APRIL 2006 NEWS RELEASES 

 

WEEK OF APRIL 27, 2006

WEEK OF APRIL 20, 2006

WEEK OF APRIL 13, 2006

 

WEEK OF APRIL 6, 2006

 

Antlerless deer season dates set by the Wildlife Conservation Commission

         The Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Commission established the 2006-07 antlerless deer season dates for this fall’s hunting seasons at their April meeting.

         “Essentially the dates will remain the same as last year, with only minor calendar adjustments,” said Alan Peoples, wildlife chief for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. “However, we did make one small change. After hearing from hunters in southeast Oklahoma (zone 10) we have moved the antlerless deer day in the middle of the regular gun season to a Saturday, rather than Sunday.”

         The Commission also approved the dates and areas for the special antlerless deer seasons to be held the weekends before Christmas and New Year’s Day.

         In other business, the Commission accepted a $3,750 donation from Sam Barrick. He, along with several other businessmen and landowners in Carter and Love counties, made the donation to the Wildlife Department. The funds will be used to purchase a variety of law enforcement equipment.

         Also at their April meeting, Travis Schnaithman, state FFA secretary, presented the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation a plaque of appreciation for the Department’s contribution to the FFA sporting clays program. Ed Cunnius, Shotgun Training Education Program (STEP) coordinator, accepted the plaque on behalf of the Wildlife Department.

            “There would be no FFA sporting clay events without Ed Cunnius and the STEP program,” Schnaithman told the Commission.

               More than 400 school districts and over 1,000 students are involved in this innovative FFA school participation program.

            The Wildlife Department’s STEP program offers seminars free of charge for groups of 25 or more people. Guns, ammunition and targets are provided through the program and there is a different seminar for every skill level. The STEP program has seven trailers located statewide fully equipped to conduct shooting seminars. 

            In other business, Assistant Director Richard Hatcher gave commissioners an update on bills in the Oklahoma state legislature, relating to fish and wildlife conservation. A daily update of the progress of those bills is available on the Department’s Web site at http://www.wildlifedepartment.com/         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 May 1 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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 Okmulgee Archery Day marks nationwide-first event

            More than 90 fifth graders gathered at the Deep Fork National Wildlife Refuge for the Okmulgee Archery Day March 28 – the first event of its kind ever held at a national wildlife refuge in the U.S.

            The day-long event showcased an innovative archery education curriculum called the Archery in the Schools program.  Offering a two-week long, archery curriculum, the program is designed to introduce Oklahoma students to archery. The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation coordinates the ambitious program.

            The Okmulgee Archery Day featured an Olympic archer, a wild game lunch, and various outdoor-related education stations. The event was capped off by an archery shoot-off between the three attending schools – Beggs, Morris and Wilson. The Wilson fifth graders took home the team trophy.

“I’m not sure who had more fun today, the adults or the kids. This event is a great testimony to what a community can accomplish when they rally around a worthwhile project – like the Archery in the Schools Program,” said Colin Berg, education supervisor for the Wildlife Department. “Of course the kids love it, because shooting a bow and arrow is just plain fun. Educators are telling us that the program allows them to fulfill several state and national curriculum guidelines. And it is good for sportsmen because it shares the sport of archery with many people who otherwise wouldn’t be exposed to it.”

To date, Oklahoma is one of 36 states that have adopted the Archery in the Schools program. In 2005, about 500,000 students across the nation went through the Archery in the Schools curriculum. With more than 60 schools already involved in Oklahoma, the program is quickly gaining popularity among students and teachers alike.

             To participate in the Archery in the Schools program, teachers must simply attend a free one-day training session conducted by certified instructors. Once a teacher has completed the training course, their school is eligible to purchase an equipment kit. To learn how to bring this exciting program to your school, contact:

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 Winners of the Okmulgee Archery Day tournament – girls category 

Winners of the Okmulgee Archery Day tournament – boys category 

  

Department accepting applications for youth wildlife camp

            Kids who love the outdoors will want to turn in their application to attend the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation's Wildlife Youth Camp. Youth interested in wildlife, fisheries and law enforcement can have fun and learn a thing or two at the weeklong camp, which is conducted each year by wildlife professionals including game wardens and biologists.

            “It is one of my favorite events of the year. The camp is a great opportunity for kids to learn what wildlife professionals do on a day to day to basis. And the thing parents will like the most – it’s absolutely free,” said Jon Cunningham, camp coordinator and Oklahoma game warden stationed in Payne County.

            Scheduled June 11-16 at Camp McFadden near Ponca City, the camp is open to Oklahoma youths ages 14 to 16. Applicants must turn 14 prior to June 11, 2006. Participants will attend courses in firearms handling, wildlife law enforcement, wildlife and fisheries biology, water safety, self-defense, rifle and shotgun training, waterfowl hunting and archery.

            The camp is free of charge, but will be limited to 35 participants. Applicants should be interested in fish and wildlife management or law enforcement and must submit a 75-word essay explaining why they want to attend the camp, why they believe they should be selected and what they expect to learn while attending. They must also submit a letter of recommendation from a person of their choice other than a family member.

            The application deadline is April 28. To obtain applications, contact the Wildlife Department's Law Enforcement Division at P.O. Box 53465, Oklahoma City, OK 73152, or call (405) 521-3719. Applications may also be available from local wardens or from the Wildlife Department's Web site at www.wildlifedepartment.com. Simply print off the application, fill it out and mail it in with the essay and letter of recommendation.

            In addition to the Wildlife Youth Camp, there are a wide variety of outdoor-related camps listed on the Department’s Web site at wildlifedepartment.com. Specifically, the 2006 Youth Forestry and Wildlife Camp, June 5-10, will be held at Beaver’s Bend State Park. Wildlife Department personnel will be assisting with the camp and teaching youth about the area’s unique wildlife and outdoor opportunities. For more information log on whatisforestry.org.

 

 

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 Great Plains Trail of Oklahoma offers endless opportunities for wildlife enthusiasts

            Oklahoma’s premiere wildlife trail is now ready for travelers! The Great Plains Trail of Oklahoma will be revealed at 4:30 p.m. on April 29, 2006 at the Salt Plains National Wildlife Refuge in Jet. Join the kick off celebration, which is in conjunction with the refuge’s two-day Crystal and Birding Festival.

            The Great Plains Trail consists of 13 highway-based, driving loops that span the entire western portion of the state. Each loop guides travelers through areas with the best opportunities to view wildlife and includes designated stopping points on both public and private areas. The trail assists travelers in experiencing varied wildlife habitats in addition to the culture and hospitality of small towns in western Oklahoma. 

            A Great Plains Trail Scenic Drive Map was developed to outline each loop in detail, including terrain, types of wildlife in the area, and lodging.  With stops along historical sites, the map showcases the state’s rich Native American  heritage and early settlements of the West. It includes opportunities to explore off-the-beaten-path travel routes and some of the most scenic and remote roads in Oklahoma.

            Development of the 13 designated trails marks the combined effort of local citizens, landowners, non-profit organizations, conservation groups, government agencies, businesses and communities in western Oklahoma.  The idea for the trail began five years ago during a meeting of the High Plains Resource, Conservation and Development (RC&D) group - a non-profit organized to revitalize rural Oklahoma.

            “We were talking about the wildlife birding trails in Texas, and we just started brainstorming about how we could do something similar in Oklahoma,” explained Kenny Knowles, chairman of the Oklahoma Wildlife & Prairie Heritage Alliance.  “It (the trail) had meager beginnings, but one thing led to another and now we have the designated trails and a map.”

            The Oklahoma Wildlife & Prairie Heritage Alliance was soon born thereafter to address the trail idea and other wildlife issues and concerns. 

            “People don’t realize all the treasures we have in western Oklahoma,” Knowles said. “To help sustain our way of life, we’re hoping to increase tourism in the area. Any increase will be a boon to our communities.”

            The trail is a collaborative effort of the Oklahoma Wildlife & Prairie Heritage Alliance, the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, Playa Lakes Joint Venture, Oklahoma Economic Development Authority, High Plains RC&D, Great Plains RC&D, and the Oklahoma Tourism & Recreation Department.

            For more information on the Grand Opening Celebration, contact Trapper Heglin of the Oklahoma Wildlife & Prairie Heritage Alliance at (580) 735-2323 or visit www.wildlifedepartment.com. To request a copy of the trail map, visit the Oklahoma Tourism & Recreation Department’s Web site at www.TravelOK.com, or call 1-800-652-6552.  The map is also available at any Oklahoma Welcome Center.

 

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Tournament report shows size and number of bass on the increase

Bass fishing is good in Oklahoma and is getting better according to the 2005 Oklahoma Bass Tournaments Report recently released by the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.

            “This is now the fourth year in a row we have seen an increase in the both the number and size of bass reported at tournaments,” said Gene Gilliland, senior fisheries biologist for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.

            According to Gilliland the upswing can be attributed to two factors.

            “First, most of the lakes in the state are now on the rebound from the largemouth bass virus that came through several years ago,” Gilliland said. “And second, many lakes had good reproduction years in 2001-2003. Those young fish are now showing up as keeper-sized bass at tournament weigh-ins.”

            With an estimated 1,200 tournaments held each year in the state, tournament anglers are an important part of the Department’s fisheries management team. In the course of their pursuits, they provide biologists with hundreds of thousands of hours of fishing data every year.

            “According to tournament reports, 38,623 bass were weighed in 2005. Those fish weighed 82,653 pounds – that’s an impressive 18 percent increase over last years figures,” Gilliland said.

            The number of bass over five pounds was up 14 percent over last year. Even more impressive, the number of bass over eight pounds was up 33 percent over 2004.

            Cooperating bass clubs submitted data from more than 723 tournaments from 60 lakes in 2005. Biologists analyzed the information and compiled an overall lake ranking based on five fishing quality factors. Ft. Gibson Lake can claim the title as the best bass tournament lake in the state for 2005 according to the annual survey. Lawtonka, Grand, Broken Bow and Greenleaf lakes rounded out the top five.

            The 13-page 2005 Oklahoma Bass Tournaments Annual Report is available for viewing or downloading at www.wildlifedepartment.com/bassreports.htm

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It’s time to apply for controlled hunts

            Hunters can now submit their applications for the “2006-07 Controlled Hunts” over the Internet by logging onto www.wildlifedepartment.com/controlhunt.htm. Not only can hunters save a stamp by applying online, they can also confirm that their application has been received as soon as they apply.

            “When it comes right down to it, applying online is the way to go. It’s fast, it’s easy and the program will help ensure that you don’t make any mistakes on your application,” said Melinda Sturgess-Streich, chief of administration for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.

            Controlled hunts booklets are now available at hunting and fishing license dealers located throughout the state, as well as is in PDF format that can be printed off the Department’s Web site (wildlifedepartment.com). Applicants have until May 5, 2006, to turn in their applications.

            Administered by the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, the Controlled Hunts Program offers a wide variety of highly desirable hunts through a random drawing. Some hunts are held to provide high-quality hunting experiences on high-profile areas where it is necessary to regulate hunting pressure. Others are held to achieve management goals for certain species, and others are held to provide hunting experiences in areas where access is otherwise limited.

            A $5 fee is required of all applicants including lifetime hunting or lifetime combination license holders. This fee is good for ALL 2006-07 controlled hunt applications submitted by each sportsman. Since the fee is per person and not per application, hunters should decide to apply for all their hunt categories either by mail or online, but not both. Hunters who choose to mail in their applications must complete the processing fee payment form on page 24 of the controlled hunts booklet. Payment can be made by the following methods: cashier's check, money order, Visa or MasterCard.

            For complete application instructions, including tips on enhancing your chances of being selected, log on to www.wildlifedepartment.com/controlhunt.htm or consult the “2006-07 Oklahoma Controlled Hunts” booklet.

 

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Fishing across the state is good and getting better

   According to the weekly fishing report at wildlifedepartment.com, lakes all across the state are producing good stringers of fish.

            According to the most recent report, crappie are moving into shallow water and are rated as excellent at Lake Keystone, on the southeast edge of the Tulsa metro area. At Robert S. Kerr Lake, in east central Oklahoma, fishermen are catching white bass as they move up the Illinois River. In southeast Oklahoma, anglers are catching largemouth using spinnerbaits in creek mouths at Broken Bow Lake. At Canton Lake, near Watonga, channel cat fishing is reported as good in the upper end of the lake using cut bait and minnows. That is just a few of the good reports pouring in from across the state

            With so many outstanding reservoirs in Oklahoma it is tough to keep up with current fishing conditions, unless, that is, you go online to get up to the day fishing reports, at www.wildlifedepartment.com. Compiled by Wildlife Department personnel and independent reporters, the updated reports even include techniques and locations to increase angler success.

            Broken into five state regions, the pages also include other valuable information for the informed angler. Water temperature, water conditions and lake levels can help fishermen get the most out of their outings.

            Fishermen can even have the reports delivered right to their computer. To sign up for the weekly fishing report and other wildlife news go to http://www.wildlifedepartment.com

 Free fishing classes offered across the state

            More than 50 free fishing clinics are scheduled this summer at many different locations around the state. The fun, hands-on courses are all open to the public and are coordinated through the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.

            “These clinics are really fun for everyone involved and one of the best things is that the courses are almost always held near a pond and kids get to go fishing as part of the clinics,” said Damon Springer, aquatic resources education program coordinator for the Wildlife Department.

            Springer said fish identification, angler ethics, water safety, casting and knot tying are a few topics covered in the clinics which typically last about two to four hours. 

            To view a list of free fishing clinics log on to www.wildlifedepartment.com/aquated2.htm. To find out more about fishing opportunities in Oklahoma, Oklahoma's free fishing days, or more information about fishing clinics and other events happening across the state, log on to the Department's Web site at www.wildlifedepartment.com.

            Individuals interested in becoming a certified aquatic resources education program volunteer can contact Damon Springer at (405) 521-4603.

 

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 Crappie moving to shallow water across the state

         Forget the big fancy boat and huge tackle box – all you need to catch crappie this time of year is a rod and reel and a handful of jigs. Anglers are catching crappie across the state in shallow water, according to the weekly fishing report compiled by Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.

          From Canton, to Kaw, to Kerr, to Keystone lakes, anglers are catching crappie from the bank as the popular fish move into shallow water to spawn. Crappie fishing is one of the most popular fishing opportunities available due to their willingness to bite and their fine flavor at the dinner table.

         “The best place to fish for crappie this time of year is around brush in shallow water,” said Paul Mauck, southcentral region fisheries supervisor for the Wildlife Department. “Crappie can be found moving into shallow water to spawn once the water temperature reaches the upper 50s to lower 60s. Crappie spawning generally takes place in water only two to three feet deep.”

         Catching crappie is a great opportunity to introduce a youngster to fishing. No fancy gear is required. A small jig or minnow is often very effective.

          For a complete list of regulations, anglers should pick up a copy of the “2006 Oklahoma Fishing Guide” before heading out on any fishing adventure and check out specific lake conditions and fishing action by logging on to the Department’s Web site at www.wildlifedepartment.com.

 

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Brochure offers tips for attracting purple martins

            Time is running short to make your feathered neighbors welcome. Purple martins have begun arriving in Oklahoma and are looking for homes to raise their young. With cheerful, chattering calls, graceful flight and an appetite for insects, purple martins are welcome neighbors.

            The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation offers a free brochure on how to attract purple martins. To request a copy, call the Wildlife Diversity Program at (405) 521-4616 or write to P.O. Box 53465, Oklahoma City, OK 73152. You may also print a brochure from the Department's Web site  www.wildlifedepartment.com

            Purple martins once nested in rock crevices and hollow trees, but for the past 400 years they have been nesting in man-made structures. Native Americans and early settlers provided hollow gourds for martins to nest in. Today, purple martins in the eastern U.S. nest almost exclusively in manmade houses. To assist the modern-day purple martin landlord, houses are available commercially. These apartment style houses are made of aluminum, plastic and wood.

            Purple martins are among the first songbirds to return to Oklahoma. They spend the winter months in Brazil. The largest member of the swallow family, these dark, purplish birds measure up to eight inches long and have long, pointed wings, forked tails and broad beaks.

            Purple martins prefer to nest near broad, open fields and meadows within one-half mile of ponds, marshes, streams or other wetlands. They dine on insects and can catch up to several hundred per hour. They eat insect pests such as beetles, moths, wasps, flies and mosquitoes.

           

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Weather may alter trout stocking schedule

The recent storm fronts, although welcome, may not be enough to provide cool water for trout in Oklahoma this summer, according to the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. A combination of warm temperatures and lack of rainfall in recent months may force the Wildlife Department to alter its trout stocking schedule on the lower Illinois and the Lower Mountain Fork rivers.

 “Low water levels accompanied by unseasonably warm weather is creating a situation where trout kills can become likely if steps aren’t taken to minimize the risks,” Gary Peterson, northeast region fisheries biologist. “Our goal is to continue providing quality fishing opportunities for anglers on these areas while minimizing the potential for a fish kill.”

Tenkiller Lake, located immediately above the Lower Illinois River, is approximately 10 feet below normal. Water used for electric hydropower generation is released from the lake which provides cool enough water to support the downstream trout fishery. Low lake levels have slowed generation and therefore decreased water releases.  The lack of regular flows and the increase in daily air temperatures have increased water temperatures to levels that may become lethal for trout.

Last August, hot, dry weather forced Wildlife Department officials to suspend trout stocking on the Lower Mountain Fork River. Rains in early April raised Broken Bow Lake nearly 10 feet allowing a greater reservoir of cool water to be released into the Lower Mountain Fork River in the early summer months. However, the reservoir is already at a lower elevation than this time last year. Wildlife Department officials are monitoring the water levels and temperatures at both locations very closely to determine if trout stocking schedule alterations will become necessary. As temperatures increase, trout may have to be stocked upstream (closer to the dam) where cooler water temperatures exist, or if conditions warrant, not stocked at all. Wildlife Department officials are working with other agencies to investigate solutions for current and future water needs.

            Anglers who want to monitor the status of trout stocking should check the trout stocking schedule on the Wildlife Department’s Web site at www.wildlifedepartment.com

 

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 Last chance to apply for controlled hunts

            Hunters have until May 5 to submit their applications for the “2006-07 Controlled Hunts” over the Internet by logging onto www.wildlifedepartment.com/controlhunt.htm. Not only can hunters save a stamp by applying online, they can also confirm that their application has been received as soon as they apply.

            “When it comes right down to it, applying online is the way to go. It’s fast, it’s easy and the program will help ensure that you don’t make any mistakes on your application,” said Melinda Sturgess-Streich, chief of administration for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.

            Controlled hunts booklets are now available at hunting and fishing license dealers located throughout the state. However, this will be the final year that hunters can apply via the mailed-in application. Beginning next year (2007), the only method of applying for the controlled hunts will be via the Internet.

            Administered by the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, the Controlled Hunts Program offers a wide variety of highly desirable hunts through a random drawing. Some hunts are held to provide high-quality hunting experiences on high-profile areas where it is necessary to regulate hunting pressure. Others are held to achieve management goals for certain species, and others are held to provide hunting experiences in areas where access is otherwise limited.

            A $5 fee is required of all applicants including lifetime hunting or lifetime combination license holders. This fee is good for ALL 2006-07 controlled hunt applications submitted by each sportsman. Since the fee is per person and not per application, hunters should decide to apply for all their hunt categories either by mail or online, but not both. Hunters who choose to mail in their applications must complete the processing fee payment form on page 24 of the controlled hunts booklet. Payment can be made by the following methods: cashier's check, money order, Visa or MasterCard.

            For complete application instructions, including tips on enhancing your chances of being selected, log on to www.wildlifedepartment.com/controlhunt.htm or consult the “2006-07 Oklahoma Controlled Hunts” booklet.

 

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 Fish with your family today – make memories for a lifetime

            There is no better way to make family memories this spring than an afternoon of fishing. Oklahoma is blessed with a tremendous number of lakes, ponds and creeks that can provide some great family fishing.

            "Fishing is a great way to spend time with your family and friends. When you go fishing as a family you can make memories that you just can’t make with video games or a trip to the movies," said Gene Gilliland, senior fisheries biologist at the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.

            Gilliland added that you can just about drive any direction and find good fishing in Oklahoma.

            "The fishing is really picking up right now all across the state," Gilliland said. "But you don't have to travel to one the big reservoirs to find fish, often some of the best fishing can be found on smaller bodies of water such as municipal lakes or Wildlife Department lakes."

            Those looking for more family fishing fun may want to wet a line in one of the following lakes.

         Hunter Park Lake, located in Tulsa at 5804 East 91st Street between Yale and Sheridan, is an ideal place for the family to spend an entire day. This city park pond not only has three fishing docks on it, but the park also features a water playground where kids can cool off after a morning of fishing. The Wildlife Department offers several fishing clinics at the park each year - for more information go to www.wildlifedepartment.com.

         Pretty Water Lake in Sapulpa offers year-round fishing fun. The 20-acre spring fed lake has several additional amenities including three fishing piers, picnic tables and a recreation trail. In addition to a state fishing license, a $7.50 Sapulpa summer fishing license is needed. For more information, contact the Sapulpa Parks and Recreation Department at (918) 227-1534.

         Dolese Youth Park Lake located at NW 50th and Meridian in Oklahoma City is a great Close to Home fishing spot and is the site of many kid's fishing clinics each year. Children can learn how to identify certain fish species, how to cast a fishing line before then getting an opportunity to catch a fish. For more information about Dolese Lake fishing regulations or other Oklahoma City fishing opportunities call the Oklahoma City Parks and Recreation Department at (405) 755-4014.

         Lake Scott King, operated by the city of Ardmore, is snuggled up against the scenic Arbuckle mountains. The lake has an excellent population of crappie and catfish and offers picnic areas and a fishing dock. Children under the age of 16 are not required to purchase the $12.50 city fishing license. For more information concerning Lake Scott King or other Ardmore City lakes contact the Ardmore Parks and Recreation Department at (580) 223-4844.

         American Horse Lake, located in Blaine County 10 miles west of Geary, has long been known for its outstanding panfish population. The 100-acre Wildlife Department owned lake also has a nice population of largemouth bass. With picnic tables, grills and a boat ramp, the lake is the perfect spot for a family to spend the day.

            No matter where you choose to go, fishing with family and friends can be a great way to spend an evening or weekend. It is fun and relaxing and allows everyone the opportunity to connect with each other. Many lakes are located in the most scenic areas the state has to offer.

If you are planning a trip, be sure to get a copy of the “2006 Oklahoma Fishing Guide.” The regulations, as well as additional fishing information, are also available on the Department's Web site at www.wildlifedepartment.com.

 

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