Thank you, Missouri citizens, for allowing me to serve you by helping conserve your wildlife heritage during my past 32 years of state employment. As I close out my 15 year tenure as Wildlife Division Administrator for the finest conservation agency anywhere, I realize how fortunate we are in this state to have a public that demands conservation excellence. Nobody supports conservation work like Missourians! It is “the” place to work if you specialize in conservation. People are drawn nationwide to work here because of this reputation; as a Wisconsin native, I serve as a prime example. I moved to Missouri in 1968 to attend graduate school at the University of Missouri in their Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit. Upon graduation in 1970, I was very fortunate to join MDC as one of the state deer biologists. And, I never left. Neither do the vast majority of conservation employees. Why? Because your support as voters and taxpayers provides the ingredients for conservation excellence. Those ingredients are: 1) a constitutionally authorized four-member, bi-partisan conservation commission, 2) rule-making authority vested in this commission, and, 3) ear-marked financing—the conservation sales tax. With these tools, conservation excellence is possible by attracting the very best employees available and keeping them through time. We have the finest staff available, and they are motivated long-term through your trust and constant support. Nobody does it better than Missouri when it comes to conservation!
Much has been accomplished during my tenure. Some 450,000 acres of land have been purchased and developed to improve wildlife habitat (some of it critical to the survival of certain species) and provide public areas for you and wildlife animals to use and enjoy. Species have been restored to Missouri (bald eagles, peregrine falcons, osprey, giant Canada geese, river otters, and ruffed grouse). The range of other species has been expanded (pheasants, bobcats, deer and turkey). The year I went to work, the spring turkey harvest was 1,607. It is 36 times higher today! The archery deer harvest was 828, compared to 26,165 in 2001. We now have many special and popular events like Evening with Wildlife, Eagle Days, Day on a Prairie, youth hunts and free fishing weekends. It has been fun being a part of this history.
Yet, much remains to be accomplished. Resolving human/wildlife conflict mounts as cities grow or people move to the country. Maintaining good wildlife habitat on your public areas requires constant attention to managing or planting desirable vegetation, controlling invading exotic species, and taking good care of the land. And these areas need to be inviting to you, not only abundant in wildlife but clean and well-maintained. A major opportunity over the next six years is delivering the significant conservation provisions in the 2002 Farm Bill to Missouri landowners. Helping landowners meet their conservation objectives is a role we take seriously.
So, farewell and my thanks for the opportunities you have provided us as conservationists. May they continue long into the future.
Ollie Torgerson, Former Wildlife Division Administrator
Footnote: We appreciate what Ollie has written and also appreciate his long term contributions to conservation. They will continue. Ollie has agreed to work part time handling national conservation issues for us. His point about staff is crucial. The Conservation Department will only be as b as the people who deliver our conservation programs. We agree that we have the finest employees and pledge to continue to hire and promote the right people.
John D. Hoskins, Director
John W. Smith, Deputy Director
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