Roundups of resident Canada geese at four locations in June provided nearly a ton of food for needy Missourians.
On June 21, the Conservation Department conducted two roundups in Columbia and one each in the St. Louis and Kansas City areas. Three were in residential areas, and one was at a golf course. All were conducted at the request of landowners for whom growing numbers of geese had become nuisances. In all cases, property owners had tried controlling goose numbers by non-lethal means, such as making the site less attractive to geese, scare techniques and shaking eggs to prevent them from hatching.
The four roundups netted 194 adult giant Canada geese. The birds were sent to a USDA-approved meat processor and turned over whole to food banks. With an average processed weight of about nine pounds, the birds provided more than 1,700 pounds of meat. Laboratory testing before the roundup showed the birds were safe for human consumption.
Though critics of the roundups claimed the birds were killed merely because they were "inconvenient" for landowners, the problems caused by burgeoning goose numbers are real. Some golf courses spend tens of thousands of dollars repairing damage inflicted by grass-guzzling geese. Contamination caused by goose droppings is a serious concern for pharmaceutical and biotechnology businesses.
Although it may seem inconsequential to those who value animal rights above those of people, the loss of property use is a serious matter to parents who can't let their children play in yards fouled with slimy green goose manure, or who fear attacks on small children from territorial geese.
The cost of the roundups, meat processing and transportation was paid by the landowners who requested them.
Explore the spectacular landscapes of the Ozark Trail with some of Missouri's most accomplished backpackers during the 13th annual Ozark Trail trek Oct. 13 through 20.
Sponsored by Hostelling International/ American Youth Hostels and the Ozark Trail Council, the event puts novices together with seasoned veterans. October's cool, sunny days and crisp nights are perfect for enjoying fall colors and the rugged beauty of southern Missouri.
The trip is divided into two 25-mile sections. The cost is $100 for a half week or $175 for a week. The price includes transportation from St. Louis, guides, a T-shirt, an Ozark Trail patch, the evening meal Oct. 13 and motel accommodations for one night at the midpoint of the week-long trek.
For more information, contact Gateway Council HI/AYA, 7187 Manchester Road, St. Louis, MO 63143-2450. Phone (314) 644-4660. E-mail <info@gatewayhi>.
Last summer, hundreds of people lined the banks of Current River to witness an event that had been missing from the river for 70 years. They watched a crew of local residents negotiate a raft of railroad ties down the treacherous bends, shoals and snags of the Current River, north of Doniphan.
During the early 20th century, as many as 1,200 ties, in rafts that were often a quarter-mile long,were floated downstream to Doniphan, which was considered the timber tie capitol of the world.
A group of Ripley County citizens decided to recreate a tie rafting. The event was planned as a part of the year 2000 Labor Day Celebration called "Rolling On The River."
The route was a seven-mile stretch of the Current River, beginning at the Gene Price farm and ending just north of the Doniphan Bridge. The starting site was an eddy that was formerly used to assemble many of the original historical rafts. In the early 1900s, as many as 14,000 ties a month were rafted from this area of Bay Mill Eddy and nearby Boyles Slough.
Several days before the event, 200 railroad ties, sawn by the Kirby Mill in Doniphan, were delivered to the starting point. Volunteers assembled the raft the day of the float, and a crowd cheered as it slipped away from the starting point
The 200-foot long raft was configured like the historical rafts. It consisted of five sections joined by movable pivots called coupling poles. This flexibility allowed the raft to be maneuvered down the winding river. Large rudder-like oars (sweeps), were mounted on the font and rear sections. In the rear section, a hole was left between the ties so that a snub pole could be jabbed down to the river bottom to slow and stop the raft when necessary.
A man with a pike pole stood on each of the five floating sections to push away from rocks and snags.
The modern-day tie rafters successfully negotiated a number of river obstacles and sharp bends before delivering the ties to Doniphan, where the raft was dismantled. Hundreds of supporters and onlookers watched from the banks, and a number of boats escorted the raft during its nearly five-hour journey.-Paul Ripley
Missouri's 2000-2001 river otter harvest increased 115 percent in the Ozarks and 30 percent statewide compared to the previous year, thanks in part to new otter trapping rules.
That's good news for fish farmers and pond owners, who sometimes find the fish-eating furbearers expensive guests. Complaints about otters damaging private property climbed from 12 in 1996 to 29 in 1997, 49 in 1998, 67 in 1999 and 108 in 2000. Anglers who worry that otters might be affecting fish populations in small Ozark streams will also rejoice in the harvest numbers.
The Conservation Department responded to citizen concerns last year by dividing the state into five otter trapping zones during the 2000-2001 trapping season. Its goal was to concentrate the harvest of otters in areas where they were causing the most complaints.
Trappers in northwest, southwest and east-central Missouri (Otter Zones A, D and C) were allowed to take a season limit of five otters from Nov. 20 through Jan. 20. In Otter Zone E, a crescent-shaped area stretching from Cooper County to the Bootheel, otters could be taken in any numbers from Nov. 20 through Feb. 20. In the remainder of the state (Otter Zone B), otter trapping season ran from Nov. 20 through Jan. 20 with a season limit of 20.
The harvest in Otter Zone E increased from 381 in 1999-2000 to 819 last year. One-third of the otters taken in Zone E were caught during the extended portion of the otter trapping season from Jan. 21 through Feb. 20.
Zone B is the largest otter trapping zone in the state, encompassing all or part of more than 60 counties. The 2000-2001 otter harvest in this zone decreased by 18 percent, from 642 to 527. The rest of the state accounted for only 2.3 percent of the statewide harvest.
Changes in trapping regulations weren't entirely responsible for the increased harvest. With prime otter pelts bringing $60, trappers had a strong incentive to continue trapping until the season closed.
Journey through time and into a colorful grassland world in a new video from the Conservation Department Nature Shop.
"Missouri's Tallgrass Prairie: An American Original" explores the prairie landscape that once covered a third of our state. Highlights include vivid images and sounds, an original music score and narration by James Earl Jones.
The 49-minute tape is available from public libraries statewide, or you can buy your own copy for $10, plus 62 cents sales tax and $4.95 shipping for Missouri residents. To order, call toll-free (877) 521-8632. You can also mail your order to Nature Shop, Missouri Department of Conservation, P.O. Box 180, Jefferson City, MO 65102-0180. Or order online from the Conservation Department E-commerce site, www.mdcnatureshop.com.
If you have an aluminum boat, you can fish in U.S.A. Bass Club #7549's sixth annual aluminum-only buddy bass tournament Sept. 9 at Indian Creek Marina on Mark Twain Lake.
For an entry fee of $75 you can compete for prizes equal to 70 percent of entry fees. The top 10 percent of the field will receive cash prizes. The winning team also will receive two gift certificates worth up to $1,000 each toward the purchase of Mercury or Mariner motors. There will be an optional big-bass pot with an entry fee of $15 and first-, second- and third-place prizes. For more information, call Jeff Risinger at (573) 878-4857.
Town and Country can continue trapping and relocating deer, but other cities won't have that option. The practice of trapping and relocation has been removed from statewide urban deer management guidelines because of concerns about its effectiveness and its unhealthy effects on deer.
Responding to citizen complaints about damage and conflicts caused by overpopulations of deer, the St. Louis suburb of Town and Country began its trapping and relocation program three years ago. The Conservation Department approved the experiment and estimated that the city would have to remove 120 does per year for three consecutive years to reduce the population from 68 deer per square mile to a more tolerable 30 to 40 per square mile. Removing 75 does in a season would stabilize the population for one year. Removing male deer provides temporary relief, but female deer are the key to controlling populations.
In the first year, Town and Country removed 59 does and 21 bucks. Seven out of 10 radio-collared deer died after relocation. The second year's effort removed 44 does and 13 bucks. Town and Country expanded its trapping efforts the third year by hiring a second contractor and using additional trapping methods. That year, the city removed 48 does and 48 bucks.
Recent population surveys show that Town and Country's efforts have stopped the growth of the deer population in the city and nearby Queeny Park. However, they have not reduced the number of deer.
In light of these results, the Conservation Commission removed trapping and relocation from the urban deer management guidelines. However, it said Town and Country may continue its efforts.
In a letter to Town and Country Mayor Richard "Skip" Mange, Conservation Department Director Jerry Conley recommended that the city expand trapping to November and December. To date, trapping has been done primarily from January through March.
Conley also recommended that Town and Country relocate only does because they are less likely to be hunted in their new home areas. He suggested that the city try additional trapping methods and set a goal for deer population density. Cities in other parts of the country have found that population densities of 15 to 20 deer per square mile produce a balance between deer viewing opportunities and property damage.
Besides being relatively ineffective and failing to spare the lives of many deer, trapping and relocation are expensive. The cost of removing each deer from Town and Country is more than $350.
Missouri's lakes and streams got a reprieve recently when test results showed no live zebra mussels at a Kansas City area power plant.
Inspectors discovered a small number of zebra mussel shells in a water intake screen at the power plant. The shells were empty, but conservation officials in Kansas and Missouri feared they might have reproduced before dying. Tests on water and mud in the intake pipe showed no zebra mussel larvae.
Zebra mussels cause ecological and economic damage where they become established. For more information, visit our website, or write to Fisheries Division, Missouri Department of Conservation, P.O. Box 180, Jefferson City, MO 65102- 0180.
A decade of enhanced awareness about the benefits of wetlands is paying dividends in Missouri, where landowners are restoring more wetlands than ever before.
When the United States Department of Agriculture unveiled the Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP) in 1992, Missouri had already lost 90 percent of its original wetlands. Since then, almost 90,000 acres of wetlands have been restored through 604 WRP easements that landowners provided in exchange for cash payments.
A recent surge on the Missouri River demonstrated the value of such wetlands. On June 8, the river crested inches below the tops of levees in central Missouri. At the same time, thousands of acre feet of water spread out across wetland acreage set aside following the Great Flood of 1993.
Before 1993, this water would have funneled into the river channel, forcing the June 8 crest over the tops of levees and causing economic devastation.
With about 600,000 acres of wetlands, Missouri fares better than most states. Experts say annual wetland losses in the Show Me State are about equal to gains. This is due partly to regulations that bar farmers from federal farm programs if they drain wetlands. However, restoration efforts also have been boosted by a growing awareness of the value of fish and wildlife, recreation and the flood and pollution control that wetlands provide.
Another 400 Missouri landowners want to enroll 30,000 acres in WRP. However, the program has reached its national, 1.1-million-acre limit, and it won't be available to accommodate more landowners unless Congress extends the program.
Missouri is the first state to establish an agricultural wetland mitigation bank. The bank allows southeastern Missouri farmers to drain small wetlands if they help pay for the creation of larger wetlands. Missouri farmers also may drain troublesome wetlands in their fields if they create wetlands of equal or greater value elsewhere on their farms. Often the created wetlands are of higher quality than those drained.
"I hope WRP is extended," said Conservation Department Wetland Wildlife Biologist Kevin Dacey. "After a decade of promoting wetland restoration, many people in Missouri are really just now recognizing how many benefits wetlands provide.
"The increase in water quality and flood prevention will become more obvious," he added. "The benefits are cumulative, and they also will become more measurable as our monitoring techniques improve."
A water garden adds a relaxing touch to home landscaping, and it can remedy problem spots, such as boggy, wet areas or heavy clay soil.
Water gardens are easy to create. As it develops and matures, it will attract birds, butterflies and dragonflies.
A mud-bottomed pond is easiest to manage, and it's also the most natural. In porous soil, however, you may have to line the bottom with butyl rubber sheeting, which is available at home-supply stores. For a natural appearance, give your pool an irregular shape. Line the edge with rocks or old logs, and landscape it with native Missouri plants.
Your water garden should have shallow areas where birds can drink and bathe, and deeper ones that provide cool temperatures and havens for fish and frogs. This also will allow you to grow plants that favor different depths of water. In lined ponds, plants must be grown in pots, so be sure to create flat ledges at different depths on which to set pots.
Many native plants suitable for use around ponds are available from nurseries through the Grow Native! program. For a list of participating nurseries and more information about gardening with native plants, visit online, or send a stamped, self-addressed envelope to Grow Native!, P.O. Box 104671, Jefferson City, MO 65110.
Wildflowers & Grasses
Shrubs & Trees
Lower water levels at Otter Lake will hamper duck hunting this fall, but the long-term effects will give waterfowlers a reason to celebrate.
The lake is an old oxbow of the St. Francis River on Otter Slough Conservation Area in Stoddard County. Historically, the water level on the area varied year to year. These variations created a bottomland hardwood forest that attracted great numbers of waterfowl.
That variable water regimen ended 40 years ago with the construction of a levee. Holding water on the area each year has created excellent conditions for waterfowl hunting. In the long term, however, it has also undermined the very conditions that made Otter Lake such a terrific hunting spot.
Permanent flooding eventually kills even those tree species, such as cypress and water tupelo, that are adapted to periodic swampy conditions. Even worse, it keeps tree seeds from germinating, making it impossible for the forest to regenerate. That's why the Conservation Department has drained the lake and is installing a more versatile water-control system. From now on, the area's water level will be different from year to year.
That's good news for the swamp ecosystem on which ducks and duck hunters depend. It's also good news for such rare fish as the flier (a type of sunfish), starhead topminnow, bantam sunfish and banded pygmy sunfish, which need water level fluctuations to thrive.
Missouri trappers are deeply involved in a landmark, international effort to make trapping as efficient and humane as possible.
About two dozen Missouri trappers met with Conservation Department wildlife managers recently to review Best Management Practices (BMP) research and to offer input on the project. The International Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (IAFWA) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Wildlife Services have taken the lead in BMP research in the United States.
The goal of the research is to develop voluntary, affordable and effective trapping methods that minimize distress to captured animals. BMPs also are aimed at making trapping as selective as possible, reducing the already low incidence of catching nontarget animals.
To accomplish these goals, wildlife managers, volunteer trappers and technicians are evaluating traps and trapping methods. The research tests 20 years of improvements in trapping equipment, showing what works best and revealing areas where improvements still are needed.
The Conservation Department is committed to modernizing trapping methods and equipment, and ensuring that trapping remains an effective, socially acceptable wildlife management tool. Without trapping, wildlife managers would have no economical, practical method for controlling numbers of coyotes, raccoons, skunks, beavers, otters and other furbearing mammals. For more information on trapping BMPs, visit the IAFWA web site.
Join other recreational vehicle enthusiasts at the 12th annual St. Louis Fall RV Show Sept. 7 - 9 and get a look at more than 200 Class A motor homes, travel trailers, fifth-wheel trailers, folding campers, sport trailers, miniature motor homes, conversion vans and van campers.
The event is at the Westfield Shoppingtown Mid Rivers off I-70 at St. Peters. Hours are 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sept. 7 and 8, and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sept. 9. For more information, call (573) 355-1236.
Hunters with mobility impairments will get a special shot at dove hunting Sept. 8 at Ten Mile Pond Conservation Area. The Conservation Department and the National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF) are sponsoring a special hunt for hunters with disabilities at the conservation area in Mississippi County.
The Conservation Department will reserve hunting areas for their exclusive use, and NWTF volunteers will serve as guides, helping disabled hunters get to and from the field and retrieving downed birds.
Participants must arrive at Ten Mile Pond CA headquarters at 5 a.m. and must leave the fields by 1 p.m. They must have small-game and migratory bird hunting permits and hunter education certification cards. For reservations, contact L.L. Neal between 6 and 8 p.m. at (573) 334-4942.
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