission approved a proposal by the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation (RMEF) to auction the 2004 elk auction hunt permit. The RMEF will auction off the permit at their annual convention in February. Funds raised by the auction will go to support the Hunters Against Hunger program. The hunt will take place at the Cookson Hills Wildlife Management Area.

The Commission took action to increase the Wildlife Division’s budget by $33,595. The funds, obtained through a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, will be used to continue the Department’s Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) Monitoring Program. The monitoring program has been in place for five years and last year 1,000 deer and elk were tested for the disease. All results were negative and the disease has not been found in the state’s wild deer or elk herds. CWD is a fatal brain disease that affects deer and elk and has been found in Colorado, New Mexico and several other states.

The Commission recognized 140 years of faithful service from six Department employees.

“One of the biggest strengths of the Department is its outstanding employees,” said Greg Duffy, director of the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.

The following employees were recognized for their service to the Department: Paul Moore, information specialist, for 25 years of service; Rod Smith, southwest region wildlife supervisor, for 25 years of service; Craig Endicott, northeast region wildlife supervisor, for 20 years of service; Jon Cunningham, state game warden stationed in Payne County, for 20 years of service; John Stahl, northwest region fisheries supervisor, for 25 years of service and Bill Wentroth, northwest region fisheries biologist (Ponca City) for 25 years of service.

The commission also recognized personnel from the license section for their outstanding service to Oklahoma sportsmen. During the months of June and July, over 17,000 lifetime hunting and fishing licenses were issued. The following employees were recognized by the Commission: Michelle Imel, license supervisor, Linda Fergason, cashier and license assistants Shana Cagle, Kathy Radford, Leslie Estrada-Shaw, and Kristi Keeling.

The Commission also recognized Melinda Sturgess-Streich, chief of administration for the Department, for her outstanding service over the past several months.

In other business, a revised Wildlife Department employee handbook was approved by the Commission.

The Commission also voted to accept a high bid of $141 an acre from Black Cat Properties for a three-year lease to the mineral rights on approximately 6,800 acres of Department-owned property in Atoka County.

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.

The next scheduled Commission meeting is October 6 at the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation headquarters (auditorium), at the southwest corner of 18th and North Lincoln, Oklahoma City at 9:00 a.m.

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Quail roadside survey shows populations up 21 percent statewide over last year

It is still early, but all indications point to a good season for Oklahoma quail hunters. August roadside surveys conducted by the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation show a statewide increase of 21 percent over the 2002 survey.

"The surveys don't necessarily predict what quail season is going to be like, but they do give us an idea of how productive the spring breeding season was for quail. The October counts should provide important information about this fall's quail population," said Mike Sams, upland bird biologist for the Department. “Although drought conditions persisted through out much of the early nesting season, June rains appeared to have slowed down any negative effects on reproduction."

The statewide quail index is up 37 percent from the previous 13 year average.

The August surveys showed increases in quail numbers over last year in all regions with the exception of the southeast region. The largest increases were observed in the south-central and southwest regions. Quail sighted in the southwestern, south-central, northwestern and north central regions exceeded the previous 13 year averages. The southeastern and northeastern regional survey numbers remain well below their 13 year averages.

Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation biologists have conducted the roadside surveys during both August and October for the past 14 years. The surveys, which consist of 20-mile routes, give biologists an index of quail abundance. Observers count the number of quail seen to provide an index of quail abundance and reproductive success. There are 83 routes with at least one route in every county except for Tulsa and Oklahoma counties.

Running Nov. 8 - Feb.15, quail season is one of the most popular events in the state, drawing hunters from all over the nation to enjoy some of America's finest bird hunting. For more information about quail hunting, log onto www.wildlifedepartment.com.

 

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Wetland status reports available on the Internet

It is that time of year again. Cool winds are beginning to blow and soon they will bring ducks and geese on their migrations south.

Just in time, season dates and wetland status reports are now available on the Department’s Web site at www.wildlifedepartment.com.

Waterfowl hunting regulations for the 2003-2004 season dates and bag limits will remain essentially the same as last year with a few notable exceptions. A shortened pintail and canvasback season will take place as part of the established duck seasons. For complete details pick up a copy of the "2003 Oklahoma Waterfowl Hunting Guide" available at hunting license vendors around Oct. 1, or log onto www.wildlifedepartment.com.

Wetland status reports also can be found on the Department’s Web site.

"Overall, our wetland development units are in pretty good shape. Conditions can change quickly on these areas, but the reports should give people a good idea of the current status of the wetland," said Alan Stacey, wetland development biologist for the Department. "Hopefully, these reports will be a useful tool as they prepare for the upcoming waterfowl seasons."

Wetland status reports include the size of the area, the percent of the unit that is flooded, as well as forage conditions. Wetland development units are managed by the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation and are funded through sales of Oklahoma waterfowl licenses.

In addition, maps of the wetland development units, waterfowl hunting zone maps, waterfowl reports during the season and more are available on the Internet at www.wildlifedepartment.com

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Archery season offers ample time to head to the woods

No more excuses about not having enough time to hunt.

Opening day of archery deer season is October 1 and it is followed by over three full months of hunting opportunity.

The season runs from Oct. 1 to Jan. 15, allowing more than 100 days of hunting. The first of Oklahoma's big game seasons, the archery deer season, attracted more than 88,000 Oklahoma hunters last year.

“Archery season is just about here. It looks like the post oak acorn crop is going to be pretty good this year, so that may be a good place to look for early season deer activity,” said Mike Shaw, wildlife research supervisor for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.

Shaw added that early reports from spotlight deer surveys are showing a fair number of fawns.

During the 2002 archery deer seasons, Oklahoma bowhunters enjoyed their best season ever, harvesting a record 14,278 deer. The archery harvest contributed 14 percent of the total deer harvest.

Before heading afield, hunters will want to be sure to pick up a copy of the “2003 Oklahoma Hunting Guide" available at all license dealer locations.

Several significant regulation changes will take effect this year. Perhaps of most interest to archery hunters is that archery season will no longer be closed during deer gun seasons. Hunters should pick up a copy of the “Guide” to find out exactly what is needed to hunt with a bow during the 16-day deer gun season. In past years, deer hunters could still use archery equipment during the nine-day deer gun season, however they were required to possess a deer gun permit. This year’s change will allow archers to hunt throughout the 16-day deer gun season on their deer archery permit. Numerous hunting season changes have also been made to wildlife management areas across the state.

Hunters can also find updated check station locations, antlerless dates and zones, and a wealth of other information in the “2003 Oklahoma Hunting Guide,” or by logging on to the Department's Web page at wildlifedepartment.com.

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Department to hold equipment auction

Looking for a deal on some used equipment? If so, you will want to head out to the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation’s public surplus auction. The auction will be held Saturday, Oct. 4, at 9 a.m. at Lake Burtschi near Chickasha.

“There is a wide variety of equipment that will be available for bid,” said Johnny Hill, property manager for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. “We’re going to sell everything as is to the highest bidder.”

More than 100 items will be available at the event, including two Kaiser Jeeps, three dump trucks, Ford 6600 tractor, six boats and numerous boat motors. For those not looking for large items, there is also plenty to choose from, including cell phones, computer hardware, cameras, office furniture and much more.

For more information about the auction call (405) 521-4600 or for a complete list of auction items, log on to wildlifedepartment.com. The sale will start promptly at 9:00 a.m. at the Lake Burtschi Wildlife Department office, located 11 miles west of Chickasha on SH 92. Items may be inspected Oct. 3 from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. In case of rain the sale will be held Oct. 5, same time and same place.

 

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Rabbit hunting opener coming soon

With a slight chill in the morning air and trees revealing their first glimpses of autumn glory, now is the perfect time to kick off the fall hunting seasons. Just in time, rabbit season opens Oct. 1 across Oklahoma.

“Rabbit hunting is really a lot of fun, especially if your are chasing them with some good dogs,” said Tom Wyatt, avid rabbit hunter and biologist at Hickory Creek and Love Valley Wildlife Management Area for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. “It’s great exercise and it is hard to beat a hot bowl of rabbit stew.”

The cottontail rabbit is supremely adaptable to a wide variety of habitats. Good populations can be found across the state, including many public-hunting areas. One of the best places to look for rabbits is anywhere two types of cover meet such as abandoned homesteads, tangled thickets and fencerows. Rabbits also show a preference to areas not far from a water source whether it is a pond, creek or spring.

“Rabbit hunting is a great activity to include kids in. You don’t have to be still and quiet and there is usually a good opportunity to harvest a rabbit,” Wyatt said. “It looks like it was a good summer for the rabbits and there should be a good population this fall and winter.”

One of the best aspects about rabbit hunting is the availability of hunting locations. Many wildlife management areas scattered around the state offer first-rate rabbit hunting with minimal competition. Additionally, many landowners are willing to give permission to rabbit hunters.

With the season running through March 15, 2004, there is plenty of opportunity to head afield for a few rabbits and don’t forget to take a kid along with you when you go.

Pick up a copy of the “2003 Oklahoma Hunting Guide" for complete rabbit hunting regulations.

SEASON DATES:

October 1 - March 15 for all three species * - jackrabbit hunting open only west of I-35.

BAG LIMIT:

Cottontail - 10 daily, 20 in possession

Swamp Rabbits - 3 daily, 6 in possession

Jackrabbits - 3 daily, 6 in possession (Except Cimarron, Texas and Beaver counties-10 daily, 20 in possession)

*Seasons on public lands may vary from statewide dates. Consult the "2003 Oklahoma Hunting Guide" for complete rabbit hunting regulations.

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Department schedules pre-employment exam

The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation will hold a standardized pre-employment examination Friday, Sept. 26, at the Tom Steed Development Center Auditorium at Rose State College.

The exam is for individuals seeking employment as fisheries or wildlife biologists, game wardens, hatchery managers, technicians and information and education specialists. It will cover state and federal wildlife laws and regulations, Oklahoma geography, biological and environmental sciences relating to fish, wildlife and environmental education, journalism, photojournalism, technical writing and editing.

Individuals may take the exam once in a 12-month period, and test scores are valid for 12 months from the test date. Applications for employment will be sent to individuals with the top 25 scores. Taking the exam does not guarantee employment, nor does the exam necessarily indicate the Department currently has openings. Interviews will be scheduled only when an opening is available.

The Tom Steed Development Center Auditorium is north of Interstate 40 at the intersection of I-40 and Hudiburg Rd. in Midwest City. The doors will close promptly at 10 a.m. Those arriving after 10 a.m. will not be permitted to take the exam.

For more information about the exam or hiring process, contact the Human Resources office at (405) 521-4640 or check the Department's Web site at www.wildlifedepartment.com.

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Students Fall Break and special youth deer season to coincide
When it comes to kids’ schedules, often times there are too many events and too little time. But sometimes things work out just right.

Such is the case with the special youth antlerless deer gun season, which will be held October 17-19. It just so happens that the inaugural season falls on the same weekend as many school districts’ Fall Breaks.

The annual Fall Breaks of many public schools across the state, including both Oklahoma City and Tulsa, are scheduled during the third week in October. This provides parents and other hunters the perfect opportunity to share their love of hunting with a child.

Open to kids under 18 years of age, the special youth antlerless deer gun season was created to encourage youth to head afield and to provide additional opportunities to harvest antlerless deer. Participating youth are required to be accompanied by a non-hunting adult partner at least 18 years of age.

For complete season dates and other regulations, pick up a copy of the “2003 Oklahoma Hunting Guide” or log onto wildlifedepartment.com.

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Virus confirmed in Wes Watkins Lake bass deaths
Sometimes things aren’t quite as bad as they seem. Such is the case with the Largemouth Bass Virus (LMBV). Fisheries biologists were very concerned when the virus was first implicated in bass die-offs in several southeastern states in 1995, but since then more has been learned about the disease.

Bass populations have proven resilient. To date, there is no evidence that LMBV has caused a long term, major impact on any fishery. In Oklahoma, Lake Tenkiller experienced a bass die off due to LMBV in 2000, but natural spawning and recruitment of young fish continues to build the bass population toward recovery.

“Of course we’re concerned when any number of fish show up dead in a lake,” said Greg Summers, Oklahoma Fisheries Research Laboratory supervisor for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation “But, the fish appear to be developing antibodies (natural resistance) to the virus. Subsequently, there have been no repeat die-offs in any lake in the United States.”

Fisheries biologists are currently looking into a new case of LMBV at Wes Watkins Lake in central Oklahoma where reports of dead bass were received by the ODWC. Samples of bass were collected and sent to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Pinetop Fish Health Center in Arizona for analysis. Results verified the virus was present in the samples, making Wes Watkins Lake the first confirmed LMBV fish kill since Lake Tenkiller in 2000. The good news is that there have been no recent reports of dead or dying bass at the lake.

Not all bass that have the virus die from the disease. In fact, most bass that carry LMBV appear completely normal. Where the virus has triggered the fatal disease, dying fish often swim near the surface and have trouble remaining upright. LMBV appears to attack the swim bladder causing bass to lose equilibrium.

"We're learning more and more about LMBV everyday, however there's still many unanswered questions," said Kim Erickson, fisheries chief for the Wildlife Department. "We will continue to keep a close eye on this situation at Wes Watkins Lake and we will investigate any reports of dead or dying fish at any other Oklahoma reservoir.”

Erickson added that biologists continue to aggressively monitor the status of LMBV throughout Oklahoma. Wes Watkins Lake will be sampled by electrofishing again next spring to determine the status of the bass population.

LMBV affects only cold-blooded animals. Researchers have found it in other bass and sunfish species like crappie, but most fatalities have occurred in largemouth bass. LMBV is not known to infect warm-blooded animals, including humans. Fish infected with the virus are safe to eat when properly cooked.

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New landscaping book offers details on attracting wildlife
Invite wildlife to your property using the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation’s first full-length guide book, “Landscaping for Wildlife: A Guide to the Southern Great Plains.” It’s the only landscaping book on the market covering this region, and specific emphasis is given to Oklahoma species.

Compiled for the Wildlife Department by Jeremy Garrett, the book’s 224 pages detail how to attract birds and butterflies, deer and turkey, lizards and other wildlife.

“All wildlife species need food, water, cover and space. Fill those needs, and you’ll attract them to your land,” Garrett said. Garrett feels beginners and experts will like the book’s detailed, but easy-to-follow instructions and diagrams. Plants are labeled by both common and scientific name in photos and illustrations. There are plans for selecting wildlife-friendly plants to building structures like ponds and nest boxes.

The book is arranged to allow the reader to target chosen wildlife species. Plant listings identify the wildlife that specific plants and native grasses are likely to invite. Tables provide tips for attracting birds including the time of year the birds are here, their preferred foods and habitat needs.

Jeremy Garrett is president of NaTour Communications, a nature-consulting firm. Earlier in his career he was employed by the Wildlife Department. Book illustrations were drawn by Coral McAllister, biological illustrator for the Department of Zoology at the University of Oklahoma.

Published by University of Oklahoma Press, the book may be purchased at local and university bookstores. The list price is $28.95. But it is also being sold through the Wildlife Department for $20.00 plus $4 shipping and handling.

To obtain a copy from the Wildlife Department, visit the headquarters at 1801 N. Lincoln or send check or money order to: ODWC, Landscaping Book, PO Box 53465, Oklahoma City, OK 73152.

Financial contributors to the making of “Landscaping for Wildlife” were: American Association of Zoo Keepers - Oklahoma City Chapter, Bat Conservation Society of Oklahoma, Dan and Debbie Towns, Darlene Michael - Landscape Architect, Donald E. Horne, Kerr Center for Sustainable Agriculture, Oklahoma Native Plant Society, Payne County Audubon Society, The Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation, Inc., Tulsa Audubon Society, Tulsa Zoo Friends, Inc., and University of Oklahoma Press.

For additional information go on-line to www.wildlifedepartment.com or contact the Wildlife Diversity Program at (405) 521-4616.

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Wildlife Commission to consider cooperative agreement at October meeting
Officials with the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation and Weyerhaeuser Company met Friday, Sept. 19, to finalize details about the location and size of a new proposed public use area in southern McCurtain County.

Under a proposal that Weyerhaeuser Company officials will present to the Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Commission Oct. 6, an 11,000-acre wildlife management area would be created that would function similarly to the 450,000-acre Three Rivers Wildlife Management Area (WMA). The property is in an area of McCurtain County near Bokhoma.

“Weyerhaeuser has been leasing to private hunting clubs for some time on some of our holdings south of the Three Rivers WMA, but we wanted to provide more public access in southern McCurtain County. A second cooperative agreement with the Wildlife Department was the logical choice,” said Jimmy Wade Tucker, Weyerhaeuser Company representative. “We’ve had a solid working relationship with the Department on Three Rivers WMA for nearly five years and believe this new area would build on that."

The Three Rivers WMA, which is owned by Weyerhaeuser and covers 90 percent of Weyerhaeuser’s Oklahoma holdings, is made available for hunting, fishing and other forms of public recreation through a cooperative agreement with the Wildlife Department. Under the agreement, resident sportsman pay $16 annually and can use either Three River’s 450,000 acres or some 175,000 acres of timberland in Pushmataha and LeFlore counties, known as Honobia Creek WMA, which is owned by John Hancock.

While the new tract of Weyerhaeuser land in the southern portion of McCurtain County may be called something other than Three Rivers, the same land access permit that sportsmen purchase for Three Rivers and Honobia Creek would also cover the new area. If approved, the agreement would likely go into effect Jan. 1.

“Weyerhaeuser Company initially approached us in March with the idea to make additional acreage open to public use through a cooperative agreement and this proposal is the culmination of those discussions,” said Richard Hatcher, assistant director for the Wildlife Department. “More opportunities for hunters and outdoor enthusiasts is a plus, especially considering the recent sale of large tracts at Honobia Creek. This proposal is an encouraging development and I believe it also signifies Weyerhaeuser’s commitment to public access to its land and to the outdoor way of life enjoyed by citizens of McCurtain County.”

Hatcher added that if a cooperative agreement were reached, the Wildlife Department would use land access permit revenues to increase fish and wildlife habitat management on the property, as it has on both Three Rivers and Honobia Creek.

The Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Commission will meet Oct. 6 at 9 a.m. at the Wildlife Department’s headquarters in Oklahoma City.

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Oklahoma Receives $20,000 Grant From Hunting Heritage Partnership
The National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) has awarded the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation a $20,000 grant from its Hunting Heritage Partnership for funding of a marketing campaign to recruit new and lapsed hunters.

Announcement of the grant award was made at the International Association of State Fish and Wildlife Agencies annual meeting. A total of 18 state agencies received over $500,000 in grant awards from NSSF.

Oklahoma will use the funds to develop a hunter retention and recruitment marketing campaign utilizing direct mail and the state's own databases. The campaign will focus on existing hunters and households with multiple hunters, especially those with children of hunting age. The marketing effort will also identify key messages likely to motivate sportsmen and women to purchase licenses and hunt.

"Hunting has been a favorite pastime in Oklahoma and we're committed to ensuring this tradition continues for generations to come," said Andrea Crews, responsive management specialist for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. "We're very excited about this unique opportunity to learn more about our customers and expect it will lead to better communication with hunters, and that benefits everyone in the long run."

The Hunting Heritage Partnership was established by the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the trade association for the firearm industry, to provide much needed direct funding to state wildlife agencies to help them with programs that provide opportunities for, and remove barriers to, hunter participation.

"Officials with Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation have designed a unique and dynamic recruitment tool and this grant recognizes their successful efforts and helps build on them. This is exactly the kind of creative approach that agencies in other states can look to as a model to help preserve our hunting and conservation traditions," said Doug Painter, president of the National Shooting Sports Foundation.

Oklahoma's 774,000 anglers and 261,000 hunters spent $801 million in Oklahoma last year in pursuit of their pastime which supported 18,000 jobs in the state. Efforts to expand hunting, such as a target marketing campaign, help boost the economy in a state where one of every four residents hunt or fish, generating $64 million in state tax revenue.

"When more hunters go afield, everyone benefits. The contributions hunters and anglers make in dedicated, unique taxes paid and the fees collected fund conservation efforts for all Oklahoma residents to enjoy," said Steve Williams, director, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.

Applications from 36 states were submitted to the Hunting Heritage Partnership and over $500,000 in grants were awarded to 18 states for programs focusing on issues from recruitment and retention of hunters to increasing access to hunting lands. The National Shooting Sports Foundation is working with the Congressional Sportsmen's Foundation and members of Congress on behalf of America's 18 million hunters to provide states with additional funding opportunities through the Hunting Heritage Partnership.

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Trappers to hold annual convention in Okmulgee
The First Annual Trappers and Predator Callers Association will host their 34th annual state convention October 10-11. All members and other individuals interested in trapping are invited to attend the event which will be held at the Okmulgee County Fairgrounds in Okmulgee.

“We’re looking forward to another great convention. We have several interesting things planned this year,” said Bill Jackson, with the First Annual Trappers and Predator Callers Association. “We always have a good time and we hope every one will come and join us. It’s always good to see old friends and make new ones too.”

Several special guests will be in attendance including Miss Oklahoma, Miss Teen USA and representatives Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.

“We have some neat events planned this year like special beginner and advanced fur trapping seminars, live auction and some real nice door prizes to give away,” Jackson said.

The Okmulgee County Fairgrounds will open at 1:00 p.m. for convention attendees Friday, October 10. Events will kick off at 10:00 a.m. with a general membership meeting Saturday, October 11.

For more information about the about the convention or about the First Annual Trappers and Predator Callers Association, call Bill Jackson at (918) 336-8154.

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