Make plans now to attend the Oklahoma Station of the Safari Club International's annual banquet

The Oklahoma Station of the Safari Club International is making final plans for their annual banquet. The event will start at 6:30 p.m., March 5, at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum.

"We have a great time at the banquet - it's something I look forward to every year," said Mike Munhollon, with the Oklahoma Station of the Safari Club International. "We hope everyone will come out and join us. It is a nice opportunity to meet like-minded individuals in the community and find out what the Safari Club is all about."

The Oklahoma Station of the Safari Club International has long been supportive of the Wildlife Department's efforts. Recently, the Club donated a 24-foot gooseneck trailer to the Department. The trailer is now used in the Department's Shotgun Training Education Program, which introduces both youth and adults to shotgun shooting techniques and the proper handling of firearms.

The Oklahoma Station of the Safari Club International also sponsors the Department's annual youth essay contest. The contest gives youngsters the opportunity to share their feelings about the Oklahoma outdoors and gives them the opportunity to win great prizes including a guided pronghorn antelope hunt in New Mexico.

Additionally, the organization purchased eight elk for introduction into an existing herd in southeast Oklahoma. The Chapter has also donated funds to the Hunter's Against Hunger program and recently donated funds that will go toward the purchase of an airboat that will be used on waterfowl surveys.

According to Munhollon, the auction will be one of the highlights of the evening.

"We will have a wide range of items available for auction from African safaris, to shotguns, to art. There is really something for everyone whether you want to spend a little or a lot. It is even fun just to watch live auction," he said.

Munhollon added that the banquet and auction are an essential part of the Chapter's fundraising efforts.

"This is our primary mode of fundraising. This one event allows us to sponsor and be a part of many other important projects throughout the year," Munhollon said.

For more information or to purchase tickets call (405) 721-7229


Be a Winter Bird Survey Participant - Help Track New Doves

If you feed and watch your feathered neighbors, the Wildlife Department has a winter activity idea for you. Be a part of the 17th annual Winter Bird Survey and help state biologists follow Oklahoma's winter bird populations.

Join more then 400 other households across the state by downloading a survey form at www.wildlifedepartment.com. Choose two days between Thursday, Jan. 13, and Sunday, Jan. 16, to count and record birds visiting your feeders.

Survey results help state biologists track annual changes in bird populations. Biologists then assess if fluctuations are normal, point to range expansions or contractions, or warn of potential conservation problems.

Citizen reports on the Winter Bird Survey are helping the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife track three new dove species, according to Information Specialist Jenny Thom.

"Over the past few years, we've been receiving scattered reports of Eurasian-collared doves, Inca doves and white-winged doves," Thom said. "None of these historically occurred in Oklahoma."

Gene Potts lives in Albany near the Red River and the Texas border. He noticed "unusual" doves feeding in his yard that were much smaller than the mourning or Eurasian collared doves he was accustomed to seeing.

After calling the Wildlife Department, he learned he was seeing Inca doves.

"I noticed these little doves with red wing spots making soft cooo-coooing sounds. I only see them around people - that must be their ace in the hole," he said.

David Arbour, a naturalist at Red Slough Wildlife Management Area, says Potts is right.

"Inca doves are adapted to urban areas. They eat seeds and fruits. Bird feeders help them survive and yard plantings are attractive to them," he said.

Like the Eurasian collared and Inca, the white-winged dove also inhabits manmade niches and also feeds on grain and wild seeds, as well as cactus fruits and blossoms. Similar in size to a mourning dove - although slightly larger and stockier with a shorter tail - it is recognized by bold, white wing patches and a drawn-out, variable, who-cooks-for-you call.

"White-winged doves are showing up where collared doves are and mixing with them. Actually, the white-winged, Eurasian and Inca doves are filling similar areas, but they don't appear to be in major competition with one another," Arbour said.

Help biologists track Oklahoma's doves and other winter birds. Download a Winter Bird Survey form, relax in a seat by the window, and contribute to science while enjoying the birds.


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. 5 and Saturday, March 5 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.

"Not only are the auctions the best places to come and get a good, fair price for your furs, they are also a great places to come and see what trapping is all about and learn from experienced trappers," said Bill Jackson with the First Oklahoma Trappers and Predator Callers Association.

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. Individuals selling furs at the March 5 auction should consult the "2004-05 Oklahoma Hunting Guide" regarding possessing pelts after the close of the furbearer season.

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.



Wildlife Commission hears of innovative archery program

The Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Commission learned about an innovative archery education program at their January meeting.

Oklahoma is one of the first states to initiate the ambitious Archery in the Schools program. Offering a two-week long, Olympic-style archery curriculum, the program is designed to introduce junior high and high school students to archery.

“In the eight pilot schools around the state we have found that the program is a positive for everyone involved,” said Lance Meek, hunter education coordinator for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. “Of course the kids love it. Educators have told us that the program allows them to fulfill several state and national curriculum guidelines. And it is good for sportsmen because it shares the sport of archery with many people who otherwise wouldn’t be exposed to it.”

According to Meek, training courses will be taking place this spring and more schools will come on board next fall.

In other business, the Commission recognized the Grand National Quail Foundation for its generous contributions to conservation and education programs.

Established in Enid in the mid 1980’s the Foundation has raised funds to support a variety of projects, such as habitat improvements on public hunting areas, annual youth wildlife camps and a variety of research projects. The Foundation’s most notable research project includes the longest and most comprehensive quail study in the nation. The influential, ten-year study was conducted at the Packsaddle Wildlife Management Area in northwest Oklahoma.

“We are humble and honored by this recognition,” said Mike Ruby, Grand National Quail Foundation president. “It has been a wonderful partnership over the years and we pledge our continued support.”

In other business, Commissioners received an update on the 2005 Wildlife Expo. The inaugural event is designed to introduce Oklahomans to outdoor activities and will be held August 27 and 28 at the Lazy E Arena near Guthrie.

The Commission voted to accept an offer of $4,100 from the Oklahoma Department of Transportation for 1.89 acres for expansion of the Highway 70 bridge at Lake Raymond Gary in Choctaw County.

Also at their January meeting, Commissioners recognized the following employees for their service to the Department:

Lewis Jennings, wildlife technician at Black Kettle and Ellis County wildlife management areas, for 20 years; and

Wayne Smith, wildlife technician at Ouachita Wildlife Management Area, for 20 years.

In accordance with rulemaking procedures, Commissioners voted to approve Title 800:1-13-11 which addresses the design and issuance of the Fishing and Hunting Legacy Permit. Commissioners also voted to amortize the unfunded liability of the Retirement Plan over 15 years and to increase the budget $1,009,000 to provide this year’s additional funding.

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 Feb. 7 at the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation headquarters (auditorium), at the southwest corner of 18th and North Lincoln, Oklahoma City at 9:00 a.m.




Wildlife Expo to offer something for everyone

Imagine a warm summer day when you and your family decide to attend a very special event – the inaugural Oklahoma Wildlife Expo. As you pull into the Lazy E Arena you quickly learn that there are almost too many choices to make.

Where should you take your family first? Your son wants to go to the dog training seminar and watch the jumping dogs in action, your spouse wants to go fishing and your daughter wants to try her hand at shooting a bow and arrow. With more than 100 different booths and activities already confirmed, there will be plenty of decisions to be made during the free, two-day event, which will be held August 27 and 28.

“We are very excited about the Expo and are really looking forward to showcasing the wide range of outdoor opportunities available to Oklahomans,” said Richard Hatcher, assistant director of the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. “This is the first event of its kind in Oklahoma and we think it will be fun, inspiring and a huge hit. Be sure to mark your calendar now because this is going to be something you will not want to miss.”

According to Hatcher, the monumental event is designed to promote and perpetuate Oklahoma’s rich hunting, fishing and wildlife heritage.

“Our theme for the Expo is ‘Tomorrow’s memories today,’ and I think that really sums up what we want to do. We hope to provide everyone who attends the knowledge and opportunities for them to be involved in a lifetime of outdoor-related activities,” Hatcher said. “Whether you enjoy fishing, mountain biking or hiking, you will get the skills necessary to begin creating lasting memories.”

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.

For more information about the Oklahoma Wildlife Expo or to learn more about sponsorship opportunities, call (405) 522-6279.


Chandler Fur Auction to take place Jan. 29

Hunters and trappers will have a chance to sell their bounty at a fur auction hosted by the Oklahoma Furharvester’s Association.

The auction will be held Saturday, Jan. 29, at the Chandler Fairgrounds. The doors open at 7 a.m., and the auction will start at 9 a.m..

Fur buyers will be on hand from Kansas, Arkansas, Missouri and Oklahoma. Trapper’s supplies will also be sold at the event.

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 Shannon Sheffert at (405) 742-7884.


Private Stewardship Grants available through the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is seeking proposals for private lands conservation funding through its Private Stewardship Grants Program. About $6.5 million is available nationwide in 2005 to support on-the-ground conservation efforts on private lands.

This program provides Federal grants on a competitive basis to non-government entities engaged in voluntary conservation efforts on private lands that benefit imperiled species including endangered or threatened species.

Landowners and their partners may submit proposals directly to the Service for funding those efforts. In August 2004, the Service awarded 97 grants totaling more than $7 million to individuals and groups for conservation projects benefiting endangered, threatened and other at-risk species on private lands in 39 states.

Groups in Oklahoma have received funds for prairie chicken conservation efforts and prescribed burning and salt cedar removal in western Oklahoma. Over the past two years, these three projects have received nearly $600,000 in the Private Stewardship Grants Program.

The following are examples of how these grants support private conservation efforts and foster the development of voluntary partnerships: Private lands habitat enhancement in Colorado and South Dakota ($114,675) will restore shortgrass prairie rangelands to benefit grassland and riparian species at risk, principally declining grassland birds. Six individual projects were awarded a total of $114,675 to support various management plans that include reseeding cropland to native prairie, removing invasive species, and altering livestock grazing management.

Several private landowners adjacent to the Rock River in southwest Minnesota will use $30,000 to restore Topeka shiner habitat by protecting and maintaining the river bank, off channel habitats, and adjacent upland fields to reduce erosion and sedimentation into the river.

For more information regarding this grant opportunity and how and where to submit proposals, please visit the Service’s Private Stewardship Grants Website at http://endangered.fws.gov/grants/private_stewardship.html.


Oklahoma businesses featured in magazine

The latest issue of “Outdoor Oklahoma” magazine details how the state’s outdoor related businesses positively impact the economy.

The special Jan./Feb. 2005 issue provides a comprehensive list of Oklahoma’s outdoor related manufacturers along with fascinating profiles of some of the individuals who have made these companies so successful. These businesses have a far reaching effect across the state, from small fishing lure manufacturers to outdoor artisans, to international companies employing thousands of people.

According to recent surveys, the hunting and fishing industry supports 18,000 jobs in the state. Oklahoma is home to almost 775,000 anglers and 300,000 hunters who spend more than $1,057 million on their equipment, gas, meals and other expenses.

“The facts and figures are certainly impressive, but there is also a human side to all these numbers. Hard working men and women all across this state feed their families, send their kids to college and make their car payments – and they do all of it with wages from an outdoor industry supported by a healthy environment and a robust social culture of hunting, fishing and wildlife enjoyment,” said Greg Duffy, director of the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. “We shouldn’t forget that hunting and fishing are also important to many Oklahomans because these pursuits provide an important avenue for people to spend quality time with their friends and loved ones.”

The current issue also features a special section outlining the upcoming controlled hunts drawing. By carefully selecting their hunt choices, individuals can up their odds of being drawn on one of these highly coveted hunts.

Individual copies of the Jan./Feb. issue of “Outdoor Oklahoma” are available for $3 if picked up at any of the Wildlife Department's offices, or $4 by mail (mail to Outdoor Oklahoma, 1801 N. Lincoln, Oklahoma City, OK 73105). One-year subscriptions, for only $10, are available by calling 1-800-777-0019, or you can order over the Internet by logging on to the Department's web site at www.wildlifedepartment.com.



Oklahoma Game Warden Honored

Oklahoma Game Warden Jay Harvey was announced as the "2004 Oklahoma Game Warden of the Year" by the state chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF) at their Jan. 8 banquet in Oklahoma City.

Each of the 38 chapters across the state can submit a game warden for the honor and the final choice is made through a rigorous selection process by the state NWTF board of directors.

Harvey, a 13-year veteran of the Wildlife Department, is currently stationed in Choctaw and Bryan counties. According to Chuck Townsend, state president of the NWTF, Harvey is a dedicated officer and is passionate about protecting the natural resources of the state.

“If you are obeying the law, there is nothing in the world Jay wouldn’t do to help you, but if you are on the wrong side of the law Jay will catch up to you sooner or later,” Townsend said.

Townsend added that Harvey was instrumental in coordinating an aerial law enforcement effort last spring to deter poaching prior to turkey season. In three days of flying over southeast Oklahoma, wardens visited with 22 individuals as a result of the effort.

Harvey is also very active in conservation education programs including hunter education, kid’s fishing clinics and the Department’s Shotgun Training Education Program.

“It’s obvious that Jay loves kids and he is sincere about passing on our outdoor heritage to the next generation,” Townsend said.

Harvey will be the guest of the NWTF at their national banquet in Nashville this February and will represent Oklahoma in the national NWTF Game Warden of the Year competition.




Cutline: Oklahoma Game Warden Jay Harvey was announced as the "2004 Oklahoma Game Warden of the Year" by the state chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF) at their Jan. 8 banquet in Oklahoma City.

Hunting and fishing regulation changes discussed at statewide meetings

Biologists with the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation were encouraged by the turnout of more than 100 sportsmen at recent statewide meetings held to discuss a number of proposed hunting and fishing regulation changes.

“It’s always good to hear from the sportsmen and women of Oklahoma. These meetings were designed to get their input on issues important to them and from that standpoint the meetings were a great success,” said Kim Erickson, chief of fisheries for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife.

According to Erickson, many of the proposals will be brought before the Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Commission at their next meeting at 9 a.m. on Feb. 7 at the Wildlife Department headquarters in Oklahoma City. 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.

Due to comments received, three proposals discussed at the public meetings will not be brought to the Wildlife Conservation Commission for consideration. They include modifying the existing bobcat season, modification in the intoxicating beverage restriction on wildlife management areas and implementing restrictions on filleting fish when in the field.




Bowhunting Council of Oklahoma’s annual expo and banquet coming Feb. 4-5

The Bowhunting Council of Oklahoma is making final plans for their annual bowhunting expo and banquet. The event will take place February 4 and 5, at the Best Western in Stillwater.

Bowhunters from across Oklahoma will gather for a weekend of seminars, clinics, animal displays, bowhunting related exhibitors as well as the annual awards banquet.

Guest speakers Larry Jones and Judy Kovar will entertain and inform members. Larry Jones has been a bowhunter since 1961 and is president of Wilderness Sound Productions where he has produced bowhunting videos and designed their outstanding line of game calls. Judy Kovar, a Northern Cheyenne bowhunter, will speak on the important heritage of bowhunting.

For more information or to purchase tickets call (405) 354-0602 or (918) 245-1786.



Hunters reminded to tag bobcats

The 2004-05 Oklahoma bobcat season closes Feb. 28, and anyone who has harvested a bobcat must have it tagged by March 14, 2005. With the season on other furbearers closing Jan. 31, all other pelts must be registered with the Wildlife Department by Feb. 10. 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.

"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 bobcats or certain other furbearing species are being over-harvested 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."

Bobcats are common in Oklahoma, and pelts from cats harvested in the state may be sold on the worldwide market. However, bobcats are not as common in other parts of the nation. The CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species) Act is an international law designed to keep track of where certain types of animals, like bobcats, are harvested.

To obtain a registration form for other pelts contact the Department’s Wildlife Division at (405) 521-2739.