Missourians care deeply about our state’s forests, fish and wildlife. To ensure these resources are protected, the Conservation Department’s regulations committee reviews the Wildlife Code of Missouri each year. In doing so, the committee considers hundreds of letters, e-mails and phone calls from hunters, anglers and other outdoor enthusiasts who have suggestions about resource management and regulations. Although every suggestion cannot be adopted, all are carefully reviewed. Following is a summary of key changes to the Wildlife Code. Most will go into effect March 1, 2011, unless noted. Each is a reflection of the Department’s commitment to work with you and for you to sustain healthy plant and animal communities, increase opportunities for Missourians to experience nature, and promote public safety.
Many regulations are designed to sustain healthy plant and animal communities. Some rules involve harvest regulations; others are set to curtail the spread of invasive plants and animals that threaten Missouri’s native species.
Thanks to restoration efforts by the Conservation Department in the 1960s, ruffed grouse were once locally common in areas that had been logged and subsequently overgrown with brush. As these brushy patches matured into forests, grouse populations began to decline. Today, grouse populations have dropped to the point that they risk disappearing from the Show-Me State. Biologists are working to reverse this trend. In the meantime, the hunting season for ruffed grouse has been closed.
Although the upstream and downstream boundaries for the Black Bass Special Management Area on the James River were not changed, the Wildlife Code was updated to reflect current road names. The Wildlife Code now reads that the management area stretches from the Hooten Town Bridge (The Loop Road at Route O) to the Highway 413/Highway 265 bridge at Galena. The purpose of the management area is to increase the numbers and sizes of smallmouth bass in that stretch of river.
Commercial anglers who harvest roe-bearing fish should be aware of several changes. First, to protect endangered pallid sturgeon, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service has ruled that similar-looking shovelnose sturgeon may only be harvested in the commercial waters of the Mississippi River above Melvin Price Locks and Dam (Replaced Locks and Dam 26). Second, for several years, commercial anglers have been required to have a Resident Roe Fish Commercial Harvest Permit in addition to a Commercial Fishing Permit to catch and keep bowfin and paddlefish on the Mississippi River. Now, the