By Jim Low
Tests on 3,666 free-ranging deer harvested during and after the 2013 deer hunting season found no evidence of chronic wasting disease (CWD).
The total number of confirmed cases in Missouri’s free-ranging deer remains limited to 10 found in 2012 and early 2013. All were from a small area of northwest Macon County near where CWD was confirmed in 10 captive deer at a private hunting preserve in 2012. Missouri’s first case of CWD was discovered in 2010 in a captive deer at a private hunting facility in southeast Linn County owned by the same private hunting preserve.
Conservation Department State Wildlife Veterinarian Kelly Straka says the most recent round of testing makes her cautiously optimistic about prospects for limiting the spread of the disease.
“Our efforts to limit the spread of CWD may be working,” says Straka, “but the threat of this infectious disease remains significant. Therefore, continued surveillance is important.”
Of the 3,666 deer tested, 1,520 were from the CWD Containment Zone of Chariton, Randolph, Macon, Linn, Sullivan, and Adair counties. Of that number, 206 were from the 30-square-mile CWD Core Area around the private hunting preserve in Macon County where the first CWD cases were discovered in captive deer. The remaining 2,146 test samples were gathered from deer harvested outside of the six-county Containment Zone as part of the Conservation Department’s ongoing statewide sampling effort.
The Conservation Department continues to work with landowners to harvest and test free-ranging deer in the CWD Core Area. The effort was done to monitor infection rates and help limit the spread of the disease from deer to deer by reducing local deer numbers.
“More than 90 percent of Missouri land is privately owned, so landowners are vital to deer management and to our ongoing efforts to limit the spread of CWD,” Straka says. “We greatly appreciate the cooperation of local landowners in the CWD Core Area who participated in this effort. Their sacrifice in temporarily reducing local deer numbers is helping to protect the health of deer throughout the state.”
Straka added that the Department will continue working with hunters and landowners to test harvested free-ranging deer for CWD during future deer seasons.
Missouri offers some of the best deer hunting in the country, and deer hunting is an important part of many Missourians’ lives and family traditions. Infectious diseases such as CWD could reduce hunting and wildlife-watching opportunities for Missouri’s nearly 520,000 deer hunters and almost 2 million wildlife watchers.
Deer hunting is also an important economic driver in Missouri and gives a $1 billion annual boost to state and local economies. CWD also threatens the investments of thousands of private landowners who manage their land for deer and deer hunting.
CWD affects white-tailed deer and other members of the deer family. It is always fatal. No vaccine or cure for the disease exists. It spreads both directly from deer to deer and indirectly from infected soil and other surfaces. Deer and other cervids can have CWD for several years without showing any symptoms. After symptoms are visible, infected animals typically die within one or two months. Once well established in an area, CWD has been shown to be impossible to eradicate.
For more information on CWD, including what the Department is doing to limit the spread, and what hunters and others can do to help, visit mdc.mo.gov/node/16478.
The National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF) honored two Conservation Department employees at its 38th annual convention February in Nashville, Tenn.
NWTF named Conservation Agent Jeff Berti, of Trenton, its 2013 National Law Enforcement Officer of the Year at the 38th NWTF Convention. He had also won NWTF’s Missouri 2013 State Law Enforcement Officer of the Year Award. The honor recognized accomplishments that included documenting 248 resource violations and making more than 100 arrests.
Conservation Department Hunter Education and Shooting Range Coordinator Kyle Lairmore, Owensville, received the NWTF Wheelin’ Sportsmen Volunteer of the Year Award for his work introducing people with disabilities to hunting and his service in many other NWTF projects.
Five Conservation Department staff members were also among honorees at the Conservation Federation of Missouri’s (CFM) 78th annual convention in Jefferson City March 21.
CFM’s Conservationist of the Year Awards Program honors individuals and organizations that make outstanding contributions in various conservation fields. Conservation Department workers honored this year were:
Any resident of Missouri is eligible to be nominated for a Conservationist of the Year Award. Visit the CFM website at confedmo.org for a nomination form.
In 1989, a small group of anglers got fed up with trash marring the beauty of Roubidoux Creek. They decided to clean a section of the stream in Pulaski County. In doing so, they formed the first Missouri Stream Team. Twenty-five years later, the Roubidoux Fly Fishers Association — Stream Team 1 — is still going strong, and the movement they launched has exceeded even the most ambitious early goals. The Missouri Stream Team Program now boasts more than 4,000 Stream Teams with more than 85,000 volunteers.
The Missouri Stream Team Program is a citizen-led effort to conserve Missouri streams. Sponsored by the Missouri Department of Conservation, the Missouri Department of Natural Resources (DNR), and the Conservation Federation of Missouri (CFM), the Program focuses on education, stewardship, and advocacy for Missouri stream resources.
“The success of the Stream Team Program is a great example of how Missourians care about conserving fish, forests, and wildlife, and how the Conservation Department, DNR, and CFM work with citizens to conserve our natural resources,” said Department Fisheries Biologist Amy Meier, one of several Stream Team biologists with the Conservation Department. “Stream Team activities also provide unique opportunities to discover nature in new and exciting ways.”
Meier added Stream Teams’ ongoing work has enormous positive impacts on stream health. That work includes:
To celebrate its 25th anniversary, Missouri Stream Team invites all Teams and new volunteers to participate in “25 Days of Stream Team” events around the state. Running from March to October, events include stream cleanups, monitoring work, education activities, storm-drain stenciling, and more. For a calendar of events, visit mostreamteam.org.
The Stream Team Program is open to anyone in Missouri with an interest in streams. It offers activities for individuals, families, schools, and communities regardless of age, background, or ability. For more information, visit mostreamteam.org or facebook.com/mostreamteams.
A black maple tree in rural northwest Missouri has joined a list of giants. The black maple growing in a field edge in southeastern Harrison County recently qualified for the list of Missouri State Champion Trees.
The Conservation Department keeps a list of champions to celebrate the beauty and economic benefits trees provide in forests, fields, and lawns. Champions are determined by a formula that takes into account trunk circumference, height, and crown spread. The new champ is 58 feet tall, with a crown spread of 81 feet and a trunk circumference of 115.8 inches. The tree is owned by John Milligan of rural Gilman City. Milligan was recently presented with a state champion tree plaque by Jason Severe, a Conservation Department forester.
Black maple trees are similar to sugar maples but have wider leaves that droop. Black maple twigs more than 2 years old have a waxy coating.
For more information on Missouri State Champion Trees, visit mdc.mo.gov/node/4831.
Killdeer babies peck out of their eggs with coats of wet, downy feathers and eyes wide open. After their feathers dry, the fuzzy chicks are on the move. They leave their nest, which is on the ground, and follow their parents to grassy areas to catch their own dinner — a beakful of juicy insects. The chicks learn to fly when they are about 3 weeks old, but stay with their parents all summer. In order to lure predators away from their young, killdeer parents thrash about and pretend that their wings are broken. Once the threat is lured a safe distance from the nest, the killdeer flies off to safety.
— photograph by Noppadol Paothong
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