Wildlife Diversity Update for March

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March 22, 2018


100 Years of Management Helps Endangered Woodpecker

The Wildlife Department’s oldest management area – the McCurtain County Wilderness Area – was created in 1918 and is home to Oklahoma’s last remaining red-cockaded woodpecker population. 

Learn more about red-cockaded woodpeckers and the shortleaf pine trees on which they rely.

Banded Darter


Species Spotlight: Banded Darter

Spring snorkeling in Ozark streams may reveal the colorful banded darter, one of the most widely distributed darters in our nation. Named for the green or brown bands that adorn the sides, this fish prefers swift flowing waters with algae.

Learn more in the Wildlife Department's Field Guide

Bill Puckette
"Oklahoma" award recipient Bill Puckette, third from left, was honored at a recent conference. Also pictured are Craig Davis, Steve Hensley and Richard Stark. Photo provided by The Wildlife Society.


Longtime Caver Honored for 37 Years of Bat Conservation

Bill Puckette, retired science teacher and bat conservationist, was recently honored with the Oklahoma Chapter of The Wildlife Society's most prestigious award at the 2018 Oklahoma Natural Resources Conference. Puckette's work in the Ozark region has significantly contributed to the advancement of cave and bat science and conservation in our state. 

“Bill has made truly indispensable and irreplaceable contributions to cave and bat conservation in Oklahoma,” said Richard Stark, biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Ozark Plateau National Wildlife Refuge, a cave refuge established to help recover federally listed cave species. “His conservation efforts have extended over 35 years and continue to this day.”

Puckette, a trained geologist, has identified at least 90 caves that provide important habitat for Oklahoma's wildlife and made design improvements to cave gates so that they are more bat-friendly. He has also played a crucial role in monitoring efforts and scientific studies of bats and other cave wildlife since 1981.

“His selfless commitment to conservation is readily apparent,” Stark said. “And his love for conservation has and continues to inspire those who work alongside him.”

MGP Postcard


Rediscover the Mixed Grass Prairie

All too often we overlook the natural beauty of Oklahoma’s landscape because it waits just beyond our windows and backyards. Rediscover the vast grasslands and vistas that are a central backdrop for our state’s mixed-grass prairies this spring by making the short trek to one of western Oklahoma’s many State Parks or Wildlife Management Areas.

The 13 driving loops of the Great Plains Trail will take you to tried-and-true destinations that may introduce you to the grassland songbirds that call in the early morning hours and the lizards and skinks that sunbathe in the afternoon. Be sure to pack a field guide, binoculars and camera along with your lunch!

Find destinations featuring the mixed-grass prairie along Oklahoma's Great Plains Trail



Night-flying Insects Surveyed in Osage County

The Wildlife Diversity Program recently partnered with researchers at the University of New Hampshire to see if the rattlesnake master borer moth, a candidate for listing under the Endangered Species Act, was present at The Nature Conservancy’s Joseph H. Williams Tallgrass Prairie Preserve in Osage County. While this particular moth remained undetected at the site, surveys revealed the Preserve is a hotspot for insect biodiversity.

Learn more about this rare moth and how the researchers surveyed the night-flying insects of the tallgrass prairie.

Calendar of Events


Virtual Spring BioBlitz! 

The entire month of April
Anywhere in Oklahoma! 

Bird Migration Tour

April 20 (6-8 p.m.)
April 21 (9-Noon and 1-4 p.m.)
Hackberry Flat Center, Frederick

Red Slough Birding Convention

May 5-8
HQ:  Southeastern Oklahoma State University, McCurtain County Campus


The Wild Side e-newsletter is a project of the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation's Wildlife Diversity Program. The Wildlife Diversity Program monitors, manages and promotes rare, declining, and endangered wildlife, as well as common wildlife not fished or hunted. It is primarily funded by the sales of Wildlife Department license plates, publication sales and private donors. 

Get involved with the Wildlife Diversity Program and learn more about Oklahoma's nongame wildlife at: wildlifedepartment.com

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