As summer heats up, do you find your thoughts drifting to autumn weather and hunting seasons? If not, maybe they should, especially if you want to take part in a managed deer hunt or need hunter-education certification.
Deer hunters have until Aug. 15 to apply online for most managed hunts. For more information, see the 2013 Fall Deer and Turkey Hunting Regulations and Information booklet, which is available wherever hunting permits are sold. You can find the online version at mdc.mo.gov/node/3867.
If you are a new hunter, or if you plan to mentor a novice hunter this fall, now is the time to take care of your hunter-education certification requirements. Hunters who were born on or after Jan. 1, 1967, and are 16 or older, must successfully complete an approved hunter education course to qualify to buy firearms hunting permits. Some mentors also are required to be hunter-education certified. Details about this and other exceptions to the mandatory hunter-education rule are listed on Page 2 of the 2013 Summary of Missouri Hunting and Trapping Regulations, also available from permit vendors or at mdc.mo.gov/node/11416.
Hunter education classes fill up quickly as hunting seasons approach. Enrolling early will ensure against the disappointment of not get-ting into a class and not getting to hunt.
Hunter education class participants can look forward to a new experience this year. The curriculum has been revised to enhance student convenience and emphasize mentorship and hands-on training. Unlike the old, 10-hour classroom program, the new, more flexible version is divided into two parts. Step 1 — Acquire the necessary knowledge about hunting equipment, safety, and ethics. Participants can do this any of three ways:
Step 2 — After completing Step 1, obtain your certification by attending a four-hour skills session that fits your schedule. These sessions consist of instructor-led, hands-on exercises designed to help students put their knowledge into practice. After the session, students take a 35-question multiple-choice exam. To find a course near you, visit mdc.mo.gov/node/3095 or call or visit one of the Conservation Department regional offices.
Don’t wait. Hunting season is closer than you think!
Fans of the hard-fighting, heavyweight striped bass soon will enjoy increased opportunities at Bull Shoals Lake.
This summer the Conservation Department will stock 16,000 “striper” fingerlings on the Missouri side of the reservoir, which spans the Arkansas Missouri state line. Supplemental stocking is planned every other year thereafter, using fish reared at Conservation Department hatcheries.
A stocking by the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission in 1998 started what has become a nationally known trophy striper fishery at Bull Shoals Lake. This one-time stocking yielded a 56-pound, 5-ounce fish in 2008, a 58-pound, 10-ounce fish in 2010, and a 60-pound, 9-ounce fish in 2011. All were state records at the time they were caught. Earlier this year, an angler on the Arkansas portion of Bull Shoals caught a potential world-record 68-pound striper. The regular stocking schedule will produce a consistent striper fishery that will thrill anglers with adrenalin-inducing action year-round.
Striper regulations on the Missouri part of Bull Shoals are a minimum length limit of 20 inches and a daily limit of three fish. For more information about striped bass at Bull Shoals, call 417- 256-7161 or visit fishing.mdc.mo.gov.
State and federal courts have levied fines totaling $67,425 on dozens deer poachers swept up in the “Pulling Wool” undercover investigation.
The Conservation Department and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) cooperated in the investigation of an organized ring of poachers who used dogs and marine-band radios to take deer illegally. Forty-six defendants were found guilty by trial or plea in Federal Court for hunting deer with the aid of dogs on Mark Twain National Forest land. Six other defendants were charged with violations in state court in Ripley County and received fines and court costs totaling $1,909. The poachers also lost their hunting privileges for periods of one to three years.
Hunting deer with dogs, commonly called deer dogging, has long been illegal in Missouri. But poachers, particularly in the Ozarks, use hounds to run deer toward shooters. The use of radios, automobiles, and all-terrain vehicles gives hunters an unfair advantage over deer. It also creates dangerous situations as poachers race down narrow roads to intercept deer and shoot at animals crossing roads. Dogging disrupts legitimate hunting.
Catching poachers is one way conservation makes Missouri a great place to hunt and fish.
The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) has confirmed the presence of white-nose syndrome (WNS) in bats in public caves in Crawford, Washington, and Franklin counties. All affected caves are closed to the public, and cave names are not being dis-closed to prevent disturbance of remaining bats.
WNS was first discovered in New York in 2006. Missouri’s first confirmed case came in 2012. Since then, the disease or the fungus that causes it has been found in seven Missouri counties, all in the eastern part of the state.
Affected bats typically have white fungus growing on their faces and wings. WNS spreads mainly through bat-to-bat contact and has not been found to infect humans or other animals. The fungus that causes WNS may be inadvertently carried between caves by humans on clothing, footwear, and caving gear.
Bats with WNS show unusual behavior, such as flying outside in daylight and clustering near entrances of caves and mines during the day in cold winter months when they should be hibernating. This abnormal activity uses up fat reserves needed to get the bats through the winter, making them more susceptible to freezing or starvation.
People should never handle bats and should contact their local MDC office or conservation agent if they find dead bats, or see bats flying outside during the day in cold winter months.
Bats provide natural pest control for farms and forests and play an important role in con-trolling mosquitoes and other insects that can spread disease to people. According to the USGS, the number of North-American bats estimated to have died from WNS so far could consume up to 8,000 tons of insects per year.
More information on WNS is available online at whitenosesyndrome.org.
Schell-Osage Conservation Area (CA) is the latest toehold for the invasive and ecologically destructive zebra mussel. Workers conducting a fish survey at the conservation area in Vernon and St. Clair counties this spring found several small zebra mussels in Barber Lake, a shallow oxbow lake in an old channel of the nearby Osage River.
Invasive Species Coordinator Tim Banek says it is likely that the zebra mussels originated from Melvern Reservoir and floated down the Osage River system in their larval stage. Truman Lake backs up onto Schell-Osage CA during high water, and zebra mussels already have been found in Lake Melvern, which is farther up the Osage River drainage in Kansas.
Zebra mussels entered the United States in ship ballast water in the Great Lakes. They have caused billions of dollars of damage in the Great Lakes and Mississippi River systems. The mussels reproduce in huge numbers. Adults attach to hard surfaces like pipes, docks, rocks, boat hulls, and even native mussel shells. They form dense colonies. The sharp-edged shells can cut fishing line or the feet of swimmers.
In recent years, the mussels have continued to spread to new waters. In Missouri, they were found in Lake of the Ozarks in 2006. Since then, they have also been found at Smithville Lake and Lake Lotawana in the Kansas City area, and in upper Bull Shoals Lake and Lake Taneycomo in southern Missouri. They are also in the Mississippi, Missouri, and Osage rivers.
Boaters and anglers can help stop the spread of zebra mussels and other aquatic invasive plants and animals. The mussels can move to new waters when adults are attached to docks or boat hulls, as they can survive for some time out of water. Also, water in boats, motors, bait buckets, and live wells can transport the microscopic larvae, called veligers.
A few simple precautions can help protect Missouri waters from zebra mussels.
The Conservation Department is accepting applications for the next class of conservation agent trainees. Selected candidates will undergo 26 weeks of intense training in all facets of law enforcement and resource management.
Those who make the grade will receive county assignments and become the face of conservation in their assigned communities — enforcing the Wildlife Code of Missouri and helping the public with such issues as nuisance wildlife and land management. To qualify, applicants must have a bachelor’s degree in a field related to the natural sciences or criminal justice. For more information, including salary range, duties and responsibilities, degree requirements, qualifications, and special-ability requirements, and to apply, visit the Job Openings section at mdc.mo.gov/about-us/careers. The application deadline is July 19. Contact MDC Protection Programs Supervisor Cheryl Fey at 573-751-4115, ext. 3819, or Cheryl.Fey@mdc.mo.gov with questions.
Help Anglers can help ensure optimal management of smallmouth bass by taking part in a research project on selected Ozark streams. All you have to do is report catches of tagged smallmouth bass. This is the second and final year of the tagging effort on the Black, Castor, Current, and North Fork rivers, and Courtois Creek. Each tag has a phone number printed on it where anglers can call to report the following information: tag number, date of catch, length of bass, approximate location of the catch, and if the fish was kept or released. This information will help biologists devise management strategies to maximize fishing opportunity. Anglers don’t have to keep the fish. They can simply clip the tag and release the fish if they wish.
Ice storms, tornadoes, flood, drought, disease, and insect pests have taken a serious toll on trees across Missouri in recent years. Here are some tips for nursing stressed trees back to health or replacing those that are too far gone to save.
For more information about tree planting and care, visit mdc.mo.gov/node/5947.
Conservation makes Missouri a great place to hunt.
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