I have been a casual birder all my life and never realized the Eurasian tree sparrow existed. Would you believe that after reading your article Monday night, I pulled into my doctor's parking lot on south Telegraph road (south St. Louis County) Tuesday morning and saw my first two Eurasian tree sparrows sitting on a fence right in front of me? Thanks for your article.
Paul Vasterling, St. Louis
Many people say you can't kill a rabbit until after a hard freeze because they have a worm in their neck. I have never seen any yet. Rabbit season starts October 1, and I have killed rabbits that day and ate them. People said I would get sick because of a parasite. But if you had a very mild winter no rabbit would be fit to eat. Is this an old time myth?
Editor's note: Many different species of wildlife, including fish, have parasites. Most of the parasites are harmless to people, including the common bot fly that lays its eggs on both wild and domestic rabbits. The eggs hatch into larvae, which then burrow into the skin, creating warbles that appear as swellings or lumps. Warbles might be found anywhere on a rabbit, but they are more common on the animal's neck and legs. When the bot fly larvae leave, an abscess usually forms. Neither warbles nor abscesses make rabbit meat inedible or unsafe. Authorities recommend, however, that people remove affected areas and cook the meat properly.
Your magazine has interested me from the time I was a child living in Kansas City to now, when I'm a middle-aged man living in Arkansas. It's the best conservation magazine around.
A while back I was hiking my local area, Lee Creek, and came upon what I thought must have been a rare or new species. What was it? Half butterfly and half hummingbird? Your next month's edition explained in detail the sphinx moth. My mystery was solved.
Thanks again for teaching me my whole life.
Arthur Anderson, Van Buren, AR
In Oakley Nutkins response to a child's letter, you suggested that deer were not always as plentiful as they now are. How true this is! When I was a youngster growing up in the late 50s and early 60s my father, who has since gone on to the great hunting land above, would come home excitedly recalling sightings of deer. I can't imagine the excitement had he been lucky enough to shoot one.
The Conservation Department has done such a tremendous job in the area of deer (and turkey) restoration in our state that if you can't harvest one, then you are probably not trying hard enough. Thanks again for the wonderful work you do for the hundreds of thousands of thankful Missourians.
Robert F. Freund, Marble Hill
In an article in your May issue, you say that SMSU in Springfield has the only collegiate shooting team in Missouri.
My son is on the shooting team at Lindenwood University at St. Charles. This team has been shooting since the fall of 2002 and its members have taken top honors in most of the shoots they have attended. At the National Collegiate Shoot in San Antonio, Texas, Lindenwood placed second. The team has about 30 members and shoots American trap, American skeet, international skeet, international trap, sporting clays and international skeet.
Thank you for promoting student shooting teams.
JoEtta Bowling, Galena
We erroneously reported that the Southwest Missouri State University shooting team was the only collegiate shooting team in Missouri. Other Missouri schools with competitive firearms shooting programs brought to our attention include Lindenwood University in St. Charles and the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Also, St. Louis University fields an air rifle team. We applaud these schools for their support of these programs.
In your May issue you have an article on controlling common flies in which the author gives very good advice on sanitation measures, use of screens and clothing to prevent exposure to flies. However he goes on to state: "Using repellents containing DEET is recommended, but never apply such chemicals to your skin. What residues are not absorbed will be quickly sweated off anyway. Using repellents on children is especially risky."
Insect repellents containing DEET (N,N-diethyl-m-toluamide) are not harmful when used according to the label on the can. I would direct your readers to the Centers for Disease Control website, www.cdc.gov, to obtain information about the need, use and effectiveness of insect repellents. Specifically a study done by Fradin and Day, 2002.
I would urge your readers to use an integrated approach to insect control : sanitation (eliminating standing water for mosquitoes, and trash and manure for flies) , exclusion (proper clothing and the use of screens) and modification of work and leisure activities (not being outside at dusk and dawn to avoid mosquito bites).
Do all of these things first to control insects but that the use of insect repellents, specifically those that contain DEET, is necessary to protect Missourians from West Nile virus (mosquitoes), lyme disease (ticks), Rocky Mountain spotted fever (ticks) and tularemia (biting flies, ticks, mosquitoes).
With 168 human cases of West Nile virus reported in 30 counties in Missouri and 662 horse cases reported from 105 counties last year, now is not the time to plant or perpetuate the unproven allegation that DEET is ineffective, harmful and should not be used. Used in accordance with its label directions, it is a valuable tool to keep Missourians healthy and enjoying the great outdoors.
Ray James, Johnson County Environmental Public Health Specialist
Ask the Ombudsman
Q: On a recent float trip we were appalled by the number of fishing lines hanging from trees. They were a nuisance to avoid (and a hazard), and they collected every bit of trash floating down the river. One had a dead, bloated fish on it.
A: It sounds like you're describing limb lines, which when used properly are a legal means of fishing. Anglers are required to label limb lines (and other set lines) with their name and address. Limb lines must be tended daily, and no angler can exceed 33 hooks. Obviously, you encountered someone who didn't use this method legally or ethically.
Most folks use set lines properly. Those who don't should be reported to the local conservation agent. Unfortunately, the unscrupulous actions of a few can result in additional restrictions for everyone.
Courtesy to landowners and respect for others are crucial elements of fishing on streams. Anglers should scrupulously adhere to the rules of limb line fishing, including removing lines after fishing.
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>.