Reflections

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Feline Life Spans

Thanks for publishing "Cats on the Prowl." During 1998, 15,844 of 26,338 cats admitted by 16 animal care organizations in the St. Louis metropolitan area had to be killed. Many had to die because they were running loose and no one bothered to claim them.

Owners who care about their cats will keep them indoors and have them spayed and neutered, as well. It's also a good idea to have the cats micro-chipped and provide them with identification and license tags, in case the cats sneak out.

According to Cat Fancy magazine, the average outdoor or indoor/outdoor cat lives only two to three years, whereas a cat that is kept exclusively indoors has an average lifespan of 12 to 15 years.

Cecily Westermann, St. Louis

Fishy Business

The other day I caught an 11-pound channel catfish. I didn't believe they got that big. We ate it a day or so later and both my nephew and I noticed the peculiar taste/smell of ammonia. Also the cat had at least a half pound of eggs in it. Had I known about them I would gladly have released the critter right back where I caught it. Is there any way of detecting whether or not a fish has eggs in it?

One more question: How can we get rid of some carp in my dad's pond? Before my dad went crazy and put them there, the pond was a beautiful light-green color and used to have a lot of fish. Now it's a mud-colored bog. If you are lucky enough to catch a bass, it's skinny and white as a sheet.

Mark A. Brenton, Cuba

Editor's note: That fine catfish you caught qualifies you for a Master Angler's certificate, if you wish to apply for one. Missouri's record channel catfish is over 34 pounds. Large channel catfish are not reputed to taste as well as smaller catfish, but the ammonia odor may have had resulted from stressing the fish after catching it but before cleaning it. Unless the abdomen is significantly distended, there is no easy way to tell if a fish is carrying eggs. This need not be a concern, however, for fish generally produce far more fry than their pond, lake or stream can support to adulthood. You probably will not be able to catch all the carp from the pond. The best solution may be to add a chemical that removes all the fish, so that you can start over. Contact a fishery biologist for assistance and more information.

Sumacs

In the article about sumacs, there is a statement that could be misleading to some people who are unaware of the dangers of white sumac. We have made tea from red sumac, but I have been warned about the possibility of being poisoned by white sumac. Your article said poison sumac is not found in Missouri at all. It does grow around here in our timber and along our gravel roadway in this part of Dallas county.

Janet Taylor, Long Lane

Editor's note: There is no species scientifically known as white sumac. There are sumacs, however, that produce white berries. These include poison sumac, a species of eastern and northern bogs, and poison oak, which is in the sumac family. We have no record of poison sumac in Missouri, while poison oak occurs only in the very southernmost portion of the state. Perhaps it was the latter species that resulted in the warning given you about white sumac. Sumacs with reddish or reddish-brown fruits are not poisonous.

Crayfishing

I read in the regulations about a crayfish trap. I have never seen one, and I desire to make one. Have you ever had an article about one of these traps or are plans available? Is some sort of identification tag required on the trap? The Wildlife Code does not specify.

Joe Elmer, via Internet

Editor's Note: A crayfish trap is a plastic or wire mesh container that has an entrance funnel at one end or both ends. Once inside, crayfish find it difficult to find their way out again. Because crayfish traps are similar to and can function as minnow traps, they must be plainly labeled with the user's full name and address, as required by the Wildlife Code.

Turkey Business

I hope what I see in the Outdoor Calendar about the opening day for the next spring turkey season is a misprint. For years, southern turkey hunters have observed the necessity for a different opener for north and south zones of turkey hunting.

Last year the gobblers were nearly done with their business by the middle of the first week of the season. I fully support the Conservation Department, but I feel like this is a big mistake. I would rather have one good week of gobbling activity than three weeks of frustration looking for silent gobblers.

Jeff Cross, Branson

Editor's note: The calendar correctly lists the opening date for the 2000 spring turkey season as April 24. The opening date is the Monday closest to April 20th. This date was arrived at using breeding chronology from southern Missouri. Variable weather from spring to spring may make this opener seem early or late, but it generally allows for quality hunting while allowing birds to successfully reproduce.

Ask the OMBUDSMAN

Q: Last year I missed out on the Any-Deer permits because I didn't buy my deer hunting permit until the day before the season. Is there a deadline again this year, and if there is, why?

A: Deer hunters hunting in Open Quota units (where there is no limit on the number of hunters who may purchase Any-Deer/Bonus Deer permits) must purchase permits by midnight, Nov. 7 (the Sunday before the November portion of the firearms season opens). Hunters who want an Any-Deer or Bonus Deer permit for a Limited Quota unit must purchase their deer hunting permit by midnight Aug. 15 and must tell the permit vendor they want to apply for an Any-Deer (or Bonus Deer) permit for a Limited Quota unit. The latter deadline is necessary to allow time to process the drawing for the limited number of permits. The Nov. 7 deadline for Open Quota units is an effort to reduce the last minute crunch at permit vendors.

This is the second year for the permit deadlines. However, this year hunters can purchase Open Quota unit Any-Deer/Bonus Deer permits from Nov. 24 until Jan. 11 for use during the December Muzzleloader and January Extension portions of the firearms season. (This does not increase the limit of deer hunters may take.) Regular bucks only permits may be purchased any time from July 1 through Dec. 12.

Deer hunting permits went on sale July 1. Hunters cannot change their units after purchasing a permit. For complete information, read the 1999 Fall Deer & Turkey Hunting Information booklet available at permit vendors and Conservation Department offices or go to <http://www.mdc.mo.gov/hunt/deer/deertuk/index.html>.

Ombudsman Ken Drenon will respond to your questions, suggestions or complaints concerning Conservation Department programs. Write him at P.O. Box 180, Jefferson City, MO 65102-0180, call him at (573) 751-4115, ext. 848 or e-mail him at <Ken.Drenon@mdc.mo.gov>.

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