Monthly Archives: January 2011

Craghead to lead parks and tourism

Linda Craghead, of Alma, has been selected to direct Kansas’ state parks and tourism departments. She was appointed by Robin Jennison, Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism secretary.

Linda Craghead, of Alma, has been selected to direct state parks and tourism for the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism.

Gov. Sam Brownback signed an order merging the tourism department into Wildlife and Parks on Wednesday. He appointed Jennison to lead the agency on Jan. 7.

If the legislature takes no action to halt the merger within 60 days the departments will be officially merged on July 1. Craghead is temporarily assigned to direct state parks and tourism until then when she’ll officially become Parks and Tourism assistant secretary under Jennison.

Craghead, 47, has been the event coordinator for the annual Symphony in the Flint Hills concert and promoting economic development in the Flint Hills.

“I want people to understand the atmosphere and wonderful quality of life we have in Kansas. We truly are the heart and soul of America,” Craghead said. “Kansans need to take pride in that and share it with others on every opportunity that we can.”

Amazing shed antler found

Any day now I’ll start getting photos of impressive shed antlers people have found. Some will be found on accident while others will be the result of carefully searching favored areas.

Well all you shedaholics, feast your eyes on this shed my friend Mike Miller found near Greensburg last weekend. Yes, it’s from a free-range bull elk.

Miller found the shed antler shortly after hearing about the other side being found earlier by a friend.

He said several people had seen a bull elk in the area about a year ago.

As well as the well-known Fort Riley herd Kansas has several small herds of wild, free-ranging elk. One with several dozen animals is near or along the Arkansas River in far western Kansas.

Single animals have been seen, poached, photographed or road-killed in quite  few places in western and central Kansas.

Gee, I wonder if they’re following mountain lions into the state?

Pan-handling blue heron

For years I’ve looked at great blue herons shivering in the Kansas winter and wondered how the poor, predatory wading birds survive.

Now I know thanks to a fun video shot by Wildlife and Park’s Mike Blair.

Click HERE to see a great blue that’s pan-handling some fresh fish from some ice fishermen near Pratt.

Good thing the anglers weren’t hauling big wipers through the ice. The blue heron seemed to be challenged enough handling a hand-sized green sunfish.

2nd Missouri mountain lion shot this year

Many have wondered if the last two trail cam photos of mountain lions in northern Kansas were the same animal. The photos were about six weeks and 100 miles apart and went from west to east.

That would be the assumed travel route of a mountain lion wandering in from the Black Hills or Rockies.

They don’t have to worry about such things in Missouri because their last two confirmations have been shot and killed.

Click HERE to read about the latest lion that was shot in northeastern Missouri over the weekend.

Quite the month or so in the Show-Me State. A cat was photographed in a tree mid-winter and then within a few weeks  two more were shot and killed.

I guess the thing to wonder about now is if the mountain lions photographed on trail cameras in Kansas are still alive or if they died in Missouri.

Let’s see your best bald eagle pics

No doubt it’s still bald  eagle time in central Kansas. A few days ago I saw one sailing over Wichita near I-135 and Pawnee. They’re common sights on duck and goose hunts, especially near rivers and big lakes.

Phone calls with reported sightings and some photos come in from time to time, too. Check out these three photos sent by a reader today.

And while you’re at it click HERE for a link where you can upload your eagle photography, too.

Don’t underestimate the canine brain

For those who think they have a canine prodigy because their poodle or minature dachshund knows what it means to “go wee-wee” or “find a toy,” how about a dog that recognizes more than 1,000 nouns?

Actually this article about an intensively trained border collie is pretty enlightening for accomplished trainers, too.

Click HERE to take a look at one of the neatest stories I’ve read about dogs in quite a while.

Most dogs from working breeds, like herders and retrievers, have a deep instinct to help their pack. That means they've very trainable but also need to be worked to feel content.

I’m always amazed at how deep the “help the pack” instinct is in most breeds.

It’s more amazing how few people understand things like the alpha/beta relationship.

Ditto how few take the time to give their dog the ultimate in peace of mind by giving them a job.

And that can be as easy as cruising with the pack every morning (a walk) or learning the names of a few hundred toys and other items.

(Thanks to Cheryl Miller for the link.)

Deer fight!

Nobody said nature is always nice or that wild animals are always smart.

Click HERE to see a video that’s proof of both.

The story is some Iowa hunters happened across these two whitetail bucks that had locked their antlers during a fight.

It happens and it’s usually fatal as the bucks get exhausted and end up feeding coyotes. I’ve known several people who’ve come across locked bucks and freed them cutting off an antler or two.

In this video the guys use a shotgun to blast one of the antlers off the buck. Rather than run it regains its footing and charges the other buck again despite the shotgun blasts, barking dogs and people in very plain sight.

Other animals get just as focused on combat. We’ve walked right across an open field to tom turkeys in full rumble.

Probably 20 years ago a buddy was driving out on a pheasant hunt when he came across two rooster pheasants battling it out. He and his buddies got out of his truck and watched the tussle for a while.

Eventually Rex loaded his gun and walked up to within a few feet of the birds before they split and went in opposite road ditches. Rex followed one, and it flushed. (Yes, he had permission to hunt on both sides of the road.)

When the shot bird hit the road and started flopping the other rooster came running from the road ditch and jumped on it again.

It met a similar fate after it looked up and saw 6′ 6″ Rex standing a few feet away and flew.

Nope wild animals sometimes aren’t very smart but Rex assured me those two were at least very tasty.

Now stealing another’s stolen deer

Here’s yet more proof of the insanity surrounding deer antlers.

Click HERE to read about thieves breaking into a trailer Minnesota game wardens used to haul around their “Wall of Shame” display of mounted animals they’ve confiscated from poachers.

Arrests have been made concerning the thefts.

So think about it. We have people stealing mounted bucks from the public that were already stolen from the public when they were poached.

So much for honor among thieves, huh?

Missouri’s killed lion, 2nd chapter

Sometimes you have to wonder if one fib leads to another. Case in point is the Missouri landowner who a week or so ago said he shot a mountain lion treed by coon hunters.

If you’ll click HERE you can find a link to the initial story and then the recent account of how he and one of the hunters admitted the latter is the one who pulled the trigger.

Their combined initial “non-truth” was probably hoping the landowner could get away with the shooting under the guise of protecting his livestock. The story said he’d had some cattle attacked by mountain lions on his property.

But I wonder. Really?

A year or so I interviewed biologists in South Dakota and Nebraska and both said they had no evidence of mountain lions attacking cattle in their states. A biologist in the Rockies said it was very, very rare.

Attacks on pets, sheep and goats happened annually but cattle attacks were very rare for mountain lions. Kansas biologists have investigated scores of claimed attacks on horses and cattle for decades. To date no solid proof exists such ever happened.

So, did the Missouri landowner really have his cattle attacked or was it part of a story to keep from getting prosecuted?

No matter, though, thousands read the initial accounts and now believe big cats are a threat to every angus and hereford in the township.

The landowner also claimed he’d never let his grandkids play outside unless he was standing guard with a gun because mountain lions might be around.

Another image we don’t need in the public’s mind.

What a shame. We don’t need more public fear or scandal concerning midwestern mountain lions.

More news on Wisconsin poachers

The case against some Wisconsin men accused of some serious poaching of trophy deer in western Kansas seems to be building. (Sorry I’m running a few days late on these.)

Click HERE to read the update of dozens of charges.

The number of deer shot for no reason other than their antlers is shocking. What’s disgusting is that this appears to be a family, probably a father and his sons, involved in this needless waste.

And according to some of my sources this is a drop in the bucket compared to some cases soon to come public.

And these are just the poachers who are getting caught.

Very sad and alarming.