Wildlife NewsTuesday, December 6, 2011
(South Dakota Wildlife Federation Camo-Coalition)
Archery program a bullseye with students
Pierre Capital Journal
Laila Blackbird, third grade, (at right) pulls her arrows from her target.
Bullís-eyes donít lie. Fourth-grader Shante Blackbird may say she doesnít know what her technique is, but her aim tells otherwise.
A whistle blows. Blackbird pulls an arrow from the quiver, taking extra time to get it positioned correctly before pulling it back. It flies through the air Ė a third bullís-eye.
Blackbird is not alone in her skills. More than 25 elementary students are participating in the new archery activity that is a part of the Capitalizing on Achievement and Partnerships for Students afterschool program.
The students in the program have impressed their instructor, Rod Neuman, with their quick learning.
"Most of them are shooting at a pretty good level," Neuman said.
Like Blackbird, many of the students had never shot a bow before, but were intrigued enough to give it a try.
"I thought it would be fun," Blackbird said. "I try to practice all the time, but I can only practice when Iím [in class]."
The program is intended build the students math skills as they take aim.
After each round, Neuman calls out to the students.
"Whatís your score?"
The students have to quickly assess their shots, determine the point value and add the points together.
Neuman is training the students with safety as a priority.
Students do the activity in steps with Neumanís whistle as a guide. Students do not take the bows or begin their shots until their instructor blows his whistle. Students not shooting are not allowed near the shooting area and no one is allowed beyond the bowmen until all shooting is completed.
Funding for the program is through South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks, the Department of Education and the Yankton Archery Complex, CAPS Director Brittany Postma said.
GF&P panel upset about sewage going into reservoir
FORT PIERRE ó Members of the state Game, Fish and Parks Commission made clear last week they wonít tolerate further inaction on a pollution problem at Angostura Reservoir.
Dozens of house trailers donít have sewage systems that meet standard state requirements.
The trailers are on federal property at Angostura state recreation area. The state Division of Parks and Recreation leases the marina concession to a private operator.
Approximately 30 percent of the marina income comes from the two trailer parks, according to division director Doug Hofer.
The dilemma isnít new. Hofer said a 2008 inspection of 86 trailers found five had adequate septic systems.
Hofer asked for and received from the commission Thursday a one-year extension on the lease with Moyle Petroleum. It is the third such extension in recent years.
He said more time is needed to work out a solution.
Four commissioners ó Susie Knippling, of Gann Valley, Jim McMahon, of Canton, Barry Jensen, of White River, and Jim Spies, of Watertown, ó took turns delivering a scolding, telling Hofer that they donít want sewage running into the reservoir.
Hofer said the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, which controls Angostura dam, hasnít tested the water quality but his divisionís tests at distant swimming beaches didnít find problems.
The reservoir is on the Cheyenne River near Hot Springs. It is highly popular for boating and for fishing.
The concession isnít a viable business operation without the trailer-space revenue, according to Hofer. But the conditions arenít favorable for good sewage treatment either, he acknowledged.
He said there isnít sufficient space for each trailer to have a separate drain field for its own septic system, the soils are too tight for efficient operation of drain fields and a joint sewage system promises to be highly expensive.
Commissioners said the past extensions were intended to provide the time to get the situation fixed. The latest extension would run through Dec. 31, 2012.
Based on the lack of progress so far, commissioners expressed doubt that the matter can be resolved in the next year.
"Youíre looking at 2013, I can see that. I donít like whatís happening there in the lake at all," commissioner Spies told Hofer. "I think we got to really get after this."
"Weíre ready to do that," Hofer replied.
Commissioner John Cooper of Pierre, the previous head of the state Game, Fish and Parks Department and Hoferís superior, somewhat defended the staff. He said theyíve been trying but the situation is complex dealing with a federal agency, a private concessionaire and private owners of scores of trailers.
"One year is enough, and these folks (at Angostura) need a message," Cooper said.
Week in review: The best and worst
Mitchell Daily Republic
CHEERS to the good news that came our way last week from the state Department of Game, Fish and Parks. The Daily Republic reported that license sales for hunting and fishing were only down about 1 percent from Nov. 28, 2010, to Nov. 28, 2011. Generally, such a decrease wouldnít be much to cheer about, but this has been an odd year for South Dakota sportsmen. The floods that plagued the Missouri River certainly didnít do much to convince anglers to come to the state, and we assumed reports of a decreased pheasant population would have meant fewer hunters this fall. Even though itís a slight decrease, we consider this good news Ė no, make that great news.
Brandon Council to meet
Representatives from the Brandon Valley Area Chamber of Commerce will address the Brandon City Council regarding hosting a forum for the railroad switching yard issue at tonight's council meeting. Other items on tonight's agenda include signing a new contract with the Sioux Falls Humane Society for 2012 services, approval of members for the park advisory committee, discussion on a proposed land purchase in cooperation with the South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks representatives, and discussion on sidewalks for Aspen Boulevard.
Pheasants Forever Adds New Farm Bill Wildlife Biologist In S.D.
BELLE FOURCHE ó Pheasants Forever announced Gillian Brooks as its newest Farm Bill Wildlife Biologist in South Dakota, according to a release Thursday. Brooks will work with area landowners, farmers and ranchers to implement wildlife habitat conservation measures aimed at increasing pheasant, sage grouse and other wildlife populations. Based in Belle Fourche, Brooks will cover Butte and Harding Counties. Pheasants Forever now has eight Farm Bill Wildlife Biologists in the state ho work to provide technical assistance to farmers and ranchers ó through one-on-one consulting ó regarding the benefits of conservation programs (such as the Conservation Reserve Program). By working to develop and implement individual wildlife management plans, these eight biologists represent Pheasants Foreverís on-the-ground efforts to ensure landowners are aware of conservation program options. Brooks will be based at the Belle Fourche Field Office and will work in conjunction with other members of the national Sage Grouse Initiative. "We look forward to having a Pheasants Forever Farm Bill Wildlife Biologist working in western South Dakota as part of the Sage Grouse Initiative. With the Natural Resource Conservation Service and Pheasants Forever working together, we can provide greater outreach to producers on the importance of managing their rangeland for both livestock and sage grouse," said Sarah Eggebo, District Conservationist in Belle Fourche. Gillian received her BS in Wildlife Biology from the University of Vermont and her MS in Wildlife and Fisheries Biology from Clemson University. She gained wildlife experience working in Wyoming, Nevada, Alaska, Maine, Oregon and South Carolina. Farm Bill Wildlife Biologist positions in South Dakota are a result of a partnership between the Natural Resources Conservation Service, South Dakota Department of Game, Fish and Parks and Pheasants Forever. Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever initiated the Farm Bill Wildlife Biologist Program in 2003 with 4 positions, and it has since grown to 90 partnership positions located throughout the United States.
Preserves Have Their Place Too
Gary Howey for Yankton Press & Dakotan
As all of us know, Mother Nature has been pretty nasty the last couple of winters. Lucky for us, weíre able to get out of the wet rains, heavy snow, and gusting winds. Unfortunately, wildlife isnít so lucky and has to bear the brunt of the storm. Years ago, when there was plenty of winter cover, shelterbelts, creek beds, sloughs, grassland and CRP, wildlife had a fighting chance to survive all of these areas provided shelter. Not so today as about every inch of ground has been drained, plowed, disked and is either planted or grazed down to a point where it offers no protection for wildlife. This along with the new modern harvesting equipment, which is so efficient, in many of the fields wildlife can find little if any waste grain to feed on during the winter months, making it tough for wildlife to survive our upper Midwest winters. Those that do survive the winter are once again faced with little or no cover in which to nest, and if they do find some cover, generally itís not all that large and predators donít have to hunt very hard to find and destroy the nest and kill the hen.
If a successful hatch were pulled off, with the chicks and hen managing to evade predators one would think that things would be looking up for the birds. Not so as Mother Nature has one more thing to throw at them, heavy spring rains. Because, most of the habitat available will be in ditches and other low areas, a heavy rains will wash out many of the nests, of course some hens will re-nest and with some luck pull of a successful hatch. Once the chicks are out of the egg, the tough part begins! Since chicks are small, they arenít able to fly right away, so their only defense is to run as fast as their teeny weenie legs will carry them and there just the right size to make a "light lunch", a mouthful for raptors and other predators. If all of the above arenít making it tough enough on the pheasants, spring and early summer rains can be a killer to young chicks as they are born with down not the protective feathers theyíll develop as they get older. These rains dampen the grass and as the chicks walk through it while trailing the hen, the down soaks up like a sponge and hypothermia sets in. Thereís nothing the hen can do to save them when they fall by the wayside and she just keeps on trucking and when itís time to roost for the night, she may have lost one if not several of her brood. Pretty depressing isnít it and makes one wonder with all cards stacked against the pheasants why there are any birds left at all. In areas where there is some cover that will last throughout the year, there will be some birds if the area isnít over hunted while in others, there may be little or nothing. For those hunters who have no access to hunting land, what options do hunters, especially those from out of state have? They could hunt the road ditches in South Dakota that havenít been hayed or hunt the Walk In and MAP areas of the state along with hundreds if not thousands of other hunters. The other option for them is to hunt preserves with their extended hunting season, where pheasants are stocked and put out on a regular basis, many of which arenít harvested which will survive because of the larger habitat tracts and food plots on the preserve. Hunting preserves also help to bring dollars into the economy as those hunting there purchase hunting permits which go into the Game, Fish & Parks coffers, helping to develop new and preserve existing habitat.
There are a several things you want to look at when looking for a top of the line hunting preserve. ē Look at their web site; itís photos, and hunterís comments. Check out their habitat, as itís essential for ē all wildlife, excellent habitat makes for excellent hunting. ē Look over their facilities; good preserves also have excellent facilities. Hunting preserves may not be for everyone, but they provide those hunters who have limited time, no access to land to hunt a place to spend time with good friends, the opportunity to do some hunting, while bringing much-needed dollars into our economy. Those that fly in need will need to rent vehicles to get them to and from their destination, which means theyíll also be purchasing fuel. This along with hunting gear and the ammunition theyíll buy, help boost the economy, as do the taxes on these products. Last week I had the opportunity to hunt on a preserve with the folks from Graham Tire and Indy car driver Johnny Unser at Top Gun Hunting Ranch www.topgunhunt.com located near Howard. Top Gun is a good example of an excellent hunting preserve with excellent accommodations, habitat and tremendous bird numbers. Our group hunted in excellent cover as well as food plots, with walkers pushing the middle, wingmen off to the side and slightly ahead and blockers at the end of the field. If we hadnít known this was a preserve, the way the birds were feathered, hunkered down, ran and flew youíd swear we were hunting wild birds.
Facebook, felines and felons
A week ago someone asked me if deer ever attack humans. I think we were talking about mountain lions and such.
I said while deer have been known to attack people, most wild animals have a flight, rather than fight, instinct and such attacks are rare
Well, it happened a couple weeks ago in Indiana. The Fort Wayne Journal Gazette reported a 62-year-old man died as a result of injuries he received after struggling with a wounded deer.
The man was hunting in a state park during a herd reduction hunt. The hunter apparently shot a buck from a tree stand.
The man called his son after he took the shot and an hour and a half later his son called him back.
The man told him when he approached the deer to field dress it, he noticed it was still alive.
According the Indiana DNR, the man told his son he killed the deer with a knife after scuffling with it.
An autopsy showed the man died of a lacerated liver, most likely from getting kicked by the buck. There were no puncture wounds to the man, but there was bruising.
A park employee who went to help transport the deer found the man unconscious, sitting against a tree.
No real lesson here ó other than the obvious. Hunters should make sure their deer is dead before attempting to tag or field dress it.
Speaking of big cats, North Dakota is not the only area of the country seeing a resurgence of apex feline predators.
Jaguars are apparently making a comeback in the southwest and about a week ago the first confirmed sighting since 2009 came in Cochise County, Ariz.
Next year the University of Arizona will start a three-year, $771,000 project to learn more about the big cats.
About 120 trail cameras will be employed in Arizona and New Mexico. Funding is coming from the Department of Homeland Security, according to a story in the Arizona Daily Star.
Jaguars were listed as endangered in the U.S. 15 years ago and since that time, five cats have been photographed in the region.
Trail cameras are a wonderful thing; just ask a Maryland man.
According to HometownAnnapolis.com, police were investigating a string of vehicle break-ins when a resident set up a trailcam that captured video of a man breaking into vehicles.
The video was posted on the local sheriff departmentís Facebook page and police were able to identify the thief as someone with a warrant for a probabtion violation for other burglaries.
Through the wonderful and sometimes wacky world of social media, police used tips to chase down the suspect as he bailed from a vehicle, ran down a creek bottom and through it, across a field and past two schools that had been locked down.
He was apprehended and the story said it wasnít long before 14 photos of the chase and arrest were posted on Facebook with a message that he had been caught.
Hunting technology ó and CSI wanna-bees ó to the rescue.
DNR investigating shooting of cougar
ST. PAUL (AP) ó The state Department of Natural Resources is investigating the fatal shooting of a cougar in southwest Minnesota.
It's illegal to shoot mountain lions, or cougars, in Minnesota unless they're posing a threat. Bruce Ihnen tells The Daily Globe of Worthington he was finishing chores on his brother's farm in Jackson County's Round Lake Township Sunday when the cougar came out of a grove and ran into a culvert. Ihnen says he called a neighbor and the two chased it out of the culvert and his neighbor shot it.
DNR spokesman Chris Niskanen says it is likely the first cougar shot by a citizen in Minnesota's "modern history." He says the 125-pound animal is being examined by the agency's wildlife biologists in Grand Rapids
Colorado woman has sights set on Extreme Huntress contest
When it comes to priorities, Jackie Gross files hunting under "extreme."
"When hunting season is here, that's it. It's my passion," said Gross, 29. "I'd leave my fiance at home sick to go hunting if I have a tag. Call his mom and tell him to take some Airborne."
Gross, who grew up in Louisiana and relocated to the Western Slope town of Silt to pursue her passion after college, is considered among the nation's most extreme huntresses. With a little help, she could qualify as the most hard-core huntress in the eyes of the "Eye of the Hunter" outdoor program's Extreme Huntress 2012 contest hosted by Tahoe Films.
Gross is among 10 finalists in the third annual competition to select the nation's toughest female hunter. Her 500-word essay earned her a spot in the finals; now she needs some support from the online community that votes to determine the winner, who will be awarded a televised safari hunt for Cape buffalo in Zimbabwe.
"A lot of the girls are members of international safari clubs and hunting clubs, even the former Mrs. Nebraska. I don't have that kind of experience or exposure," Gross said. "I'm just the average gal who saves all my pennies and does whatever I can to hunt. I'm always looking
for different hunts online and things that might open some doors to the hunting world, because there aren't that many women who do it. It's pretty exciting for me that I've made it this far."
At a mere 5 feet tall and a smidge over 100 pounds, the self-described "'lil Southern gal" claims an "underlying strength that comes from my love of hunting." Her essay tells only part of the story.
To put it in perspective, the charging mountain lion Gross shot last year while dangling over a ledge as her fiancť clung to her bib overalls doesn't qualify as the most "extreme" in her mind. Maybe because she had the flu.
She believes the most dangerous are the brush-crawling bowhunts for bear she's done every year since 2004. The wild buffalo she harvested on foot in a 2008 snowstorm is the one she's most proud of as a woman, although the cougar comes close.
"My favorite type of hunting is any big game hunt with my bow," Gross said. "I'd say my toughest hunt was the moose hunt I did in Manitoba. But the coolest and most memorable was bowhunting for elk this year. All of them are pretty intense."
The moose hunt grew more difficult after she broke her right foot tripping over deadfall. With considerable time and money invested, Gross decided to tough it out, taking the insole out of her boot to accommodate the swollen foot so she could continue the slog through rugged wolf and grizzly country.
On the final day of the hunt, she shot a bull moose with a rack measuring 54 inches, packing it out as a blizzard blew in. In an effort to avoid being snowed in, Gross was handed a life jacket and stuffed into the back of a prop plane with the baggage, riding out the flight on horns and moose meat.
"It was pretty crazy," she said. "But it happens."
That synopsis is about as calm as it gets for Gross, who drives a camouflage truck, wears a camo bathing suit and owns more guns than most men. Simply talking about hunting can elicit trembling hands, shortness of breath and chattering teeth.
But more important than horns is putting meat in the freezer, she says. She eats everything she shoots, with a running joke that her family never knows what will be served at holiday meals.
This Thanksgiving it was elk roast, saved from last year since she didn't fill her tag this season. She managed to harvest a good story just the same, including being stalked by a mountain lion and nearly run over by an elk in rut.
"I'm not a trophy hunter. I just love it for the adventure," Gross said. "I don't think I could find anything to replace hunting. I've never felt the same adrenaline or excitement for anything else. Not even when my fiancť proposed. But he met me bowhunting, so he kind of knew."
Keeping up with the neighbors