Every year, the Conservation Department's Regulations Committee reviews all of the rules in the Wildlife Code of Missouri to determine whether the existing regulation of the state's fish, forest and wildlife resources continues to maintain sustainable populations, with the least amount of user regimentation and inconvenience. When needs are identified, rule changes are recommended to the Conservation Commission for approval to implement.
The rule changes that appear in the 1997 Wildlife Code and become effective March 1, 1997 are highlighted in this summary. Many of the changes in 1997 are editorial-adopted merely to clarify the intent of the rule. Hunters and anglers are encouraged to familiarize themselves with rule changes before venturing afield.
Several trout fishing rule changes are being established in 1997:
- The first is a special regulation at Lake Taneycomo: From the closed zone 760 feet below Table Rock Dam to the mouth of Fall Creek, only flies and artificial lures (specifically excluding synthetic eggs and soft plastic lures) may be used, and rainbow trout 12 inches to 20 inches in total length must be released unharmed immediately after being caught. The rule that brown trout less than 20 inches must be released unharmed immediately after being caught from Lake Taneycomo and its tributaries remains in effect. This special trout fishing regulation is intended to increase the number of larger trout in Lake Taneycomo by increasing the time between stocking and removal by anglers.
- The other trout fishing rule change is a reduction-from three to one-in the daily limit of rainbow trout and brown trout in the aggregate that may be taken in the following stream segments: Blue Spring Creek in Crawford County from Blue Spring to its confluence with Meramec River; Eleven Point River in Oregon County from its confluence with Greer Spring Branch to Turner Mill; Spring Creek in Phelps County from Relfe Spring to its confluence with Big Piney River; Mill Creek in Phelps County from Yelton Spring to its confluence with Little Piney Creek including Wilkins Spring and spring branch; and North Fork of White River in Ozark County from the upper outlet of Rainbow Spring to Blair Bridge. The length limit restriction that all trout less than 18 inches in total length must be released unharmed immediately after being caught in these areas remains unchanged.
- A no-creel limit for walleye and sauger will be in effect on the waters of Wappapello Lake and its tributaries, including the St. Francis River and its tributaries above Wappapello Dam. All walleye and sauger must be returned to the water unharmed immediately after being caught. The Conservation Department is attempting to reestablish walleye populations here by stocking, and this closure is intended to protect the fish.
- The daily limit of four, 20-inch striped bass and white bass in Blue Springs Lake has been rescinded. Anglers may now take 15 bass in the aggregate, but not more than four may be over 18 inches in length.
- Finally, the live bait rule has been footnoted to remind anglers that some species of fish of any size may be used for bait if taken by hook and line methods. Size limits apply to bait fish collected with nets and traps specified in the live bait rule.
- The renamed Resident Archer's Hunting Permit will now allow resident archers the same privileges extended to nonresident archers - to take not only deer and turkey during the fall archery season, but to take small game during prescribed seasons and to sell furbearers taken by hunting.
- The Daily Small Game Hunting Permit and the Nonresident Small Game Hunting Permit will now allow nonresident furbearer hunters to use either permit to train dogs during closed seasons.
- The waiver of permit requirements for landowners and lessees has been modified to clarify that those who qualify under this exemption must still apply for special deer hunting permits and must purchase and hunt with the prescribed Migratory Bird Hunting Permit when hunting on their land. Provisions were added that if a permit or privilege is revoked for cause by the Conservation Commission, any hunting method exemption granted to persons with disabilities would be concurrently revoked.
- The fee for replacement of a lost, destroyed or mutilated permit has been reduced to $2, and Missouri Conservation Heritage Cards will be issued as a replacement for lost or damaged hunter education certificate cards, also at a reduced fee of $2.
- Several requirements have been added to the hunting methods rule: First, that hunting dogs - except those used while hunting waterfowl and game birds - must wear collars that identify the owner; second, that river otters may not be chased while training dogs; and, finally, that river otters may not be taken by a firearm.
- Turkey and deer hunters will be allowed to tag animals taken with homemade transportation tags, but the Conservation Department will still make tags available through permit vendors. The northern pheasant and gray partridge hunting zone description has been simplified.
- Falconry rules and the falconry permit term have been made consistent with federal regulations. The terrestrial wildlife confinement standards no longer apply to wildlife not native to the State of Missouri. Residents 65 years of age and older may hunt without permit on licensed shooting areas.
For additional information about regulations, particularly authorized public use activities on conservation areas, contact your nearest Conservation Department office.
Public comments about any regulations are always welcome. Written comments and suggestions should be directed to the Regulations Committee, Department of Conservation, P.O. Box 180, Jefferson City 65102-0180.
To speed the purchase of permits, Missouri Conservation Heritage Cards are available for $2. These cards store pertinent permit information, including hunter education certification, on a magnetic strip (similar to a credit card). Request an application at any Conservation Department office, or write the Department of Conservation, P. O. Box 180, Jefferson City 65102-0180. The Conservation Department's world wide web home page address is: http://www.state.mo. us/conservation/.