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Ask the Ombudsman

Q: We swim off my dock and the sunfish, or perch, nip at warts, freckles and moles. Why are they attracted to blemishes? What’s the difference between sunfish and perch?

A: I suspect the fish are mistaking your skin features for a potential meal, perhaps a small aquatic animal.

Common names for fish, wildlife and plants could fill a book. Perch is a family name for a group of fish which include walleye and sauger, as well as several small fish which are rarely caught by anglers. Some anglers use the term “perch” as a common name for sunfish, which include bluegill, green sunfish and longear sunfish. Crappie, black bass and goggle-eye are also members of the sunfish family, but they’re not usually called perch.

Here’s a quick quiz. Which of the following are truly perch—black perch, yellow perch, stone perch or logperch? Answer: Yellow perch and logperch are members of the perch family. However, yellow perch are more commonly found north of Missouri. The logperch is a small, slender fish seldom caught by anglers. Black perch is a common name for green sunfish, and many anglers refer to fresh water drum as stone perch. The Fish of Missouri page  can be very helpful. Also, the free publication Introduction to Missouri Fishes is a good text for identifying fish and it includes many local names. To request this item write to MDC, Introduction to Missouri Fishes, P.O. Box 180, Jefferson City, Mo 65102 or e-mail pubstaff@mdc.mo.gov.

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) 522-4115, ext. 3848, or e-mail him at Ken.Drenon@mdc.mo.gov.

Agent Notes

Get help managing deer on your property.

With the firearms deer season just around the corner, many landowners are asking how they can best manage the deer on their property. Whether they are primarily interested in managing for larger bucks or they simply want to reduce the number of deer in their area, landowners can achieve their goals by emphasizing antlerless deer harvest.

Shifting hunting pressure from younger bucks to antlerless deer both increases overall buck size and improves the buck-to-doe ratio. That’s because more 2- and 3-year-old bucks are able to reach the 4- and 5-year-old age class, during which deer antlers attain their prime.

Controlled doe management is the most effective way to reduce overall herd size and reduce crop damage. The Conservation Department’s liberal antlerless deer strategies are designed to help landowners control deer numbers.

Landowners interested in deer management are encouraged to contact their local conservation agent. We provide a number of services, including food plot seed in the spring and habitat advice, to those wanting to better manage their local deer herd. We can also put you in touch with a private lands conservationist for more technical advice and help with available cost-share programs.

Randy Doman is the conservation agent for Dade County, which is in the Southwest region. If you would like to contact the agent for your county, phone your regional Conservation office.

Time Capsule

November 1997

Amber Cox wrote about the 50th anniversary of the George O. White State Forest Nursery in Making Missouri Green. Located in Texas County, the nursery opened in 1935, just a year after the Forest Service designated national forests in Missouri. Forest Service Forester George O. White, who would later become Missouri’s first state forester, selected the original 40-acre site for the nursery. The buildings were constructed by Civilian Conservation Corps and Work Projects Administration workers earning $1 a day. The nursery operation was shut down in 1942 during World War II due to disrupted funds for reforestation, but it was reopened in 1947. That same year, it was taken over by the Department of Conservation. In 1948, the Department distributed its first crop of seedlings.—Contributed by the Circulation staff

Behind the Code

When hunting dogs and landowners collide.

by Tom Cwynar

Missouri’s Wildlife Code allows the use of dogs during prescribed open seasons to take or pursue wildlife, except for beaver, deer, mink, muskrats, river otters and turkeys. All dogs used for hunting, except for waterfowl and game bird hunting, have to be equipped with a collar that includes the full name and address or complete telephone number of the owner. Additional regulations and restrictions for hunting with dogs, including special restrictions in certain counties, can be found on page 81 and on page 90 of the Wildlife Code.

Dogs on private property are not considered to be trespassing. However, state statutes prohibit any person, including hunters, from entering private property without permission, even if they are just trying to retrieve their dogs.

Chapter 273 of the Missouri Revised Statutes allows landowners to pursue and kill dogs that are chasing or injuring livestock. It also allows for recovery of damages from the owner of the dog. Landowners, however, cannot shoot dogs simply for being on their property. Doing so can result in criminal charges.

When dealing with confrontations between people who use dogs for hunting and people who don’t want dogs on their property, a conservation agent’s only option is to impartially apply state statutes and the Wildlife Code, while encouraging all parties involved to show mutual respect and consideration.

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