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Apply now for youth deer hunts

Hunters have until August 15 to apply for youth deer hunts sponsored by the Missouri Department of Conservation.

The Conservation Department administers hunts in October for youths age 11 through 15. Application cards are available by calling (636) 441-4554, or by contacting:

Missouri Department of Conservation

Wildlife Division

P.O. Box 180

Jefferson City, MO 65102-0180

(573) 751-4115, ext. 156.

Hunter education certification is required for both youth hunters and their adult sponsors. Both also must attend a prehunt orientation. The orientation will involve four to six hours of advanced youth hunter certification, including deer rifle handling, development of hunting skills and hands-on instruction in adjusting rifle sights at a shooting range and how to field dress a deer.

Young hunters permanently confined to wheelchairs automatically will be allowed to take part in some managed youth deer hunts. Applicants must fill out a separate application form and attach a supporting licensed physician's statement. Eligible hunters must purchase a managed deer hunting permit for participation.

Gypsy moth alert

Missouri officials are watching for signs of a gypsy moth infestation that could devastate the Show-Me State's vast oak-hickory forests and upset the ecological balance, not to mention causing tremendous losses to wildlife and fish and to the tourism and forest products industries.

State and federal agriculture and conservation agencies have set more than 10,000 pheromone-baited traps to detect new gypsy moth infestations in Missouri. But only citizens can prevent the pest from gaining a toehold here.

One of the gypsy moth's most effective means of spread is hitching a ride with people who vacation in infested areas. The gypsy moth trouble spots nearest Missouri are Wisconsin and northern Illinois, including the Chicago area. Gypsy moths also are prevalent in the northeastern United States, as far south as North Carolina.

July and August are the peak months for gypsy moth egg laying. If you travel to an infested area, inspect your vehicles, trailers, boats, tents, lawn furniture or other outdoor gear for gypsy moth egg masses before returning home. The egg masses are velvety, light-brown patches 1 or 2 inches in diameter. If you find a suspected egg mass before returning home, destroy it. If you find one after returning home, call (573) 751-5505 immediately.

More information about gypsy moths and other forest pests is available through the Forestkeepers Network, sponsored by the Missouri Department of Conservation. For more information, call toll-free (888) 9FOREST.

Splitting the Differences on Dove Season

Migratory birds are as unpredictable as the weather. Some years mourning doves arrive in Missouri early and depart early. Other years they show up late and linger into November. This year's dove season will be split to cover both possibilities.

The 1999 dove season will run from Sept. 1 through Sept. 30, close for a month and then reopen from Nov. 1 through Nov. 30. Shooting hours will remain one-half hour before sunrise to sunset, and the limit will be 15 daily, 30 in possession.

Migratory bird hunting seasons and regulations are based on proposed federal frameworks and are contingent on final federal approval. Other early migratory bird hunting seasons that received tentative approval by the Conservation Commission are:

  • Teal--Sept. 11-26, shooting hours sunrise to sunset, daily/possession limits 4/8.
  • Sora and Virginia rails--Sept. 1-Nov. 9, limits 25/25.
  • Common snipe--Sept. 1-Dec. 16, limits 8/16.
  • Woodcock--Oct. 15-Nov. 28, limits 3/6.

Shooting hours for rail, snipe and woodcock are one-half hour before sunrise to sunset.

Toothy trophy fish spreading

Lower Taum Sauk Lake in Reynolds County recently became Missouri's eighth lake stocked with muskellunge. The fish could reach the 36-inch minimum length limit by 2001.

Other places where the Conservation Department has stocked muskies are Lake Girardeau, Henry Sever Lake, Binder Lake, Fellows Lake, Pomme de Terre, Hazel Creek Lake and Pony Express Lake.

TAKING STOCK OF MISSOURI FORESTS

The Conservation Department and the USDA Forest Service are finishing the first annual survey of Show-Me State forests.

The Conservation Department has conducted forest inventories every 12 to 17 years since 1947. This year, state and federal foresters have selected a representative sample of 3,500 forest plots statewide. They will inventory one-fifth of these plots each year, completing a survey of the state every five years.

Inventory crews are recording the number, species and size of trees and making observations about the quality of wildlife habitat and forest health on public and private land. They currently are working in northeastern and southeastern Missouri. Crews always seek permission from private landowners before going on their property.

The old system provided a periodic snapshot of the state's forests, but these pictures soon were out of date. Annual surveys will make it possible to respond to environmental changes much more quickly.

Fungus foray in Cape Girardeau Aug. 12-15

Don't forget the 1999 North American Mycological Association (NAMA) Annual Foray in Cape Girardeau Aug. 12 through 15. The event will include mushroom cooking demonstrations and mushroom collecting trips with mushroom experts. For conference registration information, call (314) 458-1458.

Sullivan HS grad wins national scholarship

The National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF) has named Michael Kromrey of Sullivan to receive the group's $5,000 academic scholarship for 1999.

Kromrey's academic achievements and his involvement in the Missouri ForestKeepers Network helped him win $1,500 in local and state NWTF scholarships and qualify for the national competition.

The recent Sullivan High School graduate has been accepted at Southwest Missouri State University, where he plans to study science.

Legislators show they CARAbout parks & wildlife

Six of Missouri's 11 U.S. representatives have thrown their support behind legislation to increase funding for parks, recreation and wildlife. Meanwhile, Gov. Mel Carnahan has urged the rest of the state's congressional delegation to join in passing a law that would bring Missouri millions of dollars annually for state and local conservation projects.

In June, U.S. Rep. Pat Danner (D-Kansas City) signed on as a cosponsor of the Conservation and Reinvestment Act of 1999 (CARA). In July, U.S. Rep. Ike Skelton (D-Lexington) became the latest Missouri congressperson to support CARA . Missouri Sen. Christopher "Kit" Bond (R-Mexico) is a cosponsor of the Senate version of the bill (S. 25). Rep. Karen McCarthy (D-Kansas City) cosponsored the House bill (H.R. 798). House Minority Leader Dick Gephardt (D-St. Louis) and U.S. Rep. William Clay (D-St. Louis) have endorsed HB798, also known as Resources 2000. The Senate version of the bill is S.446.

All these bills have a common aim: dedicating a percentage of existing federal revenues from offshore oil and gas leases for state and local parks, recreation and wildlife programs. Supporters of the various versions are working to develop compromise legislation that incorporates key provisions from all the bills.

CARA would receive up to $2.5 billion in federal revenues collected from companies drilling for oil in waters off the United States' coast. Missouri's portion of those funds could be $17 million a year.

The legislative initiative has the support of Missouri's largest citizen conservation organization, the Conservation Federation of Missouri. Also supporting the idea are the Missouri Parks and Recreation Association, Bass Pro Shops of Springfield and more than 100 other businesses and conservation groups in Missouri.

Under CARA, the departments of Conservation and Natural Resources would administer funds for land-based recreation and wildlife conservation. Part of the money would be available for grants to fund local projects.

For information, call the Conservation Federation's CARA coordinator, Cheryl Riley, at (573) 634-2322.

Catfish inspires young artists

Two budding artists have been named winners in the Missouri State-Fish Art Contest, sponsored by Wildlife Forever.

Patrick Donegan, a fifth-grader at St. Mary Elementary School in Joplin, received top honors in the fourth- through sixth-grade division for his pastel rendering of Missouri's state fish, the channel catfish (right). Tim Fleenor, an eighth-grader at Raytown South Middle School, won the competition for grades seven through nine with a crayon drawing.

For more information about the State-Fish Art Contest, contact Sal Di Leo, Wildlife Forever, 10365 W. 70th St., Eden Prairie, MN 55344. Phone 612/833-1522. Or visit the Wildlife Forever web site at <www.statefishart.com>.

Are you a century forest owner?

Has your family owned forest land for a century? If so, you may qualify for the Centennial Stewardship Farm Award.

Centennial Stewardship Farms must have been owned by the same family for at least 100 years. They must be at least 10 acres and have a stewardship plan approved by the Department of Conservation.

Owners of Centennial Stewardship Farms will receive plaques, certificates and signs to display on their land. The program is part of the national Centennial Forests program sponsored by the Society of American Foresters (SAF).

For details about the Centennial Stewardship Farm Award and information about events planned in conjunction with the Centennial Forests celebration, contact your local Conservation Department forester or write:

Centennial Forests

Department of Conservation

P.O. Box 180

Jefferson City, MO 65102-0180.

Fishing in the city still evolving

The St. Louis Urban Fishing Program (UFP) is 30 years old this year. From a humble, five-lake beginning in 1969, the program has grown to encompass 24 lakes in St. Louis City, St. Louis County, Ferguson and Ballwin.

The program has remained true to its original mission--providing quality fishing close to home for St. Louis anglers. The program includes urban fishing clinics that teach children and recovering hospital patients to fish.

The Urban Fishing Program began as part of efforts by the federal government to make cities better places to live. The Conservation Department was a partner from the beginning. The program has been an enormous success from the start.

St. Louis, one of six pilot cities, accounted for 80 percent of participation.

That popularity continues today, with more than 185,000 hours of fishing taking place at St. Louis's urban lakes each year. That's 15 times more fishing per acre than occurs at Lake of the Ozarks.

In 1969, the cost of stocking fish was $9,000. Today the Conservation Department invests more than $60,000 annually in bullheads, channel catfish, carp and rainbow trout for St. Louis lakes.

Federal agencies ended their participation in the St. Louis program in 1972. Voter approval of the one-eighth of 1 percent conservation sales tax in 1976 enabled the Conservation Department to continue the program and expand it.

A brochure titled Fish St. Louis outlines locations of public boat ramps and fishing lakes in the metropolitan area. The publication is available from Powder Valley Conservation Nature Center ((314) 301-1500) and the Conservation Department's St. Louis Regional office ((314) 441-4554). A fish stocking hotline ((314) 923-2323, ext. 2306) provides details about each UFP stocking immediately after its completion.

More trout, more lake renovations and increased fishing clinic opportunities are in the future for St. Louis. Jefferson Lake in Forest Park will begin receiving winter trout stocking after renovations are finished. Next up for renovation is Boathouse Lake in Carondelet Park. Plans call for draining and deepening the lake and improving fish habitat and accessibility for disabled anglers. Stocking will include catfish, trout, largemouth bass, bluegill and redear sunfish.

South Lake in Willmore Park and O'Fallon Park will get disabled-angler fishing platforms, trails and parking. The Conservation Department plans to add an aquatic education center and double the number of urban fishing clinic ponds in Forest Park. Development plans also call for construction of three fishing clinic ponds, a pavilion, restrooms and disabled-angler facilities at Bellefontaine Conservation Area. Kevin J. Meneau

Arachnophone, please

If a huge spider scurries across the pavement as you cruise Missouri's highways, don't keep your arachnophobia to yourself. Pick up the phone and call Margaret Janowski-Bell. She would like to hear from anyone who sees a tarantula in the wild anywhere in Missouri.

Janowski-Bell is a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Missouri-Columbia. She chose tarantulas to study because they are spectacularly big (legspan nearly 4 inches) and long-lived (some have lived 30 years in captivity). Little is known about tarantulas' reproduction and behavior in the wild, so there is lots for an enterprising scientist to discover about the hairy, eight-legged creatures.

Janowski-Bell is particularly interested in tarantulas' distribution in Missouri and in how male tarantulas find mates. She earned her masters' degree by fitting love-struck males with tiny radios and following them on their romantic quests.

Tarantulas are thought to live exclusively south of the Missouri River in Missouri. They are most prevalent in the southwestern part of the state and are seen most often crossing roads in the fall, when amorous males go in search of like-minded females.

If you see a tarantula or if you have seen one in the past five years, contact Janowski-Bell at 105 Tucker Hall, Division of Biological Sciences, University of Missouri, Columbia 65211. Phone (573) 882-3037. E-mail <tarantula@missouri.edu>. Tell her as precisely as possible where and when you saw it, weather conditions and what the spider was doing.

If you leave a message, tell Janowski-Bell a little about your previous experience with tarantulas and leave your phone number--just in case she needs to get back to you for more details of your tarantula sighting.

NO-RISK, NEW FARMING TECHNIQUES

The Mark Twain Water Quality Initiative is offering farmers a way to try out cost-cutting, eco-friendly farming techniques without financial risk.

One of the biggest challenges facing modern agriculture is reducing runoff of pesticides, fertilizer and soil while maintaining crop yield and profitability. Solutions include alternative methods of pest control and judicious changes in tillage and fertilization. These can save farmers money while benefitting the environment, but farmers hesitate to take the plunge.

"It's only natural," says Ray Archuleta, team leader for the private, nonprofit Agricultural Conservation Innovation Center in Macon. "How much of your salary would you bet on something new you had read or heard good things about but had never experienced firsthand?"

The Mark Twain Water Quality Initiative is offering low-cost insurance that makes it possible to try new techniques risk-free. Farmers who take part in the program implement new techniques on an agreed-upon acreage. They set aside an equal acreage and manage it as they have in the past. If yields under the new techniques fall short of yields on traditionally managed land, the insurance pays the difference.

Insurance is available for trying cold-soil, no-till policy to give farmers protection against cold, wet weather between planting and emergence. A policy also is available to test integrated pest management for corn root worms or fertilizer and herbicide management. For more information, call (660) 385-6359.

Cassville man sets fishing record

Two Missourians set records for longnose gar catches this spring. Nelson Watson of Cassville set a new state record April 10 when he landed a 33-pound longnose gar using a compound bow and arrow.

Watson was bowfishing on the Elk River in McDonald County when he bagged the toothy monster. It measured 61 inches from nose to tail and had a girth of 21 inches. The record for longnose gar taken by "other methods" was 32 pounds, 4 ounces. Missouri's current pole-line-and-lure record for longnose gar is 24 pounds, 4 ounces.

Dale Davis of Kirbyville set a pole-and-line record for longnose gar May 17 when he caught a 27-pounder at Bull Shoals Lake. He said he caught the 58.5-inch fish on a "Swimmin' Minnow" and 8-pound-test Trilene XT line.

To qualify as state records, fish must be taken by legal means from Missouri waters. They must be weighed in the presence of Conservation Department personnel on an accurate scale, and their species must be verified by a fisheries biologist. An official State Record Fish Entry Form, signed by witnesses and accompanied by a color photograph, must be submitted to the Conservation Department for certification. Fish taken by legal gigging, archery and set lines qualify as records in the "other methods" category

Disease Takes a Toll on Deer

An outbreak of epizootic hemorrhagic disease (EHD) in parts of northern Missouri last year rivaled one that killed up to 20 percent of the white-tailed deer in certain areas a decade ago.

EHD is a viral infection that is spread through the bites of tiny flies known as midges. Conditions that concentrate deer help spread EHD by increasing the opportunity for midges to carry the virus between animals. Such conditions most often occur during dry weather in late summer and early fall, when deer gather around a few water sources.

Symptoms of the disease include weakness, swelling of the mouth and tongue, sores on the mouth and tongue and bleeding from the mouth, nose, eyes or anus. The disease causes thirst, and affected animals often die near water. EHD outbreaks end when fall frosts kill the midges that spread the virus.

The disease does not infect humans. Eating venison from deer with EHD is not dangerous, but secondary infections can render venison unfit to eat.

Conservation agents received reports of 1,625 cases of EHD last year. Most were in northern Missouri. Upwards of one-fifth of the deer may have succumbed to the disease in some areas. Because many deer can die without being detected, the exact extent of the damage is hard to determine.

Deer hunters may see fewer deer in some areas, but deer populations in other areas are likely to remain high. If annual deer harvest numbers reflect a drop in local deer populations, the Conservation Department may restrict hunting in those areas.

Another deer malady, chronic wasting disease, or CWD, has cropped up in other states, but has not been documented in Missouri yet.

CWD first appeared in captive deer in Colorado. It was reported in wild elk there in 1981. Since that time, about 100 cases have been reported in wild white-tailed deer, mule deer and elk from northeastern and north-central Colorado and southeastern Wyoming. A few cases have occurred in captive elk in Nebraska, Oklahoma and South Dakota.

Conservation Department biologists are concerned about CWD and are watching for possible cases here. Symptoms include weight loss, excessive thirst and urination and listlessness. Affected animals often stand with heads down, ears drooping and saliva dripping from their mouths.

Human disease has not been associated with CWD. However, there are many unknowns about the disease. As with any sick animal, people should avoid contact as much as possible and, if handling, should wear protective gloves.

If you encounter a sick or dead deer, report it to a conservation agent or the nearest Conservation Department regional office.

Alliance asks Congress to probe animal-rights terrorism

The National Animal Interest Alliance wants Congress to investigate the growing use of terrorism by radical animal-rights and environmental groups.

The NAIA, headquartered in Portland, Ore., says it opposes extremists who use fire bombing, vandalism and theft to stop animal uses they consider immoral. Targets of such terrorism have included biomedical research facilities, farms, zoos, circuses, rodeos, furriers, dog and cat breeders and hunters. The NAIA is urging Congress to investigate animal-rights terrorism and eco-terrorism and those who provide financial support for terrorists.

The NAIA urges legitimate animal welfare and environmental groups to join in calling for a congressional investigation. For more information, contact:

NAIA

P.O. Box 66579

Portland, OR 97290-6579

or visit its web site at <http://www.naiaonline.org>.

HABITAT HINTS

Green browse plots of winter annuals planted from mid-August through mid-October provide important food and cover for wildlife. Winter wheat, rye or barley all are good choices.

Be sure to prepare a good seed bed, including fertilizer if needed. The University of Missouri Extension Service provides soil testing service if you are unsure whether to fertilize. Seed should be planted no more than half an inch deep.

Such a planting will provide green browse for deer and turkeys throughout the winter. When it matures the following spring, the resulting seed will nourish quail, songbirds and other wildlife. Don't be concerned when ragweed and other native plants invade your food plot. These will only add to its value as food and cover.

Overseeding with Korean lespedeza, red clover or ladino clover in February--about five months after planting--also increases food plots' value as wildlife cover and extends their useful life.

For more detailed information about planting green browse plots and other wildlife friendly practices, write for the publication, "Wildlife Management for Missouri Landowners," from:

Missouri Department of Conservation

Wildlife Division

P.O. Box 180

Jefferson City, MO 65102-0180.

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