Michael Pearce

Another Kansas biologist leaves Wildlife and Parks

Key personnel continue to depart the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism. Most recently Jessica Mounts, fisheries biologist for the Wichita area, announced she’s leaving soon to become the executive director for the Kansas Alliance for Streams and Wetlands. Within a few weeks Roger Wolfe, Wildlife and Parks regional wildlife supervisor for northeast Kansas, will leave to take a position with the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies.

Wolfe is at least the fifth key Wildlife and Parks biologist to leave for the organization, to help with some of the their lesser prairie chicken management plans, within the past two years. Already gone to WAFWA are another Wildlife and Parks regional supervisor, wildlife section chief and the coordinator for all of Kansas’ wild turkey and small game programs.

Kansas also continues to be a prime hunting ground for other state agencies looking to hire game wardens. The Kansas program produces some of the best-trained game wardens in the nation, who are paid some of the lowest salaries. Some young wardens who leave Kansas will make more, even though still working in the field, than their superiors in Kansas. With a promotion and few years of steady pay increases, some could earn more annually than Kevin Jones, Wildlife and Parks law enforcement chief.

Better pay, and benefits, are reasons often listed for leaving. Some Wildlife and Parks employees haven’t had a true pay raise in 12 or more years.

Robin Jennison, the department’s secretary, said he hopes to unveil possible pay increases in the near future.

Other updates

There seems to be some confusion as per the coverage of last week’s Kansas Wildlife and Parks Commission meeting in Fort Scott. Guiding hunters was banned on all state-managed lands. Technically it’s always been illegal to guide anglers on state-managed waters, like state fishing lakes. It is currently still legal for guides to take anglers out on federal reservoirs.

As also stated in Sunday’s article, Wildlife and Parks will be mailing self-addressed, and stamped, envelopes to around 6,000 non-resident deer hunters. Of those, around 3,000 were inadvertently sent two “buck” permits, though law allows them to have only one. The agency doesn’t know specifically which hunters within that mailing got two permits and which did not.

The hunters with two will be asked to return one of their two permits or to destroy one. The vendor in charge of mailing the errant permits made the error, and will pay for the costs of having the permits returned.

Reports of broods of young pheasant, quail and wild turkeys continue to be mixed and spotty, though it appears there are at least some places with good production. This year’s thick cover conditions are making it tougher for farmers and ranchers to see young birds. Some have reported young pheasants already larger than quail, that can easily fly 50 yards or more.

Fishing reports are pretty solid, though many walleye fishermen are saying it’s danged hard to find fish over minimum length limits at several Kansas lakes, particularly at Milford and Glen Elder reservoirs. For years both were some of the best waters in Kansas. Some studies have shown that today’s anglers are especially good at removing walleye from a lake shortly after they clear the minimum length limits. With such a great flavor, not many walleye anglers do catch and release on big ‘eyes.

Upcoming coverage

Thursday, my office will be floating down the Arkansas River, between Belle Plaine and Oxford. Sometime this weekend we should have an article on the river recently being named a National River Trail by the U.S. National Parks Service. The story should have an update on how the same distinction has impacted the Kansas River, which was named a National Water Trail several years ago.

Sunday’s Outdoors page will have a column, that’s my personal opinion or reflections, on the fascination many of us have with the old, dilapidated homesteads we see crumbling out on the Kansas prairie. Along with the story will be a photo gallery, and maybe a video, of some favorite photographs the public has sent in of ruins they’ve found and admired.

If you’d like to contribute, you can send the images to my e-mail address, mpearce@wichitaeagle.com. You’ll retain all rights to your images, though we would like to use them on this project. Your name, for photo credit, and county of the photo would be appreciated.

Down the road a bit farther I’m planning a story on the massive carp removal project at Milford Reservoir, as the state wants to see if removing them helps with the lake’s blue-green algae problem. One theory is that the murkiness the fish add to the water from their rooting in the shallows may encourage the growth of the bacteria.

Michael’s world

So, dove season opens two months from Friday...just sayin,’ through a big smile.

Cade, our Lab, has been gone for about two months. He’s with Brice Romero, a trainer from near Goddard. I’ve trained about all of my dogs from simple commands to highly-polished handling skills in the past, but decided to let a pro introduce Cade to the e-collar, force-fetch and handling. It sure seems like a lot longer than two months, though. Brice ran into some delays when things were extremely wet and has been gone some long weekends on hunt tests. Hopefully he’ll get things finished up within the next two weeks.

Kathy misses the dog so much she may put an e-collar on me if I don’t hurry up and go get the pup. She’s worried Cade won’t remember some fun daily traditions they’d started. (Unlike Hank, our previous Lab, Cade is not a one-person Lab.) Cade has Kathy pretty well trained to spend time with him and likes his games with her almost as much as his games with me. It’s probably been 30 years since we had a retriever that spent that much time with Kathy, and back then we had small kids so she didn’t have nearly as much free time to spend with a dog.

I’m not quite in as big of a hurry to get Cade back, though. I miss him, a lot, but I know what I want him to learn and don’t want to remove him from training until things are pretty well set in his brain. Brice agrees that the dog is surely intelligent, greatly appreciates learning and is super driven to do all things retrieving. He has also noticed that Cade likes to push things just a bit, trying to stay in charge or at least having some control when he’s working.

He’s not outwardly disobedient. It’s more subtle things, like creeping a step or two forward when on a “sit,” before he’s released for a retrieve. Cade also wants to be about a foot ahead when walking at heel, which is supposed to mean having his shoulder about even with my knees. I’ll just have to stay on him, and it normally doesn’t take much of a correction. Usually once he finds out the person is paying attention, he goes the full 100 percent of his training.

With Kathy, on the other hand, Cade is often in charge. That’s OK because it makes her happy, him happy, and the dog is smart enough to know which one of us (me) never bends the rules.

It was kind of like that in my house when I was growing up, too, though my dad did let me get up on the couch. Well, most of the time, anyway.


Michael Pearce