Wildlife officials have announced that the Quivira National Wildlife Refuge will be open to hunting Saturday and Sunday, the opening weekend of Kansas’ low plains late zone duck season.
Mike Oldham, refuge manage, made the announcement this morning after staff members toured the area.
A similar tour Thursday morning located a lone whooping crane at the Big Salt Marsh wetland. Refuge regulations currently state that all hunting must cease if whooping cranes, an endangered species, are staying on the area.
Many years the refuge has been closed the first few weeks of duck and goose seasons as whooping cranes migrate through the area. Sometimes up to a dozen or more may spend many days at Quiriva, flying out to feed in nearby cropfields.
The whooping crane spotted Thursday morning wasn’t found on Friday.
Hunting has been poor to below average at Quivira that past two seasons because of the serious drought. Mid-summer rains this year flooded thousands of acres of habitat at Quivira, and ducks are currently there in good numbers.
Oldham put the current duck estimate at about 97,000 birds, one of the highest opening weekend totals in history. Many of which are pintails and other “big” ducks. Up until recently most of the ducks in central Kansas have been tiny blue-winged and green-winged teal.
“It should be a good Saturday and Sunday hunt,” Oldham said. “On Monday we’ll take another look and make an assessment (if whooping cranes are present.)”