Hunting and fishing regulation changes to be discussed at upcoming meetings

Biologists with the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation are encouraging sportsmen to attend upcoming public meetings to learn more about a number of proposed hunting and fishing regulation changes, including proposals to extend the turkey season in southeast Oklahoma and increase bowfishing opportunities on Wildlife Department lakes.

All of the 17 proposed changes will be detailed at the meetings, where biologists will answer questions and listen to feedback from those in attendance. Proposals for hunting regulation changes will be discussed at separate meetings than those to discuss fishing regulations changes.

Many of the proposals are aimed at providing additional opportunities for the sportsmen of the state. Also included in the list of proposals are a wide variety of changes designed to clarify the language of the law, better manage Oklahoma wildlife resources and respond to sportsmen’s desires.

Other notable proposals include making it unlawful to fillet fish while in the field, allowing the use of the .17 HMR caliber in the fall turkey season and increasing the cost of turkey licenses, the bobcat-raccoon-gray fox license, the Lake Texoma fishing license and the non-resident land access permit for Honobia and Three Rivers wildlife management areas.

Each of the following public meetings begin at 7:00 p.m.

Fishing Regulation Changes

January 12, 2004 - Monday

January 13, 2004 - Tuesday

Hunting Regulation Changes

January 12, 2004 - Monday

January 13, 2004 - Tuesday

Following is a summary of the items to be discussed at the public meetings. A complete list and further explanations can be seen at wildlifedepartment.com.

Proposed wildlife regulation changes for 2004-2005 include:

Changing the language for Wildlife Management Area rules to be inclusive of all migratory game bird seasons and clarify when and what WMA's are open for migratory bird seasons and revising language for HIP permits changing the validity dates from September 1 through March 31 to July 1 through June 30.

Allowing the new .17 HMR caliber rimfire as a legal means of taking wild turkey in the fall season.

Extending southeast region spring turkey season dates from April 6 - April 28 to same as statewide (April 6-May 6).

Increasing turkey tags from $7.75 to $10.00.

Correcting rule language to open striped skunk season year round.

Increasing the special Bobcat-Raccoon-Gray Fox license from $9.00 to $10.00 for residents and add rule language to charge $51.00 for non-residents.

Increasing non-resident fee for Land Access Permit (Honobia Creek WMA & Three Rivers WMA) from $25.00 to $50.00 as provided in State Statute (29-4-136).

Adjusting wildlife management area seasons in response to the 16-day deer gun season, adjust southeast spring turkey season from April 6 through April 28 to same as statewide season dates (April 6 - May 6), and provide more hunter opportunity on several areas.

Establishing rules and guidelines for permitting of Special Canada Goose Permit Agents operating under the Department's Federal permit to assist with control of resident geese.

Making feral hog season on Honobia Creek WMA, Three Rivers WMA and Broken Bow WMA consistent with the deer gun season for these areas.

Proposed fisheries regulation changes for 2004-2005 include:

Allowing the Department to list “Close to Home” fishing waters in the ODWC Fishing Guide without having to change Title 800 each time.

Reducing the length limit on sauger to 16 inches in the Illinois River below Tenkiller Dam and in the Arkansas River from Keystone Dam downstream to the Oklahoma state line.

Making it unlawful to possess filleted fish or fish that have been altered so that species and length cannot be determined while fishing. It would also make it illegal to transport filleted fish to shore or take-out point by land or water conveyance.

Making bowfishing lawful for the taking of nongame fish only on all ODWC lakes.

Aligning Title 800 with Oklahoma City ordinances and allow enforcement of the rules by ODWC personnel. Cast netting, trawl netting and dip netting bait for personal use in Lakes Hefner, Overholser (and tailwaters), Draper and “Close to Home” fishing waters is currently closed by Oklahoma City municipal ordinance.

Changing the existing fee for the Lake Texoma annual fishing license from $6.75 (with a $1 vendor fee) to $11.00 (with a $1 vendor fee).

Describing the process by which persons will apply for a permit to release fish into waters of the state.

Participants needed for 16th annual Winter Bird Survey

If you feed and watch your feathered neighbors, the Wildlife Department would like your help in the 16th annual Winter Bird Survey. Simply choose two days between Thursday, Jan. 8, and Sunday, Jan. 11, to count and record birds visiting the feeders in your yard.

Your observations help biologists track the population trends of winter birds at feeders.

The 2004 Winter Bird Survey period is Jan. 8 - Jan. 11. Use the survey form (available at www.wildlifedepartment.com or in the November/December issue of “Outdoor Oklahoma” magazine) and select two consecutive days during that period to watch your feeders. Don’t forget to return your results to the Wildlife Department.


Eagle watch events available across the state

Each winter, as northern lakes freeze over, thousands of bald eagles migrate to warmer, southern waters. Visited by 750-1,500 eagles annually, Oklahoma is one of the top 10 states in the nation for winter eagle viewing. Watch bald eagles soar at an Eagle Viewing Event near you.

Events are hosted by state parks, lake management offices and local Audubon Societies, said Jenny Thom, Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation information specialist. Working with event locations, Thom compiled a list of the statewide Eagle Viewing Events.

“With over 50 viewing events this winter, there are many opportunities for anyone who wants to see a bald eagle in the wild,” Thom said.

Most events are free or have a minimal charge and occur on weekends during January. Many begin with informative bald eagle programs led by naturalists and biologists. A few events will present a live, captive-reared bald eagle. At all events, people will be on hand to assist visitors with viewing wild eagles.

“Not only is the bald eagle an American symbol, it’s also an endangered species success story,” Thom said.

When adopted as the nation’s symbol in 1782, eagles inhabited every large river and major concentration of lakes in North America. They nested in 45 of the lower 48 United States, but by the 1950s had reduced to fewer than 500 nesting pairs.

Due to nationwide concern and action, eagle numbers have increased seven-fold since the early 70s. Americans are making sure the bald eagle isn’t only seen on coins; it’s also seen soaring through the sky.

“These events are your opportunity to see a bald eagle this winter,” Thom said. “Don’t miss your chance to see the nation’s proudest living symbol, or to share it with your children.”

View event descriptions, locations, dates and times by logging onto www.wildlifedepartment.com or call (405) 521-4616 for a free brochure of event dates, times and places.


Editors Note:

The following is a wording clarification from last week’s story “Time to renew hunting and fishing licenses:”

The trapping license shall expire on Jan. 31 of each year. Therefore, a 2004 - 2005 trapping license must be purchased to trap beaver, bobcat, nutria, striped skunk and coyote after Jan. 31, 2004. A bobcat-raccoon-gray fox license is required for all who take these species by any means (trapping, firearms or archery) unless exempt. Such license is valid for raccoon and gray fox Dec. 1, 2003 - Jan. 31, 2004. For bobcat, the license is valid Dec. 1, 2003 - Feb. 28, 2004. Lifetime hunting or combination license holders or senior citizen hunting or senior citizen combination license holders must purchase a trapping license to trap.

Youth waterfowl hunts prove successful

It was hard to tell who was having the best time.

The young participants in the Wildlife Department’s youth waterfowl hunts as well as the Department employees guiding the youngsters were both grinning from ear to ear at the completion of a recent hunt.

“I think everybody looks forward to these youth waterfowl hunts,” said Mike O’Meilia, migratory game bird biologist for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. “They offer a great chance for young people to get exposed to the sport of waterfowl hunting.”

A total of 14 hunts were offered, each designed to provide youth who do not have an adult mentor who waterfowl hunts an opportunity to learn and enjoy the traditions of the sport. The hunts take place at some of the state’s first-rate waterfowling destinations such as Ft. Cobb Lake and Hackberry Flat Wildlife Management Area.

A Wildlife Department employee accompanies each youth (applicants must be 12 to 15 years of age) and their adult guardian on a guided waterfowl hunt at one of several premier hunting areas. The Wildlife Department provides successful applicants the necessary nontoxic shotgun shells and a 20-gauge single shot shotgun if the youth does not have his or her own shotgun.

Those interested in applying for next year’s hunts can look for more information next summer on the Department’s Web site at wildlifedepartment.com.




“Outdoor Oklahoma” magazine is a must-read for sportsmen

These cold, winter days are perfect for building a fire, making a cup of cocoa and curling up with a good book - or magazine. For the outdoor enthusiast the January/February 2004 issue of “Outdoor Oklahoma” magazine is the perfect winter day companion.

The current issue is hot off the press and includes a special section outlining odds for drawing hunts through the Department’s controlled hunts program.

“The controlled hunts information can help hunters better prioritize the hunts they apply for,” said Nels Rodefeld, editor of “Outdoor Oklahoma” magazine. “For those who want to get every advantage they can in controlled hunts, this is a must-read article.”

The magazine features information on the new digital mapping system that is now available to sportsmen. The article describes the origin of this technological advance as well as ways for hunters and fishermen to get full use out of the interactive maps.

Those interested in striking up a friendly dispute with their hunting and fishing partners will want to be sure to read the article entitle “Best of Oklahoma.” The article examines some of the more often debated topics such as what is the best deer rifle caliber or largemouth bass lure. Readers are even invited to give their own opinions on these topics.

“The Big, the Bad and the Ugly” takes a look at some of Oklahoma’s largest sportfish. The article is packed with angling tips and interesting facts. For instance, did you know that alligator gar can breathe by gulping surface air on hot summer days or that paddlefish sometimes jump out of the water for no apparent reason.

To obtain the most recent issue mail $4 (check, cash, money orders or cashiers check accepted) to “Outdoor Oklahoma” magazine, P.O. Box 53465, Oklahoma City, OK 73152. However, one-year subscriptions are just $10 (two years for $18 or three years for $25) and are available by calling 1-800-777-0019. Additionally, you can subscribe over the Internet by logging on to the Department’s Web site at www.wildlifedepartment.com




“Outdoor Oklahoma” television show kicks off new season

If you can’t get be outside hunting, fishing and enjoying the outdoors, then the next best thing is to watch it on television - at least according to Rich Fuller, production supervisor for the “Outdoor Oklahoma” television show.

"We’re really excited about the upcoming season. Our camera crews have been all over the state and we think we have shows that will interest just about everybody," Fuller said.

In addition to the feature segments, viewers can also keep up on all the latest news and information regarding the state's wildlife and the activities of the Wildlife Department.

"Within each show, we will be giving out a variety of information such as a statewide fishing report, an outdoor calendar of events, biologists’ hunting and fishing tips and lots more. This information will really help people plan their outings this spring and summer," Fuller said.

If you are already getting ready for spring fishing you will want to tune into shows featuring a Texoma Lake striper fishing trip with Wayman Tisdale, a Broken Bow Lake bass fishing bonanza and information on walleye management and fishing techniques.

There’s plenty for hunters as well. Upcoming shows will feature the importance of landowner conservationists and a look back at the indelible memories of past hunting seasons. And it wouldn’t be spring without turkey hunting. One show features a father and son turkey hunting trip in southwest Oklahoma. The exciting episode features many birds coming in to the call and a double was taken by the duo.

There’s more than just hunting and fishing. “Outdoor Oklahoma” will also feature such items as how to landscape your yard to attract wildlife, Oklahoma snake species and an inside look at what really goes in the Department’s Fisheries Division. A float trip down the Black Fork Creek in southeast Oklahoma will also be featured in an upcoming episode. The piece highlights a father and daughter and the importance of sharing time in the outdoors with loved ones. The two pass through some beautiful scenery and catch a few fish along the way.

“Outdoor Oklahoma” is the official television show of the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation and covers such topics as fishing, hunting; and fisheries, game and non-game wildlife management. The 30-minute program can be seen on OETA-The Oklahoma Network Sundays at 8:00 a.m. and Saturdays at 6:00 p.m. Outdoor Oklahoma can also be seen on the following television stations: KSBI Network (greater OKC metro area), Wednesdays at 11 p.m. and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m.; KTEN (south-central and southeastern Oklahoma) Sundays at 5 a.m.; KWEM (Stillwater), Wednesdays at 8:00 p.m., Fridays at 7:00 p.m. and Sundays at 8:00 p.m.

For a complete listing of show times and channels in your viewing area, consult the Department's Web site at www.wildlifedepartment.com or your local TV guide.


“Outdoor Oklahoma” magazine seeks “Faces in the Outdoors”

If you love outdoor photography, “Outdoor Oklahoma’s” annual Readers' Photography Showcase offers a great chance to display your color slides, prints or digital photos in a magazine that consistently receives national recognition for its photographic excellence. Photographers, either professional or amateur, will have until March 26 to submit their best shots.

"Photographs can be of anything found in Oklahoma's outdoors from scenics to wildlife, however, for this year’s showcase we’ve added a ‘Faces in the Outdoors’ emphasis. We are looking for outstanding images of people hunting, fishing and enjoying other outdoor activities," said Nels Rodefeld, “Outdoor Oklahoma” editor. "Not only is our state blessed with rich and diverse natural resources, we’re also home to many fascinating sportsmen and women. So send us your best shot of people in the outdoors whether it be the fresh smile of a young fisherman or the aged face of a veteran hunter."

According to Rodefeld, 35mm slides, color prints, and digital images will be accepted. Rodefeld added that original 35mm slides still offer the best color reproduction quality, but that “Outdoor Oklahoma” will accept high-quality images captured on digital cameras or in print photos.

“There’s no doubt the Readers' Photography Showcase is one of the most popular features in the magazine as evidenced by the hundreds of great images we receive each year,” he said.

The photographer's name, address and phone number need to be printed on each slide using a fine point pen or rubber stamp. Slides should not be encased in glass.

Each participant may submit up to five images and all entries will be returned undamaged. Each submission should include a brief description of the photo including location taken, camera used, names of subjects and what it took to get just the right shot.

Photographers can mail their submission to Paul Moore, Photo Editor, “Outdoor Oklahoma,” Oklahoma Dept. of Wildlife Conservation, P.O. Box 53465, Oklahoma City, OK 73152.

Individuals who wish to obtain their own copy of the July/August Readers Photo issue can subscribe to “Outdoor Oklahoma,” on the Universal License form wherever hunting and fishing licenses are sold; or via credit card by calling 1-800-777-0019. Subscriptions are just $10 for one year, $18 for two years, or $25 for three years.


11-year-old phenom from Tulsa wins gold medal at the World Skeet Championship

Four months after picking up a shotgun for the first time, 11-year-old Jon Michael McGrath from Tulsa broke 122 clays out of 125 to capture a gold medal in the World Skeet Championship.

It all began in June of 2003 when McGrath went to the Boy Scout Camp Tom Hale near Talihina, Oklahoma. One day of the weeklong summer camp was a free day, where scouts could participate in their choice of activities, and Michael wanted to shoot a shotgun.

After learning about gun safety, acquiring safety glasses and hearing protection he went to the range. Shooting instructor told McGrath’s father that the youngster had some natural skills and that they should consider taking him to a skeet range.

His parents contacted Tulsa Gun Club and spoke with Harold "Skeeter" Radke, who is the club manager and President of the Oklahoma Skeet Shooters Association. The new shooter couldn’t wait to shoot his first round of skeet and a week later he did. His score was 20 out of 25.

"This is unheard of, for an 11-year-old kid who has only been shooting for four months to go down to the World Skeet Championship and win," said Harry Proffitt, a skeet shooting enthusiast from Kansas City. "This is a game of all ages. Some people compete their whole life and try to earn a medal at the World Skeet Championship, and Jon Michael went down for his first time and came home with a sack full of medals. Jon Michael is very respectful of people and is a joy to be around."

The World Skeet Championship was held last fall in San Antonio, Texas. In the 12-gauge event McGrath posted an unbelievable 122 out of 125 and was awarded the World Championship Gold Medal for the E Class 12 Gauge Competition. He also tied for first in both the 20 gauge and 28 gauge events, but missed targets in the shoot offs. At the end of the World Skeet Championship, McGrath was awarded bronze medals in High Overall (513 out of 550) and High All Around (603 out of 650).

The Tulsa phenom also won state championships in Oklahoma and Kansas prior to competing in the World Skeet Shooting Championship. He earned a chance at the Oklahoma state championship in 12 gauge by shooting his first straight of 25 out of 25 with a final score of 90 out of 100, to tie John McCharen, 33, from Nichols Hills. McGrath won the title outright in a shoot-off by breaking a double in the first round when McCharen broke only one of the two targets.

In the Kansas State Skeet Shooters Association Championship, held in September, even heavy rains couldn’t deter McGrath. The young shooter didn’t waver and won the D-Class event in both 20 gauge and .410 bore. At that point his personal best was 91 out of 100 in .410 bore.

It could be overwhelming for anyone going so far in so little time, but McGrath is taking it all in stride.

"It is fun to meet people from all over the world and compete with them. This sport is something you can enjoy for a lifetime," McGrath said. "I would encourage anyone who has an interest in the shooting sports to pursue it. Skeet shooting is a blast."

For more information about shooting sports and to find a skeet range near you, log onto wheretoshoot.org.




Hunters reminded to tag bobcats

Oklahoma's winter weather has been beneficial to state hunters and trappers, allowing them to spend more time pursuing furbearers, especially bobcats.

The 2003-04 Oklahoma bobcat season closes Feb. 28, and the Wildlife Department wants to remind anyone who has harvested a bobcat that they must have it tagged by March 12, 2004. All bobcats must be tagged within 10 working days of the close of the season by an authorized Wildlife Department employee or at a designated bobcat tagging station. A list of designated private bobcat tagging stations is available on the Department's Web site. Stations may charge a fee of 75 cents per tag. The tags need to be on the pelt to verify its legal harvest.

Bobcats are very common in Oklahoma, and pelts from cats harvested in the state may be sold on a worldwide market. However, bobcats are not as common in other parts of the nation. Therefore, an international law was developed to keep track of where certain types of animals, like bobcats, were harvested.

"The law requires states which allow the hunting or trapping of bobcats to monitor their harvest and document their origin of take. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service may use the tags to detect if a species is being overharvested and where problems with trade may occur," said Dennis Maxwell, law enforcement assistant chief for the Wildlife Department. "By meeting the law's requirements, our hunters and trappers are able to enjoy one of the most liberal bobcat seasons available and have the opportunity to export and sell the pelts they harvest."


Instructors pass on hunting heritage to thousands of Oklahomans each year

In schools, churches, and libraries and even under tents and shade trees, a small army of volunteers worked tirelessly throughout summer and fall. Volunteer hunter education instructors, state game wardens and other Wildlife Department personnel helped prepare thousands of Oklahomans for their hunting excursions this year.

"Since the inception of the hunter education program, instructors have been a critical component to its success," said Lance Meek, hunter education coordinator for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. "More than 14,000 people go through the program each year. They learn about everything from how to safely cross a fence with a firearm to the importance of respecting both wildlife and their fellow hunters. And of course, we couldn’t do it without our volunteers."

According to Meek, becoming a volunteer hunter education instructor is a great way to give back to the community and to the resource. More than 300 clinics are held each year across the state from rural outposts to the heart of Oklahoma’s largest metropolitan areas, and many are taught by volunteer instructors.

"The success of the program really goes back to all the generous and hardworking volunteers who love kids and love the sport," Meek said. “Whether you have one weekend a year to spare or you are able to help more often, there is a niche for everybody.”

Volunteer instructors conduct hunter education classes after completing the certification process, which includes an eight-hour training workshop and test. The workshops, held at various locations throughout Oklahoma, are open to groups or individuals interested in volunteering to train and educate tomorrow's hunters.

“I would encourage every hunter to consider becoming a volunteer instructor. Everyone has something they can share with those who are less experienced,” Meek said. “By teaching others the safe and ethical way to hunt, we can ensure the sport will be around for generations to come.”

A variety of lesson plans and teaching aids are available for certified volunteer instructors to use during hunter education classes. Individuals or groups interested in participating can get more information by contacting Meek at (405) 522-4572.

A number of hunter education classes are available to the public this spring and it is never too early to attend a class. For a complete list of classes scheduled in Oklahoma log on to: www.wildlifedepartment.com



Lake Texoma blue catfish potential world record

If there was ever any debate - it’s over now. Lake Texoma is the top blue catfish fishery in the region, if not the world.

Texas angler Cody Mullennix caught a 121-pound, eight-ounce blue catfish on the Texas side of Lake Texoma. The massive fish was caught on Jan. 16, and measured a full 60 inches long. He caught the fish using a three-inch dead shad on an 8/0 circle hook and was outfitted with 20-pound test line.

Anglers have long known about the trophy blue cat potential at Lake Texoma. In fact the lake is home to two separate Oklahoma state records.

Dan Grider holds the Oklahoma unrestricted division record with a 118-pound, eight-ounce monster blue caught on a jugline in 1988 at Texoma.

Rusty Keeton holds the Oklahoma rod and line record with an 87-pound, four-ounce blue caught in 2003 at Texoma. Keeton’s fish is a favorite with visitors to the Oklahoma Aquarium in Jenks. Just hours after being caught the big blue was transported to the Durant State Fish Hatchery where it was held for a number of days to ensure its health. Fisheries personnel with the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation then transported the monster to its permanent home at the Oklahoma Aquarium.

“She’s just an amazing fish and really steals the show,” said John Money, curator of Life Sciences at the Oklahoma Aquarium. “She feeds regularly and seems to have even filled out some since she was brought to us.”

Like Keeton’s record catch, Mullennix’s fish will be on public display at the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center’s aquarium in Athens in several weeks.

Pending certification, Mullennix’s big catfish will break several records including:

The International Game Fish Association's 20-pound line class record - previously George A. Lijewski held the record with a 109 1/4-pound blue catfish landed at South Carolina's Cooper River in March 1991.

The International Game Fish Association's all-tackle record - previously Charles Ashley Jr. held the record with a 116 3⁄4 pound blue catfish landed from the Mississippi River in Arkansas in August 2001.

The Texas rod-and-reel record - previously Reyes Martinez held the record with a 100-pound blue catfish landed at Lake Texoma in March 2000.

The Texas unrestricted state record blue catfish - previously C.D. Martindale held the record with a 116-pound blue catfish landed at Texoma from a trotline in April 1985.

Those fishing Lake Texoma need either an Oklahoma or Texas annual fishing license, depending on which state's waters they will be fishing, or anglers can purchase a Lake Texoma Fishing License for $12.00. The Lake Texoma license is valid for fishing on both the Oklahoma and Texas portions of the lake.


Photo courtesy TPWD (copyright 2004)

Cutline: Texas angler Cody Mullennix caught a 121-pound, eight-ounce blue catfish on the Texas side of Lake Texoma on Jan. 16.

Fishing ranks number one in Oklahoma according to “Sports Illustrated”

While most Oklahomans certainly enjoy tuning in to a college football game or attending a high school basketball game, Oklahomans have a clear preference when it comes to participatory sports. When “Sports Illustrated” magazine asked their readers their favorite sport to play, fishing came in number one ahead of all others, including golf, baseball and swimming.

The survey is supported by an unrelated report on fishing statistics published by the American Sportfishing Association. The report, “Sportfishing in America: Values of Our Traditional Pastime,” shows how fishing remains a popular activity that not only provides a relaxing pastime but also creates a significant economic impact.

Here in Oklahoma, fishing statistics support the national trend.

According to the report, more than 44 million Americans fish - 774,254 of which fished in Oklahoma.

The report shows that an impressive $484 million in retail sales were generated by Oklahoma’s anglers, which rippled through the economy to generate $992 million in economic output for the state.

The Oklahoma fishing industry supports over 11,000 jobs and those workers earned $245 million in salaries and wages.

Fishing-related purchases in Oklahoma generated $27.5 million in state tax revenues and $25 million in federal income tax.

Fishing also greatly supports our nation’s conservation efforts through the Sport Fish Restoration Program. Special federal taxes on fishing gear and motorboat fuels channel hundreds of millions of anglers’ dollars toward state fish and wildlife conservation and recreation programs each year.

The American Sportfishing Association’s analysis is based on data from the National Survey of Fishing, Hunting and Wildlife-Associated Recreation, conducted every five years on behalf of the International Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies. The survey data is collected by the Census Bureau and complied by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The full report is available online from the American Sportfishing Association at www.asafishing.org/content/statistics/economic.

For more information about fishing in Oklahoma, log on www.wildlifedepartment.com



Fur auctions coming soon

Hunters and trappers will have a chance to sell their bounty at a pair of fur auctions hosted by the First Oklahoma Trappers and Predator Callers Association.

The auctions will be held Saturday, Feb. 7 and March 6 at the Okmulgee Fairgrounds.

Both events will begin at 8 a.m., and the auction will start at 9 a.m. The buildings will also be open the day before each sale from 2 - 5 p.m. for dealer set-ups and for harvesters to store furs.

“In my opinion, the auction is one of the best places to come and get a good, fair price for your furs. We have buyers come in from all around and they are ready to buy,” said Bill Jackson with the First Oklahoma Trappers and Predator Callers Association. “Even if you don’t have any furs to buy, it’s a great place to come and see what trapping is all about and learn from experienced trappers.”

To participate in the auction, sellers must have a current Oklahoma trapping and hunting license. Sellers must also be members of the First Oklahoma Trappers and Predator Callers Assoc. Furs may be stretched and dried or "green." All bobcat pelts must be affixed with an export tag before they can be sold or shipped. Personnel from the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation will be present to provide tags, if necessary.

In addition, sellers who bring furs that belong to another person must possess that person's hunting and trapping license, as well as a letter signed by that person authorizing them to sell his or her fur.

Likewise, fur buyers are required to possess an Oklahoma fur buyer's permit in order to purchase unprocessed fur. For more information, contact Bill Jackson or Dee Jackson at (918) 336-8154.


Fish kill near Lake Texoma linked to golden alga

State biologists from Oklahoma and Texas are working together to investigate a minor fish kill near the Red River upstream of Lake Texoma. Biologists believe golden alga found in water samples taken from the area was to blame. This is the first time the naturally occurring toxin has been documented in Oklahoma, and officials view it as an isolated event.

Reports by area fishing guides Jan. 22 of dead and dying gar and shad in Lebanon Pool, a 150-acre off-channel lake in upper Lake Texoma, sparked investigations by the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation and the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.

All the initial symptoms of the dead fish point to golden alga, according to Paul Mauck, south central region fisheries supervisor for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. The alga kills fish by releasing toxins into the water that cause fish gills to bleed internally. There is no evidence to suggest the toxins are a threat to human health.

Water samples taken from Lebanon Pool revealed high levels of golden alga, however, subsequent samples from the Red River upstream and downstream have been sent to Texas Parks and Wildlife Department fisheries lab in Waco, TX for further analysis.

“We’re going to keep a very close eye on this,” said Kim Erickson, fisheries chief for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. “Right now we’re optimistic that this bloom will remain isolated in the Lebanon Pool, but biologists from both Oklahoma and Texas will be working in the area taking water samples and looking for any more fish kills.”

Texas fisheries biologists were the first to discover a golden alga fish kill in inland waters in the Western Hemisphere when a fish kill was identified in the Pecos River in 1985. Since 2001, golden alga fish kills have occurred on 23 reservoirs in Texas. The toxin has also been linked to subsequent fish kills in North Carolina, South Carolina and New Mexico. This is the first reported finding in the Red River basin downstream of Lake Kemp, located southwest of Wichita Falls, TX.

Golden algal blooms typically occur in winter months, often leaving a golden yellow ring around the lake shoreline. Golden alga (Prymnesium parvum) is native to estuarine habitats around the world. It is not known if the alga is a native or exotic species to inland waters.

To learn more about golden alga log on www.tpwd.state.tx.us/hab. The site includes a wide variety of information about harmful golden algal blooms, including scientific research updates, frequently asked questions and up-to-date news.

Anglers who see a fish kill or potential golden algal bloom can the call the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation’s fishery division at (405) 521-3721.


“2004 Oklahoma Fishing Guides” and much more available at wildlifedepartment.com

The “2004 Oklahoma Fishing Guide” will soon be hitting the shelves of fishing and hunting license dealers across the state. But store shelves aren’t the only place to find the guides. Anglers who want to immediately view or download a copy of the “2004 Oklahoma Fishing Guide” from the Internet can do so by logging on to www.wildlifedepartment.com

The booklet not only lists regulations governing fishing in the state, but it also contains fishing tips and a wide variety of other helpful information. Before heading out on a fishing trip in the New Year, anglers should be sure to pick up or print off a copy of the “2004 Oklahoma Fishing Guide.”

That’s not all that sportsmen can find on the Department’s Web site. The site is a true one-stop cyber shop for the outdoor enthusiast.

Smart anglers can find out where the hottest fishing action is taking place by logging onto www.wildlifedepartment.com. Anglers can find out how some of the state's most popular game fish are biting including bass, catfish, crappie and others. Compiled by Wildlife Department personnel and independent reporters, the reports even include techniques and locations to increase angler success. To sign up for the weekly electronic news release, which also includes the weekly fishing report, go to www.wildlifedepartment.com

Hunters and anglers can even purchase their hunting and fishing licenses online by simply logging on to www.wildlifedepartment.com You can purchase a license 24 hours a day and never leave the comfort of your home computer.

It’s never too early to get a jump on spring turkey seasons. Hunters now have a new tool to find out-of-the-way hotspots - digital interactive maps. Hunters can fly down the information superhighway and do some virtual scouting on wildlife management areas across the state - all while never putting a single mile on your vehicle. Log on to www.wildlifedepartment.com to view the new maps which include a wealth of information such as topography and aerial photos.

The Web site also features online brochures, outdoor news reports, information on non-game species and much more. Simply log on and explore.



NatureWorks brings art to life

Capturing the beauty and grandeur of wildlife on canvas or in bronze is a skill few individuals possess, but Oklahomans will soon have an opportunity to view the works of some of the country's most talented wildlife artists.

The annual NatureWorks Wildlife Art Show and Sale, held in Tulsa, attracts some of the best wildlife sculptors and painters in the nation. This year Ronnie Wells, of Salado, TX will be featured at NatureWorks. As a world-renowned sculptor, Wells has won nine Best of Show awards for his sculpture in the last fifteen years. His talent and recognition do not stop there. Wells is a skillful painter as well, winning Best of Show Painting from NatureWorks in 1997.

The annual Wildlife Art Show and Sale sponsored by NatureWorks, a non-profit organization, has generated matching grants to assist a variety of organizations for use in state wildlife conservation projects.

Programs such as the Hunters Against Hunger program, the Harold Stuart Waterfowl Refuge Unit within the Deep Fork Wildlife Management Area (WMA) and the Grassy Slough WMA have benefited from NatureWorks generous support.

Other recipients of NatureWorks' conservation grants include the Prairie Earth Trail at the Tallgrass Prairie Preserve in Osage County; landscaping of the Tropical Rain Forest at the Tulsa Zoo; an outdoor classroom at a Broken Arrow school; Sally Jones Lake waterfowl enhancement at Robert S. Kerr Reservoir; printing of Oklahoma Wetland Development Areas Atlas; providing grain drills for planting wildlife food plots; and cooperating with the National Wild Turkey Federation to relocate Eastern wild turkeys near Grove.

NatureWorks has scheduled this year's art show for the Tulsa Marriott-Southern Hills, Saturday, March 6 through Sunday, March 7. The show will be open Saturday (10:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.) and Sunday (11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.).

For more information about NatureWorks or the art show, call (918) 296-4ART or log on to www.natureworks.org.