by Kristie Hilgedick
The Missouri Department of Conservation is asking deer hunters in 19 central and northeast Missouri counties to help limit the spread of chronic wasting disease (CWD) and present deer for sampling this fall and winter. In response to the detection of the deadly deer disease in Adair and Cole counties, the Missouri Conservation Commission recently approved changes to regulations for the upcoming 2015–2016 deerhunting season that focus on slowing the spread of the disease.
CWD causes degeneration of brain tissue in deer and other members of the deer family, and it slowly leads to death. The disease has no vaccine or cure and is fatal.
“A primary way CWD is spread is through deer-to-deer contact,” explained State Wildlife Veterinarian Kelly Straka. “Deer gathering and interacting in larger numbers can increase the spread in an area. Young bucks could also spread the disease to new areas as they search for territories and mates.”
The regulation changes remove the antler point restriction so hunters have the opportunity to harvest young bucks in 13 additional counties, including five northeast counties: Knox, Scotland, Schuyler, Shelby, and Putnam, and eight central Missouri counties: Boone, Callaway, Cole, Cooper, Miller, Moniteau, Morgan, and Osage.
The changes also would increase the availability of firearms antlerless permits from one to two to prevent undesirable population increases in those counties. These regulation changes would add to similar measures the Department enacted in 2012 for six counties in northeast Missouri after CWD was discovered in Macon County. Counties affected by those regulation changes were Adair, Chariton, Linn, Macon, Randolph, and Sullivan.
“The challenge with CWD is that there is no way to fully eradicate the disease from an area once it has become established,” Dr. Straka said. “While we do not expect short-term population impacts from the disease, CWD is likely to have serious long-term consequences to the health and size of Missouri’s deer herd. Therefore, we will continue to focus on slowing the spread of the disease among deer in the affected areas, and try to limit the spread to new areas of the state.”
Details on the regulations and sampling station locations will be outlined in the 2015 Fall Deer and Turkey Hunting Regulations and Information booklet.
For the second year, the Missouri Department of Conservation is partnering with the National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF), Quail Forever (QF), Pheasants Forever, Friends of the National Rifle Association, U.S. Forest Service, and landowners to provide mentored hunts for first-time dove hunters.
These events will be held on public and private lands near Canton, Cape Girardeau, Chillicothe, Lynchburg, Macon, Mokane, Paris, Rueter, Washington, and West Plains. NWTF initiated this effort as part of a strategic initiative titled Save the Habitat. Save the Hunt. Over the next decade, the nonprofit organization plans to conserve and enhance 4 million acres, create 1.5 million new hunters, and provide access to half a million additional acres.
The mentored hunts will be offered Sept. 1, opening day of dove season, to first-time hunters 11 or older. Priority will be given to first-time hunters, but other applicants will be considered to fill available spots. To maximize safety and provide a quality experience, each field will be limited to 16–20 participants per hunt.
Depending on applications received and landowner participation, additional mentored hunt dates will be offered. If spaces remain available on any field for any scheduled hunting days, first time hunters may have the opportunity to attend multiple mentored hunts.
No equipment is necessary, but a parent or guardian must accompany participants age 11 to 15. For those who lack prior hunting experience, attending a hunter education course or dove hunting clinic is strongly recommended. Browse hunter education requirements and opportunities at mdc.mo.gov/huntereducation, and find dove hunting clinics in your region at mdc.mo.gov/events.
For more information or to apply for a mentored hunt, call John Burk of NWTF at 573-676- 5994, or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or apply online at mdc.mo.gov/node/31059.
Federal Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamps, more commonly known as “duck stamps,” have proven to be a vital tool for wetland conservation in the United States.
Starting in January, the price of the stamps, which are required of all waterfowl hunters age 16 and older, rose from $15 to $25. Many hunting, conservation, and wildlife-watching groups have been lobbying for a price increase for more than a decade. Ninety-eight cents of every dollar generated by the sale of the pictorial stamps goes directly to purchase or lease wetland habitat for protection in the National Wildlife Refuge System.
Since 1934, sales of the stamps have generated more than $800 million, money used to acquire more than 6 million acres of wetland habitat.
Waterfowl aren’t the only wildlife to benefit — numerous other bird, mammal, fish, reptile, and amphibian species have prospered. An estimated one-third of the nation’s endangered and threatened species use refuges established with duck stamp funds. And, by providing hunters with places to enjoy their sport and outdoor enthusiasts with room to hike, bird watch, and explore, humans have benefitted, too.
Stamps are available at some U.S. Post Offices, Department of Conservation regional offices, or online at mdc.mo.gov/node/30306. Online orders are charged an additional $3.50 for shipping and handling.
The Missouri Department of Conservation is hosting Effective Wingshooting for the Hunter workshops to teach participants to be more proficient hunters of dove, quail, pheasants, migratory birds, waterfowl, and turkeys.
Shotgun hunters 14 years and older will learn about the performance differences of steel- and lead-shot shells. They’ll also master how to accurately estimate distances and improve their wingshooting skill. Participants should bring their hunting shotgun and choke tubes if applicable, non-toxic shotgun ammunition they wish to pattern, eye/ear protection, and a folding chair. Clay targets and 12 and 20 gauge non-toxic practice ammunition will be provided.
Participants younger than 16 must be accompanied by an adult.
For more information about these events and how to register, visit mdc.mo.gov/node/3710.
Since December 2014, the highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) H5 virus has affected more than 48 million birds in the United States, with most cases found in domestic poultry. This disease has affected both domestic poultry operations and wild birds in Missouri.
The Missouri Department of Conservation is working with federal and other state agencies to monitor wild birds, such as waterfowl, raptors, and wild turkeys, for HPAI viruses. These efforts will include sampling hunter-harvested waterfowl during the upcoming hunting seasons.
While the HPAI H5 virus has not been associated with human illnesses, hunters and others who handle live or dead birds are advised to use the following best practices:
To learn more about avian influenza, visit the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service at aphis.usda.gov; the USGS National Wildlife Health Center at nwhc.usgs.gov; or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at cdc.gov/flu/avianflu. Discover Nature at the Missouri State Fair in Sedalia Aug. 13–23 Discover nature with the Conservation Department at the Missouri State Fair in Sedalia Aug. 13–23. Visit the Conservation Building from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily to see aquaria full of live fish and other aquatic wildlife and displays of live native animals such as snakes and turtles. Ask conservation questions of Conservation Department staff, get educational materials, and have fun.
Pop into the Department’s air-conditioned Conservation Kids’ Discovery Room between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. to have hands-on fun exploring nature through crafts and other activities. Enjoy conservation-related demonstrations at the Department’s outdoor pavilion, including:
For more information on other Department events happening this summer near you, visit mdc.mo.gov/events.
The July Commission meeting featured presentations and discussions regarding smallmouth bass and rock bass (goggle-eye) management, an elk restoration update, forest certification, and the Missouri managed woods program. A summary of actions taken during the July 9–10 meeting for the benefit and protection of forests, fish, and wildlife, and the citizens who enjoy them includes:
Copperheads live on rocky hillsides and along forest edges in the northern two-thirds of the state. They also spend time among trees and brush along prairie streams and are often found near abandoned farm buildings. They rely on their camouflage pattern when resting in dead leaves and will usually remain motionless when encountered. They’re not aggressive, and they seldom strike unless provoked. Copperheads eat mice, lizards, frogs, small birds, insects, and sometimes small snakes. They are normally active from April through November. Courtship and mating occur in the spring, and young are born August through early October. Females produce live young every other year, with up to 14 in a litter. They bask on warm sunny days, especially in the morning. In the hottest months, they become nocturnal. In autumn, they gather together to overwinter at south-facing rocky ledges.
—photograph by Noppadol Paothong
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