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Gift ideas

Stumped for holiday gift ideas? Consider these exciting new offerings from the Nature Shop.

  • Show-me Bugs ($7.95)—Vibrant color is the hallmark of this guide to 50 cool insects. Macabre burying beetles, scary scorpionflies, terrifying tiger beetles and heroic-sized Hercules beetles inhabit this 132-page, hand-sized book, which also tells each species’ life history. Buy this book during November or December and get a 20 percent discount.
  • Central Region Seedling ID Guide for Native Prairie Plants ($6)—This pocket-sized book’s pages are made of heavy card stock. It has photos of 40 prairie plants, plus notes about habitat. Seven pages are devoted to seed photographs.
  • Trees of Missouri Field Guide ($7.50)—Color illustrations help you identify hundreds of trees. The backpack-sized book groups trees by leaf shape.
  • Echoes of Outdoor Missouri ($8)—Experience the sounds of Missouri’s natural habitats with this 70-minute CD. You will hear everything from the soothing sounds of an Ozark stream to the eerie dance of the prairie chicken on your auditory journey along rivers, prairies and forests.
  • Forest Notecards ($4.50)—Detailed drawings of oak and sumac leaves silhouetted against a soothing pastel green background create a beautiful package for whatever greeting you choose to pen inside. Ten cards and envelopes per package.

These and dozens of other gifts are available online or by visiting a conservation nature center. While you are there, don’t forget to pick up your 2007 Natural Events Calendar ($5).

Agreement puts $90,000 at landowners’ disposal

A new cost-sharing agreement inked recently by the Conservation Department, Quail Forever (QF) and Pheasants Forever (PF) puts $90,000 at landowners’ disposal for farm practices that benefit quail and other upland wildlife. Each of the partners put up money to encourage private landowners to improve wildlife habitat. Practices that qualify for funding include fescue eradication, native grass establishment, invasive species control, establishing “covey headquarters,” edge feathering and others. Qualifying landowners can receive up to $1,500 in cost-share. In most cases, funding is targeted to areas near PF or QF chapters. For more information, contact the nearest QF or PF chapter or QF Wildlife Biologist Elsa Gallagher, phone (573) 680-7115, or e-mail egallagher@quailforever.org.

Predator protection

Hawks, owls, foxes, raccoons and snakes often get the blame for declining numbers of quail and other ground-nesting birds, but these predators are not the problem. Food-habit studies show that quail make up only about 2 percent of mammalian predators’ diets and about 6 percent of the diet of the birds of prey that rely most heavily on quail. A much more important factor is lack of habitat. The same kinds of habitat that protect quail from predators meet many of the birds’ other survival needs. One element often missing from otherwise good quail habitat is dense shrubby cover. Thickets of wild plum, blackberry, rough-leaved dogwood, sumac and hazelnut provide food, shelter and escape cover for quail. The shade they create discourages thick grasses and other growth that prevent quail movement.

Timber harvester training

Loggers, forest managers and landowners are welcome at the Professional Timber Harvester education programs sponsored by the Conservation Department and the Missouri Forest Products Association (MFPA). The day-long sessions are designed to help Missourians manage forest land safely, profitably and sustainably.

The program offers five courses:

  • Forest Management covers best management practices, managing for long-term profitability and forest ecology and wildlife.
  • Level I Professional Timber Harvester training covers protective equipment, saw use, maintenance and safety, benefits of controlled felling and bore cutting.
  • Level II training includes establishing the notch and hinge when felling trees, use of wedges, assessing hazards, escape routes, chain filing and bar care and cutting spring poles.
  • Level III training covers calculating tree lean limits, advanced cutting and wedging techniques on leaning trees and bucking and limbing methods.
  • Level IV training covers advanced felling, planning efficient harvest layouts and use of powered forest management tools.

Classes run from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and are available from Feb. 7 through Nov. 7 at Mountain View, Sullivan, Winona and Macon. Class size is limited to 12, with registration on a first-come, first-served basis.

To register or get more information, contact the MFPA, 611 East Capitol Ave., Suite 1, Jefferson City, MO 65101, phone (573) 634-3252, e-mail moforest@moforest.org, or visit online.

Cute as buttons

This year’s Endangered Species Walk/Run held in October included a button contest for children. Glades were the event’s featured habitat this year, and the button contest encouraged children to learn about this austere but beautiful habitat and the plants and animals that live there. The competition drew more than 900 entries depicting various glade species. The functional artwork came from 24 schools, many of which devoted classroom time to learning about glades. Conservation Department staff narrowed the field to 10 finalists in each age category, and those attending the Oct. 7 event voted to determine the winners. First-place winners (clockwise from top) were: Briann Bemis, 6 and younger; Rachel Coryell, 7 to 9; Justin Fielder, 10 to 12; and Erica Theissen, 13 to 18.

70 years of conservation

Recognizing seven decades of conservation achievement, Gov. Matt Blunt has proclaimed Nov. 3 Seventy Years of Conservation Day.

The proclamation was timed to coincide with the date in 1936 when an overwhelming majority (71 percent) of Missouri voters approved Amendment No. 4 to the state constitution. That amendment vested sole authority for the management of Missouri’s fish, forests and wildlife in a four-person, bipartisan commission appointed by the governor.

The proclamation said that over the last 70 years, advancements in Missouri conservation have consistently brought national acclaim for accomplishments and professionalism in areas of species management, scientific research, beneficial practices on public land and private lands and conservation education. It noted that Missourians’ decision to protect and conserve our fish, forest and wildlife resources also provides an annual economic benefit to the state economy of more than $7.5 billion and supports more than 60,000 jobs.

Gov. Blunt’s proclamation also noted that Missouri voters again amended the state constitution in 1976 to provide a one-eighth of one percent sales tax to fund conservation programs.

Urban deer harvest down, but youth harvest up

Hunters killed 1,348 deer during the urban portion of Missouri’s firearms deer season Oct. 6-9 and 11,920 during the youth portion Oct. 28 and 29. The urban kill was the second-smallest since that season was instituted four years ago, but the youth harvest was the second-largest in the hunt’s six-year history.

Boone County led this year’s urban deer harvest totals with 312 deer checked. Webster County was second with 167, followed by Cole and St. Charles counties, each of which had 137 deer checked. Other county urban deer harvest totals were: Christian, 122; Greene, 101; Cass, 98; Clay, 77; St. Louis, 76; Jackson, 66; and Platte, 55.

Top counties during the youth deer season were Osage with 322 deer checked, Callaway with 259 and Pike with 226.

Hunters checked 11,927 birds during the fall firearms turkey season Oct. 1 through 31. That is down 10.4 percent from last year’s harvest of 13,308 and 17.7 percent below the record of 14,487 set in 2002. High counties for the fall firearms turkey season were Franklin with 274, Henry with 217 and Greene with 195.

Agent Notebook

Each year, commercial meat processors send the Missouri Department of Conservation a list of people who have not picked up their processed deer meat from last year’s deer season.

The Wildlife Code contains a regulation that says, “processed deer meat must be collected by May 1st by the owner following the season when taken.”

Commercial deer processors provide a vital service for Missouri’s sportsmen. They process thousands of pounds of venison for human consumption each year. In addition, meat processors are an important component of the Share the Harvest program, which encourages hunters to donate processed venison to the needy.

In order to keep their Commercial Deer Processing Permit, meat processors must follow strict rules and regulations. State law requires them to contact the Conservation Department when hunters have missed the deadline for picking up their processed deer.

Most deer hunters know the rules and regulations regarding possession, storage and processing of deer meat. However, there are some who fail to follow these requirements. Sometimes they forget, they move away, or they don’t have enough money to pay processing fees.

Conservation agents have the responsibility of locating people who have abandoned their deer meat. Wasting deer meat is not only against the law, it is a waste of a good resource. —Jim Taylor, Jackson County

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