Casts and Blasts from the 2012 in review

Sunday’s Outdoors page feature on top outdoors news stories for 2012 had what I rated as the top four topics for the year. Here are some more that warranted consideration, but in no particular order.

– SOUTHEAST DUCK SEASON – For the second year, the southeast zone opened later than the regular low plains late zone. In 2011 it opened a week later and basically lasted one week later. This year the season opened about three weeks later, after some very spirited debate at some Kansas Wildlife, Parks and Tourism Commission meetings. In more than 25 years of attending meetings, missing only a few within the past 12 years, the topic brought out the most contentious comments I’ve heard between commissioners, commissioners and staff, and commissioners and the general public. Eventually Commissioner Don Budd, of Kansas City, got his way, and a season that goes through most of January, against the wishes of the agency and many sportsmen.

- BRENT CHAPMAN AWARD- Kansas’ main professional bass fisherman nabbed the very prestigious BASS Angler of the Year award. Chapman, of Lake Quivira, earned the title by having the best overall BASS tournament season of all the fishing pros.

- INVASIVE SPECIES SPREADING – Zebra mussels and white perch continued their spread across Kansas lakes, and numbers of Asian carp climbed considerably in the Kansas River and its tributaries before the fish were stopped by  stopped by assorted dams.

Hoping to stem the accidental spread of Asian carp by anglers mistaking them for bait species like gizzard shad, Wildlife and Parks implemented a regulation that basically made it illegal to  transport angler-caught bait from the water where it was caught. The issue wasn’t popular with catfishermen, who rely heavily on green sunfish they catch for bait on setlines for flathead catfish. The law was eventually amended late in 2012 to allow anglers to transport bluegill and green sunfish for bait.

– MO’ MOUNTAIN LIONS – The obvious image of a mountain lion on a trail camera in Stafford County in November was news because it hardly made much news. This is the ninth confirmation of mountain lions in Kansas since 2007. Prior to that, none had been documented in more than 100 years.  Kansas’ documentations go along with those in other prairie states as the cats spread from the Rockies and Black Hills.

On a related note, the e-mail hoax of a mountain lion dragging a whitetail buck by a feeder, allegedly in Kansas, made the rounds at least twice in 2012.  The image is several years old and has been mistakenly linked to at least 12 states, and six or more Kansas counties.

– LESSER PRAIRIE CHICKEN LISTING – The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced a desire to list lesser prairie chickens as “threatened” under the Endangered Species Act. They’ll be working with state agencies, agriculture groups and taking public comment for several months before their official decision is made. Reports say Kansas has more than 75-percent of the nation’s about 40,000 lesser prairie chickens. Numbers and range in Kansas had been increasing until two years of recent drought. Loss of habitat in Colorado, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas has greatly reduced range and numbers in those states. If listed, the Kansas lesser prairie chicken season would end and Kansas landowners, energy companies and other land users could see related restrictions placed on their activities.