Missourians care deeply about our state’s forests, fish, and wildlife. To ensure these resources are protected, the Conservation Department’s Regulations Committee reviews the Wildlife Code of Missouri each year. In doing so, the Committee considers hundreds of suggestions from hunters, anglers, and other citizens. Although every suggestion cannot be adopted, all are carefully reviewed. The following is a summary of key changes to the Wildlife Code. For a complete listing of Wildlife Code regulations, visit mdc.mo.gov/node/4871. Each regulation reflects the Department’s commitment to sustain healthy plant and animal communities, increase opportunities for Missourians to experience nature, and promote public safety.
Missouri is a world-class place to hunt, fish, and experience nature. The following changes increase opportunities to engage in outdoor activities, simplify or clarify existing regulations, and promote safety afield.
- Following numerous requests from the public and careful consideration by area managers, pets — as long as they’re leashed — are now permitted at Rockwoods Reservation in St. Louis County.
- To better reflect additional hunting methods allowed during the muzzleloader portion of firearms deer season, the name of the portion was changed to “alternative methods portion.”
- Turkey hunters no longer need to affix a “Be Safe” sticker to their shotguns. Evidence shows “Be Safe” stickers have little, if any, effect on hunter safety. In contrast, Missouri’s hunter education program, which is mandatory for firearms hunters 16 and older, has substantially reduced hunting incidents. Given the growing popularity of buying e-Permits at home, the Regulations Committee decided it was unnecessary to make turkey hunters travel to permit vendors just to pick up “Be Safe” stickers.
- Tagging deer and turkeys soon will be more convenient. Beginning with the 2013 deer season, hunters will no longer need to attach permits to harvested deer or turkeys. Hunters must stay with their harvested game until it is Telechecked so they can identify their harvest and produce a notched permit when requested to do so by a conservation agent. If hunters leave their harvest before it is Telechecked, they must attach their notched permit to the animal.
- In cooperation with the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, MDC is working to establish a world-class striped bass fishery at Bull Shoals Lake. To ensure the fishery is sustainable and to provide consistent striped bass regulations on lakes that straddle the state line, regulations for Bull Shoals and Norfork lakes and their tributaries have been updated. On these waters beginning March 1, 2013, only three striped bass may be included in the daily limit, and all striped bass less than 20 inches must be returned to the water unharmed.
- Didymo, or “rock snot,” is an algae that quickly blankets cold-water streams, reducing habitat for aquatic organisms and degrading water quality. To keep didymo at bay, in 2012 the Department banned porous-soled waders at trout parks and in certain trout streams. The rule has since been rewritten to clarify that all stretches of those streams — not just portions managed by the Conservation Department — fall under the rule.
- Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD ) infects deer, elk, and moose, causing neurological damage that eventually leads to death. The disease was found in a small number of captive and free-ranging deer in north-central Missouri. To slow the spread of CWD, the following regulations went into effect on Oct. 30, 2012.
- The counties of Adair, Chariton, Linn, Macon, Randolph, and Sullivan now make up a six county CWD Containment Zone.
- In the CWD Containment Zone, grain, salt, minerals, and other consumable products used to attract deer are prohibited. These substances artificially concentrate many deer in a small area, increasing the chance for CWD to spread. Feed, such as birdseed, is allowed as long as it’s placed within 100 feet of an occupied building or in a manner that excludes access to deer. Substances used solely for agricultural, forest management, or food plot production practices also are allowed.
- Biologists believe one of the primary ways CWD spreads is when yearling bucks travel from their birthplaces to search for home territories and mates. To limit this potential means of infection, the antler-point restriction (fourpoint rule) has been lifted for the six counties in the Containment Zone so that more young male deer will be harvested.
How Regulations Are Set
Each year, the Conservation Department’s Regulations Committee reviews the
Wildlife Code to ensure Missouri’s forests, fish, and wildlife are protected. Here’s how the process works.
- Changes proposed by the public and Department staff are brought to the Committee to review.
- The Committee researches the effects of the proposed regulation changes. Information reviewed may include costs to taxpayers, effects on wildlife populations, user group surveys, public comments, and feasibility studies.
- When research shows a change would improve a natural resource or provide more opportunities for Missourians to enjoy nature, a proposed regulation change is sent to the Conservation Department’s director.
- If the director approves the change, the proposal is submitted to the Conservation Commission, a group of four citizens who are appointed by the governor.
- If passed by the Conservation Commission, the proposed changes are filed with the secretary of state and published in the Missouri Register. A link to the Register can be found at mdc.mo.gov/node/4871.
- Publication of proposed changes in the Missouri Register begins a 30-day public comment period. If no comments are received, the final regulation is filed and becomes effective on the date specified in the proposal or 30 days after publication in the Missouri Code of State Regulations.
- When comments are received, the proposal is reviewed. Based on the public’s comments, the Commission may decide to drop, modify, or implement the regulation.