Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Commissioners held their regular September meeting Tuesday at Beavers Bend State Park, where they received updates on Department of Wildlife Conservation activities in the southeastern region of the state.
Regional Wildlife Supervisor Eric Suttles took commissioners on a virtual tour of many of the region’s wildlife management areas showing various projects either underway or recently completed.
The projects include daylighting and maintaining roadways, renovating shooting ranges, managing habitat for various species, improving campgrounds by adding a restroom/water spigot, and a new shop building, at WMAs including Atoka, McGee Creek, Pushmataha, Wister, James Collins, and Ouachita.
Suttles reported on recent conservation efforts focused on the endangered red-cockaded woodpecker at the McCurtain County Wilderness Area. This spring, biologists counted 17 breeding pairs in a total population of about 50 woodpeckers.
Also, Wildlife Biologist Chance Phillips offered details about Red Slough WMA and the modest population of American alligators found there and Research Biologist Alex Cooper discussed some ongoing alligator research projects.
Some Commissioners, ODWC staff and state Sen. George Burns took the opportunity to tour Red Slough to learn more about the area and to view alligators.
In other business:
- In his regular report, ODWC Director J.D. Strong cited activities in ODWC’s various divisions since the previous meeting, including recognizing the Department’s Communication Section for winning seven national awards at the Association for Conservation Information annual meeting. He also reminded Commissioners about the Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Foundation’s second-annual Call of the Wild Gala and Conservation Hall of Fame induction set for Oct. 6 in Oklahoma City. Tickets are available online at https://www.okwildlifefoundation.org.
- Commissioners recognized Wildlife Senior Biologist Kyle Johnson and Administrative Assistant Leah Campo, both for 20 years of service.
- Commissioners authorized the Director to pursue the acquisition of properties in Cimarron and Adair counties.
The Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Commission is the eight-member governing board of the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. The 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 Oklahoma Senate. The next regular Commission meeting is set for Oct. 3, 2022, in Lawton.