Oklahoma’s bat girl named wildlife biologist of the year
Melynda Hickman, a wildlife biologist with the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, has been named the 2018 Wildlife Biologist of the Year by the Southeastern Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies.
Hickman, who has worked for the Wildlife Department for 28 years, leads several conservation efforts and public education programs for the agency, including organizing the popular Selman
Bat Watches near Freedom each summer.
“In a profession that’s often focused on the hookand-bullet crowd, Melynda has a unique ability to energize folks about bats, bluebirds, butterflies and the importance of conserving ecosystems as a whole,” said J.D. Strong, director of the Wildlife Department.
Hickman was a driving force in developing a state-of-the-art multipurpose educational facility at Hackberry Flat Wildlife Management Area in southwestern Oklahoma. She organizes seasonal events at Hackberry Flat, including bird watches and a monarch butterfly watch and tagging program.
Each year, SEAFWA presents Biologist of the Year Awards to two career biologists of state wildlife agencies, one each in wildlife and fisheries, who in the opinion of the SEAFWA Awards Committee have made outstanding contributions to fish and wildlife conservation.
The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation is among the fish and wildlife agencies of 15 southeastern states and two U.S. territories, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, that make up SEAFWA’s membership.
Winter trout areas now open across Oklahoma
Anglers can now catch trout at the six winter areas managed by the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.
The Wildlife Department stocks rainbow trout in the winter months at Blue River, Robbers Cave, Perry CCC/ Lake Perry Park, Medicine Creek at Medicine Park, Lake Watonga and Lake Carl Etling.
The catch and release area on Blue River will receive its first addition of trout on Thursday. The winter trout areas normally will have hatchery-raised trout added about every two weeks through March.
The trout season will open at the Dolese Youth Park Pond in Oklahoma City on Dec. 1. It will remain open through Feb. 28.
Oklahoma’s bear hunting season sets record
Oklahoma’s black bear hunting season has been record-breaking.
As of Wednesday, 81 black bears had been taken by hunters in the four southeastern Oklahoma counties where bear hunting is allowed: Le Flore, McCurtain, Pushmataha and Latimer.
Seventy-five bears were killed by bow hunters and six had been taken during the muzzleloader season which ends Nov. 4.
The previous record was 66 bears taken by hunters in 2012.
“We definitely seem to have a lot more bears,” said Joe Hemphill, southeast region wildlife supervisor for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. “We had a rough year this summer chasing bear complaints all over.”
Hemphill said two bears weighing more than 500 pounds and one more than 600 pounds were taken by hunters.
State wildlife officials are considering expanding bear hunting to neighboring counties as a result of the population growth.
Duck season now open across Oklahoma
Duck hunting is now underway in the entire state with the opening of Zone 2 (central and eastern Oklahoma) on Saturday.
The first half of the season will remain open in Zones 1 and 2 through Nov. 25 before closing. The season will reopen on Dec. 8.
Duck season in the Panhandle counties runs uninterrupted through Jan. 9.
Melynda Hickman, a wildlife diversity biologist for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, was named 2018 Biologist of the Year by the Southeastern Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies.