"Missouri: The Spring State," in the July issue, was excellent. Both the article and the photographs of Missouri's springs conveyed the beauty and mystery of these natural wonders.
Greer Spring (one of those featured in the article) was the subject of a 1933 Missouri Court of Appeals decision. The Court upheld the spring owner's right to prevent the public from visiting the spring and fishing in its waters, but did declare that the spring was one of the largest springs known to exist and might even be the "Eighth Wonder of the World." Fortunately, Greer Spring can now be enjoyed by the public.
W. Dudley McCarter, Clayton
As my family and I are avid off-road motorcycle enthusiasts, I was pleased that your article about responsible ATV operation on public and private lands was done in an informative and unbiased manner.
As a landowner, I look at this issue from both sides of the fence. I do feel though that there is an organized effort underway by so-called conservationists to ban all types of mechanized recreation on all lands.
I feel that no matter what your preference is for enjoying the outdoors, there is enough room for everyone, as long as we all act responsibly. Keep up the good work.
John Newberry, Jefferson City
Thanks for the ATV article. I printed the statute from your Internet site. We occasionally have a problem with ATVs, and it's good to have a state statute handy.
Barbara van Benschoten, Kansas City
In the April article "Just a Jake," the author suggests bringing wild turkey meat up to 150 degrees, instead of the standard 180 degrees usually recommended for turkey meat. Is there some reason wild turkeys are immune to salmonella and, therefore, don't have to be cooked to 180 degrees?
Dale Lesch, Farmington
Editor's note: Although wild turkey meat is leaner than the meat of domestic turkeys, it still needs to be fully cooked to guard against salmonella poisoning. The 180-degree figure you cite is recommended for whole turkeys tested deep in the inner thigh with a meat thermometer. Health guidelines suggest you cook turkey breasts to 170 degrees. A dozen wild turkey recipes, chosen randomly on the Internet, suggest meat temperatures ranging from 165 degrees to 185 degrees.
I've had a lot of raincrow activity around my home in the last couple of years. I can hear them, but never can get a good view of them. All the old-timers around here have a different version of what they look like. Can you show me a photo of one?
Garret Gabel, Newburg
Editor's note: If you've heard a lot of calling, you've probably had plenty of rain. Yellow-billed cuckoos are commonly called raincrows or stormcrows because their calls seem to signal summer rains. Yellow-billed cuckoos winter in South America and summer here. Although their calls are distinctive, they can be difficult to spot because they tend to remain high in the tree canopy.
When I read about the First Fish Program, I thought about my first fish. I was about 5 or 6 years old and fishing in Elm Lake in Iowa. I raised up the little cane pole I was using and saw a small bullhead. I dropped the pole in the water and ran to tell Dad I had caught a fish. Mom saved the pole and the fish.
I've since enjoyed great fishing from Florida to Alaska. I've been a Missouri resident for more than 20 years, and I really like fly fishing for trout and white bass. I have caught 18 white bass on 18 consecutive casts! I was fishing with a Baptist minister at the time. It pays to have have a good witness.
Earl Freel, Forsyth
Jim Low's article on floating the Missouri river did a great job describing conditions found on the river and access points, but I noticed one small error. The "can" navigation buoys are green, as shown in the picture on page 30, and not black. Some of the older green cans do not have the fins in an "X" shape on top but instead have two rebar handles that look like ears.
Tom Hanley, Oak Grove
The letters printed here reflect readers' opinions about the Conservationist and its contents. Space limitations prevent us from printing all letters, but we welcome signed comments from our readers. Letters may be edited for length and clarity.
Q: I know that you normally do not recommend bringing wildlife home as pets, but last week my son found a very small red-eared slider. Well, he had to bring it home and put it in an aquarium. Is it OK to keep the turtle? If so what does it eat?
A: Chapter 9 of the Wildlife Code, Rule 3CSR10-9.110, provides for possession of certain wildlife species without permit (the red-eared slider falls in this category). However, you're correct that the Conservation Department discourages the adoption of any wildlife due to concerns about injury and disease.
Internet users can find helpful information about turtles in Missouri's Turtles, a free publication available from most Conservation Department offices. Another good reference is Tom Johnson's The Amphibians and Reptiles of Missouri. Johnson's book mentions salmonella contamination that could be transmitted to children by handling turtles or the water in which they were kept. This publication is for sale at regional offices and nature centers, or you can order it online.
Q: We've noticed a decrease in hummingbird activity at our feeders, although wasps and ants are still present. What's wrong?
A: There's probably nothing wrong. During their nesting period, hummingbirds feed their young insects and spiders. It's not unusual to have less activity around the feeder. You can cut back on the amount of nectar during this period. Just be sure to change it regularly and keep your feeders clean.
Petroleum jelly may deter the ants, and some feeders come equipped with guards to discourage wasps and bees. For more information about hummingbirds see <www.mdc4.mdc.mo.gov/Documents/8177.pdf>.
Ombudsman Ken Drenon will respond to your questions, suggestions or complaints concerning Conservation Department programs. Write him at P.O. Box 180, Jefferson City, MO 65102-0180, call him at (573) 751-4115, ext. 3848, or e-mail him at <Ken.Drenon@mdc.mo.gov>.
Editor - Tom Cwynar
Managing Editor - Bryan Hendricks
Art Editor - Dickson Stauffer
Designer - Les Fortenberry
Artist - Dave Besenger
Artist - Mark Raithel
Photographer - Jim Rathert
Photographer - Cliff White
Staff Writer - Jim Low
Staff Writer - Joan McKee
Circulation - Bertha Bainer