DECEMBER 2005 NEWS RELEASES

WEEK OF DECEMBER 29, 2005

WEEK OF DECEMBER 22, 2005

WEEK OF DECEMBER 15, 2005

 

WEEK OF DECEMBER 8, 2005

WEEK OF DECEMBER 1, 2005

 

Cost-share funding available for landowners who install field buffers

         Oklahoma farmers may now sign-up for the Habitat Buffers for Upland Birds (CP-33) program that will pay farmers to establish buffers around croplands to provide the grassy habitat that bobwhite quail, ring-necked pheasants, and other upland birds require for food, cover and nesting.

Enrollment in the program is completely voluntary and simply requires the establishment of 35-120 foot buffers of planted or native vegetation around the perimeter of crop fields. In turn, the landowner or farmer receives annual rental payments for the life of the 10-year contract as well as the satisfaction of knowing that they are helping to restore vital wildlife habitat.  Payments are based on the type of soils on the property and differ in various parts of the state. In Oklahoma, the average annual rental payment is $32 an acre. Additionally, landowners also receive a sign-up bonus of $100 an acre and 40 percent of the cost of installing the buffers.

         Oklahoma has been approved to install up to 9,500 acres of buffers across the state under the CP 33 provisions, however only 448 acres have been enrolled so far.

         “Many of our landowner assistance programs are very competitive and some have already reached their maximum enrollment, but this is a great opportunity to get in on the ground floor of this relatively new program,” said John Hendrix, private lands biologist for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.

         For example, depending on the soil type, if a landowner installs a 120-foot wide buffer on 160 acres of agricultural ground, the program will pay an incentive payment of $2,780.00 to install the 27 acres of buffers as well as an annual rental payment of $900 per year for the next 10 years. If a landowner chooses to install a 35-foot wide buffer on a 160 acres of agricultural ground, the program will pay an incentive payment of $420 to install the 4 acres of buffers as well as an annual rental payment of $136 per year for the next 10 years.

         “This is a win-win program for both landowners and wildlife and it just makes great sense for farmers who are interested in wildlife habitat and the bottom line,” Hendrix said.       “I would highly encourage farmers across the state to do themselves a favor and look into this program.”

         According to Hendrix the program offers several benefits to farmers, including:

·    Stabilizes income on what is typically the least productive portions of fields.

·    Controls soil erosion and improves water quality in nearby creeks and ponds.

·    Provides critical cover for rabbits, quail, pheasants and grassland songbirds.

·    Provides quality hunting areas for family and friends.

         Landowners can sign-up for this voluntary program at their local Farm Service Agency. More information on this and other initiatives is also available at the Farm Service Agency’s Web site at: www.fsa.usda.gov

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Pro-Active Plan to Conserve All Wildlife

Oklahoma’s plan to conserve all native wildlife in the state is complete. The Wildlife Action Plan is the result of 16 months of work by scientists, sportsmen, conservationists, and other members of the community.

“This pro-active conservation plan will benefit wildlife and people by conserving wildlife before they become more rare and more costly to protect,” said Mark Howery, a biologist for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.

The health of wildlife is often an early indicator of disease and pollution that affect people, as well.

“We conserve wildlife by protecting natural places, which contribute to clean air and clean water – making both wildlife and people healthier,” Howery said. “Not only do these places contribute to the quality of life we’ve come to expect here in Oklahoma, they’re also important to many of our family traditions.”

Oklahoma’s Wildlife Action Plan is a massive document and not exactly afternoon reading material. It’s a comprehensive roadmap for conservation with an emphasis on rare and declining wildlife.

In addition to Oklahoma, the other 49 states and six U.S. territories developed action plans. Each one addresses wildlife issues unique to that area of the country. The plans collectively illustrate the current state of America’s wildlife.

Nationwide, these action plans show a need to conserve a wider range of wildlife than traditionally managed. To accomplish this, they focus on entire habitats rather than individual species. That’s a big strength as explained by Howery.

“Oklahoma has about 250 species that need conservation work today to keep their populations at healthy levels,” he said.  “If you want to protect a species, protect the habitat.”

For every common species in the state, there is also a declining one. Of Oklahoma’s 800 vertebrate wildlife species, about 120 are currently actively managed.

“We’ll only be able to do the work in our plan if federal funding continues. These plans make a strong case for State Wildlife Grants funding,” Howery said.

State Wildlife Grants is a federal program that funds conservation for rare and declining wildlife at the state level. A bipartisan, majority vote by Congress created the program in 2001. The program is re-evaluated each year before new funding is approved.

“It’s cost-effective to focus efforts on declining species before their populations fall too low,” Howery said. “This Action Plan helps us identify and treat wildlife issues before they threaten wildlife and affect humans. We need to invest now.”

As required by federal statute, the action plan was submitted to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and accepted. The document, also known as the Comprehensive Wildlife Conservation Strategy, may be viewed at wildlifedepartment.com.

 

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Furbearer season now open

         Oklahoma outdoor enthusiasts need to look no further for another excuse to spend a little more time outdoors this winter – furbearer season began statewide Dec. 1.

         "Most furbearing species are plentiful across the state and bobcat populations, in particular are continuing to grow," said Russ Horton, central region senior biologist for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.

         The open season for raccoon, mink, badger, muskrat, opossum, weasel and gray foxes runs Dec. 1 - Jan. 31. Bobcat season runs Dec. 1 - Feb. 28. There is no closed season for on beaver, nutria, coyote and striped skunk

         “Trapping and hunting is the most effective tool to manage these populations, and it provides sportsmen extra opportunities to spend some quality time afield during the winter.  It’s also a great way to learn to read and interpret a wide variety of animal sign,” Horton said.

         Fur prices should remain stable and may see some increases, according to Shannon Sheffert, an avid trapper and active member of the Oklahoma Fur Harvester’s Association.

          “Bobcats will once again be the shining star in the fur market. Last year prices averaged about $55 and they are expected to remain at that level. High-grade bobcat pelts could go for as much as $120, but that will be the exception to the rule,” Sheffert said. “Raccoon pelts should average $2-6 dollars, which is about the same as last year. Coyote prices could go up a little this year and could average about $2-15. Beaver prices are also expected to remain similar to last year in the $2-10 range.”

         There are no excuses for sportsmen interested in trapping not to give it a try, according to Sheffert.

         “The best thing a rookie trapper can do is find an experienced trapper and follow them around for a couple of days. There are plenty of books, magazines and Web sites to read, but in my opinion, you can learn more from an experienced trapper looking over your shoulder in an afternoon than you can learn in a week with your nose in a book,” Sheffert said.

         For more information about trapping in Oklahoma, contact the Oklahoma Fur Harvester’s Association at (405) 742-7884 or the First Oklahoma Trappers and Predator Callers Association at  (918) 386-2367.

         Consult a copy of the “2005-06 Oklahoma Hunting Guide” for specific details on bag limits and other regulations concerning each furbearing species. For a list of fur dealers in Oklahoma log onto the Department’s Web site at www.wildlifedepartment.com

         Those wanting to take bobcats, raccoons or gray fox must possess a special bobcat-raccoon-gray fox license. It costs $10 for residents, $51 for non-residents. Resident lifetime license holders are exempt from having to purchase the license. The license is not required for those who pursue furbearers with dogs but do not harvest them.

         A trapping license is required for all persons who trap. Cost is $10 for residents and $375 for nonresidents. Only resident landowners or tenants or their children who trap on land they own or lease (not including hunting leases) are exempt from purchasing trapping licenses.

         Landowners or lessees may kill bobcats, raccoons, or gray foxes actually found destroying livestock or poultry. They are not required to purchase the bobcat-raccoon-gray fox license to kill these species if they are found to be killing livestock, but they may not remove any part of the fur or carcass from the premises where taken.

         Hunters and trappers are also reminded that all bobcat pelts must be tagged with an official identification tag. Anyone who has harvested a bobcat must have it tagged by March 14, 2006. All bobcats must be tagged by an authorized Wildlife Department employee or at a designated bobcat tagging station. A list of designated private bobcat tagging stations is available on the Department's Web site. Stations may charge a fee of 75 cents per tag. The tags need to be on the pelt to verify its legal harvest.

For a list of bobcat check stations, log on to the Department's Web site at www.wildlifedepartment.com or contact the Wildlife Division at (405) 521-2739.

Commission accepts nearly $100,000 in donations

        The Wildlife Conservation Commission voted unanimously to accept almost $100,000 of donations for fish and wildlife conservation work in the state at their December meeting. Presentations for the donations were made at the Commission’s November meeting, however, Commissioners were unable to formally accept the donations at the meeting because there was not a quorum.

         The following donations were accepted by the Commission.

         Also at the meeting, after considerable discussion, the Commission voted to postpone proposed emergency rules regarding mussel harvest and sales until the January Wildlife Commission meeting. Wildlife Department staff will work with interested parties on the proposed rules.

         In other business, the Commission voted to advertise for sealed bids to lease the Wildlife’s Department’s half-interest mineral rights on 239 acres in Ellis County.

         Additionally, the Commission approved dates for the 2006 Wildlife Conservation Commission meetings. Meetings are scheduled for: Jan. 9, Feb. 6, March 6, April 3, May 1, June 5, July 10, Aug. 7, Sept 11, Oct. 2, Nov. 6 and Dec. 4.

         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 Jan. 9 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.

 

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 Hunters encouraged to take advantage of special antlerless seasons

         Don’t put up that deer hunting equipment yet, there is still plenty of opportunity for deer hunters to harvest a deer with the special antlerless deer gun seasons coming soon.

         The first three-day hunt, to be held Dec. 16 through 18, will be restricted to the north central and northwestern portion of the state. Much of the state, except for the far southeast and the panhandle, will also have three days of antlerless-only gun hunting running from Dec. 30 through Jan. 1. Hunters should consult the antlerless deer hunt zone map on page 14 of the “2005-06 Oklahoma Hunting Guide” to determine which areas will offer the special antlerless deer gun seasons.

            "Not only are these seasons a great way to extend your time in the deer woods, they also offer hunters another opportunity to harvest an antlerless deer. Harvesting does is the most effective deer management strategies that can be employed in many areas of the state," said Mike Shaw, wildlife research supervisor for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. “These special antlerless deer gun seasons were established to better manage the state's deer population, and so far they have been a big success.”

         Hunters who participate in the special antlerless deer gun season must possess a special antlerless deer gun license in addition to their annual hunting license. Lifetime hunting and combination license holders are exempt and do not need to buy the special antlerless deer gun license. Hunters must also possess a fishing and hunting legacy permit.

         The statewide season limit during the special antlerless deer gun season is one antlerless deer, but it is not counted within each deer hunter’s combined season limit of six (6) deer. All hunters participating in the special antlerless deer gun season must comply with the same hunter orange requirements as set forth for the regular deer gun season, as well as tagging and checking requirements. Archery deer hunters and those hunting other species (quail, squirrel, pheasant, etc.) must wear either a hunter orange hat or vest in areas open during the special antlerless deer gun season.

         To learn more about the special antlerless gun season and deer management in Oklahoma, consult the “2005-06 Oklahoma Hunting Guide” or log on to the Wildlife Department’s Web site at www.wildlifedepartment.com.

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 Second opener has waterfowl hunters hoping for rain

          Duck hunters will get a few extra days to sleep in this month. This year’s 74-day duck season includes a 12-day mid season closure. In past years the closure, known commonly as the “split,” has run only five days.

         “Hopefully, this longer split will allow duck numbers to build up in a few areas and allow duck hunters to spend some time scouting to increase their success during the second half of the season,” said Alan Stacey, wetland habitat biologist for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.

         According to Stacey, most waterfowlers are also hoping the split will also bring rain across much of the state.

          “Most waterfowl hunters want two things, plenty of cold weather and plenty of water. This year we have had a few good cold fronts and even some snow and ice in the northern states, but we’re extremely dry across most of the entire state,” said Stacey. “However, I’m optimistic that the second half of the season could be good. There are thousands of acres of wetland foods available, but we are just waiting on rain to fill those areas with water to make those resources available to the ducks.”

         In zone 1 (most of northwest Oklahoma), the second half of duck season begins Dec. 17 and runs through Jan. 22, 2006.  Be sure to see the regulations for specific zone boundaries.  In zone 2, the duck season opens again on Dec. 17 and runs through Jan. 29, 2006.  Duck season in the panhandle counties runs continuously through Jan. 11, 2006. Consult the regulations for specific pintail and canvasback seasons.

        Hunters can log on to www.wildlifedepartment.com to check out the latest waterfowl reports and wetland status reports.

          Hunters who wish to participate in the waterfowl season must posses the following permits, unless exempt:

         The federal duck stamp costs $15 and is available at U.S. Post Offices. Hunters pursuing sandhill cranes must also purchase a separate sandhill crane hunting permit.

         Hunters should consult the “2005-06 Waterfowl Hunting Guide” for complete hunting regulations and license requirements. Waterfowl Guides are available at hunting and fishing license dealers statewide or hunters can obtain complete regulation information from the Wildlife Department’s Web site at www.wildlifedepartment.com

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Wildlife Department schedules public hearings

            The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation will hold a series of public hearings Jan. 9-10 to gather input on a broad slate of proposed hunting and fishing regulations changes.

    Most notable among the 42 proposed changes are extending the deer muzzleloader season to 16 days and reducing the total annual buck harvest from three to two.

“We are always looking for ways to provide more opportunities for the sportsmen of the state, while at the same time doing the best job possible in providing for healthy wildlife populations,” said Mike Shaw, wildlife research supervisor for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. “Lengthening the muzzleloader season will give hunters an extra week in the woods to pursue Oklahoma’s most popular big game animal.”

A second proposal would reduce the number of bucks that a hunter may harvest annually from three to two.

“We hope this proposed regulation will remind hunters that they are not just strict consumers of wildlife, they are truly wildlife managers. Every time a hunter pulls the trigger, he or she is making a management decision that will have an impact on the deer herd,” Shaw said.

According to Alan Peoples, chief of wildlife for the Department, the two proposals will be presented as a package.

“We believe these two proposals will benefit both hunters and the deer, but we don’t want to move forward on one change without moving ahead on both,” Peoples said.

Regulation changes can originate from a number of sources, including Department field staff, citizens and conservation groups. After being considered by a review committee, recommendations are scheduled for public hearings, which allow citizens to voice their opinions on the proposed changes. These public hearings constitute the public input phase of the process. The recommendations and public comments are then submitted to the Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Commission, which can accept, amend or reject the recommendations. Hunting regulations changes would take effect in the Fall of 2006 and the fishing regulation changes would take effect Jan. 1, 2007

Other notable proposed regulation changes include:

 Those who would like to provide input about the proposed changes, but are unable to attend one of the scheduled hearings, may e-mail their comments through the Department’s Web site at www.wildlifedepartment.com or by mailing comments to: Attn: Proposed hunting and fishing regulation changes-ODWC, P.O. Box 53465, Oklahoma City, OK 73152.  All comments are weighted equally whether received in writing or delivered at a meeting. All comments must be received by Jan. 13 at 4:30 p.m.

Following is a list of public hearing dates, times and locations:

Date:  January 9, 2006
Time:  7:00 p.m.
 
Ada - Pontotoc County Technology Center - 601 W. 33rd
Caddo - Durant Fish Hatchery -2021 Caddo Hwy
Lawton - Lawton Public Library - 410 SW 4th Street
Okmulgee - East Central Electric Cooperative - 2001 South Wood Drive
Tahlequah - Indian Capital Vo-Tech - Herb Roselle Seminar Center - 240 Vo-Tech Rd.
 
Date:  January 10, 2006
Time:  7:00 p.m.
Altus - Altus Public Library - 421 N. Hudson
Idabel - Kiamichi Technical Center - Intersection of Hwy 70 and 259 North of Idabel
Oklahoma City - Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation - 1801 N. Lincoln Blvd.
Tulsa - Tulsa Technology Center Riverside Campus - Aud. Rm A150 - 801 E. 91st St
Woodward - Northwest Electric - 2925 Williams Ave.

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American wigeon to be featured on the 2006 Oklahoma waterfowl stamp

        James Hublick from Harrison, Arkansas took first place in the 2006 Oklahoma Waterfowl Stamp competition held Dec. 9 at the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation's central office in Oklahoma City with his painting of an American wigeon.

         The Oklahoma duck stamp program was designed to ensure quality habitat for the hundreds of thousands of ducks and geese that migrate through the state. The program, which began in 1980, features portraits of the state’s diverse waterfowl species by the nation’s best artists.

         "Throughout the years the duck stamp program has been highly successful for both waterfowl and waterfowl hunters,” said Alan Stacey, wetland habitat biologist for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. “For instance, funds derived from the duck stamp program are used each year in our aerial millet seeding operations. This millet provides nutritious forage for ducks and provides good opportunities for duck hunters.”

         According to Stacey, many projects funded through duck stamp sales are currently focused on enhancing and renovating existing wetland areas around the state. The program generates funding for waterfowl conservation projects through the sale of waterfowl licenses, which are required of waterfowl hunters, and stamp sales, many of which are purchased by collectors. The program has helped purchase 11,675 wetland acres and enhance, create, restore and maintain thousands of additional acres of critical waterfowl habitat. Wetland development units such as Hackberry Flat Wildlife Management Area in southwest Oklahoma and the Red Slough Wildlife Management Area in McCurtain County, have benefited from duck stamp funds.

         Three honorable mentions were named in the 2006 contest as well. They were;

         A selection of the winning 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.

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Caption:  James Hublick’s painting of an American wigeon took first place in the 2006 Oklahoma Waterfowl Stamp competition.

 

Bald eagles in Oklahoma

            Look up this winter to spot the seven-foot wingspan of a soaring bald eagle at an eagle watch near you. All across the state 18 locations offer more than 50 chances to see the nation’s emblem in the wild. Most events are free and dates and event details are available at www.wildlifedepartment.com or call for a free brochure at (405) 521-4616.

            Eagles are beginning to arrive in Oklahoma and their numbers will peak during January. As lakes up north freeze, eagles migrate south to find open water and food. Oklahoma has more miles of shoreline than the east and west coasts combined. This is attractive to the 750 to 1,500 eagles that migrate here each winter. Those numbers make Oklahoma one of the top 10 states in the nation for winter eagle viewing.

Eagle watches are hosted by state parks, lake management offices, national wildlife refuges and local Audubon Societies. Most events feature eagle programs and guided eagle viewing. Some events include a captive bald eagle. These event locations are good places to see eagles all winter long. Attend an event or plan a trip on your own.

The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation annually compiles a list of events to help Oklahomans discover where to view this majestic bird. Log onto wildlifedepartment.com to find an eagle watch near you. 

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Caption: The bald eagle is one of the largest birds of prey in the world and can fly at speeds of 20 to 40 miles per hour. Photo credit: Missouri Department of Conservation

 

Time to renew hunting and fishing licenses

            It’s that time of year again - time for Oklahoma sportsmen to renew their annual hunting and fishing licenses.

            Anglers heading to one of Oklahoma’s eight designated trout streams around the state should remember to purchase a new trout license, legacy permit and annual fishing license for the new year (all expire Dec. 31).

            Hunters who take the opportunity to harvest an antlerless deer on the last day (Jan. 1) of the upcoming special antlerless deer season will need to purchase a new annual hunting license and legacy permit, however they will not need to purchase a new special antlerless deer license as it is valid through Jan. 1, 2006.

            Bowhunters who plan to hunt through the end of archery deer season (Jan.1 through 15 antlerless only) should also be mindful about renewing licenses and permits. Unless archers possess a lifetime hunting or lifetime combination license, they will need a 2006 annual hunting license, 2006 legacy permit and a 2006 archery deer license to hunt from Jan. 1 through Jan. 15. Bowhunters who purchase a new 2006 deer archery license, but do not harvest a deer in January, should hold onto their permit. The unfilled license remains valid throughout the fall of 2006 (Oct. 1 – Dec. 31).

            Hunters and anglers also need a new hunting and fishing legacy permit to hunt or fish beginning Jan. 1 unless exempt.

            Three licenses that do not expire Dec. 31 are harvest information program (HIP) permits and state and federal waterfowl permits (which run from July 1 through the end of the following June). In addition, trapping licenses expire Jan. 31. The special Bobcat-Raccoon-Gray Fox license expires Jan. 31 for raccoon and gray fox and Feb. 28 for bobcat.

            All annual licenses and even a subscription to “Outdoor Oklahoma” magazine can be purchased at any license vendor statewide or online at wildlifedepartment.com.

            Complete license requirements and exemptions are outlined in the “2005-06 Oklahoma Hunting Guide and the 2005 Oklahoma Fishing Guide.” These publications are available at hunting and fishing license dealers statewide or by logging on to the Department’s Web site at wildlifedepartment.com.

            Information is also available from the Department's licensing section at (405) 521-3852.

 

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 Be a Winter Bird Survey participant

            If you feed and watch birds at home, the Wildlife Department could use your assistance with the 18th annual Winter Bird Survey. When you join in the survey, you help biologists follow Oklahoma's winter bird populations.

            “More than 400 households participated in last year’s survey.  These people provided hundreds of hours worth of data from around the state, that’s more than we could ever do without their help,” said Jenny Thom, natural resources information specialist for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.

            According to Thom, participating in the survey is simple and a great way to get kids involved in bird watching.

            “Just choose two days between Thursday, Jan. 12, and Sunday, Jan. 15, and count and record the birds visiting your feeders,” Thom said.

            Survey results help state biologists track annual changes in bird populations. Biologists then assess if fluctuations are normal, point to changes in the birds ranges, or warn of potential conservation problems.

            “The simplest way to send in your results is through the Wildlife Department’s Web site at wildlifedepartment.com. It’s fast, easy and you get to save a stamp,” Thom said.

            Additional information such as survey forms, instructions and contact information is available at http://www.wildlifedepartment.com

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2006 habitat donor patch features scaled quail

Since 1986, Oklahoma outdoor enthusiasts have been making donations to the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation to be used for land purchases and/or land access – and they receive a handsome wildlife habitat donor patch for their generosity.

The 2006 wildlife habitat donor patch is now available and features one of Oklahoman’s most unique game birds, the scaled quail, also called the blue quail.

Whether you are a lifelong quail hunter or a backyard bird watcher, the new patch is a must-have. Habitat patches cost $10 and can be purchased from the Department's headquarters in Oklahoma City at the corner of N.E.18th and Lincoln Blvd., and at ODWC field offices in Jenks, Caddo, Holdenville, Lawton or Porter.

The ODWC will also soon offer habitat caps that feature the same scaled quail design as the 2006 Habitat Donor patches. The caps will be offered in camouflage, tan and camo-hunter orange including the currently popular low-profile style of ballcap. When they become available (early February), caps can be purchased for $15 at either the Department headquarters in Oklahoma City, or the Jenks office adjacent to the Oklahoma Aquarium.

Additionally, patches-$10, or caps-$18 ($15 +$3 P&H) can be ordered by mail through the Department's Outdoor Store. Outdoor Store order forms may be found in “Outdoor Oklahoma” magazine and on the Department's Web site: www.wildlifedepartment.com

Other orders can be made by simply sending a cashiers check or money order to the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, Attn: Habitat Donor Patches, P.O. Box 53465, Oklahoma City, OK 73152.

For more information about ordering a habitat patch or cap, call (405) 521-3852.

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   Caption: The 2006 Habitat Donor Patch features the scaled quail and is a great gift for any outdoor enthusiast.

Winter trout fishing offers holiday get-away

Were there too many relatives at your house for Christmas? You deserve a break from the in-laws, so head to one of Oklahoma’s designated trout areas.

The areas offer first-class fishing, great scenery and all the time you need to relax after shopping at the mall.

Stretching across Oklahoma, five winter-only fisheries currently provide trout fishing in areas where warm water temperatures are not suitable for trout during the summer. They are stocked regularly (Nov. 1 to March 31) with catchable size rainbow trout and are very popular with anglers all over the state. Additionally, the lower Illinois River and the lower Mountain Fork River offer trout fishing year-round and include the opportunity to also catch a brown trout.

A small rod and reel and a few trout-sized jigs or spinners is all you need to try your hand at catching a feisty trout.

Anglers can find up-to-date trout stocking schedules posted on the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation's Web site, www.wildlifedepartment.com

Once logged on the “Fishing” page within the Department's Web site, choose “Trout Areas” then "Stocking Schedule" for the complete schedule.

In addition to a fishing license, trout anglers must also purchase a trout license, which costs $10, youth trout licenses (17 and under) are available for $5. A hunting and fishing legacy permit also is required, unless exempt.

Before heading out on a winter fishing trip anglers should remember to purchase a new annual fishing license and review the regulations by picking up a copy of the current Oklahoma Fishing Guide.

Note: Trout stocking at Lake Carl Etling in Cimarron County (within Black Mesa State Park) has been suspended due to extremely low water levels.

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"Your Side of the Fence” newsletter available free to landowners

When it comes to managing your property, whether it be for wildlife, agriculture or both, there are certainly a lot of decisions to be made. The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation is providing landowners the information they need to make wise land management decisions through the “Your Side of the Fence” landowner newsletter.

“Since approximately 97 percent of the land in the state is owned by private individuals, private landowners have a major impact on wildlife habitat in the state, said John Hendricks, private lands biologist for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. “The land practices they choose are vital in conserving habitat and wildlife resources.”

Each issue of “Your Side of the Fence” is packed with informative articles covering issues that are important to landowners, from the latest farm bill news, to pond management for fishing to controlling invasive range species. The best part is that the newsletter is absolutely free.

The newsletter is produced three times a year and an archive of all previous issues can be seen by logging on to the Department’s Web site at www.wildlifedepartment.com

For more information about “Your Side of the Fence,” or to subscribe call, (405) 521-3855 or write to: Your Side of the Fence, Attn: Editor, Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, P.O. Box 53465, Oklahoma City, OK 73152.

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2006 habitat donor patch features scaled quail

Since 1986, Oklahoma outdoor enthusiasts have been making donations to the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation to be used for land purchases and/or land access – and they receive a handsome wildlife habitat donor patch for their generosity.

The 2006 wildlife habitat donor patch is now available and features one of Oklahoman’s most unique game birds, the scaled quail, also called the blue quail.

Whether you are a lifelong quail hunter or a backyard bird watcher, the new patch is a must-have. Habitat patches cost $10 and can be purchased from the Department's headquarters in Oklahoma City at the corner of N.E.18th and Lincoln Blvd., and at ODWC field offices in Jenks, Caddo, Holdenville, Lawton or Porter.

The ODWC will also soon offer habitat caps that feature the same scaled quail design as the 2006 Habitat Donor patches. The caps will be offered in camouflage, tan and camo-hunter orange including the currently popular low-profile style of ballcap. When they become available (early February), caps can be purchased for $15 at either the Department headquarters in Oklahoma City, or the Jenks office adjacent to the Oklahoma Aquarium.

Additionally, patches-$10, or caps-$18 ($15 +$3 P&H) can be ordered by mail through the Department's Outdoor Store. Outdoor Store order forms may be found in “Outdoor Oklahoma” magazine and on the Department's Web site: www.wildlifedepartment.com

Other orders can be made by simply sending a cashiers check or money order to the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, Attn: Habitat Donor Patches, P.O. Box 53465, Oklahoma City, OK 73152.

For more information about ordering a habitat patch or cap, call (405) 521-3852.

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   Caption: The 2006 Habitat Donor Patch features the scaled quail and is a great gift for any outdoor enthusiast.

Winter trout fishing offers holiday get-away

Were there too many relatives at your house for Christmas? You deserve a break from the in-laws, so head to one of Oklahoma’s designated trout areas.

The areas offer first-class fishing, great scenery and all the time you need to relax after shopping at the mall.

Stretching across Oklahoma, five winter-only fisheries currently provide trout fishing in areas where warm water temperatures are not suitable for trout during the summer. They are stocked regularly (Nov. 1 to March 31) with catchable size rainbow trout and are very popular with anglers all over the state. Additionally, the lower Illinois River and the lower Mountain Fork River offer trout fishing year-round and include the opportunity to also catch a brown trout.

A small rod and reel and a few trout-sized jigs or spinners is all you need to try your hand at catching a feisty trout.

Anglers can find up-to-date trout stocking schedules posted on the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation's Web site, www.wildlifedepartment.com Once logged on the “Fishing” page within the Department's Web site, choose “Trout Areas” then "Stocking Schedule" for the complete schedule.

In addition to a fishing license, trout anglers must also purchase a trout license, which costs $10, youth trout licenses (17 and under) are available for $5. A hunting and fishing legacy permit also is required, unless exempt.

Before heading out on a winter fishing trip anglers should remember to purchase a new annual fishing license and review the regulations by picking up a copy of the current Oklahoma Fishing Guide.

Note: Trout stocking at Lake Carl Etling in Cimarron County (within Black Mesa State Park) has been suspended due to extremely low water levels.

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"Your Side of the Fence” newsletter available free to landowners

When it comes to managing your property, whether it be for wildlife, agriculture or both, there are certainly a lot of decisions to be made. The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation is providing landowners the information they need to make wise land management decisions through the “Your Side of the Fence” landowner newsletter.

“Since approximately 97 percent of the land in the state is owned by private individuals, private landowners have a major impact on wildlife habitat in the state, said John Hendricks, private lands biologist for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. “The land practices they choose are vital in conserving habitat and wildlife resources.”

Each issue of “Your Side of the Fence” is packed with informative articles covering issues that are important to landowners, from the latest farm bill news, to pond management for fishing to controlling invasive range species. The best part is that the newsletter is absolutely free.

The newsletter is produced three times a year and an archive of all previous issues can be seen by logging on to the Department’s Web site at http://www.wildlifedepartment.com

For more information about “Your Side of the Fence,” or to subscribe call, (405) 521-3855 or write to: Your Side of the Fence, Attn: Editor, Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, P.O. Box 53465, Oklahoma City, OK 73152.

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