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Have Fun Learning Outdoor Skills

Missourians can sample a wide range of outdoor experiences in a friendly social atmosphere through Hands-On Outdoor Training (HOOT), Becoming an Outdoors Woman (BOW), and Beyond Becoming an Outdoors Woman (BBOW) events. Now's the time to sign up for a course that suits you.

All courses are designed for beginners. HOOT programs are open to children and adults. Upcoming HOOT offerings include:

  • Shotgun sports workshop April 6 at River Hills Sporting Clays in Boonville;
  • Family HOOT event with workshops on canoeing, kayaking, wilderness survival, cave exploring, map and compass, horseback riding, archery, Dutch oven cooking, fishing and more; April 19-21 at YMCA of the Ozarks at Potosi;
  • River Fun Weekend for children ages 10 to 16, Aug. 11-13, at the Presley Education Center on the Current River in Shannon County. Participants must be accompanied by parents or guardians.
  • Shotgun sports workshop for men and women 18 and older Nov. 2 at the St. Louis Trap and Skeet Club.

BOW workshops also offer the opportunity to sample several outdoor activities during a weekend. This year's BOW events are scheduled for May 17-19 at YMCA of the Ozarks in Potosi, and Sept. 13-15 at Conception Abbey in Conception.

BBOW events give participants a chance to use skills acquired at earlier workshops. This year's events include:

  • Fly fishing, April 26-28, at the Presley Center;
  • Turkey hunting, May 3-5, at University Forest Conservation Area, Wappapello;
  • Warm-water fly fishing, May 4-5, in the Kansas City area;
  • Smallmouth bass fishing by canoe, May 31- June 2, on the Big River at Washington State Park;
  • Shotgun sports, Oct. 4-6, at the Ozark Shooters Complex, Walnut Shade;
  • Deer hunting, Oct. 18-20, at University Forest CA;
  • Deer hunting, Nov. 1-3, at Charles W. Green CA, Ashland.

For more information about these events, contact the Outdoor Skills Coordinator, Missouri Department of Conservation, P.O. Box 180, Jefferson City, MO 65102-0180, (573) 751-4115, ext. 3189, <hughem@mdc.mo.gov>.

Dates of some events may change, and a backpacking trip and a Dutch oven cooking workshop may be added later. Watch for announcements in this magazine.

Conservancy Helps Expand Leach Area

The American Land Conservancy got a well-deserved thank you from the Upper Mississippi River/Great Lakes Joint Venture at the Conservation Commission's Nov. 1 meeting.

Commission Chairman Anita Gorman presented a hand-carved, redhead duck decoy to Conservancy Vice President Glen Williams in recognition of the role the Conservancy played in more than tripling the size of B.K. Leach Memorial Conservation Area in Lincoln County. The San Francisco-based conservation group negotiated the purchase of nearly 3,000 acres of private land near the conservation area for less than market value and passed the savings on to the Conservation Department. The result is a 4,322-acre wetland area within 40 miles of St. Louis.

The deal fulfills a longtime Conservation Department goal of providing a major wetland area near the state's largest city. The enlarged conservation area will provide habitat for migratory birds, waterfowl hunting, birdwatching and other wetland-based recreation.

'Gator Gar Tops 2001 Fishing Records

Missouri anglers set five new fishing records in 2001. Two of the records were for pole-and-line catches, and three were for catches made by "alternative methods," such as trotlining, gigging and bowfishing.

The pole-and-line records were set by James Michael Dockery of Queen City, who caught a 4-pound shovelnose sturgeon from the Des Moines River, and Johnny Lee Ash of Windsor, who caught a 1-pound, 6-ounce gizzard shad at Truman Lake.

Alternative-method records were set by David M. Smith of Perryville, who boated a 115-pound, 2-ounce alligator gar from the Headwater Diversion Channel with archery tackle, and Jason Rhodes of O'Fallon, who took a 9-pound, 3-ounce spotted gar from Lake Wappapello, also with archery tackle. Shawn Jones of Montgomery City snagged a 75-pound bighead carp.

The Conservation Department maintains state fishing records. To receive a list of current state-record fish or a record fish entry form, contact the nearest Conservation Department regional office or write to Fisheries Division, State Record Fish, Missouri Department of Conservation, P.O. Box 180, Jefferson City, MO 65102-0180

Ag Officials Tackle CWD Challenge

The Missouri Department of Agriculture is working to find out if chronic wasting disease (CWD) has infected captive elk herds here.

Colorado veterinary health officials recently announced plans to destroy elk from ranches that raise the animals for meat, antlers and hunting. The move came after the discovery that animals at Elk Echo Ranch in Stoneham, Colo., are infected with CWD.

Colorado officials said the infected facility shipped elk to buyers in 15 states, including Missouri. The Missouri Department of Agriculture responded by imposing new rules requiring livestock owners to obtain permits to bring elk, deer or other related animals into Missouri and prohibiting the importation of elk or deer from areas known to have CWD.

Of the 26 elk that entered Missouri from the Elk Echo Ranch, nine were later shipped out of Missouri. Of the 17 that remained here, only five were still alive when the CWD problem was discovered. All five were killed and are being tested for CWD.

The Conservation Department obtained deer from the areas around farms that received shipments from Elk Echo Ranch and is having them tested to determine if the disease might have been transmitted to wild deer.

Dr. David Hopson, Missouri's acting state veterinarian, said current research shows no evidence that CWD can spread to other livestock, such as cattle, or to people. CWD could devastate Missouri's 80 elk farms, which hold an estimated 2,000 animals.

The disease is one of a group of diseases that cause degeneration of the brains of infected animals. There is no treatment, and CWD is always fatal to infected deer and elk. CWD is caused by protein fragments called prions.

While considered rare, CWD has been known since 1967 to affect deer and elk in a limited area of southeastern Wyoming, northeastern Colorado, and southwestern Nebraska. CWD also has been found in captive elk herds in Colorado, Montana, Nebraska, Oklahoma, South Dakota and Saskatchewan. All herds with animals that have tested positive for CWD are under state quarantines.

Deer and elk with CWD die slowly. Symptoms include confusion, aimless wandering and reduced fear of humans. Excessive salivation and emaciation also are common symptoms.

Nature Plates Raise Bucks for Conservation

Conservation license plates are helping Missouri schools bring conservation into the classrooms and take conservation education outdoors.

Since the introduction of the license plates two years ago, the Missouri Conservation Heritage Foundation has raised more than $144,000 for conservation programs throughout the state.

Conservation license plates cost $25. This money is earmarked for the foundation. The Missouri Motor Vehicle Bureau charges an additional $15 for the personalized plate number.

The foundation, a private, nonprofit organization, uses some of its share of the license plate money for conservation education. This year the foundation provided $35,000 for education programs and services through the Missouri Department of Conservation. Part of the money will go to the Conservation Department's Outdoor Classroom Grants program. Thirty-five elementary, middle and high schools received grants to develop and maintain outdoor learning sites.

In addition to receiving funding, schools approved for Show-Me Conservation Outdoor Classroom Grants receive one-on-one assistance from conservation education consultants to help plan and implement their projects.

Schools interested in developing outdoor classrooms can get more information from regional conservation education consultants or from the Office of Environmental Education, Missouri Department of Conservation, P.O. Box 180, Jefferson City, MO 65102-0180, (573) 751-4115.

For more information about conservation license plates and the work of the foundation, contact Missouri Conservation Heritage Foundation, P.O. Box 366, Jefferson City, MO 65109, (573) 634-2080 or (800) 227-1488.

Deer Classic Runs March 2-3

Hunters who want to extend their enjoyment of deer season should check out the Missouri Deer Classic March 2-3 at the Boone County Fairgrounds, north of I-70 off Highway 63 in Columbia.

The event's attractions include booths sponsored by hunting clubs, displays of the latest hunting equipment and taxidermy exhibits. Free hunting seminars will be offered each day, and scorers from the Boone and Crockett and Pope and Young clubs will be on hand to score antlers.

The Classic will be open from 9 a.m. until 6 p.m. March 2, and from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. March 3. Admission is $6. Children under 10 get in free.

DNR Shuns PETA Proposal

Missouri has refused a request from the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals to ban fishing in Missouri's state parks.

In November, the militant, animal-rights organization that opposes the killing of any animals for any reason asked the Missouri Department of Natural Resources to end fishing in state parks. State Parks Director Douglas Eiken told PETA that fishing is part of the park system's proud tradition of providing recreation and opportunities to explore nature.

"Since its creation in 1923, the Missouri state park system has provided fishing as a recreational opportunity, and it has become a part of the state's heritage and a tradition for many families," Eiken said. "It is a tradition that the Missouri Department of Natural Resources has allowed and intends to continue to offer to the state's residents and visitors."

State parks are separate from conservation areas, which the Conservation Department administers. The Conservation Department does operate trout hatcheries at Roaring River, Bennett Spring and Montauk state parks and at Maramec Spring Park, owned by the James Foundation.

Peel Permits to Reduce Bulk

Missouri hunting and fishing permits have a new look-and feel.

The new permits are more substantial than those issued since the Conservation Department adopted its computerized permit printing system in 1996. Though durable, the previous permits were flimsy, and the printing was sometimes hard to read.

The new tags are significantly thicker. To reduce its bulk, peel off the backing and fold the permit's adhesive surfaces together. Don't peel and stick deer or turkey permits, however. This would make it impossible to attach the built-in tags after taking game.

Quail Cadets Sought

The 2002 MO Quail Academy still is accepting applications for week-long courses in the biology, management and hunting of bobwhite quail.

One course will take place at Flat Creek Ranch in Barry County June 9-14. The other will be at Malinmor, near Bowling Green, June 16-21. The program is open to current high school freshmen and sophomores with a minimum 2.5 grade-point average. The academy, including food and lodging, is free to participants. For more information about the course in Bowling Green, contact Roxanne L. Hoover, 2500 S. Halliburton, Kirksville, MO 63501,<Roxanne.Hoover@mdc.mo.gov>. For the Flat Creek Ranch event, contact Bob Schroeppel, 2630 N. Mayfair, Springfield, MO 65803,<Bob.Schroeppel@mdc.mo.gov>. The application deadline is Feb. 15.

St. Louisans Form Geese Peace Chapter

Some St. Louis residents have formed a chapter of a group that is opposed to lethal solutions to overpopulation of giant Canada geese in urban areas.

Nancy Schell, a teacher at Ferguson Middle School, and some members of her science class objected when the Conservation Department rounded up problem geese. The birds were taken to a packing house, and the meat was distributed to charitable organizations to feed the poor and homeless.

Schell contacted GeesePeace, a national organization that promotes nonlethal solutions to goose problems. The new St. Louis chapter will attempt to avoid further roundups with the following strategies:

  • Reducing goose numbers by training volunteers to addle goose eggs with permission from wildlife officials.
  • Discouraging people from feeding or otherwise encouraging geese to take up residence in areas where they could cause trouble.
  • Chasing geese away from trouble spots with trained dogs.
  • Encouraging landowners to plant shrubs and make other changes to make the suburban landscape less attractive to geese.

Wild Goose Chases Man

What's the harm in a few geese hanging around corporate campuses? Ask Nolan Lett. Better still, ask his employer, the Aramark Corporation.

The December 2001 issue of Field & Stream reports that an Illinois court held Aramark responsible for injuries Lett suffered while fleeing an aggressive giant Canada goose on Aramark property in Oak Park, Ill. The court ordered Aramark to pay $17,000 because Lett tripped and fell, breaking his wrist. Lett's attorneys prevailed with the argument that Aramark created conditions-lush green grass and ponds-that attracted the goose.

How Does Your Forest Grow?

Wildlife needs diverse habitat to survive. In the Ozarks, providing diverse habitat may require thinning or harvesting trees to create open space. In areas where grassland dominates, you can add variety to habitat by planting trees.

Trees provide shade from summer sun and shelter from winter wind. They also provide roosting and nesting sites, travel corridors between patches of cover and protection from predators, as well as acorns, nuts and smaller seeds that are important wildlife foods.

Before planting trees, decide where they will do the most good. Many species, such as deer, turkey, grouse, quail and rabbits, thrive in a patchwork of forest and open land that provides several habitat types in a small area.

It's also important to match the soil, water and sunlight available on a given site to the trees to be planted. For example, black walnut trees thrive in creek bottoms with good drainage and deep soil, but they don't do well on rocky ridges. A Conservation Department forester or private land conservationist can help you select trees that are suitable for your location.

Just as gardens require tilling before seeding, forest plantings require site preparation. Depending on the site, you may choose to disc, burn or clear land by hand, or kill existing vegetation with herbicide to give seedlings a good start.

Choosing between seeds or seedlings and determining how far apart you plant your trees will depend on the tree species you choose and on your goals. The size of the area you want to plant also will affect your choice of planting tools and methods. Direct seeding is less expensive and less labor intensive than planting seedlings, but you can plant large areas economically with mechanical seedling planters.

Detailed information about planting trees is contained in the booklet "Forest Management for Missouri Landowners," available from the Distribution Center, Missouri Department of Conservation, P.O. Box 180, Jefferson City, MO 65102-0180.

The Conservation Department has some tree planting equipment available to loan for qualifying projects. For advice about such projects, call the nearest Conservation Department regional office and ask to talk with a forester, or write to the Forestry Division at the address above.

Conservation Agents Provide Cash for College

The Missouri Conservation Agent's Association is accepting applications for two college scholarships. Any Missouri college undergraduate or high school student entering college may apply. Application forms are available from high school counselors, college financial aid advisors or from:

  • John Hart, P.O. Box 501, Osceola, MO 64776, (417) 646-5563;
  • Marsha Jones, P.O. Box 1072, Kirksville, MO 63501, (660) 785-2424, ext. 401;
  • Steve Lenz, 3385 Waggoner Woods, Festus, MO 63028, (636) 931-2021.

"Birds In Missouri" Now On Sale

The latest book from the Conservation Department contains 375 pages packed with gorgeous color illustrations and detailed information about Missouri birds and where they live.

Birds in Missouri includes behavior and life history information on more than 300 birds regularly seen in Missouri and tips for recognizing less commonly seen feathered visitors. Maps show birds' geographic distribution, and graphs provide information about when they are most often seen. There are even two pages of instructions on using the book.

The softbound book sells for $30, plus postage and handling for mail orders. It is available at Conservation Department regional offices and nature centers, or at the Conservation Department's e-commerce site, <www.mdcnatureshop.com>. Order forms are available from Nature Shop, Missouri Department of Conservation, P.O. Box 180, Jefferson City, MO 65102-0180, or by calling (877) 521-8632.

Why Did the Prairie Chicken Cross the Road? To Get To a Place It Lekked

A coalition consisting of the Missouri Department of Conservation, the Missouri Prairie Foundation, the Grasslands Coalition and Dr. Wayne Morton, a private landowner, has received a grant from the National Wildlife Federation to benefit prairie chickens.

The grant came through the NWF's Keep the Wild Alive Species Recovery Fund. The $6,600 grant will help restore an important breeding ground and brood-rearing habitat for the greater prairie chicken, which is endangered in Missouri. The project will be conducted on a 320-acre tract of Morton's land near Taberville Prairie Conservation Area. The tract is the largest remaining prairie chicken breeding ground in Missouri.

Gypsy Moth Wanderings Reduced

Missouri's 2001 gypsy moth monitoring turned up only six of the pesky insects in 11,900 traps, meaning the exotic forest pest has not become established in the state.

Four moths were found in St. Louis County, and one each was found in Stone and Callaway counties. A few moths get to Branson and St. Louis each year by hitching rides on automobiles and recreational vehicles.

A new national program called Slow-The-Spread is working to delay the spread of the gypsy moth by eradicating populations that build up ahead of the advancing front of the infestation. Gypsy moths have been moving westward since their introduction in Massachusetts in 1869. The leading edge of the infestation front extends from Wisconsin to North Carolina. One estimate by the USDA Forest Service predicts that the insects will become established in parts of Missouri around 2015.

Oaks, which dominate Missouri's forests, are the primary food source for gypsy moths. The insects can defoliate large areas.

Interstate Poaching Proves Costly

A fuel stop in Missouri cost four Louisiana men nearly $35,000 in penalties for hunting violations committed in Iowa.

Conservation Agent Robert Sulkowski Jr. was at a service station Oct. 27 on I-55 in Ste. Genevieve County when he noticed a Louisiana truck and trailer hauling seven blood-smeared coolers. He asked the driver about his luck hunting, and the driver said he and a buddy had killed two does. Seven coolers for two does did not add up for Sulkowski.

After getting the man's permission to search the coolers, Sulkowski found 11 skinned and quartered deer, some with necks much too large to be does. Sulkowski phoned Iowa officials, who investigated at their end and discovered that the hunting party had included two additional men. The two missing hunters were on their way home with deer hides and five sets of antlers. Iowa alerted Louisiana wildlife officials, who greeted the antler carriers at home. Pictures and videotapes taken from the four poachers sewed up the case.

Iowa law allows stiff fines and confiscation of equipment used in deer hunting violations. By the time the court clerk's calculator finished whirring, the four offenders' total losses stood at $34,860, or more than $8,700 each.

November Deer Harvest Sets Record

Missouri hunters posted a record for the second year in a row, killing 205,867 deer during the November firearms deer hunt. The kill during the 2001 November firearms deer hunt topped the year 2000 harvest by 4,702 and eclipsed the previous record, set in 1998, by more than 11,000.

Unfortunately, Missouri deer hunters duplicated last year's tally of four nonfatal and two fatal deer hunting accidents. While this is many fewer accidents than were routinely reported 15 years ago, Conservation Department officials say they continue to strive for an accident-free firearms deer season. They attribute a general decline in hunting accidents to public information campaigns focusing on hunting safety and to hunter education classes, which became mandatory in 1988.

Top harvest counties this year were: Howell, 3,935; Callaway, 3,821; and Franklin, 3,788. Regional harvest totals were: Northeast, 36,769 (down 176 from last year); west-central, 32,742 (+3,261); northwest, 30,249 (-2,258); central, 24,664, (+491); east-central, 21,078 (+1,404); southwest, 19,319 (+1,300); Ozark, 18,738 (+449); southeast, 14,253 (+294); Kansas City, 4,230 (-273); and St. Louis, 3,825 (+210).

Turkey Callers Flock to Contest

The St. Louis Longbeards will hold the Mid-America Open Turkey Calling Championship and Owl Hooting Contest Feb. 16 at the America's Center in conjunction with the St. Louis Boat and Sport Show. Details are available from Longbeards President Tom Humphrey, (314) 966-5217.

Mussel Added to Endangered List

The scale shell mussel, a species that is suffering from deteriorating stream quality, has been placed on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's endangered species list.

The scale shell mussel (Leptodea leptodon) still inhabits parts of the Meramec, Big, Bourbeuse, Osage and Gasconade rivers. Its range also includes Arkansas and Oklahoma. Its numbers have plummeted since the 1950s,but the scale shell mussel's situation isn't hopeless the problems they face here and elsewhere are not insurmountable.

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