The Oklahoma Wildlife Expo has been canceled this year.
Sponsored by the Oklahoma Department of Conservation, the annual three-day event at the Lazy E Arena and Ranch near Guthrie in late September has averaged an attendance of more than 40,000 each year. Schools from across the state regularly make field trips to the Wildlife Expo.
The Wildlife Department has suspended the Expo for one year because the agency this year is hosting the annual meeting of the Southeast Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, a professional organization of biologists and other wildlife professionals. That event in downtown Oklahoma City will be held Oct. 13-16, two weeks after the Wildlife Expo was scheduled.
Micah Holmes, spokesman for the Wildlife Department, said the agency simply doesn't have the manpower to adequately prepare for both events in such a short period of time.
“This conference is a pretty big deal and pretty labor intensive,” Holmes said. “We don't have time to do both and do our regular jobs, too. We really wish we could do both, but don't feel like we can, and do both things well.”
Holmes said the Wildlife Expo will return to the Lazy E in 2014.
“It's not going away,” he said. “We are just taking a year off.”
AMERICAN HORSE LAKE REMAINS CLOSED TO THE PUBLIC
Repairs have been completed to the dam at American Horse Lake, but it will remain closed until there is sufficient water in the lake.
John Stahl, supervisor of fisheries for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, said the popular lake about an hour west of Oklahoma City near Geary won't reopen until the water is high enough that the boat ramp can be used.
State wildlife officials also worry about people falling from cliffs while the lake level is low.
“Basically, it's closed right now for people's safety,” Stahl said. “Those canyons are just sheer drop offs.”
The lake was closed in July of last year to make repairs to the dam. State wildlife officials also widened the boat ramp, added a courtesy dock and more brush to the lake for fish habitat.
While some parts of Oklahoma have received unseasonable rain this summer, most of the precipitation has missed American Horse Lake, Stahl said. The lake level is still 10 to 20 feet below normal, he said.
Barring an unusual weather event, Stahl thinks it might be next spring before the lake receives enough rain to reopen it.
American Horse Lake is a Wildlife Department-owned lake.
HUNTER ED CLASS SCHEDULED AT LAKE ARCADIA
A hunter education class is scheduled Saturday at the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation's Lake Arcadia building, located near Edmond off of Memorial Road on Midwest Boulevard east of I-35.