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Tagging made easy

Deer and turkey hunting permits will look slightly different this year, and tagging game will be simpler. For one thing, hunting permits will double as transportation tags. You'll get a separate computer-generated permit for each deer and turkey you are allowed to kill, and these won't require writing in the field. No need to carry a pen!

After taking a deer or turkey, you must attach the permit to the animal. You'll need to bring your own string or other material for this purpose. Operators at check stations will remove permits and attach them to record sheets.

Another difference in the 1998-99 deer season involves eligibility for landowner deer permits. This year, the 75-acre minimum land holding does not have to be contiguous to qualify for landowner permits. However, all the property must be in a single deer management unit. For example, a hunter who owns a 35-acre tract and two 20-acre tracts in the same unit is eligible to receive no-cost Landowner Any-Deer and Bonus Deer permits.

Detailed information about how to obtain Any-Deer, Bonus Deer and Landowner Deer hunting permits is contained in the 1998 Fall Deer and Turkey Hunting Information booklet. Don't forget that Any-Deer and Bonus Deer Permits for every deer management unit must be purchased by midnight Nov. 7. After that, all you will be able to buy is bucks-only permits. The deer permits should be printed on white, tear-resistant paper with a hole prepunched for attaching to game. If permits are printed on the old, green paper, call (314) /544-6727 for a replacement.

11-year-olds can buy deer permits

If you are 11 years old and you want to hunt deer and turkey this fall, you should know that there is an error in wording in the 1998 Fall Deer & Turkey Hunting Information booklet.

The incorrect sentence, which appears at the upper left-hand corner of page 3, says:

"A person eleven (11) years of age or younger may not purchase firearms deer and turkey hunting permits."

The sentence should read:

"A person under eleven (11) years of age may not purchase firearms deer and turkey hunting permits."

Shelter Insuring a shared harvest

Shelter Insurance is offering to pay half the cost of processing deer donated through the Share the Harvest program.

The program pairs local sponsors, such as civic clubs, with charitable organizations, which deliver donated venison to needy families. Last year, 1,600-plus hunters donated more than 20,000 pounds of venison through Share the Harvest.

In the past, businesses in a few communities have donated money for processing donated meat. But for the most part, hunters paid for processing. Shelter Insurance's Processing Payback Program (PPP) will share the cost with hunters, making it more affordable to donate meat.

Participating meat processors will receive PPP coupons along with other Share the Harvest materials. They will give coupons to hunters who donate whole deer. After having coupons validated by a participating meat processor, hunters will submit their coupons, along with their paid processing receipts, to a Missouri Shelter agent. The Shelter agent will then forward hunters' coupons to the company's headquarters for processing. Hunters will receive a check for $20, about half the cost of basic deer processing, in four to six weeks. Coupons must be returned to Shelter Insurance by May 31, 1999.

Shelter officials say they view the program as a win-win-win proposition. Needy people will receive more food; increased deer harvest will help the Conservation Department manage the state's deer herd; and better control of deer numbers will mean fewer deer/vehicle accidents, which will mean fewer insurance claims for Shelter and other insurance companies.

If the program goes well the first year the company may continue it.

To find out about sponsoring or taking part in a Share the Harvest program

in your area, call Conservation Department Protection Programs Supervisor Dave Beffa at (573) 751-4115, ext. 819.

HABITAT HINTS

Autumn is a good time to plan projects for wildlife. Contact the nearest Conservation Department office or commercial plant nursery for information about ordering tree and shrub seedlings for wildlife plantings. That way, you can get your order in early and ensure that you have blackberry, wild plum, fragrant sumac and other seedlings on hand next March or April, when it's time to plant.

As the weather cools down, you're likely to be out cutting firewood. With a little extra work you can turn tree tops into brush piles that will enhance populations of quail, rabbits and other wildlife.

When building brush piles, aim for durability. Use the largest pieces of wood for the base, stacking them to create large open areas beneath the center of the pile. If none of the material left from firewood cutting is large enough to make a good base, set them on top of rocks to raise them a few inches off the ground.

Arrange materials to create natural entrances and exits and save the smallest branches for the top of the pile, where they will form a sort of roof to shed rain and snow. Evergreen limbs are perfect for this.

Speaking of evergreens, if you thin cedars to improve your timber stand, turn some of them into "living brush piles." To do this, cut about two-thirds of the way through the trunk near ground level. Push the tree over on the side where its bark remains intact. The tree will live for years, providing excellent cover and concealment for wildlife.

For more details about brush pile building, request the free publication "Brushpiles" from the Missouri Department of Conservation, Wildlife Division, P.O. Box 180, Jefferson City, MO 65102-0180.

Snake solution? No-traction poles!

Winter Brothers Material Co. in St. Louis has come up with a slick solution for predator-plagued bluebird houses.

Since 1995, the company has been conducting a bluebird restoration project at 2,500-acre Roaring Spring Ranch in Franklin County. The centerpiece of the project is a "bluebird trail" consisting of 153 nest boxes. Placed in suitable habitat, such trails provide nesting cavities that bluebirds need to rear their young.

At first, however, the company had poor success. The problem was snakes and raccoons. The first few seasons, the company lost almost three quarters of its bluebird nestlings to these predators. That's when bluebird trail manager Bud Taylor decided to get slick.

Predator success plummeted and the bluebirds' nesting success soared after Taylor covered nest box poles with polished aluminum sheeting. The covering offers snakes and raccoons no traction, making it impossible for them to reach the growing bluebirds. An annual coat of carnauba wax keeps poles slippery and birds safe.

Taylor checks the nest boxes once or twice a week and keeps records of the number and condition of eggs and young in each. Since cladding the poles in metal, he has found only two nests disturbed by predators.

Bluebirds are prolific nesters, often producing three broods of four to five young per summer. A bluebird pair's first and second broods help gather food for subsequent broods.

In 1995, the Winter Brothers' bluebird trail fledged 125 bluebirds. In 1996, as Taylor learned more about the birds' needs, the summer's bluebird count jumped to 355. In 1997, 725 birds fledged at Roaring Spring Ranch. This year, freed from predator worries, the bluebirds reared 1,233 young. Taylor is hoping to break 2,000 next summer.

To learn more about Taylor's slick trick or to make an appointment to visit Winter Brothers' trail, call (314) 629-4119 or (314) 843-1400.

Conservation funding to the rescue

A $250,000 grant from the Conservation Department is enabling the Missouri Wildlife Rescue Center to expand and improve facilities for rehabilitating injured wildlife.

The Rescue Center, formerly located in Ballwin, is moving to a new 7,700 square-foot building on 22 acres west of Castlewood State Park. The new facility has separate areas for predator and prey species, an intensive care unit and outdoor space to help reacclimate deer and other large animals to natural surroundings.

The Rescue Center cares for approximately 2,500 abandoned and injured animals from all over Missouri each year, preparing them to return to the wild. Lack of acreage and limitations of the old facility (an aging dairy barn) made it difficult for the Rescue Center's small staff and 100 or so volunteers to accomplish this mission.

The nonprofit Rescue Center relies on donations and grants for all its funding.

To learn more about the Rescue Center or make donations, call (314) 394 1880.

No time to dog it

Before there is a chill in the evening air and leaves turn crimson and gold, make sure your dogs are in top condition for a season of upland bird hunting.

Now is a good time to have a veterinarian check your dog's general health and nutrition, update vaccinations and check for internal parasites. If you don't already have your dogs on a regular regimen of heartworm prevention, start now.

Hunting dogs' diets are of utmost importance. They should not be allowed to gain too much weight during the off season, nor should they be permitted to lose too much during the hunting season.

Don't pinch pennies on dog food, and don't be fooled by guaranteed analyses printed on bags. Protein and other ingredients come in many forms, some of which do not provide maximum benefit to your hunting pal.

One way to check the quality of a new ration is to examine your dog's stools. An excessive amount or consistently runny stools may indicate that the dog's food has poor nutritional value. Observe your dog's overall condition after a month of feeding a new ration. If you don't like what you see, try a different food.

The hot, dry days of early autumn aren't a good time to launch into full-scale field training. Instead, bone up on "yard work," teaching dogs to "heel," "come" and "whoa."

Clyde Morton, famous trainer of national champions, was known to make his dogs heel to the mail box with him and back every day to remind them who was boss. The importance of yard work cannot be overemphasized. A dog that won't heed commands in the yard certainly won't pay attention in the field.

When cooler weather arrives, both dog and hunter can benefit from serious conditioning outings at upland areas. Conservation areas, with a variety of cover, are ideal. Going just after dawn almost guarantees you will have the area to yourself. Getting an early start also means that traffic on surrounding roads will be minimal, decreasing the chances of your dogs being injured if they get out of sight.

The first few sessions should be short-15 minute tops-and conducted in low cover such as harvested grain to avoid overheating. After a few short sessions, you can increase training time to an hour.

Another way to condition your dog is with a roading harness. These are available through veterinary and hunting suppliers. Letting the dog pull against the lead while you walk behind him exercises you and your dog and helps toughen the dog's feet.

The biggest danger facing dogs early in the training season is heat stroke. It can cause death or, in mild cases, make a dog unwilling to work in warm weather. Keep plenty of water on hand for frequent drinks and to douse a dog that shows symptoms of heat exhaustion.

Cuts from barbed wire fences should be cleaned and treated with antiseptic or an antibiotic ointment, such as Furacin. Carry a large bandanna to use as a compress if necessary. Small surgical forceps are handy for extracting thorns from paws.

A less common problem is hypoglycemia-low blood sugar. This condition exhibits itself in glazed eyes, convulsions and foaming at the mouth, but symptoms can be missed if a wide-ranging dog simply passes out and then returns later, looking exhausted.

The best insurance against low blood sugar is giving your dogs a balanced diet of high-quality food. If seizures persist despite proper feeding and care, your dog may have a tumor or other neurological disease. Get help from a veterinarian.

- Jack McLaughlin

Rockwoods hosts A Day in the Forest

Learn about the animals and resources essential to Missouri forests during the 12th annual

A Day in the Forest celebration from 12:30 to 4:30 p.m. Oct. 18 at Rockwoods Reservation. The event will include guided nature walks, displays, demonstrations and a personal visit by Smokey Bear. For more information, call (314) 458-2236.

Off the DEEP end

One day last summer, Conservation Department employees Mike Petersen and Dave Herzog found themselves at Tower Rock Natural Area on the Mississippi River east of Perryville at noon. While munching their bologna sandwiches, the two got curious about how deep the river was, so they checked it with an electronic depth finder. They found a hole that, with the river 1.5 feet below flood stage, was 191 feet deep.

Permit buyers can request privacy

Under Missouri's Sunshine Law, state agencies' permit sales lists are public records. This allows private companies and individuals to get the names and addresses of hunting and fishing permit buyers if they are willing to pay reasonable copying, handling and mailing fees. However, recent legislation allows you to restrict access to your information if you would rather your name not be part of that public record. To do so, you must send a written request to the Missouri Department of Conservation, P.O. Box 180, Jefferson City, MO 65102-0180, saying that you want your information withheld. Be sure to include your full name and address and your conservation number to ensure that the correct record is flagged.

Shrub & vine book earns award

Shrubs and Woody Vines of Missouri, a new book from the Missouri Department of Conservation, has earned the 1998 Erna R. Eisendrath Memorial Education Award from the Missouri Native Plant Society.

The book was written by Don Kurz and illustrated by Paul Nelson. Kurz is programs supervisor for the Conservation Department's Natural History Section. Nelson is director of operations and resource management for the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, Parks Division.

The book provides detailed descriptions and illustrations of 170 species of native and non-native shrubs and woody vines that grow wild in Missouri. Tables listing the characteristics of various shrubs and woody vines are particularly useful to home landscapers.

Single copies are available in soft cover for $9 plus 56 cents tax or hard cover for $14 plus 87 cents tax at Conservation Nature Centers, regional Conservation Department offices and state parks. A $2 shipping and handling fee is charged on mail orders.

For ordering information, call (573) 751-4115.

Clean water initiative garners support

The Conservation Federation of Missouri has endorsed a November ballot measure that would provide $300 million for clean-water projects in urban and rural Missouri.

Amendment No. 7 will appear on the Nov. 3 ballot statewide. It will raise $100 million for sanitary sewer and drinking water treatment projects in rural areas and $200 million for storm water control projects in first-class counties.

The funding will not require new taxes. Instead, it will raise the money through sale of bonds. Local governments will have to match state funds on a one-to-one basis, doubling clean-water benefits and giving communities a stake in the wise use of the money.

Conservation Federation officials say they support Amendment No. 7 because it will reduce erosion and pollution, helping to ensure clean streams and drinking water.

Missouri Wildflowers blooms again

Missouri Wildflowers, long among the most useful field guides for Show-me State outdoorspeople, just got better. The Conservation Department recently released the fifth edition of Edgar Denison's classic text, with a wealth of larger photographs and a more functional format.

The redesigned book features photos of 297 flowering plants on the same pages as their descriptions. It includes several plants not found in previous editions and an updated section on plant classification. Co-editors Carol Davit and Tim Smith say the book is more than a field guide; it's also a botanical handbook.

Missouri Wildflowers is available for $12 at conservation nature centers and many booksellers statewide. Mail orders cost $12 plus $5.75 tax and shipping from Missouri Department of Conservation Nature Shop, P.O. Box 180, Jefferson City, MO 65102-0180.

Persimmon Days is Spartan fun

Folks with a yen for persimmon cookies and old-fashioned fun will want to be in Sparta (Missouri, not Greece!) Oct. 30 and 31. That's when the Christian County community hosts its annual Persimmon Days Festival.

Attractions include displays of arts and crafts, live music, food, games, a costume parade and sales of persimmons and persimmon-based baked goods.

The event takes place in old-town Sparta. Admission is free; a $5 donation is requested for booth space. Hours are 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. both days. For more information, call the Sparta Community Improvement Association at (417) /862-0433.

Kudos for "Habitactics"

The Wildlife Society has awarded its 1998 Conservation Education Award to the Missouri Department of Conservation's interactive computer game, Habitactics.

The game, which comes on CD-ROM for either PC or MacIntosh computers, lets kids ages 8 through 13 make land-management decisions while balancing the needs of people and wildlife. It can be played in a long or short version.

The Conservation Department sent a free copy of the game to every elementary and middle school library in the state. Missouri residents can buy their own copies at conservation nature centers. To order by mail, send $10 plus $2.62 tax and shipping to Missouri Department of Conservation Nature Shop, P.O. Box 180, Jefferson City, MO 65102-0180.

Hawks invited but unwelcome?

"Listen, I'm telling you, I was just sitting there having coffee, watching the finches at my feeder," said the voice on the other end of the phone excitedly, "when all of a sudden they scattered like the wind, and this hawk came in like a missile and grabbed one in a shower of feathers, and that was it." Then, breathlessly: "What can I do? Am I going to lose all of my birds?"

I could sense panic in the voice, but how does one apologize for nature? I couldn't. "Well," I said, "hawks have to eat too, and that bird was just taking advantage of the situation."

I waited. A moment of silence. "Well, that certainly gives a whole new meaning to the word birdfeeder," complained the caller.

Nature rarely misses an opportunity, and bird feeders offer excellent opportunities for hungry birds of prey. Coopers and red-tailed hawks-small woodland hawks that specialize in preying on other birds-are the most common predators to take advantage of bird feeders.

In recent years, reports of hawks attacking birds at feeding stations, particularly in the winter months, have increased. While some observers may regret the loss of a cardinal or goldfinch to the talons of these predators, others admire hawks' undeniable grace, speed and aerial mastery. However, if you side with the songbirds, there are a few things you can do to even the playing field.

Instead of putting feeders in the middle of open spaces, such as patios and decks, place them adjacent to shrubs and other escape cover. If you don't have any suitable cover, consider planting some. The benefits are numerous, since many cover plants also produce fruits and provide nesting sites. Feeders next to cover attract more birds, too.

Don't place feeders near windows. Birds may injure or kill themselves by flying into these invisible barriers when startled by a hawk.

Don't spread bird seed on the open ground, and do not use platform feeders. Songbirds in these situations are easy targets. Instead, use hanging feeders that provide cover.

Enclosing feeders in 2-to 3-inch mesh fencing allows small birds to pass through but excludes larger birds. Such feeders are available where feeder supplies are sold.

Scare devices, such as balloons, flash tape, etc., frighten songbirds more than they scare birds of prey. These devices are useful for protecting buildings and recently seeded gardens, but they won't keep the hawks away.

If you do nothing, the presence of a hawk may temporarily reduce the number of birds visiting your feeder, but generally this doesn't last long. Reduced bird activity makes a feeder less attractive to the hawk, which soon moves on.

It is the nature of predators to seek out and follow their prey, and a busy feeding station is the visual equivalent of a dinner bell. It may attract a hawk from time to time, no matter where it is.

- Michael Arduser, Natural History Regional Biologist, St. Louis

Wetland workshops offered for citizen conservationists

The Izaak Walton League of America is offering a new wetland conservation workshop to the public, along with a handbook to help citizens preserve and augment existing wetlands.

The two-day workshop and handbook are part of the national conservation group's Save Our Streams (SOS) wetlands sustainability initiative. The workshops, presented by scientists and Izaak Walton League staff, cover wetland ecology, functions and values. Participants get hands-on experience in scientific monitoring techniques and learn how to start wetland stewardship projects. They also receive copies of the newly revised, 288-page Handbook for Wetlands Conservation and Sustainability, which contains practical information about how to get started in wetland conservation.

To learn more about setting up workshops in your area, write to the Izaak Walton League, SOS Wetlands Initiative, 707 Conservation Lane, Gaithersburg, MD 20878-2983, or call toll-free (314) /284-4952.

Program Schedule

Television the way Nature intended!

  • Branson Vacation Channel / Fri. & Sat. 3:30 p.m.
  • Caruthersville Lions Club TV / Saturdays 9:00, 9:30 a.m.
  • Columbia KOMU / Sundays 11:30 p.m.
  • Columbia Columbia Channel / Tues., Thurs. & Sat 2:00 a.m. & 2:00 p.m.
  • Hannibal KHQA / Saturdays 1:00 a.m.
  • Hillsboro JCTV / Mondays 12:00 noon
  • Independence Jones Intercable-Ch. 16 / 2nd weekend of the month, check listings
  • Jefferson City JCTV / Mon. 12:00 noon & Tues. 6:00 p.m.
  • Joplin KOZJ / Saturdays 4:00 p.m.
  • Joplin KGCS / Wednesdays 7:00 p.m.
  • Kansas City KCPT / Sundays 4:00 p.m.
  • Parkville City of Parkville Cable / 1st & 3rd Tuesdays 6:30 p.m.
  • Perryville PVTV / Mondays 6:00 p.m.
  • Ste. Genevieve Ste. Gen. Public TV / Fridays 1:00, 6:00 p.m. & 12 midnight
  • St. Louis Double Helix / Saturdays 3:00 p.m.
  • St. Peters St. Peters Gov't Access 7 / Sun. 10:30 a.m. & Tues. 6:30 p.m.
  • Springfield KOZK / Saturdays 4:00 p.m.
  • Springfield OTC - Channel 27 / Mon. & Wed. 4:00 p.m.
  • Warrensburg KMOS / Thurs. 7:30 p.m. & Sat. 5:00 p.m.

 Ask the Ombudsman

Q:Why is the Conservation Department returning to the reservation system at waterfowl management areas?

A: A modified reservation system has been put into effect at some waterfowl management areas to accommodate hunters who wish to make waterfowl hunting plans well in advance, while at the same time provide opportunities for hunters who don't have reservations.

A: partial reservation system helps the Conservation Department achieve several objectives arrived at after surveying waterfowl hunters: 1) offer a diversity of hunting styles; 2) ensure a "quality" hunt; 3) use the morning drawing as an opportunity to provide information to hunters about important wetland issues; 4) provide opportunity for novice hunters; 5) promote hunting ethics; 6) provide equal opportunity for all Missouri hunters.

Under the new system, half the available hunting sites will continue to be distributed through the daily drawing process. Reservations do not guarantee specific blinds or hunting sites, but they do guarantee that reservation holders will have a chance to hunt. The partial reservation system will be in effect at B.K. Leach, Bob Brown, Duck Creek, Eagle Bluffs, Fountain Grove, Grand Pass, Marais Temps Clair, Montrose, Otter Slough, Schell-Osage, Ted Shanks and Ten Mile Pond conservation areas and at Swan Lake National Wildlife Refuge.

For more information on the waterfowl reservation system and waterfowl hunting, contact any Conservation Department office or go to <http://www. mdc.mo.gov/hunt/> on the internet.

The Ombudsman is interested in your ideas. If you have a question, suggestion or complaint about Conservation Department programs, contact Conservation Ombudsman Ken Drenon at P.O. Box 180, Jefferson City, MO 65102-0180. Phone (573) 751-4115, ext. 848. E-mail Ken.Drenon @mdc.mo.gov.

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