The Hays Daily News from Hays, Kansas on June 30, 2006 · Page 10
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The Hays Daily News from Hays, Kansas · Page 10

Hays, Kansas
Issue Date:
Friday, June 30, 2006
Page 10
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A10 THE HAYS DAILY NEWS FRIDAY, JUNE 30,2006 Ft"' •1-1 'l a fit STEVEN HAUSLER / Hays Dally News Randy Rodgers, wildlife biologist for the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks, makes a presentation on lesser prairie chickens Thursday during the Wildlife and Parks Commission meeting in Scott City. Struggling grassland birds making a comeback By MIKE CORN HAYS DAILY NEWS SCOTT CITY — The lesser prairie chicken population in Kansas is booming. That's not quite the case — at least this year — for the pheasant population in the western third of the state, a Hays-based Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks biologist said Thursday. Biologist Randy Rodgers was among wildlife agency biologists appearing in Scott City before the Kansas Wildlife and Parks Commission, the group that sets policy for the wildlife agency. After Rodgers briefed commissioners on the status of the lesser prairie chicken, he was asked about pheasants. He said the drought has been hard on the birds. But he said last year was an outstanding year in terms of pheasant production and the hunting season, even though the numbers are not yet in. "I'm quite confident in thinking it will be the best year in 20 yearst'J.'hesaidu"-..' '•• •!•>•).;, in./ r\,, That's .because cSrr.y over, from, the year before was high, resulting in good production of new birds. This year, however, moisture has been lacking, wheat stands have been short — hurting nesting populations — and the wheat crop matured much earlier than normal. "I don't see anyway in western Kansas that we had good production," Rodgers said of pheasant populations. "There's still going to be good hunting out here, but it's not going to be as-good as last year." In the north-central part of the state, he said, where rains have fallen and wheat harvest has been better than average, "they have a good chance of improving over last year." The pheasant season this year will, for the first time, open on the first weekend in November, 1 action that was approved last year by the commission. Thursday, the commissioners heard from a Scott County resident who said that landowners — in a gesture of protest — were talking about refusing to grant access during the first week of the season. It was lesser prairie chickens — slightly smaller than greater prairie chickens that are better known in the Flint Hills of eastern Kansas — that Rodgers had been scheduled to discuss, however. He sounded a high note for the health of the lesser prairie chicken population, much of which is concentrated in southwest Kansas. For a bird that was considered as a candidate for inclusion on the threatened species list, the response has been well-received. That's not to say there aren't problems. Specifically, Rodgers said there is concern about the spread of trees in prairies and human development, which nesting hens avoid, according to studies. He specifically cited wind farm developments because nesting hens tend to avoid the towers by a significant distance. The most recent wind farm was selected by Kansas City Power and Light to the north of Spearville, in an.area that is en? tirely..q|^^^'^t^^ 6! '*« ! ^- &'- jtfcxni By MIKE CORN HAYS DAILY NEWS SCOTT CITY — Deer Will be the subject of conversation this fall when the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks takes to the road for a series of meetings.. Tentatively, at least three of those meetings will be in northwest Kansas: • Aug. 8, Community Building in Colby. • Aug. 9, Huck Boyd Center in Phillipsburg. • Aug. 10,Hays High School Auditorium. The Hays and Colby, meetings will begin at 7 p.m.,.while the Phillipsburg meeting will start at 7:30 p.m. All three meetings will last until 9 p.m. The meetings are an outgrowth of developments brought to the forefront by the deer working group. That group talked about how the number of deer permits issued, including those issued to both residents and non-residents. Rodgers explains of legumes now in dent," he said, notin&thatthe -, utility company had been told of concerns with the grassland prairie chickens. The area around another wind farm in the development stages northeast of Hugoton has been reviewed, but Rodgers said no prairie chickens were found. It's the trees that concern the importance Rodgers. enhanced CRP. " This is P rob£ »bly ° u r No - * threat in my opinion," he said. That encroachment is also taking place on land enrolled in the federal government's Conservation Reserve Program. "It doesn't take much for grassland to become inhospitable," he said. But that tree invasion has been viewed as evil by most state and federal agencies. In fact, he said, the Farm Service Agency has been requiring that farmers remove trees from CRP land. "If we are going to maintain our grassland birds, we need to give them plenty of grassland," he said. '• .--•-. ^-: T-ss,." SRaEHKSiJiKK' f;C 1~JT< '" -------- — ••-eluding burning patches or lightly grazing CRP stands to imitate the days when range fires were common or buffalo grazed the land. "I believe this is something that has tremendous potential, not only for the lesser prairie chicken, but also for the greater prairie chicken in the Flint Hills." That CRP ground has become important, especially after six Kansas counties, including Ness County, were deemed critical habitat for lesser prairie chickens. Since then, enrollment in the land-idling program has spiked, much of it in those counties. The result of all of the activities has meant an increase in total populations in Kansas, as well as an expansion of the historical range for the bird. "The majority of the lesser prairie chicken range is in Kansas," Rodgers said. Eastern Colorado and New Mexico have seen some improvements, but Oklahoma prairie chickens are struggling. Earlier this year, the wildlife agency took surveys and now estimate that there are between 19,000 and 31,000 lesser prairie chickens in Kansas, more than any other state. The commissioners also heard about efforts to Most recently, the group has raised concerns about, the health of captive deer herds, specifically involviing chronic wasting disease. Late last year, a deer killed in Cheyenne " County was found to have the ailment, similar to mad cow disease. Group members voiced concern about the . movement of captive deer and the testing of animals when they are killed. Public information officer Mike Miller told * wildlife commissioners that the group is finaliz- i ing details of the meetings. • ,' i And he's still hearing from people about the ! group's findings. , ''• "I'm still getting about a couple phone calls ; a week, maybe less than five e-mails a week : on the recommendations," he said. . j Managing editor Mike Com can be reached at \ (785) 628-1081, ext. 129, or by e-mail at \ .,..• ','-- •:.vf V.K'"'J'i ><r\iiu, • ''i W«i4')n] noil; I Mr,l|.-»Jv,. • .1. ' ,, . I , . recruit a growing Hispaniq .population to take part in hunting and fishing. KDWP employee Manuel Torres said efforts undertaken in southwest Kansas have had tremendous success. Currently, he said, the agency is working on translating fishing regulations into Spanish and hopes to do the same with hunting regulations. Hispanic populations are increasing and in many regions are no longer the minority. • "I know Hays is going to jump," he said of Hispanic populations. "They are expecting an increase over the next four or five years." Torres said the he hopes to expand efforts to attract Hispanics, by recruiting others to help with conducting hunter safety classes. He said the agency's Walk-in Hunting Areas are beneficial to getting Hispanics outdoors because it is a free resource that does not require asking permission from landowners. That, he said, helps overcome any language barriers that might exist. Managing editor Mike Corn can be reached at (785) 628-1081, ext. 129, or by e-mail at mcorn @ Youth afield COURTESY PHOTO Jordan Bleske Is pictured with a turkey that he shot In Russell County during the spring turkey season. Jordan Is the son of Calvin and Sharon Bleske of Victoria. Send your photo to Outdoors Editor, Hays Daily News, P.O. Box 857, Hays, KS 67601 Fish released FRED HUNT/ Hays Daily N»W» Scott Voss, fisheries aide for the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks, releases a channel catfish Thursday morning underneath the Main Street bridge over Big Creek In Hays. About 250 fish were stocked In the creek for the Saturday's Wild West Festival fishing tournament. Saturday — Wild West Festival Fishing Tournament 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Big Creek near the festival grounds. The event is sponsored by the Hays Bass Anglers. Registration will begin shortly before the tournament begins at the shelter house by the walking bridge. July 15 — Deadline for applications for KDWP special hunts. For applications, go to your local office, or go online at Should'* Uted SOUTHSIDE BAIT 70»vtn« • Hayi,

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