Wednesday, August 15, 2012
A service of the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation
At its August meeting, the Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Commission voted to accept nearly $40,000 in donations that will help the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation accomplish a range of conservation initiatives.
The $40,000 was comprised of donations from several conservation partners, including $20,000 from the Oklahoma Station Chapter of Safari Club International for a scholastic shooting sports pilot program to be implemented by the Wildlife Department in Oklahoma schools; $10,000 from the Oklahoma Station Chapter of Safari Club International for the development of the Department's Operation Game Thief trailer used to educate the public on the importance of following game laws; $3,500 from the Oklahoma State Game Warden Association and another $3,000 from the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation for the Wildlife Department Youth Camp, which hosts a group of teen-aged campers for one week each summer and teaches them about conservation, game laws, and careers at the Wildlife Department, and; $1,000 from the Indian Territory Chapter of Quail Forever for prescribed burns, ridge-top clearing and water impoundments on the Spavinaw Wildlife Management Area.
"It's our partners in conservation that enable us to accomplish all that we do for wildlife," said Richard Hatcher, director for the Wildlife Department. "The sportsmen and wildlife enthusiasts who make up the memberships of these groups that donated this money are going the extra mile to ensure Oklahoma remains a premier state for wildlife-related recreation and conservation.
The Commission also approved dates and regulations for the 2012-13 hunting seasons for ducks, geese, dove and other migratory birds.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service considers populations and habitat status for establishing migratory game bird hunting seasons at an annual meeting held in June each year in consultation with the four Flyway Councils. The Service publishes the federal hunting season frameworks for these species after the meeting, and state wildlife agencies like the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation can then make their season selections within the federal framework guidelines.
According to Alan Peoples, chief of wildlife for the Wildlife Department, surveys indicate what may be record numbers of mallards and greater numbers of other duck species on northern United States and Canadian breeding grounds than have been recorded in years.
In other business, the Commission also recognized three elementary girls who placed in the top five in the nation in their grade levels at the National Archery in the Schools tournament held in May in Louisville, Ky. Taking third place in the fourth-grade girls competition was Riane Tuthill of Chickasha. Birdie Maxwell of Parklane Elementary took fourth place in the fifth-grade girls division, and Faith Terrell of Chandler Elementary took fourth place among sixth-grade girls. About 370 Oklahoma students were part of the crowd of 7,804 youth shooters from the across the nation who competed at the shoot.
The Commission also recognized the owners of Spring Creek Farm and Twin Hills Ranch in Seminole Co. as the Wildlife Department's newest Landowners of the Year. Through the Landowner of the Year program, the Wildlife Department selects a landowner who has gone above and beyond to improve their property for wildlife habitat, and brothers Carl, Jerry and Lloyd Hendrix have done just that with extensive efforts on their properties to manage habitat and conserve wildlife.
The Commission also heard a presentation on the status, direction and goals of the Oklahoma Prescribed Fire Council. The group has 16 burn associations members, and local landowners can get plugged in to one of their local burn associations for help getting started using prescribed fire to manage habitat on their land. The burn associations also have equipment and can coordinate labor among participating landowners. A key component of the group's efforts is to obtain liability insurance for landowners wanting to conduct prescribed burns.
Richard Hatcher, director of the Wildlife Department, also recognized three employees for long tenure with the Wildlife Department. Gene Gilliland, assistant chief of fisheries, and John Skeen, wildlife senior biologist, were both recognized for 30 years of service, and Mark Howery, wildlife diversity biologist, was recognized for 20 years of service.
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 Sept. 10, at the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation headquarters (auditorium), located at the southwest corner of 18th and North Lincoln, Oklahoma City.