The fifth annual Missouri National Archery in the Schools (MoNASP) state tournament, held March 22–23 at the University of Central Missouri in Warrensburg, drew 1,438 student archers in grades 4–12 from 74 schools across the state. The event drew more than 7,500 observers and supporters.
The top-scoring male student was Seth Pezley of St. Joseph Cathedral in Jefferson City with a score of 294 out of a possible 300. The top-scoring female student was Shelby Winslow of Summit Lakes Middle School in Lee’s Summit with a score of 287 out of 300. In addition to trophies, the two top scorers received Special Edition Genesis Bows. Top-scoring teams and individuals, along with other teams and individuals who had qualifying scores, will go on to compete in the National Archery in the Schools (NASP) national tournament in Louisville, Ky., on May 10–11. A list of the almost 40 top-scoring teams and individuals who qualified for the national tournament is available at mdc.mo.gov/node/21559.
MoNASP is coordinated through the Missouri Department of Conservation and the Conservation Federation of Missouri in partnership with 290 participating schools and numerous supporting organizations throughout the state.
Based on feedback from waterfowl hunters and analysis of past waterfowl seasons, the Conservation Department is implementing a minor change to “Quick Draw.” For 2013 and 2014, the Quick Draw system for Grand Pass, Eagle Bluffs, and Otter Slough conservation areas will increase the “poor line” ratio from 20 to 25 percent of available hunting spots. The poor line is an onsite drawing for hunting spots held each morning during waterfowl season. No reservations are needed and hunters can just show up and vie for a poor line spot.
“For the past several years, 80 percent of hunting spots at the three Quick Draw areas have been randomly drawn and offered to applicants,” said Conservation Department Wildlife Programs Supervisor Shawn Gruber. “The remaining 20 percent of spots, along with any unfilled spots from applicants, go to the poor line.”
The Department expects that by shifting to a 25-percent poor line ratio for the three Quick Draw areas, waterfowl hunters drawn from the poor line will make up about 62 percent of hunters who actually go afield. Quick Draw hunters will fill only about 38 percent of hunting spots.
The poor line increase for Quick Draw areas will also require a shift from one hunting spot out of every five being allocated to the poor line to one spot out of every four.
Depending on wetland conditions, there is generally a maximum of 40 daily waterfowl hunting spots at Grand Pass, 20 at Eagle Bluffs, and 34 at Otter Slough
Over the past three years, the Conservation Department gathered feedback from waterfowl hunters on Quick Draw through public meetings, online comments, a waterfowl hunter survey, and focus groups.
“The rationale for this change is based on hunter feedback,” Gruber said. “During the first two years, we received more than 1,100 comments with the most common recommendation being increasing the poor line ratio. In 2012 we conducted an online survey of waterfowl hunters. Of the nearly 3,700 hunters who responded, 54 percent wanted to increase the poor line ratio. It was not a significant majority so a modest adjustment seemed appropriate.”
Also based on feedback from waterfowl hunters and analysis of past hunting seasons, the Department will not limit the number of times a waterfowl hunter can be randomly drawn per season under Quick Draw.
A pair of peregrine falcons has returned to a nesting box at Ameren Missouri’s Sioux Energy Center in St. Louis. Ameren Missouri, in cooperation with the Conservation Department and the World Bird Sanctuary, are once again providing the public with an online view of peregrine falcons raising their chicks through a web camera. The nest can be viewed on the Conservation Department’s website at mdc.mo.gov/node/16934. The FalconCam is live for viewing from 7 a.m. until 8 p.m. seven days a week.
Conservation Department and World Bird Sanctuary experts will offer ongoing website commentary on what’s happening in the nest. The FalconCam will be available until nesting activity is complete and the mother’s young have left the nest.
The Conservation Department’s Discover Nature Schools program for Missouri students in grades K–12 is providing FalconCam educational information. FalconCam offerings include fact sheets, classroom activities, and lesson plans to help Missouri students monitor FalconCam activities. Activities and lesson plans for grades K–2, 3–5, 6–8, and 9–12 were developed in partnership with the World Bird Sanctuary. Get more information online at mdc.mo.gov/node/20703.
The Conservation Department will hold a public auction for various used vehicles and equipment on Saturday, June 1, starting at 10 a.m., at its Salem Maintenance Center, 1715 Hwy 32 West. The Conservation Department will be selling several dozen vehicles, along with trailers, boats, outboard motors, and other equipment. For a list of specific items, go online to mdc.mo.gov/node/5585. Those interested can also view auction auction items the day before at the Salem Maintenance Center from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Known as the “Paddlefish Capital of the World,” Warsaw, Mo., is a favorite area for many of Missouri’s approximately 16,000 sport paddlefish snaggers because of its location along the Osage River. Agents with the Missouri Department of Conservation and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service discovered that the Warsaw area is also a favorite location for paddlefish poachers.
A cooperative undercover investigation by the two agencies recently resulted in more than 100 suspects from Missouri and eight other states being issued citations and/or arrest warrants for state and federal crimes related to paddlefish poaching. The effort included eight individuals indicted for federal crimes involving the illegal trafficking of paddlefish and their eggs for use as caviar.
The arrests and citations were the result of a multi-year joint undercover investigation by the two agencies involving the illegal commercialization of Missouri paddlefish and their eggs for national and international caviar markets. The undercover investigation ran during the spring 2011 and spring 2012 paddlefish seasons.
Missouri’s official state aquatic animal, paddlefish can grow up to 7 feet long and weigh 160 pounds or more. They are valued as a sport fish for their size and for eating. Paddlefish are also valued for their eggs, which are eaten as caviar.
“The national and international popularity of Missouri paddlefish eggs as a source of caviar has grown dramatically in recent years,” said Conservation Department Protection Chief Larry Yamnitz. “This is a result of European sources of caviar having declined from overfishing of the Caspian Sea’s once plentiful and lucrative beluga sturgeon, another species of fish known for its caviar.”
Caviar is a delicacy created by preserving fish roe in special salts. About 20 pounds of eggs or more can be harvested from a large, pregnant female paddlefish. Retail prices for paddlefish caviar vary. A current common retail price is about $35 per ounce.“Sport anglers may only catch two paddlefish daily and the eggs may not be bought, sold, or offered for sale,” Yamnitz explained. “Extracted paddlefish eggs may not be possessed on waters of the state or adjacent banks and may not be transported. Paddlefish and their eggs may be commercially harvested only from the Mississippi River.”
He added that through the undercover operation, agents were able to determine that paddlefish eggs harvested in Missouri were being illegally transported out of the state for redistribution.
Federal crimes tied to the poaching involve violations of the Lacey Act. The Act makes it a federal crime to poach game in one state with the purpose of selling the bounty in another state and prohibits the transportation of illegally captured or prohibited wildlife across state lines.
The Conservation Department and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service worked with the Benton County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, the Benton County Sheriff’s Department, and the U.S. Department of Justice on the investigation.
Identification of suspects in violation of state wildlife charges is pending legal filings. Copies of the federal indictments may be obtained from the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Kansas City.
Yamnitz added that additional details about the undercover operation are vital to the investigation and prosecution of cases and therefore not available at this time.
The Conservation Department offers a weekly fishing report from the first Thursday in April through September that provides general fishing conditions at selected lakes, rivers, and trout parks across Missouri. Get the report online at fishing.mdc.mo.gov and sign up to have it emailed to you each week. Use this link to also see the Conservation Department’s Fishing Prospects. This annual information is based on fish population sampling, creel surveys, and other research conducted on numerous lakes, rivers, and trout parks.
Help kids get hooked on the thrill of fishing with free Kids Fishing Days at Conservation Department fish hatcheries and other participating locations. Kids Fishing Days events are designed to help families and youth groups learn about fish, fish habitat, and fishing techniques. Each event provides fishing equipment and instruction, and most also provide prizes, gifts, and lunch.
Events locations include Conservation Department fish hatcheries at these four parks: Montauk State Park southwest of Salem on May 4 (573-548- 2585), Bennett Spring State Park west of Lebanon on May 4, (417-532-4418), Maramec Spring Park east of St. James on May 18 (573-265-7801), and Roaring River State Park south of Cassville on May18 (417-847-2430). For details on these and other Kids Fishing Days events, contact locations, local MDC offices (see Page 3), or visit mdc.mo.gov/node/16243.
Near-record non-typical deer antlers were discovered in March on August A. Busch Memorial Conservation Area outside of St. Louis. Conservation Department biologists said evidence suggests the antlers were from the remains of a buck that had died in late summer or early fall 2012. They judged the buck to be 5 1/2- to- 6 1/2 years old at the time of death.
As the result of high-quality deer management, the state of Missouri is a great place to find large bucks. In fact, the buck that still holds the world-record non-typical rack was discovered in North St. Louis County back in November of 1981. Known as “The Missouri Monarch”, the deer was found already dead with antlers that landed an incredible Boone and Crockett score of 333 7/8. The inside spread of its rack measured 25 1/8-inches and the antlers weighed 11 1/4-pounds.
The rack found in March at the Busch Conservation Area didn’t manage to topple the ruling Missouri Monarch. However, Conservation Department officials estimate the antlers will secure a place among the top five largest non-typical racks found or harvested to date in Missouri.
No permit is required to possess shed antlers. However, since these antlers were not shed and still attached to the animal’s skull, the shed hunter was issued a disposition to legally possess the deer skull rack. This allows for keeping the skull rack but not reselling it, or any other commercial use.
For the moment, The Missouri Monarch still reigns supreme. But the “August A. Busch Monarch” proves that Missouri — and the St. Louis area itself — has plenty of big bucks out there to challenge the throne.
— story and photo by Dan Zarlenga
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