Michael Pearce

Kansas City sportsman appointed to wildlife commission

Wildlife biologists with the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism verified a mountain lion sighting in Rooks County, north of Webster. This remote trail camera photo was taken on August 3, and this is the 11th verified sighting of a mountain lion in Kansas since 2007.
Wildlife biologists with the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism verified a mountain lion sighting in Rooks County, north of Webster. This remote trail camera photo was taken on August 3, and this is the 11th verified sighting of a mountain lion in Kansas since 2007. Courtesy of Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism

Emerick Cross, of Kansas City, has been appointed to the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism commission. Robin Jennison, Wildlife and Parks secretary made the announcement Thursday evening.

Cross, 48, is a commission liaison for the Wyandotte County unified city-county government and a lifelong resident of that area. Cross said he’s a life-long hunter and angler, and probably enjoys bird hunting more than anything outdoors.

“Ever since I was a kid I’ve enjoyed all of it, everything outdoors,” he said. “I’m looking forward to working with the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism, and helping the agency move forward.

Cross will fill the seat that had been held by Donald Budd Jr., also of Kansas City. Budd had served one four-year term but was not re-appointed by Gov. Sam Brownback when his term expired in June. No reason has been given for Budd not being re-appointed.

“Wildlife and Parks is an extremely popular board. We actively consider all applicants who have expressed an interest and who represent different regions in the state,” Eileen Hawley, Brownback’s press secretary, said in a statement several weeks ago after being asked why Budd had not been re-appointed. That day, commissioner Tom Dill, of Salina, was re-appointed to a second term and Harrison Williams, of Wichita, was appointed to his first term.

Most commissioners serve two terms, though Gerald Lauber, commission chairman, is on his third term. Williams filled a seat vacated by Randy Doll, of Leon, who did not ask for re-appointment.

During his term, Budd was part of some contentious debates concerning the setting of duck seasons and regulations. He was fined $2,500 for illegally pumping water from the Neosho River into a private wetland he hunted in southeast Kansas.

Budd played the leading role in getting duck seasons moved later in the year in southeast Kansas, a change that was popular with many hunters in that region.

Other updates

Wildlife and Parks has confirmed the presence of another mountain lion in Kansas, the 11th since one was shot near Medicine Lodge in 2007. The most recent cat was photographed by a trail camera on Aug. 3 in Rooks County.

Prior to 2007, it was more than 100 years since the last mountain lion had been confirmed, also shot, in Kansas. Most midwestern states have reported increased verifiable mountain lion sightings in recent years. Most are young males coming from the Black Hills or Rocky Mountains, wandering as they look for new territories.

Forgive me for sounding like a broken record, (for those under the age of 45, broken vinyl records used to repeat themselves when scratched heavily), but the good to great quail reports are still coming in. This week I heard from ranchers in the Flint Hills and Red Hills who are saying it’s the best populations they’ve seen in a number of years.

Dove numbers seem to have taken a hit in south-central Kansas after last week’s cold fronts. Hunters are hoping the corn harvest, which is just beginning over most of the region, may draw and keep more birds in the area.

I noticed good numbers from about Pratt westward and southward on a trip to the Red Hills on Thursday.

Upcoming coverage

Sunday’s Outdoors page will have my column on the first time I saw a deer in Kansas. The event made me the hero at the local barbershop since deer were so uncommon in 1965. It certainly was an event that I can remember in great deal because it was such a big deal.

The page will also have contributions from several others who recall the first time they saw deer, anywhere from 1959 to about 1975. Not all of their stories will fit on the printed Outdoors page, but all will be at kansas.com/outdoors.

Down the road I’m still looking for a place to cover dove season next week. I’ll also be doing an article on the 30th anniversary of the Conservation Reserve Program, which many people describe as the biggest conservation program in U.S. history in terms of acreage. I’ll look primarily at what it has done for wildlife, past, present and in the future.

I’ll also take a look at the problem old world bluestems and other invasive grasses are bringing to more parts of Kansas. Ranchers I know say it gives little nutrition to their livestock. Biologists say it offers little benefits to wildlife. Both agree the grasses could be one of our most problematic invasive species, though the seed is commonly sold and even planted by some governments.

Michael’s world

Things continue to be full-speed ahead. I’m headed out to Southern California this weekend to visit our daughter, Lindsey, her boyfriend, Lance and Lady Bird, the world’s coolest dog (according to Lindsey and Lance, with no argument from me.) I like to get out and spend a weekend with them on my own at least once a year. Kathy does the same so we can maximize our time with them.

Cade, our young Lab puppy, is probably as ready as he’s going to get for the opening of dove season next Tuesday. He’s done thousands of retrieves on land and in water, in the wide open and in thick cover in both places. He’s conditioned to relate gunfire with something to retrieve and is experienced with live birds.

But he’s also a four-month-old little idiot. (Relax, I’m smiling as I type this.)

He’s just bound and determined to have as much fun as possible, from every minute of every day. Kathy said if all people were as carefree and enthusiastic her job as a psychologist would be over.

He’ll do well on the hunts, I’m sure, but there will be times when all of his playfulness comes to the surface. I need to remind myself of his young age and be patient. Things always work out and sometimes have a comical ending.

(OK, you know that last sentence is leading to a story, right?)

Sunday afternoon I was out in the yard, watering a few things with the spray nozzle adjusted to a wide spray and so it stayed on and kept spraying.

When I was done I just dropped the hose and began walking to the house to turn the water off. I’d taken maybe ten steps when all of a sudden I was soaked from behind. When I spun around, which quickly got that side soaked, too, there was Cade carrying the hose in his mouth bouncing all around me, snapping his head back and forth playing with the hose.

When I started laughing, he immediately came running toward me, still carrying the instant waterfall in his mouth. When I tried to sidestep the water he thought I was playing so he chased after me.

When I headed towards the house he quickly cut in front of me. It didn’t help that I was laughing so hard I could hardly catch my breath enough to walk, let alone run away. I was loud enough that Kathy easily heard me from well inside the house, even with the windows closed.

Cade was even wetter than I, though that was barely possible, so when he eventually dropped the hose he ran several laps around our big back yard like a race horse.

Fortunately I got the water turned off before he hit the hose again, and quickly ran up on our deck in a successful effort to get the hose through our pet door, and into our house.

I guess on the positive side it shows he has some amazing strength for his age, and certainly isn’t afraid of water.

He is an idiot much of the time, but that’s when he’s the most fun, too. I often wonder if Kathy thinks the same of me.


Michael Pearce