by Kristie Hilgedick
In terms of the numbers of record fish caught, 2015 was an unusually active year for anglers. Nine new records were established — a feat that hadn’t been reached since 2002.
“This year has been a great year for fishing for many reasons. We had a great spring where we received plenty of rain that kept our rivers and lakes full, giving plenty of food and numerous areas to spread out,” Fisheries Programs Specialist Andrew Branson said. “Our summer was mild, which many anglers used to their advantage and fished more. So when the weather is great and more anglers get out on the water, that’s when we see state records broken.”
Missouri state-record fish are recognized in two categories: pole-and-line and alternative methods, such as trotlines, spearfishing, snagging, etc. To qualify, an applicant’s fish must be captured by legal means from Missouri waters, be one of the listed species, and meet or exceed the current record.
Here are the record-setters:
“Fisheries biologists monitor the fish populations closely,” Branson added. “Fish habitat management, length, and daily fishing limits all play an important role to ensure great fishing in Missouri.”
For more information on state-record fish and the Master Angler Award, which recognizes the accomplishments of anglers who catch memorable or trophy-size fish, visit mdc.mo.gov/fishing/state-record-fish.
Recognition for outstanding nature-related science fair projects is available again this year through the Discover Nature Schools (DNS) program. No extra work or travel is involved. Teachers simply email photos and a logbook of projects for judging. Winners receive ribbons, medals, or plaques for their achievements, and four state winners will receive classroom equipment used to deliver DNS at their school.
Teachers, administrators, and parents may submit entries for the DNS Science Fair competition. To qualify, students must be enrolled in a school teaching a science unit that is part of the Conservation Department’s DNS. Entries must show a connection to at least one DNS activity. DNS does not have to be mentioned in the project. However, entries must meet criteria for display rules and safety guidelines listed on the Academy of Science-St. Louis Science Fair website, sciencefairstl.org.
The competition takes place in three rounds. Round 1 is judged by teachers at participating schools. Teachers submit winning entries for Round 2 from Jan. 1 to April 1. Conservation Department education consultants judge Round 2. Winners are sent on to Round 3 by May 1, and they are judged at the Conservation Department’s Central Office in Jefferson City.
The DNS Program is taught in 99 percent of Missouri school districts, and the program continues to grow every year. To view submission criteria for the DNS Science Fair and download an entry form, visit on.mo.gov/1XclpGg.
MO Hunting — the Department’s free mobile app — was selected as a winner of the 2015 Governor’s Award for Quality and Productivity.
This was the Department’s third award in three years, including an Innovation Award in 2014. The Governor’s Award was established in 1988 to recognize excellence and innovation.
Designed to work with both Android and Apple smart phone technology, this app lets deer and turkey hunters electronically void their permits and Telecheck their harvests. It enables Missouri hunters, anglers, and trappers to purchase, view, show, and store current hunting, fishing, and trapping permits and associated details. It also shows permits purchased during the current and previous years. MO Hunting even uploads Telecheck confirmation numbers back to the mobile device and enables hunters to view details on all deer and turkey they have previously checked.
MO Hunting is available in the Google Play and iTunes stores. Get MO Hunting and learn more about the app at on.mo.gov/1g8g5Ah.
Winter is prime time for planning habitat improvement projects, and the George O. White State Forest Nursery now offers more flexibility than ever in ordering seedlings for wildlife plantings.
This year, the nursery made online ordering more efficient, allowing customers to view their order histories, add or cancel species, and pay with a credit or debit card. The catalog and order form are easy to find at mdc.mo.gov/seedlings. Orders must be submitted by Internet, mail, or fax. The nursery does not accept phone orders. If you order by mail or fax, do not send payment with your order.
As always, the Department’s nursery at Licking has a wide variety of tree and shrub species. This year’s inventory includes eight conifer species, 35 hardwood species, and 29 wildlife shrubs. The nursery provides mainly 1-year-old bare-root seedlings, although a few species are 2 to 3 years old. The size of the seedlings varies greatly depending on the species. Seedlings are provided in quantities of 10, 25, or 100 trees per species.
Although the nursery accepts orders from Nov. 1, 2015, through April 15, 2016, popular species always sell out quickly. To get the plants you want, send orders as soon as possible. For questions about the online ordering process, call 573-674-3229.
Outdoor enthusiasts know snowfall and ice only make nature more fascinating. Activities that are merely enjoyable on a pleasant day take on an exhilarating edge when silvery drifts of snow overlay the world.
The Department offers a range of winteractivities designed to appeal to people of alloutdoor skill levels.
More than 2,000 bald eagles are typically reported around Missouri’s large rivers and reservoirs.
Organized events include live eagle programs, exhibits, activities, videos, and guides with spotting scopes to help participants see eagles perched in trees, flying, and fishing. Be sure to dress for winter weather and don’t forget cameras and binoculars.
Eagle Days events are set for:
For people seeking to shake off the winter doldrums, hiking is a great way to get some exercise. With 1,186 conservation areas owned or leased by the Missouri Department of Conservation, every part of the state has something to offer winter walkers.
While hiking, one way to spend the time is searching for shed antlers.
Shed antlers are most likely to be visible on the forest floor on rainy days, when moisture makes the white bones shine. Most white-tailed bucks drop their antlers from late December through February. Good places to search are near fence lines and along deer trails — anywhere bucks are likely to stay for a few hours as they browse for food and hide from predators.
According to the Wildlife Code of Missouri, it’s permissible to collect shed antlers from Department lands. However, if the antlers are still attached to the skull plate, collectors need to contact their local conservation agent within 24 hours to obtain possession authorization.
This winter the Department plans to roll out the second phase of an extensive website redesign effort, with the rejuvenation of its online Discover Nature section.
“With assistance from public surveys and user testing, this section is being completely retooled to provide a better user experience,” said Chris Cloyd, digital communications manager.
The new section, which will be available at mdc.mo.gov, will feature numerous improvements, including a revamped Field Guide and retooled Places to Go section.
Not only will the Field Guide showcase more color images of Missouri flora and fauna, it also will make it easier for the public to identify Missouri’s native species.
The upgraded Places to Go section will make it easier for members of the public to learn about the Department’s conservation areas, natural areas, hatcheries, nature centers, shooting ranges, and more. It will allow the public to explore these areas via Google Maps.
Making the Department’s website more mobile-friendly is a key goal, Cloyd said.
Two other popular sections, Hunting/Trapping and Fishing, were redesigned and launched last summer. The next phases the public can expect are upgrades to the Your Property and Education sections.
Once the presents have been opened and the feast has been eaten, there’s one last gift you can give to your local fish and wildlife habitat this Christmas season.
Fisheries Regional Supervisor Christopher Kennedy said this time of year brings an easy opportunity to give fish a place to hide from predators. The best thing to do with a live Christmas tree is to recycle it by placing it at the bottom of a stream or pond.
The addition of a dead tree to fish habitat is akin to humans furnishing their homes: It gives fish shady resting places and the cover they need to escape.
“Small fish need vegetation and brush to help them hide from predators,” Kennedy said. “In contrast, predator fish, like crappie and bass, sometimes hide behind a limb to wait for an opportunity to grab its prey.”
Multiple large trees make the best fish habitat. Kennedy encourages neighbors to get together and combine efforts by recycling their trees together in one lake. To place trees in a pond or lake, they’ll need to be anchored with concrete blocks. Water depth should also be considered. The best depth is 8 feet in the water, with the trees placed in a row.
Other ways to recycle live Christmas trees include placing them in a backyard to offer cover for wildlife or under bird feeders to provide nesting locations in the branches. Live trees can also be shredded and chipped for mulch.
Mourning cloak butterflies are most frequently seen in woods. They are attracted to tree sap, decaying fruit, and moist places, only rarely visiting flowers. They are usually seen in late August to October and in April and May, but adults may appear on warm winter days. They need a body temperature of about 65 degrees to be able to fly. Most butterflies bask in sunlight to raise their body temperature, but mourning cloaks can truly shiver, rapidly contracting muscles with only minimal wing movement. This can raise their temperature 15–20 degrees in just minutes.
Adult mourning cloaks have long lifespans for butterflies, often surviving for 10 months. Adults overwinter, then mate in spring. Eggs are laid in rings on twigs of host plants, in groups of up to 200 or more. The larvae live and feed communally in a web. They pupate and emerge as adults in midsummer, feed for a time, then go dormant until fall, when they feed again before winter hibernation. They overwinter beneath loose bark and other tree cavities. The camouflaged undersides of their wings help them evade predators.
—photograph by Noppadol Paothong
This year Missouri will support Tree City USA — an Arbor Day Foundation program — as it celebrates 40 years helping communities achieve sustainable community forests.
The program has been greening up cities and towns across America since 1976. It is a nationwide movement that provides the framework necessary for communities to care for and expand their public trees.
To be included in the program, a city must meet four national standards: form a tree board or department, adopt a tree ordinance, expend at least $2 per capita on the planting and care of city trees, and observe and proclaim Arbor Day.
In the Show-Me State, 85 communities — representing more than 42 percent of Missourians — participate in the Tree City USA program. With 451,000 inhabitants, Kansas City is the largest participating city and Augusta, population 225, is the smallest.
Mexico is the state’s longest-running participant with 36 years.
“Trees on public property outnumber trees on private land, and they bring so much value to communities and to the state as a whole,” said Missouri State Forester Lisa Allen. “Strong, healthy, growing street trees increase property values, improve the environment by absorbing carbon dioxide, and decrease energy consumption by reducing the need for cooling in the summer.”
A goal of the program is to help the public understand how trees work for Missourians.
Here are a few examples:
To celebrate the 40th anniversary of the national program, the Department set a new goal to add 40 additional communities to the program over the next five years. Learn more about how your community can join the program at on.mo.gov/1RaNZ6Y.
We help people discover nature and conserve it, too.
If you’ve resolved to do more for conservation in 2016, please consider becoming a conservation volunteer. The Missouri Department of Conservation needs skilled outdoor enthusiasts to teach fishing skills, lead naturalist programs, teach hunter education, serve at shooting ranges, and help deliver conservation programs statewide. Call your regional office (find the number on Page 3) to find a local volunteer opportunity that matches your interests, skills, and schedule.
Find 18 more places to volunteer, including nature centers, staffed shooting ranges, and regional offices, at on.mo.gov/1LTA7LB.
Many hunting and fishing permits expire at the end of February, including 2015 permits for small game, fishing, trout fishing, and combination hunting and fishing permits. Now is the time to renew those permits so as not to miss outdoor opportunities in the year ahead.
With three options, buying permits is easier than ever. You can buy permits by visiting mdc.mo.gov and clicking on “Buy Permits.” This online option lets hunters, trappers, and anglers buy permits at home or on any computer and print them immediately.
All sport-fishing and sport-hunting permits are available online, along with trapping permits and the Apprentice Hunter Authorization. A $1 convenience fee is added to the online permit transactions. That fee covers all permits purchased at one time.
Permits purchased online are printed on regular printer paper and can be saved on a computer, allowing you to print replacements if permits are lost or destroyed. Permits may not be shared, and additional copies of a permit do not provide additional valid permits for the buyer or others to use.
Commercial permits and lifetime permits can be purchased only through the Department’s Central Office by calling 573-751-4115. Allow up to 10 days for mail delivery of permits purchased by telephone. Phone purchases are subject to a $2 convenience fee.
Low permit cost is one more reason Missouri is a great place to hunt and fish. Missouri residents pay $12 for an annual fishing permit, while residents in the eight neighboring states pay an average of $20.80. Missouri’s $17 Resident Any-Deer Permit is a bargain compared to an average of $46.63 for equivalent privileges in surrounding states.
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