Thursday, November 19, 2015

Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Commission Accepts NWTF Donation

National Wild Turkey Federation representatives Janet Guiles (Logan County Longbeards), Ryan Womack (state board secretary), O.D. Curry (state NWTF president) and Gary Purdy (senior regional director) present a $51,400 donation to Bill Dinkines, assistant chief of wildlife for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.
The Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Commission accepted a $51,400 donation from the National Wild Turkey Federation at its regular meeting Nov. 2 in Oklahoma City.
Gary Purdy, senior regional director with NWTF, told Commissioners that the national conservation and preservation organization is pleased to support the efforts of the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation that align with NWTF's goal to "Save the Habitat. Save the Hunt."
For many years, NWTF has donated funding for various Wildlife Department projects. Purdy said in just the past five years, his group has given $328,000 to the Department, which has been matched with $985,000 in federal and other funding, for a total benefit of $1.31 million. In all, NWTF's donations have secured $4.2 million in funding for Department projects.
"It makes me happy to say thank you, and to present our annual funding check," Purdy said.
Also during Monday's meeting, Commissioners reviewed data collected during the 10th Oklahoma Wildlife Expo held in September. Responsive management specialist Corey Jager said an estimated 50,394 attended the three-day event at the Lazy E Arena.
Surveys showed that 40 percent of visitors had never been to the Wildlife Expo before; six out of 10 Expo visitors reside in urban areas; and some visitors travel more than 200 miles to attend Expo.
Jager offered some statistics that indicate the popularity of some outdoor activities at Expo. This year, visitors fired more than 36,000 shotgun shells at more than 41,000 clay pigeons. More than 76,000 pellets were fired at the pellet rifle range. Fishing clinics educated more than 2,700 visitors, who used more than 2,000 worms as bait. And Expo visitors sampled more than 1,000 pounds of fried catfish, 300 gallons of bison chili and 400 pounds of venison summer sausage at the Taste of the Wild venue.
In other business, the Commission:
Accepted donations for the Stars & Stripes License Project, a new donor-supported program that will provide hunting and fishing licenses to veterans and select family members of veterans at no cost to them. These kick-starter donations are $2,000 from Quail Forever, $10,000 from Bank of Oklahoma, and a pledge of $2,000 from the National Wild Turkey Federation. Anyone wishing to donate can click the Stars & Stripes rotating image at wildlifedepartment.com. Details about the veteran application process will be released as they become available.
Accepted a $1,500 donation from the Oklahoma Striped Bass Association to fund efforts that support Oklahoma's striper fishery.
Received an update on design work for renovating and expanding the Department's headquarters building at 1801 N. Lincoln. Representatives from Beck Design said plans are in the final stages and work at the site will likely begin in May 2016.
Heard a report on the Department's Fiscal Year 2015 financial audit from a representative of Finley and Cook, PLLC, indicating that auditors found no discrepancies and praising the Department for excellent compliance with federal grant guidelines.
Authorized Director Richard Hatcher to negotiate with a willing seller the purchase of 310 acres adjacent to Cross Timbers Wildlife Management Area in Love County.
Recognized several employees with tenure awards: Steve Loveland, game warden in Mayes County, 35 years; Capt. Jeff Brown, District 1 law enforcement chief, 30 years; Alan Peoples, Wildlife Division chief, 25 years; Benny Farrar, wildlife biologist, 25 years; Ira Wood, wildlife technician, 25 years.
The Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Commission is the eight-member governing board of the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. The Commission establishes state hunting and fishing regulations, sets policy for the Wildlife Department and indirectly oversees all state fish and wildlife conservation activities. Commission members are appointed by the governor and confirmed by the Oklahoma Senate.
     The next scheduled Commission meeting will begin at 9 a.m. Dec. 7, 2015, at Wildlife Department interim headquarters, N.E. 36th and Martin Luther King Avenue in Oklahoma City.