JULY 2007

WEEK OF JULY 26, 2007 WEEK OF JULY 19, 2007

WEEK OF JULY 12, 2007

WEEK OF JULY 05, 2007

Bald eagles fly off the threatened list

The national symbol is flying strong once again. The bald eagle has been removed from the U.S. Endangered and Threatened Species List.

The announcement came June 28 from Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne.

"Today I am proud to announce: the eagle has returned," Kempthorne said. "In 1963, the lower 48 states were home to barely 400 nesting pairs of bald eagles. Today, after decades of conservation effort, they are home to some 10,000 nesting pairs, a 25-fold increase in the last 40 years. Based on its dramatic recovery, it is my honor to announce the Department of the Interior's decision to remove the American bald eagle from the Endangered Species List."

In 1995, the bald eagle was nationally upgraded from endangered to threatened in all of the lower 48 states. At that time, there were around 4,450 breeding pairs. Today, bald eagle pairs in the continental U.S. number 9,789.

"Oklahoma has over 100 bald eagles that live here year-round, including 49 known breeding pairs," said Lesley McNeff, wildlife diversity information specialist for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. "During the winter, Oklahoma is host to anywhere from 700 to 1,500 eagles statewide. The numbers peak in January and February with the highest concentration of birds located at lakes. Popular viewing sites include Kaw, Texhoma, Tenkiller, Ft. Gibson, Grand, Canton, Great Salt Plains and Tishomingo."

McNeff said that between 1985 and 1990, the Department's Wildlife Diversity Program assisted the George M. Sutton Avian Research Center with the release of 90 eaglets in eastern Oklahoma, including 59 birds in 1990 alone.

Biologists transported eggs from Florida bald eagle nests to the Sutton Center in Bartlesville. About nine weeks after hatching, the young eagles were placed in hacking towers and eventually released into the wild with hopes that they would return as adults and raise their young in the state.

Since those efforts, bald eagle populations in Oklahoma increase each year. While no nesting eagles existed in the state in 1990, Oklahoma currently has 49 nesting pairs.

The Wildlife Department's Wildlife Diversity Program coordinates eagle watches every year. These eagle watches take place every winter at 17 sites around the state and have been taking place for more than 15 years.

Although bald eagles have been removed from the Threatened and Endangered Species List, they are still protected by both federal and state laws. These statutes include the Lacey Act, the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. All three of these acts generally state that the U.S. prohibits the pursuance, harming, harassing, purchasing, taking, killing, possession, transportation, and importation of migratory birds, their eggs, parts, and nests, unless allowed by permit.

"This is a major conservation milestone for everyone who loves the outdoors," said McNeff.

For more information about the removal of bald eagles from the National Endangered and Threatened List, or to see opportunities for eagle viewing events in Oklahoma, log on to www.wildlifedepartment.com.



State water discussions continue statewide

The chance to voice an opinion on Oklahoma's upcoming 50-year water plan has been presented at public meetings across the state since April, and opportunities to do so will continue throughout the rest of the year.

Approximately 40 meetings are being held across Oklahoma throughout the year.

"Oklahoma's future depends in large part on the availability of clean water, said Mike Langston, assistant director of the Water Research Institute. "Our government leaders need to know the concerns Oklahomans have about the state's water resources."

Officials with the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation are encouraging the sportsmen who feel strongly about fish and wildlife to offer their opinions at the meetings.

"Water is such an important resources that affects the people of Oklahoma as well as the wildlife," said Nels Rodefeld, information and education chief for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. "These meetings are a great way for sportsmen to get involved in the state's water plan, and they ensure that concerns about wildlife will be heard."

The Oklahoma Legislature mandates that the Oklahoma Water Resources Board (OWRB) develop and periodically update a comprehensive water plan. The OWRB, in conjunction with the Army Corps of Engineers and other organizations, is also conducting technical studies of projected water demands and water supply infrastructure needs.

The Water Research Institute (WRI), located at Oklahoma State University but serving all of Oklahoma, is assisting the board with the planning process. The institute focuses on two major thrusts: citizen input and research to investigate identified issues and concerns.

"As a state, we're facing difficult decisions on a variety of water-related issues that will affect us, our kids, and their kids," Langston said. "We strongly encourage all citizens to attend at least one meeting in their area, this is their opportunity to set the agenda for the water plan."

Though the ultimate responsibility for writing the Oklahoma Comprehensive Water Plan lies with the OWRB, Langston said the WRI promises that every issue raised, concern expressed question asked and suggestion offered will be faithfully communicated to the OWRB.

Anyone seeking additional information about the upcoming Local Input Meetings should contact Jeri Fleming by e-mail at waterplan@okstate.edu or by phone at (405) 744-9994.

The following is a schedule of input meetings for the rest of June and the month of July. All meetings begin at 6:30 p.m. To see a complete list of meeting locations or for more information on the planning process, log on to okwaterplan.info.

July 12: Oklahoma City (Oklahoma Co.) - Oklahoma County Extension Office Auditorium

July 17: Sulphur (Murray Co.) - Murray County Expo Center Hilliard Hall

July 19: Norman (Cleveland Co.) - Cleveland County Fairgrounds North Classroom

July 24: Chandler (Lincoln Co.) - Lincoln County Fairgrounds Agri-Civic Center

July 30: Stillwater (Payne Co.) - Payne County Expo Center Community Building

July 31: Ardmore (Carter Co.) - Ardmore Convention Center Salon D and E


Quail Forever donation accepted; early migratory bird regulations set

Oologah Wildlife Management Area’s quail habitat will improve thanks to a generous donation to the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.

            The Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Commission voted to accept a donation of $2,500 from the Indian Territory Chapter of Quail Forever at its regular meeting July 9 in Oklahoma City. According to its Web site, Quail Forever is “dedicated to the conservation of quail, pheasants and other wildlife through habitat improvements, public awareness, education and land management policies and programs.”

            “This is a great donation from Quail Forever,” said Alan Peoples, chief of wildlife for the Wildlife Department. “These types of efforts and contributions from groups like Quail Forever help the Department provide better habitat for wildlife and better hunting for sportsmen.”

            The $2,500 will be used to help purchase a no-till drill and a 12’ disc to conduct quail habitat improvement activities on Oologah WMA. Oologah WMA covers 12,941 acres in Nowata and Rogers counties in northeastern Oklahoma.

            The Commission also voted to apply for a donation of 605 acres of property from the General Services Administration (GSA) in eastern Osage Co. The land is the last remnant of the former Candy Lake project currently being disposed of by GSA through the National Park Service’s Federal Lands to Parks Program. The Commission’s approval completes the application process for the Department to be considered for receiving the land donation.

            Peoples said the land, if donated to the Department, would be used for controlled youth hunts and will be open for small game hunting as well. He said it also offers several benefits for sportsmen.

            “This land is close to the Tulsa metro, it offers fishing access to Candy Creek and it’s within a 35-mile radius of seven other wildlife management areas,” Peoples said.

            In other business, the Commission voted to establish hunting regulations for September teal and September special resident Canada goose, dove, rail, gallinule, woodcock and common snipe. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service considers populations and habitats for establishing hunting seasons on migratory game bird seasons that open prior to Oct. 1 at an annual meeting in June each year. The Service publishes the federal hunting season frameworks for these species soon after this meeting, and state conservation agencies like the Wildlife Department can then make their season selections within the federal framework guidelines.

            “There are only a couple of slight changes to dove and resident Canada goose regulations,” Peoples said. “The slated changes increase opportunity for doves in southwest Oklahoma and potential for success during the resident Canada goose season. For doves, there is a newly-established southwest zone that will have a reduced daily bag limit of 12 doves rather than the 15 permitted everywhere else statewide. The bag reduction allowed us to add an additional 10 days in December and January in the southwest zone. Hunters participating in the resident Canada goose season will be allowed to hunt with unplugged shotguns, hunt 30 minutes after sunset and use electronic calls.”

             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 slated for 9 a.m. Aug. 6 at the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation headquarters (auditorium), at the southwest corner of 18th and North Lincoln, Oklahoma City.




Clinton attorney named to Wildlife Commission

            Clinton attorney Mart Tisdal has been named by Gov. Brad Henry to serve the remainder of the district seven Wildlife Commission term vacated by Wade Brinkman’s resignation.

                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. Commission district seven includes Ellis, Dewey, Roger Mills, Custer, Beckham, Washita, Kiowa, Greer, Jackson, Harmon and Tillman counties.

                Tisdal, whose current appointment on the Commission runs until 2011, was born and raised in Clinton and founded Tisdal Law Firm, a general practice legal office which has oil and gas, environmental law and complex litigation among its areas of focus. He earned both a Bachelor of Arts degree and his Juris Doctor degree from the University of Oklahoma. In addition to receiving numerous professional awards, he has served as the president of the Oklahoma Bar Foundation. He is also a veteran, having served on active duty in the U.S. Army, field artillery, from 1971-73.

                An avid quail hunter, Tisdal says he has many fond memories of growing up in western Oklahoma.

                “I started out hunting quail with my dad and granddad when I was about seven or eight years old,” he said. “My first shotgun was a .410, but I quickly graduated to a 20-gauge Browning Auto Five which I still use to this day. My dad, at 87 years young, accompanies us on several family quail hunts each year. He can still shoot with the best of them.”

                In addition to training what he calls his “four hard-headed pointers,” Tisdal enjoys turkey hunting, fishing, golf, running, snow skiing, and just being outdoors. He also has a keen interest in wildlife conservation. Tisdal and his wife, Marian, have a daughter, Julia, and son, Logan. He says sharing Oklahoma’s outdoor heritage with the next generation is an important part of the future of conservation.

                “Preserving and passing on the outdoor tradition is important to me,” he said. “We need to ensure even greater open access to outdoor opportunities, and market those opportunities in such a way that we continue, and even improve upon, our outdoor traditions.

                “I think our outdoor opportunities exist today because of many people who have worked for the Wildlife Department and dedicated their careers to that cause. Certainly, there are ways to expand those opportunities, and I think that should always be a part of the agenda.”


Caption: Clinton attorney Mart Tisdal has been named by Gov. Brad Henry to serve on the Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Commission for the remainder of the district seven term vacated by Wade Brinkman’s resignation.





Controlled hunt results available online July 19

            Applicants can find out if they were drawn for any of the hunts offered through the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation's Controlled Hunt program beginning 8 a.m. July 19 by logging onto the Department’s web site at wildlifedepartment.com.

            Once applicants log on to the Web site, they can click on the "Controlled Hunts Results" banner and enter their last name, birthday, and the number they used on the original application (either their Social Security or driver’s license number). The system will only access the Controlled Hunts results database when the correct number matches with the hunter’s other information.

            “This service is free, easy and efficient,” said Melinda Sturgess-Streich, assistant director of administration and finance for the Wildlife Department. “With just a few clicks of the mouse, you can find out if you drew out on that highly sought after hunt of a lifetime.”

            Sportsmen without readily available Internet access can check their results at computer terminals available at the Department's headquarters and regional offices during those offices’ regular business hours. In addition, many local libraries offer Internet access to library cardholders. Applicants should check with their local library for Internet services and user-policies. Successful applicants will also be notified by mail.

            The opportunity to hunt on some of Oklahoma’s most unique and desirable hunting properties have made the Department’s controlled hunts program one of the most popular programs in the country.





Toss a tomahawk at this year’s Wildlife Expo

            Oklahomans can get a taste of America’s early days by pitching a genuine tomahawk at this year’s Oklahoma Wildlife Expo slated for Sept. 28-30 at the Lazy E Arena north of Oklahoma City.

            The tomahawk is a multi-purpose tool dating back to the Colonial days. English, Dutch, French and Native American traders placed value on the tomahawk as a tool and weapon. The popularity of the tomahawk continued thru the Rocky Mountain fur trade era and remains a popular event at modern day rendezvous Native Americans made similar tools made of stone, and Expo visitors will have the chance to view these historic artifacts while trying their hand at pitching a tomahawk.

            “Not only are you going to be able to look at these tomahawks, you’ll get a chance to throw them at a bullseye, too,” said John Stahl, northwest region fisheries supervisor for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation and one of hundreds of Wildlife Department employees and other volunteers working to make the Expo happen. “This new Expo activity offers just one more way people can have a great time enjoying Oklahoma’s outdoor heritage. Those who are too young to throw a tomahawk can try their hand at the goose knocking booth, where you throw a long, dull-pointed rod at a goose-shaped target. The Expo is a great family event because it offers something for everyone. It’s also absolutely free!”

            Pitching a tomahawk is one of several brand new attractions at the third annual Wildlife Expo and one of more than 200 hands-on activities that will be available. Other new highlights include music from country star Blake Shelton and shopping opportunities at the Outdoor Marketplace, a huge tent where the state’s outdoor-related businesses will be selling outdoor equipment, merchandise and services.

            This year’s Expo will also feature popular attractions like wild game calling, shotgun and archery shooting, atlatl-throwing, mountain biking, dog training and performances, wildlife art, ATV riding, wild game meat tasting and more.

            “Visitors from previous years wouldn’t be surprised that the Wildlife Expo is the largest indoor and outdoor recreational event in the state,” said Nels Rodefeld, information and education chief for the Wildlife Department. “And this year’s Expo will be the biggest so far. You won’t run out of things to see and try.”

            This year’s Expo also features prizes from sponsors such as P & K Equipment, who is giving away a John Deere Gator. Log on to wildlifedepartment.com in the coming weeks to find out how to win prizes and to stay up on all the details of this year’s Expo.

            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 appreciation of Oklahoma's wildlife and natural resources and provide hands-on learning opportunities for all types of outdoor enthusiasts.

            Expo hours will be from noon to 6 p.m. Friday, and from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. For more information regarding activities available at the Oklahoma Wildlife Expo, log on to wildlifedepartment.com.





White bass kill reported at Waurika Lake

            Officials with the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation have received reports of a number of dead white bass at Waurika Lake, and though recent heavy rains and lake conditions have limited research opportunities, biologists are working to understand just what killed the fish.

            “We want people to know that we are aware of the white bass kill at Waurika Lake, and we are monitoring the situation closely,” said Larry Cofer, southwest region fisheries supervisor for the Wildlife Department. “The disease that was killing them seems to have run its course because there doesn’t appear to be any significant number of fish continuing to die. The bigger problem right now is that recent weather is limiting the amount of research we can do on the water.”

            Cofer said biologists cannot thoroughly research the loss of white bass — one of Oklahoma’s most popular sport fish — because boat ramps have been closed due to heavy rains, and lake access is currently limited to shorelines.

            “"Based on the signs and the fact that only white bass seem to have been killed, we can rule out pollution. Similar fish kills have affected other state lakes in the past, such as Tenkiller, Texoma, Foss, Altus-Lugert and Ft. Cobb, and lakes have been affected in Kansas and South Dakota” Cofer said. “In these cases, the condition has run its course and not returned. Thankfully, Waurika has abundant populations of white bass, and though we are concerned and unsure of exactly how many white bass were killed at this point, the number doesn’t appear to be significant in terms of the total number of white bass in the lake. In the fall, we’ll survey the fish populations and will have a little better idea of exactly how much the lake has been affected.”

            Cofer said no apparent impact to hybrid striped bass — a cross between the white bass and striped bass — has been observed.

            Officials with the Wildlife Department first learned of the fish kill through reports from concerned members of the public.

            “We’re glad the public is concerned because that’s how we caught wind of this,” Cofer said. “We want everyone to know that we are watching the situation closely, and we encourage people to continue helping the Department by reporting unusual observations in the outdoors.”

            According to Cofer, there is no known impact to humans when eating healthy white bass caught from lakes experiencing similar fish kills, and anglers should continue enjoying the fishing at Waurika Lake .

            “The recent rains may have put some limitations on anglers across the state recently, but I am confident that the high water is going to make fishing great all over the state this summer and for years to come, including Waurika Lake,” Cofer said.




Wildlife Expo brings in the Centennial

            One hundred years ago, Oklahoma’s Statehood Day might have been celebrated with shotgun blasts, flying arrows and tomahawks, food cooked over a campfire, cowboys with guitars and other wild and exciting activities. This year will be no different because Oklahomans can do all of these activities at the 2007 Oklahoma Wildlife Expo, which has been designated an official centennial event.

            “The third annual Expo is slated for Sept. 28-30 at the Lazy E Arena, just north of Oklahoma City,” said Rhonda Hurst, Expo coordinator for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. “What better way to celebrate the heritage of Oklahoma than through the great outdoors? Hunting, fishing and other outdoor activities have always been a significant part of daily life in Oklahoma. It only seems fitting that the Expo will help bring in the next century of statehood.”

            The Expo will feature more than 200 hands-on activities, ranging from shotgun and archery shooting to wild game meat tasting, ATV rides, kayaking, fishing, camp cooking, mountain biking and more. Oklahoma native and country music superstar Blake Shelton will be at the Expo September 30 as well.

            “The Expo is the perfect family event,” said Shelton, who is an avid outdoorsman himself. “It’s fun, it’s free and I’ll guarantee your kids will be tired at the end of the day.”

            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, including  both avid and beginner outdoorsmen.

            The Wildlife Expo drew nearly 80,000 people from around the state over the last two years, but the 2007 Expo is expected to be the biggest and best yet.

            “The Expo is sure to have something for every person that comes through the gates of the Lazy E, whether its dog training, hunting seminars, demonstrations, tomahawk throwing or just shopping at the huge Outdoor Marketplace where vendors will be selling outdoor merchandise and services,” Hurst said.

            The Wildlife Expo will be held at the Lazy E Arena, just north of Oklahoma City. Expo hours will be from noon to 6 p.m., Friday, and from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

            For more information about activities available at the Oklahoma Wildlife Expo, or to see how you can win one of several prizes thanks to the generosity of Expo sponsors, log on to wildlifedepartment.com.





After the storms: fish and wildlife impacted by recent heavy rains

            After a very wet spring and early summer, Oklahoma sportsmen may wonder just how much recent heavy rains are impacting fish and wildlife, and officials with the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation say the answer includes both short- and long-term aspects.

            Fisheries biologists with the Wildlife Department say recent heavy rains may currently limit fishing access in some parts of the state because of flooding, but great fishing should resume once water levels are closer to normal.

            “Right now we’re dealing with some high lake levels that may be keeping anglers off the water, but anglers will see the positive effects these recent rains will have on fishing long after lake levels return to normal,” said Barry Bolton, fisheries chief for the Wildlife Department.

            Bolton said heavy rains recharge nutrient levels in state waters. Additionally, submerged vegetation creates habitat and feeding areas for popular fish species like bass and catfish. Tailwaters are expected to provide outstanding fishing opportunities this summer as well.

            Game animals and other wildlife undoubtedly are impacted by recent rains and flooding as well. Mike Sams, private lands biologist for the Wildlife Department, said the effects on wildlife should be considered with the big picture in mind, rather than apparent short-term stressful effects.

            “While the heavy rainfall could have had some short-term impacts on wildlife that are not all positive, there’s no question that, after several years of drought, the good outweighs the bad,” Sams said. “From a population standpoint, there are primarily positive impacts. In fact, the rains have broken a drought cycle that could be much worse for wildlife than heavy rainfall.”

            Among those positive implications is a cooling affect from the rain and improved food sources that could extend reproductive seasons of some species such as bobwhite quail. Good forage production can also mean better nutrition for deer that need to be as healthy as possible when entering their breeding seasons later in the year.

            While recent heavy rains fell at a time of year not ideal for turkey nesting, biologists say insect hatches, plant growth and seed production have improved greatly over recent years of drought — all of which are conditions that benefit wild turkeys.

            Jack Waymire, southeast region senior biologist for the Wildlife Department, said heavy rains can cause nesting hens to stay wet, producing a stronger scent that attracts predators to nesting sites. However, Waymire said second nesting attempts by hens help supplement wild turkey populations.

            To learn more about wildlife in Oklahoma, log on to wildlifedepartment.com.





Wildlife Department seeks artists for waterfowl stamp design

            The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation is accepting entries for the Oklahoma Waterfowl Stamp design competition. The deadline to submit art is 4:30 p.m. Sept. 7.

            The mallard will be featured on the 2008-09 stamp, and the winning art will be printed on the 2008-09 Oklahoma Waterfowl Stamp.

            “There are going to be two big changes to this year’s waterfowl stamp design competition,” said Micah Holmes, information supervisor for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. “First, artists will have the option of including a retriever in their artwork. The mallard should be the featured element of the painting, but I am hoping some artists find a way to work their favorite sporting dog into the background or foreground of the image. After all, the only thing waterfowlers love as much as ducks and geese is their dogs.”

            According to Holmes, the second change in this year’s competition will be the manner in which the artwork is judged.

            “In all the previous years of the competition, a small panel of judges has voted on the winning artwork,” Holmes said. “This year, we’re going to let the public give their opinion. Selected entries will be on display at the Oklahoma Wildlife Expo Sept. 28-30 and visitors can come by and vote for their favorite image.”

            Duck stamp sales help finance many projects that benefit ducks and geese. Since the duck stamp program began in 1980, thousands of acres of waterfowl habitat have been created through duck stamp revenues.

            Artwork may be of acrylic, oil, watercolor, scratchboard, pencil, pen and ink, tempera or any other two-dimensional media. The illustration must be horizontal, six and a half inches high and nine inches wide. It must be matted with white mat board nine inches high by 12 inches wide with the opening cut precisely 6.5 x 9. Artwork may not be framed or under glass, but acetate covering should be used to protect the art. All artists must depict the mallard, and any habitat appearing in the design must be typical of Oklahoma. For complete entry guidelines, call (405) 521-3856.

            Entries should be sent to the Duck Stamp Competition Coordinator, Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, P.O. Box 53465, Oklahoma City, OK 73152. Fed Ex, UPS and other ground deliveries should be sent to 1801 N. Lincoln, Oklahoma City, OK 73105.

            Entries will be judged on anatomical accuracy, artistic composition and suitability for printing. The winner and three honorable mentions will appear in a future issue of Outdoor Oklahoma magazine.

            A non-refundable entry fee of $20 (cash, money order or cashier’s check) must accompany each entry. No entries will be accepted after 4:30 p.m. Sept. 7.

            The winning artist will receive a purchase award of $1,200. The winning entry will become the sole and exclusive property of the Wildlife Department.

            A selection of waterfowl stamp art from previous years is currently on display in the lobby of the Wildlife Department headquarters located at 1801 N. Lincoln, in Oklahoma City.

            Prints of previous winning waterfowl artwork can be purchased at http://www.wildlifedepartment.com

            For more information about the contest call (405) 521-3856.



Wildlife Department hosts summer fishing clinics

            Parents and children can learn about one of the state's most popular recreation activities as a family this summer at more than 100 fishing clinics across the state, including a number to be held near Oklahoma City at the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation's special conservation education area at Lake Arcadia.

            To view a schedule of the Wildlife Department's fishing clinics, log on to wildlifedepartment.com. At Lake Arcadia, family fishing clinics are scheduled every Tuesday through Sept. 4 at the Lake Arcadia Conservation Education Area. The clinics are open to all ages and offer educational opportunities in fish identification, knot tying, fish cleaning, fishing tackle selection and use as well as outdoor ethics.

            "These events are set up through the Wildlife Department's Aquatic Resources Education Program," said Damon Springer, aquatic resources education coordinator for the Department. "They promote the sport of angling and allow youth who have never been fishing a chance to learn not only about how to catch fish, but also about the environments where fish live."

            The Aquatic Resources Education Program was established in 1988 to increase the understanding, appreciation and awareness of Oklahoma's aquatic resources and to facilitate the learning of angling skills, outdoor ethics and sportfishing opportunities in the state. Other objectives of the program include enhancing urban fishing opportunities, developing adult fishing clinics and seminars and providing information on specialized fishing techniques.

            The Lake Arcadia Family Fishing Clinics run from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. each week at the Arcadia Conservation Education Area, consisting of property leased to the Wildlife Department. The area offers year-round walk-in fishing access to Arcadia Lake (but not in area ponds), and is located on the south side of the lake. For more information about opportunities in the area, call Springer at (405) 521-4603.

            "The fishing clinics are completely free, and you don't need a fishing license to participate," Springer said. "All you have to do is pre-register."

                        To pre-register for a Lake Arcadia Family Fishing Clinic, or for directions to the event site, call (405) 521-3855. Other frequent locations for aquatic resources education clinics include Jenks Aquarium's Zebco Pond, Dolese Youth Park Pond and others across the state. To learn more, log on to wildlifedepartment.com.





Wildlife Department selected to receive national grant

            The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation recently was selected to receive a $25,000 grant from a national shooting sports organization for communication efforts aimed at letting hunters — and those who might want to hunt — know about the new apprentice hunting license designation option.

            The National Shooting Sports Foundation, a major firearms trade organization, chose Oklahoma along with several others to receive grants.

             "We really wanted to do some extra things to let people know about this new apprentice-designated hunting license option," said Nels Rodefeld, information and education chief for the Wildlife Department. "It provides a way for beginners to go hunting under the supervision of a qualified adult hunter."

            Later this year, the Wildlife Department will launch a radio campaign announcing the availability of apprentice-designated hunting licenses. The campaign will be funded by the recent grant and will invite those who have never taken a hunter education course to go hunting under the supervision of a licensed hunter.

            The new apprentice designation is a result of House Bill 1042, approved last season by the Legislature and signed by the Governor. The bill modifies hunter education requirements to encourage more interest in hunting.

            The bill permits people 16 and older who have not completed the Wildlife Department's hunter education course to purchase regular hunting licenses with an "apprentice" designation. A licensed hunter 21 years old or older who possesses a hunter education certificate, or a person 21 years old or older who is exempt from hunter education requirements or license requirements, must accompany apprentice-designated license holders in the field. The accompanying hunter must remain within arm's reach of the apprentice hunter when hunting large game and within sight of the apprentice when hunting small game.

            Hunters under 16 years old who hunt any large game must complete the Department's hunter education course before hunting, but hunters under 16 years old can hunt small game without hunter education certification when supervised by an adult who meets the qualifications of an accompanying hunter. If they are hunter certified, they can hunt alone and must carry their hunter education card while afield. Hunters under 16 years of age who have completed hunter education certification can buy a turkey license and hunt alone as well (except during youth turkey season, when youth season regulations still apply), but turkey licenses held by uncertified hunters under 16 years of age will be marked with the apprentice designation. Hunters 36 years and older are exempt from hunter education requirements in Oklahoma. Other exemptions include those honorably discharged from or currently on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces or members of the National Guard.

            "These changes will increase opportunities for responsible adults and require supervision for young, uncertified hunters who would be safer in the field if accompanied by an adult," Rodefeld said.

            Rodefeld said the Wildlife Department's radio campaign is expected to hit airwaves in early November.

            For more information about purchasing a hunting license, log on to wildlifedepartment.com.





Shooting sports open to public at the Oklahoma Wildlife Expo

            The third annual Oklahoma Wildlife Expo, slated for Sept. 28-30, will feature nearly 200 hands-on activities, including several opportunities for guests to try their hand at popular shooting sports.

            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.

            "The Expo is a great place to discover shooting sports," said Todd Craighead, host of Outdoor Oklahoma Television, the Wildlife Department's official TV show. "Visitors who try shotgun and pellet gun shooting or archery should be aware that they could be finding themselves a new lifelong hobby. Whether you are just target shooting, hunting or even competing against others, shooting sports are just plain fun. And at the Expo, you can try them for free. It doesn't matter if you are the best marksman in your hunting camp or even just a beginner."

            Instructors with the Wildlife Department's Shotgun Training and Education Program (STEP) will be on hand giving participants an opportunity to shoot clay targets. Expo attendees will also be able to participate in an interactive Oklahoma Archery in Schools demonstration. This ever-growing Wildlife Department program helps schools teach students about archery by incorporating it into the physical education curriculum.

            The free Wildlife Expo, which has drawn more than 80,000 people from around the state over the last two years, 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 live butterflies to mountain bike riding to dog training and even sampling wild game meat.

            The Wildlife Expo will be held at the Lazy E Arena, just north of Oklahoma City. Expo hours will be from noon to 6 p.m., Friday, and from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

For more information about activities available at the Oklahoma Wildlife Expo, or to see how you can win one of several prizes thanks to the generosity of Expo sponsors, log on to wildlifedepartment.com.