These critically imperiled reptiles get their name from their long, chicken-like neck. That long neck helps them catch invertebrates, such as dragonfly and damselfly larvae, crayfish and fishing spiders. The Show-Me State is at the northern edge of this species’ geographic distribution, so it probably never was common outside the Bootheel Region. Even there, however, its numbers have declined. Draining of the region’s vast historic wetlands and removal of Missouri’s historic cypress bottomland forest have reduced the species’ habitat to a fraction of its original extent. Non-point water pollution makes remaining wetlands less habitable, too. The Western chicken turtle’s best chance of survival lies in preservation or restoration of bottomland hardwood forests and associated still waters of permanent and temporary wetlands. The value of existing habitat can be enhanced by providing downed trees and other places where these turtles can safely bask in the sun. Protecting existing bottomland hardwood forest from water pollution is another important protective measure.
Short of cash? Follow these cost-saving quail management tips to improve habitat on your land:
For more detailed advice, visit the links listed below.
To you, acorns may be nuts, but to wildlife biologists they are “hard mast.” Technically, this includes any long-lasting tree fruit, from soft-shelled pecans to rock-hard hickory and walnuts. But for Missouri wildlife, hard mast mostly means the fruit of oak trees. Trees in the white oak group produce acorns the same year they set fruit. Acorns from red oaks (which have pointy leaves) take two growing seasons to mature. The difference builds a certain amount of stability into this important wildlife food source. If a late frost nips white oak flowers, red oak acorns that started growing the previous year fill the gap. When the red oak crop fails, chances are white oaks will be available.
Editor In Chief - Ara Clark
Managing Editor - Nichole LeClair Terrill
Art Director - Cliff White
Writer/Editor - Tom Cwynar
Staff Writer - Bonnie Chasteen
Staff Writer - Jim Low
Photographer - Noppadol Paothong
Photographer - David Stonner
Designer - Stephanie Thurber
Artist - Dave Besenger
Artist - Mark Raithel
Circulation - Laura Scheuler