Outdoor notes: State extends Quivira public comment period

05/18/2013 6:21 PM

05/18/2013 6:22 PM

The public comment period for future wildlife and habitat management plans for the Quivira National Wildlife Refuge has been extended to May 31, according to Mike Oldham, refuge manager.

It was originally scheduled to close Monday.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is looking at options for operating the 22,000-acre refuge in Stafford and Reno counties for the next 15 years.

Possible management changes include closing the North Lake region to hunting, but opening other areas so Quivira wouldn’t be totally closed to hunting when whooping cranes are at the refuge. For many years Quivira has been totally closed to hunting when the endangered birds are around, which has frustrated many hunters.

The North Lake region is popular with both whoopers and waterfowl hunters.

If opened, the new areas don’t hold the kind of habitat whoopers generally prefer, possibly reducing the chances of a crane being accidentally shot or the birds being scared from the refuge.

The refuge is also considering opening Quivira to limited deer and wild turkey hunting.

Changes in water management and tree removal are also being discussed.

Oldham asks the public to suggest possible alternatives, and not just critique current proposals.

Comments can be sent to toni_griffin@fws.gov or Toni Griffin, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, P.O. Box 25486, Denver, CO 80225-0486.

Oldham is at mike_oldham@fws.gov.

Pike restocked at Kingman — Northern pike are again swimming within the waters of Kingman State Fishing Lake.

OK, so they’re only about two inches long, but they should grow quickly.

From the mid-1990s into last fall the 144-acre lake was about the only water in Kansas to offer good-quality northern pike fishing. It was also the only lake to have ever documented good northern pike reproduction in Kansas.

Jeff Koch, Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism fisheries biologist, said last summer’s low water levels gave them a much-needed chance to fix some problems in the lake.

“The white perch population had just taken over, and things were also dominated by large gizzard shad and carp,” Koch said. “Our crappie, bluegill and bass (fishing) were almost decimated.”

The lake was drained and all the fish died or were taken as part of a salvage operation.

Koch said about 50 pike were taken in hopes they could provide a good brood source for restocking the lake.

Most died, so Koch had to bring about 2,000 tiny pike from a Nebraska hatchery last week. They went into water where largemouth bass, bluegill and channel catfish have already been stocked.

Some of the bass were put in up to 12 inches long last fall. Some of the channel cats average five pounds. Crappie won’t be stocked.

Koch is confident the pike will survive the other predators to establish a population. “When they don’t have to compete with white perch for plankton and bugs, they should really be able to grow,” Koch said. “I don’t doubt we’ll have some 15-inch pike by this fall, and 25- to 30-inch pike by the end of next year. If we can keep the white perch from finding their way back in there, we should be in pretty good shape in two years or so.”

Thieving woodchucks — Oggie Ogden is used to losing a few garden vegetables to the woodchucks that live in his yard in Marion.

For about the past six years adult woodchucks have sometimes raised up to three or four young “chucklets” beneath his compost pile.

But Ogden was surprised when he found a large roll of trash bags missing from his garage, and then saw about 10 feet of unbroken trash bags leading into the woodchuck’s den about 125 feet from the garage.

He, nor anyone he’s talked to, have any idea why the varmints would want to steal the heavy roll of bags that had to be rolled or dragged across his lawn, and over a small ledge.

“I grabbed the one end and pulled, and it snapped off back inside the pile,” Ogden said. “I guess he ended up getting a nice plastic pathway into his den.”

But Ogden he is wondering if the old tongue-twister about woodchucks chucking wood should be rewritten to say “How many bags can a woodchuck drag, if a woodchuck does drag bags?”

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