Volume 2 • Issue 6 • June 2008

State Wildlife Grants At Work

Cimarron Bluff Wildlife Management Area

Oklahoma has an all new wildlife management area in western Oklahoma thanks to funds from fishing and hunting legacy permit sales and the State Wildlife Grants Program. The new tract, dubbed Cimarron Bluff Wildlife Management Area is located about 15 miles east of Buffalo and comprises 3,402 acres of prime mixed grass prairie habitat adjoining the Cimarron River in eastern Harper County.

The property was purchased with money earned through the sale of fishing and hunting legacy permits and State Wildlife Grants funds. The fishing and hunting legacy permit is a $5 permit required of most annual fishing and hunting license holders who hunt, fish or trap or attempt to take fish or wildlife in any manner. Funds derived from the sale of legacy permits are used by the Department to purchase or lease property for public fishing and hunting.

The State Wildlife Grants Program provides funding to state wildlife agencies like the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation to develop more effective conservation programs for rare and declining species.

Up to this point, most of the money allocated to Oklahoma through the State Wildlife Grants program has been used for wildlife surveys. And while these things are a necessary part of sound wildlife management, this purchase represents an on-the-ground approach to acquiring and restoring wildlife habitat. A number of wildlife species, including some identified in Oklahoma’s Wildlife Action Plan as a species of greatest conservation need, will directly benefit from the habitat on Cimarron Bluff WMA.

Unique species for which the purchased land can provide habitat are, among others, the Texas horned lizard, Western massasauga snake, long- nosed snake, lesser prairie chicken, Bell’s vireo, long-billed curlew, loggerhead shrike and western big-eared bat.

A view looking toward the river on the newest Wildlife Management Area in Oklahoma, Cimarron Bluff WMA.
The property adjoins the Cimarron river, providing potential habitat for rare and threatened species such as the Arkansas River shiner, Arkansas darter, interior least tern and whooping crane.

In addition, limited hunting opportunity will be available on the area. Cimarron Bluff consists mostly of gently rolling hills covered with native mixed grass prairie. Grasses like bluestem, Indian grass and sideoats grama along with sand plum, sand sagebrush and sumac cover the area, as well as a range of forbs. These upland sites provide habitat for a number of traditional game species such as deer, turkey, quail and furbearers.

Several ponds, including one 12.5-acre pond that offers excellent fishing opportunity, also dot the area for a near 30 acres of ponds.

Keep up to date on regulations for the area by regularly logging on to the Department’s website at wildlifedepartment.com. The website also offers a full listing and description of wildlife management areas across the state.

This project is funded by the State Wildlife Grants Program.  The State Wildlife Grants Program provides federal money to every state and territory for cost-effective conservation aimed at preventing wildlife from becoming endangered. This program is administered by the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation and continues the long history of cooperation between the federal government and the states for managing and conserving wildlife species.  For more information, visit www.teaming.com.

Written by Russ Horton. Russ is the Lands and Wildlife Diversity Supervisor for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.

Wildlife and Water in Unexpected Places

Cooper and Ft. Supply Wildlife Management Areas

Cooper and Ft. Supply Wildlife Management Areas are located just northwest of Woodward, Oklahoma off State Highway 270. These WMAs encompass over 21,000 acres. The upland areas are rolling sand hills with a mixed grass prairie containing sandsage and sand plum with the river bottom areas consisting of cottonwood, American elm, hackberry, and Eastern red cedar.

An abundance of wildlife on both sites include: pheasant, northern bobwhite, wild turkey, whitetail and mule deer, rabbit, coyote, raccoon, bobcat and bald eagles. Several species of grassland specific birds make their home here including lesser-prairie chicken and Bell’s vireo, a species of special concern in Oklahoma.

Both WMAs have windmills and solar-powered pumps to provide water for wildlife. Habitat management for these areas consists of grazing, strip-disking, strip mowing, and prescribed burns with the emphasis on creating important food resources and habitat for wildlife. Northwestern Oklahoma is known for the best whitetail deer per acre harvest in the state according to wildlife biologist Eddie Wilson. Fishing is available at Ft. Supply Lake or in Wolf Creek, Beaver Creek or the North Canadian River.

Prairie chickens can sometimes be found on Cooper WMA.
Cooper WMA is located east off State Highway 270.  This area has some of the better northern bobwhite hunting in the state. Lesser prairie chickens can be found on this WMA. This is an important bird species and is under consideration for federal protection because of its decreasing numbers. Exciting research is also being conducted on this WMA by Oklahoma State University graduate students. Students are currently studying the effects of fire and grazing as well as nesting and feeding ecology of grassland birds (see the May 2008 edition of The Wild Side.) This information is important as grassland bird species have declined at an alarming rate since 1966 according to the North American Breeding Bird Survey.

Ft. Supply WMA includes Ft. Supply Reservoir and is located west off State Highway 270. Wildlife biologist Eddie Wilson has noted that there is a unique experience for waterfowl hunters because of the location on the central flyway. Hunters may encounter a variety of diving ducks including ring-necked duck, canvasback, and redhead.

For more information on this diverse landscape, please visit the Department's website or contact wildlife biologist Eddie Wilson at (580) 334-0343.

Written by Brett Cooper. Brett is a zoology graduate student at Oklahoma State University. He is a frequent contributor to The Wild Side.

A Hot Spot to Count Butterflies!

Spend a Day Counting Butterflies in Oklahoma

It’s fun, it’s fascinating, and yes it’s even a bit educational so plan on spending a memorable day at one or more of the butterfly counts scheduled in Oklahoma this summer. 

The counts are part of the 34th annual North American Butterfly Association (NABA) Butterfly Count that tracks the butterfly populations in North America.  Each count is conducted within a 15-mile diameter area and all butterflies identified during a one-day period are recorded.  NABA compiles all of the reports and prepares an annual report each year.  These reports provide important information about the geographical distributions and population sizes of the species counted.  Comparing the results over the years reveals effects of weather and habitat changes on the different species.

Whether you have been watching butterflies for years or are new at butterfly watching you are welcome to participate at any of the butterfly counts.  A pair of binoculars is very helpful and sunscreen and insect repellant is a must!  As participants in the NABA butterfly count, a nominal fee is charged. 

Having a field guide with you is another good idea.  An outstanding field guide for Oklahoma is Butterflies of Oklahoma, Kansas and Texas. It contains 282 pages of descriptive information, pictures and habitat requirements of all of the butterflies in our region.  To order this field guide, please visit our Outdoor Store.

For more information on any of the butterfly counts in Oklahoma, click here. Be sure to contact the count coordinator for specific information.

Don't Forget! Sign up for a night out at the Selman Bat Watch starting June 2nd!

Written by Melynda Hickman. Melynda is a Wildlife Diversity Biologist for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.

Our Mission:

The WILDLIFE DIVERSITY PROGRAM monitors and manages the state's wildlife and fish species that are not hunted or fished.