By Joe Jerek
With dove hunting season opening Sept. 1, the Missouri Department of Conservation reminds dove hunters of its more than 180 conservation areas around the state that allow dove hunting. Nearly 100 of these are planted in multiple crop fields that attract the popular game birds. Crops include sunflower, corn, millet, wheat, and buckwheat.
Mourning doves, Eurasian collared doves, and white-winged doves may be taken from Sept. 1 through Nov. 29 from one-half hour before sunrise to sunset with a combined daily limit of 15 and a combined possession limit of 45 for all three species.
Get more info on dove hunting — including permit requirements, places to hunt, and recipes — at short.mdc.mo.gov/ZZt. Information on dove hunting is also available through the Conservation Department’s 2016 Migratory Bird Hunting Digest, available where hunting permits are sold, at Department offices, nature centers, and online at mdc.mo.gov.
Interested in dove hunting but have never given it a try? Sign up for a mentored hunt on one of 12 fields across the state. The Missouri Department of Conservation in partnership with the National Wild Turkey Federation, Quail Forever, Quail and Upland Wildlife Federation, the Missouri Prairie Foundation, and private landowners will provide the hunts primarily located on private land. Field locations will be in or near Cape Girardeau, Chillicothe, Joplin, Kahoka, Lynchburg, Marceline, Mokane, Paris, Pittsburg, Rolla, Ste. Genevieve, and Washington.
There will be three hunts offered on each field including one on opening day of dove season, Sept. 1, and then two other days with dates to be determined. Field assignments will be determined on a first-come, first-served basis. First-time hunters can attend multiple hunts as registration space permits.
Each participating new hunter will be assigned a mentor, and pre-hunt workshops will provide basic hunter safety in addition to information about dove biology and management, the importance of hunters and hunting, and the opportunity to practice shooting a shotgun. Participants are encouraged to attend a dove hunting workshop or hunter education prior to participating in a hunt.
Register for the mentored dove hunts at tinyurl.com/nuv6gos. For more information on Conservation Department dove hunting workshops, visit mdc.mo.gov/events. To get more information on hunter education, visit short.mdc. mo.gov/ZkY.
The Missouri Conservation Commission has named Missouri Department of Conservation Deputy Director Tom Draper as interim director of the state conservation agency effective July 16. The temporary appointment came after the announcement in early June that Department Director Robert Ziehmer is stepping down as agency director effective July 15 to continue his conservation career through a new endeavor in the private sector.
“The Commission unanimously and enthusiastically supports Interim Director Draper,” said Commission Chairman Dave Murphy. “The Commission is confident in his abilities to continue to advance this agency and its services to meet the needs of Missourians and to protect and promote the fish, forest, and wildlife resources of the Show-Me State.”
Draper has served the Department as deputy director of Resource Management and as chairman of the Regulations Committee since 2010. Prior to that, he was a regional supervisor in the Department’s Forestry Division.
The Conservation Commission is developing search criteria and a nationwide recruitment effort for the agency’s director position.
Caleb McGuire caught this 16-pound piebald blue catfish in June using a trotline on the Missouri River in Saline County. After snapping a few pictures, he released it. Sons Cole and Cash joined Caleb and his unique catch for this picture. Piebald animals are uncommon and have patterns of pigmented spots on an unpigmented (white) background of hair, feathers, skin, or scales.
Fall deer, turkey, migratory game bird, quail, and waterfowl hunting seasons are coming up and most hunters are required to have hunter education certification. Missouri’s Hunter Education Course is required for anyone born on or after Jan. 1, 1967, and buys a firearms season hunting permit, or any person age 11 to 15 who hunts alone.
Hunter Education teaches hunting safety, skills, and ethics, and includes lessons on wildlife conservation and management. The course is divided into a knowledge section and a skills session, which includes an exam. Participants must complete both the knowledge and skills portions to become certified.
The Department provides several ways to become hunter-education certified. Participants can complete the knowledge section through an online study program, a hard-copy study guide, or a four-hour classroom session.
Learn more about Hunter Education and register at short.mdc.mo.gov/ZkY.
Hunter Education has reduced hunting incidents and deaths in Missouri by more than 70 percent since it became mandatory in 1987.
Discover nature with the Missouri Department of Conservation at the Missouri State Fair in Sedalia Aug. 11–21. Visit the Conservation Building from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily to see aquaria full of live fish and other aquatic wildlife along with displays of other live native animals such as snakes, turtles, and amphibians. Ask conservation questions of Department staff, get educational materials, and have fun.
Check out the Department’s air-conditioned Conservation Kids’ Discovery Room between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. to have hands-on fun discovering nature through crafts and other activities.
Enjoy conservation-related demonstrations at the Department’s outdoor pavilion.
One animal that will no longer be at the State Fair is Peanut the Turtle. The large red-eared slider with the misshapen shell is the mascot for the state’s No More Trash antilitter campaign. Peanut has been a regular attraction at the fair for years. Due to health issues with his shell and his advancing age, Peanut has been retired from traveling and now resides fulltime at the Department’s Powder Valley Conservation Nature Center in Kirkwood. Eliminating the stresses of traveling will help maintain his health. For more information on other Department events, visit mdc.mo.gov/events
The Missouri Conservation Commission recently approved changes to the Wildlife Code of Missouri that prohibit the hunting of feral hogs on conservation areas and other lands owned, leased, or managed by the Missouri Department of Conservation. The new regulation prohibiting hog hunting does not apply to private property.
The Commission’s decision followed consideration of feedback received during a public comment period on the topic that ended in May. The effective date of the regulation change will be Sept. 30. Potential penalties for illegal hog hunting could include fines and the loss of hunting privileges.
The Department discourages feral hog hunting in Missouri. Research from other states shows hog hunting increases feral hog numbers and locations because it provides incentives for illegal releases of hogs for future hunting. Releasing hogs to non-enclosed areas or to the wild is illegal in Missouri. The Department encourages the public to report these types of illegal activities to local conservation agents.
Instead of hunting hogs to help reduce their numbers, the Department encourages hunters and others to report feral hog sightings to their local conservation agents or regional offices. Staff can then confirm local numbers and locations, and determine how best to capture and eliminate the entire group of feral hogs.
The Department owns or manages about 1,000 conservation areas around the state with about 30 known to have feral hogs, mostly in southern Missouri. According to Wildlife Division Chief Jason Sumners, hog hunting on conservation areas interferes with efforts by Department staff to trap and eliminate entire groups of feral hogs, called sounders.
“The regulation change prohibiting hog hunting on conservation lands is a direct result of some misguided individuals disrupting trapping efforts by Department staff,” Sumners explained.
“Staff set large, corral-type traps on areas where there are known feral hogs. They then bait the area with corn for several days or weeks to attract the targeted group of hogs, get them used to the surroundings, and get them concentrated in the trap before triggering it. This work takes weeks, with the goal being to trap the entire group of hogs. After weeks of work to catch the sounder (family group) of hogs, we then get an individual who finds out about the site, shows up at some point, and shoots a hog or two. The rest of the group then scatters and moves to a new location. As a result, weeks of work have been wasted and new areas now have feral hogs.”
Feral hogs are an invasive, nuisance species in Missouri and are not wildlife. They cause significant damage to wildlife habitats, compete with native wildlife such as deer and turkey for food, prey upon native wildlife such as turkey and quail, destroy natural areas along with agricultural lands, pollute ponds and streams, and spread diseases to domestic livestock and people. For more information on feral hogs, visit mdc.mo.gov/feralhog.
The June Commission meeting featured presentations and discussions regarding the research and proposal process, smallmouth bass and rock bass/goggle eye proposed regulations update, major construction projects status report, information technology projects status report, current financial summary, future leadership and professional development, and area plan update. A summary of actions taken during the June 23–24 meeting for the benefit and protection of fish, forests, and wildlife and the citizens who enjoy them includes:
The next Conservation Commission meeting is Aug. 25–26. For more information, visit short.mdc.mo.gov/ZZe or call your regional Conservation office.
Differential Grasshopper | Melanoplus differentialis
The differential grasshopper is relatively large, growing up to 2 inches, and may be green, brownish-green, or olive green. The femurs of the hind legs have a black herringbone pattern, and the tibias are usually yellow with black saw-toothed spikes. It’s found statewide in a wide variety of habitats, including open fields, gardens, grasslands, meadows, prairies, roadsides, and land along ponds and streams. It has become a pest of many food crops, including corn, soybeans, alfalfa, cotton, vegetables, small grains, and the leaves of fruit trees. Adults can travel up to 10 miles in a day in search of food. Mating takes place late in the summer or early fall. Females are capable of laying up to eight egg masses, containing 25 eggs each. The eggs overwinter, and the nymphs emerge the following spring. It takes the nymphs two months to reach adulthood. —photograph by Noppadol Paothon
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