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Not so icky

"Icky Outdoors" was really good.

I admit we have a lot of critters in Missouri, but it is better than being where the air is smoggy and the streets are dirty and you could get attacked while walking to a fishing lake.

There are far worse places to live. We shouldn't gripe too much because we've got goose poop, pond mud and grass stains.

Jerry O'Neill, Aurora

Snake vs. Snake

Jane Perna of Chesterfield sent in this photo of a black snake eating a garter snake she said the two snakes tussled on her back porch for a time before the 4-foot black snake worked its way to the head of the garter snake and began swallowing it. She said it took quite a few gulps before the meal was finished. The two snakes - one inside the other - then raced into the nearby woods.

Distant praise

Several years ago my father picked up a copy of the Missouri Conservationist at the local library in the give-away stack. It only took one issue to turn him into a subscriber. After he has devoured each issue, cover to cover, he passes them on to me with little comment cards on the front like "Best magazine bargain you can get!" or "Best issue yet!" I, in turn, find each issue a real treat.

Our four children have enjoyed the Conservationist, as well, from the outstanding photography to the flora and fauna facts. Our two oldest grow wildlife food plots each year and are well aware of the interdependence of humans, plants and animals.

Even though we reside thousands of miles from your great state, we have gained much from your magazine and look forward to each issue.

Minnie Miller, Bamberg, S.C.

Chigger begone!

Your recent article on chiggers was informative and helpful. Surely the Conservation Department could come up with some kind of eradication program. It seems to me that while you are promoting landowner cooperation with regard to conservation programs, you could devote some study and effort toward the elimination of species we don't need.

Paul D. Adams, Eldon

Editor's note: Any effort to eliminate all ticks and chiggers also would kill lots of other tiny creatures, many of which are important food items for other species or do important jobs, such as aerating the soil. Even if the Conservation Department could eradicate all "pests," we likely wouldn't. Our job is to preserve ecosystems, habitats and native species.

Carrier concern

A comment about the pretty mailboxes. The last thing a mail carrier needs is to be stung by wasps and bees, and I can guarantee you that no sane bird would move into a bird house on a mailbox post that has any activity around it. If they did, I wouldn't want a bird flying into my face when I scared it.

I like pretty flowers, but vines climb over the mailboxes and obstruct my view.

Laura Ashby, St. Peters

Proper Bearing

My father, a retiree from the U.S. Forest Service, read "Centennial Forests: The Beginning of Fire Prevention (1940s)" in your June issue. He immediately pointed out that the article mistakenly said that a black bear cub was found in the aftermath of a forest fire in New Mexico in 1944.

Although a bear that became known as Smokey was used as a fire prevention symbol since 1944, the badly burned bear cub that was to become famous as Smokey was found May 9, 1950, during a fire in the Lincoln National Forest, close to the village of Capitan in Lincoln County, New Mexico.

The cub was later renamed "Smokey" and was presented to the children of America in June 1950 and resided at the National Zoo, where he had his own ZIP code. Smokey retired in 1975 and died in 1976. He is buried at Smokey Bear State Historical Park in Capitan, New Mexico.

David Schaufler, Smithville

Clean up your area!

In the Centennial Forest essay, you showed how effective a public awareness campaign was at stopping people from burning their forest land.

I think we need a similar campaign to change the attitudes and behavior of those who visit conservation areas and leave garbage, litter and tire ruts.

Louis Dreon, Gower

Snakes alive!

We have a controversy among several of us about whether it is legal or illegal to kill snakes in Missouri?

Garvis Myers, Festus

Editor's note: The Wildlife Code of Missouri is permissive, in that it details what wildlife related activities are allowed. Any wildlife-related activities not included in the Wildlife Code are, therefore, not permitted. This includes the killing of snakes. However, the Code does permit Missourians to protect their property and family from immediate harm from wildlife, which means that under certain circumstances venomous snakes may be killed to protect people in the immediate area. Most snakes are not venomous, and the few venomous snakes you may encounter can usually be avoided.

The letters printed here reflect readers' opinions abot the Conservationist and its conetnts. Space limitations prevent us from printing all letters, but we welcome signed comments from our readers. Letters may be edited for length and clarity.

Ask the Ombudsman

Q: I wanted to try for a special deer hunt but the permit vendor didn't have any applications. How do I get an application?

A: Paper applications are no longer being used. Deer hunters may apply (you have until Aug. 15) by calling (800) 829-2956 between 4 a.m. and midnight or go to our Website at www.mdc.mo.gov/hunt/deer/. A group of hunters applying as a party should designate one member to either call the automated phone system or access the web page. That person should have ready the 2-digit number for the

preferred hunt and the nine-digit Conservation I.D. Number of each hunter in the party. Complete the worksheet in the 2000 Fall Deer & Turkey Hunting Information pamphlet (available from permit vendors and Conservation Department offices) before you apply, so you will have the information ready. After applying you will be given a 6-digit confirmation number. Write it down so you can use it later to learn if you were drawn.

From Sept. 11 through Dec. 31, either call the phone system between 4 a.m. and midnight or go to our web page. Both require that you enter either your 6-digit confirmation number or your 9-digit Conservation I.D. number. All successful applicants will each receive in the mail an area map and other information regarding the hunt. We must have your correct address so you can receive the information you need. If your address has changed, call (800) 392-4115 any time or contact your local Conservation Department office.

More details concerning the deer season are available in the 2000 Fall Deer & Turkey Hunting Information pamphlet or on the web at:http://www.mdc.mo.gov/hunt/deer/deertuk/.

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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