Kansas Fish and Game Struggling Through Drought
Kansas is best known for its deer and upland birds, and both could be hit hard by the current drought
Lack of water means lack of food, but that's not the No. 1 worry for Lloyd Fox, Kansas' big-game program coordinator. He's afraid deer will have to water at stagnant holes where they can be bitten by midges that infect them with epizootic hemorrhagic disease.
EHD is an infectious and often fatal viral disease characterized by extensive hemorrhaging, sometimes accompanied by a high fever. That leads many infected deer to die in or near water, perpetuating the disease.
"Things are setting up for an outbreak," Fox told McClatchy Newspapers, noting that most deer EHD deaths happen in late summer/early fall. He said the state needs a "gully-washing rain" to wash away the threat of an outbreak.
Over the last few years, Kansas has gotten a reputation in the upland world as being "the other South Dakota." High praise, but the drought is tempering expectations for this season's pheasant and quail hunting.
This spring the state got high numbers in its cock-pheasant crow counts, partly aided by a mild winter. But "extreme drought has created unfavorable breeding season conditions across most of southwestern and southcentral Kansas," the state said. "Thus the 2011 fall pheasant population will likely be down substantially from last fall in those areas.
"Conditions appear to have been much more favorable for productivity in other regions of the state, but it is still too early to make accurate predictions about the fall population in those areas."
A drought also affects crops, which provide necessary food and cover for pheasants.
Fish aren't faring as badly in Kansas, but certain water bodies have use warnings because of blue-green algae blooms.
The Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism (KDPWT) says that algae blooms "look like foam or a thick slurry. They can be blue, bright green, brown or red, and may look like paint floating on the water," but "some blooms may not affect the appearance of the water. Algae blooms should be considered nature’s warning signs saying, 'Stay out of the water.'"
|Binder Lake in Iowa experienced fish kills from blue green algae. Photo courtesy USGS|
As of this report, the following lakes have algae warnings:
- Milford Lake
- Santa Fe Lake in Augusta
- Marion County Lake
- Memorial Park Lake, Great Bend, Barton County
- Meade State Lake, Meade County
For people and pets that means:
- Do not drink lake water
- Avoid swimming, wading, or other activities with full-body contact of lake water
- Clean fish well, consume only the fillet portion, and discard all other parts
The following lakes have advisories, which carry the same warnings as above except for avoiding swimming, etc.:
- Big Hill Reservoir, Labette County
- Perry Reservoir (the entire lake), Jefferson County
- Marion Reservoir, Marion County
- Old Herington City Lake, Dickinson County
- Logan City Lake, Phillips County.
Because of these warnings and advisories, some lakes may also be closed to fishing. Kansas anglers should check with their local KDWPT before heading out.
Note that blue-green algae is slimy, so if you see or feel it on your line or lures, be careful.