JULY 2010 NEWS RELEASES 

WEEK OF JULY 29, 2010

WEEK OF JULY 22, 2010

WEEK OF JULY 15, 2010

WEEK OF JULY 8, 2010

WEEK OF JULY 1, 2010

 

 

Controlled hunt results available July 7
         Applicants can find out July 7 at 8 a.m. if they were drawn for any of the hunts offered through the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation's Controlled Hunt program by logging on to wildlifedepartment.com.
         Once applicants log on to the website, they can click on the "Controlled Hunts Results Available" link and enter their last name, birthday, and the number they used on the original application (either their Social Security or driver’s license number). The system will only access the Controlled Hunts results database when the correct number matches with the hunter’s other information.
         Sportsmen also can check their results at computer terminals available at the Department's headquarters and at certain regional offices during those offices’ regular business hours. Contact information for Wildlife Department field offices are available at wildlifedepartment.com. In addition, many local libraries offer Internet access to library cardholders. Applicants should check with their local library for Internet services and user-policies. Successful applicants will also be notified by mail.
            “This is a free service that is easy to use,” said Melinda Sturgess-Streich, assistant director of administration and finance for the Wildlife Department. “As long as you check the results using the same number that you used in your original application, you’ll know in a matter of minutes if you’ve been drawn.”
            The opportunity to hunt on some of Oklahoma’s most unique and desirable hunting properties have made the Department’s controlled hunts program one of the most popular programs in the country.
         For more information about the Wildlife Department’s Controlled Hunts program, log on to wildlifedepartment.com.
 
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Non-native crab among Texoma aquatic nuisance species
            Anglers fishing at Lake Texoma might catch a range of well-recognized fish, but they may also stumble upon a number of aquatic nuisance species, such as the now common zebra mussel or even the tiny, dime-sized Harris mud crab that has been found in limited numbers.
            The first mud crab discovered at Lake Texoma was found by a scuba diver in the Caney Creek area in September of 2008.
            The find spurred a research study to learn the source of introduction of the crabs and to examine potential effects on the lake’s ecosystem. And although the direct impact of the mud crabs on Oklahoma’s fishery is still unknown, the species has created both economic and ecological problems in several states, including Texas.
            Soon after the discovery of mud crabs in Oklahoma, researchers from Southeastern Oklahoma State University began surveying for the crabs. After several trapping and surveying attempts with limited results, it is thought that the Harris mud crab population in Oklahoma is limited. However, anglers have reported finding mud crab carcasses in the stomachs of cleaned blue catfish. Because the numbers are small and the research is ongoing, it is unknown whether the crabs have been introduced (by way of boats or released bait) or have naturally traveled their way to Oklahoma from Texas through rivers. Research is also being conducted in Texas by Tarleton State University in Stephenville. There, DNA samples are being collected to determine if the crabs are more closely related to the population naturally found on the Atlantic coast, or the population found along the Gulf Coast; if they are from the Gulf Coast population, they may have traveled to Oklahoma on their own.
            The Harris mud crab varies from olive green to brown and has white-tipped claws. It has four pairs of walking legs and one pair of pinchers. Legs are sparsely covered with hair. Generally found in brackish waters, it can complete its life cycle in freshwater, and is currently found throughout Texas.
            Like many aquatic nuisance species, the Harris mud crab can negatively affect native habitat. According to Curtis Tackett, aquatic nuisance species biologist for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, aquatic nuisance species, or ANS, are a threat because of their potential to disrupt the balance of state fisheries. Since they are non-native, they may have few predators, reproduce and spread rapidly, and compete with native species for available forage and habitat. Along with the Harris mud crab, aquatic nuisance species in Oklahoma include species such as zebra mussels, didymo, white perch, bighead carp, golden alga, and hydrilla, among others.
            “An ANS can be any organism that threatens our native waters, not just fish or plants,” Tackett said. “They are often unknowingly transported by man — usually boaters and anglers — to a new location where they thrive and cause problems for native habitat or native aquatic species.”
            Along with threatening food sources for native species, ANS such as mud crabs can clog intake valves and other water delivery systems.
            Tackett urges anglers not to release their leftover bait into lakes after fishing and to check, drain, clean or dry their boats to limit the transfer of this and other aquatic nuisance species.
            If you encounter a Harris mud crab, you can let the Wildlife Department know by contacting Tackett at (405) 521-4623.
            In the meantime, while enjoying the season of fishing at hand, anglers can help stop the spread of ANS and their possible economic and environmental consequences by observing the following measures:
 
* Never dump unused bait into the water; dispose of on land
* Drain bilge water, live wells and bait buckets before leaving a lake.
* Inspect boats and trailer immediately upon leaving the water.
* Scrape off any zebra mussels or aquatic vegetation found. Do not return them to the water.
* Wash boat parts and accessories that contact the water using hot water (at least 140 degrees F.), or spray with high-pressure water.
* If possible, dry boats and trailers for at least a week before entering another waterway.
* Before leaving a river or stream, remove all clumps of algae and look for hidden fragments.
* Soak and scrub all gear for at least one minute in a two percent bleach solution, or five percent salt solution, or simply use hot water and dishwashing soap.
* If cleaning is not practical, then wait at least 48 hours before contact with another water body after equipment has dried.
* Consider keeping two sets of wading boots, and alternate their use between cleaning and drying.
* Avoid using felt-soled waders.
* Avoid wading through colonies of the algae that may be the ANS known as didymo. Breaking up the material could cause future colonies and blooms to occur further downstream.
 

 
Photo Caption: With only minor effort, anglers can help prevent the spread of aquatic nuisance species such as Harris mud crabs (pictured) and other aquatic nuisance species along with their economic and environmental consequences.

Photo Credit: Dr. Donald Keith, Tarleton State University
 
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Outdoor Marketplace returning to 2010 Oklahoma Wildlife Expo
            One of the best features of the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation’s annual Oklahoma Wildlife Expo is the free admission, but there are still opportunities for visitors to purchase great outdoor gear for use in future getaways.
            For the fourth year in a row, vendors at the Oklahoma Wildlife Expo’s Outdoor Marketplace will be on hand offering their outdoor goods and services visitors at the event.
            The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation’s sixth annual Oklahoma Wildlife Expo is slated for September 25-26 at the Lazy E Arena, just north of Oklahoma City. The Wildlife Department will be working with a range of organizations, individuals and outdoor-related companies to host the event — intended to promote and develop appreciation for Oklahoma’s wildlife and natural resources. Last year’s Expo drew an estimated 42,000 visitors to the Lazy E Arena over the course of three days.
            “Admission for the Expo is free, and all of the events and activities it offers are free,” said Rhonda Hurst, Expo coordinator for the Wildlife Department. “Tens of thousands of visitors come out to the Lazy E Arena to enjoy the fun, so this a great opportunity for vendors of outdoor goods and services to showcase their products to outdoor-minded people at the Outdoor Marketplace.”
            The Outdoor Marketplace is a large area where commercial vendors will be selling their hunting and fishing-related merchandise and services. The Marketplace features vendors under a large tent, but outdoor open-air spaces also are available for displaying larger items such as ATVs and hunting blinds. A 10’ x 10’ booth space under the tent or a 20’ x 20’ outside space costs $300. Both include electricity. Nonprofit conservation organizations also will be able to sign up for free booth spaces to promote membership and educate sportsmen about their organizations.
            Along with shopping at the Outdoor Marketplace, Expo visitors will be able to fish, shoot shotguns, kayak, ride mountain bikes, see and touch wildlife, attend dog training seminars and learn about recreation in the great outdoors. They will also be able to win a variety of free prizes thanks to generous sponsors of the event.
            “Any vendor who wants to reach people interested in the outdoors needs to be a part of the Outdoor Marketplace at this year’s Wildlife Expo,” Hurst said.
            Log on to wildlifedepartment.com regularly to stay up to date on the upcoming Oklahoma Wildlife Expo.
            For more information about obtaining a booth in the Outdoor Marketplace or to obtain an application for a booth, contact Ben Davis, Outdoor Marketplace coordinator, at (405) 521-4632.
 
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Wildlife Commission approves OG&E partnership
            At its July meeting, the Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Commission voted to approve a memorandum of agreement with OG&E to offset the impact of the151 MW “Keenan Phase II” wind farm on lesser prairie chickens in northwest Oklahoma. OG&E is purchasing 100 percent of the energy produced from the wind farm, which is owned by Competitive Power Ventures, an independent wind farm developer. The agreement secures $4.9 million for projects such as conservation easements to protect undeveloped property, management agreements to restore property with critical habitat and acquisition of land by the Wildlife Department to protect and restore habitat for lesser prairie chickens.
            “The lesser prairie chicken as a species is in jeopardy,” said Alan Peoples, chief of wildlife for the Wildlife Department. “OG&E has been a valuable partner in its effort to develop Oklahoma’s wind resources in a responsible manner.”
            The prairie of northwest Oklahoma is home to some of the state’s most abundant wind resources and important habitat of the lesser prairie chicken, identified as a species of greatest conservation need. Research shows that habitat fragmentation and vertical structures like wind turbines are not conducive to good prairie chicken habitat. The species has evolved over time in regions virtually void of vertical structure, which may be perceived by prairie chickens as perches for predators like hawks and owls. As a result, maintaining unfragmented tracts of sand shinnery, sage and high plains habitat in northwest Oklahoma is a high priority for achieving a sustainable outcome for lesser prairie chicken populations.
            This is the second partnership agreement between the two parties. In April of 2009, the Commission approved its first memorandum of agreement with OG&E to protect lesser prairie chicken habitat for the 101 MW “OU Spirit” Project. That initial $3.75 million led not only to the development of habitat management projects, but also helped fund land purchases such as a 4,500-acre addition to Packsaddle WMA. OG&E’s contributions have and will continue to be leveraged with additional federal grants to ensure habitat enhancement and restoration efforts to benefit the lesser prairie chicken and other wildlife in northwest Oklahoma. The initial $3.75 million has already been leveraged up to approximately $9 million, which is being utilized in on-the-ground efforts to improve habitat for the lesser prairie chicken.
            “OG&E is trying to balance the development of renewable energy with the need to protect the environment, including the conservation of the lesser prairie chicken,” said Trish Horn, vice president, environmental, health and safety for OG&E. “We are very pleased to be able to partner with the Department and assist the Department in its efforts to conserve the lesser prairie chicken, implement its conservation plan, and begin to see what can be done to conserve this species right now in Oklahoma.”
            Officials hope the agreement between the Wildlife Department and OG&E will serve as an example to energy industries in the Southern Plains to focus on responsible development and conservation. State Secretary of Environment J.D. Strong endorses the agreement, calling OG&E a “great partner and leader in the effort who works voluntarily to keep the prairie chicken off the endangered species list.”
            Though the memorandum of agreement specifically partners the Wildlife Department with OG&E, the cooperation of several other agencies and organizations such as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Nature Conservancy, the Sutton Avian Research Center, Playa Lakes Joint Venture and others play critical roles in this partnership.
            “Everyone has a key part in conservation, from energy development industries to everyday hunters and anglers, and this agreement is just a great example of that,” said Richard Hatcher, director of the Wildlife Department.
            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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Inaugural arrow flies at new outdoor facility
            At its July meeting, the Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Commission celebrated the dedication of its newest facility with a shot from the bow of two-time National Archery in the Schools Champion Meredith Noland of Chickasha.
            Noland’s well-placed arrow is only one of many that will be released in the future on the grounds of the Arcadia Conservation Education Area, where the Commission celebrated the opening of its new Outdoor Training and Education Center, an indoor facility on the Edmond property that will be used for outdoor education purposes.
            The Arcadia Conservation Education Area is a 700-acre property on Lake Arcadia that Oklahoma anglers have been enjoying for years by way of walk-in access, but with the completion and dedication of the area’s new indoor facility comes even more outdoor opportunities. The area can be used for hunter education and aquatic education classes, wetland learning opportunities, bird watching, and field trips for area schools. Additionally, conservation-based curriculum is being developed for educators to provide students with outdoor learning opportunities on the property. Complete with a wetland walking trail, fishing access, and birding opportunities, the area represents the Department’s goal to engage youth in the outdoors and to instill appreciation for conservation.
            The Commission also approved of a memorandum of agreement with OG&E for the funding of moneys to offset the impact on the lesser prairie chickens in northwest Oklahoma relating to the “Keenan Phase II” wind farm, which is owned by Competitive Power Ventures from which OG&E purchases 100 percent of the output. The agreement secures $4.9 million for projects such as conservation easements to protect undeveloped property, management agreements to restore property with critical habitat and acquisition of land by the Wildlife Department to protect and restore habitat for lesser prairie chickens. The agreement follows a previous one with OG&E, approved in April of last year to secure $3.75 million for the same purpose of conserving lesser prairie chickens.
            In other donations, the Commission accepted $36,200 from NatureWorks and $7,500 from the Oklahoma Station Chapter of Safari Club International (SCI) to fund a range of Wildlife Department projects.
            The $36,200 donation from Tulsa-based conservation group NatureWorks will be used to fund five projects, including $15,000 for fireguards and ridge top clearings at Osage Wildlife Management Area in northeast Oklahoma, $10,000 to fund subscriptions to the Wildlife Department’s Outdoor Oklahoma magazine for every public school and library in the state, $5,000 for the Department’s Hunters Against Hunger program, $5,000 to fund awareness and equipment for the Department’s aquatic nuisance species program, and a $1,200 prize for the winner of the state duck stamp design contest. NatureWorks generates its funds through its annual wildlife art show in Tulsa.
            The donation from the Oklahoma Station Chapter of SCI will be used to support the Department’s Hunters Against Hunger program, fund bear research in Oklahoma, and to purchase a youth deer license for one participant in each of the Department’s 350 hunter education classes throughout the year. The organization is also working to make SCI membership discounts available for one adult from each hunter education class throughout the year.
            The Commission also recognized Tillman Co. landowner Jim Wolfe as the Wildlife Department’s Landowner of the Year Award recipient.
            “With 95 percent of Oklahoma in private ownership, it’s vital that our landowners be a part of the wildlife equation,” said Mike Sams, private lands senior biologist for the Wildlife Department.
            Wolfe owns the Red River Ranch, about 1,000 acres bordering the Red River in Tillman County characterized by rolling sandhills.
            The Commission also finalized changes to its retirement plan for Wildlife Department employees. The current defined benefit plan was frozen to new entrants, and a new defined contribution plan was adopted for employees hired after July 1, 2010. This action will provide a long-term funding solution for the agency’s retirement plan while continuing to provide a good retirement benefit for employees.
            The Commission also voted to establish regulations for early season migratory bird hunting seasons based on a federal framework provided by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. This year, seasons and regulations for September teal, dove, rail, gallinule, woodcock and common snipe will be the same as last year, except for adjustments to calendar dates, and the special resident Canada goose daily limit has been increased from five to eight.
            Additionally, the Commission approved renovation designs for the Wildlife Department headquarters in Oklahoma City to improve front entrance access for persons with disabilities.
            The Commission also recognized Liz Howard, human resources assistant for the Wildlife Department, for 25 years of service.
            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. Sept. 7 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’s Oklahoma Landowner of the Year recognized

            Tillman Co. landowner Jim Wolfe was recently awarded the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation’s Landowner of the Year Award.
            Through the Landowner of the Year program, the Wildlife Department selects a landowner who has gone above and beyond to improve their property for wildlife habitat.
            Wolfe owns the Red River Ranch, about 1,000 acres bordering the Red River in Tillman County characterized by rolling sandhills and thoughtful management efforts.
            Wolfe received his award at the July meeting of the Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Commission. By his side as he received the award was Red River Ranch manager Lloyd Kelly, who plays a vital role in management project completion on the ranch.
            After purchasing his ranch, Wolfe sought technical advice from a range of conservation agencies to help him improve his property for wildlife.
            “With 95 percent of Oklahoma in private ownership, it’s vital that our landowners be a part of the wildlife equation,” said Mike Sams, private lands senior biologist for the Wildlife Department.
            Wolfe has taken advantage of several programs including the Department’s Wildlife Habitat Improvement Program, Deer Management Assistance Program and the Federal Wildlife Habitat Incentive Program. Wolfe has installed fencing to protect riparian areas, including more than a mile-long stretch of creek important to hundreds of wild turkeys. The creek portion of Wolfe’s property is critical winter habitat for the local turkey population, providing winter roosting to an estimated 400 turkeys.
            Wolfe has managed cattle grazing on his property to complement his wildlife management goals. He has installed wood duck boxes, created clearings and restored roost sites for turkeys and worked to increase forage on his ranch through soil disturbance, among other efforts.
            Because of its southwest location in the state, the property has the distinction of being one of the few properties in Oklahoma to document the presence of javelinas, also called peccaries.
            “This is an important recognition that we give to landowners, and Jim is very deserving,” Sams said.
            To learn more about wildlife conservation and landowner programs operated by the Wildlife Department, log on to wildlifedepartment.com.
 
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Photo Caption: Tillman Co. landowner Jim Wolfe (center) accepts the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation’s Landowner of the Year Award from Alan Peoples, chief of wildlife for the Wildlife Department (left) alongside ranch manager Lloyd Kelly (right). Wolfe has taken advantage of several programs and management techniques to make his Red River Ranch an example of good habitat management in Oklahoma.

 

Calling all wildlife artists: Oklahoma waterfowl stamp design contest now open to entries
            The Oklahoma Waterfowl Stamp design contest hosted by the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation will feature the bluewing teal in 2011-12, and artists’ entries are being accepted through Aug. 31, 2010.
            The Wildlife Department’s waterfowl stamp design contest draws artists from across the United States hoping to see their rendition of a pre-selected waterfowl species on the state’s next stamp, which also serves as a state waterfowl license. The Oklahoma waterfowl stamp is required of hunters who pursue waterfowl in Oklahoma and is an important source of funding for the on-the-ground habitat work that benefits waterfowl and other wetland wildlife. The Wildlife Department receives no general state tax appropriations and is supported primarily through the sale of hunting and fishing licenses, among them the Oklahoma waterfowl license. Duck stamp sales help finance many projects that benefit ducks and geese. Since the duck stamp program began in 1980, thousands of acres of waterfowl habitat have been created through duck stamp revenues.
            “This is really much more than an art contest,” said Micah Holmes, information supervisor for the Wildlife Department. “When waterfowl hunters purchase that stamp, they are doing their part in conserving wildlife and preserving the sport of hunting. Stamp collectors can support the cause as well, since the stamps always feature stunning and unique artwork that’s worth adding to a collection.”
            Artwork may be of acrylic, oil, watercolor, scratchboard, pencil, pen and ink, tempera or any other two-dimensional media. The illustration must be horizontal, six and a half inches high and nine inches wide. It must be matted with white mat board nine inches high by 12 inches wide with the opening cut precisely 6.5 inches by 9 inches. Artwork may not be framed or under glass, but acetate covering should be used to protect the art. All artists must depict the bluewing teal, and any habitat appearing in the design must be typical of Oklahoma. Artists also can include a retriever dog in their entry, as long as the bluewing teal is the featured element of the artwork. For complete entry guidelines, call (405) 521-3856.
            Entries should be sent to the Duck Stamp Competition Coordinator, Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, P.O. Box 53465, Oklahoma City, OK 73152. Fed Ex, UPS and other ground deliveries should be sent to 1801 N. Lincoln, Oklahoma City, OK 73105.
            Entries will be judged on anatomical accuracy, artistic composition and suitability for printing. The winner and honorable mentions will appear in a future issue of Outdoor Oklahoma magazine.
            A non-refundable entry fee of $20 (cash, money order or cashier’s check) must accompany each entry. No entries will be accepted after 4:30 p.m. Aug. 31.
            The winning artist will receive a purchase award of $1,200, courtesy of Tulsa-based conservation group NatureWorks, and the winning entry will become the sole and exclusive property of the Wildlife Department.
            A selection of waterfowl stamp art from previous years is currently on display in the lobby of the Wildlife Department headquarters located at 1801 N. Lincoln, in Oklahoma City.
            Prints of the winning art are no longer made, but a small number of limited edition prints from previous years are available for $135 . To order, log on to
http://www.wildlifedepartment.com.
            For more information about the contest call (405) 521-3856. For a complete list of contest rules, log on to wildlifedepartment.com.
 
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Volunteers help make fishing memories for children with illnesses
            Volunteers recently came together to take almost 170 kids from Oklahoma Children’s Hospital fishing at Lake Texoma.
            Camp Cavett offers outdoor experiences to children who are undergoing treatments for illnesses such as heart disease, cancer, sickle cell anemia and other childhood illnesses, and each year anglers and boaters from across Oklahoma, Texas and even Louisiana volunteer their time and their boats to take them fishing.
            “Some of these kids have had a tough time over the last few years, but they’re just like any other kids — they love to go fishing and take a boat ride,” said Gene Gilliland, central region fisheries supervisor for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.
            Gilliland volunteers each year and said some of the campers don’t get to fish at home, either because their conditions will not allow them to fish easily or because they are in the hospital too much to find time. Getting the opportunity to go through Camp Cavett gets them involved in the outdoors, giving them something to look forward to as well as broadening their appreciation for the natural world.
            Kids who come to the camp, sponsored by the Cavett Kids Foundation, stay at the Cross Point Methodist Youth Camp on Lake Texoma and have a chance to go fishing twice during the week. While they fish for striper on Thursday, a fishing derby is held Saturday for any species that bites, with trophies awarded to the three biggest fish in each category, including bass, striper, catfish, panfish and other species.
            “One little girl who won a trophy last year passed away before this year’s camp,” Gilliland said. “At her funeral they had a table of her most prized possessions. Among them was the trophy she won at the fishing derby.”
            Boaters interested in volunteering at future Camp Cavett fishing days can contact Jenny Rodgers, Cavett Kids Foundation Director, at (405) 271-2271
 
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Wildlife Expo feature to teach Oklahomans how to attract and enjoy wild birds
            With over 350 bird species found in Oklahoma, wildlife enthusiasts can learn to attract some of them to their own yard this fall at the sixth annual Oklahoma Wildlife Expo Sept. 25-26.
            Along with a range of other outdoor learning opportunities, an interactive birding area at the event will include a free bluebird house make-and-take seminar, optics courses to improve bird identification skills, and experts on hand to talk with visitors about all things birding in Oklahoma.  
            The Expo’s birding area also will feature a walk-through bird and butterfly garden, courtesy of K&K Nursery in Norman, designed to attract birds with cover and food.
            “You can bring birds to your property, and this Expo feature will give you a visual example of how to do it,” said Melynda Hickman, wildlife diversity biologist for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.
            Held at the Lazy E Arena, just north of Oklahoma City, the event is designed to promote and instill appreciation for Oklahoma's wildlife and natural resources and provide hands-on learning opportunities for all types of outdoor enthusiasts. The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation is partnering with a wide range of other state agencies, private individuals and outdoor-related companies to host the event. Admission to the Expo is free.
            Birds and birdwatching are just the beginning of what’s available for outdoor and wildlife enthusiasts at the Expo. Activities range from shotgun and archery shooting to fishing, kayaking, ATV riding, mountain biking and much more. Additionally, numerous learning opportunities are available at booths and exhibits at the Expo. Visitors can speak with wildlife biologists and outdoorsmen experienced in fishing, hunting, game calling, wildlife and fisheries management, reptiles and amphibians and more, as well as attend seminars on hunting dog training, wild game cooking, Dutch oven camp cooking and mule packing, among other topics. And for Expo visitors who like to shop, a large area called the Outdoor Marketplace is set aside at the Expo for vendors who will be on hand showcasing and offering for sale their outdoor merchandise and services.
            The Expo is Oklahoma’s largest outdoor recreation event, drawing tens of thousands of people each year, including celebrities.
            The Wildlife Expo will be held at the Lazy E Arena, just north of Oklahoma City. Expo hours will be from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily Sept. 25-26. Log on to wildlifedepartment.com regularly to stay up to date on this year’s Expo activities.
 
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August 20 deadline for bonus youth deer hunts
         Beginning deer hunters have a unique opportunity to participate in two youth controlled antlerless deer hunts that will take place on private land in Alfalfa and Osage Counties and are scheduled for October and January.
            This year 22 youth will be drawn to receive one of the bonus private lands antlerless deer gun permits. To be eligible, youth must have completed their hunter education requirements prior to applying and must be 12-16 years old at the time of their scheduled hunt.
            "These hunts are on private property and should provide young hunters a great opportunity to see some deer as well as a chance to harvest a doe," said Bill Dinkines, assistant chief of wildlife for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. “The Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Commission has endorsed the youth hunt program and we are thankful for the landowners' willingness to allow these kids the opportunity to hunt on their property.”
            To apply for a hunt, applicants must send the Department a 4” by 6” index card with the following information:
* Hunter’s name
* Date of birth
* Mailing address
* Telephone number
* Hunter education certification number
* Social security or driver’s license number
* Their order of hunt preferences: Osage County (October 1-3) & Alfalfa County (January 7-9)
* Lifetime license number if applicable
* A non-hunting adult (licensed or unlicensed) who is at least 21 years old must accompany the youth, and must also be listed on the index card
         Youth who will be 16 years of age at the time of the hunt, who are required to have a hunting license, may possess an apprentice-designated license; however, the non-hunting adult accompanying an apprentice-designated hunter must possess a valid Oklahoma resident or nonresident hunting license, lifetime hunting license, or lifetime combination license and be hunter education certified, unless otherwise exempt.
         The envelope/card should be labeled “Private Lands Youth Deer Hunt” and should be mailed to: Department of Wildlife, Attn: Wildlife Division-Youth Deer Hunts, P.O. Box 53465, Oklahoma City, OK 73152. Applications must be received at the Department by 4 p.m. Friday, August 20, 2010.
         Applicants that are successfully drawn will receive a notification letter in the mail about their hunt the following week. The letter will inform them of their selection and provide details about the hunt and license requirements.
         Selected resident youth will need to purchase a $10 resident youth deer gun license unless they possess an Oklahoma resident lifetime hunting or resident lifetime combination license. Selected nonresidents will need to purchase a $206 nonresident deer gun license.
         Any antlerless deer harvested during the controlled hunt will be considered a bonus deer and will not count against the youths’ combined season limit.
         For additional information concerning the hunts, contact the Wildlife Department at (405) 521-2739.
 
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Heat is on in Oklahoma; so is the trout fishing
            This week trout fishing is excellent at the Lower Illinois River above Gore Landing on surface flies, rooster tails at 1-2 ft. deep and on power bait on the river bottom.
            Oklahomans may not typically associate the heat of summer with trout fishing, but the Lower Illinois River in northeast Oklahoma and the Lower Mountain Fork River in the southeast both offer some of the best cold water angling, even during some of the hottest months of the year.
            Both the Lower Illinois River and Lower Mountain Fork River trout fisheries are stocked with rainbow trout nearly every two weeks, with occasional brown trout stocked as well. Since both fisheries are open to trout fishing year-round, anglers can plan their fishing getaway around their own schedule but also around pre-scheduled stocking dates, available on the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation’s website at wildlifedepartment.com.
            “Anglers can catch trout any time, but it’s great that they can get an idea of when new stockings are taking place,” said Jay Barfield, streams management technician for the Wildlife Department. “Having the schedule right there online is like having an inside scoop on the fishing, yet it’s free to everyone who will log on and take advantage of the information.”
            The Lower Illinois River trout fishery includes a 7 -mile stretch of the Illinois River from Tenkiller Dam to the Hwy 64 bridge near Gore in Sequoyah County. The Lower Illinois River Public Fishing and Hunting Area – Simp and Helen Watts Management Unit offers public fishing access to almost one mile of the trout stream as well as 320 acres of public hunting opportunity. To reach the area, travel north on SH 100 from Gore approximately one mile to the entrance. The area is managed for walk-in access only. Four other public access sites are available along the designated trout stream as well. Learn more by logging on to wildlifedepartment.com or by picking up a free copy of the current “Oklahoma Fishing Guide” anywhere fishing licenses are sold.
            The Lower Mountain Fork River designated trout stream includes a 12-mile portion of the Lower Mountain Fork extending from the Broken Bow Lake spillway downstream to the U.S. Route 70 bridge. About five miles of the trout fishery lies within Beaver’s Bend State Park in McCurtain County. Bank access is unlimited within the state park and downstream to the Re-regulation dam. The area attracts anglers from all over to enjoy the fishing, but also great camping, cabin rentals, scenery and a range of other family-friendly outdoor recreation opportunities.
            “Besides the great scenery and fishing opportunities, trout fishing can be as easy or as challenging as you want, so anglers of any experience level can enjoy it,” said Barfield. “Whether you want to use fly fishing equipment or ultra-light tackle and salmon eggs, it’s really a matter of getting out there on the water and casting a line.”
            Because of colder water temperatures, the Lower Illinois River and Lower Mountain Fork River remain sufficient trout habitat throughout the year, but seasonal trout fisheries in Oklahoma also exist at Lake Pawhuska, Robbers Cave, Blue River, Lake Watonga, Quartz Mountain and Lake Carl Etling. Trout season in these areas kicks off Nov. 1.
            A trout license is required for all who fish in state-designated trout areas or in tributaries of state-designated trout streams during trout season. Trout anglers also must carry a resident or nonresident fishing license, unless exempt, while fishing. Starting Jan. 1, the trout license requirement will be eliminated, and anglers will only be required to carry a fishing license.
            For trout angling tips as well as daily trout limits, season dates and other trout fishing regulations for each area, log on to wildlifedepartment.com or consult the current “Oklahoma Fishing Guide.”
 
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Wildlife Expo introduces visitors to fishing
            Some would say if you have never had a chance to catch a fish, then you really haven’t experienced Oklahoma, but you can at this year’s sixth annual Oklahoma Wildlife Expo slated for Sept. 25-26.
            The Wildlife Expo, held at the Lazy E Arena just north of Oklahoma City, provides visitors a chance to fish for free in a stocked pond. Other angling-related opportunities at the Expo include seminars, bowfishing simulations, kids casting games, fly fishing and fly-tying lessons, fish filleting demonstrations and exhibits hosted by Wildlife Department fisheries personnel. Visitors can speak with experts on a range of fishing topics such as the Wildlife Department’s paddlefish program, black bass tactics, fishing tackle and more. Visitors can even sample delicious fried fish at the Expo’s popular Taste of the Wild booth, where volunteers serve up free samples of wild game snacks.
            According to Damon Springer, aquatic resource education coordinator for the Wildlife Department, the event can be the springboard for a lifetime of fishing excitement.
            “Oklahoma has thousands of ponds, lakes and streams that are teeming with fish, and several are open to public access,” Springer said. “Even with the abundance of open fishing waters, there are so many folks who still have not had the opportunity to fish. The Expo offers those folks with little to no previous exposure to fishing the opportunity to learn basic fishing and safety at the pond.”
            Fishing only scratches the surface of the activities, events, seminars and other opportunities provided at the Expo. Visitors can shoot shotguns and archery equipment with hands-on instruction from experts, ride an ATV, attend a hunting dog seminar, learn to identify wildlife and even paddle a kayak in an indoor pond built right into the floor of the Lazy E Arena especially for the Expo. While activities at the event are free, visitors can shop for outdoor goods and services at the Outdoor Marketplace, an area on the Lazy E designated for vendors showcasing their outdoor-related products.
            The Wildlife Expo is Oklahoma’s largest outdoor recreation event, drawing thousands of people to the Lazy E Arena, just north of Oklahoma City, for a weekend of hands-on outdoor recreation and learning. The Expo is hosted by the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation in partnership with a wide range of other state agencies, private individuals and outdoor-related companies.
            Designed to provide hands-on learning opportunities for all types of outdoor enthusiasts, the Expo offers something for everyone to try while promoting and instilling an appreciation for Oklahoma's wildlife and natural resources.
            The Wildlife Expo will be held at the Lazy E Arena, just north of Oklahoma City. Expo hours will be from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sept. 25-26. Log on to wildlifedepartment.com regularly to stay up to date on this year’s Expo activities.
 
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Free “2010-11 Oklahoma Hunting Guide” available now
            This fall hunters can enjoy expanded antlerless deer and elk opportunities and even use a crossbow during any hunting season open to archery equipment. Hunters also will have more licensing options, and they will be required to follow some new field tagging and game checking requirements. All these new regulation changes and more can be found in the new “2010-11 Oklahoma Hunting Guide,” available now for free anywhere hunting licenses are sold or online at wildlifedepartment.com.
            The 62-page full-color guide, produced by the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, provides regulations for hunting in Oklahoma as well as a wide range of hunting-related articles and other helpful information. Hunters can sharpen their wildlife identification skills, view biological data on some of the most popular wild game species and learn about different programs and projects of the Wildlife Department. They can even use the detailed 2010-11 sunrise/sunset table to help them plan their hunts around legal shooting hours.
            “It may seem just like a book of regulations, but I’ve been reading and using the Oklahoma Hunting Guide extensively since I was a kid to get important information,” said Michael Bergin, information specialist for the Wildlife Department. “I make sure and keep a copy close at hand all during the hunting season, and I suggest other hunters do the same. You can keep it in your truck, and you’ll constantly find yourself referring back to it.”
            Sportsmen also can find the new “Oklahoma Hunting Guide” online by logging on to wildlifedepartment.com, which also provides the most recent “Oklahoma Fishing Guide,” online brochures and publications, interactive topography maps and a wealth of other information relating to hunting, angling, wildlife viewing and other wildlife conservation. Sportsmen can even purchase hunting and fishing licenses online. Additionally, sportsmen can sign up online for a free weekly news release from the Wildlife Department that is sent straight to their email inbox. The news release contains late-breaking outdoor-related information important to Oklahoma hunters and covers everything from upcoming hunting and fishing seasons and events to news about state records, wildlife management, public lands and more. The free news release also contains a weekly fishing report from lakes and other fisheries as well as seasonal reports on waterfowl activity across the state.
            “We’re always striving to give sportsmen more and better information,” said Nels Rodefeld, information and education chief for the Wildlife Department. “When you combine the new ‘Oklahoma Hunting Guide’ with wildlifedepartment.com and the Department’s weekly email news release, you’re going to get a lot of great information that is important for Oklahoma sportsmen to know. Plus, it’s all absolutely free.”
            More information about the Wildlife Department is available by logging on to wildlifedepartment.com.
 
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Western Oklahoma photography contest open; winner to be displayed at Wildlife Expo
            This year’s Oklahoma Wildlife Expo will include something for every kind of outdoorsman, including photographers hoping to showcase their work.
            The Oklahoma Wildlife and Prairie Heritage Alliance is currently accepting entries for the Great Plains Trail Photography Contest, and the winning photos from several categories will be displayed at the Wildlife Expo Sept. 25-26 at the Lazy E Arena, just north of Oklahoma City. Judging for the contest will take place at the Washita Battlefield National Historic Site in Cheyenne, which will be accepting entries through Aug. 10.
            Submissions should depict the unique attractions, landscapes, wildlife, and wildflowers found across portions of the Great Plains Trail of western Oklahoma.
            “The Great Plains Trail of Oklahoma is a road-based wildlife viewing trail that takes visitors into some of the most unique landscapes in Oklahoma,” said Melynda Hickman, wildlife diversity biologist for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, a primary partner in the Great Plains Trail project. “Unique wildlife species such as the Texas horned lizard, American pronghorn, prairie dogs and American avocets are just a few of the many wildlife species that can be seen while driving the loops of the Trail.”
            The Great Plains Trail of Oklahoma explores a significant portion of the state located west of Highway 81. Full details on the Great Plains Trail, including different routes, maps and local amenities along the trail can be found by logging on greatplainstrail.com.
            To enter the contest, applicants must mail or deliver their submissions — consisting of a matted photograph, a digital copy and an official entry form — to Washita Battlefield Historic Site, Rt. 1 Box 55a Cheyenne, OK 73628. Contest entry forms and rules can be found online at owpha.org.
            The Oklahoma Wildlife Expo, hosted by the Wildlife Department, is Oklahoma’s largest outdoor recreation event, offering guests the chance to shoot shotguns and archery equipment, ride mountain bikes and ATVs, catch fish in a fully-stocked pond, experience kayaking, attend seminars and even sample wild game and camp cooking for free. The Wildlife Department partners with a wide range of other state agencies, private individuals and outdoor-related companies to host Expo. The event is designed to provide hands-on learning opportunities for all types of outdoor enthusiasts while promoting and instilling an appreciation for Oklahoma's wildlife and natural resources.
            Whether building a birdhouse to take home with them for free or attending a Dutch oven camp cooking seminar, visitors to the Expo get the chance to soak up a weekend of free outdoor knowledge, skills and experiences as hundreds of volunteers and Wildlife Department employees work to keep the event exciting, educational and entertaining.
            The Wildlife Expo will be held at the Lazy E Arena, just north of Oklahoma City. Expo hours will be from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily Sept. 25-26. Log on to wildlifedepartment.com regularly to stay up to date on this year’s Expo activities.
 
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Wildlife Expo gets families outside
            Visitors to the 2010 Oklahoma Wildlife Expo Sept. 25-26 will have a chance to catch a fish, shoot a bow and arrow or shotgun, ride a mountain bike, float in a kayak, pet an alligator and even sample wild game meat and camp cooking.
            The Wildlife Expo, hosted by the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation in partnership with a range of other state agencies, private businesses, organizations and volunteers, is a free public event designed to generate interest in the outdoors while providing hands-on learning opportunities that cover a number of outdoor activities. Some opportunities provided at the Expo are considered common and popular among outdoorsman — such as fishing at a pond — while others, like tanning a buffalo hide with primitive tools or even experiencing a mock bowfishing trip, will be new experiences for all involved.
            “The idea is to provide an absolutely free opportunity for people to come see all that Oklahoma’s outdoors have to offer,” said Rhonda Hurst, Expo coordinator for the Wildlife Department. “By getting people interested in the outdoors, we are confident we can raise awareness about the importance of wildlife conservation.”
            The Wildlife Expo will be held at the Lazy E Arena, just north of Oklahoma City. Expo hours will be from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sept. 25-26. The event consistently draws tens of thousands of people per year for a weekend of outdoor recreation and education.
            The event features archery and firearms ranges, a stocked fishing pond, bird watching areas, mountain bike and ATV test ride trails, Dutch oven cooking seminars, and even an indoor pond used for kayaking and sporting dog demonstrations. The event also features free wild game samples, live wildlife, and a range of booths and activities that provide information, learning opportunities and recreation, among other attractions. Though admission and activities at the event are all free, visitors have the option to shop at the Expo’s Outdoor Marketplace, a large area where vendors will be showcasing their outdoor-related goods and services.
            Log on to wildlifedepartment.com regularly to stay up to date on this year’s Expo activities.
 
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