MAY 2005 NEWS
WEEK OF MAY 26, 2005
WEEK OF MAY 19, 2005
WEEK OF MAY 12, 2005
WEEK OF MAY 5, 2005
Quail conservation efforts receive important donation
Oklahoma’s quail conservation efforts received an important boost from the Northeast Oklahoma Chapter of Quail Unlimited at the May meeting of the Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Commission.
The Chapter donated $6,500 to an exciting ongoing project being led by Mike Sams and Sara Bales, biologists for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. The biologists are using GIS (Geographic Information System) tools to identify large areas of habitat appropriate for quail restoration projects, then will work with local landowners to improve quail habitat and populations on their property through farm bill incentive programs.
“We have always enjoyed working with the Wildlife Department over the years and we know that this donation will help to restore Oklahoma’s quail populations,” said Bob Hayes, with the Northeast Oklahoma Chapter of Quail Unlimited.
In other business, the Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Commission approved a resolution to designate June 4-5 as Free Fishing Days in Oklahoma and recognizes June 4-12 as National Fishing and Boating Week. Oklahoma was the first state in the nation to offer free fishing days 23 years ago and has since been followed by dozens of other states that have established similar free fishing days.
"Free fishing days are a great opportunity to introduce family and friends to fishing," said David Warren, information and education chief for the Wildlife Department. “This is also a good time to acknowledge the tremendous economic impact that fishing has in our state. Oklahoma’s 774,000 anglers pump approximately $1 billion into the state’s economy each year.”
Resident and non-resident fishing licenses are not required on the free fishing days, although anglers should note that local or municipal permits may be required on those days. Anglers must also follow all other fishing regulations.
Also at the May meeting, Commissioners accepted a donation from the Green Country Buckmasters Club of a building shelter for Cookson Wildlife Management Area. The group will donate all materials and provide the labor to build the 24’ x 30’ shelter.
“Last year our group cooked meals for the disabled hunters during the controlled hunts at Cookson. At that time we recognized the need for a shelter from the wind and rain for this event and other events like it,” said Gene Pittman, with the Green Country Buckmasters Club.
In other business, the Commission recognized a pair of Department employees for their outstanding service to the sportsmen of the state. Employees recognized were:
Ian Campbell, northeast Oklahoma private lands technician, for 20 years of service; and Randy Draper, assistant manager at the Durant State Fish Hatchery, for 20 years of service.
Also at the meeting, the Commission approved the donation of a pickup truck from the United States Fish and Wildlife Service. Forfeited as part of a plea agreement, the truck is valued at over $19,000 and the Wildlife Department will pay the lien of $8,811.
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 June 6 at the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation headquarters (auditorium), at the southwest corner of 18th and North Lincoln, Oklahoma City at 9:00 a.m.
June 4-5 offers two days of fishing for free - sort of
Free is what most people key in on when they hear “Oklahoma’s Free Fishing Days.” However, while you don’t need a license to fish June 4 and 5, when it comes to fishing’s impact on the state, you could say there is certainly no free lunch.
"Free Fishing Days offers anglers a great chance to introduce someone new to fishing, and it also offers a good opportunity for us all to take a look at the numbers behind fishing," said Nels Rodefeld, assistant chief of information and education for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.
Conducted every five years, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s National Survey of Fishing, Hunting and Wildlife-Associated Recreation, reveals some fascinating information about our nation’s anglers. The American Sportfishing Association also looks at the Fish and Wildlife Service’s national survey data, analyzing it to reveal some economic figures that we can all relate to.
Nationally, 44 million Americans fish. That means more Americans fish than play golf and tennis combined. In Oklahoma, 774,000 people fish (that’s almost 1 in 4).
Oklahoma anglers generated more than $484 million in retail sales, which rippled through the economy to generate $992 million in economic output for the state and supported 11,000 jobs. Fishing-related purchases in Oklahoma generated $27.5 million in state tax revenues and $25 million in federal income tax.
“When we begin talking about the economic impact of anglers, sometimes it’s easy to forget that anglers are also the primary source of funding for fisheries management and aquatic conservation activities,” Rodefeld said.
Through their purchase of fishing licenses, and through special federal taxes on fishing equipment and motorboat fuel – by way of a program called the Sport Fish Restoration Program – anglers fund fish habitat and stocking programs, public fishing and boating access improvements and aquatic education events. In Oklahoma, where the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation does not receive any general state tax appropriations, Sport Fish funds generate between $4 million and $5 million annually for fisheries conservation and management.
“As important as it is to discuss these numbers, it is important that we remember the underlying message of National Boating and Fishing Week,” Rodefeld said. “Fishing is a healthy social pastime that provides quality recreation, helps improve our aquatic resources, and enriches all our lives.”
During Oklahoma’s Free Fishing Days, June 4-5, state fishing licenses (including trout licenses and fishing and hunting legacy permits) are not required for anyone, anywhere in the state. Although most municipalities, such as Oklahoma City, waive city licenses in celebration of Free Fishing Days, anglers should check with local authorities before fishing in city-managed waters. Those headed out for a trip will want to pick up a copy of the "2005 Oklahoma Fishing Guide" because all other statewide regulations still apply. Fishing Guides are available at Department installations and hunting and fishing license dealers across the state, as well as the Wildlife Department's Web site at www.wildlifedepartment.com.
International Migratory Bird and Plant Conservation Day at the OKC Zoo
The fifth annual International Migratory Bird and Plant Conservation Day (IMBO) will be Saturday, May 14, at the Oklahoma City Zoo and Botanical Garden. Activities from 6:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. focus on spring bird migration and the way plants and birds rely on each other and the earth’s important resource, water, to maintain Oklahoma’s natural world.
The festival kicks off with a free, early-morning bird count from 6:30 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. where participants will learn how to identify plant and wild bird species on zoo grounds. Registration begins at 6 a.m. at the Zoo’s Global Plaza, and participants are encouraged to bring binoculars.
The bird counts will be led by several plant and wildlife guides from the Zoo and the Department of Wildlife Conservation such as the Wildlife Department’s Information Specialist Jenny Thom.
“May is possibly the best time of year to view our neotropical migrants,” Thom said.
Neotropical migrant birds are those that winter in Central and South America and trek to North America to nest and raise their young. The orange and black Baltimore oriole and the solid blue indigo bunting are only two of about 60 birds that migrate hundreds of miles to Oklahoma each spring.
“The morning bird count would be great for a beginning birder to get a feel for what birding is all about. We’ll see migrants like purple martins and scissortail flycatchers, our state bird, but we’ll also spot year-round residents like the Eastern bluebird and American goldfinch,” Thom said.
Hosted by the American Association of Zookeepers, the Zoo's Horticulture staff and the Association of Zoological Horticulture, event activities continue from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. and are free with regular Zoo admission. Interactive and educational displays focus on gardening tips that provide details about plants that are drought-tolerant, favorites to birds, and native to Oklahoma. There also will be self-guided garden tours (Zoo admission required) and free temporary tattoos for children while supplies last. The first 100 people to visit the Plant Conservation Display in the Zoo’s main plaza beginning at 9 a.m. will receive a free IMBD 2005 poster.
The Oklahoma City Zoo and Botanical Garden is located at 2101 NE 50th Street, Oklahoma City, OK. Visit the Zoo’s Web site at www.okczoo.com or call (405) 424-3344 for more information. To register for the bird count, please call the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation at (405) 521-4616.
The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation is hosting one of the most unique educational events ever held in the state – the Oklahoma Wildlife Expo. The inaugural event will be held August 27 and 28 at the Lazy E Arena just north of Oklahoma City and the ambitious project is receiving generous financial support from sponsors across the state and nation.
“It has certainly been encouraging to receive so much backing from so many businesses and individuals. This Wildlife Expo is a big event and it’s great to see that so many others share our vision,” said Greg Duffy, director of the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. “This truly shows the importance these folks place on conserving our natural resources and teaching everyone about the fantastic opportunities available in the Oklahoma outdoors.”
To date more than 33 sponsors have donated at least $2,500 cash or in-kind services to the Expo and other partners have also made important contributions. The Weatherby Foundation and the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation serve as Founding Sponsors for this unique event.
Their donations have helped in the development of Expo exhibits including a large water feature that will be built inside the Lazy E Arena. Other sponsors have donated items that will be given away at the Expo including an ATV donated by P&K Equipment. Thanks to sponsor donations, nine lifetime fishing or hunting licenses, along with 32 annual licenses will be given away at the Expo.
With more than 100 different booths and activities already confirmed, there will be plenty to do during the free, two-day event. Young and old alike will be sure to find something that interests them, from shotgun shooting to a live butterfly exhibit, to fishing, to training retrievers.
For more information about the Wildlife Expo, hosted by the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, log on to wildlifedepartment.com or call (405) 522-6279.
Current 2005 Wildlife Expo sponsors:
Heritage Sponsors – $10,000 donations and up
Bill and Carol Crawford
Carlisle Syntec Systems
Hackberry Flat Foundation
Maguire Brothers Inc.
National Fish and Wildlife Foundation
Oklahoma Correctional Industries
Conservationist Sponsors – from $5,000 to $10,000 donations
Bank of Oklahoma
Chuck Devereaux’s Bass Tubs Inc.
Enid Radio Stations
ING Investment and Management Company
National Wildlife Federation
Oklahoma Wildlife Federation
Oklahoma Station of the Safari Club International
Sportsman Sponsors – from $2,500 to $5,000 donations
Bass Pro Shops
Citizen’s Security Bank, Okmulgee
Silverleaf Shotgun Sports
United States Fish and Wildlife Service
Wheeler Dealer Bicycles
With more than 250,000 ponds in the state, it’s no wonder that ponds are popular destinations for thousands of anglers. In fact, some of the state’s best fishing can be found at small, out-of-the-way farm ponds.
“It’s hard to beat a day of pond fishing. It’s where many of us started fishing and it is always enjoyable to get back to the basics,” said Barry Bolton, assistant chief of fisheries for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.
According to Bolton, now is a great time of year to give pond fishing a try.
“And the nice thing is that you don’t need a boat or a bunch of equipment to be a successful pond angler,” Bolton said.
Those interested in learning more about pond management will want to come to the Oklahoma Wildlife Expo, August 27-28 at the Lazy E Arena. Langston University’s Aquaculture Extension Program specialists are hosting a special seminar which will include information on identifying and controlling pond vegetation, stocking, management, and even pond construction.
Ponds provide Oklahoma’s sportsmen ample opportunity for a good fishing experience, but don’t forget to obtain permission from the landowner.
Before heading out, anglers should consult the “2005 Oklahoma Fishing Guide” for regulations and license requirements. Among various license exemptions, farm pond owners and their immediate family members are exempt from having to purchase a fishing license provided they are Oklahoma residents and fishing only on property they own. Specifically, resident owners or tenants, their spouses, parents, grandparents, children and their spouses, grandchildren and their spouse who fish in private ponds on land owned or leased by such owner or tenant are exempt from purchasing a fishing license. However, persons residing in another state who own land in Oklahoma but do not live on that land are not exempt. The guides are available at fishing and hunting license vendors across the state or by logging on to the Department’s Web site at www.wildlifedepartment.com.
Officials at the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation are teaming up with the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food, and Forestry to kick out an alien invader in several Oklahoma City lakes. Alligatorweed, an aquatic plant originally from South America, is as menacing as its name implies.
“The main problem with alligatorweed is its invasive nature. It can grow in large mats in water up to six feet deep. It just takes over and that is not good for fish, boating, aesthetics and it’s certainly not good for native plants,” said Gene Gilliland, senior fisheries biologist for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.
Gene Doub couldn’t agree more. Doub is a homeowner near Lansbrook Lake on Britton Road.
“It is one of fastest growing plants I have ever seen. In the past three years it seems like it has grown exponentially,” Doub said.
Doub and other homeowners in the area formed the Spring Creek Lake Alliance to find a way to control the alien plant. Of the 14 lakes in the Spring Creek drainage area, seven are infested with alligatorweed. Members of the Alliance have tried several methods to rid the beautiful lakes of the ugly weeds including mechanically removing them and spraying them with herbicides, but these efforts have been ineffective.
“No matter what we do, it just keeps growing and growing,” Doub said.
Fortunately, alligatorweed has an Achilles heel – the alligatorweed flea beetle also native to South America. The voracious beetles feed exclusively on alligatorweed, and they don’t stop eating until the alligatorweed is gone.
“These beetles have been used since the 1960’s to control alligatorweed infestations in other states like Texas, North Carolina, Florida and Alabama,” said Jeanetta Cooper, pest survey coordinator at the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food, and Forestry. "Using biological controls versus other forms of control such as mechanical or chemical reduces the expense of treatments and potential environmental risks.”
The beetles, which are yellow with black stripes, are being shipped free from a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers office in Jacksonville, Florida.
“All we have to do is open the Styrofoam containers, set them next to the alligatorweed and hope the beetles are hungry,” Gilliland said.
Homeowners on several of the area lakes will be assisting with the release, scheduled for Friday, May 13.
“It may take a little while to see results, but we are very optimistic about this,” Cooper said. “The beetles do not overwinter this far north, so if we need to release some more beetles next spring then we will.”
Staff from the two state agencies will be monitoring the success of the beetle release throughout the coming months.
The alligatorweed infestations were likely the result of intentional or unintentional releases of plants from a backyard water garden that spread downstream through the Spring Creek chain of lakes. The Wildlife and Agriculture departments are joining forces in combating the spread of aquatic nuisance species by educating water gardeners and aquatic plant retailers and nurseries through a program called “Don’t Free Lily.”
The Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food, and Forestry Plant Industry Division must review and approve permits that request the shipment of plants, diseases, and insects not indigenous to Oklahoma.
A list of illegal aquatic plant species and those that the agencies consider “Species to Watch” are listed on the ODWC Web site at www.wildlifedepartment.com. For more information contact the Oklahoma Fishery Research Lab in Norman at (405) 325-7288.
Expo visitors have chance to win ATV or lifetime hunting and fishing licenses
Could you use a brand-new ATV? How about a lifetime fishing license or some duck decoys - all these prizes and much more will be given away at the Wildlife Expo August 27 and 28 thanks to generous sponsors.
“The Expo is going to be a fantastic event for participants, and the fact that you might be able to walk away with one of these great prizes is just icing on the cake,” said Greg Duffy, director of the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.
Thanks to P&K Equipment, one lucky Expo participant will win a brand new John Deere 500 ATV. The ATV features automatic transmission and four wheel drive and will be given away at 4 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 28.
“Without the support of outside sponsors we would never be able to give away so many great prizes,” Duffy said.
A total of 32 annual and nine lifetime hunting, fishing licenses will be given away at the event. The doors open at 8 a.m. and first license giveaways will begin at 10:30, so get there early to increase your odds.
Individuals will also have some extra motivation to participate in the unique hunter education course offered at the Expo. One of the Expo hunter education course participants will win a lifetime hunting license.
With more than 100 different booths and activities already confirmed, there will be plenty to do during the free, two-day event, which will be held August 27 and 28, at the Lazy E Arena near Guthrie. Young and old alike will be sure to find something that interests them at the Expo from shotgun shooting, to a live butterfly exhibit, to dog training.
Participants who pre-register for the Expo will be eligible for a special lifetime combination license giveaway. Pre-registration will be available soon at wildlifedepartment.com.
For complete details on Expo giveaways, including rules and eligibility log on to wildlifedepartment.com
Report violators to “Operation Game Thief”
On the whole, Oklahomans who hunt and fish are an upstanding group of men and women, but like any large group there is an occasional bad apple. 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.
“Operation Game Thief" allows a citizen the opportunity to anonymously report wildlife violations and receive cash rewards for arrests that lead to convictions.
"Thanks to the help of concerned citizens, 'Operation Game Thief' has led to the conviction of over 50 individuals since January 2001. The program is a great way to help protect our state's wildlife and fisheries resources for future generations," said Dennis Maxwell, assistant chief of law enforcement for the Wildlife Department. "The ‘Operation Game Thief’ program is supported by donations from private citizens, but the program also receives donations from organizations such as the Oklahoma State Game Wardens Association."
Anyone with information regarding illegal harvest of fish and wildlife 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.
State Wildlife Grants receives support for 2006 funding
Senator James Inhofe pledged his support again this year for the State Wildlife Grants program, the most important new conservation program in the past 50 years for keeping fish and wildlife populations healthy. Fifty-five other Senators and 128 members of the U.S. House of Representatives also signed letters urging continued funding for the program.
“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. Taking action to conserve wildlife before it becomes endangered is environmentally sound and fiscally smart,” Sen. Inhofe said.
The State Wildlife Grants program works by giving each state federal funding for wildlife species not hunted, fished or already endangered. In Oklahoma, the program benefits 82 percent of the wildlife from songbirds – whose populations have declined dramatically over the past 30 years - to horny toads, to wildlife species that occur nowhere else but Oklahoma.
Andy McDaniels, executive director of the Oklahoma Wildlife Federation, was among a team of six Oklahomans who traveled to Washington, D.C. to speak with Oklahoma’s Congressmen about funding the program for 2006.
“By supporting State Wildlife Grants, Sen. Inhofe is a true champion for America’s fish and wildlife,” McDaniels said.
In spite of across-the-board budget cuts, Sen. Inhofe says “State Wildlife Grants is a valuable investment in prevention” and supports the President’s budget, which recommends funding the program at $75 million dollars. That would allocate approximately $930,000 to the Wildlife Department in 2006.
McDaniels has spoken to hundreds of sports club members and other citizens throughout Oklahoma. He said they overwhelmingly agree State Wildlife Grants is vital to conserving Oklahoma’s Wildlife.
“There’s annual federal funding for hunted, fished and endangered species, but State Wildlife Grants is the only federal program for the others. It’s existed for five years, but it’s not automatic. State Wildlife Grants gets appropriated at different funding levels each year,” McDaniels said.
Nationally, the number of species on the federal threatened and endangered species list has increased by 35 percent since 1992 and now numbers more than 1,000 species according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. State Wildlife Grants works to reduce the number of species placed on that list by restoring rare and declining wildlife populations.
The Wildlife Department has received $4.6 million since 2001 from this program. Distributed in the form of cost-share grants to wildlife researchers and other partners, the program has already contributed to keeping the swift fox off the candidate list for endangered species listing.
The State Wildlife Grants program is also working to benefit approximately 350 species of songbirds and has helped to begin the Great Plains Trail of Oklahoma. It also has funded both paddlefish population surveys and comprehensive wildlife surveys on several Oklahoma wildlife management areas, in addition to other projects.
To learn more about State Wildlife Grants in Oklahoma, look in the May/June 2005 issue of “Outdoor Oklahoma,” or view the magazine article at www.wildlifedepartment.com by selecting the Natural Resources link.
Don’t miss out on Oklahoma’s Free Fishing Days June 4-5
A fishing trip with friends or family is likely one of your oldest and dearest memories from your childhood. You can pass those memories on to the next generation by taking a kid fishing during Oklahoma’s Free Fishing Days, June 4-5. State fishing licenses or permits are not required by anyone, anywhere in the state these two days.
"You don’t have to make a grand excursion of it. Just go somewhere close and fish for sunfish and you don’t have to have a bunch of fancy equipment – you can have a lot of fun with a fishing pole and some worms," said Barry Bolton, assistant fisheries chief for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. "It may seem like a simple afternoon trip to you, but that child might remember it forever.”
During Oklahoma’s Free Fishing Days, June 4-5, state fishing licenses (including trout licenses and Fishing and Hunting Legacy Permits) are not required for anyone, anywhere in the state. Although most municipalities, such as Oklahoma City, waive city licenses in celebration of Free Fishing Days, anglers should check with local authorities before fishing in city-managed waters. Those headed out for a trip will want to pick up a copy of the "2005 Oklahoma Fishing Guide" because all other statewide regulations still apply. Fishing Guides are available at Department installations and hunting and fishing license dealers across the state, as well as the Wildlife Department's Web site at www.wildlifedepartment.com.
Wildlife Expo featured in “Outdoor Oklahoma” magazine
If you’ve heard a little about the upcoming Wildlife Expo and want to learn more about this great free event – then you need to pick up the latest issue of “Outdoor Oklahoma” magazine.
“We tried to pack in as much information as possible about the Expo. In fact we have 20 full pages of Expo information in this issue,” said Nels Rodefeld, editor of “Outdoor Oklahoma” magazine, the official bi-monthly publication of the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. “I think everyone will be encouraged to attend this unique event, because there is a little something for everyone.”
Whether you are seven years old or 70, it's never too late to catch your first fish, paint a wildlife picture, or try shooting a bow and arrow. Best of all, you can do these activities and much, much more at the Oklahoma Wildlife Expo. The free, inaugural event will be held August 27 and 28 at the Lazy E Arena just north of Oklahoma City between Edmond and Guthrie.
Included in the issue is an article on a unique hunter education class that will be held in conjunction with the Expo. The class will consist of hands-on activities and best of all, one lucky class participant will win a lifetime hunting license. The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation is coordinating the monumental event, which is designed to promote and perpetuate Oklahomans appreciation of the state’s wildlife and natural resources.
The current issue also features a special profile on the Red Slough Wildlife Management Area in far southeastern Oklahoma. The story chronicles the area’s rich history from an historic rice farm to a wildlife paradise.
Also included in the May/June issue is a comprehensive article on State Wildlife Grants, a unique federal program designed to keep all of Oklahoma’s wildlife healthy.
Individual copies of the May/June issue of “Outdoor Oklahoma” are available for $3 if picked up at any of the Wildlife Department's offices, or $4 by mail (mail request with a certified check or money order to Outdoor Oklahoma, P.O. Box 53465, Oklahoma City, OK 73152). One-year subscriptions, for only $10, are available by calling (800)777-0019, or you can order over the Internet by logging on to the Department's Web site at www.wildlifedepartment.com.
Sixth annual UCO Endeavor Games scheduled for June 9-12
The sixth annual Endeavor Games for athletes with physical disabilities, conducted by University of Central Oklahoma (UCO) Disabled Sports and Events, will be held June 9-12, 2005. Approximately 300 athletes will participate in a wide variety of sports including air rifles and archery target shooting.
“This is a great event and we are looking forward to being a part of it,” said Lance Meek, hunter education coordinator for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. “I’ve heard there will be some outstanding shooters participating this year.”
The Endeavor Games is hosting 10 members of the U.S. military services who acquired permanent disabling injuries while serving for the United States of America in Iraq and in the global war on terrorism. The Endeavor Games is providing airfare, lodging, meals, travel expenses and full passes for all events of the 2005 Endeavor Games to the 10 soldiers and their guests.
“We are honored to have the chance to host these 10 amazing soldiers for the weekend at the Endeavor Games,” said Katrina Shaklee, Assistant Director of UCO Disabled Sports and Events. “The entire City of Edmond is rallying behind this unique opportunity and we hope to provide the soldiers with a weekend full of inspiration and opportunity.”
To receive additional information on the event, please contact UCO Disabled Sports and Events at (405) 974-3144.