The Quill Newsletter of Friends of Quivira NWR

Spotting scope has been replaced on Wildlife Drive

 Late June 2018 saw installation of a replacement spotting scope for the Wildlife Drive. The old scope, originally purchased with help from the Friends of Quivira and installed in spring, 1998, had become too scratched and dirty for use and was removed in 2016. Funds received through a Trans-Canada “good faith” grant allowed Quivira to purchase the scope. The scope can be used to better view the south and west areas of Big Salt Marsh and has a focus mechanism

Bird Identification Bee Grand Champion

 The 2017-2018 school-year Grand Champion of the Bird Identification Bee was Miss Aubrey Brown, Fairfield Elementary. For the 5th consecutive year, 4th-grade students from Stafford, St. John, and Fairfield, respectively, have competed in the Bee. Throughout the year, the students study images and information of 100 species of Kansas birds. The activity was developed by Quivira staff to better acquaint students with the bird life around them

Kids' Fishing Pond Inprpvement UNderway

Cattail is being manually cut and removed while the water level is low. Follow-up herbicide treatment may provide additional control. Refuge staff is evaluating trade-offs of water level management options during drought. Quivira’s Kids’ Fishing Pond, created in 1998 is currently the Refuge’s premier fishing area, and the only one that is stocked with fish. Any licensed person can fish at the Pond, as long as they are accompanying a fishing child 14 years old or younger.

History of Quivira's Sport Fisheries and Fishing

Throughout the 60+ year history of Quivira National Wildlife Refuge, a primary focus on its management has been the maintenance of a sanctuary for migratory birds. Since the National Wildlife Refuge Improvement Act of 1997, there has been a more system-wide perspective that supports native communities. Wetlands, whether in the form of large basins like Big or Little Salt Marsh (LSM), flowing stream systems, or smaller ponds and marshes, still receive most attention for the waterfowl, crane, and shorebird use. While Quivira’s sport fishery resources received less attention over the years, the varied history bears mentioning.  

Continuation of the History of Fisheries and Fishing

From the Refuge’s establishment in 1956 until more than a decade later, Quivira was in an active land acquisition stage, and there was no public fishing access to fishable waters. Locals and private landowners fished in what is now the Refuge’s LSM, as well as along portions of Rattlesnake Creek, and often reported good fishing for catfish, bullhead, and carp. Although most of the land acquisition in the Refuge’s south end was completed by 1963, public fishing did not occur until the opening of a portion of the LSM in 1967, and the entire LSM in 1968. The fishing season ran from June 1 through September 30, and a reported 400-500 people showed up on opening day that year. In 1971, the season expanded to May 1 through September 30. In 1985, the entire Refuge was opened to the public for the first time, allowing fishing in all Refuge waters throughout the year.

Continuation of the History of Fisheries and Fishing

 Early management considered potential conflicts of sport fisheries for public use and the waterfowl use priority. However, starting in late 1970, stocking of game fish in LSM and in the adjacent Water Unit 7 occurred almost annually. Four species were reported in annual narrative reports from this period: Channel Catfish, Largemouth Bass, Northern Pike, and White Bass. From 1970 to the last-reported year of stocking in 1979, tens of thousands of catfish and several hundred thousand pike were released. Periodic fish surveys, as well as creel surveys of visitors, revealed low survival rates of these stocked fish. Likely, periodic droughts in the region, which sometimes completely dried water areas, had a an adverse effect on the populations. Today, the only fish stocking at Quivira happens at the Kids’ Fishing Pond, continuing a practice that has been going on for a couple of decades. The Pond was created in 1996 as a showcase for children and their parents to experience the joy of fishing. Annually in late spring, the Pond is stocked with Channel Catfish, Sunfish, and (sometimes) Largemouth Bass. This occurs just prior to Quivira’s annual Kids’ Fishing Day, the first Saturday in June. While fishing is allowed in all Refuge waters, conditions in most wetlands do not favor sport fish. Prior to the last round of severe drought during 2011-2012, fishing for catfish was a popular activity in LSM, yet the fish population crashed when the lake dried completely in 2012. A refuge-wide fish population survey has not been conducted recently, and current fish populations come in through the Rattlesnake and Salt Creek stream systems