Tuesday, October 27, 2009
Saturday, October 24, 2009
BY COURTNEY LOONEY
The Wichita Eagle
Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks officials said a mountain lion was photographed by a deer hunter northwest of WaKeeney, in Trego County.
State officials said a mountain lion was photographed by a deer hunter northwest of WaKeeney, in Trego County
After more than a century of rumors of mountain lions in Kansas, state wildlife biologists confirmed this week that a live mountain lion has been found in Kansas.
"We have literally dozens and hundreds of mountain lion sightings turned in to us," said Mike Miller, Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks spokesman. "Usually the pictures are so blurry, you can't see any detail."
On Oct. 12, a man hunting in northwest WaKeeney in Trego County made not only a discovery, but history, too. The man snapped photos of what this week became the first verified, live mountain lion in Kansas since 1904.
"We don't know the origins of the animal, but we know this is legitimate," Miller said. "Pictures have been verified."
Kansas wildlife officials said the mountain lion was photographed after the animal walked into a pile of corn that was near a tree stand occupied by a deer hunter.
The hunter grabbed his camera and took multiple photos. The mountain lion encounter is believed to have lasted less than a minute.
"They could live here year round. We don't know," Miller said. "But this is the first photograph that we have seen that we can verify and say that is a mountain lion."
This is the second mountain lion to be found in Kansas since 1904, but the first live one.
In November 2007, a young, male mountain lion was shot by a landowner in Barber County. Kansas Wildlife said it is illegal to hunt mountain lions because they are classified as a protected animal. The only exception is if the animal is on private property and poses a threat to the landowner.
Mark Downing of the Cougar Network, a nonprofit organization based in Colorado dedicated to studying cougars, said mountain lions are not often found in Kansas because the open prairie is not good habitat for the animal.
"Mountain lions need three things: cover, prey and water," Downing said. "There isn't enough of that in Kansas."
Charles Cope, a state wildlife biologist, said there may not be many mountain lions living in Kansas, but there may be some traveling through.
"Nebraska has reported 30 to 35 sightings this year," Cope said. "The thing is that they'll cover anywhere from 25 square miles up to 300 square miles on their home range. They travel huge distances. One in Nebraska could be the one in Kansas."
Downing said there is a possibility that mountain lions could live near wooded river corridors in Kansas.
No matter how many people believe that a population of mountain lions exist in Kansas, it has never been officially confirmed, Downing said.
"A population cannot go undetected," Downing said. "There would be roadkill and other sightings and we have never had documentation of this happening in Kansas."
Miller said he doesn't expect the excitement to go past the releasing of photos, but he is glad Kansas Wildlife was able to confirm the sighting.
"When something like this gets publicity, a lot of people are going to say, 'I told you so,' " Miller said. "All we're going to say is this is the first verified, live mountain lion in the state."
Downing took his first look at the photo of the confirmed mountain lion on Tuesday afternoon. It took him only a few seconds to verify what Kansas Wildlife has already confirmed.
"That tail definitely looks like a classic mountain lion," Downing said.
Monday, October 19, 2009
---Zebra mussels found in Kansas River; officials concerned about pipe clogs, but water safe
By Mark Fagan
October 19, 2009
Zebra mussels are in the Kansas River, threatening to clog pipes that carry water into the city’s Kaw Water Treatment Plant.
Employees of the treatment plant discovered the typically dime-sized mussels earlier this month while cleaning out an intake.
While the mussels are not expected to affect the quality or safety of the city’s supply of drinking water — they cannot survive the chlorination process used during treatment — the sharp-shelled bivalves could add to the system’s maintenance expenses, said Megan Gilliland, a city spokeswoman.
That’s because the mussels — already known for coating dock piers, boat hulls and motorboat parts — can cause broader problems by covering and clogging a plant’s intake valves, concrete basins and transport lines.
Lawrence’s treatment plant is the first in the state to report the presence of zebra mussels. The species’ rapid-reproduction and stubborn colonization already generate annual nationwide expenditures of $145 million to control mussels in electric generating plants, according to the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks.
While eradication of the invasive species is considered “nearly impossible” by state wildlife officials, the city envisions using high-pressure water to manage the problem, at least for now.
“In the future we may have to look at additional opportunities for cleaning, and utilization of aggressive mechanical methods to lessen the effect of mussels on our operations,” said Charlie Ballenger, manager of the Kaw plant. “The quality and quantity of water produced will not be affected.”
The first report of the mussels in the United States came in 1988, in the Great Lakes. Since then such mussels have spread into the Midwestern, Northeastern and Southeastern United States.
In Kansas, the state Department of Wildlife and Parks has tracked the mussels’ spread into seven different lakes since 2003: El Dorado, Cheney, Winfield City, Marion, Perry, Afton and — also earlier this month — Wilson, which is 55 miles west of Salina.
The Perry discovery came three years ago, after a boater reported a single mussel affixed to the hull of his boat. State divers then found three adult mussels, plus larvae, in the Marina Cove area.
Gilliland said that zebra mussels likely were transported into the Kansas River by a boat that had been in Perry Lake. Zebra mussels’ larvae are both free-floating and microscopic, making it easy for them to be carried — often unknowingly — by boaters who do not properly clean or otherwise rid their equipment of such a threat.
To prevent the spread of zebra mussels and their larvae from infested waters into other water, officials urge boaters and people who fish to:
• Never move fish or water from one body of water to another.
• Empty bait buckets on dry land, not into lakes.
• Inspect boats, trailers, skis, anchors and all other equipment, and remove any visible organisms and vegetation.
• Wash equipment and boats with hot water (at least 140 degrees) or dry for at least five days, to remove or kill species that are not visible.
The Kaw plant is one of two municipal plants that last year treated and pumped out a combined 3.785 billion gallons of water.
Zebra mussels have not yet been discovered at the city’s Clinton Water Treatment Plant, which gets its raw water from Clinton Lake, Gilliland said.
The Lawrence Energy Center, a coal-fired plant that generates 19 percent of all power for Westar Energy customers, also has a water intake in the Kansas River, upstream from the Bowersock Dam.
Wednesday, October 7, 2009
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