The Salato Wildlife Education Center just outside Frankfort will start charging admission fees when it reopens March 1.Lori Shoup watches as the Salato Wildlife Education Center's red-tailed hawk eats a mouse in the new aviary exhibit at the center. Shoup, along with the other conservation educators, have been working daily with the hawk and four owls in the new exhibit allowing them to get used to the enclosure.Hunting and fishing license fees have so far funded the center, which costs about $1 million per year to operate, Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources spokesman Mark Marriccini said.But rising expenses now require admission fees to subsidize the center’s operating budget, Marriccini said. At one time, Salato was the second-most visited attraction in Frankfort behind the Capitol, he said.“It’s a very expensive proposition,” Marriccini said of operating Salato. “We use a lot of volunteers to run it and get a lot of donations for the exhibits.”Under a plan approved last year by the department’s commission, adults will be charged $4 to enter the center, youth age 5-18 will pay a $2 fee and children under 5 will be admitted free.School groups and chaperones will be charged $2 per person for those older than 5. Individuals may purchase a yearly pass for $20, a family pass for $30, and a friends pass, which allows families to bring up to five guests per trip, for $50.“This is not going to pay for it,” Marriccini said. “This will just help.”Admission fees are not new for Salato. The center charged for entry when it first opened in 1995, but dropped the fees in 2000 during better economic times, according to the department’s website.Funds will help Salato, located in west Frankfort on Louisville Road, pay for various wildlife exhibits, which include a black bear, turkeys, buffalo, a bobcat and eagles.Marriccini noted the center has a new exhibit for birds of prey, such as a red-tailed hawk.“I’ve seen a red-tailed hawk fly right over the heads of a whole group of school kids that were in there visiting,” he said. “… We get these in here from rehabbers. These are animals that cannot be released back in the wild.”Marriccini said he has not heard from anyone opposing the new fee structure. The department has spread the word via news releases and its website, he said.For some students across Kentucky, Salato will be their first and only opportunity to view wildlife like elk and buffalo, he said.“The Salato Wildlife Education Center is a remarkable one,” Marriccini said. “It’s probably the best in the state today.”
By Kevin Wheatley The State Journal
An unusual fishing tournament will be held in Kentucky next month to target an increasingly problematic influx of Asian carp. The Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources has announced that it will hold the first such competition March 12-13, offering cash awards to fishers who catch the most carp with nets on Lake Barkley and Kentucky Lake. There will be no entry fee and the $20,000 purse will be distributed among the top five finishers."The reason for this tournament is to remove as many Asian carp as possible; therefore, fishermen must harvest at least 2,000 pounds of Asian carp to qualify for a prize," the announcement said. Kentucky's tournament is a reaction to the much larger national problem of invasive Asian carp, which can kill native species and hurt fishing and boating industries. Read more here on the threat posed by Asian carp in the Mississippi River system."Asian carp are a threat to our native species and habitats because they compete with other fish for the plankton which forms the base of the good chain," state Fisheries Director Ron Brooks told Gary Garth for The Courier-Journal's outdoors column. Brooks explained that Asian carp can grow to be quite large--in one Missouri case, 111 pounds--and that they are prolific. "This is the first tournament, but we hope to have several this year," Brooks said. "We're trying to remove as many Asian carp as we can out of these lakes."
Next week, the Kentucky Afield Outdoors staff begins a series of fishing articles called “Spring Fishing Frenzy” that will run until early summer. The series of articles details the excellent fishing opportunities across Kentucky.
Before the series begins Feb. 7, anglers should know of new fishing regulations that go into effect March 1, 2013. These new regulations include: changes to smallmouth bass regulations at Otter Creek Outdoor Recreation Area; a reduction of the striped bass minimum size limit in Lake Cumberland; some new catfish regulations at three state-owned lakes and modification of snagging regulations statewide.
A section of Otter Creek in Meade County was once a park; it closed for two years prior to its acquisition by the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources as. The area reopened to the public as Otter Creek Park Outdoor Recreation Area in 2011.
The smallmouth bass in that section of Otter Creek didn’t see any anglers during those two years.
“When Otter Creek opened back up for public access, the smallmouth bass harvest pressure increased dramatically,” said Gerry Buynak, assistant director for fisheries for the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources. “To protect those bigger smallmouths, we implemented a slot limit similar to the one on Elkhorn Creek in central Kentucky.”
Buynak said the slot limit on Elkhorn Creek has been extremely successful in protecting the quality-sized, larger smallmouth bass. “There are more smallmouth bass over 16 inches in the creek than ever before,” he explained.
Otter Creek’s slot limit means anglers must immediately release all smallmouth bass caught between 12 and 16 inches. The daily creel limit is six smallmouth bass. Anglers may only keep one smallmouth bass longer than 16 inches from Otter Creek. The rest must be under 12 inches long.
At Lake Cumberland, the water drawdown that began in 2007 to facilitate repairs on Wolf Creek Dam stressed the fantastic striped bass fishery in the lake. The loss of 40 feet of water from the lake during the drawdown phase took much of the cold, oxygenated water striped bass need to survive, especially during the summer months. Thousands died in late summer and early fall for a couple of years because of the lack of deep, cool oxygenated water.
Then, some good survival years of the stocked striped bass produced a fishery made up of fish just under the minimum size limit of 24 inches. “The stripers from 20 to 22 inches piled up,” Buynak explained. “The growth rate and condition of the fish deteriorated.”
Therefore, last May, the new 22-inch minimum size limit on striped bass went into effect. This regulation change will continue in 2013.
“We want people to harvest some of these fish,” Buynak said. “Thinning them out helps the growth and condition of the fish. When the lake returns to full pool in 2014, a decision will have to be made about keeping the 22-inch size limit or returning it to 24 inches.”
The two fish daily creel limit on striped bass in Lake Cumberland remains in effect.
Meanwhile, a new 12-inch minimum size limit for channel and blue catfish takes effect March 1 at McNeely Lake in Jefferson County, Reformatory Lake in Oldham County and Lake Reba in Madison County.
“The new 12-inch minimum size limit on catfish is part of a research study,” Buynak said. “We really didn’t know about the catfish population in some of the smaller state-owned lakes before we put a 12-inch minimum size limit for catfish on them. These three lakes had no size limit and an unlimited daily creel limit, so we are going to closely monitor the catfish in these lakes after this 12-inch size limit.”
Buynak said the data gleaned from the project will help make better management decisions on catfish regulations on state-owned lakes in the future.
Other changes that take effect on March 1 include removal the 7 ½-foot rod length limit for snagging. Finally, the department added James D. Beville Park Lake in Grayson County and Jacobson Park Lake in Fayette County to the Fishing in Neighborhoods (FINs) program. These lakes will receive special stockings of rainbow trout and channel catfish.
Remember to keep these new regulations in mind when you fish in 2013 and look for the Kentucky Afield Outdoors “Spring Fishing Frenzy” series beginning next Thursday.
Also, don’t forget to purchase your new fishing license soon, as they expire Feb. 28.
Submitted by Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources
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