By Joe Jerek
Get hooked on fishing with the Missouri Department of Conservation’s Free Fishing Days June 11 and 12. During Free Fishing Days, anyone may fish in the Show-Me State without buying a fishing permit, trout permit, or trout park daily tag. Normal regulations remain in effect, such as limits on size and number of fish an angler may keep. Special permits may still be required at some county, city, or private fishing areas.
For information on Missouri fishing regulations, permit requirements, fish identification, and more, get a copy of the Department’s 2016 Summary of Missouri Fishing Regulations where permits are sold, at regional offices, nature centers, and online at on.mo.gov/1rdcO8g.
If you’d like to find more fish during Free Fishing Days, check out Find MO Fish, the Department’s free mobile app. Find MO Fish includes annual fishing prospects, weekly fishing reports, geo-location to find fish-attractor spots, regulations for specific fish species and locations, detailed information on various fish species, and more. Learn more and download Find MO Fish at on.mo.gov/1YQynG9.
Beginning July 1, deer hunters can apply online for a shot at more than 100 managed deer hunts for archery, crossbow, muzzleloading, and modern firearms from mid-September through mid-January at conservation areas, state parks, national wildlife refuges, urban parks, and other public areas. Managed hunts include ones specifically for youth only and for people with disabilities. The managed deer hunt application period is July 1–31. Hunters are selected by a weighted random drawing. Draw results will be available Sept. 1 through Jan. 15. Selected applicants will receive area maps and other hunt information by mail.
Get more information on managed deer hunts and apply starting July 1 at on.mo.gov/1SnXpfl.
Details about managed hunts can also be found in the Department’s 2016 Fall Deer & Turkey Hunting Regulations and Information booklet, available starting in July at regional offices and nature centers, from permit vendors around the state, and online at mdc.mo.gov.
The Department received final results from its 2015–2016 fall and winter testing of nearly 7,700 free-ranging deer for chronic wasting disease (CWD). Seven were confirmed to be positive for the fatal deer disease. Three were from Adair County, two from Macon County, one from Linn County, and one from Franklin County, which was reported earlier in the year.
The new cases bring the total number of Missouri free-ranging deer that have tested positive for CWD to 33 since the disease was first discovered in the state in 2010. Of the 33 cases, 21 have been found in Macon County, nine in Adair, one in Cole, one in Franklin, and one in Linn.
Chronic wasting disease infects only deer and other members of the deer family by causing degeneration of the brain. The disease has no vaccine or cure and is 100 percent fatal.
The Department’s CWD testing efforts focus mostly on deer harvested by hunters and deer removed by staff and landowners from specific private properties in northeast, central, and east central Missouri very near where the disease has been found, along with a small number of sick and roadkilled deer.
The Department also conducts broader CWD testing around the state each year as part of its ongoing monitoring efforts. Nearly 2,700 of the deer tested last fall and winter were part of this broader CWD monitoring, and the focus was on the southern half of Missouri. No deer from southern Missouri were found to be positive for CWD. The Conservation Department has collected more than 51,000 tissue samples for CWD testing from all around the state since it began testing for the disease in 2001.
For more information on CWD in Missouri, visit mdc.mo.gov/CWD.
Missouri Conservation Commissioners and local young conservationists celebrated National Arbor Day on April 29 by planting a native yellowwood tree at Conservation headquarters in Jefferson City. Pictured left to right are Commissioner Dave Murphy, Alex Wilde, Gage Wilde, Commissioner Marilynn Bradford, Commissioner James T. Blair, IV, and Bode Wilde. The yellowwood, a mediumsized tree, attracts a variety of pollinators with its 10–14 inch-long clusters of spring-blooming flowers. The Department encourages people to plant native trees and practice proper tree care.
Get information on backyard tree care from the Department’s website at on.mo.gov/1Nu8zz2.
This fall and winter, the Department will increase testing efforts in its CWD management zones. The management zones consist of 29 counties within or that touch a radius of approximately 25 miles from where the disease has been found. Those counties are Adair, Boone, Callaway, Carroll, Chariton, Crawford, Cole, Cooper, Franklin, Gasconade, Jefferson, Knox, Linn, Livingston, Macon, Miller, Moniteau, Morgan, Osage, Putnam, St. Charles, St. Louis, Randolph, Schuyler, Scotland, Shelby, Sullivan, Warren, and Washington.
The Department will require hunters to present their deer or the head with at least 6 inches of the neck intact for CWD testing at a Department testing location on the day of harvest if it is taken in one of these 29 counties during the opening weekend of the fall firearms deer season, Nov. 12 and 13. The testing is free and hunters can also get free test results.
The Department will continue to work with taxidermists in the 29 counties to provide free CWD testing during other parts of the upcoming deer hunting seasons. The Department will also continue its broader ongoing CWD monitoring efforts with a focus on the northern half of the state for the upcoming season.
For more information on CWD in Missouri, visit mdc.mo.gov/CWD.
The Department encourages Missourians to discover nature this summer — and frogging is a fun way to do it. Frogging season begins June 30 at sunset and ends Oct. 31.
Missouri has two frog species that are legal game — bullfrog and green frog. Bullfrogs are larger and therefore more sought-after. The daily limit is eight frogs of both species combined. The possession limit allows you to have no more than 16 frogs at a time.
Hunt frogs with either a fishing permit or a small-game hunting permit. Children under the age of 16 and Missouri residents 65 or older are not required to have a permit. Those with a fishing permit may take frogs by hand, hand net, atlatl, gig, bow, trotline, throw line, limb line, bank line, jug line, snagging, snaring, grabbing, or pole and line. With a small-game hunting permit, frogs may be harvested using a .22-caliber or smaller rimfire rifle or pistol, pellet gun, atlatl, bow, crossbow, or by hand or hand net. The use of an artificial light is permitted when frogging.
For more information about bullfrog and green frog hunting, visit on.mo.gov/1ruW78z.
Beginner and seasoned birders can discover nature by exploring the “best of the best” places to watch birds around Missouri. Finding them is as easy as going online to the new website, Great Missouri Birding Trail, at greatmissouribirdingtrail.com.
The website includes maps of the best birding sites around the Show-Me State, along with information on various aspects of bird conservation. Pages include birding tips, beginner basics, landscaping for birds, and how to get involved with local bird organizations.
The best birding locations include mostly public land, such as conservation areas and state parks, and cover various types of bird habitats, such as grasslands, woodlands, forests, glades, and savannas. Each type of natural community hosts a different suite of bird species to identify.
The Great Missouri Birding Trail project was started by Mike Doyen of Rolla, president of the Missouri Bird Conservation Foundation. The trail is now a partnership between the Foundation and the Department, with support from other state and federal agencies and birding organizations. The St. Louis and Kansas City sections of the Great Missouri Birding Trail website are complete. Work continues on four remaining sections, including northeast, central, southwest, and southeast, which will be completed in the next few years.
The Department will hold a public auction of various used vehicles and equipment on Saturday, June 4, starting at 10 a.m. at its Salem Maintenance Center located at the junction of Highway 72 and Highway 32 in Salem. The auction will include boats, outboard motors, tractors, dozers, farm equipment, and vehicles. View auction items on Friday, June 3 at the Salem Maintenance Center from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and preregister starting at 9 a.m. Registration the day of the sale begins at 7:30 a.m. A complete lot listing and terms of sales will be available at the registration desk the day of the auction. Cash, check, and credit/debit cards will be accepted. As required by state statute, the Department must charge a convenience fee to all customers who pay by credit or debit card. For more information, including a list of auction items and procedures, visit mdc.mo.gov/auction.
Boaters, anglers, water-skiers, scuba divers, sailors, canoeists, and other types of water recreationists can help prevent the spread of invasive zebra mussels and other aquatic invaders — and keep their own boats and other equipment from being fouled — by completing the following steps:
Learn more at on.mo.gov/1MTGQYr. For information about other invasive animals and plants that threaten Missouri’s fish, forests, and wildlife, visit on.mo.gov/1TthnUT.
Camping is a popular outdoor activity this time of year. While packing camping gear and supplies, don’t pack firewood! Tree-killing pests such as the emerald ash borer travel in firewood, so get firewood where you camp, and either burn it all before you leave or leave it local. Get more info at bit.ly/1qN3gQQ.
The April Commission meeting featured presentations and discussions regarding the communications update, Grassland Systems Conservation Priorities, information technology projects status report, major construction projects status report, monthly financial summary,
Recommendations for 2016–2017 Migratory Game Bird Season Dates and Limits, 2015–2016 Harvest Summary and Recommendations for Rules Pertaining to 2016–2017 Deer Hunting Season, Recommendations for 2017–2020 Duck Zone Boundaries and Season Date Formulas, and an update on chronic wasting disease sampling efforts for fall deer season. A summary of actions taken during the April 28–29 meeting for the benefit and protection of fish, forests, and wildlife and the citizens who enjoy them includes:
The common milkweed blooms from May through August in upland fields, prairies, pastures, glades, and along roadsides and the edges of wooded areas. Its pink or lilac flowers are very fragrant, while its leaves are broad. It usually reaches a height of 3–4 feet, but can grow as tall as 6 feet. Of the 17 species of milkweed found in Missouri, this variety is most commonly seen. The common milkweed is extremely important in conserving the monarch butterfly, whose numbers are plummeting. Adult monarchs lay eggs on milkweeds, and once hatched, the caterpillars eat the milkweed’s foliage. The caterpillars store the milkweed’s toxic sap, making them unpalatable to would-be predators.
—photograph by David Bruns
We help people discover nature and conserve it, too.
Whether you’re looking for a group hike, native-plant landscaping tips, or a nature activity for the kids, you can find conservation programs of all kinds through our online events calendar.
Find events that match your outdoor interests and schedule at mdc.mo.gov/events.
Editor - Angie Daly Morfeld
Art Director - Cliff White
Associate Editor - Bonnie Chasteen
Staff Writer - Heather Feeler
Staff Writer - Kristie Hilgedick
Staff Writer - Joe Jerek
Photographer - Noppadol Paothong
Photographer - David Stonner
Designer - Les Fortenberry
Designer - Marci Porter
Designer - Stephanie Thurber
Circulation - Laura Scheuler