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Science-Based Conservation

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Published on: Aug. 15, 2012

on the long-standing support of the Missouri Department of Conservation, which has been at the forefront among state agencies in integrating science discovery and its application to solve real natural resources problems.” Learn more at coopunits.org/Missouri.

Leader In Science-Based Conservation

Missouri has a long legacy of creating and implementing science-based conservation. “Many fish, forest and wildlife management techniques used around the world today were developed by MDC researchers,” says Mike Kruse, MDC resource science division chief. “We were the first to use and evaluate length limits in fish populations, the first to develop artificial feeds for rearing trout, the first to rear hellbenders in captivity, and the list goes on and on. When you look back at the research, science and management techniques developed by the Department, you realize we are truly standing on the shoulders of giants.”

In one example of early Department research, after Lake of the Ozarks and Truman reservoirs were established, wild paddlefish movements upstream to spawning habitats were blocked. To provide recreational paddlefish angling opportunities, Department biologist Charles Purkett found paddlefish eggs and fry, and studied paddlefish spawning requirements. Department biologist Tom Russell and Hatchery Manager Jerry Hamilton learned how to hatch and rear paddlefish to boost their numbers. Missouri now has some of the best paddlefish fisheries in the country, thanks in large part to those early conservation efforts.

In another example of early Department research, biologists Allen Brohn and LeRoy Korschgen developed a precipitin test to distinguish deer meat from other meats. This test was allowed in courts and assisted conservation agents in prosecuting deer poachers. Today, conservation agents still rely on sound scientific evidence to solve wildlife crimes. Modern-day techniques utilizing DNA testing now help conservation agents bring deer poachers to justice.

Several recent science-based conservation successes benefit the hellbender, an endangered aquatic salamander. Department Herpetologist Jeff Briggler and Hatchery Manager James Civiello successfully collected and hatched hellbender eggs from the wild. Working in collaboration with the St. Louis Zoo, they have successfully reared juvenile hellbenders for release back into their native streams. In addition, Briggler, Fisheries Management Biologist John Ackerson and Fisheries Technician Chuck Wichern successfully pioneered the use of artificial nesting structures for wild hellbenders in Ozark streams. Biologists in other parts of the country are now using these structures to increase the numbers of this declining salamander.

“We’ve always had some of the best people in conservation, who have

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