Thursday, September 21, 2017

Felsenthal News

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) announces the availability of the Felsenthal National
Wildlife Refuge (NWR) Draft Recreational Hunt Plan (Plan), accompanying Environmental Assessment (EA), and Compatibility Determination (CD)for public review and comment. The public comment period will extend from September 19, 2017 through October 18, 2017. Interested parties are encouraged to review the draft planand CD and provide written comments to the Refuge Manager.

The primary purpose of this Recreational Hunt Plan is to establish hunting on 2,154 acres of newly
acquired land in Ashley County as part of Felsenthal NWR for the 2018-2019 hunting season.
A CD is the end result of a process whereby the Refuge Manager reviews a proposed use on a refuge and determines whether the use is compatible with the purpose for which the refuge was established. If determined to be compatible, then the use may be permitted. If the use is determined incompatible, then it is not permitted to occur on the Refuge. Policy issued by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in October 2000 requires that compatibility determinations be provided to the public for review and comment.

The Draft Plan, EA, and Compatibility Determination is available:
• on-line at: http://www.fws.gov/refuge/felsenthal/. Copies may also be obtained by visiting the
Headquarters/Visitor Center between the hours of 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.
The interested public has until October 18, 2017, to provide comments in writing to Refuge
Headquarters/ Visitor Center. Comments may be sent by fax to (870) 364-3757 or by e-mail to
Michael_Stroeh@fws.gov. Comments received will be reviewed and, if appropriate, incorporated into the Final plan and CD which is expected by mid-Summer 2018

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Celebrate National Hunting and Fishing Day with the AGFC

LITTLE ROCK – In addition to the opening of the statewide archery deer season, Sept. 23 marks National Hunting and Fishing Day, a special day to recognize hunters and anglers for their leadership in conserving America’s wildlife and wild places. Join the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission as we celebrate the true heroes of North America’s conservation story – hunters and anglers whose license fees and taxes pay for conservation work throughout the nation.
            All AGFC nature centers and education centers as well as the AGFC’s shooting range in Mayflower will be open on National Hunting and Fishing Day, and most will have special programming dedicated to the event.
            “Our facilities often offer the first real exposure to the outdoors for many people,” said Doug Newcomb, AGFC chief of education. “With many people growing up in cities and not being from a hunting or fishing family, a trip to a nature center may be the first step in the journey of becoming a lifelong hunter or angler.”
            Newcomb says all nature centers and education centers offer instruction in hunting and fishing as well as detailed information about the habitat that is vital to wildlife in Arkansas.
            “We teach about everything from the invertebrates and nongame species to Arkansas’s big game and waterfowl because they all fit together as a piece of the puzzle,” Newcomb said. “Nearly every hunter or angler I know is an outdoors person first, and that’s what we try to build through our facilities – hunters and anglers who have an appreciation for the whole picture instead of simply the one species they pursue.”
            One of the more popular annual events for National Hunting and Fishing Day is the marksmanship challenge at Governor Mike Huckabee Delta Rivers Nature Center in Pine Bluff. Eric Maynard, assistant chief of education for the AGFC, says the program offers school-aged participants an opportunity to try their skills at a variety of outdoor disciplines and compete for prizes.
            “Anyone from 1st through 12th grade is welcome to compete in five events at the center during the challenge,” Maynard said. “We’ll have Olympic-style archery from our National Archery in the Schools Program, 3-D archery, a baitcasting competition, BB gun shooting and a laser shot event in the challenge. The shooters in each of four age classes with the highest combined scores will win a prize.”
            Maynard says he hopes to see the competition spread to other nature centers, and a version of it already has. The Fab Five competition at the AGFC’s Janet Huckabee Arkansas River Valley Nature Center in Fort Smith has become a favorite with guests and includes many of the same competitions as the marksmanship challenge. Chad Lowe, education program specialist at the nature center, says guests may compete in target casting, laser shot, BB gun shooting and archery, but also have the opportunity to try their hand at wall climbing in the Fab Five.
            “We also have expanded the archery portion of our event to include 3-D archery, Olympic style archery and even a bowfishing simulation,” Lowe said.
            If you’re looking for crafts instead of competition, the AGFC’s Forrest L. Wood Crowley’s Ridge Nature Center in Jonesboro may be the right destination for your National Hunting and Fishing Day experience. Lee Elkins, education program specialist, said the focus at the Jonesboro center will lean more toward conservation programming and crafts the whole family can enjoy.
            In the Little Rock area, guests of the AGFC’s Witt Stephens Jr. Central Arkansas Nature Center will find a wealth of information and activities to expose them to hunting and fishing. Lauren Marshall, education program specialist at the center says casting, archery, laser shot and BB gun competitions will be held beginning at 10:30 a.m., and a special round table hosted by up to 14 hunting and fishing organizations such as the Arkansas Trappers Association, Arkansas Fly Fishers and Arkansas Dog Hunters Association will be held during the day.
            Although education centers typically focus more toward planned school experiences, each of the four education centers will be open for the event as well.
            The Fred Berry Conservation Education Center on Crooked Creek will host a fishing derby from 9 a.m. until noon, while the Potlatch Conservation Education Center on Cook’s Lake will open its waters to youth anglers and mobility-impaired anglers from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. The Rick Evans Grandview Prairie Conservation Education Center will open its range for a special skeet program as well as host a Hunters Education course during the day. The Ponca Elk Education Center also will be open, and will set up its new archery range and equipment during the day for guests to learn more about the challenge of shooting a bow.
            Visit https://www.agfc.com/en/explore-outdoors/nature-and-education-centers/ for more information on AGFC nature and education centers and a calendar of each one’s latest events.

Five-year report shows 101.6 million Americans participated in hunting, fishing and wildlife-associated activities

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of the Interior announced a new report by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that shows that 101.6 million Americans – 40 percent of the U.S. population 16 years old and older – participated in wildlife-related activities in 2016, such as hunting, fishing, and wildlife-watching. More detailed, state-by-state reports will be available in the near future, but the preliminary report has many interesting findings.

The survey illustrates gains in wildlife watching – particularly around the home – and fishing, with moderate declines in the number of hunters nationally. The findings reflect a continued interest in engaging in the outdoors. These activities are drivers behind an economic powerhouse, where participants spent $156 billion – the most in the last 25 years, adjusted for inflation.

The survey, the 13th in a series conducted nearly every five years since 1955, shows that the most substantial increases in participation involve wildlife-watching – observing and photographing wildlife. The report indicates these activities surged 20 percent from 2011 to 2016, from 71.8 million to 86 million participants during that time. Expenditures by wildlife watchers also rose 28 percent between 2011 and 2016, from $59.1 billion to $75.9 billion.

Around-the-home wildlife-watching increased 18 percent from 2011 top 2016. More modest gains were made for away-from-home wildlife watchers with only a 5 percent increase to 23 million participants.

More Americans also went fishing. The report indicates an 8 percent increase in angling participation since 2011, from 33.1 million anglers to 35.8 million in 2016.

Hunting participation dropped by about 2 million participants, but still remained strong at 11.5 million hunters. Total expenditures by hunters declined 29 percent from 2011 to 2016, from $36.3 billion to $25.6 billion. However, expenditures for related items such as taxidermy and camping equipment experienced a 27-percent uptick, and hunting trip-related expenses increased 15 percent.

This year’s survey also gathered two new categories of data: archery and target shooting. Findings show there are more than 32 million target shooters using firearms and 12.4 million people engaged in archery, not including hunting.

As a partnership effort with states and national conservation organizations, the survey has become one of the most important sources of information on fish and wildlife recreation in the United States. Federal, state, and private organizations use this detailed information to manage wildlife, market products, and look for trends. Conducted by the U.S. Bureau of the Census, the survey is based on a 22,416-household sample surveyed through computer-assisted telephone and in-person interviews.

For more information about the survey and to view the preliminary report, please visit https://wsfrprograms.fws.gov/Subpages/NationalSurvey/National_Survey.htm

Make room in your freezer for deer season and help beat hunger in Arkansas

LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Hunters Feeding the Hungry will hold a special “freezer cleanout day” at the Bass Pro Shops in Little Rock, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Sept. 16. Any hunter who wishes to donate processed meat or money to help feed needy families in Arkansas is encouraged to join in the event.
            Most hunters will admit to having had to throw out a package or two of freezer-burned venison after it went unused for a few seasons. When this year’s deer begin filling the freezer, it’s easy for last year’s meat to get misplaced or lost in the shuffle. Instead of throwing out meat after it has gone bad, you can clean out the freezer and donate that venison while it’s still good to people who are in need.
            “Those leftovers go a long way in helping provide meat to food pantries around the state, which is one of the hardest things for these places to gather,” said Ronnie Ritter, executive director for AHFH. “The freezer cleanout has become a big event to help us start the deer season off on the right foot.”
            Ritter says the AHFH and Bass Pro Shops will be giving away Bass Pro Shops gift cards in drawings held every hour during the event and one hunting package at the event’s conclusion to add some incentive for hunters to donate.
            “Anyone who donates meat will be eligible to draw,” Ritter said. “We can also receive monetary donations to help with processing costs for next season. Anyone who donates that way also will be eligible to draw.”
            Ritter says the drawing also will include people who purchase a license at the store that day and elect to make a donation to AHFH through the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s license system.
            “Hunters have been able to donate $1, $5 or $10 to us when they buy their hunting license for years, and we really appreciate all the help that option has given us in our mission,” Ritter said.
            In addition to the freezer cleanout and drawings, Kruse Meat Products of Saline County will have samples of summer sausage available to try, and the Dutch Oven Society will be preparing Dutch oven cobbler for people interested in sweet treat made the old-fashioned way.
             Ritter says the event is primarily about gathering processed venison, but other professionally processed game animals or meat will be accepted.
            “There are a lot of other food drives and opportunities to donate canned foods and frozen vegetables during the year, and we even hold a few of those opportunities,  but we only have so much space in or truck, so we do ask people to only donate meat or money during this event,” Ritter said.
            Visit www.arkansashunters.org for more information about Arkansas Hunters Feeding the Hungry.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Log-a-Load Trap Shoot Results

On Saturday, September 9th, Bradley County Logging Community Chapter of Log A Load for Kids held its second Trap Shoot at the Warren Shooting Complex.  The event was a fundraiser for Arkansas Children’s Hospital.   The winners of the competition were determined by combining the scores of two rounds of trap for each member of the two man team.  The first place team included Jarred Martin and Chance Martin of Hamburg. Pictured are the Martins and Daniel Thompson, Co-Chairman of the Bradley County Chapter of Log A Load for Kids.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Beryl Anthony Lower Ouachita WMA road open, public information meeting Sept. 18

FELSENTHAL – The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission will hold a public information meeting about the future management of Clear Lake Road, leading into Beryl Anthony Lower Ouachita Wildlife Management Area, at 5 -6 p.m., Sept. 18 at the Strong High School Library.

Clear Lake Road has been the subject of many discussions since it was closed due to dangerous driving conditions early this year. Extremely wet weather, combined with traffic caused the road to deteriorate in places. The road was recently opened to ATV traffic, but remained closed to larger vehicles. Rains from Hurricane Harvey prompted another temporary closure, but AGFC has since been able to reopen the road to ATV traffic.

“We’ve been able to repair the road by filling in some of the holes in it with larger rock to make it passable for ATVs,” Nimmo said. “Caution should be taken by anyone using the road because construction is not complete.”

Many local anglers have voiced concerns about not being able to access the section of the Ouachita River on the WMA or the lakes found along Clear Lake Road. By opening the road to ATVs, the AGFC hopes to let more anglers enjoy the fishing the WMA has to offer without compromising the road’s integrity.

For more information about the road closure or public information meeting, call the Camden Regional Office at 877-836-4612. 

Help AGFC follow the monarch migration

LITTLE ROCK – The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission is seeking the public’s assistance with a new citizen science project to help the agency answer the question, “Where and when do people see monarch butterflies in Arkansas?”

The purpose of the project is to gain a better understanding of the distribution of monarchs in Arkansas and the timing of migration. Monarchs will begin migrating through Arkansas in late August/early September as they make their way from northern U.S. and Canada to their overwintering grounds in Mexico. Peak fall migration is typically around the first and second week of October, but this may change slightly from year to year depending on weather patterns. Monarchs will spend winter in Mexico. In spring, they will begin migrating north, making their way into Arkansas in early April. Many will stop and breed here wherever they can find milkweed plants (their host plant). Though the species may be found throughout the summer here, most monarchs will continue traveling north.

Data gathered from this project will help identify important breeding areas and migration corridors for monarchs. It will also help the AGFC better understand the timing of both spring and fall migrations. This will allow biologists to tailor conservation and management strategies for this species, which has seen significant population declines in the past several years.

Identifying monarchs is fairly easy given their striking orange and black coloration. However, the viceroy does mimic the monarch and beginners may need help distinguishing the two. The most noticeable difference is the presence of a black line across the veins on the hindwing of the viceroy that is absent in the monarch. The viceroy is also noticeably smaller than the monarch, but this may be difficult to discern without seeing the two side-by-side.

To report your sightings, visit the iNaturalist website and create a free account. Then navigate to the Arkansas Monarch Mapping Project page. Click on the red banner that says “add observations” and complete the information fields. You may also upload a picture, if you have it. If you upload a picture taken with a smartphone, the iNaturalist platform automatically gathers data on when and where the photo was taken. If you upload a picture taken with a traditional camera or if you did not take a picture, you can drop a pin where you saw the monarch using the Google map on the website.

People who want to report observations but do not want to use iNaturalist can send their observations directly to Allison Fowler at Allison.Fowler@agfc.ar.gov. The email should include:

·         When it was observed (date and time)
·         The location where it was found (GPS coordinates are best, but a detailed location description is acceptable)
·         A photo for species identification verification (preferred but not required)
Contact Allison Fowler at Allison.fowler@agfc.ar.gov or 501-470-3650 for more information.