Wildlife Team Wins Drive to Collect Food Bank Donations
The Lincoln office of the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission made a generous donation to the Food Bank of Lincoln. A drive was held in April to determine which division could collect the most donations. Wildlife won the friendly competition among divisions.
Each donated item was assigned a point value. The office’s combined donation was 18,492 points (or more than four full barrels). Wildlife won the contest with 5,236 points. The champion’s trophy was a hand-made donation from Roy Farnstrom (Jana Cockerham’s father). The “Food Bank Champions” plate on the trophy was donated by The Trophy Shop.
Other divisions and their point totals are: Parks, 3,810; Fisheries, 2,368; Administration, Personnel, Nebraska Environmental Trust, and Realty and Environmental Services, 2,222; Information and Education, 1,152; Law Enforcement and IT, 1,069; Budget and Fiscal, 757; and Engineering and Operations and Construction, 738.
Lake McConaughy Walleye Fishing Promotion
With a walleye population in Lake McConaughy the likes of which we have never seen (approximately 130,000 fish greater than 25 inches or 6.5 pounds), the Fisheries Division met with Information and Education to plan promotional efforts. The promotion will concentrate on the Denver area. We will challenge anglers to keep us from celebrating 40 years with the same state record walleye, which was caught in 1971 from Lake McConaughy.
We contacted In-Fishermen magazine; editor Doug Stange may film a segment at Lake McConaughy for the magazine’s television show. We are in the process of hooking Doug up with a local guide for a fall fishing trip. We also requested Terry Wickstrom, host of Mountain States Fishing and Angling Adventures TV shows and the Fan Outdoors radio program in Denver, to promote Lake McConaughy and film a show there again. Also, Al Patterson, president of ReelBait Tackle Company, is interested in helping out with our promotions.
Hoffmann Honored at Cornhusker Trapshoot
Ducks Unlimited has honored Rocky Hoffmann for his 37 years of service to the Cornhusker Trapshoot. Hoffmann, who is retiring as shoot director, received a plaque from DU during the 41st Cornhusker Trapshoot on April 29-May 1 at Doniphan.
Hoffmann retired from the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission in 2009. He and Doniphan conservation officer Terry Brentzel were co-shoot directors this year. Brentzel will take over as director in 2011. Hoffmann had been involved in the shoot since 1974.
Click here for photo gallery of the 2010 Cornhusker Trapshoot
Spring Fish Egg Collections
Spring is the time of year when Fisheries Division captures fish, strips the eggs from females and fertilizes them with milt provided by males. This is necessary because some species of fish do not produce enough offspring naturally in some bodies of water to sustain populations that will support quality fishing. The first species we spawn is northern pike, followed by yellow perch. These fish are captured from Valentine National Wildlife Refuge lakes and their progeny are raised at the Valentine Hatchery.
Our most labor-intensive fish spawning operation occurs just after the first of April, when we collect walleye. Electrofishing boats are used to capture male walleyes and gill nets are run through the night to catch females. This year, the number of young walleye requested by our Management Section for stocking and needed for trades to other states was especially high, primarily because of increased requests for fry, as opposed to fingerlings. We have found that, in some waters, stocking a high number of fry can produce stronger year classes of fish than stocking fewer numbers of fingerling fish (approximately 1½ inches). We needed to provide the Calamus, North Platte and Gavins Point hatcheries about 69 million fertilized eggs (approximately 550 quarts) to satisfy the demand and knew this would take quite an effort.
We captured and spawned walleyes at three reservoirs. We collected 216 quarts of eggs at Merritt Reservoir; Sherman yielded 108 quarts of eggs. But, it was what we caught and what we did at Lake McConaughy that will be passed down in Fisheries Division lore for decades. We caught far more and bigger walleyes than anywhere, ever before. The crew that netted during the night and early morning of April 9 caught 359 female walleyes, most of them really big “girls.” The crew that stripped and fertilized eggs the next morning worked for seven hours without a break. The two-day total egg take at McConaughy amounted to 338 quarts. With plenty of eggs, we now will be able to stock more fry in Harlan County and Calamus reservoirs. Thanks are extended to the Parks and Wildlife divisions for providing valuable help at this and our other fish spawning operations.
Early Focus on Pheasants Survey Has Encouraging Results
We have kicked off the pre-implementation phase of the new Southwest Focus on Pheasants effort with some encouraging initial survey results. Jeff Lusk, upland game program manager, laid out four survey routes within the focus area that will be used for pheasant crow counts, bobwhite whistle counts, prairie grouse surveys, August roadside (brood) surveys, and possibly for breeding bird surveys.
For the pheasant crow counts, each route will be run three times during the time frame April 15-May 15. Justin Haahr, T. J. Walker and farm bill biologist Caleb Caton have each conducted one route once to date. Initial survey results show that we will have our hands full to increase this population by 50 percent (and hunters should have their bags full in November).
At 60 stops, we documented 2,862 cock pheasants, heard four northern bobwhites, found eight new greater prairie-chicken leks, and heard wild turkeys gobbling at 17 stops. There is a fourth route that has not been run yet.
Arbor Day Cleanup Successful at Arbor Lodge SHP
Approximately 60 volunteers helped clean up Arbor Lodge State Historical Park on April 10. Arbor Day Cleanup was sponsored by the Nebraska City Tourism and Commerce Development Committee and was part of the Great American Cleanup. Volunteers were provided lunch, and a prize drawing was held for them.
Mahoney State Park Hosts March of Dimes Walk
The March of Dimes Walk was held April 25 under a cool and cloudy sky at Eugene T. Mahoney State Park. About 4,000 participants generated about $350,000 in donations. The March of Dimes event was a great success despite the overcast weather. For more info visit marchofdimes.com
Purple Loosestrife Dig at Niobrara State Park
The Northeast Weed Management Association, with the help of the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission and students from Niobrara Public Schools, dug up purple loosestrife at Niobrara State Park on April 20. Purple Loosestrife is an invasive plant of little value to wildlife that competes with desirable native plants.
Pallid Sturgeon Broodstock Collected in Missouri River
The Fisheries Division’s Missouri River crew and 109 volunteers ran trotlines over a 54-mile stretch of the Missouri, from its confluence with the Platte to below Hamburg, Iowa, from April 5-16. They captured 167 pallid sturgeon, of which 37 were in reproductive condition. These fish were sent to the Gavins Point National Fish Hatchery in Yankton, S.D., and the Blind Pony State Fish Hatchery in Missouri.
During the 12-day effort, 1.3 miles of night crawlers were used to capture 1.6 miles of sturgeon (if they were laid end to end).
INFORMATION AND EDUCATION
Social Media Efforts Expanding
The agency’s social media efforts continue to expand, with the addition of Afield and Afloat (http://afieldandafloat.wordpress.com/), the NEBRASKAland Magazine blog, and the YouTube Channel (http://www.youtube.com/NGPCnews). The Commission also is monitored by, as of May 4,500 fans on Facebook and 3,300 Twitter followers.
Prescribed Burns Will Target 120 WMAs
Three Habitat Share Projects Completed
Work has been completed on three wildlife management areas in central Nebraska as part of the Habitat Share Program with Pheasant’s Forever, Inc. Five hundred acres of invasive trees have been sheared from Myrtle Hall, Calamus and Sherman Reservoir WMAs, and 206 acres have been disked at Sherman Reservoir WMA.
The funding from this project is coming from Pittman-Robertson federal aid, matched with cash from Pheasant’s Forever, Inc. Wildlife Division biologists have been impressed with the quality and quantity of work being completed.
New Bird Display Installed at Pressey WMA
Jacob Porter of Broken Bow has built and installed a bird display/kiosk at Pressey Wildlife Management Area to fulfill his obligations for Eagle Scout status. The project was a partnership of the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, Nebraska Natural Legacy Project, Boy Scouts of America, and Central Nebraska Birding Club.
The information within the display was developed by Tim Hajda of the Central Nebraska Birding Club and will be changed quarterly to reflect seasons.
Four Farm Bill Biologists Hired
Four Farm Bill Biologists have been hired as part of the partnership with Pheasant’s Forever, Inc., and the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). The biologists will be stationed at NRCS offices in McCook, Broken Bow, North Platte, and Hartington. The McCook and North Platte biologists will take an active role in the upcoming new Super Focus area for pheasants in southwest Nebraska.
Grant Received for Educational Podcasts
The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission received a $45,000 grant from the Hunting Heritage Partnership with the National Shooting Sports Foundation. This grant will enable us to create educational podcasts on several hunting topics, such as spring turkey hunting, game calling and game meat preparation. These podcasts are part of the Recruitment, Development and Retention action plan called Outdoor University.
Agency Receives Funds for Saline Wetland Acquisition
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has awarded Nebraska $275,000 of Section 6 Recovery Land Acquisition funds for saline wetland acquisition. It also awarded $180,000 to the Habitat Conservation Plan for the Salt Creek tiger beetle.
Peregrine Eggs Produced for Sixth Year in Row
Peregrine falcons have produced eggs in a nest box outside the 18th floor of the Nebraska State Capital for the sixth year in a row. The popular falcons’ four eggs are expected to hatch during the second week of May.
Information about the falcons, including live streaming video of the nest box, is provided in a display on the first floor of the Capitol and on a the NGPC Falcon’s Web page. Last year, more than 31,000 unique visitors in Nebraska and around the world observed the falcons online.
A similar Web page and live streaming video spy in on an American kestrel nest box located on the north side of the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission headquarters. More than 12,000 unique visitors watched North America’s smallest falcon raise two broods last summer.
Knust Joins Agency as IT Administrator
Toni Knust joined the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission on May 3 as the new administrator of the IT Division. She comes to us from the Department of Labor. She will be working with us, though she will be employed by the Office of the Chief Information Officer.
Staff Should Check on Grant Status
A list of all active grants is sent to project leaders monthly. Staff is reminded to check the ending date of their grant, the financial status and the report requirements. If there are any discrepancies between what is listed on the report and the project leader’s records, we need to make corrections as soon as possible.
REALTY AND ENVIRONMENTAL SERVICES
Agency Makes In-Lieu-of-Tax Payments
The Realty and Environmental Services Division is responsible for handling the in-lieu-of-tax payments for the agency. The Nebraska Legislature passed LB 869 in 1976 that requires the agency to make in-lieu-of-tax payments on wildlife management areas owned by the Commission, beginning Jan. 1, 1977. The payments are the same as the real property taxes that would have been paid on the land if it were owned by a private owner. The value of the land is determined by the county assessor as if it were being used for the use it had immediately before acquisition by the Commission. In 2010, we paid $126,651.92 using state funds on 44 wildlife management areas in 35 counties. We also paid $434,415.86 using federal funds on 129 wildlife management areas in 51 counties.
Officers Help Cornhusker Trapshoot Run Safely, Smoothly
Conservation officers were an integral part of the Cornhusker Trapshoot, ensuring the safety of all involved and keeping the competition running smoothly. Officer Terry Brentzel was the co-shoot director, along with Rocky Hoffmann. Also representing the agency were Jerry Pecha, District VI supervisor, as well as the following officers: Dennis Thompson, Dan Zuehlke and Heath Packett from District I; Cory Krause from District III; George Sund, Ray Dierking, Michael Thome, and Dirk Greene from District IV; William Krause, Sean McKeehan, Levi Krause, and Jeff Clauson from District V; and Darin Gress, Dale Johnson, Robert Finke, Randy Pomplun, and Jeff Jones from District VI. (View the Cornhusker Trapshoot photo gallery)
Division in Transition to Smart Phones
The Law Enforcement Division has begun a transition to the use of Smart Phones as the primary form of communication with the public. This is an attempt to reduce Internet costs, reduce home phone expenses, reduce mailing costs, and improve communication with the public. Officers may connect the phones to laptops to access a variety of information in the field.
District I – Officers responded to numerous questions concerning the changes in the application process for landowner elk permits. … Hunting pressure on public lands has been high during this spring turkey season, with hunters having good success. … There has been moderate to heavy fishing pressure for walleye at Lake McConaughy State Recreation Area, with many 10- to 14-pound female walleyes harvested.
District III – There were 139 adults and 180 youth attending outdoor education programs in April. … Many spring turkey hunters were in the field, including numerous youth, and they reported having good success. … Officers are investigating a boating death at Fremont State Recreation Area. … Officers inspected 26 taxidermy shops and 18 Controlled Shooting Areas, with 10 warnings and two citations issued as a result.
District IV – More than 100 boys received archery instruction from officers at a Boy Scout Camporee in Halsey. … Fishing activity was high, as the walleye spawn arrived and the wipers and white bass starting moving into inlet areas. … Twenty-four complaints were received in one day from the public reporting the overharvest of fish. … Lake Maloney and Elwood Reservoir have been filled and the fishing has been surprisingly good at Maloney on walleye and wipers.
District V – Officer Mike Luben held two workshops in Wahoo that introduced archery to 40 youths. … Officers assisted in the East Expo on April 21-22 at Platte River State Park, with more than 1,500 youth attending.
District VI – Officers spent several hours working on the Open Fields and Waters Program as they continue to make contact with numerous landowners in an attempt to drum up interest. Officers have found that high-priced hunting leases in the area are difficult to compete with. … Officers from District V and District VI took part in mandatory state firearms qualifications and firearms training at Hastings.
May 2010 Service Awards
Anne James, Parks
Debra Kennedy, Parks
Phillip Chvala, Fisheries
Shari Clark, Parks
Connie Kemp, Parks
Greg Wagner, Information and Education
Larry Joachimsen, Parks
Richard Knox, Wildlife