Mayflower range to close during renovation

MAYFLOWER -— The popular Dr. James E. Moore Jr. Camp Robinson Firing Range near Mayflower will be closed while construction of shooting positions and renovations to the skeet fields are completed. The range will be closed at various times beginning Wednesday, Feb. 2.

The trap field will remain open at all times unless reserved for AYSSP practices.

Plans are to increase rifle shooting positions from 10 to 12, and pistol positions from 20 to 30 spots. Space for additional shooting positions will be created by leveling the berm between rifle and pistol ranges and replacing it with a concrete barrier.

The pistol and rifle ranges will be closed at various times while a concrete barrier is completed. The skeet and trap fields will remain open during normal business hours (9 a.m.—5 p.m., Wednesday—Sunday) until renovations are complete.

To find out more about the range, as well as a calendar of closing dates, go to: http://www.agfc.com/aboutagfc/Pages/AboutFacilitiesRobinsonFR.aspx.

Wildlife watchers urged to report swans

LITTLE ROCK — Hunters and wildlife watchers are urged to help count and identify Arkansas’ wintering swan populations.

Karen Rowe, nongame migratory bird program leader with the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, said "Numbers of both trumpeter and tundra swans wintering in Arkansas appear to be on the increase. Some of these swans are wearing neck collars that can tell us the state of origin of the swan. We need the public’s assistance in not only reporting the location of the swans, more importantly we need their assistance in noting the collar color and reading the alpha numeric code on the collars."

Some of the swans wearing collars are those released as a part of the Mississippi Flyway Council’s reverse migration experiment. This experiment attempts to re—establish historic swan migrations south into Arkansas and other southern states from the swans breeding areas in northern states.

Trumpeter swans are the the largest birds native to North America. Adult males measure 57 to 64 inches long and weigh around 25 pounds. Adult females range from 55 to 60 inches and weigh approximately 20 pounds. Their wingspans can approach 8 feet, and they fly with their extremely long necks outstretched.

About 5,000 trumpeter swans live in the Midwest area of the United States, most of them in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa and Michigan. They generally migrate in family groups and prefer to feed on aquatic vegetation. Little is known regarding the numbers and groupings of southward migrant swans, so the location and characteristics of the sites they are pioneer and the duration of use is important to both the Trumpeter Swan Society and AGFC.

"By providing information and collar data on swans in Arkansas, observers can help document the changing distribution of wintering trumpeter swans and help identify potential new and important swan wintering sites in our state," Rowe said.

Observers should note the exact location of collared swans, and write down the number and letter code off the collar and send that information to Rowe at krowe@agfc.state.ar.us or by completing the online survey.

Because it can be difficult to tell the difference between tundra and trumpeter swans in the field, the public is encouraged to visit http://www.trumpeterswansociety.org/swan—identification.html to learn the key differences in bill shape and other physical characteristics of these two species.

Eagle tours on Beaver Lake scheduled in February

ROGERS — If you are interested in eagles in northwest Arkansas, numerous opportunities are coming up in February at Hobbs State Park—Conservation Area near Rogers.

Eagle Watch Cruises on Beaver Lake will be hosted by the park on Feb. 3, 5, 6, 10, 12, 13, 17, 19, 20, 24, 26 and 27. An interpretive guide will lead each of the tours of the Van Winkle arm of the lake, one of the last undeveloped areas of the lake.

Buy tickets at the park visitor center or by calling 479—789—5000. Pre—registration and payment is required. Participants should dress warmly for the weather. The tour leaves from Rocky Branch Recreation Area and costs $10 for adults and $5 for children ages 6—12.

Visit http://www.arkansasstateparks.com/hobbsstateparkconservationarea/ for information on the park and its programs.