JULY 2006 NEWS RELEASES 

WEEK OF JULY 27, 2006

WEEK OF JULY 20, 2006

WEEK OF JULY 13, 2006

WEEK OF JULY 6, 2006

Texoma anglers encouraged to use caution when handling stripers 

            Anglers fishing on Lake Texoma are reporting excellent striped bass fishing over the last several weeks with large numbers of big fish being caught. However, warm water conditions can be stressful for stripers when they are caught in deep water.

            Lake Texoma, located on the Red River along the Oklahoma and Texas border, has earned a reputation as being one of the top striper lakes in the nation. Known for their outstanding fighting abilities, striped bass are long-lived and fast growing. Stripers are voracious predators with a diet consisting mainly of threadfin and gizzard shad.

            “This time of year schools of stripers will often move to deeper water to find cooler temperatures,” said Paul Mauck, south central region fisheries supervisor for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. “There can be problems when you pull a big fish up quickly from 30 feet or deeper and then try release it. Their air bladders cannot compensate for the quick changes in pressure and the fish can die.”

            Anglers are allowed to keep two stripers 20 inches long or longer and Mauck is urging anglers to exercise caution once they catch a limit of fish over 20 inches.

            “Everybody, including myself, loves catching stripers. But it is important that we as anglers are aware of this issue and take responsibility for our actions. When the fishing is good, it can be hard to move to another spot or try a different technique, but it is simply the right thing to do if the methods we are using are hard on the fish that we all love,” Mauck said.

            Larry Manering, law enforcement chief for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, pointed out that the issue goes beyond just good fishing ethics.

            “No good angler wants to waste this great resource, but this is more than just an ethical issue, it is also a legal issue. In the state of Oklahoma it is against the law for an angler to release a dead or dying fish,” Manering said.

            Mauck offered several tips for releasing healthy striped bass during the summer months, including:

·         Fish as shallow as possible: If fish are in 60 feet of water try catching them at 30 feet rather than at a depth of 60 feet as this helps reduce the changes in air pressure as they come to the surface.

·         When bait fishing, use circle hooks, hooks specially designed to lodge in the corner of the fish’s mouth. One that has been successful is the Mustad "Croker Hook" in the 1/0 to 2/0 size range.

·         Release fish along side of the boat to reduce handling stress. Be sure to wet hands and towels before grabbing the fish. Boga grips are good tools for holding fish while removing hooks.

·         Cut line and gently release deep hooked fish.

·         When you have caught a limit of big fish (2 fish 20 inches or longer in length), move and find a school of smaller “box fish” rather than staying and releasing fish that may die as a result of being caught.

·         As a last resort, “fizz” floating striped bass by using a  #18 -1 1/2" or 2" hypodermic needle. This procedure involves releasing air from the fish’s air bladder – go to  www.wildlifedepartment.com for complete details.    

            Those fishing Lake Texoma need either an Oklahoma or Texas annual fishing license, depending on which state's waters they will be fishing, or anglers can purchase a Lake Texoma Fishing License for $12. The Lake Texoma license allows an angler to fish the entire lake. Some anglers may also need a Fishing and Hunting Legacy Permit. Consult the “2006 Oklahoma Fishing Guide” for information on fishing at Lake Texoma.

 

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Oklahoma volunteers recognized for their conservation efforts

Oklahoma Ducks Unlimited (DU) volunteers took home a Silver State Award from DU's annual convention in Phoenix, Arizona. DU's State Awards recognize states whose volunteers excelled at growing and improving their fund-raising and conservation efforts on behalf of DU.

"It's a real pleasure to recognize Oklahoma's volunteers for their exceptional work last year," said Jim West, executive secretary of Ducks Unlimited. "In 2005, Oklahoma posted a 17-percent increase in adult membership, and 26 percent of its chapters qualified for Presidential Citation Awards. Their hard work enabled DU to conserve more habitat for waterfowl across North America."

DU and the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation have worked together on nearly 40 agreements to fund numerous aspects of duck stamp enhancement or restoration projects. These agreements have benefited over 17,000 wetland acres on public wildlife management areas throughout the state.

“In Oklahoma, DU has played a significant role in partnering with the Wildlife Department’s Duck Stamp program since 1985,” said Alan Stacey, wetland habitat biologist for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. “DU not only has generated significant dollars - over $3.5 million total to date - but they have also helped in restoring and enhancing Wildlife Department public wetland projects. They also bring to the table their technical expertise in surveying, designing and engineering many of the larger and more comprehensive Duck Stamp projects throughout the state.”

Oklahoma was one of three states to take home the Silver State Award. To receive this award, a state must demonstrate at least a five-percent increase in grassroots income. In addition, each state must meet certain criteria in other categories such as new volunteer recruitment, adult membership increases and major goal achievement.

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Fishing and boating-related activities to abound at Wildlife Expo

            For three fun-filled days next month, Aug. 25-27, visitors to the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation’s Wildlife Expo at the Lazy E Arena can learn about a dizzying variety of outdoor opportunities.

            “It is very exciting to see so many outdoor-related activities come together at one place – from shotgun shooting, to mountain biking to bird watching,” said Kim Erickson, fisheries chief for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation and one of the many Department employees working on the Expo. “I may be a little biased, but I think some of the top attractions will be the many different water-related events like kayaking on the indoor ponds or the family fishing clinic on the outdoor pond.”

            Participants will be able to try their hand at kayaking in one of the massive, 155,000-gallon indoor ponds. In the other indoor pond, dog lovers won’t want to miss the special Big Air Dog demonstration by Tulsa’s own Ken Butler, a former Gold and Silver Medalist at the ESPN Great Outdoor Games, and his award-winning Chesapeake Bay retriever. Butler will bring several hunting retrievers that are also competition jumpers and will conduct exhibitions in the pond inside the Lazy E Arena.

            Young and old alike can try their hand at fishing during the Expo.

            “We’re offering special clinics at the large pond on the grounds of the Lazy E. We’ll provide the rod and reel and bait – you don’t even need a fishing license at this special education event,” Erickson said. “On the other end of the pond, visitors can take a ride in a boat and participate in a hands-on bow fishing demonstration.”

            According to Erickson, there will also be an opportunity for visitors to learn about fly-fishing and other specialized fishing techniques at seminars and clinics during all three days of the Expo. Families can also learn more about fisheries management techniques such as electrofishing and trap netting by attending a field trip at nearby Guthrie Lake.  Pre-registration is required for this venue and anyone interested in participating should check the Department’s Web site – wildlifedepartment.com – for more information.

            The free Wildlife Expo, which drew more than 45,000 people from around the state last year, will offer hands-on learning opportunities at nearly 200 booths and activities. The Expo is designed as an entertaining and educational event for both avid outdoor enthusiasts and those new to hunting, fishing and other outdoor activities. Every visitor will be sure to find something that interests them, from shotgun shooting, to mountain bike riding, to dog training, to sampling wild game.

The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation is partnering with a wide range of other state agencies, private individuals and outdoor-related companies to host this huge event. The Expo is designed to promote and perpetuate the appreciation of Oklahoma’s wildlife and natural resources and provide hands-on learning opportunities for all types of outdoor enthusiasts.
        The Wildlife Expo will take place Aug. 25-27 on the expansive grounds of the Lazy E Arena, just north of Oklahoma City. Expo hours will be from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m., Friday, and from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturday and Sunday.

For more information regarding activities available at the Oklahoma Wildlife Expo log on to wildlifedepartment.com.

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Wildlife Commission approves dove, teal and resident goose seasons

            Waterfowl hunters will have additional days in the field this year to pursue teal during September. The Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Commission approved the dates for the September teal season along with several other popular seasons at its July meeting in Oklahoma City.

            “After two nine-day September teal seasons in a row, waterfowl hunters will now be able to pursue teal for 16 days this year (Sept. 9-24). The length of the season is based on the breeding population level of blue-winged teal, as determined by United States Fish and Wildlife surveys each year,” said Alan Peoples, wildlife division chief for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. “Breeding populations are on an upswing. The teal season is a great opportunity to try duck hunting and we would encourage people to participate.”

            The Commission also voted to approve hunting regulations for resident Canada geese, which will run Sept. 9-18. Dove season will run Sept. 1 - Oct. 30. Commissioners also approved seasons for rail, gallinule, woodcock, and common snipe. With the exception of the longer teal season, season lengths and limits will be similar to last year.

            For a specific listing of all hunting season dates for the upcoming fall seasons, consult the “Oklahoma Hunting Guide” available soon at hunting and fishing license vendors.

            In other business, the Commission voted to correct an inadvertent typographical error in the commercial mussel harvest rules.

            Also at the meeting, the Commission voted to provide a 5.5-percent cost of living allowance for Wildlife Department employees and a five-percent cost of living allowance for the Director, both effective July 1, 2006.

            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.

 

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Controlled hunt results available online July 20

         Applicants can find out if they were drawn for any of the hunts offered through the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation's Controlled Hunt program beginning July 20 by logging onto www.wildlifedepartment.com.

         Applicants anxious to know if they were drawn can access the Controlled Hunt drawing results through the Department's Web site at www.wildlifedepartment.com. Click on the "Controlled Hunts Results" banner and enter your last name, birthday, and the number (either their Social Security or driver’s license number) the hunter used on the original application. The system will only access the Controlled Hunts results database when the correct number (Social Security Number or drivers license number) matches with the hunter’s other information. This service is free, easy and the instant results it provides have proven very popular the last six years.

         “Sportsmen have found that checking the results from the comfort of their home or office is very easy and is often the most efficient way to find out if you have been selected,” said Melinda Sturgess-Streich, assistant director of administration and finance for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife.  “Sportsmen without readily available Internet access can check their results at computer terminals available at the Department's headquarters and regional offices during those office’s regular business hours. In addition, many local libraries offer Internet access to library cardholders. Check with your local library for Internet services and user-policies. Successful applicants will also be notified by mail.”

            The opportunity to hunt on some of Oklahoma’s most unique and coveted properties have made the Department’s controlled hunts program one of the most popular programs in the country.

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Wildlife Expo featured in “Outdoor Oklahoma” magazine

            The latest issue of “Outdoor Oklahoma” magazine, now available at Wildlife Department offices, features eight full pages of all the information you need to know about the upcoming Oklahoma Wildlife Expo.

            “All of the popular events will be back this year, plus we highlight a number of new activities that are sure to be crowd favorites,” said Nels Rodefeld, editor of “Outdoor Oklahoma” magazine, the official bi-monthly publication of the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. “I think everyone will be encouraged to attend this unique event, because there is something for everyone.”

            The free Wildlife Expo, which drew more than 45,000 people from around the state last year, will offer hands-on learning opportunities at nearly 200 booths and activities. The Expo is designed as an entertaining and educational event for both avid outdoor enthusiasts and those new to hunting, fishing and other outdoor activities. Every visitor will be sure to find something that interests them, from shotgun shooting, to mountain bike riding, to dog training, to wild game cooking and eating.

            “We know from surveys conducted last year that tens of thousands of people came to the Expo and tried some kind of activity for the first time,” Rodefeld said. “And it’s such a great venue for doing just that. Most of it is hands-on and there’s no pressure to buy anything – it is strictly focused on providing an opportunity to enjoy the outdoor lifestyle.”

            The Wildlife Expo will take place on the expansive grounds of the Lazy E Arena, Aug. 25-27. Expo hours will be from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m., Friday, and from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturday and Sunday.  For more information regarding activities available at the Oklahoma Wildlife Expo log on to wildlifedepartment.com.

            The July/August issue of “Outdoor Oklahoma” magazine also features a special profile on the Spavinaw Wildlife Management Area in northeastern Oklahoma. The article chronicles the diverse recreational opportunities available on the 14,300-acre area.

            Also included in the issue is an annual favorite – the Reader’s Photography Showcase. The showcase spotlights the state’s best amateur photographers and their best shots of the Oklahoma outdoors.

            Individual copies of the July/August issue of “Outdoor Oklahoma” are available for $3 if picked up at any of the Wildlife Department's offices, or $4 by mail (mail request with a certified check or money order to Outdoor Oklahoma, P.O. Box 53465, Oklahoma City, OK 73152). One-year subscriptions, for only $10, are available by calling (800) 777-0019, or you can order over the Internet by logging on to the Department's Web site at www.wildlifedepartment.com.

 

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New book details Oklahoma’s frogs, snakes and turtles

Have you ever seen a lizard with a blue tail? How about a turtle with red eyes or a snake that plays dead? You can find all these animals right here in the Oklahoma outdoors, and now you can find pictures and the names of these fascinating creatures in a new book produced by the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.

“A Field Guide to Oklahoma’s Amphibians and Reptiles” by Greg and Lynnette Sievert, covers 205 pages and includes colored tabs that make it easy to flip to each category of animal. Range maps and species descriptions help the reader identify and learn about the state’s 160 species of amphibians and reptiles.

“This a fantastic book for anyone who spends time outdoors, such as parents, teachers, sportsmen or gardeners. Each of us has come across something that slithers, creeps or hops and wondered what it was,” said Jenny Thom, information specialist with the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. “This book has all the answers about Oklahoma’s salamanders, frogs, turtles, lizards and snakes – with full-color pictures and an easy-to-read format. You no longer need wonder if that snake you saw was harmless. This field guide will show you,” Thom said.
               
The 205-page book was printed by the University of Oklahoma Printing Services and was published by the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation’s Wildlife Diversity Program. The Wildlife Diversity Program conserves Oklahoma’s rare, declining and common wildlife not fished or hunted for future generations. Natural places and healthy wildlife populations improve the quality of life for all Oklahomans.
                "A Field Guide to Oklahoma's Amphibians and Reptiles" by Greg and Lynnette Sievert can be purchased through wildlifedepartment.com. The cost is $14 plus $2 shipping. Bulk quantity of 20 or more books sells for $10 per book. View excerpts from the book and print an order form at wildlifedepartment.com.
                For more information about the Wildlife Diversity Program call (405) 521-4616.

 

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Caption: A 205-page book "A Field Guide to Oklahoma's Amphibians and Reptiles" by Greg and Lynnette Sievert can be purchased through wildlifedepartment.com. The cost is $14 plus $2 shipping.

 

Konawa Lake number one – eight years running

         For the eighth year in a row Konawa Lake ranked number one in the number of bass caught per hour in reservoirs over 1,000 acres according to the 2006 spring electrofishing data recently released by the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.

         Covering 1,300 acres in Seminole County, Konawa produced 132 bass per hour of electrofishing during this year's surveys.

         "It’s really no surprise Konawa is number one again – it is simply a great bass lake. Not only does Konawa have good numbers of bass, the population is also well balanced – it ranked first in the number of larger bass (over 14 inches) among lakes over 1,000 acres in the survey,” said Kim Erickson, fisheries chief for the Wildlife Department.

         Coming in second was Ft. Gibson Lake, which produced 114 bass per hour during this year's electrofishing bass surveys. Sooner Lake, north of Stillwater, ranked third with 101 bass per hour. Ranking fourth was McGee Creek Lake (86 bass per hour), with Tenkiller Lake (69 bass per hour) rounding out the top five.

                While Tenkiller Lake once again ranked in the top five, bass numbers were significantly lower than previous years according to Jim Burroughs, northeast region fisheries supervisor for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.

                “The survey showed lower numbers at Tenkiller, but we don’t think this is an accurate reflection of the health of the bass fishery. Sampling at Tenkiller was difficult this year because of low lake levels due to drought conditions and repairs being made to the dam,” said Burroughs. “Many of the areas we normally sample were inaccessible and these conditions likely led to the lower than normal catch rates from spring electrofishing samples. The good news is that water levels have now returned to near normal conditions.”

         In lakes under 1,000 acres, Okmulgee Lake came in first place with an impressive 149 bass per hour.  Coon Creek Lake, near Wilburton, came in a very close second with 148 bass per hour. American Horse Lake, a Wildlife Department lake near Geary, took third place with 133 bass per hour. Located south of Lawton near the Wichita Mountains, Lake Elmer Thomas claimed fourth place with 119 bass per hour. Carlton Lake, located in Robbers Cave State Park in southeast Oklahoma took fifth place with 107 bass per hour.

        The electrofishing data shows that many smaller lakes are home to healthy bass populations. But, anglers should remember that high numbers of bass reported in the electrofishing results doesn’t always guarantee quality size bass are present.

                Data from the springtime bass survey is divided between that collected from lakes larger than 1,000 acres, and lakes smaller than 1,000 acres. The data is used to determine the health of individual bass fisheries and how bass populations change over time. Regional fisheries management personnel capture bass using electrofishing equipment, then they weigh and measure each fish before releasing them back into the water unharmed. The information helps biologists determine which lakes benefit from specialized management techniques such as length and slot limits.

         Lakes are classified as "Quality" if they can produce good numbers of catchable bass (indicated by at least 40 bass per hour of electrofishing, with at least 10 of those bass 14 inches or longer). "High Quality" lakes produce excellent numbers of catchable bass (at least 60 bass per hour, with 15 or more of those fish 14 inches or longer). Lakes that have trophy potential (capable of producing two fish over 21 inches in length per hour of electrofishing) are rated as "Trophy Quality."

         Variations in electrofishing catch rates can result from lake conditions at the time of sampling or from changes in reproduction, recruitment, growth and mortality caused by habitat alteration, environmental impacts, food fish production, disease or angling pressure. Not all lakes are surveyed each year.

                Families can learn more about fisheries management techniques such as electrofishing and trap netting by attending a field trip at Guthrie Lake during the Oklahoma Wildlife Expo (Aug. 25-27).  Pre-registration is required for this venue and anyone interested in participating should check the Department's Web site - wildlifedepartment.com - for more information.

         To view the complete results of the 2006 electrofishing bass results, log onto www.wildlifedepartment.com

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Guests to take aim at the Oklahoma Wildlife Expo

           The second annual Oklahoma Wildlife Expo, Aug. 25-27, will feature more than 200 hands-on activities, including seven different activities where participants can take aim at a variety of shooting sports.

The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation is partnering with a wide range of other state agencies, private individuals and outdoor-related companies to host this huge event. The Expo is designed to promote and perpetuate the appreciation of Oklahoma's wildlife and natural resources and provide hands-on learning opportunities for all types of outdoor enthusiasts.

          “The Expo is the perfect opportunity for you to bring a friend or family member and let them try several different shooting activities. The younger kids will really enjoy the air rifles and the adults and older kids will definitely want to try the 3-D archery and the shotgun shooting,” said Bill Dinkines, assistant wildlife chief for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation and one of the many Department employees working on the event. “Best of all, every one of these activities is absolutely free.”

         Instructors with the Wildlife Department’s Shotgun Training and Education Program (STEP) will be on hand giving participants an opportunity to shoot clay targets. Expo attendees will also be able to participate in an interactive Oklahoma Archery in the Schools demonstration. This new Wildlife Department program helps schools teach students about archery by incorporating it into the physical education curriculum.

                Jon McGrath, a 13-year old skeet shooting phenom, will be at the Expo to visit with shooters, both old and young alike. McGrath is the youngest person to be named Captain of the All America Skeet Shooting Team and last year he won three gold medals at the Junior World Skeet Shooting Championship.

The free Wildlife Expo, which drew more than 45,000 people from around the state last year, will offer hands-on learning opportunities at nearly 200 booths and activities. The Expo is designed as an entertaining and educational event for both avid outdoor enthusiasts and those new to hunting, fishing and other outdoor activities. Every visitor will be sure to find something that interests them, from live butterflies, to mountain bike riding, to dog training, to sampling wild game.

The Wildlife Expo will take place Aug. 25-27 on the expansive grounds of the Lazy E Arena, just north of Oklahoma City. Expo hours will be from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m., Friday, and from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturday and Sunday.

For more information regarding activities available at the Oklahoma Wildlife Expo log on to wildlifedepartment.com.

 

 

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Caption: Participate in an interactive Oklahoma Archery in the Schools demonstration at the 2006 Wildlife Expo. This new Wildlife Department program helps schools teach students about archery by incorporating it into the physical education curriculum.

Caption: The second annual Oklahoma Wildlife Expo, Aug. 25-27, will feature more than 200 hands-on activities, including seven different activities where participants can take aim at a variety of shooting sports.

 

Controlled hunt results available online

         Applicants can find out if they were drawn for any of the hunts offered through the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation's Controlled Hunt program by logging onto  www.wildlifedepartment.com.

         Applicants anxious to know if they were drawn can access the Controlled Hunt drawing results through the Department's Web site at www.wildlifedepartment.com. Click on the "Controlled Hunts Results" banner and enter your last name, birthday, and the number (either their Social Security or driver’s license number) the hunter used on the original application. The system will only access the Controlled Hunts results database when the correct number (Social Security Number or drivers license number) matches with the hunter’s other information. This service is free, easy and the instant results it provides have proven very popular the last six years.

         “Sportsmen have found that checking the results from the comfort of their home or office is very easy and is often the most efficient way to find out if you have been selected,” said Melinda Sturgess-Streich, assistant director of administration and finance for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife.  Sportsmen without readily available Internet access can check their results at computer terminals available at the Department's headquarters and regional offices during regular business hours. In addition, many local libraries offer Internet access to library cardholders. Check with your local library for Internet services and user-policies. Successful applicants will also be notified by mail.”

                The opportunity to hunt on some of Oklahoma’s most unique and coveted properties have made the Department’s controlled hunts program one of the most popular programs in the country.

 

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Canine athletes sure to be a crowd favorite at the Oklahoma Wildlife Expo

            There were hundreds of popular activities and demonstrations at last year’s Wildlife Expo, but there was a pair of undeniable stars. Every time the DockDog competitors hit the center stage, a crowd of people young and old gathered around to watch the canine athletes launch themselves into the pond inside the Lazy E Arena.

            Ken Butler, of Tulsa, and his award-winning Chesapeake Bay retrievers are sure to be crowd favorites once again at the second annual Oklahoma Wildlife Expo, Aug. 25-27. Butler and his Chesapeake Bay retrievers are perennial winners in DockDog competitions; in fact they are multiple medalists at both of the last two ESPN Great Outdoor Games.

Butler will bring several hunting retrievers that are also competition jumpers and they will conduct exhibitions throughout all three days of the Expo at a pond inside the Lazy E Arena.

            The free Wildlife Expo, which drew more than 45,000 people from around the state last year, will offer hands-on learning opportunities at nearly 200 booths and activities. The Expo is designed as an entertaining and educational event for both avid outdoor enthusiasts and those new to hunting, fishing and other outdoor activities. Every visitor will be sure to find something that interests them, from live butterflies, to mountain bike riding, to dog training, to sampling wild game.

The Wildlife Expo will take place Aug. 25-27 on the expansive grounds of the Lazy E Arena, just north of Oklahoma City. Expo hours will be from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m., Friday, and from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturday and Sunday.

For more information regarding activities available at the Oklahoma Wildlife Expo log on to wildlifedepartment.com.

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Wildlife Department works to improve fishing across the state

            Oklahoma anglers enjoy some of the best inland fishing in the nation and fisheries biologists with the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation (ODWC) are working hard to make sure the fishing remains top notch.

            The state is home to thousands of acres of lakes and reservoirs, however, many of them are beginning to show their age. When the lakes were first impounded, trees and brush provided excellent cover for fish. As the decades passed, the flooded vegetation decayed leaving fewer places for fish to hide and fewer places for anglers to catch them.

            Fisheries biologists across the state are working on innovative ways to provide man-made habitat in these man-made lakes. For instance, at Lake Carl Blackwell near Stillwater, biologists are performing a simple experiment to determine the best type of habitat to use under a popular fishing dock where local anglers target crappie.

            “Under one side of the dock we will place the traditional oak and cedar brush and under the other side of the dock we’re sinking a string of structures made out of plastic pipe and flower pots – we call them magnum fish magnets,” said Bill Wentroth, northwest region fisheries biologist.

            “Then through a voluntary survey we will ask fisherman which side of the dock is most productive. The natural brush works well but it has to be replaced every few years. We hope these new habitat structures will be just as effective and we know they will last for a very long time. As a bonus, they should be much easier to fish around since lures are less likely to snag on the small plastic pipe compared to a big oak tree.”

            At Lake Eufaula in eastcentral Oklahoma, Wildlife Department personnel recently partnered with several local FFA chapters to make hundreds of concrete and pipe contraptions called “spider blocks.”

            “We placed the spider blocks at several different areas of the lake, but we tried to focus on the areas with good bank access that were known as crappie hot spots,” said Garland Wright, central region fisheries supervisor for the Wildlife Department.

            Fisheries biologists are certainly not focused solely on lakes. Biologists are continuing work on stream habitat projects – such as the Evening Hole Restoration Project – one of the most ambitious stream restoration project ever undertaken in the country. Following two years of research and development, biologists have now begun the huge task of renovating the area known as the Evening Hole located on the Lower Mountain Fork River.  The project also includes the re-creation of an ancient stream channel that will connect to the main river channel and offer almost a half-mile of new trout fishing opportunities.  To learn more about the project log on to  www.wildlifedepartment.com

            Many of these fisheries habitat projects are funded through the Sport Fish and Wildlife Restoration program. Fishing tackle, as well as boat trolling motors, firearms, bows and arrows and other outdoor related equipment are subject to special federal excise taxes which help fund conservation efforts around the country. Additionally, federal fuel taxes attributed to motorboats are directed towards conservation.

            The Sport Fish and Wildlife Restoration programs are tremendous examples of true a partnership between private industries, state governments, the federal government and hunters, anglers and boaters. The federal government collects these taxes from manufacturers and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service administers and disburses the funds to the state fish and wildlife agencies like the ODWC.

            Hunters, anglers, shooters and boaters ultimately pay these taxes through the purchase of products. These same groups benefit from the funds as states must spend the money on sport fish and wildlife habitat restoration/development, populations management, user access and facilities and education.

            The funds are used by the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation for a wide range of important activities, including the purchase and maintenance of wildlife management areas, construction of fish hatcheries, research laboratories and user facilities, surveying and managing fish and wildlife populations, training volunteer instructors and educating young hunters and anglers in safe firearms handling, water safety, fish and wildlife resources and ethics afield.

            For more information about the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, log on to wildlifedepartment.com.

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Oklahoma boating access projects at all time high

            Anglers and boaters in Oklahoma have plenty of great destinations to choose from, and thanks to an ongoing Wildlife Department program, gaining access to the water is getting even easier.  According to officials with the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, (ODWC) there are 14 boat ramp construction or repair projects underway across the state, with another 19 slated to begin in 2007.

            "Over recent months, we've seen many of our lakes with very low water levels, but this has actually been a great opportunity for us in terms of getting boating access projects completed," said John Stafford, ODWC federal aid coordinator. "Particularly over the past decade, we have been very successful in improving boating and fishing access across Oklahoma. In that time period we have completed literally dozens of projects such as boat ramps, parking areas, courtesy docks, and fish cleaning stations - but we certainly couldn't have built all of these amenities without our partnering cities and other groups.”

            Through the federal Sport Fish Restoration program, cities and other governmental agencies can apply for matching grants to construct boat ramps and other access projects. Enacted in 1950, the Sport Fish Restoration Act established special federal taxes, called excise taxes on fishing rods, reels and tackle. Anglers ultimately pay these taxes through their equipment purchases. Funds raised directly benefit fisheries management including fish stocking, habitat management, fisheries research, aquatic education programs and boating and fishing access projects.

            In 1984, funding within the Sport Fish Restoration Program was significantly bolstered by the addition of excise taxes on motor boat fuels. And according to Stafford, anglers and boaters are often unaware that their purchases are being used to improve lakes for fishing and boating.

            "When we construct a boat ramp, we always put up a sign that explains that anglers and boaters funded the construction of the ramp, but lots of folks still don't understand how that really works," said Stafford. "Every time you buy that new lure or fishing rod or purchase fuel at the marina, a percentage of your purchase price is being funneled back to the Wildlife Department to fund not only boat ramps but also a wide variety of other conservation projects. Next time you see one of the Sport Fish Restoration signs at the boat ramp, you should know that without their dollars, many of those boat ramps would have been too costly for a municipal government to build.”

Current boating access projects are ongoing at the following locations.

 

Perry Lake- near Perry
Lake Carl Blackwell- near Stillwater
Oklahoma River- in Oklahoma City
Guthrie Lake- in Guthrie
Crowder Lake- near Crowder
Lake Lawtonka- near Lawton
Frederick Lake- in Frederick
Skiatook Lake- near Skiatook

Three forks Harbor (two projects) - near Muskogee on the Arkansas River Navigation System
Tenkiller- at Caney Creek, Burnt Cabin, and Cherokee Landing State Park
Deep Fork River- near Dewar

For more information about fishing in Oklahoma log on to wildlifedepartment.com or pick up a copy of the "2006 Oklahoma Fishing Guide."

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