JUNE 2011
NEWS RELEASES

WEEK OF JUNE 30, 2011

WEEK OF JUNE 23, 2011

WEEK OF JUNE 16, 2011

WEEK OF JUNE 9, 2011

 

WEEK OF JUNE 2, 2011


 

Seventh annual Oklahoma Wildlife Expo to offer outdoor learning opportunities
            Oklahomans interested in the outdoors should mark their calendars now for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation’s seventh annual Oklahoma Wildlife Expo slated for Sept. 24-25 at the Lazy E Arena, just north of Oklahoma City.
            The Wildlife Department is working with a range of organizations, individuals and outdoor-related companies to host the Expo — a free event intended to promote and develop appreciation for Oklahoma’s wildlife and natural resources by providing hands-on learning opportunities for all types of outdoor enthusiasts.
            “The Expo is a one-of-a-kind outdoor recreation event,” said Rhonda Hurst, Expo coordinator for the Wildlife Department. “This is a place where literally thousands of outdoor-minded people of all ages and skill levels gather for a weekend of activities and learning opportunities that are entirely focused on Oklahoma’s outdoors.”
            Organizations interested in helping promote the outdoors through an educational booth or activity should contact Hurst at (405) 522-6279.
            Among many other activities, Expo visitors will be able to try firsthand activities such as fishing, shotgun and archery shooting sports, kayaking, mountain biking and more. They can attend seminars on hunting dog training, outdoor cooking, camping, hunting, fishing, birdwatching, and other activities in the great outdoors. Visitors to the event also can win a variety of free prizes thanks to the Expo’s generous sponsors. Additionally, guests can shop at the Outdoor Marketplace, a large area at the Expo designated for shopping for the latest in outdoor gear and merchandise.
            Expo hours will be from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. both days, Log on to wildlifedepartment.com as the event draws near to stay up to date on the upcoming Oklahoma Wildlife Expo.
 
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Outdoor Marketplace returning to 2011 Oklahoma Wildlife Expo
            Visitors to this year’s Oklahoma Wildlife Expo Sept. 24-25 will have no shortage of outdoor-related educational opportunities, but they will also have the chance to shop for a range of outdoor goods and services at the Outdoor Marketplace.
            The Outdoor Marketplace is a large area at the Wildlife Expo where commercial vendors will be selling their hunting and fishing-related merchandise, meaning visitors who break away from all of the free shotgun shooting, archery, kayaking, mountain biking and fishing could find a bargain on their next outdoor purchase.
            Last year’s Wildlife Expo drew an estimated 51,000 visitors to the Lazy E Arena over the course of three days, making it the most popular outdoor recreation event in the state.
            “The Outdoor Marketplace is a fun destination for Expo visitors and a great opportunity for vendors to showcase their outdoor-related products,” said Ben Davis, Outdoor Marketplace coordinator. “Visitors can shop through a large range of goods and services that cater to their outdoor lifestyles, while vendors can display their outdoor goods and services to tens of thousands of outdoor-minded visitors.”
            The Marketplace features vendors under a large tent, but outdoor open-air spaces also are available for displaying larger items such as ATVs and hunting blinds. A 10’ x 10’ booth space under the tent or a 20’ x 20’ outside space costs $300. Both include electricity. Nonprofit conservation organizations also will be able to sign up for free booth spaces to promote membership and educate sportsmen about their organizations.
            Along with shopping at the Outdoor Marketplace, Expo visitors will be able to fish, shoot shotguns, kayak, ride mountain bikes, see and touch wildlife, attend dog training seminars and learn about recreation in the great outdoors all for free. They will also be able to win a variety of prizes thanks to generous sponsors of the event.
            “Any vendor who wants to reach people interested in the outdoors needs to be a part of the Outdoor Marketplace at this year’s Wildlife Expo,” Davis said.
            For more information about obtaining a booth in the Outdoor Marketplace or to obtain an application for a booth, contact Ben Davis, Outdoor Marketplace coordinator, at (405) 521-4632.
            The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation’s seventh annual Oklahoma Wildlife Expo is slated for September 24-25 at the Lazy E Arena, just north of Oklahoma City. The Wildlife Department will be working with a range of organizations, individuals and outdoor-related companies to host the event — intended to promote and develop appreciation for Oklahoma’s wildlife and natural resources.
            Log on to wildlifedepartment.com regularly to stay up to date on the upcoming Oklahoma Wildlife Expo.
 
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Awareness is key to curbing spread of aquatic nuisance species
            Good fishing is being reported at almost every lake across the state according to this week’s fishing report from the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, and anglers in the know will be taking advantage of this good fishing for the next several weeks.
            Since sportsmen can find a popular fish biting at almost any destination they choose, biologists with the Wildlife Department are reminding anglers to take precautions against the spread of aquatic nuisance species (ANS) when traveling from lake to lake.
            ANS in Oklahoma include zebra mussels, didymo, white perch, golden alga, and hydrilla, among others. Whether a mussel, fish, microscopic organism or vegetation, ANS are a threat because of their potential to disrupt the balance of state fisheries. Since they are invasive and often non-native, they may have few natural predators, reproduce and spread rapidly, and may compete with native species for available forage and habitat.
            “An ANS can be any organism that threatens our native waters, not just fish or plants,” said Curtis Tackett, aquatic nuisance species biologist for the Wildlife Department. “They are often unknowingly transported by man — usually boaters and anglers — to a new location, where they thrive and cause problems for native habitat or native aquatic species.”
            Oklahoma’s most widespread ANS is the zebra mussel. Though not much bigger than a thumbnail, these striped aquatic invaders can live for several days out of water and can be dispersed overland by boats pulled on trailers, though their main method of spread is by free-floating larvae. Zebra mussels can multiply rapidly to the point of clogging water treatment plant intake pipes, fouling boat bottoms and possibly depleting food sources relied on by fish and other aquatic species.
            Another ANS recently documented in Oklahoma where it was not formerly known is Didymosphenia geminata, or “didymo.” Discovered in Lower Mountain Fork River below Broken Bow Lake, the invasive algae thrives in low-nutrient, cold flowing streams that are rich in oxygen. Though it starts out as small tufted colonies, it can grow into dense, thick mats that cover large portions of a streambed, outcompeting native algae relied upon by native insects.
            “That may not sound like a problem, except that those insects provide an important source of food for trout in the Lower Mountain Fork River,” Tackett said.
            Tackett said that in some cases, the reduction of available food sources for trout because of competition from invasive species like didymo can result in smaller fish. Additionally, didymo can clog water pipes and other flow structures as well as become a nuisance to anglers because of how easily it can be snagged by a fishhook.
            To stop the spread of aquatic nuisance species and their possible economic and environmental consequences, the Wildlife Department depends on anglers’ support and help.
            According to Tackett, anglers can help prevent further spread of ANS, and it just takes a little bit of effort.
            “But that effort can go a long way,” Tackett said.
            Tackett offers the following measures to prevent the spread of aquatic nuisance species:
* Drain the bilge water, live wells and bait buckets before leaving.
* Inspect the boat and trailer immediately upon leaving the water.
* Scrape off any zebra mussels or aquatic vegetation found. Do not return them to the water.
* Wash boat parts and accessories that contact the water using hot water (at least 140 degrees F.), or spray with high-pressure water.
* If possible, dry the boat and trailer for at least a week before entering another waterway.
* Before leaving a river or stream, remove all clumps of algae and look for hidden fragments.
* Soak and scrub all gear for at least one minute in a two percent bleach solution, or five percent salt solution, or simply use hot water and dishwashing soap.
* If cleaning is not practical, then wait at least 48 hours before contact with another water body after equipment has dried.
* Consider keeping two sets of wading boots, and alternate their use between cleaning and drying.
* Avoid using felt-soled waders.
* Avoid wading through colonies of the algae. Breaking up the material could cause future colonies and blooms to occur further downstream.
 
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Wildlife Department partners with timber companies to secure Honobia Creek WMA
            Hunters will continue enjoying public access to more than 80,000 acres of privately owned timberland known as Honobia Creek Wildlife Management Area thanks to a recent agreement between the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation and the three timber companies that own the land.
            At its June meeting, the Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Commission renewed it’s agreements with Hancock Forest Management, Rayonier Forest Resources and Molpus Timberlands Management to secure the collective 80,316 acres in Pushmataha and LeFlore counties for the next three years. The agreements follow last month’s renewal of a contract with Weyerhaeuser Company to maintain public hunting and fishing access to more than 200,000 acres on the Three Rivers WMA in southeast Oklahoma.
            The Honobia Creek and Three Rivers WMAs are a result of cooperative agreements between the Wildlife Department and four of the largest timber companies in Oklahoma, and the areas have proven popular among sportsmen.
            “Hunters and anglers from 53 of the 77 counties in Oklahoma use either the Three Rivers or Honobia Creek Wildlife Management Area,” said Alan Peoples, chief of wildlife for the Wildlife Department.
            According to Peoples, the new agreements will maintain Honobia Creek WMA as one contiguous acreage rather than breaking it into smaller tracts. Additionally, the agreement will continue providing access to 21 miles of hunting and fishing opportunity on the Little River and will maintain 16 miles of shared boundary between Honobia Creek WMA and Three Rivers WMA.
            Located north of Hwy 3/7 and east of Hwy 271, Honobia Creek WMA is a mixture of pine and hardwood forests interspersed with rivers and streams, serving as ideal habitat for a range of wildlife. A $40 land access permit is required of all residents who hunt or fish on Honobia Creek or Three Rivers WMAs. Nonresidents are required to purchase an $85 annual permit. Oklahoma residents who are under 18 years of age on the first day of the current calendar year or 64 years of age or older are exempt from permit requirements. More information about Honobia Creek and Three Rivers WMAs is available online at wildlifedepartment.com.
            In other business, the Commission approved the Wildlife Department’s fiscal year 2012 annual budget. The approved budget falls about $5 million below the FY2011 budget due to a decrease in capital expenditures. Significant additions to the budget include $1 million for fish hatchery renovations and $800,000 for repairs to the dam at American Horse Lake. The budget also includes approximately $1 million for quail research, specifically two important research initiatives intended to halt the long-term downward trends in quail populations across the state and the bird’s native range.
            Oklahoma has long been known as home to some of the best quail habitat and quail hunting in the nation. But since the species is currently in a state of unexplained gradual decline, the research initiatives will seek to study all angles of quail mortality and develop management strategies that help halt decline.
            As part of the effort, the Department will work with Oklahoma State University to initiate its own research program and intensive quail management efforts on two northwest Oklahoma WMAs. Areas of focus will include weather studies, implications of cattle grazing and prescribed fire, requirements for optimum reproductive success and rates and causes of quail mortality.
            “We’re moving forward,” Peoples said. “We continue to refine our research principles and concepts with Oklahoma State University, and I think we’re getting real close to what we foresee as long-term quail research needs.”
            The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation (ODWC) will be working with the Rolling Plains Quail Research Ranch as well as Texas A&M and Texas Tech universities on a project called Operation Idiopathic Decline. The role of ODWC biologists will include trapping quail and sending them to Texas Tech, where extensive research will commence in the areas of disease, parasitism, herbicides, insecticides and other issues.
            “The August, September, October timeframe is where we’re focusing because that seems to be the window of disappearance — the Bermuda triangle, if you will,” Peoples said.
            Peoples said the Department will send four employees to Texas in July for training in the collection of quail data samples for research purposes.
            The Commission learned of the research initiatives at its March meeting, and since then the Department has started preparing for the projects.
            The Commission also voted for a modification to the Wildlife Department retirement plan that changes the investment return assumption from 7.5 percent to 7 percent, and it elected new officers to serve the Commission.
            Serving as the new chairman will be District 3 Commissioner Mike Bloodworth; serving as vice-chairman will be District 1 Commissioner M. David Riggs; and serving as secretary will be District 6 Commissioner John Zelbst.
            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., July 5, 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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Wildlife Conservation Commission establishes new officers
            At its June meeting, the Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Commission established new officers to begin serving next month.
            The Wildlife Conservation Commission is the eight-member governing board of the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation and is responsible for establishing state hunting and fishing regulations, setting policy for the Wildlife Department and indirectly overseeing all state fish and wildlife conservation activities. Commission members are appointed by the governor and confirmed by the Senate.
            Commissioner Mike Bloodworth will serve as the new Commission chairman. Bloodworth represents District 3, including LeFlore, Latimer, Pittsburg, Atoka, Pushmataha, McCurtain, Choctaw, Bryan, Marshall, Carter and Love counties. Bloodworth was named by Gov. Brad Henry in 2007 to serve on the Commission, and his term will run through 2015.
            A lifelong resident of Hugo, Bloodworth founded an independent insurance agency in that Choctaw County community after serving as a sixth-grade teacher and elementary school principal for 10 years. He earned both bachelor's and master's degrees in education from Southeastern Oklahoma State University in Durant. He is also an active duck and goose hunter. In addition to his outdoor pursuits, he serves as a board member of the Baptist Foundation of Oklahoma, the local school board and the Oklahoma State School Board Association.
            Bloodworth and wife Martha had two children, a son, Chad, who is deceased, and a daughter, Misty, who lives in Paris, Texas. The Bloodworth's have two grandchildren — grandson Ryan and granddaughter Laci.
            Serving as Commission vice-chairman will be District 1 Commissioner M. David Riggs. District 1 consists of Ottawa, Delaware, Craig, Mayes, Nowata, Rogers, Washington, Tulsa, Pawnee and Osage counties. Riggs was appointed to the Commission by Gov. Brad Henry, and his term will expire in 2013.
            A lifelong resident of Sand Springs, Riggs is a partner in one of the state's largest law firms — Riggs, Abney, Neal, Turpen, Orbison & Lewis. Riggs also served as a member of the Oklahoma House of Representatives from 1971 to 1987 and in the Oklahoma Senate from 1987 to 1988.
            Riggs is active in a number of local conservation organizations, including serving on the board of trustees of The Nature Conservancy and as the chairman of the board of directors for the Sutton Avian Research Center.
            He graduated from Phillips University in Enid in 1959, received a Masters of Arts from the University of Oklahoma in 1962 and graduated first in his class at the University of Tulsa College of Law in 1968.
            Serving as Commission secretary will be District 6 Commissioner John P. Zelbst. District 6 includes Blaine, Kingfisher, Canadian, Caddo, Grady, Comanche, Stephens, Jefferson and Cotton counties. Gov. Brad Henry appointed Zelbst to the Commission in 2010, and his term runs until 2018.
            Zelbst has 30 years experience as a trial lawyer and is the managing partner at Zelbst, Holmes & Butler law firm. The firm serves Oklahoma City, Lawton, Edmond, Norman and with the assistance of local counsel, all of the United States. His legal career has focused solely on representing people who have been injured, wronged, falsely accused and mistreated.
            A member of the Oklahoma Association for Justice (formerly the Oklahoma Trial Lawyers Association), he served as the Association’s President in 2000. He also holds the distinction of having secured $24 million in the largest known personal injury verdict in state history. Along with other professional memberships, recognition and awards, he was awarded the title of Oklahoma Super Lawyer for the years 2006-2010, Superlawyers.com; and is a member of the Bar Register of Preeminent Lawyers, 92nd Edition, Martindale Hubbell and is also Peer Review Rated by Martindale-Hubbell.
            Zelbst received a Bachelor of Science Degree from Cameron University in Lawton in 1976 and earned his Juris Doctorate from the University of Tulsa, College of Law, in 1980. He is a graduate of and a board and faculty member of the Gerry Spence Trial Lawyers College, DuBois, Wyo.
            Zelbst and his wife, Cindy, own and reside on the U2 Ranch in Meers. They have a son, Clay, and are actively involved in cattle operations on the ranch. He also supports numerous civic and community development programs, and currently chairs both the Comanche County Board of Trustees and the Comanche County Memorial Hospital Trust.
 
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Fishing with Wings: Wildlife Department teaches fishing to a special needs community
            Communities are casting into summer by participating in the Wildlife Department’s free fishing clinics. Saturday, June 4, the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation taught members of Wings, a special needs community, basic fishing skills at Dolese Youth Park in Oklahoma City.
            “These kids know they’re different and deal with it day to day, so Wings partners with different organizations to organize fun activities,” said Kathe Russ, Wing’s parent. “We weren’t going to stay, but we came and it’s so addicting, you don’t want to leave.”
            Wings partnered with Whistling Wind to host the Department’s Aquatic Resource Education Program (AREP). Whistling Wind is a 501(c)3 non-profit, whose mission is to promote accessible recreation and sport to individuals and families living with disabilities.  
            “We strive to help parents find healing therapy outdoors and make it readily available with handicap accessibility,” said Shari Zimmerman, co-founder of Whistling Wind. “It is difficult to find a body of water that is easily accessible.”
            Wildlife Department employees taught Wings members, parents, and volunteers fishing safety, how to tie an improved cinch knot, casting technique, and outdoor ethics. It was the first time for many of these young adults to fish, but many experienced a catch and release.
            All AREP clinics consist of an educational component that teaches basic fishing techniques and are typically followed by an opportunity to fish at a nearby pond or lake. Certified volunteer instructors or Wildlife Department employees conduct the clinics.
            The Wildlife Department promotes the sport of fishing and aquatic resource awareness and gives various ages an opportunity to learn about Oklahoma’s aquatic environments and how to fish because the agency knows fishing improves peoples’ quality of life.
            For more information or to schedule an Aquatic Resource Education clinic visit wildlifedepartment.com or contact Damon Springer, Aquatic Resources Education coordinator, at (405) 521-4603.


 
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Altus sportsman, farmer and rancher named to Wildlife Commission
            Altus sportsman Robert Dan Robbins will serve as the District 7 representative on the Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Commission through 2019, after having recently been appointed by Gov. Mary Fallin and confirmed by the Oklahoma Senate.
            Born and raised in Altus, Robbins is a fourth generation farmer and rancher whose great-grandfather arrived to the area in 1901. He graduated from Altus High School in 1982 and attended Oklahoma State University. Together with his wife of 22 years, Zina, Robbins farms cotton and wheat on 2,600 acres as well as helps manage several thousand acres of cotton and wheat on family farmland. They also raise Angus cross cattle along the north fork of the Red River. Robbins has two children — Rachael and Daniel — and a grandson named Axel.
            Robbins is an avid sportsman.
            “Some of my fondest memories growing up include hunting rabbits with my dad with a .410 shotgun that my grandmother gave to me when I was a little guy,” Robbins said. “I grew up fishing farm ponds and running trotlines on the north fork of the Red.”
            In the late 1980s, Robbins was introduced to deer hunting by his father-in-law and has enjoyed the sport ever since. After years of deer management efforts on his own land, Robbins was able to harvest a Cy-Curtis-Award-qualifying buck in 2009.
            Robbins also enjoys hunting turkeys and doves as well as fishing. He once caught a hybrid striped bass that weighed over 20 lbs.
            “I look forward to serving on the Wildlife Commission, and I hope to help secure the future of the great outdoors in Oklahoma for the next generation to enjoy,” Robbins said.
            Robbins is a member of Ducks Unlimited, National Wild Turkey Federation, North American Hunting Club, North American Fishing Club and the National Rifle Association. He is also a board member of the Oklahoma Wildlife Management Association and currently serves as chairman of the Oklahoma Cotton Council and Oklahoma Delegate of the National Cotton Council, chairman of American Cotton Producers for Oklahoma, board member of the Producer Cooperative Oil Mill and alternate board member for Oklahoma for Cotton Incorporated. Additionally, Robbins was appointed to the Advisory Committee for Universal Cotton Standards by Secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture Ed Schafer and has served as chairman of the Altus Chamber of Commerce.
            The Wildlife Conservation Commission is the eight-member governing board of the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation (ODWC). The Wildlife Commission establishes state hunting and fishing regulations, sets policy for the ODWC, and indirectly oversees all state fish and wildlife conservation activities. Commission members are appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the Senate.
            District 7 consists of Ellis, Dewey, Roger Mills, Custer, Beckham, Washita, Kiowa, Greer, Jackson, Harmon and Tillman counties.
 
 

 

Caption: Altus sportsman Robert Dan Robbins will serve as the District 7 representative on the Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Commission through 2019, after having recently been appointed by Gov. Mary Fallin and confirmed by the Oklahoma Senate.

 

 
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Volunteers needed to help make fishing memories for children with illnesses
            Seventy-five boat-owning volunteers are needed July 16 to help take a group of children with life-threatening and chronic illnesses fishing on Lake Texoma.
            The of children are campers at Camp Cavett, a weeklong camp that offers outdoor experiences to children who are undergoing treatments for illnesses such as heart disease, cancer, sickle cell anemia and other childhood illnesses. Each year, part of the week’s festivities includes a fishing trip in which anglers and boaters from across Oklahoma, Texas and even Louisiana volunteer their time and their boats to spend time fishing with the campers.
            “Some of these kids have had a tough time over the last few years, but they’re just like any other kids — they love to go fishing and take a boat ride,” said Gene Gilliland, assistant chief of fisheries for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.
            Gilliland volunteers each year and said some of the campers do not get to fish at home, either because their conditions will not allow them to fish easily or because they are in the hospital too much to find time. Getting the opportunity to go through Camp Cavett gets them involved in the outdoors, giving them something to look forward to and broadening their appreciation for the natural world.
            “Both the volunteers and kids have a great time. It is something we all look forward to," Gilliland said.
            The July 16 fishing event is a “fish-for-anything” derby, with prizes for campers who catch the largest black bass, panfish, catfish, striped bass or rough fish. A free cookout is provided for all participants and volunteers following the day’s outing on the lake.
            Boaters and anglers interested in participating can register as volunteers online at cavettkidsfoundation.org/node/52. Volunteers must arrive at Lake Texoma’s Catfish Bay by 6 a.m. and sign in with camp staff. Each boat will be assigned up to three campers and a counselor, depending on boat capacity. Tackle, bait and life jackets for campers are provided, though boaters are encouraged to bring additional life jackets if they have them in sizes adult small or adult medium.
 

 
Photo Caption: A youth camper is spotted fishing at Lake Texoma during last year’s Camp Cavett with volunteer Glenn Cunningham of Piedmont. Camp Cavett offers outdoor experiences to children who are undergoing treatments for illnesses such as heart disease, cancer, sickle cell anemia and other childhood illnesses, and each year anglers and boaters come together as volunteers to take the campers fishing on Lake Texoma. To volunteer, log on to cavettkidsfoundation.org/node/52.



 
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Researchers track black bears in northeast Oklahoma
            While black bears in southeast Oklahoma have been studied extensively by biologists and are even pursued by hunters each fall, less is known about bears inhabiting the northeast portion of the state. But a research project by the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation in partnership with the Oklahoma Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit and the Department of Natural Resource Ecology and Management at Oklahoma State University is helping to change that.
            “The goal of the project is to establish the status and distribution of black bears in the northeast region of the state,” said Craig Endicott, northeast region wildlife supervisor for the Wildlife Department and the project leader.
            Still in its first year, the three-year research effort involves trapping bears for tagging and collection of biological data such as measurements, age estimates and DNA samples.
            With more than two years of studying still ahead, researchers have already trapped and examined six bears, primarily in and around Sequoyah, Cherokee and Adair counties on both public and private lands.
            Some bears have been fitted with satellite-based GPS tracking collars that researchers use to monitor range and breeding success. Collared female bears will be tracked to den sites where they give birth to cubs in winter. The adult female can be temporarily sedated to collect data on her overall condition and to mark and gather information on cubs. The high-tech collars do not inhibit the bears’ normal activities, and they provide researchers with location readings at four key times each day, providing details about individual ranges and habits. Trends and other important information can be revealed in their findings.
            “The GPS collars give us a fantastic look at the daily travels of the collared bears,” said Sara Lyda, an OSU research associate working with the Wildlife Department to study bears in the region. “We have already recorded that these females often travel seven to 10 miles per day within their home ranges.”
            In addition to trapping and tracking, hair samples are being collected with wire devices designed to pluck strands of fur from bears’ hides as they travel to and from bait sites. Collecting DNA from hair samples helps researchers identify individual bears and understand the genetic diversity of bear populations in an area.
            OSU also is working with Wildlife Department biologists, technicians and game wardens to monitor bait stations placed throughout counties in northeast Oklahoma. This effort will indicate the geographic range of black bears in the northeast region.
            By studying range distributions, breeding success, body conditions, genetic diversity, feeding habits and other data collected during the project, biologists will learn important information about the health and stability of black bear populations in the northeast region.
            The Oklahoma Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit is a program of the U.S. Geological Survey. Since 1948, it has been an integral part of OSU and wildlife and fish research in Oklahoma, helping cooperators like the Wildlife Department collect useful information on a variety of resource issues.
            Oklahoma black bears were put in the spotlight in 2009, when the first official hunting season took place in a four-county region of southeast Oklahoma. The season came after years of research and nuisance bear control, but prior to that, many Oklahomans may not have even been aware of the existence of bears in the state.
            Black bears once ranged over the entire area of what is now Oklahoma, but by the early 1900s, sightings had become rare. Factors like land use changes, unregulated hunting and habitat fragmentation caused black bear numbers to eventually decline drastically. In the late 1900s, however, black bears began making a comeback in Oklahoma after their successful reintroduction in the Ozark and Ouachita mountains of Arkansas. That initial relocation of about 250 bears from northern Minnesota and Manitoba, Canada, turned into thousands of bears in the mountains of Arkansas, which then expanded into southwestern Missouri and eastern Oklahoma.
            This successful reestablishment of black bears led to a renewed bear hunting season in Arkansas in 1980 and in Oklahoma in 2009.
            Today, the species represents an important part of the state’s wildlife diversity. The presence of black bears in an area can indicate good wildlife habitat, because the habitat requirements for black bears are often more demanding than for other species.
            The Oklahoma Station of the Safari Club International continued their commitment to conservation by providing important funding for this bear research project. The Oklahoma Station Chapter Safari Club International has partnered with the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation on a number of important research projects including, Hunters Against Hunger, Operation Game Thief, hunter education and other wildlife conservation efforts. The mission of the Oklahoma Station Chapter Safari Club International is to protect the freedom to hunt and promote wildlife conservation in the state of Oklahoma and worldwide. To learn more about this unique organization log on to oklahomastationsci.org.
            To learn more about the Wildlife Department, the state agency charged with conserving the state’s wildlife, log on to wildlifedepartment.com
 

Caption: Wildlife Department personnel and Researchers examine a northeast Oklahoma black bear as part of an effort to establish the status and distribution of the species in that region of the state. The project is being conducted by the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation in partnership with the Oklahoma Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit and the Department of Natural Resource Ecology and Management at Oklahoma State University. Pictured clockwise from left: Curt Allen, northeast region wildlife biologist for the Wildlife Department; Sara Lyda, OSU research associate; Colby Farquhar, wildlife technician for the Wildlife Department; and Craig Endicott, northeast region wildlife supervisor for the Wildlife Department.

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Cy Curtis book free online at the all new wildlifedepartment.com
            For the first time, trophy whitetail hunters hoping to find their name in the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation’s Cy Curtis Awards book can view the publication free online at the all new wildlifedepartment.com.
            “We’ve revamped wildlifedepartment.com to make it more visually appealing and user-friendly,” said Nels Rodefeld, information and education chief for the Wildlife Department. “Along with the Cy Curtis book, the new wildlifedepartment.com has all kinds of great features and resources to provide more and better information to our state’s hunters and anglers.”
            While every deer harvested is a trophy in some way to the sportsman that brings it home, there are those bucks whose sheer antler size is notable among others. In Oklahoma, those deer may be eligible for recognition in the Cy Curtis Awards Program, which recognizes whitetail deer with a minimum typical score of 135, or a non-typical minimum of 150 using the Boone & Crockett antler scoring system.
            The Cy Curtis Awards program — named in honor of the Wildlife Department biologist largely responsible for the restoration of whitetail deer in the state — was initiated in 1975 when only seven deer were inducted. Last deer season, nearly 300 deer were added to the Cy Curtis book.
            Now posted free on wildlifedepartment.com, the Cy Curtis book is more accessible than ever. In fact, wildlifedepartment.com makes a range of outdoor-related information available to visitors with a new look and feel to help sportsmen get the most from the outdoors. Hunting season dates, fishing reports, regulations, event calendars, news articles, interactive maps of public hunting locations and more are all available at the click of a mouse.
            “Wildlifedepartment.com is really a great tool for Oklahoma sportsmen,” Rodefeld said. “It’s our most comprehensive source of information and resources for hunters, anglers and wildlife enthusiasts, whether your goal is to read up on hunting regulations, complete an online hunter education home study, learn where to fish for trout or read an article about a certain species of wildlife.”
            To learn more about the Wildlife Department, log on to the new wildlifedepartment.com.
 
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Something to whistle about: black-bellied whistling ducks spotted in McAlester
            Recently, a pair of the most “un-duck-like” ducks has been spotted in McAlester. Residents have spotted and photographed two black-bellied whistling ducks perched on what was left of an ice storm-damaged maple tree in their urban backyard.
            “I like all critters, I’m a wildlife guy that has been duck hunting all my life, but I’ve never seen something like this,” said Danny Giacomo, McAlester resident whose yard the ducks have been visiting. “I look forward to seeing them every evening about 8 o’clock with the sun highlighting their beautiful colors.”
            Black-bellied whistling ducks are widespread in the tropics of central to south-central South America and in Texas, Arizona and coastal Louisiana.
            According to Mark Howery, Wildlife Diversity biologist for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, sightings have increased in Oklahoma over the last decade. Within the past 10-12 years, the black-bellied whistling duck has become a regular breeding species in McCurtain County with nests documented so far this year in Broken Bow and at Red Slough WMA.  Over the past decade, they have been recorded in at least seven counties including Tulsa, Kingfisher, and Osage.
            “It is difficult to pinpoint the origin of these ducks, because they are part of the exotic waterfowl trade,” Howery said. “These ducks are primarily a combination of wild-born ducks moving up from Texas, or escaped captive birds.”
            Howery thinks their northern movements are due to their adaptation to human environments.
            “These are wetland birds, and like many wetland birds, they are mobile and can move around from season to season following rainfall patterns as wetlands dry up in some areas and fill up in others,” he said. “Outside nesting season, they will wander for feeding areas.”
            This duck species has some goose-like behaviors, but a diet and bill shape that is more like that of a dabbling duck.
            “Black-bellied whistling ducks are their own tribe of ducks,” Howery said.
            Black-bellied whistling ducks eat a variety of insects and seeds. They can be spotted perching on trees or nesting in tree cavities.  
            The sighting of these unique ducks portrays Oklahoma’s ecologic diversity. Oklahoma ranks as one of the top ecologically diverse states in the nation, home to everything from antelope to alligators.
            For a full selection of “species spotlight” articles featuring Oklahoma’s wildlife, log on to the all new wildlifedepartment.com.
 

Caption: This pair of black-bellied whistling ducks — a species that is uncommon in Oklahoma — has recently been spotted spending time in an urban McAlester backyard. The species is primarily found in the tropics of South America and southernmost points of Texas, Arizona and coastal Louisiana.
 
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Artists wanted: Oklahoma waterfowl stamp design contest now accepting entries
            Artists’ entries are now being accepted for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation’s Waterfowl Stamp Design Contest, featuring the white fronted goose. Submissions will be accepted through Aug. 31, and the winning artwork will be featured on the 2012-13 Oklahoma waterfowl stamp.
            The Wildlife Department’s waterfowl stamp design contest draws artists from across the United States hoping to see their rendition of a pre-selected waterfowl species on the state’s next stamp, which also serves as a state waterfowl license. The Oklahoma waterfowl stamp is required of hunters who pursue waterfowl in Oklahoma and is an important source of funding for on-the-ground habitat work that benefits waterfowl and other wetland wildlife. The Wildlife Department receives no general state tax appropriations and is supported primarily through the sale of hunting and fishing licenses, among them the Oklahoma waterfowl license. 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 created through duck stamp revenues.
            “This is really much more than an art contest,” said Micah Holmes, information supervisor for the Wildlife Department. “When waterfowl hunters purchase that stamp, they are doing their part in conserving wildlife and preserving the sport of hunting. Stamp collectors can support the cause as well, since the stamps always feature stunning and unique artwork that’s worth adding to a collection.”
            Artwork may be of acrylic, oil, watercolor, scratchboard, pencil, pen and ink, tempera or any other two-dimensional media. Photographs are not eligible. The illustration must be horizontal, six and a half inches high and nine inches wide. It must be matted with white mat board nine inches high by 12 inches wide with the opening cut precisely six and a half inches by nine inches. Artwork may not be framed or under glass, but acetate covering should be used to protect the art. All artists must depict the white fronted goose, and any habitat appearing in the design must be typical of Oklahoma. Artists also can include a retriever dog in their entry, as long as the white fronted goose is the featured element of the artwork.
            Complete entry guidelines can be found online at the all new wildlifedepartment.com.
            Entries should be sent to the Duck Stamp Competition Coordinator, Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, P.O. Box 53465, Oklahoma City, OK 73152. Fed Ex, UPS and other ground deliveries should be sent to 1801 N. Lincoln, Oklahoma City, OK 73105.
            Entries will be judged on anatomical accuracy, artistic composition and suitability for printing. The winner and honorable mentions will appear in a future issue of Outdoor Oklahoma magazine.
            A non-refundable entry fee of $20 (cash, money order or cashier’s check) must accompany each entry. No entries will be accepted after 4:30 p.m. Aug. 31.
            The winning artist will receive a purchase award of $1,200, courtesy of Tulsa-based conservation group NatureWorks, and the winning entry will become the sole and exclusive property of the Wildlife Department.
            A selection of 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.
            Prints of the winning art are no longer made, but a small number of limited edition prints from previous years are available for $135. To order, log on to wildlifedepartment.com.
            For more information about the contest call (405) 521-3856. For a complete list of contest rules, log on to wildlifedepartment.com.
 
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Head northwest now for excellent channel catfish angling
            Leading anglers to excellent fishing is at the heart of recent encouragements from fisheries biologists to head to Great Salt Plains Lake in northwest Oklahoma.
            According to John Stahl, northwest region fisheries supervisor for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, channel catfish angling is excellent at the lake right now.
            “The weather is hot, and the fishing is smoking hot,” Stahl said.
            Over the last 10 days, Stahl has himself put away almost 200 lbs. of catfish fillets thanks to his trotlines, and there is plenty more available for anglers to catch. But trotlining isn’t the only way to get in on the action.
            Water levels at the lake are currently low, and Stahl said bank access is excellent for rod-and-reel anglers who come prepared with crawdads, grasshoppers or cut shad. Anglers also could try Stahl’s concoction he calls “garlic hotdogs”—inexpensive franks saturated with garlic powder, then heated, chilled, covered with garlic salt and heated and chilled once more before heading to the freezer to await the perfect day on the water.
            “Fish the wind,” Stahl said, referring to areas where wind is hitting the bank.
            Additionally, Stahl encourages anglers hoping to get in on the catfish angling to be mindful of the summer climate by fishing mornings and evenings.
            “Be easy on yourself because of the heat,” Stahl said, adding that nighttime fishing appears to be best at this time.
            Stahl said the high salt content of Great Salt Plains Lake may play a role in the excellent flavor of the catfish meat from the lake.
            If northwest Oklahoma is too far of a drive, anglers can use the Wildlife Department’s free weekly fishing report to view the status of lakes in their region. The reports are compiled by Wildlife Department employees and volunteers and cover lakes and other waters throughout every region in the state. Information such as lake levels, water temperatures, species being caught, locations with best fishing action and successful baits is included in the reports. Anglers can receive the fishing report free by subscribing to the Department’s weekly news release at
http://www.wildlifedepartment.com  .
 
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$100,000 in NSSF grants for local Boy Scouts Councils
            Boy Scouts and their troop leaders, who are known for being resourceful, will easily recognize the great opportunity provided by the National Shooting Sports Foundation and its new $100,000 challenge grant that encourages shooting sports programs at local Boy Scouts of America Councils.
            The National Shooting Sports Foundation is the trade association for the firearms industry, and its challenge grants are available to qualifying BSA Councils that plan to strengthen and increase their activities in the shooting sports. Such programs teach Scouts marksmanship skills, firearm and range safety, teamwork and fundraising.
            “This is a great opportunity for Boy Scout leaders in Oklahoma to introduce their Scouts to safe gun handling and the shooting sports,” said Lance Meek, hunter education coordinator for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.
            Meek encourages Boy Scout leaders to pursue this grant opportunity with the NSSF and offers the Wildlife Department’s hunter education program as a compliment to their efforts to introduce outdoor skills to Scouts. Scout leaders can join the growing list of hunter education instructors and receive free materials to use in their Scouting groups by contacting Meek at (405) 522-4572.
            “NSSF is taking its long-standing partnership with Boy Scouts of America to a new level with this challenge grant,” said Chris Dolnack, NSSF’s senior vice president and chief marketing officer. “With the shooting sports among the most popular Scouting activities, NSSF is proud to assist local councils in developing new and expanded opportunities for Scouts to gain knowledge of the shooting sports.”
            BSA Councils applying for a grant must specifically earmark funds for shooting sports programs and provide matching funds at least equal to the grant request. NSSF will provide funding to the first 50 qualifying applicants up to a maximum of $2,000 in matching support.
            Councils must use awarded funds toward the purchase of equipment and supplies for their shooting sports activities from an NSSF member retailer, a list of which is available at www.nssf.org/retailers/find  . Examples of qualifying purchases are ammunition, eye and ear protection, firearms, targets and shooting vests.
            Applicants may view NSSF BSA Council Challenge Grant guidelines and application procedures at www.nssf.org/bsagrant . For information contact Melissa Schilling at NSSF at mschilling@nssf.org .
            Formed in 1961, NSSF has a membership of more than 6,000 manufacturers, distributors, firearms retailers, shooting ranges, sportsmen's organizations and publishers. Its mission is to promote, protect and preserve hunting and the shooting sports. NSSF has also supported numerous Wildlife Department shooting and hunting initiatives, including more than $100,000 for teachers’ stipends for the hunter education program and wildlife management area atlases for apprentice-designated hunting license holders to raise awareness of public hunting opportunities. For more information, log on to www.nssf.org.
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Volunteers needed to help make fishing memories for children with illnesses
            Seventy-five boat-owning volunteers are needed July 16 to help take a group of children with life-threatening and chronic illnesses fishing on Lake Texoma.
            The of children are campers at Camp Cavett, a weeklong camp that offers outdoor experiences to children who are undergoing treatments for illnesses such as heart disease, cancer, sickle cell anemia and other childhood illnesses. Each year, part of the week’s festivities includes a fishing trip in which anglers and boaters from across Oklahoma, Texas and even Louisiana volunteer their time and their boats to spend time fishing with the campers.
            “Some of these kids have had a tough time over the last few years, but they’re just like any other kids — they love to go fishing and take a boat ride,” said Gene Gilliland, assistant chief of fisheries for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.
            Gilliland volunteers each year and said some of the campers do not get to fish at home, either because their conditions will not allow them to fish easily or because they are in the hospital too much to find time. Getting the opportunity to go through Camp Cavett gets them involved in the outdoors, giving them something to look forward to and broadening their appreciation for the natural world.
            “Both the volunteers and kids have a great time. It is something we all look forward to," Gilliland said.
            The July 16 fishing event is a “fish-for-anything” derby, with prizes for campers who catch the largest black bass, panfish, catfish, striped bass or rough fish. A free cookout is provided for all participants and volunteers following the day’s outing on the lake.
            Boaters and anglers interested in participating can register as volunteers online at cavettkidsfoundation.org/node/52. Volunteers must arrive at Lake Texoma’s Catfish Bay by 6 a.m. and sign in with camp staff. Each boat will be assigned up to three campers and a counselor, depending on boat capacity. Tackle, bait and life jackets for campers are provided, though boaters are encouraged to bring additional life jackets if they have them in sizes adult small or adult medium.
 
 
Photo Caption: A youth camper is spotted fishing at Lake Texoma during last year’s Camp Cavett with volunteer Glenn Cunningham of Piedmont. Camp Cavett offers outdoor experiences to children who are undergoing treatments for illnesses such as heart disease, cancer, sickle cell anemia and other childhood illnesses, and each year anglers and boaters come together as volunteers to take the campers fishing on Lake Texoma. To volunteer, log on to cavettkidsfoundation.org/node/52.
 
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Ladies conservation event scheduled
            The National Wild Turkey Federation’s Camo and Pearls event will be held Saturday, July 9 at the Riverwind Casino in Norman.
            “This the only NWTF banquet in the state that’s catered to women, but men are still welcome to attend,” said Tiffany English, banquet chair.
            Women in attendance are encouraged to wear camouflage and pearls and expect an evening of fun, friendship and even shopping. Games, prizes and raffles will also be available, with items such as spa packages, jewelry, hunts, guns, and more. The guest speaker will be Brenda Valentine, the “first lady of hunting.” Doors open at 5:30 p.m., with dinner held at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $50 per person or $70 per couple for dinner and a one-year membership to NWTF. Reservation and sponsorship inquiries can be made by English at (405) 919-7660 or Becky Evans at (580) 513-3000.
 
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