and the Hine’s emerald dragonfly.
Conserving bottomland hardwood forests and associated wetlands benefits a number of bottomland species, including a declining number of western chicken turtles. Although still in danger of extinction, conservation efforts are beginning to show success.
Conservation efforts are also beginning to stabilize the last remaining populations of the massasauga rattlesnakes in Missouri by managing their wet prairie habitat. Persecuted to near extinction in Missouri from fear or misunderstanding, these snakes eat rodents, other small mammals and amphibians found in the wet prairies of northern Missouri.
These examples are but a few of the many restoration and conservation success stories in Missouri. Reading these stories of Missouri’s citizen-led efforts to restore wild- life, it is easy to think the hard work of conservation is complete. Yet, the same challenges of ensuring sufficient food, water and cover continue today. In many ways, challenges to wildlife are greater than ever.
“A lot of these habitats are a fraction of what they once were,” says Gardner. “The remaining areas must do double duty to help many more plants and animals make the rebound—from wetlands to forests to grasslands. Sometimes that’s as easy as leaving habitat edges along crop fields, thinning forests or using fire to improve habitat.”
Building on Our Legacy
The Department has worked with tens of thousands of Missourians over multiple generations to benefit many wildlife species and their habitats. “There have been some incredible success stories that now make wildlife readily available to any Missourian who wants to get out there and either pursue them with a gun, fishing rod, binoculars or a camera,” says MDC Director Robert L. Ziehmer.
Looking back at Missouri’s low point for wildlife, and seeing where we are today, “The promise was absolutely fulfilled,” Ziehmer continues. “In the case of deer, populations were restored to a level where we now support annual deer harvest totaling 300,000 taken by archery and gun hunters. We have 500,000 deer hunters, generating more than $1 billion of overall business activity and supporting more than 11,000 jobs. In the case of deer, turkey and other wildlife species, absolutely that promise has been fulfilled.”
MDC is dedicated to helping Missourians conserve our state’s great natural heritage for new generations. Not content to rest on past achievements, the Department is forging ahead with efforts to save prairie chickens, boost quail populations, and find new approaches and partners