DECEMBER 2010 NEWS RELEASES

WEEK OF DECEMBER 22, 2010

 

WEEK OF DECEMBER 9, 2010

 

WEEK OF DECEMBER 2, 2010

Free Waterfowl Report to help hunters plan second half of season
            The second portion of the Oklahoma waterfowl season in Zones 1 and 2 will reopen Dec. 11, and hunters can receive updates on their favorite hunting spots from home by e-mail.
            The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation’s weekly news release includes periodic waterfowl reports throughout the entire waterfowling season, and sportsmen can receive the information in their e-mail box by signing up on the Department’s Web site at wildlifedepartment.com. The next Waterfowl Report is slated for the second week of December.
            The Wildlife Department works with cooperators across the state that help compile the reports. As a result, waterfowlers get the most up to date information. According to Alan Stacey, wetland development biologist for the Wildlife Department, the waterfowl report is useful for hunters who have inflexible work schedules. He also advises hunters to watch the weather to increase their chances of picking the right day to go waterfowl hunting.
            “Northern cold fronts approaching our state during the hunting season are the ‘triggers’ which can increase bird numbers overnight,” Stacey said. “Bird movements moving just ahead of or during the front are common, and choosing the right day to go afield can often be critical.”
            Stacey also said hunters benefit from “fresh” birds moving through the state, since many have not yet been conditioned by local hunting pressure.
            Waterfowl hunters can sign up to receive the entire weekly news release by e-mail or choose to only receive the waterfowl reports. Stories in each week’s news release provide subscribers with timely, local information on everything from hunting and fishing news to eagle and bat-watching activities, and they refer readers to additional sources of information on topics relating to Oklahoma’s outdoors.
            Hunters who wish to participate in the waterfowl season must have a resident or non-resident hunting license. Additionally, waterfowl hunters must have a current Federal Duck Stamp and an Oklahoma Waterfowl License, 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 current “Oklahoma Waterfowl Hunting Guide” for complete hunting regulations and license requirements. The guide is available free online at wildlifedepartment.com or at locations across the state that sell hunting licenses or other sporting goods gear.
 
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Oklahoma grown seedlings available online
            All landowners can do something for wildlife, even if it just means planting some trees. And they can start by ordering tree seedlings from the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry.
            In partnership with the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, Oklahoma Forestry Services is offering three different packages of seedlings, called wildlife habitat improvement packages, that will enhance the habitat of deer, songbirds, turkey, quail and a variety of other wildlife. Each wildlife packet is made up of 25 each of four different species of trees and shrubs chosen specifically to improve the wildlife habitat of your property.
            “Planting the appropriate trees can be a great way to enhance wildlife habitat on your property,” said Mike Sams, private lands biologist for the Wildlife Department. “Planting a tree today can be a long-term investment for future generations.”
            According to foresters, the fall is the best time for preparing planting sites for seedlings, and the best time for planting seedlings spans from December through early April.
            Oklahoma grown seedlings are available to landowners for a broad range of conservation projects. Landowners use the trees for windbreaks to protect crops and livestock, timber production, water quality protection, erosion control or other natural resource projects such as firewood plantings and Christmas tree production.
            An online store is available where landowners can purchase their wildlife habitat improvement packages, as well as choose from over 35 species of trees and shrubs. Seedlings are one year old, bare-root, and each species is packaged in multiples of 50 with a minimum order of 100 trees. They are to be used in rural conservation plantings and cannot be used for ornamental plantings or resold as living trees.
            All orders will be handled on a first-come, first-served basis, so landowners are encouraged to visit
http://www.forestry.ok.gov  today to choose their tree seedlings for planting this winter. The seedlings will be available for pickup or shipment starting in early January 2011, but orders are being taken now via the online store or you can request a paper order form by contacting the Department’s Forest Regeneration Center at 800-517-FOREST.
 
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Wildlife viewing in Oklahoma is just a drive away
            Oklahomans who have ever noticed the small brown signs along roadsides across western Oklahoma depicting the silhouette of a scissortail flycatcher and the words “Great Plains Trail of Oklahoma” may wonder what the apparent road marker is communicating to drivers. But those traveling a loop of the Great Plains Trail already know that the signs serve as route markers for tourists looking for wildlife and unique landscapes throughout western Oklahoma. And since the upcoming holiday season centers on family, traditions and memories, a road trip on a system of routes designed especially for the chance to view wildlife may be just the way to encompass all three.
            The Great Plains Trail of Oklahoma links travelers of western Oklahoma on an auto-driving trail to destinations that offer a wide array of unique and interesting wildlife species while taking advantage of western Oklahoma’s small-town hospitality. The Trail includes 13 loops, each loop designed to provide the traveler with three days of accessible wildlife species, unique geologic features, large-scale prairies, brilliant starry skies, and gorgeous sunsets and sunrises.
            Destinations along the loops are diverse and include wildlife management areas, state parks, private ranches, bed & breakfasts and national wildlife refuges. All have been assessed for their wildlife viewing opportunities and carefully coordinated throughout the 13 loops to help tourists get the most from their drive.
            The coming months are ideal for wildlife viewing and for taking in breathtaking landscape views. Oklahoma’s more temperate winters means most reservoirs are ice-free and are attractive to wintering bald eagles, ducks and geese. Relatively snow-free prairies attract raptors to Oklahoma, as the hunt for rodents is much easier than farther north. This causes a substantial increase in red-tailed hawks perched on utility poles and Northern harriers soaring over the grasslands.
            Other common wildlife along loops of the Great Plains Trail include whitetail deer and winter bird visitors such as white-crowned sparrows and dark-eyed juncos. Mountain bluebirds can be found at the Sandy Sanders Wildlife Management Area on the Quartz Mountain Loop and Roman Nose State Park on the South Canadian Loop. American white pelicans are numerous at the Great Salt Plains National Wildlife Refuge on the Salt Plains Loop. Hackberry Flat Wildlife Management Area on the Hackberry Flat Loop has multitudes of ducks and geese, while the nearby Wichita Mountains National Wildlife Refuge has bison, prairie dogs, elk and short-eared owls. Hibernating bats can be seen in large clusters as you tour Alabaster Caverns on the Bats and Bluffs Loop. And awe-inspiring landscapes can be enjoyed on the Cimarron Loop and Gloss Mountain Loop.
            To start a new family tradition of touring a loop of the Great Plains Trail of Oklahoma during the holidays, log on to greatplainstrail.com, or contact Melynda Hickman, wildlife diversity biologist for the Wildlife Department, at (405) 424-0099 to request a roadmap of the loops that make up the trail.
 
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Wildlife Conservation in northeast Oklahoma to benefit from agency partnership
            The Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Commission approved a memorandum of understanding between the Wildlife Department and the Grand River Dam Authority (GRDA) that could lead to new public hunting opportunities in northeast Oklahoma.
            The new memorandum, approved by the Commission at its December meeting, could lead to the acquisition, development and management of up to 20,000 acres of land in the Neosho River watershed above Grand Lake.
            The GRDA operates hydropower facilities at Grand Lake and has historically provided in-lake mitigation for adverse impacts of their operations on fish and wildlife resources. These mitigation projects have included in-lake millet plantings for waterfowl and financing $100,000 a year for enhancing aquatic vegetation for fish habitat in the lake. Such efforts have proven to be only marginally successful and unpopular with some people who enjoy using the lake, but mitigation efforts under the new memorandum are expected to yield better results that are more beneficial to wildlife and more useful for sportsmen.
            “For the past several years the Wildlife Department has suggested that mitigation efforts could be better accomplished at sites adjacent to the lake,” said Barry Bolton, chief of fisheries for the Wildlife Department. “To that end, GRDA has recently begun to acquire acreage in the Neosho River drainage upstream from the lake. This effort would help GRDA meet their mandated mitigation requirements, but also — from our standpoint — would provide significant waterfowl and upland hunting opportunity in northeast Oklahoma where we don’t have a lot of acres of wildlife management areas.”
            To date, the GRDA has already acquired over 3,000 acres from willing sellers to be managed as part of the project.
            According to Bolton, the next step in the process is to continue land acquisition efforts and work to create management and wetland develop plans that would someday provide functional wetland units and hunting opportunities.
            In other business, the Commission accepted a bid from Devon Energy to purchase water from American Horse Lake. The Wildlife Department owns the lake, and the water must be drained to allow for repairs.
            “Since we are going to be renovating the dam and lowering the lake water level anyway, this one-time sale will help us get the most out of the excess water resource instead of releasing it downstream,” Bolton said.
            The Commission also heard a presentation from Jim Edwards, assistant director of operations for the Wildlife Department, on a resolution to adopt a wildlife restitution schedule that assigns a recommended dollar value to a number of wildlife species that violators could be held responsible for in the event one of the animals is killed illegally.
            Edwards also announced to the Commission his retirement effective Dec. 31.
            “The people of the Wildlife Department are what makes your agency so great,” Edwards told the Commission. “The people that work for the Wildlife Department are not recruited by the Wildlife Department. The people recruit the Wildlife Department as their employer.”
            Edwards relayed a story from his childhood when his grandfather urged him to be a game warden, and Edwards made that a reality in 1982. In 2006, he was promoted to assistant chief of the Wildlife Department’s law enforcement division, where he remained until July 2009 when he promoted to assistant director of operations.
            The Commission also adopted a procedures manual for the Wildlife Department’s reserve game warden program and recognized Steve Bray, wildlife technician stationed at Deep Fork, Heyburn and Okmulgee wildlife management areas, for 20 years of service to the Wildlife Department.
            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 set for 9 a.m., Jan. 3, at the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation headquarters (auditorium), located at the southwest corner of 18th and North Lincoln, Oklahoma City.
 
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Hunters to enjoy 10-day holiday antlerless deer gun season
            New this year, the holiday antlerless deer gun season will be increased to 10 days and will run Dec. 17 through Dec. 26 in open areas.
            Last year, the holiday antlerless season took place the weekends just prior to and immediately following Christmas Day, for a total of just six days.
            Most of the state will be open to antlerless hunting those days, excluding most of the panhandle and portions of southeast Oklahoma. All public hunting areas and private lands in southeast Oklahoma’s zone 10 are closed to the holiday antlerless deer gun season, except for Three Rivers Wildlife Management Area, which will be open to antlerless gun hunting during the 10-day season. Seasons on other public lands also may vary from statewide season dates. For a map of Oklahoma’s antlerless deer hunt zones and to see which counties will be open for the holiday antlerless deer gun season, consult page 23 of the current “Oklahoma Hunting Guide,” as well as the “Oklahoma Public Lands” section in the back of the guide for seasons on specific public areas.
            According to the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation’s annual Big Game Report, written by big game biologist Jerry Shaw, doe harvest reached an all-time high last season.
            “Doe harvest has reached its all-time highest mark in state history,” Shaw writes in the report. “With all the hunting seasons combined, Oklahoma hunters harvested 50,420 female deer.”
            This record is over 2,000 more than the previous record of 48,358 set in 2008.
            According to Shaw, high doe harvests help accomplish several important management benefits such as preventing localized overpopulations, improving buck:doe ratios for a more healthy herd, reducing competition for forage to promote greater antler growth in bucks, reducing the potential for deer/vehicle collisions, and lessening the extent of potential crop depredation.
            To participate in the holiday antlerless deer gun season, resident hunters must possess a valid hunting license. Additionally, they must possess a holiday antlerless deer gun license, unless exempt. Resident youth hunters 16 or 17 years old must purchase a hunting license, and a $10 youth holiday antlerless deer gun license is available for all youth under 18 years of age.
             Nonresident deer hunters are exempt from a hunting license while hunting deer, but they must possess a nonresident holiday antlerless deer gun license or proof of exemption. Nonresident lifetime license holders are not exempt from purchasing deer licenses.
            In addition, hunters participating in the holiday antlerless deer season must comply with the hunter orange requirements for the regular deer gun season. Archery hunters and those hunting most other species in open holiday antlerless zones must wear either a hunter orange hat or upper garment while hunting.
            To learn more about this year’s antlerless deer season, consult the current “Oklahoma Hunting Guide” or log on to wildlifedepartment.com.
 
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Wildlife Department hosting public hearings and online public comment period
            Sportsmen have the opportunity to voice their thoughts on wildlife, hunting and fishing related rule change proposals under consideration at public hearing meetings in January or online now through Jan.
            Several of the proposals involve adjustments to hunting season and regulations — particularly turkey season in southeast Oklahoma.
            To address population declines in southeast Oklahoma, one proposal would shorten turkey season in several southeast counties and wildlife management areas from the usual statewide season of April 6 through May 6 to the Monday following the third Saturday in April through May 6. Additionally, season bag limits in those southeast counties would be reduced to one tom and then determined annually and published in the current “Oklahoma Hunting Guide.”
            Sportsmen can view a complete listing of proposed changes online at wildlifedepartment.com.
            “Public hearings are an opportunity to discuss items on an agenda that could lead to changes in our hunting and fishing regulations,” said Nels Rodefeld, information and education chief for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. “We feel strongly that our constituents should have every chance to provide their comments, so we are pleased to again offer an e-mail option for those wanting to be heard on these specific subjects.”
            Hearings will be held at 7 p.m. at the following locations:
 
January 4, 2011, 7 p.m.
McAlester – Kiamichi Vo-Tech, 301 Kiamichi Dr. (SW corner of Hwy 69 and Carl Albert Dr.)
 
January 6, 2011, 7 p.m.
Idabel – Kiamichi Vo-Tech, 3205 Lincoln Road NE (three miles north on Hwy 259)
Oklahoma City – Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation headquarters auditorium, 1801 N. Lincoln Blvd.
 
            “If you are not able to make one of the public hearings, we encourage you to provide your comments through wildlifedepartment.com anytime before 4:30 p.m. Jan. 7, 2011,” Rodefeld said.
            Additionally, those interested can submit written comments by mail to the Wildlife Department’s main office in Oklahoma City (P.O. Box 53465, OKC, OK 73152).
            To log on to the online public comment forum or to view topics open for comment, log on to the Wildlife Department’s website at
http://www.wildlifedepartment.com
 
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New compact helps sportsmen get most from resources while holding wildlife law violators accountable
            Recently the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation joined a compact with 34 other states to discourage illegal taking of wild game and hold wildlife law violators accountable, thereby better conserving resources enjoyed by sportsmen and other wildlife enthusiasts.
            The Interstate Wildlife Violator Compact is now in effect in Oklahoma and assures that Oklahomans who violate certain game laws in other member states will not only receive the same treatment as residents of that state, but it also includes a provision that affects violators’ privileges in all participating states.
            “In other words, wildlife violators cannot escape consequences just by crossing a state line,” said Capt. David Deckard, administrator of the Interstate Wildlife Violator Compact for the Wildlife Department. “Oklahomans who lose their hunting license or hunting privileges in other member states can lose them here in Oklahoma as well.”
            Nonresidents from member states who commit certain wildlife violations in Oklahoma would also be subject to the same consequences in their home states. For example, under the compact, a hunting license suspension in one member state would be recognized in all member states.
            “Wildlife law violators will be held accountable due to the fact that their illegal activities in one state can affect their privileges in all participating states,” Deckard said. “This cooperative effort will enhance our ability to protect and manage our wildlife resources for the benefit of all residents and visitors.”
            Additionally, the compact establishes a process that allows Oklahoma game wardens dealing with nonresident wildlife law violators to handle such cases in the same way they would handle violations by residents.
            “This increases efficiency of Oklahoma game wardens by allowing more time for enforcement duties, rather than processing procedures required for dealing with non-resident wildlife law violators,” Deckard said.
            According to Deckard, Oklahoma’s long-standing outdoor heritage is largely respected by the hunters and anglers of the state, and that violators make up only a small number compared to the thousands of sportsmen who respect and follow the state’s wildlife laws designed to conserve wildlife resources.
            Game wardens for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation are stationed in every county in Oklahoma, and they must undergo extensive training to become law enforcement officers for the Department.
            The work of a game warden involves everything from public service to providing lake reports. The primary role of the job is to ensure compliance of wildlife laws and ensure sportsmen have an equal opportunity to enjoy hunting and fishing.
            In addition, game wardens are some of the most recognized employees of the Wildlife Department and help at a range of public events, such as hunter education courses, sportsmen’s club events, the Department’s annual Wildlife Expo and others.
            Game wardens start their training at the Wildlife Department’s headquarters in Oklahoma City. There they receive five weeks of training in criminal law, arrest procedures and how to professionally contact the public. Then they move on to a 10-week field training and evaluation program in which they are paired with veteran officers for field training. Once they have completed that, they attend 600 hours of training through the Council on Law Enforcement Education and Training Academy (CLEET). Only after completion of all training will the wardens begin their first solo assignments.
            The first step in becoming a game warden in Oklahoma is to take the Department’s Standardized Employment Exam. This exam consists of 100 questions covering state and federal wildlife laws and regulations, Oklahoma geography, biological and environmental sciences relating to fish and wildlife, environmental education and communications, general journalism, photojournalism, technical writing and editing.
            To take the exam to become a game warden, you must be at least 21 years of age and have a bachelor’s degree with at least 16 credit hours in wildlife or biology-related coursework. A bachelor’s degree in a wildlife-related field is preferred.
            Those selected for a game warden position are interviewed and submit to psychological and physical exams, a urinalysis to screen for illegal drug use, and a thorough background investigation. Wardens must be able to meet a physical ability standard, jog/walk over rough terrain, swim, be able to physically control and arrest law violators, operate a boat and operate 2/4 wheel drive vehicles.
            Oklahoma game wardens are able to handle almost any problem that comes up during their workday. They are able to render first aid service, assist in lifesaving and water safety, and assist stranded motorists along roadways. They investigate illegal hunting and fishing and help landowners improve wildlife habitat.
            For more information about Oklahoma game wardens or employment at the Wildlife Department, log on to wildlifedepartment.com.
 
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Four Oklahoma youth win outdoor getaways through writing contest
            Youth from Eufaula, Hominy, Porum and Owasso schools have been awarded outdoor getaways for winning an outdoor writing contest designed to help youth share their hunting heritage.
            Contestants in the annual youth writing contest — sponsored by the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation and the Oklahoma Station Chapter of Safari Club International — chose between two different topics and submitted entries to not only share their interest in the outdoors, but also to compete for a chance at a unique outdoor trip. Topic choices included “Hunting: Sharing the Heritage” or “What I like about Archery in the Schools and Bowhunting.”
            Winners in the age 15-17 category will receive an all-expenses-paid antelope hunt in a western state. They were Calahan Henry of Eufaula High School and Amanda Swanson of Hominy High School. Winners in the age 11-14 category receive a scholarship to the YO Ranch Apprentice Hunter Program in Texas. They were Tucker Boland of Owasso Middle School and Gabriella Peebles of Porum Middle School.
            “This has become a popular contest,” said Colin Berg, education supervisor for the Wildlife Department. “We always enjoy the process of going over each essay and trying to select winners It can be challenging because there are some talented youth who are passionate about the outdoors who submit essays to this contest.”
            The scholarship to the YO Ranch Apprentice Hunter Program and expenses for the antelope hunts are covered by the Oklahoma Station Chapter of Safari Club International with funds raised at the Chapter’s annual banquet.
            The youth writing competition is designed to promote America’s hunting heritage among Oklahoma’s youth. It provides them an opportunity to express the importance of hunting in their lives and to affirm their commitment to carrying on the hunting tradition. Students use the essays or short stories to relive memorable hunts, to explain why hunting is important to them and to recognize mentors who have influenced them to grow as hunters.
            The contest winners will be eligible for entry in the Norm Strung Outdoor Writers Association National Youth Essay Contest, whose winners are awarded cash prizes and scholarships.
            Students are not the only winners, however. Educators Jerry Hays from Hominy High School and Chris Dobbins from Comanche Middle School have been awarded an all-expense-paid scholarship to attend an eight-day conservation education school at Safari Club International’s American Wilderness Leadership School (AWLS) at Granite Ranch near Jackson, Wyoming. The AWLS program is conducted during the summer and presents an outdoor program for educators that concentrates on natural resource management. Participants learn about stream ecology, map and compass usage, fly tying, shooting sports, wildlife management, the Yellowstone ecosystem, camping, white-water rafting, educational resources, how to implement outdoor education ideas and language arts and creative writing in an outdoor setting.
            “Each year we find that Oklahoma students step forward and reach new pinnacles of success not only through their writings and sharing of their experiences through prose, but in establishing lifelong relationships with others they meet and become acquainted with through this writing adventure,” said Sam Munhollon with the Oklahoma Station Chapter of Safari Club International. “One of the more exciting developments has been the interest not only in the essay contest but wildlife management and appreciation of the outdoors by those students being home-schooled as well as those who attend more traditional schooling venues. We are very proud of the Oklahoma youth and look forward to sharing their experiences and accomplishments now and in the future.”
            The Wildlife Department and the Oklahoma Station Chapter of Safari Club International will submit the winning essays to the National Youth Writing Contest held annually by the Outdoor Writers Association of America.
 
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Winter Bird Feeder Survey offers chance to help conservation
            The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation’s Winter Bird Feeder Survey starts Jan. 6 and gives wildlife enthusiasts and their families an exciting way to kick off the New Year.
            Attracting birds and maintaining backyard feeders for wintering birds is popular in Oklahoma in both urban and rural areas, and people in both places can help the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation by participating in the survey while also getting close-up views of a number of unique birds.
            Any Oklahoman with a backyard bird feeder can participate by choosing any two days between Jan. 6-9 to count birds at their feeders and record their observations. And according to Lesley Carson, wildlife diversity information specialist for the Wildlife Department, attracting birds to backyard feeders is not difficult.
            “All you really need is food, water and a little cover,” Carson said.
            With participants observing birds across the state for four days straight, biologists can obtain important information that can help the Department better understand bird ranges and populations.
            “By asking bird watchers across Oklahoma to take the survey, biologists can accomplish more in four days than they ever could have on their own,” Carson said.
            Currently biologists have a 21-year history of the upward and downward trends of birds visiting winter feeders thanks to the support of avid birders across the state.
            The survey includes counting birds at backyard feeders at least four times a day for two days during the survey dates and completing a form provided by the Wildlife Department. For detailed instructions and to take the survey, log on to the Wildlife Department’s Winter Bird Feeder Survey website at okwinterbirds.com. The website is an extensive bird-watching resource that provides species identification tips, bird diets, feeding behaviors and winter ranges as well as links to other birding websites. The site also details how to draw birds to backyard feeders using homemade bird attractants that are both healthy and beneficial to wintering birds.
            While anyone who has a bird feeder can participate in the 2011 Winter Bird Feeder Survey, certain efforts can be made to attract more birds to feeders. Black-oil sunflower seed is a good choice for bird feeders because of its high nutritional value that birds can use during the winter and because virtually all seed-eating Oklahoma songbirds will eat it. Other seed options are white proso millet, nyjer or safflower. Suet cakes — animal fat that is sometimes mixed with grains or peanut butter, are good for drawing in species such as woodpeckers and birds that do not primarily eat seeds. Finally, a source of water and cover such as brush piles or dense shrubs located near the feeders help to draw more birds.
            Though the highest numbers of birds were seen representing species such as the American goldfinch, dark-eyed junco, and northern cardinal, participants also saw a range of other species, among them bald eagles, American robins, cedar waxwings, roadrunners, brown thrashers, great horned owls and more.
            To learn more about the survey or to participate, log on to okwinterbirds.com.
 
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2011-2012 Waterfowl Stamp artwork selected
            The 2011-2012 Oklahoma Waterfowl Stamp design competition results are in, and first place goes to George Lockwood of Santa Ynez, Calif. The wildlife artist’s winning painting portraying the blue-winged teal will be featured on the 2011-2012 Oklahoma Waterfowl Stamp.
            Honorable mentions were awarded to Richard Clifton of Milford, Del., Tom Morgan Crain of Branson, Mo.,
 and Wes Dewey of Chanute, Kan.
            “We had 32 entries this year, and for the first time, we provided an opportunity for the public to vote on their favorite through an online survey,” said Micah Holmes, information and education supervisor for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.
            Duck stamp sales help finance many projects that benefit ducks and geese. Since the duck stamp program began in 1980, thousands of acres of waterfowl habitat have been enhanced and restored through duck stamp revenues.
            Entries were judged on public input, anatomical accuracy, artistic composition and suitability for printing. The winner and honorable mentions also will appear in a future issue of Outdoor Oklahoma magazine.
            The white-fronted goose will be represented in next year’s contest and will be featured on the 2012-2013 Oklahoma Waterfowl Stamp.
            For more information, log on to wildlifedepartment.com.
 

 
George Lockwood, 1st place

Caption: The artwork of George Lockwood of Santa Ynez, Calif. portraying the blue-winged teal will be featured on the 2011-12 Oklahoma Waterfowl Stamp. Lockwood’s painting was chosen out of 32 entries in the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation’s 2011-2012 Oklahoma Waterfowl Stamp design competition.

 
 
Richard Clifton, honorable mention
 


 
Tom Morgan Crain, honorable mention
 


 
Wes Dewey, honorable mention

 
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Wildlife Department hosting public hearings and online public comment period
            Sportsmen have the opportunity to voice their thoughts on wildlife, hunting and fishing related rule change proposals under consideration at public hearing meetings in January or online now through Jan.
            Several of the proposals involve adjustments to hunting season and regulations — particularly turkey season in southeast Oklahoma.
            To address population declines in southeast Oklahoma, one proposal would shorten turkey season in the eight southeast counties and wildlife management areas from the usual statewide season of April 6 through May 6 to the Monday following the third Saturday in April through May 6. Additionally, the bag limit would be reduced to one tom total for the eight southeast counties and then determined annually and published in the current “Oklahoma Hunting Guide.”
            Sportsmen can view a complete listing of proposed changes online at wildlifedepartment.com.
            “Public hearings are an opportunity to discuss items on an agenda that could lead to changes in our hunting and fishing regulations,” said Nels Rodefeld, information and education chief for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. “We feel strongly that our constituents should have every chance to provide their comments, so we are pleased to again offer an e-mail option for those wanting to be heard on these specific subjects.”
            Hearings will be held at 7 p.m. at the following locations:
 
January 4, 2011, 7 p.m.
McAlester – Kiamichi Technology Center, 301 Kiamichi Dr. (SW corner of Hwy 69 and Carl Albert Dr.)
 
January 6, 2011, 7 p.m.
Idabel – Kiamichi Technology Center, 3205 Lincoln Road NE (three miles north on Hwy 259)
Oklahoma City – Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation headquarters auditorium, 1801 N. Lincoln Blvd.
 
            “If you are not able to make one of the public hearings, we encourage you to provide your comments through wildlifedepartment.com anytime before 4:30 p.m. Jan. 7, 2011,” Rodefeld said.
            Additionally, those interested can submit written comments by mail to the Wildlife Department’s main office in Oklahoma City (P.O. Box 53465, OKC, OK 73152).
            To log on to the online public comment forum or to view topics open for comment, log on to the Wildlife Department’s website at
http://www.wildlifedepartment.com

 
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