JANUARY 2012 NEWS RELEASES

JANUARY 2012

 

WEEK OF JANUARY 12, 2012

WEEK OF JANUARY 5, 2012

 

Deadline nears to comment on proposed regulation changes
            Sportsmen have the opportunity to voice their thoughts online now through Jan. 13, 2012, regarding hunting and fishing related rule change proposals currently under consideration.
            Proposed rule changes are often considered to increase opportunity for sportsmen and improve wildlife conservation measures.
            “This is an opportunity to discuss items 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, which is why we are providing an online comment form for those wanting to be heard on these specific subjects. We encourage you to provide your comments through wildlifedepartment.com anytime before 4:30 p.m., Jan. 13, 2012.”
            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 view a complete listing of proposed rule changes or to complete an online comment form, log on to http://www.wildlifedepartment.com  .
            Among others, some of the proposed rule changes this year include the following:
* To make it unlawful to bait wildlife on wildlife management areas.
* To change the bear archery season to Oct. 1 through the third Sunday in October and eliminate the quota for bear archery season.
* To set the statewide daily limit of striped bass at five, except as designated.
* To eliminate daily harvest limits on furbearers so that only season limits apply.
* To establish permanent rules for newly purchased wildlife management areas while altering certain rules on already established public lands.
* To adjust ATV usage rules on Honobia Creek Wildlife Management Area to match those in place at Three Rivers WMA.
            The Wildlife Department also will be hosting public hearings and one town hall meeting on the proposed rule changes. The two public hearings will be held at 7 p.m. Jan. 10 at the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation headquarters auditorium in Oklahoma City (1801 N. Lincoln Blvd) and at the Kiamichi Technology Center in Poteau (1509 South McKenna). The town hall meeting will be held in Antlers at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 12 at the Antlers Wildlife Heritage Center (610 Southwest “D” Street).
 
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New Oklahoma waterfowl stamp art selected
            The 2012-2013 Oklahoma waterfowl stamp design contest results are in, and first place goes to Richard Clifton of Milford, Del., whose winning painting portraying the white-fronted goose will be featured on the 2012-2013 state waterfowl stamp.
            Clifton’s win comes after already earning an honorable mention in last year’s Oklahoma waterfowl stamp contest with his portrayal of the blue-winged teal.
            Honorable mentions this year were awarded to Tom Morgan Crain of Branson, Mo., Cynthie Fisher of Hamilton, Mont., and Doug Walpus of Hartsville, Tenn.
            Images of Clifton’s winning artwork along with all three honorable mentions can be viewed on the Wildlife Department’s website at http://www.wildlifedepartment.com
            “Duck stamp sales help finance many projects that benefit ducks and geese,” said Nels Rodefeld, information and education chief for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. “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 goldeneye will be represented in next year’s contest and will be featured on the 2013-2014 Oklahoma Waterfowl Stamp.
            For more information about waterfowl or waterfowl hunting in Oklahoma, log on to wildlifedepartment.com.
 
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Outdoor Oklahoma magazine now accepting entries for annual photography showcase
            The editors of Outdoor Oklahoma magazine say it is easier than ever to snap a good photograph in the outdoors, and they are calling on Oklahomans to participate in the bi-monthly magazine’s annual Readers’ Photography Showcase contest, open to entries now through March 31.
            The annual “Readers’ Photography Showcase” issue is featured in the July/Aug issue and gives both professional and amateur photographers the chance to have their digital photos displayed in the award-winning magazine.
            “This a great chance for us to show our readers what sportsmen and wildlife enthusiasts are doing and seeing all over our great state,” said Michael Bergin, associate editor. “It’s challenging for the judges to make their final selections, but we always end up with an exciting issue filled with quality photographs of Oklahoma’s outdoors — everything from hunting and fishing scenes to stunning wildlife, birds, insects, landscapes, and even eye-gripping storms.”
            Each participant may submit up to five digital images. Each submission must include a description of the photo including the location taken, name and hometown of photographer, names and hometowns of subjects and what it took to get just the right shot. Contact information for the photographer also must be included.
            Photos should be in sharp focus, and images should be at least 300 dpi (dots per inch). The canvas size should be about 8 inches by 11 inches. All submissions must be digital. Slides and print images will not be accepted. Though images will remain the property of the photographer, actual submissions that are mailed on CD or other form of storage device will not be returned.
            Hopeful photographers can e-mail their entries to photoshowcase@odwc.state.ok.us  or mail a disk to: Outdoor Oklahoma magazine, Oklahoma Dept. of Wildlife Conservation, P.O. Box 53465, Oklahoma City, OK 73152.
            Individuals can subscribe to Outdoor Oklahoma by calling 1-800-777-0019. Outdoor Oklahoma is known for providing decades of outdoor entertainment to both youth and adults. Subscriptions are just $10 for one year, $18 for two years, or $25 for three years. You can also subscribe over the Internet by logging on to the Department's website at wildlifedepartment.com. Hunters who purchase a new Oklahoma Wildlife Management Area Atlas, available from the Wildlife Department for $25, also receive a one-year subscription to Outdoor Oklahoma magazine.
 
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National Wild Turkey Federation recognized for conservation contributions
            While the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation is charged with conserving the state’s wildlife, agency officials are quick to point out the crucial role of its partners, such as the National Wild Turkey Federation who just donated $86,250 for wildlife management efforts in the state.
            At its January meeting, the Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Commission recognized the NWTF for its donation as well as for its role as a long-term partner in wildlife conservation. Presenting the donation to the Commission was Gary Purdy, senior regional director for the NWTF. Under Purdy’s leadership, the NWTF’s current donation includes $40,000 to help fund the purchase of the recently acquired Cross Timbers Wildlife Management Area, over $30,000 to fund habitat projects and equipment purchases, and $10,000 for the Oklahoma National Archery in the Schools Program. Other projects funded by the donation include sending representatives from the Department to regional meetings and conventions held by the NWTF, building habitat signs to be placed on public use areas, and supporting the Department’s annual Wildlife Youth Camp.
            There were two viable NWTF chapters in Oklahoma when Purdy was hired by the organization about 15 years ago.
            “We have 56 Chapters in the state of Oklahoma right now,” Purdy said. “That’s a lot of volunteers, and that’s a countless number of hours that these volunteers spend raising money.”
            The NWTF is a national nonprofit organization dedicated to the conservation of the wild turkey and other wildlife that, according to its website at nwtf.org, has spent more than $372 million throughout North America to conserve nearly 17 million acres of habitat. That has included over $1 million spent in Oklahoma over the years by Oklahoma chapters alone.
            The Commission also recognized BancFirst for its long-standing tradition of supporting the Dolese Youth Park Pond annual trout season in Oklahoma City.
            The two-month long trout season, held during January and February each year at Dolese Park (located near 50th and Meridian) features several stockings of rainbow trout provided through BancFirst’s donation. As a result, Oklahoma City residents enjoy an affordable and entertaining opportunity to catch a fish they don't catch at other times of the year when water temperatures are warmer.
            The trout season at Dolese is also popular, according to Barry Bolton, chief of fisheries for the Wildlife Department.
            “The most recent survey indicates that over 14,000 hours are spent fishing this 18-acre lake over the two-month season,” Bolton said. “Over 50,000 trout are stocked between Jan. 1 and Feb. 28 at a cost of $10,000.”
            Bolton credits the efforts of Wildlife Department and Oklahoma City Parks and Recreation Department personnel for their efforts in coordinating the season, but said it is BancFirst’s participation that provides the crucial funding for the program.
            “None of this would have been possible without the generous donations from BancFirst,” Bolton said. “Their $2,500 annual contribution is matched with another $7,500 in Sport Fish Restoration funds each year.”
            According to Hank Bradley, executive vice president of business development for BancFirst, their participation is well worth the effort.
            “I was 12 years old before I caught a trout, and that was in Red River, New Mexico,” Bradley said. “And to see these kids at this age have the opportunity to do this in Oklahoma City — it’s just unbelievable, and we’re just proud to be a part of it.”
            BancFirst ranks 19th in the nation on the Forbes 2012 list of best banks in America and is the only Oklahoma bank in the top 25 listing.
            Part of the “Close to Home Fishing” program, the Dolese trout season is a result of a partnership between BancFirst, the Wildlife Department and the Oklahoma City Parks and Recreation Department.
            The “Close to Home” fishing program provides fishing areas that are often just a short drive away from even the most urban locations, saving families time and gas money. In addition, it allows parents and children to fish together after school or on a busy weekend. The season is open now and will run through Feb. 28.
            In other business, the Commission voted to continue supporting efforts that would secure sufficient water from Tenkiller Lake to maintain the trout fishery in the Lower Illinois River below the dam.
            In 2011, two significant fish kills including both trout and native species were documented in the river because of adverse conditions brought about by lack of water releases from the lake. While rainfall after a period of record heat and drought did improve water levels and trout stockings have since resumed, officials say the biggest water shortage concerns at the fishery have not been resolved.
            While finding a solution to water shortages in the river poses unique challenges, Bolton said the Wildlife Department is committed to maintaining the fishery and will continue to work to ensure quality fishing for those who depend on the fishery for recreation and business.
            The Commission also approved a new mortality table for the Department’s retirement plan and voted to increase the agency’s annual contribution for the plan, while also approving other minor language changes as required by the IRS.
            Wildlife Department Director Richard Hatcher also reported to the Commission that long-time District Eight Wildlife Commissioner John D. Groendyke has been reappointed by the Governor to another eight-year term, which would start in July. The appointment requires Senate confirmation. Groendyke, who has served on the Commission since 1976, is chairman of the board of Groendyke Transport, Inc. Founded by his father, H.C. Groendyke in 1932, it is one of the nation's largest motor carriers of bulk commodities serving the continental United States, Canada and Mexico. He graduated from Wentworth Military Academy where he attended high school and junior college and received his Bachelor of Science degree in business from Oklahoma State University. District Eight includes Cimarron, Texas, Beaver, Harper, Woodward, Woods, Major, Alfalfa, Grant, Garfield, Kay and Noble counties.
            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 Feb. 6 at the Food and Agricultural Products Research and Technology Center on the Oklahoma State University campus in Stillwater.
 
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Outdoor Oklahoma magazine now accepting annual photography showcase entries
            The editors of Outdoor Oklahoma magazine say it is easier than ever to snap a good photograph in the outdoors, and they are calling on Oklahomans to participate in the bi-monthly magazine’s annual Readers’ Photography Showcase contest, open to entries now through March 31.
            The annual “Readers’ Photography Showcase” issue is featured in the July/Aug issue and gives both professional and amateur photographers the chance to have their digital photos displayed in the award-winning magazine.
            “This a great chance for us to show our readers what sportsmen and wildlife enthusiasts are doing and seeing all over our great state,” said Michael Bergin, associate editor. “It’s challenging for the judges to make their final selections, but we always end up with an exciting issue filled with quality photographs of Oklahoma’s outdoors — everything from hunting and fishing scenes to stunning wildlife, birds, insects, landscapes, and even eye-gripping storms.”
            Each participant may submit up to five digital images. Each submission must include a description of the photo including the location taken, name and hometown of photographer, names and hometowns of subjects and what it took to get just the right shot. Contact information for the photographer also must be included.
            Photos should be in sharp focus, and images should be at least 300 dpi (dots per inch). The canvas size should be about 8 inches by 11 inches. All submissions must be digital. Slides and print images will not be accepted. Though images will remain the property of the photographer, actual submissions that are mailed on CD or other form of storage device will not be returned.
            Hopeful photographers can e-mail their entries to photoshowcase@odwc.state.ok.us  or mail a disk to: Outdoor Oklahoma magazine, Oklahoma Dept. of Wildlife Conservation, P.O. Box 53465, Oklahoma City, OK 73152.
            Individuals can subscribe to Outdoor Oklahoma by calling 1-800-777-0019. Outdoor Oklahoma is known for providing decades of outdoor entertainment to both youth and adults. Subscriptions are just $10 for one year, $18 for two years, or $25 for three years. You can also subscribe over the Internet by logging on to the Department's website at wildlifedepartment.com. Hunters who purchase a new Oklahoma Wildlife Management Area Atlas, available from the Wildlife Department for $25, also receive a one-year subscription to Outdoor Oklahoma magazine.
 
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Illinois River Fly Fishing School offers two-day course
Anglers interested in fly fishing can learn the sport Feb. 24-25 at the Illinois River Fly Fishing School.
The clinic will be based out of Tenkiller State Park and will feature instructional sessions as well as hands-on practice on the banks of the Illinois River.

According to long-time instructor Mark Patton, the clinic lays a good foundation for both amateur and experienced anglers. While he "starts from the ground up," Patton said even those familiar with fly fishing can benefit from the instruction.

The clinic will offer in depth information on equipment, tackle assembly, knots, flies, casting, and tactics and will include on-stream fishing instruction. Patton said participants will leave with a better understanding of fly fishing by learning how the equipment works and why it performs the way it does when operated properly. While an angler may be proficient with bait-casting and spinning reel motions, converting that knowledge to fly fishing "just doesn't work." Upon completion of the Illinois River Fly Fishing School, Patton said participants will be ready to begin fishing by themselves.

"A guide right now in some places is $400 a day," Patton said. "I try to get people to where they don't need a guide."
The clinic costs $150 and includes instruction on Friday and Saturday, and anglers are encouraged to stay and fish Sunday. Spots are limited, and registration is required by calling (405) 340-1992. Meals for the event are available for $30, or participants can provide their own. Participants are responsible for their lodging and can book a stay at the state park directly by calling (918) 489-5641.

Fly rods will be available for loan on Saturday, and participants who own their own gear are encouraged to bring it with them to the clinic. Participants should dress for outdoor conditions and bring a hat, sunglasses, coat, rain gear, alarm clock and flashlight. The "welcome session" begins at 8 a.m., Friday, Feb. 24, after cabin check-in, and all indoor sessions and meals will be held in the community center located immediately north of the Tenkiller office.
For more information or to register, call Patton at (405) 340-1992.

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Twitter users stay up on Oklahoma's outdoors (January 26, 2012)
             Over 1,000 subscribers are now using Twitter to get the very latest news updates from the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.
             The Wildlife Department's regular brief updates provide sportsmen with information ranging from links to timely news stories, hunting season updates and last minute hunter education classes.
             Current Twitter users can sign up to follow "OKWildlifeDept" for regular updates. Sportsmen who do not maintain a free Twitter account can still follow the Wildlife Department's Twitter updates by logging on to http://twitter.com/OkWildlifeDept
               "We've been keeping sportsmen in-the-know through Twitter, and we look forward to keeping more and more people informed as word gets out that we are using Twitter to communicate with sportsmen," said Micah Holmes, information and education supervisor for the Wildlife Department. "In fact, Twitter is just one of several ways that we keep in touch with sportsmen in a timely manner. We also send fish and wildlife news to nearly 100,000 subscriber e-mail addresses, in addition to all of our other great information sources like wildlifedepartment.com, Outdoor Oklahoma magazine and TV, and a range of other newsletters and publications. Most of this information is free, and we just want sportsmen to have it so they can get the most from our state's outdoors."
             For more information about Twitter or to set up an account and begin instantly following the Wildlife Department, log on to twitter.com. To sign up for the Wildlife Department's free e-mail news release, which provides full stories on the latest news and outdoor information from the Wildlife Department, log on to http://www.wildlifedepartment.com. You can also explore the Department's homepage at wildlifedepartment.com for links to hunting and fishing regulations, event calendars, news, and even shopping opportunities that allow visitors to purchase hunting and fishing licenses or wildlife merchandise. Those interested also can follow the Wildlife Department on Facebook.  
 
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Important wildlife conservation funding program celebrates 75 years (January 18, 2012)
            Most Oklahoma sportsmen could not imagine their state without the whitetail deer, but hunters today harvest record and near-record numbers of whitetails year after year. Additionally, the once-scarce wild turkey is now hunted in all 77 Oklahoma counties, and sportsmen enjoy other generous hunting seasons, lush habitats and millions of acres of water available for fishing. But it is only through their own commitment to hunting and fishing that fish and wildlife thrives today in the state — namely through their purchase of hunting and fishing licenses and through their participation in the now 75-year-old federal Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration program.
            Prior to the late 1930s, wildlife had grown scarce in Oklahoma due to unregulated overharvesting of game dating as far back as the days of settlement and early statehood. But the establishment of what is now the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation and the work that followed through hunter participation and the Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration program has helped restore Oklahoma’s native wildlife.
            The Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration program is a means of funding conservation by which hunters and anglers are not only the primary supporter but also the primary beneficiary, along with native wildlife and habitat.
            On September 2, 1937, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act, which raises funds through a dedicated tax on sporting guns and ammunition. These “excise taxes,” as they are called, are charged by the federal government to manufacturers of products and usually passed on by the manufacturers to consumers — in this case hunters. Then in 1950, the Federal Aid in Sport Fish Restoration Act was enacted. Through this law, the same type of taxes are charged to the manufacturers of certain fishing equipment and boat fuels. As with the Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act, manufacturers generally pass on these taxes to boaters and anglers.
            The federal government collects these taxes, which includes among others an 11 percent tax on certain firearms, ammunition and archery equipment and a 10 percent tax on certain sport fishing equipment. Then the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service administers and disburses these funds to the state fish and wildlife agencies as part of what is called the Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration program. Since hunters, anglers, shooters and boaters ultimately pay these taxes through their purchase of products, it is fitting that these are the same people who benefit from these funds, since the states must spend the money on conservation. This includes such projects as sportfish and wildlife habitat restoration, habitat development, wildlife population management, user access and facilities and education.
            “It’s frightening to imagine what Oklahoma’s rich traditions of hunting and fishing might look like today without the Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program,” said John Stafford, federal aid coordinator for the Wildlife Department. “This unique partnership (WSFRP) between hunters, anglers, boaters, recreational shooters, manufacturers and governments certainly is the backbone of wildlife conversation funding.”
            In Oklahoma, the Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration funds have been by the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation for countless projects to benefit wildlife and the hunters and anglers who use the outdoors. Land purchases, wildlife proliferation, habitat restoration, lake and wetland development, hatchery construction, research, public access to recreational opportunities, education and many other efforts have resulted from the Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration program over the last 75 years.
            In short, the Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program (WSFR) is one of the most significant and successful partnership approaches to fish and wildlife conservation in U.S. history.
            “The 75th anniversary of the WSFR program is a tremendous opportunity to celebrate the conservation victories that have been made possible because of this innovative funding approach,” said Jonathan Gassett, PhD, president, Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies. “WSFR has made the difference for the survival and abundance of some species, and because of it, many fish and wildlife populations are at historically high levels today.”  
 
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