Can you guess this month's natural wonder?
The completely renovated shooting range on the August A. Busch Memorial Conservation Area opened Oct. 28. The range is located in St. Charles at 3550 Route D, approximately 5 miles west of Highway 94.
It features 20 positions at the 100-yard range and 15 positions at 50 yards for rifle and pistol use. Concrete floors, walls, and overhead steel baffles control and contain projectiles. A bullet trap decelerates bullets and deposits them into sealed plastic buckets for recycling. Shooting booths are now handicapped-accessible. Shotgun shooters can enjoy five trap/skeet overlay ranges with electronic controls and two shotgun-patterning ranges.
Lighting for night programs, sound-reduction guards, public restrooms with full plumbing, and a new education/office building with an 80-person classroom add to user convenience and comfort.
The new range also incorporates archery facilities on site, including a static archery range with an elevated shooting tower and broadhead pits.
Fees remain the same. Learn more at short.mdc.mo.gov/ZkL. Stay informed about range happenings by texting “MDC Busch” to 468311 and signing up for text alerts.
MDC offices and nature centers will be closed Friday, Nov. 10, in honor of Veterans Day. MDC staffed shooting ranges will be open. MDC Permit Services and Hunter Education staff will answer phones to help with permit questions and other inquiries before the opening weekend of firearms deer season, Nov. 11–12. Call 573-751-4115.
MDC has saved $1.2 million on energy costs since 2010, including more than $250,000 in 2016 alone.
Staff have used energy-saving technologies in nature centers and offices, such as replacing incandescent lighting with more efficient LED bulbs and climate-control systems to adjust building temperatures after working hours. They have also installed motion-activated lights, and heating systems that use geothermal energy.
As a result, seven MDC locations have achieved ENERGY STAR® ratings. ENERGY STAR is a joint program of the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Energy. Its goal is to help consumers, businesses, and industry save money and protect the environment through the adoption of energy efficient products and practices. The ENERGY STAR label identifies top performing, cost-effective products, homes, and buildings. The ENERGY STAR rating means the building is more energy efficient than the numbered percent of similar buildings around the country.
Learn more about ENERGY STAR at energystar.gov. Find out more about energy efficiency assistance programs at the Missouri Public Service Commission’s website, psc.mo.gov/General/Energy_Efficiency_Assistance_Programs. For more information about MDC, visit mdc.mo.gov.
Send it to AskMDC@mdc.mo.gov or call 573-522-4115, ext. 3848.
Q: Can I feed deer in Missouri?
A. It depends on where you live in the Show-Me State.
In an effort to limit the spread of chronic wasting disease (CWD), the Missouri Conservation Commission restricted the feeding of deer in 41 Missouri counties, effective July 1, 2017.
Deer are social animals and feeding them increases the chance they might share this communicable disease, explained Jasmine Batten, MDC wildlife disease coordinator.
The ban applies to the placement of grain, salt products, minerals, and other consumable natural and manufactured products used to attract deer.
There are a few exceptions. Since deer are less likely to gather near buildings, homeowners can feed them within 100 feet of any residence or occupied building. Also exempt are food and minerals present solely as a result of normal agricultural and forest management practices, as well as food placed out of the reach of wild deer. Finally, the planting of food plots for wildlife is still permitted.
“CWD is spread from deer to deer and the potential for transmission increases when deer gather in larger, concentrated numbers,” Batten said. “Feeding deer or placing minerals for deer unnaturally concentrates the animals and can help spread this deadly disease.” In these counties, if you harvest a deer during Nov. 11–12, you must take it (or the head with at least 6 inches of neck attached) on the day of harvest to a designated CWD sampling station. See short.mdc.mo.gov/ZiE.
Q. When I fill my birdfeeder at night, a raccoon shows no fear of me. It walks within 2 feet, but I keep my distance. I had not seen him all summer, but he reappeared recently. Do you have any thoughts on his absence and return?
A. It’s conceivable the raccoon was able to forage more successfully when the weather was warm. But now that temperatures have dipped, the animal has returned to a known food source. Perhaps it doesn’t show any fear of people because it is used to eating human food. Raccoons are notorious for exploiting easy sources of food and for growing comfortable around humans. If you haven’t done anything to harass it, it may not have a reason to leave.
Because feeding wildlife — either inadvertently or on purpose — can lead to conflict and negative repercussions, we suggest you stop filling the feeder for at least two weeks or bring it indoors. If the raccoon continues to reappear, you may need to forgo feeding altogether. Removing this food source is the best way to encourage this raccoon — and other foragers, such as bears — to move on.
Q. I noticed hellbender eggs begin hatching in early November. How do the young survive Missouri’s cold winter temperatures?
A. As one of the few salamander species in the world to fertilize eggs externally, female hellbenders begin spawning in September and finish by November. Placed in depressions under flat rocks or within bedrock crevices, the eggs look like strands of glossy, white pearls. The eggs will begin to hatch within four to six weeks. The hatchlings, called larvae, are nourished by yolk sacs — a process that can last up to three months — and guarded closely by the males, said Herpetologist Jeff Briggler. The males cope with the cold by lowering their metabolism and eating nearby crayfish and occasionally eggs in the nest.
Scientists believe hellbenders’ somewhat unusual fall hatch is an evolutionary defense against many preying species of fish.
Most predators reduce feeding and movement during the winter months. This break in activity gives the hellbender larvae a chance to mature to the point where they can better evade predation and survive to adulthood.
Waterfowl season is upon us! Before you hit the water in search of your favorite species, be sure to check out the Waterfowl Hunting Digest 2017–2018 and familiarize yourself with this year’s changes. First, waterfowl hunters can look forward to later seasons.
Previously, hunters were mainly seeing local birds during the season opener because the big migration hadn’t occurred. With a later start date and a season split in the middle and south zones, hunters are given the opportunity to see a bigger population of ducks and enjoy greater success during their hunt.
Second, bag limits have changed for two species. Hunters can now harvest two black ducks and one pintail. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service dictates bag limits, which vary from year to year based on population. For more information, pick up a copy of the Waterfowl Hunting Digest at local vendors or regional conservation offices, or view it online at short.mdc.mo.gov/ZZf.
A member of the cuckoo family, the greater roadrunner (Geococcyx californianus) has a brown and pale streaked appearance, long tail, down curved bill, and four toes positioned like an X. People enjoy watching these rare, permanent residents of the southwestern corner of the state, where their presence still seems like a novelty. This species runs on the ground, snatching up insects, small reptiles and mammals, scorpions, and small birds.
By David Stonner
Tom Love hosts free guided hunting and fishing events for disabled veterans at his 125-acre Gobbler Ridge Farm in Stoddard County.
Love spent a few years in the Marine Corps, so he is familiar with disabled vets and understands their needs. In 2012, he remodeled his farm’s cabin, widening the doors and making it wheelchair accessible.
He also set up a disabled-accessible hunting blind, and he manages his land to offer excellent hunting opportunities.
He helps disabled vets get outside Love’s farm is known as the Disabled Veterans Wildlife Facility, and it serves 50–75 disabled vets each year. Visitors hunt, fish, and use the cabin free of charge.
In his own words “The farm gets heavy hunting pressure, so I have to utilize every acre to its full potential. In order to do this, I rely on our local MDC private land conservationist,
I hope visitors will promote the importance of habitat conservation, too.”
MDC would like to thank the more than 1,000 people who attended the 80th anniversary open houses, held August through October in Cape Girardeau, Jefferson City, Kirksville, Kirkwood, St. Joseph, Springfield, Winona, and Kansas City.
Director Sara Parker Pauley and conservation commissioners visited with attendees to share information and get feedback, including hundreds of comments. Popular topics included fishing regulations, turkey hunting, how to improve our conservation areas, future bear and elk hunting, and what we should focus on in the future. The open houses also featured refreshments and a variety of activities, such as nature crafts, fishing and a demonstration on how to clean and cook fish, trail walks, a presentation on butterflies and other important pollinators, a waterfowl identification workshop, and educational displays.
”Citizen involvement and participation have always been and continue to be important to the Department of Conservation,” said Director Pauley.
Former St. Joseph News-Press outdoors writer Jeff Leonard was a guest speaker at the Sept. 26 open house in St. Joseph. He echoed Director Pauley’s support of citizen involvement in conservation.
“The Missouri Department of Conservation is a vital entity, but just as important are all of you sitting here tonight,” Leonard said. “Without concerned hunters, anglers, and other outdoors people, our past and present would not be what they are and our future would not look bright!”
He added, “None of us in this room would be able to live the outdoor lifestyles we do today if it weren’t for the folks in MDC uniforms gathered here tonight and their predecessors who have made the state of Missouri one of the best places in the country for an outdoors person to call home. We must work together to continually bridge the gap for the good of our wildlife and natural resources and hope that in another 80 years, they’ll meet again to celebrate our successes and plan for a brighter future themselves.”
John Winkelman, associate editor for Outdoor Guide magazine and host of the Scenic View outdoor radio program, was a guest speaker at the Sept. 7 open house at Powder Valley Conservation Nature Center in Kirkwood
“Most often when we think of the Conservation Department, it’s about the men and women who make sure everyone follows the rules to guarantee fairness for those who always follow the rules,” Winkelman said. “However, more frequently, the department means access to places and things that we may never get to see or discover otherwise. Thanks to MDC, my family and I have enjoyed many wonder-filled opportunities throughout Missouri.
In addition to open houses, MDC was at numerous fairs and events around the state to share information and collect public comments.
Editor - Angie Daly Morfeld
Associate Editor - Bonnie Chasteen
Staff Writer - Larry Archer
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Creative Director - Stephanie Thurber
Art Director - Cliff White
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Photographer - Noppadol Paothong
Photographer - David Stonner
Circulation - Laura Scheuler