April 20, 2013

Fish ladder update regulation discussions on commission agenda

An update on the state-of-the art fish ladder and canoe chute at Wichita’s Lincoln Street bridge is scheduled for Thursday’s Kansas Wildlife, Parks and Tourism Commission meeting at the Great Plains Nature Center.

An update on the state-of-the art fish ladder and canoe chute at Wichita’s Lincoln Street bridge is scheduled for Thursday’s Kansas Wildlife, Parks and Tourism Commission meeting at the Great Plains Nature Center.

Discussion and possible vote on a variety of state park, hunting and fishing regulations are also scheduled.

Jessica Mounts, Wildlife and Parks fisheries biologist, will make a presentation on the fish ladder shortly after the meeting’s afternoon session begins at 1:30 p.m.

In a recent interview, Mounts said the fish ladder was constructed so fish can move up and down the Arkansas River, where such movement had been mostly blocked for decades by the previous dam at the location.

Mounts said the 200-foot fish ladder, with a chute down the middle so canoeists and kayakers can float down the Arkansas, is the first of it’s kind in Kansas and most neighboring states. Most fish ladders, which allow fish to move upstream over a gradual procession of rising steps, are made in cold rivers and streams so salmon and trout can access spawning grounds upstream.

The Wichita ladder is adjustable, so biologists can make modifications as they learn more about how fish will use the ladder. Research projects are planned to learn more about how the system will work with assorted native species.

Mounts said the project involved funding from Wichita, Wildlife and Parks, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Also at Thursday’s meeting:

•  Mike Miller, Wildlife and Parks information chief, said discussion will be heard, following an agency presentation, concerning a regulation that would require the mandatory use of non-toxic shot on the state’s 20-plus managed dove fields on public hunting areas.

The lead from the thousands of shots fired at such fields could be ingested by a variety of bird species, including waterfowl and eagles, and possibly lead to lead poisoning.

Dove fields on managed waterfowl areas, like the McPherson Valley Wetlands, already require the use of steel or other non-toxic shot. Such ammo is generally more expensive than lead ammo.

•  The commission is expected to vote on the creation of short-term parking areas at Meade, Glen Elder, Kanopolis, Scott and Webster State Parks. The cost will be $50 per month, and will allow the public to store campers between camping trips.
•  Commissioners are expected to hear information and discussion about a regulation that would prohibit the use of vehicles and two-way radios for hunting coyotes during the state’s annual 12-day firearms deer season.

Some game wardens claim people are using vehicles and radios to illegally hunt deer during the season, then claim they’re hunting coyotes if stopped by law enforcement officials. Deer hunters have complained of coyote hunters disrupting their deer hunts by spooking deer as they drive through an area.

Miller said coyotes could still be hunted in other ways during the firearms deer season, such as calling.

Coyotes are one of few Kansas animals that can legally be shot while the shooter is still within a vehicle. It’s illegal to use an electronic device to tell the location of most animals. Unlike with deer, it’s currently legal to pursue coyotes with vehicles all year in Kansas.

•  Early discussions are expected for creating the 2013-14 waterfowls seasons. Biologists are predicting the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will grant 74-day duck seasons after their summer surveys.

Debate on when to open Kansas’ southeast zone duck season resulted in some contentious meetings last summer. Hunters from the southern part of the zone wanted a later season to hunt rivers and private wetlands.

Hunters in the northern part of the zone desired an earlier opener so they could hunt the area’s marshes before they froze.

Public comment is accepted on all items being discussed. Comments on non-agenda subjects are taken at the beginning of the afternoon and evening sessions.

The meeting is scheduled to run 1:30-5 p.m. and 7 p.m. until completion.

For more information go to www.kdwpt.state.ks.us, or call 620-672-5911.

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