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Your Input Counts!

Deer harvest in Missouri has doubled during the last 10 years. Forty percent of the deer taken in Missouri are antlered bucks.

In 2003, 80 percent of deer hunters reported hunting on private land, and half reported taking at least one deer during the season. Nearly half of deer hunters favor management for large bucks. Given the choice, about twice as many participants in last spring's public meetings favored an antler-point restriction over a delayed season, an "earn-a-buck" approach or other deer management options.

During the last decade, we interviewed 134,000 anglers on Lake Taneycomo. The anglers caught an average of 1/2 to 1 rainbow trout per hour, and the fish averaged 10-12 inches long. When we conducted a statewide survey of anglers in 2002, about one-third reported fishing more than 25 days a year. Of the catfish anglers surveyed in 2001, 4 of 10 reported good to excellent catfishing.

What is the common theme across these fish and wildlife facts? All of the information came from Missouri citizens who responded to mail surveys, showed up at check stations, attended public forums, cooperated with creel censuses, and reported wildlife observations. During 40 different survey and public input efforts in the last year alone, the Conservation Department contacted more than 200,000 Missourians for their input.

The Conservation Department uses input derived from surveys and public meetings—what we call "citizen science"—each year when fish and wildlife regulations are considered. In the past, public input has prompted us to adjust seasons and fish length limits and to create quality fishing areas. This year, public opinion guided us as we made substantial changes to the deer hunting regulations.

Information about hunting activity, harvest, and preferences of Missouri landowners is critical in helping us manage state's deer herd. We typically survey a random sample of permit holders, but we haven't been able to survey landowners who hunt deer because they didn't have to register for permits. Beginning in 2004, however, all landowners are required to acquire a free permit to hunt deer and turkeys on their land.

The new, no-cost, uniquely-numbered, landowner permit also allows us to provide the convenience of "telecheck" for the first time to Missouri landowners. Landowner deer and turkey hunters and lessees can now report their harvest success over the phone by calling, toll-free, (800) 314-6828 to check a turkey, and (800) 668-4045 to check a deer. See the back cover of the "2004 Fall Deer and Turkey Hunting Information" pamphlet for more details. Telechecking also will be available to all fall turkey hunters.

We may expand the program in the future. That decision will be made after we have evaluated whether telechecking provides us with good information and whether the public finds it useful and convenient.

Making the best management decisions concerning our forest, fish and wildlife resources requires good information. To help improve the scope and accuracy of our data, I urge you to cooperate with survey takers, to attend meetings and to let us know your feelings, ideas and preferences.

Your input counts! And we count on your input.

Dale Humburg, Resource Science Division Administrator

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