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by Jim Low

2012 Deer Harvest Up

Bowhunters posted increases in both deer and turkey harvests last year. Bowhunters checked 53,997 deer during the four-month archery season. That is a 2.5-percent increase from the previous year, which was a record. Archers checked 3,217 turkeys, a 10-percent increase from the previous year.

The 2012 archery and firearms deer harvests totaled 311,304, up 6.8 percent from 2011. The spring and fall firearms and archery turkey harvests totaled 56,511, an increase of 8.2 percent from 2011.

The 2012–2013 archery turkey harvest was up more than 20 percent from the previous five-year average and was second only to the 2009–2010 harvest of 3,298. This reflects the increase in popularity of bowhunting and improved turkey hatches in 2011 and 2012.

Increasing popularity of bowhunting was partly responsible for the strong archery deer harvest. Hunters also got a boost from weather that reduced the availability of acorns. Deer rely heavily on acorns for fall food, and when that food item is scarce they have to move around more to meet their nutritional needs. That makes them more visible to hunters.

Increased incidence of hemorrhagic diseases in 2012 did not reduce the statewide deer harvest noticeably. However, that does not mean deer populations were not affected. Hemorrhagic mortality probably did affect deer populations across much of Missouri, but it is still too early to tell if harvest decreases in some localities was the result of disease or other factors. The Conservation Department will consider reducing the availability of antlerless-deer permits in areas where deer numbers seem to be near or below target levels. Hunters and landowners also can take an active role in decisions about how many does to shoot.

Restricting doe harvest can help when deer numbers are down over large areas, but such blanket solutions take a valuable tool away from Missourians who want to manage deer populations locally. Current regulations empower hunters and landowners to work together to manage deer numbers.

MDC recorded 10 firearms-related deer-hunting incidents during the 2012–2013 hunting season. Three were fatal.

Second National Blueway

The White River, whose sinuous ramblings stitch together the Missouri-Arkansas border, became the second “national blueway” in January, recognizing the priceless asset it represents and helping ensure it remains so.

State and federal officials announced the designation at a press conference Jan. 9 in Little Rock, Ark. The designation includes the river and its entire watershed. The Connecticut River became the first blueway in 2012.

The U.S. Department of the Interior established the National Blueways System to emphasize the value of a partnership approach to river conservation that considers all the activities and uses within the watershed.

National blueways are chosen for their national significance and for their outstanding recreational, economic, cultural, and ecological values. Irrigation is ranked as the White River’s biggest economic value, followed by recreation-based tourism. The river and its tributaries also provide drinking water for many of the 1.2 million people living in the watershed.

The White River flows 722 miles from its headwaters in Arkansas’s Boston Mountains, through southern Missouri and eventually into the Mississippi River in southeast Arkansas. Its watershed encompasses 17.8 million acres.

Blueway partners include the U.S. departments of the Interior and Agriculture, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Missouri Department of Conservation, the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, The Nature Conservancy, Ducks Unlimited, the Missouri and Arkansas Audubon societies, the National Wildlife Refuge Association, the Missouri Stream Team Watershed Coalition, the James River Basin Partnership, Ozarks Water Watch, the Watershed Committee of the Ozarks, The Ozarks River Heritage Foundation, and other government and citizen conservation agencies.

Watch for Skunks, Bats

The approach of spring means more active wildlife, and Missourians should be aware of two kinds of animals that can carry rabies.

The incidence of rabies is low, but skunks and bats both are susceptible to the type of rabies found in Missouri. The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) documented only 28 cases last year out of more than 600 skunks and bats tested. Those cases were confined to 14 of Missouri’s 114 counties.

It pays to be cautious, however, because there is no treatment for rabies once symptoms appear. That makes it critical to act immediately if bitten by any wild animal or a domestic animal that has not been vaccinated for rabies. First, flush the wound with running water for five minutes and then disinfect it with alcohol, tincture of iodine, or other antiseptic. Then get to a doctor. Rabies treatment no longer requires painful injections into the abdomen. Today, treatment consists of a series of shots in the arm.

The biting animal should be trapped or killed if this can be accomplished safely. If possible, contact a law-enforcement agency so they can dispatch a conservation agent or animal-control officer to do the job.

To test an animal for rabies, health officials need the undamaged brain of the biting animal.

So if the animal is shot, it should be shot in the body, not the head. A skunk will spray when shot, so stay upwind and shoot from a distance if possible.

Use rubber gloves when handling dead animals and avoid any contact with the body. Place it in a garbage bag and then double bag it. Live animals should be confined in a manner that prevents contact with other animals or people. Call a conservation agent, law-enforcement agency, or state or local health department for help with testing.

While bats account for most of the confirmed cases of rabies, it is important to remember that the disease is rare, even in bats. Less than 3 percent of the bats tested for rabies last year were found to have the disease, and tested individuals have usually exhibited some suspicious behavior.

Raccoons, coyotes, and foxes are known carriers in other states, but the type of rabies that affects them is not found here. Missouri’s ban on importing these animals is aimed at keeping other strains of rabies out of the Show-Me State.

Black River Yields Record Shad

Brian Taylor, Poplar Bluff, hauled a record-breaking 1-pound, 14-ounce gizzard shad from the Black River Jan. 9 to set the first Missouri State fishing record of 2013. Taylor gigged the 16-inch fish, earning himself an alternative-methods record. The previous record was a 1-pound, 8-ounce fish taken by Haden Crouch, Bradleyville, from Beaver Creek in 2011. The pole-and-line record belongs to Johnny Lee Ash, Windsor, for a 1-pound, 6-ounce gizzard shad he caught below Truman Dam in 2001.

MDC, Landowners Work to Slow CWD Spread

The latest round of testing for chronic wasting disease (CWD) in Missouri found only one infected deer. The Conservation Department is working with landowners in the CWD Core Area to minimize the potential for spreading the disease.

The core area covers 29 square miles. This is less than 1 percent of the six-county CWD Containment Zone, which includes Adair, Chariton, Linn, Macon, Randolph, and Sullivan counties. All six of the free-ranging deer that have tested positive for CWD to date came from this small area.

The Conservation Department is working with landowners to reduce deer numbers in the CWD Core Area. Other states’ experiences with CWD indicate this is an effective strategy for reducing the potential for CWD to spread.

This year’s deer-reduction effort was conducted between January and March and involved MDC staff working with cooperating landowners to shoot deer on their property.

“Extensive testing indicates that we caught CWD early, while it was still limited to a small number of deer in a very concentrated area,” says Resource Scientist Jason Sumners. “We hope that by significantly reducing the number of deer in the area where CWD has been found we can remove infected animals. This will help reduce, or potentially eliminate, the further spread of the disease.”

Sumners notes that more than 90 percent of Missouri land is privately owned, so landowners are vital to deer management and to efforts to limit the spread of CWD.

“We greatly appreciate the cooperation and sacrifices of landowners in the CWD Core Area,” says Sumners. “While this will greatly reduce deer numbers in this area in the short term, the effort will ultimately help protect the health of deer in the area and throughout the state by limiting the spread and impact of CWD.”

The latest finding is a result of MDC collecting tissue samples from 1,665 hunter-harvested deer in the CWD Containment Zone. The sampling effort took place during the past fall archery and firearms deer seasons as part of MDC’s ongoing CWD testing efforts.

Catch a Trout

Brown and rainbow trout are biting right now in dozens of places around Missouri. Catch-and-keep trout fishing begins March 1 at Missouri’s four trout parks. MDC stocks trout in lakes and ponds for winter fishing in Jefferson City, Columbia, Kirksville, Mexico, Liberty, Sedalia, St. Joseph, Jackson, and 17 different locations in the St. Louis and Kansas City areas. Anglers looking for more adventure can visit one of Missouri’s 17 red-, white-, or blue-ribbon trout streams or Lake Taneycomo, home of the state-record brown trout (28 pounds, 12 ounces). For more information, see pages 16 through 20 of the 2013 Summary of Fishing Regulations, available at permit vendors statewide or at mdc.mo.gov/11414. For a list of trout-fishing areas, see mdc.mo.gov/node/5603.

Midyett Named Agent of Year

Dent County Conservation Agent Jason Midyett is Missouri’s 2012 Conservation Agent of the Year. He began his career with MDC in 2000 as a Fisheries resource assistant at Bennett Springs and completed the intensive, 26-week agent training in 2005, then was assigned to Barry County. He transferred to Phelps County in 2009 and moved to Dent County in 2011.

Ozark Region Protection Supervisor Gary Cravens says Midyett has developed a tremendous program of resource law enforcement and public relations that extends beyond his assigned county.

Midyett grew up in Dent County before attending college at the University of Missouri-Columbia and earning his bachelor’s degree in Fisheries and Wildlife Biology in 1998. He lives in Salem with his sons, Wilman and Oliver.For information on careers in conservation, visit mdc.mo.gov/node/9827.

Forest Nursery Open House

The staff of George O. White State Forest Nursery raises 3 to 4 million tree and shrub seedlings each year. On April 6, they will set aside shovels and trowels and concentrate on raising awareness of their amazing work by hosting an open house.

Everyone is invited to the event from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Take a tour of the 100-acre nursery operation, where everything from pecans to pawpaws and witch hazel to walnuts are grown. See the lifting equipment used to harvest seedlings, and check out the grading and shipping rooms where orders are filled. Top off your tour with a complimentary lunch as guests of the nursery staff.“

Lots of people have bought seedlings from us for decades without ever knowing where their trees and shrubs come from,” says Nursery Supervisor George Clark. “We think it would be nice if folks could put a place and faces with the name.”

The nursery is located 3 miles north of Licking, at 14027 Shafer Road, on the west side of Highway 63. Call 573-674-3229 for more information.

Did You Know?

We work with you and for you to sustain healthy forests.

Wildfire Prevention and Suppression

  • Wildfire Suppression: MDC cooperated with fire departments across the state to suppress 3,505 wildfires that consumed 35,141 acres last year. The main cause of wildfire is the use of fire to dispose of debris.
  • Volunteer Fire Departments: MDC, in cooperation with the U.S. Forest Service, granted $371,101 to 185 volunteer fire departments. The grants fund protective clothing, equipment, and training. Equipment was also provided through two federal programs. Through the Federal Excess Property Program we obtained equipment valued at $427,287. The new Fire Fighter Program obtained equipment valued at $13,165,721. Since 1951, we have assigned more than $70 million in equipment to volunteer fire departments.
  • Operation Forest Arson: Operation Forest Arson continues to help catch forest arsonists. Citizens can call toll free at 1-800-392-1111 to report violations anonymously. Callers are eligible for rewards if arrests are made from their calls.
  • Fire-Suppression Training: MDC provides annual wildland fire-suppression training to fire departments throughout the state. We conducted 23 sessions and trained more than 427 local firefighters in fire behavior, suppression techniques, and safety at no cost to the fire departments or the volunteers.
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