Can you guess this month's natural wonder?
Missouri Arbor Day is Friday, April 6.
To celebrate the value of our trees and forests, plant native trees and practice proper tree care during Arbor Days in April.
MDC’s George O. White State Forest Nursery near Licking offers Missouri residents a variety of low-cost native tree and shrub seedlings for reforestation, windbreaks, erosion control, and wildlife food and cover. Orders are accepted from Nov. 1 to April 15 every year. For more information, visit mdc.mo.gov/seedlings.
For information on backyard tree care, including types of trees for urban and other landscapes, selecting the right tree for the right place, planting tips, watering and pruning, and more, visit mdc.mo.gov/tree-health.
Missouri has observed the first Friday in April as the state’s official Arbor Day since 1886 when the General Assembly declared that day be set aside for the appreciation and planting of trees. National Arbor Day is recognized on the last Friday of April, which is April 27.
Communities across the state hold local Arbor Day activities. For more information on Arbor Day and Missouri’s Tree City USA communities, visit the Arbor Day Foundation at arborday.org.
Missouri forests cover about one-third of the state and provide outdoor recreation, wildlife habitat, natural beauty, and watersheds for streams and rivers. Missouri forests also provide employment for more than 44,000 people who convert trees into essential products. For more information, visit mdc.mo.gov/forest.
Want to fish but don’t have the gear? MDC can help through the free Rod and Reel Loaner Program. Find one near you at more than 100 locations around the state including libraries, MDC offices and nature centers, some state parks, and several marinas. In addition to offering a rod with a standard spin-cast reel, the program also provides a small tackle box with hooks, sinkers, bobbers, and a stringer to hold your catch. Anglers need to bring their own live bait or lures.
MDC started the program in 2014 and now offers more than 4,000 sets of fishing gear. Congratulations to The Mid-Continent Public Library in Smithville, which recently became the program’s 100th loaner location.
“Most communities have a local library and people are generally familiar with going to a library to check out books, DVDs, CDs, and other items,” MDC Fisheries Program Specialist Andrew Branson said. “Now they can also borrow fishing equipment as simply as checking out a book.”
For a list of MDC Rod and Reel Loaner locations, visit mdc.mo.gov/RodandReelLoanerProgram.
To help people get hooked on fishing, we offer the Discover Nature — Fishing program from May to September at numerous locations around Missouri. The free four-lesson series is for families and youth ages 7–15.
Discover Nature — Fishing lessons are taught by experienced anglers and cover equipment, casting, proper fish handling, tying hooks, stocking a tackle box, fish identification, how to release a fish, regulations, and other topics. For more information, visit mdc.mo.gov/DiscoverNatureFishing.
For more information on fishing in Missouri, including public places to fish, regulations, seasons, what to catch, fishing tips, and more, visit mdc.mo.gov/fishing.
The next MDC Wild Webcast: Attracting Backyard Wildlife is scheduled for May 16 from noon to 1 p.m. Join MDC State Ornithologist Sarah Kendrick, Community Conservationist for the City of Columbia Danielle Fox, and MDC Habitat Management Coordinator Nate Muenks as they discuss attracting birds and other wildlife to backyards through bird feeding, native plantings for wildlife food and shelter, and other habitat help. Register at short.mdc.mo.gov/ZTh.
Watch previous MDC Wild Webcasts at short.mdc.mo.gov/ZwE to learn about invasive species, mountain lions, birding, fishing, chronic wasting disease, black bears, pollinators, and feral hogs.
Send it to AskMDC@mdc.mo.gov or call 573-522-4115, ext. 3848.
Q: I caught this in Boeuf Creek in Franklin County. What kind of fish is it?
A. This is a striped shiner. This silvery minnow has a broad, dark stripe along the midline of its back and faint parallel lines that converge behind the dorsal fin, forming V-shaped markings. Adults tend to be 3–5 inches long. Males can be quite colorful during breeding season, with a pink flush on body and fins. They will also have black crescent-shaped markings on their sides and many small hard bumps on their head, called nuptial tubercles.
Striped shiners prefer clear, permanent-flowing streams with clean gravelly or rocky bottoms. They like relatively warm and quiet water and are less tolerant of turbidity than their close relative, the common shiner.
These fish formerly were found as far north as the Iowa border. Today, they are more commonly found in Ozark streams in south Missouri, but not the Bootheel. They spawn from late April to mid-June and often use the gravel nests of the hornyhead chub, a fish known for constructing gravel mounds 1–3 feet in diameter that are guarded by a single male.
Q: What would cause a white-tailed buck to still have antlers in April?
A. Sometime toward the end of breeding season — usually from the end of December to mid-February — a buck’s antlers become loosened around the base by reabsorption of the bone. This is commonly called casting or shedding.
The shedding of antlers is the result of a decrease in testosterone and potentially declining body condition due to the stress of the rut. Bucks that are still in good condition, post rut, tend to carry their antlers longer than bucks in poor condition.
So perhaps that is what has happened here. Another possible explanation is that unbred does in the area continued to stimulate testosterone production in the buck, delaying the shedding process.
Normally, antlers begin growing about this time of year. Longer hours of daylight in spring stimulate the pituitary gland to initiate antler growth. Rapid growth starts in April or May when the base (the pedicle) is covered with soft skin richly supplied with blood vessels. The blood transports the calcium, phosphorus, protein, and other materials from which the antlers are made.
Q: What tree grows thorns like this? I noticed them while visiting Walnut Woods Conservation Area?
A. This species is a honey locust (Gleditsia triacanthos), a medium-sized tree with a short, thorny trunk, thorny branches, and a loose, open crown.
Thornless varieties of honey locusts are useful plants, since they are tolerant of urban conditions and make excellent shade trees. The hard and durable wood can be used for a variety of products, including fence posts and furniture. The legume pods are an important food for wildlife.
Although it was mostly a bottomland tree originally, it is invasive in a variety of upland habitats, especially prairies.
The thorns have been used as needles, weapons, and for carding wool.
If a case of spring fever has you hearing the call of the wild — or the gobble of the wild — you are in luck! Spring turkey season opens April 16 and runs through May 6. Get your permit now. Use the MO Hunting app, call 800-392-4115, buy from your local vendor, or buy online at mdc.mo.gov/permits. Dress defensively — wear hunter orange, especially when moving afield. Never wear red, white, blue, or colors that resemble those of a turkey. Sit against a tree or other natural barrier. Always identify your target before pulling the trigger and be aware of what lies beyond it. If you take your time and are safe, you will have an enjoyable season.
Invasive nonnative plants consume wildlife habitat and pasturelands, and compete with crops. Do what you can to control invasive species when you landscape, farm, hunt, fish, camp, or explore nature.
Also known as Callery pear, Bradford pear (Pyrus calleryana) is a compact tree that produces abundant clusters of white flowers in the spring and bears greenish-yellow, flecked, apple-like fruit. It can grow 30–50 feet tall.
You can find it statewide in urban, suburban, and rural yards, office and apartment complexes, malls, streets, and college campuses. However, this pear is now escaping to and overtaking disturbed areas, roadsides, pastures, and natural landscapes.
“A single wild tree can produce and spread a tremendous amount of seeds, dispersed primarily by birds, to establish new populations, often forming dense, impenetrable thickets and outcompeting native plants,” said Nate Muenks, habitat management coordinator.
In areas with light infestation, pull small trees by hand when the soil is moist, taking care to remove the entire root. In dense stands, spray with a herbicide solution in mid- to late summer. Cut down medium to large trees and treat stumps immediately with herbicide to prevent resprouting. Alternatively, treat the lower 12 inches of bark around the entire trunk with the appropriate herbicide. For more information, visit short.mdc.mo.gov/ZTA
Small trees are easy to cut with hand tools. Treat stumps with herbicide immediately to prevent resprouting.
Congratulations to Matt and Kate Lambert, who recently received the first Missouri Leopold Conservation Award for conservation efforts on their north-central Missouri farms.
Given in honor of renowned conservationist Aldo Leopold, the award recognizes farmers, ranchers, and other private landowners as leaders in conservation. In his influential, posthumous 1949 book, A Sand County Almanac, Leopold called for an ethical relationship, which he deemed “an evolutionary possibility and an ecological necessity,” between people and the land they own and manage. The Lamberts, who own Uptown Farms, received the award for extensive and varied use of soil and water conservation efforts, such as no-till planting and cover crops on their row crops and grazing rotations for livestock on their 2,000 acres. The Lamberts also protect their waterways by keeping their cattle and sheep out of sensitive areas and using terrace systems to help manage, protect, and clean the water leaving their farm.
They also manage nearly 450 acres of native grass under the Conservation Reserve Program that increase habitat for deer, turkey, small game, and pollinators. More than 90 percent of land in Missouri is privately owned, and MDC works with tens of thousands of Missouri landowners to implement sound conservation practices. Learn more at mdc.mo.gov/property.
For more information about the Sand County Foundation’s Leopold Award, visit sandcountyfoundation.org/our-work/leopold-conservation-award-program.
Commonly known as golf ball sedge because of the spiky round balls dotting the long, grasslike green leaves, Carex grayii bloom from May through October. The fruits remain on the plant in winter, adding an interesting accent when the shadows reflect on snow. This sedge thrives in moist soil and is best when used in large groups around pools and ponds. It also makes an interesting accent plant when grown near water gardens or even in containers.
Editor - Angie Daly Morfeld
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