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Damage Control

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Published on: Feb. 2, 2006

Last revision: Nov. 23, 2010

courses and city parks.”

Advance planning during construction can help keep geese from being attracted to a lake in the first place. But if geese are already creating a problem, there is still hope.

“Goose control techniques must be carried out consistently over time to have the desired effects,” says Sangster. “No single technique may work on its own. A well-executed abatement program implementing several techniques, including habitat manipulation, chemical control, harassment (including trained dogs), and egg and nest destruction, is critical to controlling giant Canada geese. If these techniques fail, a roundup and removal may be recommended.”

A special permit is required to disturb eggs and nests or kill the geese out of season.

BEARS

Black bears are becoming more common in Missouri and human conflict is inevitable. We receive several bear complaints each year. Bears get into trash dumpsters and they damage beehives. Less common for black bears is to prey on livestock.

“Bears are highly responsive to harassment techniques and electric fences,” says James Dixon, biologist, Springfield. “Most problems can be corrected by keeping food items out of reach and stringing electric fence around whatever you don’t want the bears getting into.”

Black bears are usually not aggressive but can be attracted to unnatural food sources like trash receptacles, campgrounds and even bird feeders. Keeping a clean camp and using trash containers with good, secure lids will prevent most problems.

“Black bears, as a rule, generally don’t cause problems,” says McWilliams. “Most of the bears that I deal with get into trouble when they are being fed. By feeding a bear, people may be unknowingly contributing to its death if it becomes a nuisance and has to be destroyed. Remember, ‘A fed bear is a dead bear.’”

Wildlife damage biologists may have to trap and relocate a bear if harassment techniques don’t work.

MOUNTAIN LIONS

Mountain lions always cause quite a stir and are the subject of many coffee shop conversations.

The Department receives dozens of mountain lion sighting reports monthly but has only been able to confirm the presence of seven free-roaming mountain lions in Missouri over the last 10 years. Where these mountain lions came from also makes for interesting discussions.

Since there are no fences around the state, nothing is stopping a wild mountain lion from wandering into Missouri from an existing population outside of the state. The nearest known populations of mountain lions occur in Colorado, South Dakota and Texas.

Another possibility is that captive mountain lions are occasionally released or are escaping captivity. Missouri requires a special permit to possess a mountain lion and strict confinement standards must be met. There are currently about 30 people in the state who have a permit to keep them, and an unknown number of people may possess them illegally.

One thing is sure—the Department has not reintroduced mountain lions. The Missouri Department of Conservation (or any other state or federal agency) has never released, bought, sold, traded, tagged, radio collared or microchipped any mountain lions in Missouri, nor do we have any plans to do so in the future.

In response to the few cats that have been confirmed and the number of reports that are generated, the wildlife damage biologists have been trained to detect and analyze mountain lion sign and damage.

“One thing that I learned about mountain lions is that if one is in the area, it will leave sign and plenty of it,” says Braithwait, who has trained in both Wyoming and Florida.

Most on-site investigations verify that coyotes, foxes, bobcats, deer and dogs are often mistakenly identified as mountain lions.

LIVING WITH WILDLIFE

With some tolerance, common sense and a little help, most of us can weather the minor inconveniences that wildlife may cause and more thoroughly enjoy the benefits that it offers. Missouri’s Wildlife Damage Management program, and the capable staff that keep it running, will help ensure that your experiences with wildlife are positive ones.

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