In your article about big river fishing, the author refers to flying Asian fish as bigheads. I think the only Asian fish to fly is the silver. You even have a picture of the silver in the story. Most people are unaware of the two types of Asian fish. This should be cleared up for the public's knowledge.
David Schumaker, Union
Editor's note: Both big head and silver carp will jump, and both species have jumped into the boat of Conservation Department employee Brian Canady. He says, however, that he more commonly sees silver carp porpoising and jumping than big heads. Both fish are non-native species and, according to Canady, make excellent table fare when "scored" to reduce the boniness of the flesh.
I just wanted to send a short note to thank the Missouri Department of Conservation for the help they provided as we cleaned up from the recent tornado. The task we faced us as we assembled to begin cleaning up our church and cemetery at Montreal was overwhelming at first. However, many individuals and agencies, including yours, arrived quickly to help, and by the end of the day a large portion of the debris had been cleared.
We're very appreciative of the fine work the Conservation Department does year-round, but your assistance after the tornado was invaluable.
Jeannette George, Montreal
Mr. Finley's article on frog gigging was well written and his comment on hand grabbing is so right. Where I disagree is on his cleaning method.
My father taught us kids to remove the head, skin the frog and remove the entrails. There is a lot of meat on the body and front legs of a big frog--thus the reason for hand-grabbing. Try it, and see if Dad's method does not add a delightful increase to the feast.
Tom Stork, Brookline
The triatoma species shown in the picture accompanying the "Amazing Assassins" article in the June issue was shown belly-up. We since have been able to persuade a triatoma to pose so that readers could see the identifying marks on its back.
Big Fish Verified
Years ago my grandparents recalled big fish fries at their family gatherings in Cole County. They spoke of the large fish pulled from the Moreau River. It was hard to make people believe later that such large fish existed in the Missouri rivers. Now your "Big Fishy" article by Jim Low verifies it.
Harry Bernthal, via Internet
I teach a university graduate-level class dealing with law and policy in higher education. A question on the spring semester final examination asked for an explanation of the function of an ombudsman.
Some of the answers were pretty much off-target; however, one student had a great response. He wrote, "An ombudsman is the guy who answers questions in the Missouri Conservationist magazine."
I gave him full credit.
Tom Edmunds, Warrensburg
Editor's note: Ombudsman Ken Drenon says the definition he generally uses is "A Scandinavian term for an independent individual who investigates and tries to resolve disputes and provides information." However, although Ken is an "indepedent individual," he is employed by the Conservation Department.
I was so pleased to see the article by Bryan Hendricks about Damascus knives. Knives have been a part of my life since very young (like most Missourians I imagine) and it was great to read the story.
George Bartley, Fulton
Thank you for the informative and entertaining article about the Eurasian tree sparrow. I had not realized that this species was confined to such a small area. I now feel privileged to be watching these wonderful little birds in my yard. They are currently using eight bird houses that I have scattered about. It is fascinating to watch them raise and tend to their young.
Marilyn Precht, St. Louis
In "Skunk Solution," the letter writer is wrong about grabbing a skunk by the tail and lifting it to avoid being sprayed. My cousin and I done skunks that way, and you will end up with your arm and face full of scent and a green yellow color. The scent sure will burn your eyes.
Eugene Stilts, Zalma
Ask the Ombudsman
Q: We farm the Osage River bottom and have trouble with people coming off the river into our fields to hunt, collect mushrooms and search for arrowheads and artifacts. Why can't the Conservation Department do something to prevent this type of trespassing?
A: We're very fortunate in Missouri to have access to thousands of miles of streams on which to float, fish and hunt, but disrespect for private land, of the kind you mention, is illegal.
Elder v. Delcour was a precedent-setting Missouri Supreme Court decision establishing a generally accepted public right to fish incidental to navigation on Missouri's streams. This court case also provides for additional activities involving the stream banks, such as portaging and resting, but what you've described is clearly trespassing.
With the exception of public land (and the previously mentioned activities of portaging and resting), floaters need to obtain the landowner's permission to be above the high bank of the stream. Stream users need to be aware that second degree trespass is an offense of absolute liability. Excuses of ignorance or accident can't be used as a defense for the trespasser, and landowners don't have to have their property posted, improved or fenced for trespassers to be in violation.
Trespass laws are covered in Missouri's state statutes rather than the Wildlife Code; however, conservation agents work with landowners, sheriffs' departments and prosecuting attorneys to enforce these laws. If you have questions about the status of specific streams, your best source of information will be the local prosecuting attorney.
You can find information about trespass statutes on the Internet.
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>