Reflections

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OF DOGS AND DEER

I'm very glad the running dog issue is being taken seriously. I have 20 acres, am a widow and enjoy the wildlife, especially the deer. I have from five to 20 that frequent my place most every day. I've never shot a dog, but I have shot over them to scare them off of deer.

I've seen a doe with her tongue hanging out being chased by hounds through my yard and flowers. I'm not blaming the deer. I blame first the people who own the dog and then the dog.

Glenna Smith, Salem

When I approached a "dogger" who was running his dogs across my property and everyone else's in the county, he told me that the law said he could run his dog anywhere he wanted to, as long as he personally stayed on the public road.

If this is the law, it needs to be changed. "Doggers" using radio collars to keep up with their dogs will only enlarge the problem. Dogs can't tell property lines, but their owners can.

Bill O'Guin, Charleston

As usual, the law-abiding hunter will suffer because of complaints about illegal and unethical hunters. The laws already forbid roadhunting. There are also laws giving a hunter the right to use dogs to hunt coyotes and to retrieve his dogs from private property.

If you can get my 15 July/Walkers to understand if a coyote runs onto property that the owner doesn't want them on they have to stop running, then more power to you.

I suggest if landowners want to keep dogs off their property, they put up fences. Why is it always the hunter who has to make concessions?

Candy Moss, Mill Spring

I just finished reading about the Respect of Landowners Initiative (December Conservationist.)

You speak of free running dogs and deer dogging, but as far back as I can remember (the early 1950s) free-running and feral cats have been a problem concerning rabbits, squirrels, quail and song birds.

Free-ranging and feral livestock can be problems, too. I encountered feral pigs in the Castor River Conservation Area in Bollinger County. And what of the now storied wild horses of the National Scenic Wild Rivers Area?

Bryce Knight, Raytown

NO BAIT BEST

Everything you said in the November "Reflections" in answer on how to release fish unharmed is fine, but you neglected to mention the single most important factor affecting hooking mortality: use of bait vs. artificial lures.

Studies show hooking mortality with bait averages about 25 to 30 percent, while hooking mortality with artificial lures is usually around 5 percent or less. Using artificial lures with single, rather than treble, hooks and barbless rather than barbed hooks can reduce the 5 percent figure slightly.

Terry Finger, Columbia

FEE FIASCO

In the December issue, on the last page was a box listing "New Permit Fees." I did not see a fee for a Resident Fishing Permit. Last year it was $8. Has the permit been eliminated? Only the rich could afford $400 or $70 to go fishing.

Tom Stegmann, House Springs

I would like to know why the prices on the hunting and fishing permits are going up so high. Hunting and fishing is for everyone in this state to enjoy.

Kevin Barton,Troy

I do not understand the new fees for permits. How much will it cost me to deer hunt in 1996?

Debbie Arp, Keytesville

Editor's note: We erred in listing in the December issue only the new permits being offered in 1996. We should have also listed the basic fishing, small game hunting, deer hunting and other permits that are still available, although their prices have increased slightly in 1996. We published a complete list of all permits and their cost in the January Conservationist. We're sorry for any confusion we may have caused.

OFF KEY ON SINGER

Tsk, tsk! What a boo-boo for a conservation magazine. On page 29 of the December issue you speak of "locusts singing in September," and you picture a cicada!

For years "furriners" have called cicadas locusts. However, locusts are grasshoppers, as we well know. Don't we?

John R. Baker, Independence

SPELUNKING CONSERVATION

I applaud your effort to educate the public in "Conservation Goes Underground," in the December Conservationist.

It has been my privilege to explore many of the wonderful caves in this state, including virgin cave passages. My team members and I record and report findings to the Missouri Speleological Survey, which shares information with the Conservation Department and the Department of Natural Resources.

Local chapters of cavers are called grottos. People can locate their nearest grotto by contacting the Missouri Speleological Survey.

It would have been nice to have the Cavers Creed somewhere in the article to help folks remember to "Take nothing but pictures - leave nothing but footprints - kill nothing but time."

Marc. S Perez, Fenton

MOSTLY RABBITS

I'm a rabbit hunter mostly, and I'm glad the Conservation Department has land for hunting. If they didn't, where would a person hunt these days? I just wanted to say thanks.

Garry Lukefahr, St. James

SPOTLIGHTING

I'm not sure if I fully understand the regulation talked about in the December Agent's Notebook. I can understand prohibiting friendly spotlighting from a public roadway, but if it prohibits an individual from friendly spotlighting on his or her private property - drive, lane roadway or land - then it appears to be overly restrictive.

Gary Copeland, Piedmont

Editor's note: The new law prohibits spotlighting, locating, harassing or disturbing wildlife in any manner with an artificial light. The rule does not apply to use of a light by a landowner or lessee on property under his or her control.

AGENT'S NOTEBOOK

Over the years I've worked as an agent, I've noticed that people will hang just about anything, including parts of dead animals, from their rear view mirrors.

In my part of the country, I often see a lot of turkey beards and spurs. The vehicles become rolling trophy cases.

Most agents will at some time or other also find owl or hawk feet hanging from a rear view mirror. The people who own the car often explain that they took the feet from a dead bird found along the roadway. We usually will write a ticket for this violation.

All raptors, as well as most songbirds, are protected by state and federal laws, which prohibit people from possessing without a permit feathers or other parts of eagles, hawks, owls, songbirds and other protected species. Essentially people cannot keep or sell without a permit any part of an animal or bird for which there is no open harvest season. The only exceptions are starlings and pigeons, for which there are no designated seasons.

Should you come upon a dead or injured raptor along the road or in the wild, it's best to leave it alone and report the find to your local conservation agent.

Killing these raptors for their feet or feathers is a more serious violation. Several eagles are killed each year by poachers. Help protect our wildlife resources by reporting violations to your agent or calling Operation Game Thief at (800) 392-1111.

D.A. Buchanan

Washington County

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