Pond management workshop scheduled (May 31, 2012)

            A pond management workshop is being presented at 9 a.m. June 5 approximately three-fourths of a mile south of the intersection of Old Hwy 33 and Choctaw Rd.

            Among the topics that will be presented are how to manage constructed pond dams to maintain integrity, how to treat dispersive soils in a pond, identifying aquatic vegetation and determining stocking rates of fish. Two different ponds will be observed, and recommendations will be made throughout the workshop.

            "To get there, just drive south of Langston University on Choctaw Road," said Mike Sams, private lands senior biologist for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. "Visitors should look for signs leading into a gate on the west side of Choctaw Road, and they can just pull in the gate to get to the workshop."

            The workshop is being sponsored by the Wildlife Department, the Logan County Conservation District and the Natural Resources Conservation Service office.

            For more information, call the NRCS office located in Guthrie at (405) 282-1695 Ext. 3.





Free family fishing clinics slated throughout summer (May 30, 2012)

            Metro area families can learn to fish this summer at free clinics hosted every week throughout June and July in both Oklahoma City and Jenks.

            The clinics are hosted by the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation as part of its Aquatic Resource Education Program. Clinics are held from 6:30 p.m. - 8 p.m. nightly Monday through Thursday at the Jenks Casting Pond and on Thursday evenings from 6:30 p.m. - 8:30 p.m. at the Arcadia Conservation Education Area Kids Pond near Edmond.

            "The clinics are a great, free way to get a youngster interested in and educated in the sport of fishing," said Micah Holmes, information supervisor for the Wildlife Department.

            A full listing of dates for the clinics is listed on the Wildlife Department's website at Pre-registration is required to attend an AREP class and can be done by calling the contact number listed with each clinic.

            The Aquatic Resources Education Program (AREP) is the Department's means to promote the sport of fishing and aquatic resource awareness as well as a way to give youth, regardless of family situation, an opportunity to learn how to fish and to gain an understanding of Oklahoma's aquatic environments. Through the program, kids and adults can take just a few hours to attend a fishing clinic and come out with a knowledge of such topics as fish identification, knot-tying, fish cleaning and cooking, fishing tackle selection, equipment use, water safety, outdoor ethics and more. Most clinics, including those held at the Wildlife Department's Arcadia Conservation Education Area in Edmond and at the Zebco Casting Pond in Jenks, include hands-on fishing opportunities at stocked ponds.

            "We'll teach you everything you need to know to get off to the right start so you can start fishing all over Oklahoma," Holmes said. "Plus, you'll even get to go fishing during the clinics. All equipment and assistance is provided, and no fishing license is required for the clinics."

            Developed in 1988, the program's objectives are to increase the understanding, appreciation, and awareness of Oklahoma's aquatic resources; facilitate the learning of angling skills, outdoor ethics, and sport fishing opportunities in the state; enhance urban fishing opportunities; develop adult fishing clinics and provide information on specialized fishing techniques.

            For more information about the Aquatic Resources Education Program, log on to






Oklahoma Lesser Prairie Chicken Conservation Action Plan draft available for public review and presentation (May 30, 2012)

            The public is invited to provide comments on a draft conservation plan for the Lesser Prairie Chicken (LEPC) in Oklahoma. The first draft of the Oklahoma Lesser Prairie Chicken Conservation Action Plan (OLEPCCP) is now available for public review and is posted on the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation's website at ( Comments on the draft plan will be accepted until June 13, and the public is encouraged to attend an evening public meeting June 4 in Woodward or June 5 in Beaver.

            The draft OLEPCCP identifies management strategies to increase the lesser prairie chicken (LEPC) population in Oklahoma through habitat improvements. The plan emphasizes tools and incentives to encourage landowners and others to partner with agencies in conservation efforts while also achieving their land use needs. The Oklahoma House of Representatives adopted a concurrent resolution in April 2011 directing ODWC to coordinate development of the LEPC conservation plan to "protect, enhance, and restore [LEPC] habitat while also addressing other factors leading to their decline." The plan is intended to benefit the people, economy, and wildlife resources of northwest Oklahoma by providing a framework for effective LEPC management and habitat improvement that will facilitate population increases.

            The LEPC is a North American grouse species that historically occupied sand sagebrush, shinnery oak, and mixed grass vegetation types of the southern Great Plains. LEPC and the habitat upon which they depend have diminished across their historical range by about 90%. In 1995 the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) determined that the LEPC was warranted for listing under the federal Endangered Species Act. Unless populations sufficiently increase, the species may be listed in the future, resulting in potential federal regulation of some activities and developments within its range.

            Public meetings to present the draft OLEPCCP and to hear public comments will be held Monday, June 4, 6:30 p.m. - 9 p.m. at the City of Woodward Pioneer Room, 1219 8th St. in Woodward and Tuesday, June 5, 6:30 p.m. - 9 p.m. at the Beaver County Fairgrounds Pavilion Building, Douglas Ave. in Beaver. Written public comments should be sent to janc@gci.netor or 114 S. Franklin St., Ste. 203, Juneau, AK 99801 by Wednesday June 13.





Go fishing for free June 2-3 (May 28, 2012)

            Oklahoma anglers can fish for free during Free Fishing Days June 2-3 - good timing considering the weekly fishing report from the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation indicates fishing season is in full swing.

            During free fishing days, a state fishing license will not be required for anglers to go fishing in Oklahoma, whereas in most other cases a license is required.

            The Wildlife Department's free weekly state fishing report is a great starting point to find just the right place to go. Every week the fishing report provides a listing of lakes and the current state of angling success at that location. The reports are compiled by Wildlife Department employees and volunteers and cover lakes and other waters throughout every region in the state. This week's report says channel catfish fishing is excellent in the mornings and crappie fishing is fair to good at four to 10 feet at Lake Arcadia. At Lake Hefner in Oklahoma City, the elevation is normal and fishing good for fish like largemouth bass, white bass, striped bass, walleye, sunfish and channel and blue catfish. Full details on lakes across the state are available in the report, including which baits are being used to catch fish successfully. Anglers can log on to and sign up to receive the weekly fishing report by e-mail.

            Oklahoma offers fishing in lakes and rivers, but also in urban waters designated by the Wildlife Department as "Close to Home Fishing" locations. Although state fishing licenses are not required during Free Fishing Days, anglers should note that certain city permits may still apply to specific fishing areas.

            Additionally, anglers fishing Lake Texoma should be aware that Free Fishing Days applies for all of the lake on June 2 but only on Oklahoma portions of the lake on June 3.

            Oklahoma was the first state in the nation to offer free fishing days about 30 years ago and has since been followed by dozens of other states that have established similar days.

            The Wildlife Department is encouraging anglers to take a short video clip of someone catching their first fish and send it to Department through Facebook. The Wildlife Department's Facebook page can be found at

            For more information about fishing in Oklahoma, log on to the Wildlife Department's website at





Selman Bat Watch registration forms available May 29 (May 25, 2012)

            During summer nights in northwest Oklahoma, visitors gather together near the small town of Freedom for a spectacle you'll never see under the city lights. Rather, this nightly event culminates with at least a million bats emerging from their cave to feast on literally tons of insects.

            These annual summer get-togethers are known as the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation's Selman Bat Watches. They are held every weekend in July at the Selman Bat Cave Wildlife Management Area, where the Selman Bat Cave attracts migrating Mexican free-tailed bats every year.

            Each night's viewing activities are limited to 75 visitors who are randomly drawn from a pool of mailed-in registration forms, which will be available online at beginning May 29. Hopeful viewers must print, complete and mail their registration form to the Wildlife Department at Bat Watch Program, P.O. Box 53465 Oklahoma City, OK 73152 between May 29 and June 7. Only mailed registration forms post-marked by June 7 will be accepted, and instructions for completing the form should be read carefully to ensure correctly completed registration. Successful registrants will receive an e-mail confirmation and a packet in the mail. The cost is $10 for admission ($5 for children 8 - 12 years old).

            "Given the popularity of this event, the Department is using this approach to streamline its registration process," said Melynda Hickman, wildlife diversity biologist for the Wildlife Department.

            More information and details about the Selman Bat Watch can be found online at

            The Wildlife Department purchased the area around the bat cave in 1996 because of its ecological importance to the Mexican free-tailed bat. According to Hickman, the cave is important because it is one of only five major sites in Oklahoma that is used by females to raise their young.

Hickman says the bats serve as free pest control. The bats spend daylight hours inside the cave. But most of the action is after sunset.

            "Studies tell us that the bats at Selman Bat Cave eat about 10 tons (20,000 pounds) of insects every night," Hickman said.

            The bats' evening emergence is the highlight of a Bat Watch, but there is more to the evening than simply watching bats. Buses take visitors to the Selman Bat Cave Wildlife Management Area, usually closed to the public, where they learn facts about bats and the prairie community. There also is an optional nature hike before the bats emerge. Also optional, on cloudless evenings, staff and telescopes from the University of Central Oklahoma's Selman Living Laboratory will be at the observatory to assist stargazers after a bat watch has concluded.

            Additionally the Bat Watches benefit the local economy by drawing tourists from a multi-state region into Oklahoma. Hickman said Oklahomans enjoy a rare opportunity to get close to wild bats and to share their importance to the environment and the economy.

            For more information, call (405) 424-0099 or log on to




Groendyke confirmed to sixth term on Wildlife Commission (May 18, 2012)

            The Senate Tourism and Wildlife Committee voted May 15 to confirm longtime Wildlife Commissioner John D. Groendyke of Enid to serve a sixth term as a member of the Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Commission. Groendyke was reappointed by Governor Mary Fallin and is the longest-serving Wildlife Commissioner in the history of Oklahoma.

            The Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Commission governs all operations and financial transactions of the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, the state agency responsible for fish and wildlife management in the state. Groendyke's term will begin in July and run through 2020.

            Groendyke, who has served on the Commission since 1976, represents District 8, which includes Cimarron, Texas, Beaver, Harper, Woodward, Woods, Major, Alfalfa, Grant, Garfield, Kay and Noble counties.

            In addition to being an avid upland game hunter, Groendyke is chairman of the board of Groendyke Transport, Inc. Founded by his father, H.C. Groendyke in 1932, the company is one of the nation's largest motor carriers of bulk commodities serving the continental United States, Canada and Mexico. He graduated from Wentworth Military Academy where he attended high school and junior college and received his Bachelor of Science in Business from Oklahoma State University and his law degree from the University of Oklahoma.

            He served as a Captain in the U. S. Army, and after a two-year tour of duty he returned to Enid to join the family trucking operation.

            Groendyke serves on the OGE Energy Board of Directors, the Board of the Wentworth Military Academy Foundation and the Board of the National Tank Truck Carriers. He serves as a Trustee for the Oklahoma Chapter of The Nature Conservancy and is currently the chairman, and is a member of the Board of Directors of the Grand National Quail Foundation and Grand National Quail Club, having served as a past president and chairman of the Board. He is also a member of the USA Shooting Board of Directors, the Oklahoma State Fair Board of Directors and the Oklahoma State University Foundation Board of Trustees.

            Groendyke has two daughters, two sons, and seven grandchildren. He and his wife, Virginia, reside in Enid and are involved in many community activities. When not trucking, his energies are in wildlife conservation, farming and ranching, real estate, and collecting and showing antique automobiles.

            The eight-member Wildlife Conservation Commission oversees Wildlife Department operations, including land and equipment purchases, wildlife management areas, plus the state's hunting and fishing regulations. The Commission also appoints the Department's director. Commissioners are appointed by the governor and require Senate confirmation.





The Senate Tourism and Wildlife Committee voted May 15 to confirm longtime Wildlife Commissioner John D. Groendyke of Enid to serve a sixth term as a member of the Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Commission.










Oklahoma student archers help break world record and bring home high ranks in competition (May 17, 2012)

            The popularity of archery among school-aged students continues to grow through the National Archery in Schools Program and even through books and movies that are popular among youth such as The Hunger Games, and The Avengers. So popular has the sport become among Oklahoma's youth that they even were part of the largest archery tournament ever recorded for the Guinness Book of World Records. The event was the National Archery in the Schools tournament held May 11-12 in Louisville, Ky. About 370 Oklahoma students were part of the crowd of 7,804 youth shooters from the across the nation.

            Oklahoma shooters also did a lot of high scoring at the tournament, including three elementary girls who placed in the top five in the nation in their grade levels. Taking third place in the fourth-grade girls competition was Riane Tuthill of Chickasha. Birdie Maxwell of Parklane Elementary took fourth place in the fifth-grade girls division, and Faith Terrell of Chandler Elementary took fourth place among sixth-grade girls.

            Other high scoring Oklahoma shooters included Clayton Grossnicklaus who took sixth place in the fourth-grade boys division, Hadlie Barnes of Greenville who took 10th place in the middle school girls division and Zachary Kretchmar of Holy Trinity Catholic School who took eighth place in the middle school boys division.

            High scoring teams from Oklahoma included Chickasha Elementary and Middle School who took 12th and 16th place, respectively, in their divisions, and Stilwell High School who took 45th place in their division.

            Schools representing Oklahoma at the national tournament included MacArthur middle and high schools; Beggs Middle School; Chickasha elementary, middle and high schools; Greenville Middle School; Inola High, Jay High, Jefferson Elementary; Parklane Elementary; Will Rogers Junior High; Wayland Bonds and Anderson, Chandler, Comanche, Holy Trinity Catholic, Keys, Keystone, Moss, Porum, Ringling, Sequoyah, Stilwell, Turner and Zaneis schools.

            "Our Oklahoma shooters made me so proud," said Justin Marschall, Oklahoma National Archery in Schools coordinator for the Wildlife Department. "The pride and outstanding character that they demonstrated was overwhelming."

            Students involved in the Oklahoma National Archery in Schools Program hone their concentration skills by shooting at targets from 10 and 15 meters, attempting to place their arrows into a three-inch-diameter bullseye for points. Students of all ages, sizes and athletic abilities can compete at the same level for high standings and personal success.

            Oklahoma students qualified for the national competition based on their individual and team scores from the Oklahoma National Archery in the Schools State Shoot held in March at the Oklahoma State Fair Park in Oklahoma City. More than 1,100 students gathered at the site for the state shoot to wrap up a season of archery practice and competition at their respective schools and to determine qualifiers for the national tournament.

            More than 300 schools are currently participating in the Oklahoma National Archery in the Schools Program, which is administered by the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. The program is part of a national organization that introduces students to the sport of archery. The Archery in the Schools curriculum is designed for 4th-12th graders and covers archery history, safety, techniques, equipment, mental concentration and self-improvement. Students of all athletic abilities can learn and excel.

            A limited number of grants are available each fiscal year for schools interested in implementing the Oklahoma National Archery in the Schools Program. Teachers interested in learning more about the program or starting the program at their school should contact Marschall at (405) 522-1857 or

            For more information about the Wildlife Department, log on to





Lake Murray now home to large populations of invasive zebra mussels (May 11, 2012)

            Biologists with the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation say Lake Murray is now home to significant populations of zebra mussels, a non-native aquatic nuisance species that threatens the state's waters with invasion.

            "Zebra mussels are a serious threat because they're not native, but yet they compete with native species for resources," said Curtis Tackett, aquatic nuisance species biologist for the Wildlife Department. "Along with harming populations of native aquatic wildlife, they can also damage water intake structures and clog up waterways."

            Zebra mussels potentially pose a multi-billion-dollar threat to industrial and public water supplies. Through both downstream movement and transport by hitchhiking a ride on boats, zebra mussels have infested several lakes in Oklahoma, but only recently have they been discovered in south-central Oklahoma's Lake Murray.

            According to Tackett, water samples collected at Lake Murray last spring turned up no evidence of zebra mussels in the Carter Co. lake, which demonstrates how quickly they spread.

            "One female zebra mussel can produce up to one million offspring per year, and they can begin to reproduce within a few weeks of settling," Tackett said.

            The adult mussels face little competition and few predators, and even those that are consumed by large fish can sometimes survive the digestion process and remain a threat even after being preyed upon and digested.

            Zebra mussels can also be transported in their larval form through the movement of water from one lake to another, or on boats that leave one infested lake and enter another before being washed. Currently zebra mussels can be found in more than 20 lakes across the state.

            According to Tackett, boaters can play an important role in halting the spread of zebra mussels and other aquatic nuisance species by inspecting boats, trailers and equipment for the mussels or for mud, plant fragments, seeds and any other organisms from the water and removing them. They should also drain water from boats, motors, bilges, live wells, bait containers, coolers and ballasts. Finally, they can help by pressure washing boats, trailers and equipment with hot water (140 degrees). Tackett said if a boater is unable to pressure wash their equipment, they should allow it to dry thoroughly for at least five days before visiting a new body of water.

            For more information about aquatic nuisance species or how to help halt their spread, log on to 



Biologists say non-native zebra mussels can be found in more than 20 lakes across Oklahoma, including Lake Murray in Carter Co. where populations have recently been documented. Zebra mussels are aquatic nuisance species that compete with native wildlife for resources.






Controlled Hunts application deadline looming (May 9, 2012)
May 15 is the deadline for hunters to complete and submit their applications for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation's controlled hunts drawings.

The controlled hunts program offers once-in-a-lifetime elk and antelope hunts, highly sought-after buck deer hunts, and a range of other quality deer and turkey hunting opportunities through randomized drawings that only cost sportsmen $5 to enter. Opportunities offered through the program include hunts on Department or other government-owned or managed lands where unrestricted hunting would pose safety concerns or where overharvest might occur.

The online application process takes just a few minutes and must be completed through the Wildlife Department's website at

All applicants, including lifetime license holders, must pay the $5 application fee to enter the controlled hunts drawings. The fee is paid only once per person per year regardless of the number of categories entered.

Applications are offered online through a secure process that only accepts applications once they have been filed correctly, and a print-out confirmation page is available for sportsmen to document their submitted application.

Log on to for complete application instructions and a full listing of available hunts. The site also provides tips for increasing chances of being selected for certain hunts.