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I enjoyed the article about how endangered fish benefit landowners, but I felt that it left the impression that a landowner must have an endangered or rare species of animal or plant on their property to receive technical or financial assistance.

There are many government programs, both state and federal, that can provide assistance to landowners to improve and conserve soil, water, forests, fisheries and wildlife while maintaining or enhancing agricultural profitability and productivity. Most of these programs do not require having an endangered critter on one's property.

John B. Knudsen, Hermann

Bird Dogfood

Would feeding canned dogfood to a baby bird be adequate for it (if the mother bird had been killed)? I've had bad luck with "bird raising" in the past, and I'm looking for a solution.

Kevin R. Corbin, Eminence

Editor's note: Dog food may be tolerated by species that eat worms and insects, but it could kill seed-eating birds. The best solution may be a hard one: leave the baby birds alone. Wildlife reproduce enough to allow for frequent losses of their young. Even if you could successfully raise a bird to adulthood, it would not have the skills it needs to survive on its own.

Catfish essence

Compliments to David Besenger for his outstanding illustrations in the "Secrets of Fishing" article. I particularly like the catfish illustration. He seems to have captured the essence of the species.

Raymond Juergens, Glencoe

Changing Landscape

Has the geography of the United States changed? In your November "Habitat Hints" you say, "Observers in Kansas have spotted hummingbird species normally not found west of the Rocky Mountains." I thought all the species listed were west of the Rocky Mountains.

When you list bird feeder visitors don't forget downy woodpeckers, the big cousins of hairy woodpeckers. We fill 30 to 35 feeders each day.

Kathy Flippo, Morrison

Numbers up

"Conservation by the Numbers" was without a doubt the most informative article that I have read concerning the Missouri Conservation Department.

Although I live in Kansas, I was born and raised in Independence and still consider myself a Missouri boy. All my fishing and outdoor recreation activities take place in Missouri and I never complain when I am required to pay out-of-state fees. What Missouri offers me "outdoors" is worth the cost.

Jim Salyer, Shawnee, Kan.

It's a date!

The caption under the family picture accompanying "Growing up on Forest 44" says the photo was taken in August, 1931. How can that be, if the car in the photo has a 1934 license plate?

John A. Hewitt, Kansas City

Editor's note: Great catch! I needed a magnifying glass to see the date on the license plate. The author's dad's Aunt Olga wrote the date on the picture. His Aunt Doris confirmed the mistake by noting that she was born in 1930 and is four years old in the picture. The family didn't realize the misdating until you spotted it.

Praise from Sicily

We are from Missouri and are now stationed in Sicily. We receive your magazine each month, and it is a highlight of our day. Opening the pages of your magazine brings the sounds and smells of home to us in a far away country. Thank you.

Carolyn Bufalo, FPO address

Big Hairy

Either your reader has some unusual birds at her feeders, or you made a mistake. Hairy woodpeckers are much larger than downy woodpeckers and have a stronger bill. I just don't want any birdwatchers to be confused.

George Parkhurst, Lake Winnebago

Cloning is cool

What a fantastic article done by Paul Lamble about cloning! It brought to mind all of the plant cloning I've done over the years without even realizing what the process was. The story about Grandpa's walking stick was interesting and added a neat twist to the article.

I'm sure there will be a lot of cloning going on in Missouri now that more people understand the process and wish to duplicate a favorite tree or plant. This propagation of hardy plants and trees will help to insure the future of a healthy and green Missouri.

R. L. Greenwood, Kansas City

Mark quote

You assign the quote at the beginning of "Monitoring the Mississippi" to Mark Twain, but I'm sure that Mark Twain was well aware that he was quoting from the Bible. The full passage is: "Consider the work of God: for who can make that straight which he hath made crooked?" Ecc. 7:13.

Bill G. Blankenship, Farmington

Smelly salts

I especially enjoyed Dennis Figg's article, "Saline Springs." My mother was born at Blue Lick in 1893 and spoke often of the spring since she spent the first 21 years of her life next door. I remember her telling me that the Saline County Sheriff had to close down all the activity at the spring when the gambling element from St. Louis took over.

Both my sister and I were born in the same area. I still have the gallon jug my dad filled with the water, which he thought was a "must." Like your article says, it had an awful smell.

Minnie Buck, Marshall

Pacing

The Trailhead article, "Perfect Pace," truly hits the nail on the head. The author writes as an honest man and a true sportsman. Do it again!

James A. Taylor, Republic

The letters printed here reflect readers' opinions about the Conservationist and its contents. 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 bagged a young turkey in the fall season. Why do we call young male turkeys "jakes?"

A: I can't discover the story behind that name. I spoke with Conservation Department research staff, as well as members of the Missouri Poultry Federation and the National Wild Turkey Federation, and came up empty. The best guess is that the term caught on after someone thought a young turkey behaved much like a local community member who happened to be named Jake. The National Wild Turkey Federation's youth program is called Jakes, which is an acronym for Juniors Acquiring Knowledge, Ethics and Sportsmanship.

The 2001 spring turkey hunting season runs from April 23 through May 13, 2001. The youth spring turkey season runs for two days, April 14 and 15.

Spring turkey hunting permits and regulation pamphlets should be available from Missouri permit vendors March 1, 2001.

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. 3848 or e-mail him at Ken.Drenon@mdc.mo.gov.

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