JULY 2001 NEWS RELEASES 

WEEK OF JULY 26 

WEEK OF JULY 19

WEEK OF JULY 12

WEEK OF JULY 5

 

Commission appraised on Aquarium progress

At its regular monthly meeting, held July 2, in Oklahoma City, the Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Commission received a progress report on the construction and development of the $15 million Oklahoma Aquarium. Located in Jenks, the Aquarium will house the Wildlife Department’s Tulsa-area offices.

Construction has already begun for the Oklahoma Aquarium, which will be opening on the banks of the Arkansas River in Jenks during the summer of 2002. The Aquarium will be located on 34 acres and will display and provide education about thousands of aquatic animals, as well as opportunities for hands-on aquatic education at facility wet labs.

The 72,000 square foot facility will feature more than 200 exhibits including the Karl and Beverly White National Fishing Museum, said Doug Kemper, Aquarium director. The Museum will house the $4 million antique tackle collection, comprised by about 30,000 artifacts. Additional information about the Oklahoma Aquarium is available through the Wildlife Department's Web site at www.wildlifedepartment.com

In other business, approved a $278,000 budget addition for a slate of mainly habitat-based conservation projects in Oklahoma. Funding for the projects, which include establishing a Geographic Information Systems lab for wildlife professionals and an awareness initiative targeting the High Plains ecoregion, is from a one-time federal appropriation. An additional $390,000, also from the federal appropriation, will be added to subsequent budgets for the projects.

Assistant Director Richard Hatcher explained to the Commission that these new funds cannot be relied on for long-term projects since they were one-time appropriations. He added, however, that other efforts are being made to address certain, species-specific needs, such as bobwhite quail conservation. Hatcher said that a quail population and habitat improvement initiative is underway involving a broad range of state, federal and private conservation organizations.

"Several broad-reaching problems have been identified, including the high level of introduced forage, especially in the eastern part of the state, a lack of prescribed burning and the maturation of our eastern forests," said Hatcher. "Of course, the solutions to these problems are local ones, so it will take considerable coordination and effort to make improvements at the statewide level."

Also approved by Commissioners at the July meeting was:

• On a 4-3 vote, a two percent pay increase for qualifying employees outside of the executive compensation plan, and a continuation of the executive compensation plan enacted several years ago. Due to low returns on the retirement fund and pending litigation, the Commission opted not to approve a cost of living increase for retirees for fiscal year 2002;

• Pursue purchasing 50 acres of property along the Blue River in Johnston County with funding from the Department’s Land Acquisition Fund in addition to a $125,000 grant from the Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation in Ardmore;

• Contract with KPMG to conduct the Department’s annual financial audit;

• Contract with Buck Consultants to perform actuarial services on the agency’s retirement plan. Buck Consultants takes over these duties from William Mercer, the company that performed the actuarial in recent years;

• Authorize the Attorney General’s Office to resolve a quiet title lawsuit over a half-acre of land the Department owns at Raymond Gary Lake; and

• Purchase a five acre tract in Tillman County to develop an informational and cultural heritage center near the Hackberry Flat Wildlife Management Area. A grant from ASCOG is providing funding for the purchase.

In other action, the Department’s Executive Director Greg Duffy recognized Vickie Southard as the Department’s Volunteer Hunter Education Instructor of the Year. Southard, who works at H&H Gun Range in Oklahoma City, has held 43 hunter education classes and certified more than 1,200 students in the last two years. Southard was recently recognized by the International Hunter Education Association as the second best hunter education instructor in the country out of some 50,000 instructors. Duffy added that Southard has greatly advanced home study hunter education in Oklahoma, and she has been a strong advocate for promoting safe and responsible hunting.

The Commission will not meet in August. Its next regular meeting will be Monday, Sept. 10, at 9 a.m. at the Wildlife Department’s headquarters in Oklahoma City.

instructor.jpg (66877 bytes)Oklahoma instructor nationally honored

Oklahoma hunters have traditionally been some of the safest in the nation and that tradition continues due to the dedication of volunteer instructors like Vickie Southard.

For the second straight year, Southard was named Oklahoma’s Volunteer Instructor of the Year by the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. She has also been recognized as the second best volunteer instructor in the nation during the 14th annual Hunter Education Volunteer Instructor of the Year competition which was sponsored by Winchester Ammunition and held in Montana this past June.

"We are very proud to have an instructor nationally recognized," said J.D. Peer, the Department’s hunter education coordinator. "Vickie placed second among 50,000 volunteer instructors across the nation because she is very dedicated to the Hunter Education Program and to teaching sportsmen of all ages how to stay safe while they are out in the field. She is just a tremendous asset to our program and she deserves all the recognition she has received."

Southard has held 43 courses and certified more than 1,200 students in the last two years. She taught most of her classes at H&H Gun Range in Oklahoma City. She also organized several special classes, including some especially for women. Furthermore, she was instrumental in developing the Oklahoma Sensory Safari. Offered cooperatively by the Wildlife Department, H&H Gun Range, the Oklahoma Station of Safari Club International and Crossroads Mall, the Oklahoma Sensory Safari employs taxidermy mounts to give sightless children contact with various wildlife species.

Last year, Southard received a Governor’s Commendation for her untiring efforts and dedicated contributions in promoting the wonderful heritage of the shooting sports and to the betterment of the people of Oklahoma. She also received the President’s Award for outstanding commitment to the shooting industry.

"I am very honored to have been recognized in so many ways over the last two years," Southard said. "Oklahoma’s hunter education program is very important to our youth and I enjoy knowing that the program is recognized every time I am. I believe the program is the best way to educate our kids about the importance of wildlife conservation and firearm safety."

Southard has been a hunter education volunteer instructor since 1997. She is also member of the National Rifle Association and an advisor for two Boy Scouts Explorer Posts, one of which is a Junior Olympics Shooting Club.

For more information about the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, the Department’s Hunter Education Program, or a listing of current hunter education course locations, log onto the Department’s Web site at www.wildlifedepartment.com.

Cutline for photo: Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation Executive Director Greg Duffy (r) joins the Department’s Hunter Education Coordinator J.D. Peer (l) in presenting Vickie Southard of Tuttle with the 2001 Hunter Education Volunteer of the Year Award.

 

Commission welcomes new member

At its regular July meeting, held July 2 in Oklahoma City, the Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Commission welcomed Mac Maguire as a new member, and elected Vyrl Keeter of Muskogee to serve the remaining year of two-year term as vice chairman.

Commission Chairman Harland Stonecipher of Centrahoma introduced Mac Maguire of Oklahoma City as a new Commission member at the July meeting. Maguire will

serve as the District 5 representative, covering Logan, Oklahoma, Cleveland, McClain, Garvin, Murray and Payne counties. Maguire’s term expires in 2009.

Keeter, who was appointed to the Commission in 1998, serves as the Commission’s District 2 representative. District 2 includes Adair, Sequoyah, Cherokee, Wagoner, Muskogee, Haskell, McIntosh and Okmulgee counties.

Mac Maguire, an avid sportsman and Oklahoma City businessman will serve as the District 5 representative on the Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Commission.

Stay legal while Noodling

Noodling is the sport of fishing by hand, and it can be one of the most exhilarating activities a sportsman ever experiences.

"This is a great time of year for noodling," said Dennis Maxwell, assistant chief of Law Enforcement for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. "Searching for fish by hand can be a great way to enjoy a hot summer day. But, there are some regulations in place to make sure the resource is used wisely.

"Noodling is not legal everywhere and anglers should check the 2001 Fishing Guide for local restrictions. It is also illegal to noodle around barrels and only non-game fish such as flathead catfish, buffalo and carp can be kept. Sportfish, including channel and blue catfish must be released."

The flathead catfish is the most popular species for noodlers in Oklahoma, Maxwell added. As temperatures warm up, flathead start searching shallow water for holes under logs, rocks and along mud banks so they can spawn. They will stay in the holes to deposit and fan their eggs until they hatch, and noodlers can pull the fish from those holes.

Those interested in noodling for flathead catfish should be aware that the daily bag limit for noodlers and scuba divers from May 1 through August 31 is three fish. Flatheads must be a minimum of 20 inches to be kept. Additionally, noodling is a "hands-only" sport, and the possession of hooks, gafts, spears, poles or ropes with hooks attached while noodling is prohibited. For fishing regulations, information on fishing in Oklahoma, or on the flathead catfish, log on to the Department’s Web site at www.wildlifedepartment.com.

 

Research underway on state's black bears

Black bears are becoming a more common sight among residents and visitors to eastern Oklahoma and biologists with the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation (ODWC) hope that a research project being conducted in the Ouachita National Forest will give more insight into the ecology and population dynamics of black bears.

Biologists believe the state is home to an estimated 250 bears, a number that has increased steadily in recent years. To better identify population trend information, the ODWC entered into a cooperative project with the Oklahoma Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit and the Department of Zoology at Oklahoma State University to conduct a broad-based research project on Oklahoma's black bears. The project, which began in January 2001, will be conducted over a three-year period in the LeFlore County portions of the Ouachita National Forest and portions of the Honobia Creek Wildlife Management Area in LeFlore and Pushmataha counties.

The research team hopes to capture 25 female black bears, which will then be fitted with radio-telemetry collars. To date, 10 female bears, called sows, have been caught in a special snare and fitted with radio collars.

Researchers collect data such as vital signs, age, weight, and blood samples for genetic analysis. The radio collars, which are designed to allow the bears to grow and live normally, allow researchers to track the animals' movements, feeding patterns and habitat preferences.

Ultimately, the research will give information that will be applied to management of the population, according to Joe Hemphill, southeastern regional wildlife supervisor for the ODWC.

"Over the past 12 years, the Department has conducted bait station surveys to measure bear use in forest areas of far eastern Oklahoma," he said. "In every year since the program began, we've seen an increase in visitation rates. We know that the population in Arkansas is growing and expanding into Oklahoma. This research should give us a much more accurate estimate of how many bears we have, and how much the population is growing.

"We know very little about how well these bears are surviving and to what extent they are reproducing in Oklahoma. We also don't know what effect land use changes such as road construction, timber harvest and management, and recreational development may be having on the bear population. This research is going to give us a great deal of information that will be applied to the long-term management of bears across Oklahoma."

Hemphill said that once the captured bears are radio collared, their locations will be monitored up to three times per week for the next two years. Researchers will match the findings to a relatively new technology called geographic information system or GIS. The GIS model will then yield information that may actually predict areas where the bear population may expand in the future.

Graduate student and field research leader, Sara Bales, said that researchers are targeting female bears to monitor reproductive success.

"Beginning as early as November, we should start seeing the sows begin to select areas to locate their dens," Bales said. "Later in the winter we will visit the dens to determine if the sow has produced cubs. We'll record how many cubs are produced and other information such as the cubs' sex. Additionally, we want to determine the interbirth interval, or how often a sow produces cubs over a three to six year period. This will give us an indication of how fast the population is growing."

Hemphill said that although the bear population is increasing, those living in eastern Oklahoma's bear country shouldn't be afraid from a safety standpoint. Black bears are typically very timid around humans, and unlike grizzlies or polar bears, documented cases of black bears attacking humans are extremely rare. In fact, the odds of getting hit by lightning are much greater than being attacked by any bear, but especially a black bear.

"The Department is responding to an increase in bear complaints in recent years," Hemphill said, "primarily resulting from bears getting into garbage cans or eating food left out for pets. Black bears are adaptable animals and are attracted to strong smells, especially garbage. If they can get an easy meal then there is a good chance they'll come back."

The Department has had to trap and relocate several "nuisance" bears over recent years which is a function of two things – more bears and more people moving into remote regions of eastern Oklahoma. Biologist encourage residents with bear problems to remove attractors such as garbage or bird feeders, which often leads to the bears simply leaving the area.

According to Bales, the research team has trapped 18 bears, including 10 females that were fitted with radio collars. She added that two of the sows possessed a unique brown appearance. Although somewhat unusual, black bears can have color phases that are browner in color, often the animals are often referred to as "cinnamon" bears.

The three-year black bear research project is expected to cost more than $90,000. Oklahoma State University is funding one-third of the project, with remaining funds coming from a matching ODWC grant through the Wildlife Restoration Program.

The Wildlife Restoration Program is a federal program that provides critical funding assistance to state wildlife agencies. Through a unique system, funds are collected as excise taxes paid by sportsmen on firearms, ammunition, and assorted hunting related equipment, and are then reapportioned to states to use for wildlife research, habitat improvement, public education, and other programs benefiting wildlife.

"We hope to bring Oklahoma's bears into outdoor enthusiasts living rooms," Hemphill said. "Not literally, of course, but we'll be producing a television episode of Outdoor Oklahoma, the ODWC weekly TV series, that will probably air during the spring of 2002."

Quail symposium scheduled at Kingfisher

Landowners, leaseholders and sportsmen interested in bobwhite quail will want to be in Kingfisher in August for a two-day bobwhite quail symposium.

The symposium, entitled "Success on the Land" will occur August 2-3 at Kingfisher. It will cover land management techniques to improve bobwhite quail habitat while promoting better cattle production.

"This symposium will be very educational for anyone interested in improving bobwhite quail habitat," said Dr. Fred Guthery, Bollenbach Chair at Oklahoma State University. "Participants will experience several techniques for controlling the invasion of eastern red cedar and will learn other quail management techniques. They will also receive information on sources of financial support."

The symposium will begin at 3 p.m., Thursday, August 2 at the Kingfisher County Fairgrounds. From the fairgrounds, participants will be transported to Snowden Farms, where they will tour Cimarron River bottomland habitat that is being rehabilitated through a variety habitat manipulation techniques. A dinner and discussion at the Fairgrounds will follow the tour.

A wide variety of topics surrounding bobwhite quail management will be covered throughout the day on Friday, August 3. Several landowners will be presenting information on agricultural wildlife management efforts that have been effective for them and professionals including Dr. Guthery will be providing information and answering questions throughout the day.

The day will also include a special luncheon address given by Boone Pickens, Jr. Pickens owns the Mesa Vista Ranch near Pampa, Texas. The property is well known for its quail populations, and Pickens will be sharing some of the successes and benefits he has gained from managing for quail.

Registration for the two-day symposium is $25 a day, and covers transportation, meals, refreshments and materials. Those interested can choose to attend either day or both days. Students 18 and under may attend the symposium free of charge, but all participants are asked to register by calling Dr. Fred Guthery at 405/744-9431.

Check Controlled Hunt results on-line

For thousands of Oklahoma sportsmen, July 23 may be one of the most anticipated days of the year, as the results of the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation's Controlled Hunt drawings will become available that day.

Applicants anxious to know the if they were drawn can access the Controlled Hunt drawing results through the Department's Web site. The service is free, easy and instantaneous and has been very popular the last two years.

"We are very encouraged by the number of sportsmen who are not only applying for controlled hunts on-line, but are checking the drawing results through that medium as well," said Melinda Sturgess, chief of administration for the Department. "This service has been very popular so far and is very convenient for sportsmen. We expect it to continue to grow as more and more sportsmen gain Internet access every year."

Drawing results will also be available at the Department's headquarters and regional offices, but sportsmen have found that checking the results on-line is very easy to do, Sturgess added. To check the results, simply go to the Departments Web site at www.wildlifedepartment.com. Click on the "Controlled Hunts Results" banner and enter your social security or drivers license number.

Department's license will not be renewed

Officials and representatives of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation and the Oklahoma Army National Guard (OANG) met Tuesday to discuss the future of northeastern Oklahoma's Camp Gruber.

The meeting occurred after the Wildlife Department's request to renew its license for game management, research and public hunting on the area. Currently, the Wildlife Department and the OANG are jointly licensed to use Camp Gruber, however, the Wildlife Department's license will terminate Dec. 31, 2002.

During the meeting, the Corps of Engineers unofficially indicated that it will issue a primary license to the OANG, which uses the area for military training. The Corps also urged the Wildlife Department and the OANG to begin working together to develop a plan for fish and wildlife management on the area. A draft plan will be presented for public input before a final plan is put in place.

The Wildlife Department is disappointed that the management license will not be renewed, however the Department will diligently work with the other agencies to develop a conservation management agreement that will continue to provide sportsmen usage of the 32,000-acre area.

Camp Gruber is one of the heaviest used wildlife areas in the state. Much of the area is open to public hunting and fishing throughout the regular seasons, and current public access to the area will not change until further notice.

Season changes increase opportunity

Oklahoma sportsmen may notice that several changes have been made to this year’s hunting seasons and most of these changes offer increased hunting opportunities.

The fall hunting seasons are just around the corner and begin with the opening day of dove season September 1. An early teal season and a special resident Canada goose season also will be open during September, and deer, turkey, rabbit, waterfowl, quail and pheasant will open in the months to follow.

"The biggest change to take place was revamping our deer seasons in response to recommendations made by the 21st Century Deer Stakeholders Committee," said Alan Peoples, wildlife division chief. "But, changes were also made to the pheasant season and the spring turkey season in the southeast, and for the first time sportsmen may legally harvest feral hogs on many of our public lands. The 2001-2002 Hunting Guides and Regulations provide details about any changes that were made."

The Guides are currently being distributed and will be available at any Department installation and at most license vendors and sporting goods stores across the state. Sportsmen can also download the regulations from the Department’s Web site, Peoples added.

Most of the regulation changes increased hunting opportunities for Oklahoma’s sportsmen. The following are highlights of this year’s changes and more detailed information is available in the 2001-2002 Hunting Guide.

Deer

• Statewide combined bag limit for all three deer seasons increased from five deer to six - only three of which can be bucks.

• Hunters will be allowed to use an unfilled primitive buck license to harvest a doe on the last day of the primitive deer season.

• Hunters will be allowed to use an unfilled gun buck license to harvest a doe on the last day of deer gun season.

• Special antlerless deer seasons were added in some areas. One bonus antlerless deer will be allowed with appropriate permit.

• Archery bag limit for bucks reduced from three to two.

• Archery season will be extended to January 15. From January 1 to January 15, only antlerless deer are legal.

Turkey

• Fall archery turkey season dates change to correspond with deer archery season.

• Spring turkey season dates and bag limits have changed in the southeast turkey zone.

Pheasant

• The area open for pheasant hunting has expanded.

• The northwest Oklahoma season and panhandle season are now combined. The season opens December 1, 2001, and runs through January 31, 2002, with a daily bag limit of two cock pheasants.

Feral Hogs

• Feral hog hunting regulations were added for public lands.

For more information about the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, for questions and answers about feral hog hunting, or to download hunting regulations, log onto the Department’s Web site at www.wildlifedepartment.com.

Heat causes wildlife antics

"There’s a big black snake in my sprinkler!" exclaimed the woman who called the Wildlife Department recently to report an increasing trend - unusual wildlife behaviors due to the current statewide heat wave.

Members of the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation’s Wildlife Diversity Pro-gram answer a lot of calls on a huge variety of wildlife-related subjects, and when it’s this hot, call volume rises with the mercury.

"Many species of wildlife are stressed and suffering from the heat, but they know instinctively how to handle it," said Mark Howery, natural resources biologist. "As always, weather conditions play a huge role in affecting wildlife behaviors. Those behaviors may include birds and butterflies coming to lawn sprinklers for refreshment, armadillos digging-up recently watered flower beds in search of insects and worms, field mice and other rodents moving into peoples’ homes, and other circumstances that increase human-animal interactions."

One of the most common calls the Department has received lately involves one or more snakes moving into unlikely places - garages, under backyard decks, and even the kitchen. Howery said snakes commonly move to find water and food and these resources may be localized more around a house then in a snake’s normal habitat this time of year. He also said snakes adopt a mostly nocturnal (nighttime) habit during the hot Oklahoma summertime, and often find a cool, moist place to lay throughout the day.

Large gray and black predatory birds called Mississippi Kites can make themselves unpopular when they visit backyards and golf courses in the hottest months. Howery said that these sleek gray and black raptors nest and rear their young in large trees near open areas, where they eat large flying insects like grasshoppers and cicadas.

Mississippi kites often dive-bomb dogs, cats, and golfers who enter their nesting space, but very rarely connect with or harm anyone. Lately, these birds are moving into residential areas for nesting, where they also enjoy bathing and preening in lawn sprinklers.

In order to encourage positive experiences with wildlife, Howery suggested putting out water sources a good distance from the house to benefit wildlife. Many bird species, like mockingbirds, orioles, buntings, and bluebirds, will bathe and drink in bird baths and dishes, which can be placed on the ground or on pedestals. Birds benefit most from water sources less than two inches deep. Pieces of fruit such as oranges, apples, and bananas, are also good attractors of birds and even butterflies.

The Department produces and distributes literature about wildlife for public education purposes. Those with questions can call the Department’s Wildlife Diversity Program at 405/521-4616, or log on to the Department’s website:

www.wildlifedepartment.com.

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Symposium covers management techniques

A symposium, entitled "Success on the Land" will cover land management techniques to improve bobwhite quail habitat while promoting better cattle production.

Landowners, leaseholders and sportsmen interested in bobwhite quail will want to be in Kingfisher August 2-3 for the bobwhite quail symposium.

"This symposium will be very educational for anyone interested in improving bobwhite quail habitat," said Dr. Fred Guthery, Bollenbach Chair at Oklahoma State University. "Participants will experience several techniques for controlling the invasion of eastern red cedar and will learn other quail management techniques. They will also receive information on sources of financial support."

The symposium will begin at 3 p.m., Thursday, August 2 at the Kingfisher County Fairgrounds. From the fairgrounds, participants will be transported to Snowden Farms, where they will tour Cimarron River bottomland habitat that is being rehabilitated through a variety habitat manipulation techniques. A dinner and discussion at the Fairgrounds will follow the tour.

A wide variety of topics surrounding bobwhite quail management will be covered throughout the day on Friday, August 3. Several landowners will be presenting information on agricultural wildlife management efforts that have been effective for them and professionals including Dr. Guthery will be providing information and answering questions throughout the day.

The day will also include a special luncheon address given by Boone Pickens, Jr. Pickens owns the Mesa Vista Ranch near Pampa, Texas. The property is well known for its quail populations, and Pickens will be sharing some of the successes and benefits he has gained from managing for quail.

Registration for the two-day symposium is $25 a day, and covers transportation, meals, refreshments and materials. Those interested can choose to attend either day or both days. Students 18 and under may attend the symposium free of charge, but all participants are asked to register by calling Dr. Fred Guthery at 405/744-9431.

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Handling tips for summer anglers

Summer is here and high temperatures have locked in all across the Sooner state. The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation wants to remind sportsmen that the heat can take its effects on anglers and the sportfish they pursue.

"Water temperatures are warming up very quickly," said Gene Gilliland, fisheries biologist with the Wildlife Department. "It is very important that anglers use extreme caution handling any fish they plan to return to the water this time of year. But, largemouth bass are the biggest concern because they are our most popular sportfish and many bass tournaments are held throughout the summer."

Bass anglers must take special care to ensure the health and safety of the fish they catch and the future of the resource, Gilliland added. Most tournament organizations have strict rules regarding the careful handling of fish, but severe summer weather and hot water conditions are extremely dangerous for fish kept in live wells for several hours before a weigh-in.

A study conducted by the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation has shown that an average 28 percent of bass caught during summer tournaments die within six days of their release. Gilliland said that most tournament anglers are very conscientious about protecting bass resources, but many are not equipped to deal with potentially dangerous conditions that accompany summer tournament fishing.

"The last thing a tournament angler or tournament director wants is to kill fish," Gilliland said. "That's something they've tried to be very careful about over the years, and for the most part they've been successful, but summer fishing presents some unique conditions that can cause a potentially lethal amount of stress on fish. We can't eliminate those conditions, of course, but we can take certain steps to lessen fish mortality during tournaments."

Anglers can increase the survival rates of any fish by following these suggested handling tips.

• Moisten your hands before handling a fish.

• Release any fish you don't plan to keep as soon as possible.

• Gently place the fish back into the water.

• Fill your live well as soon as you launch your boat and activate the aerator to build up dissolved oxygen levels.

• Run your aerator continuously, no matter what time of year. Fish in live wells use oxygen faster than an aerator can replace it.

• Add ice to the live well. When water surface temperatures are higher than 85 degrees, adding ice will reduce the water temperature in a live well by 10 degrees.

• Use block ice if possible. It melts slower than crushed or cubed ice, and it cools water more evenly. One eight-pound block will cool a 30-gallon live well for about three hours. Carry extra blocks in an ice chest to use later.

• Add non-iodized salt, 1/3-cup per five gallons of live well capacity, to help reduce stress on fish.

• Re-circulate water through your aerator rather than pump in hot surface water.

• Replace at least half of the live well water two or three times daily to remove ammonia. Add additional ice and salt, and then resume re-circulation.

• Commercial live well additives help calm fish in live wells, helping reduce stress and decreasing their oxygen respiratory rates.

Gilliland adds that the ultimate fish care system involves the use of pure oxygen supplied from a pressurized cylinder through a bubble hose in the live well.

A simple live well oxygen setup can be built from a small bottle used by welders fitted with a regulator. Commercial systems are also available that are specifically designed for boat live wells and live bait tanks.

Tests have shown that these systems help reduce mortality even further, especially when used in conjunction with other handling tips.

To learn more about the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation or fishing in Oklahoma, log onto the Department's Web site at www.wildlifedepartment.com.

Department volunteer receives awards

An Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation Aquatic Resources Education Program (AREP) Volunteer has been nationally recognized for his work with youth and the environment.

Leroy Orsburn, a Wewoka resident, has been honored twice this year for dedicated service to the youth of Oklahoma. Orsburn has been an AREP volunteer since 1988 and conducts numerous activities each year to promote environmental awareness and conservation to the state’s youth. These activities include fishing instruction, planting trees and overall stewardship of the land.

Orsburn was recognized by The National Arbor Day Foundation April 28 when the organization awarded him its Good Steward Award. The Foundation will display the Oklahoma flag at its Nebraska headquarters to honor the achievement Orsburn has made for Oklahoma.

Orsburn also recently received an Oklahoma award. Seminole County 4-H honored Orsburn at the 80th Annual State 4-H Roundup in Stillwater with their prestigious Partner Award. The award was presented to Orsburn for his more than 50 years of service, leadership and expertise to 4-H. Oklahoma Governor Frank Keating was on-hand to present the award to Orsburn during the proceedings at Gallagher Iba Arena.

"It was a great honor to receive these awards," Orsburn said, "but I’m like a turtle on a fence post. You know he didn’t get there without some help.

"I couldn’t have done any of the things I received these awards for without the encouragement and support of my wife, Carol. She is constantly by my side and allows me to devote a great deal of time to these activities. I love fishing, and I wanted to teach kids with disabilities that they can do anything they want to. Fishing was the best way I knew how."

Leroy was diagnosed with polio as a child and has physical challenges himself. He has been walking with the aid of crutches for the past ten years.

"Orsburn is an asset to the Department’s Aquatic Education Program, and the challenges he has had to face haven’t slowed him down a bit," said Damon Springer, Aquatic Education Coordinator for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. "He conducts an average of 15 clinics per year which reach approximately 400 youth. What is unique about Leroy’s clinics is that they are primarily for youth with physical disabilities."

Orsburn is just one of many dedicated volunteers which make the Aquatic Resources Education Program work. Thanks to the efforts of these volunteers, about 18,000 youth across the state participated in 170 fishing clinics and other program related events last year.

If you are interested in becoming a volunteer for the program or need more information about clinics in your area, call Damon Springer, Aquatic Education Coordinator, at 405-521-4603 or check out the Department’s website at

www.wildlifedepartment.com  for more information and a list of clinics near you.

Cutline: Oklahoma Governor Frank Keeting (right) presents Leroy Orsburn (left) with the 4H Partner Award at the State 4H Roundup in Stillwater. Orsburn received the award from Seminole County 4H for his service, leadership and expertise to the organization.