Monthly Archives: March 2011

Tofu for cobras?

An Egyptian cobra on the lam within the Bronx Zoo understandably continues to draw national attention.

Stories of any kind of snake on the loose usually draws attention in our ophidophobic society and this legendary species is especially deadly.

But the reaction of some celebrities to measures being used to find the cobra are a bit surprising and a lot disappointing.

Wednesday morning Today Show co-host Meredith Vieria seemed aghast that zoo officials were using live mice to try to coax the snake out of hiding.

Regis Philbin gave his usual over-stated account of the “huge” cobra on the loose. Philbin and guest host Cat Deeley both recoiled when he mentioned the use of mice to tempt a hopefully hungry cobra.

First, Regis, the thing’s about 20-inches long.

Deadly?, possibly. Huge?, hardly.

And that people would worry about the fate of mice when experts are trying to capture an animal that could seriously harm or kill someone? Come on, get real!

Silly me, though, putting more importance on lives of humans than those of rodents.

Silly me, too, for realizing that in the real world cobras and hundreds of others species of snakes survive by eating other animals and that thousands of species annually eating many millions of mice, rats and other rodents keeps our planet from being over-run by disease-carrying, human food-eating critters.

Sorry, folks, it’s Mother Nature’s way and it seems she knows a bit more about how the planet should run that Meredith or, gulp, even Regis.

Only 2 days left for bargain turkey permits

Resident turkey hunters wanting to save a few bucks on their turkey permits need to act before Friday.

This is second year Wildlife and Parks is offering a pre-season turkey permit combo package at $27.50 for both permits.

Friday the two permits will sell for $22.50 and $12.50 respectively.

The department is trying the special pricing to encourage more hunters to get afield in the spring.

Land purchase bill modified

A compromise has been reached within a portion of a senate bill that restricts the purchase of land by the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism.

S.B. 123 originally was designed to allow the department to make quick rate changes to state park cabin fees. Out of the blue Rep. Sharon Schwartz, R-Washington, added an amendment that would require the department to get legislative approval to purchase more than 160 acres of land.

Several rural Kansas legislators oppose the purchase, or even operation, of any public lands. Kansas, by the way, has been ranked as low as 50th in the nation for amount of land that’s available for public recreation.

According to Chris Tymeson, department attorney, the compromise would allow the agency to purchase up to 320 acres or up to 640 acres if it’s below appraised value, without legislative approval. All other purchases would take the approval of Topeka politicians.

Public land proponents say the lengthy time frame needed to get legislative approval could cost the department opportunities at private lands at great prices and/or in key locations.

The amended bill must now go back through the house and senate.

A video that will save lives

I have no solid proof, but I’m guessing falls from elevated stands are the most common serious accidents related to hunting.

I do know it happens often and that the accidents usually go unreported. Unlike with a bullet or arrow wound medical personnel attending those injured by a fall do not have to contact authorities.

Off the top of my head I can think of at least five friends who have taken nasty falls. None were killed, thankfully, but two received life-altering injuries and two were very near death.

Most hunter safety departments and all treestand manufacturers go to great lengths to educate hunters on how to prevent such accidents. The attached video is possibly the best educational tool yet.

CLICK HERE TO ACCESS THE VIDEO.

If you’re a deer hunter, please watch it. If you’re not, please forward it to all the deer hunters that you know.

And don’t be afraid to send it to them again just before deer seasons open again this fall.

No doubt this video has the ability to save lives and prevent serious injury to dozens of hunters this year.

Feline predation on songbirds is high

I nabbed this link from the KSBIRD-LIST site. Thanks to Steve Sorensen for sending it along.

CLICK HERE TO READ THE LINK.

The New York Times story paints a pretty vivid picture of the impact house cats can be having on songbird populations

It’s a little disappointing that the article compares the feline predation to possible deaths caused by wind turbines. What’s not mentioned is the impact the huge fields of wind turbines could be having on birds that are very habitat sensitive.

Moisture needed for good pheasants this fall

Opening weekend of pheasant season is still eight months away but biologists are already showing some concern for this year’s crop of birds in western Kansas.

With very little snow for moisture, much of western Kansas is needing some timely rains for both the wheat and pheasant crops.

Much of the region from about Highway 283 (Hays) westward is in a pretty long dry spell. A good friend in Scott City has only had about five inches of very dry snow since Sept. 12. That doesn’t bode well for nesting hen pheasants.

“It’s been awful dry and that’s not good,” said Jim Pitman, Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism small game biologist. “That means vegetation and wheat won’t be getting a good start. It’s not too late, though. We could get some rain and still get a good spurt of  vegetation.”

Pitman said many of western Kansas’ hen pheasants nest in growing wheatfields. The thicker and taller the wheat the better the nesting success, generally.

With high grain prices it’s also possible a lot of farmers may disk poorly-growing wheat fields and plant it to milo, corn or soybeans. Sure can’t blame them for that. Pheasants seldom nest in such crops.

Ideal pheasant nesting conditions is a wet spring and a great wheat crop that’s harvested about two weeks later than usual.

Prairie elk photos

Here’s proof of why we should all carry cameras when we go for a drive in the country and not have our eyes just on the road at all times.

Kansas Wildscape’s Charlie Black and I were coming back from photographing a cabin at McPherson State Lake when we spotted this bachelor herd of 20 bull elk on the Maxwell State Game Reserve.

Granted, they’re hardly very wild but it’s good to see them roaming on the prairies where they were common 150 years ago.

A dog’s eye view of a duck hunt

Wichita Eagle photographer Mike Hutmacher forwarded this cool link to a duck hunt. The interesting part is that it appears the retriever has a camera attached to a collar.

CLICK HERE TO SEE THE LINK.

I have a similar idea for next fall. Stay tuned.

Record fish for the catching, Hayden’s new job

Usually we stare at a water and wonder if it holds a record-breaking fish. Trout anglers at Glen Elder State Park now know theirs does.

Yesterday biologist Scott Waters released a huge rainbow trout that weighed about 12 3/4 pounds into the pond just north of Marina Cove. The current record weighed 10.29 pounds and was caught last March at Shawnee Mission Lake.

The big trout Water’s released was part of the regular stocking program. Anglers hoping to catch the fish will need to follow all state and state park regulations and permitting laws.

Mike Hayden, ex-Wildlife and Parks secretary, is now the Missouri River Association of States and Tribes executive director. He lost his job with the state in January when Gov. Sam Brownback replaced Hayden with Robin Jennison.

Hayden has served on the MoRast board and been deeply involved in water issues in the midwest for most of his political life.

The group is composed of members of the various states, reservations and groups with interests in the Missouri River system.

Utility lines kill many birds

It was a case for Stafford County C.S.I.

I was just south of the Barton County line when the sight of an over-sized wing rising into the air caused me to make a quick U-turn. The victim was a mature sandhill crane.

Shot by poachers? Doubtful. Getting within shotgun range of cranes requires far more work that most poachers are willing to spend for a bird.

Roadkill? I’ve never seen a healthy sandhill fly anywhere near low enough over a road.

I’ll never know for sure but I’m betting the bird flew into some of the high utility lines at the edge of the field of cut milo. It happens fairly often.

I’ve seen two pheasants flushed from the same field fly full-speed into power lines. Friends have seen geese, ducks and prairie chickens fly into utlity lines. I’ve read about whooping cranes dying from doing the same.

And it’s not just high wires. I’ve seen quail fatally smack into the top strand of a barbed-wire fence. It’s common enough with lesser prairie chickens that some people in Oklahoma are attaching pieces of white plastic to fences hoping the birds will avoid the top strands.

I guessed the sandhill had died a few hours earlier. Nothing had messed with the carcass but surely a nighttime coyote or daytime hawk would find the bird and turn it into a meal.

No matter how things die, there’s seldom any waste in nature.