The purpose of the annual review is to determine whether the existing regulations continue to fulfill the mission of conserving the state's forest, fish and wildlife resources without unnecessarily regimenting or inconveniencing the public. When specific needs are identified, rule changes are recommended to the Missouri Conservation Commission for approval.
Rule changes that appear in the 2004 Wildlife Code, which is now available, become effective March 1, 2004, and are highlighted in this summary. Hunters, anglers and trappers are responsible for understanding the regulations before venturing afield.
Any person ages 6 through 15 years old may purchase a Youth Deer & Turkey Hunting Permit without displaying a hunter education certificate card. Under this provision, a youth possessing this permit will be allowed to hunt in the immediate presence of a properly licensed adult who has a valid hunter education certificate card, or in the presence of a resident landowner, who may or may not have a hunter education certification card, on lands owned by the resident landowner, provided the resident landowner was born before Jan. 1, 1967. Previously, any adult accompanying a youth hunter during the youth deer and turkey season was required to possess a valid hunter education certificate card.
Feral hogs (any hog, including Russian and European wild boar, that is not conspicuously identified by ear tags or other forms of identification and is roaming freely upon public or private lands without the landowner's permission), may be taken in any number by any method without permit throughout most of the year. However, during all portions of the fall firearms deer and turkey hunting seasons, bait may not be used 10 days prior to or during the seaons, and hunters must possess a valid, unfilled firearms deer, turkey, or small game hunting permit and must abide by the methods of pursuit allowed for deer and turkey. During the November portion statewide and the antlerless-only portion in open units, dogs may not be used, and deer permittees may only use methods allowed for deer, and small game permittees may only use a shotgun with shot not larger than No. 4. During the youth-only and muzzleloader portions statewide and the Urban portion in open units, deer permittees may only use methods allowed for deer, and small game permittees may only use methods allowed for small game. Other restrictions may apply on public lands. Resident landowners or lessees as defined in the Wildlife Code may take feral hogs on their own property at any time, by any method and without permit.
Squirrels may be taken from the fourth Saturday in May through Feb. 15. Previously, squirrel season ended on Jan. 15.
Wildlife, except for raccoons or other furbearing animals when treed with the aid of dogs, may not be searched for, spotlighted, located, harassed or disturbed in any manner with the aid of an artificial light, headlight or spotlight from any roadway, whether public or private, or in any field, woodland or forest, by any person acting singly or as one of a group of persons.
Any person releasing dogs on a hound running area shall have in his/her possession a valid Small Game Hunting Permit. The old Hound Running Area User Permit has been discontinued.
Dog training areas shall be a single tract of land not more than 40 acres in size. Formerly, dog training areas could be a single tract of land not larger than 20 acres.
Legally taken and possessed furbearers may be purchased by licensed taxidermists or tanners only for mounting or tanning, and only mounted or tanned specimens may be sold.
NEW! Resident Cable Restraint Permit. Furbearers may be taken by trapping through the use of cable restraint devices from Dec. 15 through Feb. 15, by holders of a Cable Restraint Permit ($25). Before obtaining the permit, applicants must possess a valid Trapping Permit and complete a cable restraint training course, conducted by a certified instructor. A full definition of a cable restraint device can be found in the Wildlife Code.
Otter Management. Except in Otter Management Zone E, killer or Conibear-type traps with a jaw spread less than 8 inches and foothold traps with an inside width at the jaw post less than 6 inches are prohibited in water sets after Feb. 15. The area covered by Otter Zone E was expanded in 2003.
Extended furbearer season. Seasons for badger, bobcat, coyote, gray fox, red fox, mink, opossum, raccoon, striped skunk is from Nov. 15, 2004 through Feb. 15, 2005. Beavers may be trapped from Nov. 15, 2004, through March 31, 2005.
Expanded reciprocal fishing privileges with Kentucky. Any person possessing a valid sport fishing license issued by the state of Kentucky, or who is legally exempted from those license requirements, without further permit or license, may fish in the Mississippi River within the boundary of Missouri adjacent to the state of Kentucky. For the purposes of these reciprocal fishing privileges, the river is defined as the main channel and immediate side or secondary channels or chutes. It does not include oxbow or floodplain lakes, or backwaters that extend onto the floodplain or up tributaries when the Mississippi River level exceeds 33 feet at the Cairo, Ill., gauging station. Similarly, any person possessing a valid Missouri sport fishing permit, or who is legally exempted from those permit requirements, without additional permit or license, will have these same fishing privileges on the Mississippi River within the boundary of Kentucky. Both states' anglers must abide by the regulations of the state in whose waters they are fishing and, when fishing in waters in which they are not licensed to fish, shall comply with the most restrictive of the two states' regulations.
Black Bass on the Elk River. The daily limit is two black bass on the Elk River. On the Elk River, all black bass less than 15 inches in total length must be returned to the water unharmed immediately after being caught.
Smallmouth bass on the Big River. The black bass special management area on the Big River is expanded upstream to Leadwood Access in St. Francois County. From Leadwood Access downstream to the Maramec River, there is a 15-inch minimum length limit on smallmouth bass, and the daily possession limit of 12 black bass, which may include no more than six largemouth and smallmouth bass in the aggregate, may include only one smallmouth bass.
Flathead Catfish on Longview Lake. The daily limit is reduced to one flathead catfish, and flathead catfish less than 24 inches in total length must be returned to the water unharmed immediately after being caught.
Rock Bass (goggle-eye) and Warmouth. All rock bass less than 8 inches in total length must be returned to the water unharmed immediately after being caught on the Big Piney River from Highway 17 bridge (in Texas County) to its confluence with the Gasconade River. The daily limit for rock bass on the entire Big Piney River will return to the statewide daily limit of 15 fish.
Snagging and grabbing. The James River from Lake Springfield Dam to the Highway 160 bridge is opened to snagging, snaring and grabbing, and the harvest and possession of paddlefish will now be permitted on this portion of the river.
Hellbenders. Due to drastic declines in hellbender numbers in recent years, both the Ozark and eastern hellbender have been added to the state endangered species list. Hellbenders cannot be taken or possessed. Hellbenders caught on hook and line must be returned unharmed immediately to the water. It is unlawful to gig or otherwise harm hellbenders.
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