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News Articles

09

The Latest from All Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks Web News

FEBRUARY GEESE KEEP HUNTERS AFIELD THROUGH LATE WINTER

Posted: 04 Feb 2009 11:55 AM PST

Late winter offers plenty of hunting; snow geese may be taken through April 30
PRATT -- Abundant numbers of Canada, white-fronted, and snow geese are keeping many waterfowl hunters afield this February. Morning and evening, avid hunters may be found in cut grain fields, decoys arrayed, waiting for giant flocks of geese to leave their daytime resting spots and fly above the landscape to feed. The hunting is good, and the harvest makes fine winter table fare.

As of Feb. 2, the reported number of geese in Kansas was approximately 500,000, but those numbers vary greatly. Currently, the top three areas for geese are Quivira National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) with 200,000; Glen Elder Wildlife Area (WA) with 89,000; and Wilson WA with 9,000. (Cheyenne Bottoms WA reports fluctuations of 15,000-50,000 geese, and McPherson Wetlands reports "several thousand.") These numbers are approximate and can fluctuate daily, so it's good to check the nearest Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks (KDWP) office for the latest information. Updated waterfowl reports may also be found on the KDWP website, www.kdwp.state.ks.us.

Canada goose season runs through Feb. 15 statewide. The remaining white-fronted goose season runs Feb. 7-15. Light geese (Ross', snow, and blue) may be hunted through April 30.

All waterfowl hunters 16 and older must have a federal Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp, and all hunters who are required to obtain a license must also have a Kansas State Waterfowl Habitat Stamp and a Harvest Information Program (HIP) stamp before attempting to take ducks and geese. (Those not required to have a Kansas hunting license include people hunting their own land and residents 15 and younger or 65 and older.)

Waterfowl and HIP stamps purchased during the fall 2008 seasons are valid through the winter and spring of 2009.
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BENEDICTINE BOTTOMS FEATURED IN LATEST KDWP ONLINE VIDEO

Posted: 04 Feb 2009 11:24 AM PST

Missouri River Bottoms area rich in flora and fauna
ATCHISON -- Benedictine Bottoms is a 2,112-acre wildlife area located along the Missouri River near Atchison. Three habitat types existed in the area before development — timber, native grass, and wetlands — and the area is managed for all three to this day. During construction in 1993-94, more than 175,000 trees and 550 acres of native grass were planted, and 450 acres of wetlands were developed. This diverse habitat combination and the area's location affords great hunting and wildlife viewing opportunities for Kansas City, Topeka, Lawrence, and St. Joseph, Missouri.

The area is owned by the U.S. Army Corps Of Engineers (COE) and managed by the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks (KDWP). All of the area's management and operating costs are paid by COE, but KDWP public lands manager Kirk Thompson has directed this important wildlife area since it was established.

Diverse habitat makes Benedictine Bottoms home to many wildlife species. Its proximity to the big river makes it a natural gathering place for waterfowl. Ducks use the area’s wetlands, and large flocks of snow geese are often seen overhead during winter. Eagles are also frequent winter visitors, preying on waterfowl. Thick cover, abundant native food, and planted food plots make ideal habitat for white-tailed deer, as well as small game and upland birds. Pheasants and quail may be found, and cottontails and fox squirrels are abundant. This large prey base attracts coyotes, bobcats, hawks, owls, and other predators. A walk through Benedictine Bottoms with binoculars is almost certain to offer thrilling looks at area wildlife.

Although flooding and storms affect annual bird production, the area is known for good pheasant hunting, and deer hunters enjoy a high success rate. All hunting at Benedictine is by special permit only. Waterfowl and upland hunting days are staggered to ensure hunter safety and high-quality hunts. Hunting areas are expansive, allowing all-day walking without covering the same ground.

Artists and photographers also enjoy the area. Fall color is exceptional on the bordering hills, and a pleasing blend of land and water combine with bright skies to create stunning winter panoramas. Spring migration and summer’s verdant growth add to the effect.

Whether you’re a hunter, hiker, or wildlife watcher, Benedictine Bottoms offers something special. Visit and see for yourself one of the state’s most unique natural areas. For more information, phone Kirk Thompson at 913-367-7811. To view a web video of the area, go to the KDWP website, www.kdwp.state.ks.us, and click "KDWP TV" in the top right-hand corner of the page.

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FISHING FORECAST LOCATES LUNKER LAKES FOR SPRING ANGLERS

Posted: 04 Feb 2009 11:21 AM PST

2009 statewide summary helps anglers find best spots to fish
PRATT -- Each year, the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks (KDWP) prepares a tool that answers every angler's most pressing question: "Where can I find the best fishing?" Called the Kansas Fishing Forecast, this indispensable tool forecasts fishing prospects in public waters throughout the state.

The 2009 Kansas Fishing Forecast assembles results of biologists' sampling efforts into a format that can help anglers select lakes that will most likely provide the best opportunity to catch the kind and size of fish they prefer. The information is formulated from data collected by fisheries management biologists through annual lake monitoring, which includes test netting and electroshocking.New for 2009 is separation of water bodies into three categories -- reservoirs (waters larger than 1,200 acres), lakes (waters from 20 to 1,200 acres), and ponds (waters smaller than 20 acres). This helps anglers understand that while a water body may have a high rating, if it is small, its overall opportunity may be limited.

Table categories have been created for popular species and include a Density Rating, Preferred Rating, Lunker Rating, Biggest Fish (the largest fish taken in sampling), and Biologist’s Rating. Not every lake is sampled each year, so a separate category -- Three-Year Density Average -- has been added to the 2009 forecast.

The Density Rating is the number of fish that were high-quality size or larger sampled per unit of sampling effort. Quality size, listed in parentheses at the top of the Density Rating column, is the length of fish considered acceptable to most anglers and is different for each species. The higher the Density Rating, the more high-quality or larger fish per surface acre in the lake. Theoretically, a lake with a Density Rating of 30 has twice as many high-quality fish per acre as a lake with a Density Rating of 15.

The Preferred Rating identifies how many above-average-size fish a water contains. For example, a lake may have a good density of crappie, but few fish over 10 inches. The Preferred Rating helps an angler find waters with more big fish.

The Lunker Rating is similar to the Density Rating, but it shows the relative density of lunker-sized fish in the lake. A lunker is a certain length of fish considered a trophy by most anglers. It also differs with each species and is listed in parentheses at the top of the Lunker Rating column. For example, most anglers consider a channel catfish longer than 16 inches a high-quality fish, a 24-incher "preferred," and a 28-incher a trophy. Many lakes may have a lunker rating of 0, but this does not mean there are no big fish in that lake. It just means that no lunker fish were caught during sampling, and they may be less abundant than in lakes with positive Lunker Ratings.

Anglers can use the Density Rating and Lunker Rating together. For those who want numbers, go with the highest Density Rating. For those who want only big fish, go with the Lunker Rating. Somewhere in the middle might be a better choice. A lake with a respectable rating in all three categories should provide the best overall fishing opportunities.

The Biggest Fish column lists the weight of the largest fish caught during sampling. A heavy fish listed here can give the lunker angler confidence that truly big fish are present.

The Biologist’s Rating adds a human touch to the forecast. Each district fisheries biologist reviews the data from annual samplings of their assigned lakes. This review considers environmental conditions that may have affected the samplings. They also consider previous years’ data. A rating of P (poor), F (fair), G (good), and E (excellent) will be in the last column. Sometimes the Density Rating may not agree with the Biologist’s Rating. This will happen occasionally and means the Density Rating may not accurately reflect the biologist’s opinion of the fishery.

The 2009 Kansas Fishing Forecast will be available at the KDWP website, www.kdwp.state.ks.us, by Feb. 13. Click "Fishing" at the top of the home page, then "Fishing Forecast" in the left-hand column. Printed copies of the forecast will be available at KDWP offices by the end of February, and the March/April issue of Kansas Wildlife & Parks magazine will present the forecast as a full-color article. (For subscriptions, phone 1-800-288-8387.)

Whether the angler is after big fish or more fish, the forecast will help find them. Weekly reports on fishing conditions at waters throughout the state are also posted on the website and complement the forecast.

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STATE-FISH ART CONTEST FEATURES CHANNEL CAT, DEADLINE MARCH 31

Posted: 04 Feb 2009 11:18 AM PST

National and state prizes awarded for students grades 4 through 12
BROOKLYN CENTER, Minn. -- Wildlife Forever has announced that the deadline for entry in its 11th Annual State-Fish Art Contest is March 31. Through the contest, students across Kansas and the United States have the opportunity to win national recognition and prizes while learning about their local state fish and the conservation of aquatic habitats. The contest is open to all students in grades 4 through 12.

To enter, young artists usually create an illustration of their state fish, but artwork of any official state fish is eligible. Kansas entrants usually portray the channel catfish. A written composition on its behavior, habitat, and conservation is also required.

State-Fish Art Contest entries are separated into three grade categories: fourth-sixth, seventh-ninth, and 10-12. Winning contestants from every state are honored in each category. All contest winners receive a gift certificate for art supplies, as well as other prizes. Winning designs will also be featured on the official State-Fish Art website, www.statefishart.com.

A talented artist in grades 10-12 will be selected as the national “Best of Show” winner and will receive a $2,500 tuition scholarship to attend The Art Institutes International Minnesota (Ai Minnesota). The first-runner up nationally in grades 10-12 will receive a $1,000 tuition scholarship to Ai Minnesota. Winners who attend the Expo will receive a special rod and reel. One “gallery-quality” winning entry will be used as the design for the 2009 Art of Conservation Stamp, and a national "Best of Show" award will be presented to one contestant in each age group. Winning artwork will be on display at the State Fish Art Expo at the Mall of America July 19-20 in Minneapolis, Minn.

Parents and teachers should visit the State-Fish Art website for complete details and to download a free lesson plan. Entries must be postmarked by March 31. Winners will be announced on May 1.
For more information, write Pat Conzemius at Wildlife Forever, 2700 Freeway Blvd., #1000, Brooklyn Center, MN 55430, email pconzemius@wildlifeforever.org, or phone 763-253-0222.
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BIGGER BASS BREWING AT WILDLIFE

Posted: 28 Jan 2009 01:02 PM PST

Experimental spawning procedure could produce young bass earlier in the year

A new project at Meade Fish Hatchery, near Meade State Park, holds the promise of bass that may start growing earlier and get larger in their first year than bass hatched with traditional hatchery methods, or those hatched in the wild. Typically, bass in hatchery ponds or in the wild spawn in mid-June, too late to take advantage of young gizzard shad, a primary prey species for bass. This results in slower growth rates and smaller year-class bass that are more vulnerable to winter die-off when the growing season ends in fall.

The concept is relatively simple. Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks (KDWP) fisheries biologists have built a climate-controlled building -- called the Bass Propagation Facility -- for the process. Here, they can manipulate water temperature and photoperiod (length of light in a day) in hopes that mature breeding bass will spawn approximately one month earlier than normal. If the parent bass respond as expected, the resulting fry will be reared in raceways to fingerling size by the time wild-hatched bass are still in the fry stage.

The young fingerlings would then be stocked in lakes, where they would feed on zooplankton until young shad are available. This year's planned experimental hatch will be stocked at Hillsdale Reservoir, near Kansas City, and Cedar Bluff Reservoir, west of Hays. If successful, the facility hopes to produce two million fingerlings annually.

"It's still in the experimental stage, but we hope this provides a tool to produce more bass for Kansas anglers," says Doug Nygren, KDWP Fisheries Section chief. "Bigger young-of-the-year bass in the fall would certainly mean more bass surviving the winter, bass that would be excellent sportfish the next season. We'll monitor the situation closely, but we're hopeful."

This is one of the first such projects in the country. A video describing the new facility is available at KDWP TV.

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