News and updates from MDC
Can you guess this month’s natural wonder?
MDC reminds Missouri hunters and anglers that annual permits expire at the end of February, including 2018 permits for small game, fishing, trout fishing, and combination hunting and fishing.
Buy Missouri hunting and fishing permits from one of many vendors around the state, online at mdc.mo.gov/buypermits, or through MDC’s free mobile apps, MO Hunting and MO Fishing, available for download through Google Play for Android devices or the App Store for Apple devices. Save time by buying hunting and fishing permits for multiple people in a single transaction. Select the Additional Customer option during the permit purchase.
Commercial and lifetime permits can be purchased only through the MDC Permit Services Unit by calling 573-522-0107 for an application.
Got a Question for Ask MDC? Send it to AskMDC@mdc.mo.gov or call 573-522-4115, ext. 3848.
Q: Will prolonged days of below freezing weather slow the northward movement of the armadillo?
A. Possibly, but it hasn’t slowed them down much in Missouri. As you have noticed, our state is now home to nine-banded armadillos. Fifty years ago, they were not considered residents. These mammals first appeared in the south and southwest portions of Missouri in the mid-1970s. Since then, they have extended northward into almost every county south of the Missouri River, and many confirmed sightings have occurred in north Missouri. Scientists have seen a few in Iowa, and there are also reports from Nebraska. Whether those seen in Iowa or Nebraska came up on their own, or caught a ride in a vehicle, we don’t know.
The armadillo’s general lack of hair, combined with its low body-fat content, make it ill-equipped to handle extended periods of severely cold weather, which may limit the northward range of the species. The armadillo is active in the winter and must forage for food by digging in the soil or leaf litter for grubs, snails, and other invertebrates. At one time, it was thought frozen ground and a thick layer of snow cover would reduce the population for lack of food. However, based on visual reports at the time, a long snow cover in the late 1990s did not seem to diminish their movements north. MDC scientists have not yet predicted how far north armadillos may ultimately extend their range.
Q: I’ve seen fewer wild turkeys in the last 10 years than the previous 10. What I have noticed is an explosion of raccoons. Has there been any research on the effect of nest-robbing predators on the turkey population?
A. Wild turkey researchers have long known that predators, including raccoons, are the most common cause of nest loss. That said, some of the data we’ve collected about furbearer populations suggests raccoon numbers have increased in Missouri over the last several decades. Because these mammals are considered a primary predator of turkey nests, it is possible this increase has affected turkey hatches. It is also important to remember that turkeys and their nests are vulnerable to a wide variety of predators, including bobcats, coyotes, foxes, skunks, opossums, hawks, owls, snakes, and free-ranging dogs and cats, so it is difficult to implicate raccoons as the sole reason for poor turkey hatches and lower turkey numbers.
In addition to predators, other factors such as weather and habitat quality also influence turkey nest success. Research suggests cold, wet weather during spring and early summer leads to reduced turkey nest success and poult survival. Not surprisingly, other studies have shown turkey reproductive success is greater in areas that have better habitat.
Because we can’t control the weather, and because poor pelt prices don’t support furbearer trapping, creating quality habitat remains the best way to improve turkey nest success and poult survival. Thinning forests and providing open areas with native grasses and wildflowers are excellent ways to increase the turkey population. These areas provide cover for hen turkeys as they nest and rear their broods. They also provide an abundance of insects, which serve as the primary food source for young turkeys. So, despite higher numbers of raccoons, landowners can still promote greater turkey nesting success and poult survival by improving habitat on their properties.
Q: What type of lichen is this?
A: This is Cladonia furcata. This lichen is common on well-drained, but not dry, woodland slopes throughout the Ozarks where there is both moderately high light intensity and minimal competition from soft-stemmed plants. It grows mainly on soil, humus, or among mosses, and rarely on rotting wood.
The comma butterfly, Polygonia comma, comes in two forms — summer and fall. The fall version is vibrant orange with black spots. Adults hibernate and appear on warm sunny days, even if there is snow on the ground. The butterfly’s namesake comma-like marking, which is usually silver or white, is found on the hindwing’s underside. Comma butterflies frequent woodlands and brushy roadsides.
Each week, Discover Nature Notes takes you outdoors in nature through stunning photos, video, and audio. You’ll see the sights and hear the sounds of animals in the wild. Discover nearby hiking trails, find where you can see migrating ducks, learn that Missouri has freshwater shrimp, swamps, champion trees, and more … Subscribe today for free weekly reminders that show the best of Missouri’s great outdoors and what is happening near you. discovernaturenotes.com
Spotlight on people and partners.
by Cliff White
Kendrick is a conservation leader in Monroe County. He works to raise funds that help the Army Corps of Engineers improve Mark Twain Lake’s natural diversity and recreation opportunities. In 2018, he helped charter the Northeast Missouri Master Naturalist chapter.
MDC Outdoor Skills Specialist Rob Garver especially appreciates Kendrick’s work to organize disabled-accessible hunts at Mark Twain Lake. “He has organized the deer and turkey hunts for over 30 years,” Garver said. “He puts countless hours in planting food plots and building wheelchair-accessible blinds. Each year he makes sure the participants have everything they need for a successful hunt.”
“Wonderful things can just keep on happening,” Kendrick said. “You ask somebody to help you do something, and boy, they just take off. We need to tap into people’s desire to help even more.”
MDC Forestry staff reminds you not to throw that cut Christmas tree into the trash after the holidays.
Many communities have a Christmas tree recycling program. If not, there are several creative ways to make good use of your tree. Place the tree in your backyard to offer cover for wildlife or under a bird feeder to provide nesting locations for your feathered visitors. Add some post-holiday treats as ornaments by coating pinecones with peanut butter and adding bird seed.
Have your tree shredded or chipped for mulch, or place cut branches over dormant plants to provide a bit of insulation during the winter and to add organic matter as the needles fall.
You can also sink the tree in a pond to give fish a place to rest, nest, and escape predators. Multiple live trees make the best cover so work with friends, family, and neighbors to combine efforts. Anchor the trees with concrete blocks and sink them at a depth of about 8 feet with the trees placed in a row.
If you used a balled live evergreen and your ground is still soft enough to dig, add it to your home landscape for years of enjoyment and wildlife cover.
Missouri youth, archery, and firearms turkey hunters can apply online for 2019 spring turkey managed hunts Feb. 1–28 at mdc.mo.gov/springturkeyhunts. Hunt details and application procedures are outlined on the site. Drawing results will be posted starting March 15.
Spring turkey hunting youth weekend is April 6 and 7 with the regular spring season running April 15 through May 5.
Detailed information on spring turkey hunting will be available in MDC’s 2019 Spring Turkey Hunting Regulations and Information booklet, available where permits are sold beginning in February. To learn more about turkey hunting in Missouri, visit short.mdc.mo.gov/Z3h.
Last November, MDC Fisheries staff stocked more than 70,000 rainbow trout in urban-area lakes around the state for winter trout fishing. Many of these areas allow anglers to harvest trout as soon as they are stocked, while other areas are catch-and-release until Feb. 1. Find locations at short.mdc.mo.gov/Zpm.
Beginning Feb. 1, all urban-area lakes allow the harvest of trout. The daily limit is four trout with no length limit. All Missouri residents older than age 15 and younger than age 65 must have a fishing permit. All nonresidents over age 15 must have a fishing permit. To keep trout, all anglers regardless of age must have a Missouri trout permit. Learn more about trout fishing at short.mdc.mo.gov/Zps.
Missouri’s winter eagle watching is spectacular — and there is still plenty of time to discover nature through Eagle Days events around the state and eagle viewing opportunities on your own.
MDC Eagle Days events include live captive-eagle programs, exhibits, activities, videos, and guides with spotting scopes. Watch for eagles perched in large trees along the water's edge. To catch eagles in flight or fishing, view them early in the morning. Be sure to dress for winter weather and don’t forget cameras and binoculars. Events include:
For more information, visit mdc.mo.gov/EagleDays.
Coyotes are abundant statewide. Though coyotes can be hunted year-round — with a few exceptions — the late winter conditions make it a perfect time to manage this predator population. The cold temperatures keep coyotes on the move, which can make for an exciting hunt. Coyotes, much like foxes and bobcats, are pursued for their valuable pelts, to alleviate destruction to domestic livestock, and for the sporting opportunity they provide. Predator hunting can be done solo or with family and friends and requires little gear. They are active during daylight and dusk hours along brushy areas, edges of timber, and open agricultural areas. For more information, including season restrictions, visit huntfish.mdc.mo.gov/hunting-trapping/species/coyote.
Editor - Angie Daly Morfeld
Associate Editor - Bonnie Chasteen
Staff Writer - Larry Archer
Staff Writer - Heather Feeler
Staff Writer - Kristie Hilgedick
Staff Writer - Joe Jerek
Creative Director - Stephanie Thurber
Art Director - Cliff White
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Photographer - Noppadol Paothong
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Circulation - Laura Scheuler