MARCH 2010 NEWS RELEASES 

WEEK OF MARCH 25, 2010

WEEK OF MARCH 18, 2010

WEEK OF MARCH 11, 2010

WEEK OF MARCH 4, 2010

Wildlife Department making strides in quail habitat restoration
            Research shows that bobwhite quail numbers across the nation have been in gradual decline since the 1960s, but Oklahoma remains a great holdout for the long-celebrated upland bird.
            Despite its location along the western fringe of the bobwhites native range, Oklahoma offers some of the best quail hunting and habitat in the nation including large, contiguous tracts of outstanding mixed grass prairie as well as portions suitable for restoration.
            At its March meeting, the Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Commission heard a presentation from wildlife biologists highlighting efforts to benefit bobwhite quail and fight downward trends.
            Factors that have been blamed for downward population trends of bobwhite quail include everything from mammalian and avian predators and competition for resources with other wildlife to bird flu and aflatoxins found in corn used for feeding deer. Additionally, loss of hunting opportunity has been blamed for low quail harvests and reduction in the number of hunters pursuing quail. But biologists with the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation say there is no one thing that can be blamed for the downward trends of quail population and hunter success; however, while theories circulate, there are two key observations that are sure.
            “Research to date shows habitat loss and fragmentation to be the principal culprit,” said Doug Schoeling, upland game biologist for the Wildlife Department.
            And according to Schoeling, habitat restoration is the primary focus of the Wildlife Department when it comes to addressing downward trends in quail populations.
            Much of that focus is aimed at private land management.
            “Since Oklahoma is made up of 97 percent private land, that’s where we’re going to affect the quail population,” Schoeling said.
            In recent years biologists have managed private land quail habitat at locations scattered statewide through programs that benefit quail along with other species of wildlife.
            “Wherever in the state we could get it, wed go out there, meet with the landowners and do these habitat improvements,” Schoeling said.
            Today, the Department is taking on a more targeted approach in order to encourage complete landscape changes. Through the Natural Resource Conservation Services Environmental Quality Incentives Program, biologists have determined five focus areas across the state using GIS technology to identify key habitat areas targeted for improvement. Landowners who are interested work with biologists to develop a management plan that will benefit quail. Landowners then have the option of contracting with the Natural Resource Conservation Service to receive financial assistance as part of its Quail Habitat Restoration Initiative. As the name suggests, the initiative is designed specifically for the benefit of quail and their habitat.
            According to Erik Bartholomew, programs and research biologist for the Wildlife Department, targeting contiguous tracts will “increase the likelihood of having a population response” while increasing funding opportunities and lowering investment expenses.
            Along with efforts on private land, the Wildlife Department actively manages thousands of acres of public land for wildlife, with quail among those species that benefit. Public land efforts have included converting Old World Bluestem to native grasses, restoring pine bluestem habitat and timber thinning to restore native grasses.
            The Department also actively engages in outreach efforts such as presentations, field days and news correspondences to encourage interest in quail habitat restoration and plays an advisory role for a number of programs and organizations that affect the environment and habitat conditions.
            In other business, the Commission accepted a donation of more than 70 taxidermy mounts from Sam Munhollon, a conservationist who has been a longtime friend of the Wildlife Department and past president of the Oklahoma Station Chapter of Safari Club International.
            Munhollon’s donation is valued at almost $40,000 and includes a range of native Oklahoma wildlife as well as all six subspecies of wild turkey.
            “We will be using these mounts primarily at the Department’s new Outdoor Education and Training Center at Lake Arcadia,” said Nels Rodefeld, chief of information and education for the Wildlife Department.
            The taxidermy mounts will be used for a range youth education programs.
            The Commission also heard a presentation from William Voelker, director and founder of Sia, the Comanche Nation Ethno-Ornithological Initiative. Sia is a cutting edge research facility and information center for scientists and native people from around the world. Voelker is considered one of the nations foremost experts on raptor behavior, breeding and handling and, as a member of the Comanche Nation, Voelker brings a unique perspective on eagles and their importance to native peoples.
            Sia’s facility in Cyril currently cares for close to 50 eagles. Voelker extended an invitation for the Department to use Sia as a resource and pledged to be active in educating the public about their work with both culture and science. The word ‘sia’ is Comanche for ‘feather,’ and the group’s work is focusing in part on bridging the disciplines of ethnology — the study of culture —and ornithology — the study of birds.
            The Commission voted to approve a number of hunting and fishing-related rule changes, many of which simply make permanent rules that were already in place. In wildlife, rules approved will open some additional Corps of Engineers property to hunting; allow hunters to use telephonic and internet based check stations, establish a timeline, and require the confirmation number to be provided when transferring harvested big game to another individual; require hunters to add the date and time to field tags for elk, deer and turkey; open youth deer gun season for Wildlife Management Areas as published in the hunting guide; extend furbearer season; establish seasons on the new Candy WMA; modify hunting seasons on four WMAs; allow buckshot to be used for shooting feral hogs on private lands; allow camping by hunters and anglers on Chickasaw National Recreation Area; and establish rules to prohibit explosive devices on all Department lands.
            In fishing, approved rules modify black bass length limits on Birch Lake; require paddlefish anglers to release immediately all paddlefish caught on Monday and Friday; require paddlefish anglers to immediately record the date and time of harvest of all paddlefish on their paddlefish permit; close snagging on the Grand River from the HWY 12 bridge upstream to the Markham Ferry dam from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. year-round; remove exemption on use of grabhooks for Delaware and Mayes counties; close the Spring River to paddlefish angling by all methods from the HWY 60 bridge upstream to the Kansas state line; permit only triploid grass carp to be stocked in private waters (diploid grass carp would be allowed for use by licensed aquaculture facilities for specific purposes). Additionally, one rule change will require all fishing guides to obtain a guide license unless exempt, and will outline certifications needed by an operator prior to obtaining the license.
            In addition, approved rules will establish a price of $25 for the new Wildlife Management Area Atlas, which also will include a one-year subscription to Outdoor Oklahoma magazine.
            A complete listing of approved fishing and hunting regulation rule changes is available online at wildlifedepartment.com.
            The new regulations must now pass through the legislative process and be signed by the governor. Look for complete details in the next Oklahoma Hunting and Fishing Guides.
            The Commission also accepted federal and other grant money to fund three initiatives relating to High Plains habitat initiatives and voted to increase the capitol improvement budget to expand the Drummond Flats WMA in Garfield County.
            Additionally, the Commission accepted sealed bids to lease the Wildlife Departments mineral interest on 2,598.75 net mineral acres 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 set for 9 a.m., April 5, at the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation headquarters (auditorium), located at the southwest corner of 18th and North Lincoln, Oklahoma City.
 
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Wildlife Department employment exam scheduled
            The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation will be holding an open employment exam Friday, March 26, at Rose State College.
            “Working for the Department is an extremely rewarding experience,” said Mikki Gutierrez, human resources administrator for the Wildlife Department.
            Taking the test is the first step in the hiring process for individuals seeking positions as game wardens, biologists, fish hatchery assistant managers or technicians with the Department.
            The standardized employment exam is set for 10 a.m. in the Tom Steed Development Center. The exam is free, and participants must have photo identification upon check-in. Late arrivals will not be permitted to enter the examination room after 10 a.m.
            “The Department looks for the best wildlife conservation employees available, and we want those who are interested to begin getting involved,” Gutierrez said. “This test is the first step for most positions at the Wildlife Department.”
            Specific job and education requirements for Department positions as well as suggested study material for the exams are listed on the Department's official Web site at
http://www.wildlifedepartment.com.
            Individuals may take the exam once in a 12-month period. Test scores are valid for 12 months from the test date, and top scorers will be invited to submit an employment application. When a job opening becomes available, selected applicants from the test register will be scheduled for an interview. For more information, contact the Wildlife Department's Human Resources office at (405) 521-4640.
 
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Outdoor Oklahoma readers’ photos wanted for Readers Photography Showcase issue
            Outdoor Oklahoma magazine is currently accepting submission for its annual “Readers’ Photography Showcase” issue, which features the digital images of outdoor enthusiasts all over the state.
            Submissions will accepted through March 31, and selected photographers will have their work featured in the July/August 2010 issue of Outdoor Oklahoma.
            The special summer issue gives both professional and amateur photographers the chance to have their digital photos displayed in a magazine nationally recognized for its photography.
            "My wife, Kitty and I look forward all year to your ‘Photography Showcase magazine,’ said Mark Cromwell of Enid. We save our favorite Oklahoma pictures for your magazine hoping to get one published.”
            Cromwell and his wife have both seen their images appear in the “Readers Photography Showcase.” According to Cromwell, it’s an exciting time each year when the July/August issue of Outdoor Oklahoma arrives in the mail at their home.
            “We thumb through the pages to see if we made it,” Cromwell said, adding that part of the excitement of the issue is having the chance to see what other photographers submitted.
            “I always enjoy seeing the other photographers work from all over Oklahoma,” he said. “We live in a beautiful state, full of wildlife and rich scenery."
            Each participant may submit up to five digital images. Each submission must include a description of the photo, including the location taken, name and hometown of photographer, names and hometowns of subjects and what it took to get just the right shot. Photos should be in sharp focus, and images should be at least 300 dpi (dots per inch). The canvas size should be about 8 inches by 11 inches. All submissions must be digital and slides and print images will not be accepted. The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation reserves one-time publication rights for images selected for the Readers Photography Showcase, and images remain the property of the photographer. CDs and other file storage devices mailed to the Wildlife Department as part of submissions to the contest are not returned.
            “Photography is a great way to enjoy the outdoors,” said Michael Bergin, associate editor of Outdoor Oklahoma. “We look forward to the many submissions we get each year, and its always challenging for the judges to make their final selections.”
Hopeful photographers can mail their submission on disk to: Outdoor Oklahoma magazine, Oklahoma Dept. of Wildlife Conservation, P.O. Box 53465, Oklahoma City, OK 73152.
            Individuals can subscribe to Outdoor Oklahoma by calling 1-800-777-0019. Outdoor Oklahoma is known for providing decades of outdoor entertainment to both youth and adults. Subscriptions are just $10 for one year, $18 for two years, or $25 for three years. You can also subscribe over the Internet by logging on to the Department's Web site at wildlifedepartment.com.
 
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Arrows to fly inside Cox Convention Center
            About 1,700 students from across the state are scheduled shoot 32,000 arrows March 31 at the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation's Archery in the Schools annual state shoot at the Cox Convention Center in Oklahoma City.
            Students at the state shoot will come from more than 100 schools to compete in archery after a season of practice and competition in their respective schools as part of the Oklahoma Archery in the Schools (OAIS) program.
            "Coaches have told me time and again that this program has helped every child see success. From the typical athletic student to the child that does not usually excel in most other sports, archery is allowing all students to compete on a level playing field," said Justin Marschall, OAIS coordinator for the Wildlife Department.
            The number of students at the state shoot reflects the growth of the OAIS program during its six years of existence. This year's state shoot will see an increase of more than 600 students over last year's shoot.
            Currently about 230 schools participate throughout the year. Coordinated by the Wildlife Department, OAIS is part of the National Archery in the Schools Program. The program partners state wildlife agencies, schools and the nation's archery industry to introduce students to the sport of archery. The Archery in the Schools curriculum is designed for 4th-12th graders and covers archery history, safety, techniques, equipment, mental concentration and self-improvement.
            The top three shooters in each category at the state shoot will receive medals and prizes. In addition, the top five shooters in each category and first place teams automatically qualify for the national shoot to be held May 6,7 & 8 in Louisville, Ky.
            For more information about Oklahoma Archery in the Schools or the Wildlife Department, log on to wildlifedepartment.com.
 
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Youth discover wildlife-related careers at Wildlife Department's summer camp
            A lifetime of hunting and fishing is full of memories and lessons about life, nature and ethics — and youth who enjoy the outdoors can take that one step further by pursuing a career in wildlife conservation. Teenagers can apply now to attend the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation's annual Wildlife Youth Camp slated for July 11-16 and learn about rewarding careers that focus on managing wildlife for the future.
            The youth camp, which is held at Oklahoma University Biological Station at Lake Texoma, introduces youth age 14-16 to careers in wildlife-related fields and increases their awareness of conserving and managing Oklahoma's wildlife resources. The free camp allows youth to gain first-hand knowledge of careers in wildlife and fisheries management as well as law enforcement. Some participants even move on to rewarding careers as employees of the Wildlife Department.
            Courses planned for the week include rifle and shotgun training, muzzleloading, wildlife identification, wildlife law enforcement, fishing, fisheries management, ropes and rappelling, swimming, and turkey and waterfowl hunting, management and enforcement.
            To attend youth camp, applicants must turn 14 prior to June 11, 2010, and be no older than 16. Applicants must write a 75-word essay describing why they want to attend the camp, why they should be selected and what they expect to learn. Additionally, they must provide a letter of recommendation by someone outside their family and a photograph from a recent outdoor-related event or activity.
            The camp will be open to a maximum of 35 youth, and applications will be accepted through April 16, 2010. More information and applications, as well as photographs from previous youth camps are available by logging on to
http://www.wildlifedepartment.com .
 
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Kiamichi Mountains to host students at Youth Forestry and Wildlife Camp
            Oklahoma's beautiful Beavers Bend State Park is the setting for one of the longest running summer camps in Oklahoma—the Oklahoma Youth Forestry and Wildlife Camp hosted by the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry.
            This year the camp is slated for June 7-12 for boys and girls aged 13 to 15 years old that want to learn more about forestry, wildlife and conservation while in an outdoor setting. As one of Oklahoma's premier summer camps, students attend from across the state — many following the tradition of their parents and grandparents who are camp alumni. Field trips, Native American crafts, educational sessions and recreational programs are the heart of the weeklong camp. Campgrounds feature air-conditioned bunkhouses, a dining hall, hot showers, basketball and volleyball courts and an amphitheater.
            Along with exploring natural resources through a series of programs on wildlife management, forest management, stream ecology, fire management, urban forestry and multiple resource management, campers will also have time for swimming, hiking, fishing, canoeing and other outdoor recreation in the Kiamichi Mountains while making new friends from across the state.
            'Kids today don't necessarily see how things in the environment are all connected," said Christina Stallings Roberson, education coordinator for Oklahoma Forestry Services. "One main theme of this camp is to show those relationships."
            Older youth, ages 18 to 22, can also participate in the weeklong learning experience as camp counselors. Applicants should be mature, responsible young adults with an interest in outdoor careers such as forestry, wildlife or education and have the ability to guide younger youth throughout the camp. Volunteer adult leaders also are needed.
            Camper, counselor and adult applications will be accepted until April 30, 2010, and can be obtained by logging on to
http://www.forestry.ok.gov or by calling (405) 522-6158. The fee for campers is $175, which covers all costs including meals, transportation at camp, field trips, and workshops. A limited number of partial scholarships are available.
            Camper applications must be accompanied by a letter of reference from a teacher, counselor, principal, or club leader that has personal knowledge of the camper's interest and conduct.
 
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Oklahoma angler lands 13 lb. 4 oz. largemouth for lake record and “Top 20 Bass” list spot
            A Maysville angler put a new fish on Oklahoma’s list of Top 20 largemouth bass when he caught a 13 lb. 4 oz. lunker from Longmire Lake March 14.
            David Kinard caught the fish using soft plastic bait in the North Creek area of Longmire, located east of Paul’s Valley. The fish measured 26 inches in length and 23.25 inches in girth and was released. Taking the No. 17 spot on the state’s list of Top 20 Largemouth Bass from Randy Faddis’s 13 lb. 2 oz. fish caught in 1995, Kinard’s fish also stands as a new lake record for Longmire.
            Though it is not often that an angler lands a “Top 20 bass,” catching big largemouths this time of year is common. In fact, the No. 1 fish on the list, a 14 lb. 11 oz. fish caught by William Cross in 1999 from Broken Bow Lake, was caught March 14 that year, and a total of 13 of the fish on the list also were caught in March, with several others on the list caught in late February or early April. Nearly half of the fish on the Top 20 list were caught in the last 10 years.
            According to Gene Gilliland, central region fisheries supervisor for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, big bass such as those that reach 12-13 lbs. are certain to have significant genetic influences from the Florida strain of largemouth, which the Wildlife Department has been stocking in suitable lakes since the early 1970s.
            “They have the genetic potential to grow up to be trophies,” Gilliland said, and often more so than the native strain.
            While Florida largemouth bass carry the genetic potential to become large fish, the equation doesn’t end there.
            Trophy fish potential is the primary reason the Wildlife Department includes Florida largemouth bass in its stocking program — not to increase fish numbers. In order for that genetic potential to have full effect, however, bass also must have proper habitat conditions as well as time to grow to trophy sizes. According to Gilliland, it takes about 10 years on average for a largemouth bass with good genetics and good habitat conditions to reach the 10-lb. mark. Since Oklahoma is on the northern fringe of where Florida largemouth bass can be successful, warmer lakes such as those in southern portions of the state offer the best chances to grow big trophy bass, and the Top 20 list reflects that as well.
            According to fisheries biologists with the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, now through the next month is a great time to be fishing for not only big bass, but also for high numbers of bass as water temperatures warm and as spawning season approaches.
            A number of good live and artificial bait choices are available including plastic worms, spinnerbaits and assortments of jigs as well as live minnows and even worms.
            According to Gilliland, anybody can catch a nice bass in Oklahoma, as long as they get out on the water and try.
            To fish in Oklahoma, anglers must have a state fishing license. Some municipalities and lakes also require anglers to carry special permits. Consult the current “Oklahoma Fishing Guide” for more information.
            To see a photograph of Kinard’s fish, log on to
http://lake-record.ou.edu/fishsite/public/fishView.php?id=878  . Other lake record fish and information about the lake record fish program can be viewed through a user-friendly search feature on the Wildlife Department’s Web site at http://129.15.97.19/fishsite/
 
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State fish offers hot angling action as spawning season arrives
            Of all the official state symbols Oklahoma claims, the white bass is the favorite for anglers, especially in the coming weeks when the native fish begin their annual spawning runs up creeks and rivers that feed into lakes across the state.
            The annual spawning run of the official state fish, often called the “sand bass,” occurs during the spring and is perhaps best described as a “fish frenzy.” White bass move in large schools to spawn, and anglers who fish at the right time can end up with near constant angling action as well as a stringer full of fish. Fisheries biologists with the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation recently provided the inside scoop on how to get in on the best springtime white bass fishing no matter where you live in the state.
            While last year’s spring spawning run was already underway in southeast Oklahoma during the first week of March — and while it normally runs from mid-March to the first of May — this year’s run is slightly behind schedule, according to Kyle James, southeast region fisheries biologist for the Wildlife Department.
            “The springtime delay is really testing the patience of Oklahoma anglers, but white bass spawning conditions are improving,” James said. “The action will pick up, only this time a week or two later than usual. Hotspots in the southeast region include the narrows at Broken Bow, Pine Creek, Hugo, Sardis, and Wister reservoirs.”
According to James, a 1/8 oz. jig with a white or yellow curly tailed grub is a popular lure for catching white bass.
            “Try tying on two jigs at a time, but hold on, because two fish fight harder than one,” James said.
            According to James, both walk-in and boat access are available in areas throughout the region.
            “Be sure to get landowner permission before entering private property,” he said.
            In the southcentral portions of the state, lake levels are at or above normal elevations. According to Cliff Sager, southcentral region fisheries biologist for the Department, saturated soils in the region mean that even marginal rains over the next month will generate the run-off and inflows that white bass need for spawning.
            “Conditions leading up to this year’s spawn look very favorable,” Sager said. “We have heard reports that white bass were being caught in the tributaries above Lake Texoma this past weekend.”
            Sager said those fish were likely males that had moved upstream early to wait for female white bass to arrive with warmer waters and rain.
            Further north, angling success can be had from creeks accessible from the Eufaula Wildlife Management Area in eastcentral Oklahoma. Duchess Creek is accessed by taking the Texanna Road exit off I-40 about four miles east of Checotah and driving south four and a half miles. Turn left on the dirt road and proceed one quarter mile to the first bridge. Fish upstream or downstream according to lake level.
            Additionally, Danny Bowen, central region fisheries biologist for the Wildlife Department, said sand bass are being caught on Wewoka Creek south of Wetumka.
            Eastern Oklahoma offers a number of white bass fishing opportunities as well, according to Gary Peterson, eastcentral region fisheries biologist for the Wildlife Department.
            Peterson suggests picking one of the larger tributaries to the Arkansas River and watching for increased water flow in early spring. Examples include Robert S. Kerr’s Sallisaw Creek arm, where fishing intensifies after a warm spring rain brings a water level rise. The same thing happens on Dirty Creek west of Webbers Falls, below Greenleaf Dam on Greenleaf Creek or below every dam on the Arkansas River Navigation System. It’s all a question of when the warm rains bring an increased water flow.
            Horseshoe Bend, on the Illinois River above Tenkiller Lake, is probably the best known white bass fishing “hot spot” in eastcentral Oklahoma, according to Peterson.
            Traditionally, white bass can be caught anytime from mid March to early May at Horseshoe Bend depending on water flow, but the peak is usually around the first week or so in April. Smaller males are the first to show up in significant numbers, and any water level rise after that will sends the female fish upriver to spawn.  Bank access is limited, but boaters can put in at the Horseshoe Bend boat ramp.
            To get to Horseshoe Bend, take State Highway 82 south from Tahlequah to Horseshoe Bend Road in Keys. Turn left, stopping at the Illinois River.
            Northwest Oklahoma’s Canton Lake is expected to be a hot white bass fishing destination over the next few weeks, according to biologists in the region.
            “Canton Lake has an outstanding white bass run,” said John Stahl, northwest region fisheries supervisor for the Wildlife Department. “The run will start about the end of the first week in April.”
            Plenty of lake access is provided at Canton, along with amenities such as food and fishing gear in Canton and nearby Longdale. According to Stahl, all you have to do is watch the trees to know when to catch the white bass run just right.
            “Locals say that when the redbuds are in full bloom, it’s time to go,” Stahl said.
            Further south, white bass runs are not as typical due to low average rainfall and relatively short stream lengths, according to Larry Cofer, southwest region fisheries supervisor for the Wildlife Department.
            The exception is above Lake Waurika in Beaver Creek in the event of rainfall in late March and early April, with access around the Hwy 53 bridges and the county roads above the Waurika WMA. Cofer said that striped bass hybrids also are caught running upstream from the lake. Striped bass hybrids are the result of crossing the white bass with the non-native striped bass in Wildlife Department fisheries hatcheries.
            Cofer said boat fisherman can catch “sandies” above Lakes Lawtonka and Ellsworth to the headwaters of Medicine and Cache creeks, where white bass congregate after a rain.
            Some of the southwest regions best sand bass fishing can be had where the fish spawn along windy rip-rap areas in lakes.
            Altus-Lugert, Lawtonka and Tom Steed hold healthy populations of sand bass that can be caught along windy, rocky banks throughout the spring, even after the spawn. Also, anglers can be successful fishing the rip-rap on the dams this month at lakes Chickasha, Clear Creek, Comanche, Elk City, Ellsworth, and Waurika, particularly in a north wind after fronts come through, according to Cofer.
            One female white bass can produce up to one million eggs. White bass reproductive activities are triggered when water temperatures reach 50 to 55 degrees Fahrenheit. Spawning occurs at random over weeds, debris and rocks. When tributary streams are available, white bass prefers upstream migration for spawning. No parental care is provided to eggs or young. Anglers should equip themselves with light to medium light action tackle and an assortment of jigs.
            To learn more about white bass or fishing in Oklahoma, or to sign up for the Wildlife Department’s weekly fishing report, log on to wildlifedepartment.com.
 
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Forestry Services offering Oklahoma-grown seedlings
            Now is an excellent time to plant tree seedlings for wildlife, according to officials with the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry, which will hold tree seedling sales in a number of communities across the state in the coming weeks.
            In partnership with the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, Oklahoma Forestry Services is offering three different packages of seedlings that will enhance the habitat of deer, songbirds, turkey, quail and a variety of other wildlife. Each wildlife packet is made up of 25 each of four different species of trees and shrubs chosen specifically to improve wildlife habitat for landowners.
            “Planting conditions across the state are the best they have been for several years due to abundant soil moisture and cool weather, and we still have a good selection of species available,” said Kurt Atkinson, assistant director of the Forestry Services division of the Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry.
            According to Atkinson, orders for seedling packages are being taken via the Forestry Services online store at forestry.ok.gov, while certain communities across the state have been hosting seedling truck sales over the past week and will continue through the month of March. For a full schedule of seedling truck sales and locations, log on to
http://www.forestry.ok.gov/2010-truck-sale-schedule.
            Oklahoma grown seedlings are available to landowners for a broad range of conservation projects. Landowners use the trees for windbreaks to protect crops and livestock, timber production, water quality protection, erosion control or other natural resource projects such as firewood plantings and Christmas tree production.
            Seedlings offered through the Forestry Service are one year old, bare-root, and each species is packaged in multiples of 50 with a minimum order of 100 trees. They are to be used in rural conservation plantings and cannot be used for ornamental plantings or resold as living trees.
            All orders will be handled on a first-come, first-served basis and are being taken now via the online store. Paper order forms may be requested by contacting the Department’s Forest Regeneration Center at 800-517-FOREST. Landowners also can visit the Forest Regeneration Center near Goldsby, just south of Norman where they can order, pay for and pick up their seedlings in person. Contact the center at 1-800-517-3673.
 
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Online wildlife profiles shed light on nature in Oklahoma
            If you have ever wondered what a burrowing owl looks like or whether there is actually a difference between bluegill and longear sunfish, then there is a Web site that can help.
            The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation’s Web site, wildlifedepartment.com, provides a “Species Spotlight” section that serves as an online resource on a wide range of wildlife species.
            “This is a fantastic Web site for anyone who wants to see what animals look like, where they live and how they act,” said Lesley McNeff, wildlife diversity information specialist for the Wildlife Department. “The information can be considered helpful to many different people such as parents, children, teachers and sportsmen. Each of us has seen an animal and wondered about something they did or even wondered what it was. This Web page has a multitude of information about Oklahoma wildlife with full-color pictures and an easy-to-read format. You can use this field guide to learn a lot about the different mammals, birds, fish and insects.”
            The Web site is always available, and it is easy to use.  It showcases wildlife featured in previous issues of Outdoor Oklahoma magazine.
            If you like to read about these species, you can receive a free email newsletter that features a different species every month as well as what to do to benefit wildlife that month. “The Wild Side” showcases different work that is being done by the Department’s various biologists, multitudes of different wildlife species and even what you can do to be active with wildlife. Past issues of “The Wild Side” are even displayed online at wildlifedepartment.com.
            For more information about the Species Spotlight or “The Wild Side,” log on to wildlifedepartment.com.
 
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Wildlife Department employment exam scheduled
            The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation will be holding an open employment exam Friday, March 26, at Rose State College.
            “Working for the Department is an extremely rewarding experience,” said Mikki Gutierrez, human resources administrator for the Wildlife Department.
            Taking the test is the first step in the hiring process for individuals seeking positions as game wardens, biologists, fish hatchery assistant managers or technicians with the Department.
            The standardized employment exam is set for 10 a.m. in the Tom Steed Development Center. The exam is free, and participants must have photo identification upon check-in. Late arrivals will not be permitted to enter the examination room after 10 a.m.
            “The Department looks for the best wildlife conservation employees available, and we want those who are interested to begin getting involved,” Gutierrez said. “This test is the first step for most positions at the Wildlife Department.”
            Specific job and education requirements for Department positions as well as suggested study material for the exams are listed on the Department's official Web site at
http://www.wildlifedepartment.com.
            Individuals may take the exam once in a 12-month period. Test scores are valid for 12 months from the test date, and top scorers will be invited to submit an employment application. When a job opening becomes available, selected applicants from the test register will be scheduled for an interview. For more information, contact the Wildlife Department's Human Resources office at (405) 521-4640.
 
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Youth spring turkey season offers youth first shot
            Turkey hunters mark April 6 as an important date to remember every year, but youth get an opportunity to hunt gobblers even earlier.
            This year’s youth spring turkey season will be held April 3-4 statewide and offers youth under 18 years of age a chance to harvest one tom turkey while accompanied by an adult 18 years old or older. The adult may not hunt or possess archery or firearms equipment, and any turkey harvested by a youth hunter counts toward the youth’s county and regular spring season limits.
            Youth who participate in the youth spring turkey season not only get an early opportunity to hunt, but those youth who do not harvest a turkey during the youth season may use their unfilled turkey license during the regular spring season, which runs April 6 – May 6.
            To hunt during the youth spring turkey season, resident youth under 16 and non-residents under 14 are not required to have a hunting license, but they are required to have a turkey license or proof of exemption. Resident youth ages 16 and 17 and non-resident youth ages 14-17 must possess an appropriate hunting license and turkey license or proof of exemption.
            Youth who have not completed a hunter education course through the Wildlife Department can still hunt turkeys during the youth spring season, but they must purchase an apprentice-designated hunting license and turkey permit as required, and the accompanying adult must be an individual 21 years old or older who is a licensed hunter and hunter education certified or otherwise exempt from license and hunter education requirements. See page 8 of the current “Oklahoma Hunting Guide” for details.
            Seasons on public lands may vary from statewide season dates. Consult the current “Oklahoma Hunting Guide” for full details and regulations.
            For a full “2010 Gobbler Report,” see next week’s Wildlife News, a free, weekly e-mail news release from the Wildlife Department. To receive the news release by e-mail, sign up online through the Wildlife Department’s Web site at
http://www.wildlifedepartment.com.
 
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Deadline set for ads in hunting guide
            Liberty Press Publications has set May 1 as the deadline for advertising in the “2010-11 Oklahoma Hunting Guide.”
         “The Wildlife Department accepts advertising for our hunting and fishing guides in order to offset printing costs and deliver a high-quality, low-cost publication to Oklahoma hunters and anglers,” said Nels Rodefeld, chief of information and education for the Wildlife Department. “Our full-color Hunting Guide provides our constituents with crucial information regarding hunting seasons and laws, while the ad revenues save the Department thousands of dollars each year. Our goal is always to keep our costs low to make the best use of our funds.”
         The Wildlife Department receives no general state tax revenues and is funded by sportsmen and women through the purchase of hunting and fishing licenses and federal excise taxes on sporting goods.
         Each year, over 450,000 Hunting Guides are printed and distributed to license dealers, outdoor stores and municipal businesses across the state. It is the most widely distributed outdoors publication in the state and is distributed statewide around Aug. 1. It also can be found online on the Department’s web site, wildlifedepartment.com.
         The Wildlife Department has a contract with Liberty Press Publications to oversee all advertising for the guide and publish the guide. Ad rates range from a little more than $9,000 for a full-color page to around $275 for a classified box ad. Promotional advertising does not constitute endorsement by the Wildlife Department.
         For additional advertising information concerning the “Oklahoma Hunting Guide,” contact Jeff Hunt at Liberty Press Publications. The toll-free telephone number is 1-800-296-6402.
 
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Last call for Outdoor Oklahoma magazine photography contest submissions
            Outdoor Oklahoma magazine is accepting entries for its annual “Readers’ Photography Showcase” contest through March 31.
            Selected photographers will have their work featured in the July/August 2010 issue of Outdoor Oklahoma.
            “This is a great chance to see your own outdoor photography in print, as well as the work of other Oklahomans who enjoy the outdoors, but time is running out for submitting an entry,” said Michael Bergin, associate editor of Outdoor Oklahoma.
            The special summer issue gives both professional and amateur photographers the chance to have their digital photos displayed in a magazine nationally recognized for its photography.
            Each participant may submit up to five digital images. Each submission must include a description of the photo, including the location taken, name and hometown of photographer, names and hometowns of subjects and what it took to get just the right shot. Photos should be in sharp focus, and images should be at least 300 dpi (dots per inch). The canvas size should be about 8 inches by 11 inches. All submissions must be digital and slides and print images will not be accepted. The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation reserves one-time publication rights for images selected for the “Readers’ Photography Showcase,” and images remain the property of the photographer. CDs and other file storage devices mailed to the Wildlife Department as part of submissions to the contest are not returned.
            “We’ve received many great entries to the contest already,” Bergin said. “And we hope that anyone else interested in making a submission remembers to do so by March 31.”
Photographers can mail their submission on disk to: Outdoor Oklahoma magazine, Oklahoma Dept. of Wildlife Conservation, P.O. Box 53465, Oklahoma City, OK 73152.
            Individuals can subscribe to Outdoor Oklahoma by calling 1-800-777-0019. Outdoor Oklahoma is known for providing decades of outdoor entertainment to both youth and adults. Subscriptions are just $10 for one year, $18 for two years, or $25 for three years. You can also subscribe over the Internet by logging on to the Department's Web site at wildlifedepartment.com.
 
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