JUNE 2006
NEWS RELEASES

WEEK OF JUNE 1, 2006 WEEK OF JUNE 8, 2006 WEEK OF JUNE 15, 2006 WEEK OF JUNE 22, 2006 WEEK OF JUNE 29, 2006

 

 

 Department to hold vehicle auction

         Are you in the market for a used vehicle? If so, you will want to head out to the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation’s public vehicle auction. It will be held Thursday, June 8, at 6 p.m. at the Department’s headquarters located at 1801 N. Lincoln in Oklahoma City.

         “We have a good variety of Ford and Chevrolet trucks. All of them are four-wheel drive and many of them are extended cab models,” said Johnny Hill, property manager for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. “We’re going to sell everything as is to the highest bidder.”

         A total of 25 vehicles will be available at the event, including a ton Chevrolet truck, a 1999 Chevrolet Tahoe and a 1996 Dodge Caravan.

          For more information about the auction call (405) 521-4600 or for a complete list of auction vehicles, log on to wildlifedepartment.com. The sale will start promptly at 6:00 p.m. and items may be inspected from 10 a.m. to 5:45 p.m.  the day of the sale.

 

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“Outdoor Oklahoma” television on demand

The Wildlife Department’s weekly television show, “Outdoor Oklahoma,” show is now available 24-hours a day over the internet and the best part about it, it’s free!

Podcasting is the method of distributing multimedia files, such as audio programs or music videos, over the Internet for playback on mobile devices and personal computers. Podcasting's essence is about creating content (audio or video) for an audience that wants to listen or watch when they want, where they want, and how they want.

To learn more about “Outdoor Oklahoma” television show podcasts log on to  www.wildlifedepartment.com

 

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Sign up now to attend a Selman Bat Watch

            Come watch over a million bats fly out of their cave, over your head, and off into the nighttime sky at a Selman Bat Watch. There are 12 opportunities in July to see the only public viewing of Mexican free-tailed bats in Oklahoma. The Bat Watch begins July 6 and occurs each Thursday, Friday and Saturday the rest of the month. Register by June 26 to attend. Download a registration form at www.wildlifedepartment.com.

            Every summer night, the bats leave their roost to dine on flying insects. They’ll cruise right overhead according to Melynda Hickman, event organizer and biologist for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.

            “From a distance, the flying columns of bats look like smoke. But when you’re sitting right there, and the bats pass over your head, there’s no doubt you’re seeing and hearing bats. It’s a unique experience,” she said.

            The bat flight is the highlight of the Bat Watch, but there’s more to the evening than watching. There’s also learning and exploring.

            The Bat Watch begins at Alabaster Caverns State Park – 6 miles south of Freedom and 30 miles northeast of Woodward in northwestern Oklahoma. Buses take visitors from the state park to the Selman Wildlife Management Area, which is usually closed to the public. Once there, visitors learn facts about bats and the prairie community.

            Since 1996, the Wildlife Department has managed the area because of its importance to the Mexican free-tailed bat. This is one of only five major sites in Oklahoma used by female free-tailed bats to raise their young.

            The bats return to Oklahoma year after year from their wintering grounds in Mexico and Central America. They spend daylight hours inside the cave. Then, from dusk until dawn, they fly over the countryside consuming more than 10 tons of insects each night.

            “If you like watching wildlife, or just want to experience something extraordinary, you’ll want to check this out,” Hickman said.

            Sign up now through June 26 to see this amazing natural spectacle. The cost is $10 for adults and $5 for children. Seating is limited to 75 people per night and evenings fill quickly. Children must be 8 or older to attend a Friday or Saturday night, which run from 6:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m. Thursday nights are shorter to accommodate children ages 3 – 7 and run from 7:15 p.m. to 9:45 p.m. Check for open viewing dates, get a registration form, and find out more at www.wildlifedepartment.com or call (405) 424-0099.

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 Photo Caption: See more than one million bats spiral out into the evening sky at a Selman Bat Watch.

 

Phelps elected to second term as chair of the Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Commission

                The Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Commission unanimously voted to approve a new slate of officers. Bill Phelps of Lawton was elected chairman for a second consecutive term; M. David Riggs of Sand Springs was elected vice-chairman; and Wade Brinkman, Altus was elected as secretary. Officers will serve a one-year term beginning July 1.

                “It is appreciated and humbling to have my fellow commissioners give me the opportunity to serve again. I am really looking forward to working the next year with ODWC commissioners and the Wildlife Department in conserving Oklahoma’s great wildlife resources,” said Phelps, who is an active member of Ducks Unlimited, Quail Unlimited, the National Wild Turkey Federation, the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and the National Sporting Clays Association.

                Phelps, who was appointed to the Commission in 2002, represents District 6 which encompasses Blaine, Kingfisher, Canadian, Caddo, Grady, Comanche, Stephens, Jefferson and Cotton counties. He has worked for CenterPoint Energy for 33 years, and since 1994 has served as the vice president and general manager of its Oklahoma Division. Phelps attended both the University of Arkansas-Monticello and East Texas State University majoring in agri-business.

                In other business, Commissioners heard a presentation on the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation 2006 Landowner of the Year - Randy Lively, of Sharon. Producing beef, sheep and crops, the Lively Ranch is a diversified operation, but wildlife is always an important consideration in land management decisions.

                “For several generations the Lively Ranch has placed an emphasis on quality wildlife habitat on the 2,000-acre property in Woodward County.  Randy Lively is a great example of real-world conservation in action,” said Wade Free, northwest region wildlife supervisor for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.

                According to Free, Lively uses a variety of methods to encourage the growth of beneficial native plants including, patch burning, roller chopping, rotational grazing and strip disking. In northwest Oklahoma, water is always a top concern and Lively has built six separate watering areas which are used by both wildlife and cattle.

                “When my kids were young, I realized that if I didn’t manage for wildlife for my kids’ future, nobody was going to do it for me,” Lively said.

                The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation has recognized a landowner conservationist each of the past 16 years and continues to work closely with landowners by providing technical assistance and in some cases financial support for land practices that benefit wildlife.  Projects may include fencing, brush management, timber thinning, wetland restoration and more.

                In employee matters, the Commission recognized Trent Hodgins, District Four Law Enforcement Chief, for his 35 years of outstanding service to the sportsmen of the state.

                In other business, the Commission approved the 2007 fiscal year budget and approved a two percent cost of living increase for Department retirees. The retirees’ increase is tied to the Consumer Price Index and will become effective July 1.

                Additionally, the Commission received a report on the 2006 Legislative session. For a complete update on wildlife-related bills, log on to the Wildlife’s Department legislative tracker at wildlifedepartment.com.

                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 July 10 at the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation headquarters (auditorium), at the southwest corner of 18th and North Lincoln, Oklahoma City at 9 a.m.

 

 Caption: The Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Commission unanimously voted to approve a new slate of officers. Bill Phelps of Lawton was elected chairman for a second consecutive term.

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Mabrey appointed to second Wildlife Commission term

                Bruce R. Mabrey, Okmulgee, was recently appointed by Gov. Brad Henry to serve another term on the Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Commission. Mabrey's current term will run through 2014.

                A lifelong resident of Okmulgee, Mabrey has been the executive officer of a family-owned bank holding company with ownership in several eastern Oklahoma banks. Mabrey, an avid hunter particularly of deer, elk and turkey, is currently the executive vice president of Citizens Security Bank & Trust Company in Okmulgee. 

                “It is a great honor to be able to serve the sportsmen and women of Oklahoma," Mabrey said. “I believe strongly in the youth of our state and I realize the importance of providing kids opportunities to go hunting and fishing. I’m confident we have taken some great strides in these efforts over the last few years with things like the Archery in the Schools program, the Wildlife Expo and the new youth turkey hunting season that takes effect next spring.”

                The Wildlife Conservation Commission is the eight-member governing board of the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation (ODWC). The Wildlife Commission establishes state hunting and fishing regulations, sets policy for the ODWC, and indirectly oversees all state fish and wildlife conservation activities. Commission members are appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the Senate. 

                Mabrey, who earned a Bachelor of Science degree from Northeastern State University in Tahlequah, will serve as the Wildlife Commission's District 2 representative. The district includes Adair, Sequoyah, Cherokee, Wagoner, Muskogee, Haskell, McIntosh and Okmulgee counties.

                Active in a number of local conservation organizations including Friends of the Deep Fork National Wildlife Refuge, Eastern Oklahoma Chapter of the Quality Deer Management Association, National Rifle Association, National Wild Turkey Federation, Okmulgee County Bowhunters, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and the Boone and Crockett Club, Mabrey has also served as the past president for Okmulgee County Cattlemen's Association, Okmulgee Chamber of Commerce and Okmulgee Main Street Association. 

                Mabrey and his wife Karen have four children: two daughters, Mollye and Melanie, and two sons, Matt and Mark. 

 

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  Caption: Bruce R. Mabrey, Okmulgee, was recently appointed by Gov. Brad Henry to serve another term on the Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Commission. Mabrey's current term will run through 2014.

 

Oklahoma could lose conservation dollars

                Most Oklahomans know something about the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation’s work to conserve bald eagles, horny toads and interior least terns. What may not be such common knowledge is the work that’s being done on behalf of squirrel tree frogs, tiger salamanders, regal fritillary butterflies, prairie warblers, long-billed curlews, swift foxes and some 230 other species of conservation concern. 

                The goal, said Ron Suttles, coordinator of the Department’s natural resources and wildlife diversity program, is to keep additional species from becoming threatened or endangered.

                Like wildlife agencies from all 50 states, the Wildlife Department depends on a federal aid program called State Wildlife Grants for funding wildlife diversity efforts. According to a new report that documents the last five years of the program, state fish and wildlife agencies are working ahead to prevent threats to habitat, population and health, and making a real difference for America’s wildlife.

                Despite the success of the federal aid program, it recently received a major cut in the U.S. House of Representatives when they recommended only $50 million of the $74.7 million in the President’s budget.

                In March, a bipartisan group of 170 representatives and 56 senators, including Oklahoma’s Sen. James Inhofe and Reps. Tom Cole and Dan Boren, called for increased State Wildlife Grant funding. The Senate still needs to consider the appropriation.

                Since 2001, Oklahoma has received an average of $790,000 a year in State Wildlife Grants. At least $1.1 million state and partner dollars have matched those funds. If Congress does cut the funding to $50 million in the final 2007 budget, Oklahoma’s effort to keep wildlife off the endangered species list will shrink by nearly $350,000.

                Prior to State Wildlife Grants, virtually no federal funding focused on preventing wildlife from becoming endangered. The federal grants are designed to help wildlife agencies create programs that fit their states’ wildlife diversity needs. In Oklahoma, the grants are used to study species not usually looked at.

                In a survey of 32 states, State Wildlife Grants was the single largest source of funds for wildlife diversity programs.

                “The grants have been a boon to struggling budgets,” Suttles said. “They’re essential to maintaining our diversity of birds, fishes, mammals, mussels and their habitats.”

                Oklahoma’s 1999 wildlife diversity budget was $230,000. State Wildlife Grants provided nearly $930,000 in 2005 alone.

                “This funding is as important to Oklahoma’s people as it is to the wildlife,” Suttles said. “These same natural places that keep wildlife populations healthy also contribute to our quality of life and outdoor traditions here in Oklahoma.”

                To remain eligible for State Wildlife Grants, all 50 states were required to submit to Congress by last October Comprehensive Wildlife Conservation Strategies, also known as wildlife action plans. Oklahoma and other states met that challenge. Nationwide, these dynamic action plans are the source of ideas for wildlife diversity conservation projects to keep native wildlife populations healthy in every state.

                “Oklahoma’s action plan identifies some species we know virtually nothing about,” Suttles said. “We need to fill information gaps to make informed management decisions and benefit these lesser known species.”

                Now funding to implement the action plans is in jeopardy.

                “We need the State Wildlife Grants program to keep Oklahoma’s wildlife and the places where they live healthy now and into the future for generations of Oklahomans yet to come,” he said.

                For more information about State Wildlife Grants visit www.teaming.com.

                The Wildlife Diversity Program - a program of the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation - monitors, manages and promotes rare, declining, and endangered wildlife, as well as common wildlife not fished or hunted. Oklahomans help fund the Wildlife Diversity Program through an annual state income tax check-off, the purchase of wildlife conservation specialty license plates, product purchases, and individual donations. Find out more at www.wildlifedepartment.com.

 

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   Caption: Biologists are gathering information about the number/abundance of long-billed curlews in Oklahoma and their distribution. In the process, biologists have discovered curlews are found in different habitats than previously known, raising interesting questions to be answered in order to keep their populations healthy into the future.

 Side bar stories:

Oklahoma State Wildlife Grant Success Stories:

Gathering Information to Take Action - Freshwater Mussel Study

                The state’s wildlife and people will continue to enjoy clean water and healthy stream systems, in part, through an Oklahoma freshwater mussel study funded by State Wildlife Grants. Freshwater mussels play a primary role in keeping lakes and streams clean.

                Since the health of wildlife is often an early indicator of disease and pollution, understanding the relationship between water conditions and freshwater mussels will benefit wildlife and people. Information gathered in the study will help gain a clearer understanding of this relationship and will provide important data that can influence natural resource management decisions.

 

Caption: Biologists take measurements from mussels in an Oklahoma stream to answer a pressing question – Are, they reproducing or is the population entirely adult mussels?  With answers, biologists can conserve Oklahoma's mussels before they become more rare and more costly to protect.

Benefiting Wildlife and People - Patch Burning Project

                A State Wildlife Grant project will test an innovative new land management approach that makes it possible to simultaneously maintain livestock production and manage for native wildlife species. The technique is called patch burning, and it’s receiving international attention.

                Historically, wild fires and grazing influenced the grasslands of the Great Plains. Patch burning mimics these historical conditions and results in nutrient-rich forbs and a greater diversity of plants and animals. Patch burning was first tested on Oklahoma’s Tallgrass Prairie Preserve with beneficial results to both biodiversity, and agricultural production.

                To discover if it will benefit other natural areas around the state, biologists will test patch burning at Cooper Wildlife Management Area near Fort Supply in western Oklahoma. If successful, area landowners can use patch burning to benefit their own pastures and native wildlife.

 

Conservation of Land, Water and Wildlife – Conserving Wild Birds

                Oklahoma’s wild birds capture the attention of more than 700,000 people every year. State Wildlife Grants is helping the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation and its partners benefit approximately 300 migratory species of songbirds, waterfowl, shorebirds and water birds that spend time in Oklahoma.

                Oklahoma biologists are working with partners in other states and countries to identify conservation actions across geographic borders. Working together, biologists can restore and protect the natural places these birds live so they may continue to bring peace and relaxation to bird watching enthusiasts. 

 

 Q & A about the Selman Bat Watch

 Discover a far-from-ordinary summer adventure in Oklahoma through this Q&A with Jenny Thom, Wildlife Department information specialist:

 

Q:            Is it true that there is now an official state of Oklahoma flying mammal?
A:            Yes! In April, Governor Henry designated the Mexican free-tailed bat as the state-flying mammal.

Q:            Do Mexican free-tailed bats live here year round?
A:            No. The bats travel 1,400 miles each spring to give birth and raise their young in Oklahoma. In late summer, the bats begin their return trip to Mexico and Central America.

Q:            Where in Oklahoma do these bats go?
A:            Mexican free-tailed bats migrate to about five different sites throughout Oklahoma. The largest colony in Oklahoma annually gathers on the Selman Bat Cave Wildlife Management Area in the northwest. The Wildlife Department manages the area to protect the bats.

Q:            Can the public see the bats?
A:            Yes. The Selman Bat Watch Program provides an opportunity to watch these bats. You can see more than a million bats leaving the cave and fly directly over your head.

Q:            What makes the bats do this?
A:            Around dusk the bats leave their roost to dine on flying insects in the night sky. Because this is a natural event, we never know the exact time it will happen. But the bats eat every night, so they fly every night.

Q:            How many insects can one Mexican free-tailed bat eat in a night?
A:            600 - which means the bat colony at Selman eats more than 10 tons (20,000 pounds) of flying beetles, moths and mosquitoes every night!

Q:            When is the Bat Watch?
A:            The Bat Watch begins July 6 and happens each Thursday, Friday and Saturday night the rest of the month. That means you have 12 chances in July to see the bats. Thursday nights start at 7:15 p.m.; Friday and Saturday nights start at 6:00 p.m.

Q:            Where is the Bat Watch?
A:            It begins at Alabaster Caverns State Park near Freedom, Okla. Registered Bat Watch participants are escorted to the bat-viewing area from there.

Q:            Do I have to register to attend a Bat Watch?
A:            Yes. Each night is limited to 75 people and the sessions typically fill up pretty quickly.  So, to ensure you have a place we require a reservation.

Q:            Is there a registration deadline?
A:            Register by June 26. Sign up early, because evenings fill quickly. In fact, Friday, July 7 Saturday, July 8 and Saturday, July 15 are already closed. You can check to see which dates are still open and download a registration form at www.wildlifedepartment.com.

 Q:            What does it cost?
A:            Adults cost $10; Children (12 & under) cost $5.

Q:            How can I find out more about this summer’s Selman Bat Watch?
A:            Log on to www.wildlifedepartment.com or call (405) 424-0099.

 

 

Caption: The amazing natural spectacle of flying bats attracts visitors from all across Oklahoma, Texas, Kansas and New Mexico to the Selman Bat Watch. 

  

 Caption: Watch millions of bats fly overhead against the setting sun as they leave their cave to dine on more than 10 tons of insects.

 

SCI to hold an open meeting in Tulsa, July 31
            The Oklahoma Chapter of Safari Club International (SCI) is holding a special open meeting at 7 p.m., July 31 in Tulsa.

            The Oklahoma Chapter of SCI has been an important contributor to the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. SCI has partnered with the Wildlife Department on a number of projects including hunter education, shotgun training, wetlands conservation, and deer and elk management. SCI works internationally as well, but 70 percent of the funds raised through the Oklahoma Chapter go back to support programs in Oklahoma.

            “We’re excited about this upcoming meeting. We are looking forward to a good turnout, both from longtime SCI members and those who just want to know what the organization is all about,” said Mike Mistelske, SCI director. “This is a great opportunity to get together with old friends and to make new ones; after all, we all share a common passion – the love of the outdoors.”

            The free meeting will be held at the new indoor shooting range of the Tulsa Red Castle Gun Club, at 1115 Zunis (about seven blocks east of Utica and just south of 11th).  All participants are eligible to join in the contest for door prizes, and two hunts (one in Oklahoma and one in Argentina) will be on the auction block.

            “This meeting is a great chance to learn about how SCI provides important support for wildlife conservation here in Oklahoma, and what SCI does to ensure that our hunting heritage continues for our children,” Mistelske said. “SCI is not just for hunters who would like to go to Africa.  SCI is a tremendous asset to each and every hunter right here in Oklahoma.  If you like to hunt, this meeting is important to you.”

            Long-time Oklahoma resident Roger Raglin, "America's Whitetail Deer Hunter," will be the featured guest speaker for the evening.  Raglin earned his nickname through his knowledge and expertise as a deer hunter, including having taken more than 100 bucks that score 130 Boone and Crockett (B&C) points or better.  Seven of his bucks top the 170 mark, including his biggest whitetail scoring just over 220 B&C points.  He has also hunted extensively for other species, including many in Africa, but like many other SCI members and fellow Oklahomans, Raglin loves to hunt in Oklahoma.

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Zebra mussels continue to spread

            Fisheries biologists from the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation made an all-too-familiar discovery recently. While conducting research on striped bass in the Arkansas River, zebra mussels were found below Zink Dam in Tulsa. With the recent discovery of zebra mussels in Sooner and Skiatook lakes, this makes the third new location for zebra mussels this summer.

            Zebra mussels, native to Baltic area of Europe and Asia, were brought to the Great Lakes in ballast water of ocean-going ships in 1986. Zebra mussels have been estimated to cause three billion dollars in economic losses annually. Zebra mussels attach to solid surfaces in large numbers and have clogged water intake pipes six feet in diameter. They have also interfered with shipping by clogging locks and dams. Biologically, zebra mussels filter large volumes of water daily, removing nutrients and plankton that serve as the base of the food chain. Even though zebra mussels have increased water clarity, this has lead to reductions in fish numbers and, in some cases, overabundance of aquatic plants.

            Zebra mussels moved down the Mississippi River, most likely with barge traffic, and were discovered in the McClellan-Kerr Navigation System in 1993. Numbers remained low in the Navigation System but after being moved to Oologah Lake, most likely with recreational boat traffic, the abundance has exploded, exceeding historically high levels in the Great Lakes. Swimmers must now wear tennis shoes or risk cuts on their feet when swimming in Oologah.

            Recreational boat traffic was also the likely pathway to infestation of El Dorado Lake in Kansas. From there, zebra mussels moved downstream with water releases, entered the Arkansas River, and became established in Kaw in 2004. Mussels continued to move downstream with adult mussels being found in Keystone in 2005.

            The recent discovery below Zink Dam verifies continued downstream movement. Oklahoma Gas and Electric pumps water from the Arkansas River to maintain stable water levels in Sooner Lake. This is a likely means of transfer to Sooner. Zebra mussels likely were spread to Skiatook Lake by boaters moving from a lake infested with zebra mussels to Skiatook without taking proper precautions to clean mussels from the boat.

            Even though it is likely too late to stop the natural movement of zebra mussels down the Arkansas River, boaters need to take precautions to avoid spreading mussels to lakes not currently infested. Before moving from one lake to another, all boaters should:

 

            Zebra mussels pose a serious threat to our state’s waters and all citizens need to take an active role in preventing further spread. For more information on zebra mussels, log on to www.protectyourwaters.org or www.100th meridian.org.

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More than 200 hunter education classes scheduled this summer and fall

            It may be hard to think about hunting with temperatures reaching 100 degrees, but now is a great time to get prepared for the upcoming fall seasons – by taking a hunter education class. There are more than 200 classes scheduled between now and the opening day of deer gun season, including classes on just about every weekend. 

            “This is the first time we’ve ever had this many hunter education courses scheduled this early in the year.  This should give hunters and their families a great chance to plan ahead and take a course near their community," said Lance Meek, hunter education coordinator for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.

            Approximately 14,000 hunter education students are certified annually at more than 300 courses statewide. To find out more about the hunter education program or to find a course near you, log on  www.wildlifedepartment.com

            According to Meek, taking a hunter education class is now easier than ever before.

            “Thanks to our dedicated state game wardens and volunteers, this year we have more classes in more locations. Plus, there are several options to take a class. You can complete the entire course in one eight-hour day, you can study at home with a workbook or over the Internet and come to an abbreviated class,” Meek said.

         A unique hunter education class will be offered for aspiring hunters, Saturday, August 26 and Sunday, August 27 at the free Wildlife Expo at the Lazy E Arena just north of Oklahoma City. Each day, one lucky participant will a lifetime hunting license.

          “We had a great time last year at Expo hunter ed course. It’s really a fun way for the whole family to go through the course and you won’t find a more flexible, hands-on hunter ed class,” Meek said.

            To sign up for this course call (405) 521-4636 and be prepared to provide your name, address, and date of birth. Before you come to the Wildlife Expo, be sure to complete the online home study course at wildlifedepartment.com. You can also pick up home study booklets at Wildlife Department offices in Oklahoma City, Jenks, or Higgins. Booklets are also available at the Midwest City Library, Oklahoma City Bass Pro Shop, Sportsmen’s Warehouse and the H&H Gun Range in Oklahoma City.

            Anyone born on or after January 1, 1972, upon reaching 16 years of age must have completed a certified hunter education course in order to purchase a hunting license. Additionally, any hunters under the age of 16 (below the age required to purchase a hunting license) must complete a hunter education course in order to use a firearm to hunt big game (deer, elk or antelope).

 

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Mark your calendars - 2006 Oklahoma Wildlife Expo to be held Aug. 25-27

            Kick off the autumn outdoor season with rewarding new experiences. Attend the 2006 Oklahoma Wildlife Expo, Aug. 25-27 at the Lazy E Arena between Guthrie and Oklahoma City.

            The free Wildlife Expo, which drew more than 45,000 people from around the state last year, will offer hands-on learning opportunities at nearly 200 booths and activities. The Expo is designed as an entertaining and educational event for both avid outdoor enthusiasts and those new to hunting, fishing and other outdoor activities. Every visitor will be sure to find something that interests them, from shotgun shooting, to mountain bike riding, to dog training, to wild game cooking and eating.

            The Wildlife Expo will take place on the expansive grounds of the Lazy E Arena. Expo hours will be from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m., Friday, and from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturday and Sunday.

The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation is partnering with a wide range of other state agencies, private individuals and outdoor-related companies to host this huge event. The Expo is designed to promote and perpetuate the appreciation of Oklahoma’s wildlife and natural resources and provide hands-on learning opportunities for all types of outdoor enthusiasts.

According to survey results, more than two-thirds of children and youth visiting the inaugural Expo experienced a new activity during their visit.  Most said they were likely, or very likely, to try the activity again in the next year. More than 80 percent of Expo participants were satisfied or very satisfied with the Expo and said they were likely or very likely to attend the 2006 Oklahoma Wildlife Expo – so come early.

            For more information regarding activities available at the Oklahoma Wildlife Expo log on to wildlifedepartment.com.

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“Operation Game Thief” offers cash rewards for anonymous tips

            There’s an occasional bad apple in every bunch, even among Oklahomans who use fish and wildlife. Thanks to the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation's "Operation Game Thief" program, hunters and anglers have a method to report those who may not respect our natural resources and the laws that protect them.

            “Operation Game Thief," which is supported by private donations, allows a citizen the opportunity to anonymously report wildlife violations and receive cash rewards for arrests that lead to convictions.

            "The program is a great way to help protect our state's wildlife and fisheries resources for future generations," said Jim Edwards, assistant chief of law enforcement for the Wildlife Department.

            Anyone with information regarding a violation of fish and wildlife laws is encouraged to call the Wildlife Department's Operation Game Thief Hotline at 1-800-522-8039 Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Callers may remain anonymous and are eligible for a cash reward.

 

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One Million Educators Gone WILD!

            Wildlife agencies across the nation are celebrating the fact that one million educators have gone WILD. State wildlife agencies, including the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, serve as the primary sponsors of Project WILD, a conservation education program established in 1983. The agencies have achieved this remarkable milestone by training one million educators throughout the United States.

            In Oklahoma, more than 20,000 educators have been trained in Project WILD.  The Project WILD curriculum guides are distributed at six-hour workshops that give state K-12 educators training and materials to assist them teach students about wildlife and the environment. 

            “Project WILD essentially teaches educators the most effective ways to teach kids about wildlife conservation,” said Lisa Anderson, Project WILD coordinator for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.

            The exciting, award-winning curriculum helps teachers and youth leaders teach a wide range of subjects such as math, science, social studies, language arts and expressive arts while teaching about the importance of our environment at the same time.

            “The Project WILD curriculum really has something to offer to everyone, from high school biology teachers to elementary art teachers to 4-H and Scout leaders,” said Anderson.

            Oklahoma Project WILD conducts workshops statewide for educators or anyone who is interested in teaching kids about wildlife. At the workshop, participants receive two activity guides consisting of over 170 hands-on activities. Guides are only available by attending a workshop where participants actually do activities and learn more about Oklahoma’s wildlife.

            The Oklahoma State Department of Education recognizes Project WILD workshops for professional development credit. Educators can learn more about Project WILD and view a list of upcoming workshops by logging onto the Department's official Web site: www.wildlifedepartment.com and clicking on the link for education programs.  Anderson can also provide educators with details on the Wildlife Department’s new Archery on the Schools Program (AIS). AIS provide schools with the training and equipment to teach students Olympic style archery.

 

 

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 Senate recovers conservation funding for Oklahoma – state officials hopeful as Senate resolves final budget with House

Funding to keep Oklahoma’s wildlife healthy and off the endangered species list may hold steady at last year’s level after the Senate announced the Interior Appropriations budget Tuesday, June 27. The U.S. Senate increased wildlife funding for the State Wildlife Grants Program by $17.5 million from the $50 million suggested last month by the U.S. House of Representatives. A joint conference between the Senate and the House will determine the final budget.

Oklahoma’s Sen. James Inhofe was pleased with the Committee’s decision, which will help Oklahoma conserve its wildlife and natural places before they become more rare and more costly to protect. 

“The State Wildlife Grants Program is one of our nation’s greatest opportunities to prevent species from needing the emergency care of the Endangered Species Act,” Senator Inhofe said. “The committee recognized the strength of this program and did everything possible in a year of tight budgets to maintain steady funding.”

Prior to State Wildlife Grants, virtually no federal funding focused on preventing wildlife from becoming endangered. The federal grants help wildlife agencies create programs that fit their states’ wildlife diversity needs.

Congress created the program in 2001 ultimately to save taxpayer money, because it’s more expensive to bring a species back from the brink than to keep it from becoming endangered.

“Taking action to conserve wildlife before it becomes endangered is environmentally sound and fiscally smart. It is now essential for members of the upcoming conference committee to maintain the funding level for this important program,” Senator Inhofe said.

In Oklahoma, the grants fund research and conservation for species not usually looked at. Those include rare, declining and common wildlife not fished or hunted – about 82 percent of Oklahoma’s wildlife.

In addition, State Wildlife Grants are the primary funding source for the implementation of a new, groundbreaking conservation effort called the “state wildlife action plans.” Oklahoma’s wildlife action plan is a thorough look at all wildlife in Oklahoma and the actions needed to prevent problems before they threaten wildlife and affect humans.

The action plans are a result of a collaborative effort by scientists, sportsmen, conservationists, state fish and wildlife agencies, and the general public. Oklahoma’s strategy highlights 250 species that need conservation work today to keep their populations at healthy levels, according to Ron Suttles, coordinator of natural resources at the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.

             “The State Wildlife Grants Program is an important tool to help us conserve Oklahoma’s wildlife for future generations,” Suttles said. ”We conserve wildlife by protecting natural places, which contribute to clean water, air and the quality of life we’ve come to expect here in Oklahoma.”

In March, a bipartisan group of 170 representatives and 56 senators, including Oklahoma’s Sen. Inhofe and Reps. Tom Cole and Dan Boren, called for increased State Wildlife Grant funding. The current funding recommendation of $67.5 million is still short of that request and the President’s budget request of $74.7 million.

Tuesday’s decision was met with mixed emotions by Teaming with Wildlife, a coalition of more than 3,500 member organizations and businesses working for increased state and federal funding for wildlife conservation and related recreation in every state. The coalition supports full implementation of the state wildlife action plans and had hoped to fund the State Wildlife Grants Program at $85 million, instead of the $67.5 million approved by the Senate. The coalition now awaits the final figure to be decided between the House and Senate.

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Fishing at night has its advantages

            No need to wake up at the crack of dawn to go fishing. In fact night owls might just have an advantage during the dog days of summer.

            "Fish aren’t that much different than people, they aren’t going to be as active or eat as much as the temperatures warm up. As it cools down in the evening, many fish become more active and are out looking for a meal especially if there is a little breeze on the water,” said John Stahl, northwest region fisheries supervisor for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. “Fishing at night is relaxing and it can also be quite productive.”

According to Stahl, a wide range of popular fish species, such as walleye, crappie and bass, become active at dark, but one of his favorite pursuits is catfish.

“I like to set out my poles around dusk and bait my lines with live sunfish for flatheads and fresh cut shad or stinkbait for blue and channel catfish,” Stahl said. “I like to go after the big fish, so my theory is big bait equals big fish.”

When heading out after dark, under water structure is the place to be for crappie, while bass often move up into shallower water looking for unsuspecting baitfish. Whether you’re fishing out of a boat, a lawn chair or even wading, don’t forget to bring along a flashlight and bug spray.

For more information about fishing in Oklahoma, log on to wildlifedepartment.com or pick up a copy of the “2006 Oklahoma Fishing Guide” at a sporting goods retailer near you.

 

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Expo offers nearly 200 different booths and activities for wildlife enthusiasts

            If you have heard about the Wildlife Expo, you probably know you can shoot a shotgun or catch a fish at the free event. But did you know you can get up close and personal to live butterflies, see trained falcons, go on a birding trail, or learn about cooking. The 2006 Oklahoma Wildlife Expo, Aug. 25-27 at the Lazy E Arena between Guthrie and Oklahoma City will have it all.

            “We just had so much fun last year at all the different booths and activities, I am really looking forward to this year’s event. It is going to be even bigger and better,” said Melynda Hickman, one of the many Wildlife Department employees working on the free Wildlife Expo. “From the Forest of Family Fun to mountain biking to kayaking, there is so much for families to do together they might have to come back a second day.”

            The free Wildlife Expo, which drew more than 45,000 people from around the state last year, will offer hands-on learning opportunities at nearly 200 booths and activities. The Expo is designed as an entertaining and educational event for both avid outdoor enthusiasts and those new to hunting, fishing and other outdoor activities. Every visitor will be sure to find something that interests them, from shotgun shooting, to mountain bike riding, to dog training, to wild game cooking and eating.

            The Wildlife Expo will take place on the expansive grounds of the Lazy E Arena, Aug. 25-27. Expo hours will be from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m., Friday, and from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturday and Sunday.

            The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation is partnering with a wide range of other state agencies, private individuals and outdoor-related companies to host this huge event. The Expo is designed to promote and perpetuate the appreciation of Oklahoma’s wildlife and natural resources and provide hands-on learning opportunities for all types of outdoor enthusiasts.

            For more information regarding activities available at the Oklahoma Wildlife Expo log on to  www.wildlifedepartment.com

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