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Archive for the ‘Watchable Wildlife’ Category

Controlled burn at Camp Robinson SUARandy Brents
AGFC Prescribed Fire Manager

LITTLE ROCK – Prescribed fire and bobwhite quail — one restores a natural process, the other is a natural species. Prescribed fire will take place without quail but quail will not thrive without prescribed fire. How do we get more fire on the ground? We must first understand its benefits and specifically how they relate to bobwhite quail.

Bobwhite quail as a species spend most of their natural life cycle in amongst the grasses and forbs, on the ground and out of site to those who aren’t looking or listening. A closer observation by a trained eye presents a whole other world. People have the ability to improve their food and housing options, but a bobwhite’s life is constantly being impeded by diminished food sources and poorer housing, less space along with other issues.

Prescribed fire provides a flush of new vegetation, offering seeds and invertebrates for quail. Putting fire on the ground at different intervals and different seasons favors a variety of food sources. There’s the new restaurant for bobwhite.

Housing? Prescribed fire is the restoration of a natural process, a process that before human intervention burned across a landscape and was constantly shaping habitats. With every passing flame structural diversity occurs. A fire will burn hotter or cooler depending on terrain and weather factors and as a result different impacts are made to structure.

Some animals, such as white-tailed deer and squirrels, can thrive nearly anywhere, but northern bobwhites are not generalists. They prefer a thick patch of cover such as greenbrier or other types of shrubs in winter. They prefer native clump glasses to nest, and open ground for the chicks to move freely and feed once hatched. All the while, they need some sort of overhead cover to deter predators, offer shade from heat and protect from snow. It is a large dynamic habitat. One that has to have many components to be efficient for their survival, all of which are improved by prescribed fire.

Land managers must use every tool in our proverbial toolbox, and prescribed fire should be that big hammer amongst the screwdrivers and small wrenches. Set aside the acres, use prescribed fire coupled with other actions for bobwhite quail management and they will come. Putting a little fire on the ground at the right place, at the right time and with the right intention can be the best prescription a landowner can make to create those restaurants and homes quail need.

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04112018butterfly

LITTLE ROCK – The Witt Stephens Jr. Central Arkansas Nature Center is hosting a special workshop at 6:30 p.m. April 17 that’s all about the birds and the bees, literally.  Attendees will learn how to plant native plants to attract butterflies, birds and bees to their yards, and even receive high-quality butterfly-attracting plants to get started transforming their yards into a pollinator paradise.

With billions of dollars in agriculture depending on them to pollinate crops, birds and beneficial insects have a heavy load on their tiny shoulders. Sometimes people’s actions can inadvertently make their job even more difficult than it has to be. Feral cats, insecticides and conversion of good habitat into urban areas or single-species cropland have all taken their toll on pollinator populations throughout the world. Some of these impacts can be reversed without major changes to people’s habits; it just takes a little forethought and effort. Planting native wildflowers is an easy and attractive way to get started that anyone can do, no matter where they live.

“The Frog Man” Tom Krohn will lead the presentation on creating a wildlife-friendly zone around your home. Krohn, regional coordinator for Frogwatch USA and member of the North Central Arkansas Chapter of The Audubon Society, is a certified Arkansas Master Naturalist with a passion for introducing people to the real world around them.

“Tom has given two presentations on frogs and amphibians here at the nature center before and they were excellent,” said Lauren Marshall, education program specialist for the center. “He really has a passion for the outdoors and really inspires you with some of his knowledge.”

Marshall says the most attractive feature of the workshop to her is the availability of free seeds and plants for participants.

“Tom is bringing native butterfly weed seeds and plants to give away, and you can hardly ever find these sorts of plants to add to your garden and flowerbed,” Marshall said. “And it’s absolutely free. We’ll even have the exhibit hall open for people attending the workshop so they can see the exhibits and take a look at our native garden outside as well.”

Call 501-907-0636 to register for the event. You can also visit the nature center’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/centralarkansasnaturecenter for a list of upcoming events.

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02212018canoecampLITTLE ROCK – Despite the passage of time, little has changed in the fundamentals of a long, skinny boat propelled by paddles. A 21st century, Kevlar canoe probably would be recognized by a Native American of the 1700s.

Packing a canoe for an expedition today usually is associated with recreation – possibly a few days on the Buffalo River to get a taste of what early explorers and fur traders might have experienced. Canoe-access campsites offer a more intimate experience with the outdoors than traditional campgrounds. Canoe travel enables us to move silently through the water, which allows close encounters with wild creatures.

The AGFC has developed more than a dozen water trails across the state. A handful of these offer overnight camping. For maps, including those geo-referenced for smartphones, and more details about each trail, visit agfc.com/watertrails.

Little Maumelle River Water Trail

The Little Maumelle River rises in the Ouachita Mountains west of Little Rock, meanders south of Pinnacle Mountain and widens as it reaches the Arkansas River. The 8.2-mile trail offers solitude near the city, drawing paddlers with towering cypress trees, wildlife viewing and angling opportunities.

Tucked in among cypress trees, a camping platform near the banks of The Nature Conservancy’s William Kirsch Preserve at Ranch North Woods gives paddlers dry respite. It’s the first of its kind in Arkansas, although camping platforms are popular on waterways in the southeastern U.S. Experience the sounds of nature while floating under the stars by requesting a reservation at arkansaswatertrails.com.

Crooked Creek Water Trail

Crooked Creek near Yellville is known among anglers for feisty smallmouth bass. The trail covers 22 miles of the stream, although other stretches may be floated. The water level in the creek depends entirely on rainfall. Be sure to check the U.S. Geological Service gauge at Kelley’s Slab before paddling.

Although most property along Crooked Creek is privately owned, there are primitive camping options at Snow Access and TNC’s Brooksher Crooked Creek Preserve, which has no access by road. Paddlers also may camp at Fred Berry Conservation Education Center on Crooked Creek with permission from the center’s manager.

Wattensaw Bayou Water Trail

Waterfowl, woodpeckers or warblers flit overhead, depending on the season, and river otters and beavers swim in the coffee-colored water. Three access points along Wattensaw Bayou offer options on this 7.8-mile water trail that leads to the White River.

Blue paint designates primitive campsites (no water, sewer or electricity). Sites are available with road access along the bayou. For those looking for solitude, a river-access-only campsite is perched along the bayou about the midway point of the trail; first-come, first-served.

Bayou DeView Water Trail

With more than 15 miles of trail oozing through towering cypress and tupelo trees, Bayou DeView exposes paddlers to the Big Woods; only a small fraction of these wetlands remain today. Ancient cypress trees host barred owls, wintering bald eagles and nesting great blue herons. Fishing is good, too, especially for crappie, bream and catfish.

The bayou relies on rainwater, so check the USGS Bayou DeView gauge near Brinkley. To enjoy an overnight in the swamp, access the Hickson Lake campsite from a spur trail off Bayou DeView.

Rabbit Tail Water Trail

With more than 700 miles of undeveloped shoreline and more than 100 islands, Lake Ouachita can be a paddler’s dream. Rabbit Tail Water Trail is on the quieter, north shore of the lake and is tucked into relatively protected coves. Wind can be a deal-breaker on this lake’s wide-open water.

Paddlers on the 8.5-mile loop may camp on an island (check U.S. Army Corps of Engineers regulations) or along the shore in the Ouachita National Forest. Pack out trash. Reserve a guided trip at ouachitakayaktours.com.

Subscribe to Arkansas Wildlife Magazine for more outdoors ideas and award-winning articles. Visit www.ArkansasWildlife.com.

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Blue Bird in Cherry Creek, Little Rock, Ark., June 7, 2012LITTLE ROCK – Join birders across the country Feb. 16-19, and record your birdwatching results to help scientists discover trends and changes in migrations and populations of birds in the Great Backyard Bird Count.
Founded in 1998 by the National Audubon Society and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, the count was the first project to use non-biologists to collect massive amounts of data on wild birds and display the results in near real-time. Scientists combine the data from this count with other citizen-based counting projects, such as the Christmas Bird Count, Project FeederWatch and the eBird program to get a big picture of what is happening to bird populations across the nation. It’s an excellent way to be involved in conservation without ever leaving the comfort of your own backyard.
Arkansas Game and Fish Commission nature centers also are great locations to enjoy this citizen-scientist activity. Each of the AGFC’s four nature centers has a birdwatching station with maintained feeders near an indoor viewing area. Field guides are available to help identify birds at the feeder, and staff are always nearby to answer questions about the birds you see.
Kirsten Bartlow, watchable wildlife coordinator for the AGFC, says another great way to enjoy nature is through watchable wildlife trails, including the AGFC’s Arkansas Water Trails program.
“Water trails are designated routes people can paddle using a canoe or kayak,” Bartlow said. “It’s a great way to get out and enjoy nature, especially birdwatching. You can glide along silently and get really close to many birds. Some wading birds like herons and egrets also are much easier to find from the water.”
Bartlow says another great way to keep tabs on the species you’ve seen is the AGFC’s Wings Over Arkansas program.
“With Wings Over Arkansas, you record the bird species you see or hear on a checklist,” Bartlow said, “Once you reach certain levels, you are awarded a certificate and pin to show your accomplishment.”
Bartlow says Wings Over Arkansas is very popular with school groups and scouts, but has just as many adult participants who enjoy creating a life list of birds they’ve seen.
“Birding is something that anyone can enjoy, no matter what age they are,” Bartlow said. “And because birds can be attracted to practically any location using feeders, you don’t have to make special plans for a weekend getaway to a far off destination to enjoy the hobby.”
Visit http://gbbc.birdcount.org/ for more information about the Great Backyard Bird Count. To learn more about the Wings Over Arkansas Program or visit one of the AGFC’s four nature centers, visit http://www.agfc.com.

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01172018AWTVIf you missed an episode of the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s television series, Arkansas Wildlife, you still can tune in to catch it online. The first three seasons are available, in their entirety, at the show’s YouTube page.

If you were too busy hunting or fishing during the regular season to catch one of the shows, binge-watching on the YouTube channel is a great way to keep your mind on the outdoors as we approach the last few weeks of hunting season.

Trey Reid, the show’s host, says he’s received many positive comments from the show, and hopes to keep the momentum going into the next season, airing this spring.

“We appreciate all the guests who have invited us along to create the show,” Reid said. “But our biggest thanks goes to Arkansas Wildlife’s supportive and enthusiastic viewers, who have made our show a huge success.”

Highlights from season three include an exciting hunt for white-fronted geese, a young man’s first deer, and smallmouth fishing on the Caddo River and Greers Ferry Lake. Along the way, segments will show off some of the AGFC’s work on shad stockings, habitat improvement, monitoring Arkansas’s Canada goose population and what the AGFC does to bring trout and catfish to urban communities, so everyone has a chance to fish.

Visit www.youtube.com/c/arkansaswildlife to catch up on the action.

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The climb into the treestand can tax any hunter who's out of shape. Photo by Cara Holland

The climb into the treestand can tax any hunter who’s out of shape. Photo by Cara Holland

Hunters are beginning to scout, prepare food plots and set trail cameras to pattern the biggest buck in the area as summer wanes and the thrill of the next deer season builds. That same effort should be used to prepare their body for the stresses of the coming season. Nutrition and physical conditioning are keystones for success in the field, but often are overlooked.

Hunting situations provide many intense physical demands. Even hunters who do not travel far on foot still must climb in tree stands and hopefully drag out a downed deer. The real work starts after taking a game animal, and it’s a hunter’s responsibility to recover their harvest no matter the situation. Hauling a 100+ pound deer up a ridge will cause anyone to break a sweat.

Sportsmen should be aware of their limitations to ensure they do not over-exhaust themselves while pursuing game. This concept is discussed in the National Bowhunter Education Foundation’s guide, Today’s Bowhunter:

“Conditions that hamper your physical ability to perform safely and responsibly while
hunting include: asthma, a heart condition, excess weight and poor physical conditioning.”

Hunters should stay hydrated and fuel their body with nutrient-rich foods. These are the fundamental steps in staying healthy. Kathleen Robinson, Aerobics and Fitness Association of America-certified personal trainer and personal training manager at 10 Fitness Maumelle, explains, “Dehydration causes fatigue and cravings for sugar and carbohydrates as energy sources.” Robinson continues, “More serious issues like certain infections can come from long-term dehydration, so drink to your health.”

Add a couple slices of lemon or cucumber for flavor, and keep a full cup of water nearby to stay hydrated all day.

Add a couple slices of lemon or cucumber for flavor, and keep a full cup of water nearby to stay hydrated all day.

Put in the work now to improve abilities during the season. Some simple changes in daily habits can yield good long-term results in the field:

1. Take the longer route when possible.
Parking further away forces you to be more active during daily tasks such as visiting the local outdoors shop or walking in to work every morning. These extra steps add up over time to help hike extra miles in the deer woods.

2. Skip the elevator.
Elevators are overrated. Opt for the stairs to add even more steps. Stairs also simulate inclines you’ll find in the field. Those hills aren’t going to climb themselves come hunting season.

3. Join a gym.
Gym memberships can be as cheap as $10 a month and offer a variety of machines for anyone to hop on and bust out an extra 20-30 minutes of heart-pumping cardio. Increase the incline on the machine to get your heartrate up and ready for climbing treestands.

4. Cut carbonation.
There is nothing healthy about a drink containing 30+ grams of sugar. Avoid “zero calorie” drinks also. They contain artificial sweeteners that have a worse effect on the body’s blood sugar levels. A sugar rush only leads to a crash and no one wants to be snoozing on the job or in the stand.

5. Avoid vending machines.
Bring homemade snacks to work or on the go. Snack bags packed with vegetables, fruit or even slices of deer jerky from last season will curb hunger longer than sugar-filled candy. Other snacks could include a handful of mixed nuts or two tablespoons of peanut butter.

6. Drink more water.
Robinson further explains why drinking water is important to everyone, “Staying hydrated is how the body cools itself, removes toxins and waste and helps to lubricate joints.” Add a couple slices of lemon or cucumber for flavor and keep a full cup nearby to stay hydrated all day.

Don’t try to do everything all at once. Take it one step at a time turning these simple daily tasks into habits. Overall, keep active in everyday life to be able to take the next step in your hunting adventures.

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Public meetings are scheduled throughout the state to discuss CWD and proposed regulations to combat the disease.

Public meetings are scheduled throughout the state to discuss CWD and proposed regulations to combat the disease.

Arkansas Game and Fish Commission biologists plan to deliver information about chronic wasting disease and proposed regulations changes to combat its spread at meetings throughout the state, beginning Thursday. All regulations proposals will be voted on at the June 16 Commission meeting.

In addition to 11 public meetings scheduled throughout the state on May 24 and 26, a special public meeting will be held Thursday, May 19, in Jasper to discuss the proposed regulations.

The AGFC also will host a special show on the Arkansas Education Television Network at 8 p.m., Monday, May 23. The show will include a panel of experts from the AGFC, Arkansas Department of Health and the University of Arkansas at Monticello. Viewers may submit comments and questions via phone at 1-800-662-2386, email at paffairs@aetn.org or on Twitter with #ARAsk.

CWD is a fatal disease that affects only deer, elk and other cervids. AGFC photo.

CWD is a fatal disease that affects only deer, elk and other cervids. AGFC photo.

The discovery of chronic wasting disease has been the hot topic in the Arkansas deer-hunting community since it was first found in the northwest portion of the state. Many questions about how deer and elk hunting in Arkansas will be affected have been asked, and many answers are left to be determined.

“The first step in our response was to gauge how prevalent the disease was in Arkansas,” said Cory Gray, deer program coordinator for the AGFC. “Then we took on statewide sampling to find out how far the disease has spread. Now we’re ready to begin taking measures to combat the spread of the disease.”

Gray and the rest of the AGFC’s deer team have worked tirelessly since CWD was first reported in the state to gather as much information as possible from other states who have dealt with the disease.

“This doesn’t mean the end of deer hunting in Arkansas, and it’s not a panic-button situation, but it is serious and will change how we can manage our deer herd,” Gray said.

According to Gray, the ongoing statewide roadkill survey has identified CWD-positive deer in five counties: Newton, Boone, Madison, Pope and Carroll.

“The most recent addition was a deer found dead slightly over the border in Carroll County,” Gray said.

Through all phases of testing, 89 total animals have been found with CWD in Arkansas, 85 deer and four elk.

PUBLIC MEETING LOCATIONS

May 24, 6-8 p.m.

Nettleton Public School
Nettleton Performing Arts Center
4201 Chieftan Lane
Jonesboro

University of Arkansas at Monticello
Fine Arts Center
University Drive
Monticello

National Park College
Fredrick Dierks Center for Nursing and Health Sciences
Eisele Auditorium
101 College Drive
Hot Springs

Arkansas Tech University
Doc Bryan Student Services Center
1605 Coliseum Drive
Lecture Hall
Russellville

University of Arkansas
Pauline Whitaker Animal Science Center
1335 West Knapp
Fayetteville

AGFC Headquarters
2 Natural Resources Drive
Little Rock
May 26, 6-8 p.m.
Camden Fairview High School
Little Theater Auditorium
1750 Cash Road
Camden

Brinkley Convention Center
1501 Weatherby Drive
Brinkley

Janet Huckabee Arkansas River Valley Nature Center
8300 Wells Lake Road
Fort Smith

Hope Fair Park Community Center
800 South Mockingbird Lane
Hope

Mountain Home High School
Dunbar Auditorium
500 Bomber Boulevard
Mountain Home

20160511_CWD Public Meetings_HR

 

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