Can you guess this month's natural wonder?
News and updates from MDC
MDC, partners, landowners working together.
Through trapping and targeted shooting, MDC, working with private landowners and its partner agencies, including agricultural and conservation groups, eliminated 9,365 feral hogs from Missouri’s landscape in 2018. This is an increase from 2017 when 6,561 hogs were removed.
“Feral hogs are a destructive, invasive species that don’t belong here. They’re not a native species,” said Mark McLain, MDC Feral Hog Elimination Team leader. “They out-compete native wildlife for habitat and food. For example, places with a lot of feral hogs will see their wild turkey and deer populations diminish.”
McLain said feral hogs are known to carry diseases, such as swine brucellosis, pseudorabies, trichinosis, and leptospirosis, that could possibly spread to humans, pets, and livestock. He hopes the message that hunting is not an effective method for eliminating feral hog populations is starting to be better understood across Missouri.
“For over 20 years, unregulated hunting of feral hogs was allowed in Missouri, during which time our feral hog population expanded from a few counties to over 30 counties,” he said.
In 2017, MDC, the Corps of Engineers, and the LAD Foundation established regulations against feral hog hunting on lands owned and managed by these three organizations. Other agencies have passed regulations similar to MDC’s to eliminate hog hunting on land they own.
Feral hogs have expanded their range in the U.S. from 17 to 38 states over the past 30 years. Their populations grow rapidly because feral hogs can breed any time of year and produce two litters of one to seven piglets every 12 to 15 months.
Celebrate the value of Missouri trees and forests by planting native trees and practicing proper tree care during Arbor Days in April.
Missouri Arbor Day is Friday, April 5. Missouri has been observing the state’s official Arbor Day on the first Friday in April 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 26 for 2019.
Get 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 info, and more, at mdc.mo.gov/tree-health.
The George O. White State Forest Nursery near Licking offers 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.
The nursery is hosting an open house and tours on Saturday, April 6, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Stop by to see how nursery staff grows, stores, and ships more than 3 million seedlings each year. Tours are by appointment. Call 573-674-3229 to make a reservation.
Missouri forests cover about one-third of the state and provide outdoor recreation, wildlife habitat, natural beauty, and watersheds for streams and rivers. Spending time in Missouri forests can provide natural health benefits, too. Exposure to nature contributes to your physical well-being, reducing your blood pressure and heart rate, relieving stress, and boosting your energy level. Get more information at mdc.mo.gov/forest.
Discover and explore Missouri’s worldclass natural diversity. Our new 24-page, full-color booklet showcases the beauty and value of Missouri’s natural communities. Maps help you know where to find them and tips help you do more to conserve them. Free to Missouri residents. To order, email Show-Me Natural Communities and your mailing address to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Send it to AskMDC@mdc.mo.gov or call 573-522-4115, ext. 3848.
Q: What sort of insect creates these tunnels, and why is there a large central corridor? The “legs” look almost symmetrical.
A: These galleries were made by tiny bark beetles, most likely in the genus Scolytus.
A bark beetle gallery is formed when a female beetle bores into a tree, excavates a wide central gallery, and lays eggs along the edge. When the eggs hatch, the larvae begin feeding, creating their own galleries opposite the central gallery. The excavations get wider as the larvae travel farther and grow larger. Some galleries are quite short, presumably because the larvae in those died or were eaten. When the larvae finish their feeding, they pupate and become adult beetles, chewing their way through the bark and leaving small exit holes. In an infested tree, you can see many tiny holes. As the bark falls away, these neat galleries are revealed.
Q: In the spring, we feed Baltimore orioles for several weeks. Why don’t they return in the fall on their return home?
A: We likely don’t see as many Baltimore orioles, or other migrant birds, in autumn for a few reasons, according to State Ornithologist Sarah Kendrick.
“After the breeding season and raising their young, orioles may not be as desperate for feeder foods that we put out for them. There is an abundance of natural autumn food sources, like ripened berries, that weren’t necessarily available when they first arrived in the spring,” Kendrick noted.
It’s also important to note many birds on their spring journeys north have just traversed the Gulf of Mexico, the Caribbean, or other land masses. After making these exhausting, nonstop flights, it’s common for flocks of hungry birds to show up at feeders in large groups. Look for Baltimore orioles in mid-April.
There is much we don’t know about many species’ migratory routes, particularly small songbirds, due to their size and difficulty in attaching long-term tracking technology.
Researchers do know some species take different routes in the spring and fall, likely due to weather and food availability.
Q: This butterfly is rather friendly. It flies up to me and sits on the nearby flowers as I am watering. Is this a great spangled fritillary?
A: Yes. A common breeding resident of Missouri, great spangled fritillaries (Speyeria cybele) like moist, open areas like fields, prairies, and woodlands. They often visit city yards in search of gardens and flowers.
As caterpillars, they feast on various violet (Viola) species at night and hide during the day. As adults, they sip nectar from many species of flowers, including milkweeds, thistles, ironweed, bergamot, and purple coneflower. To obtain the nutrients and moisture they need, these butterflies also visit carrion, animal droppings, and mud puddles.
Males patrol open areas for females. This species lays eggs in late summer on or near host violets, but the newly hatched caterpillars do not feed on the plants. Instead, they overwinter until spring and then eat new leaves that grow as the weather warms.
Great spangled fritillaries have a single generation each year, with adults flying from mid-May to early September.
False morel caps resemble a brain — they have lobes, folds, flaps, or wrinkles. They may be black, gray, white, brown, or reddish. Their caps bulge outward instead of being pitted inward like a true morel. False morel stalks are stuffed with a cottony white tissue. True morels are completely hollow. True morels are only found in spring, while false morels are found in spring, summer, and fall. Most importantly, false morels are poisonous.
Spring turkey season opens April 15. Not only are turkey hunters out trying to bag a bird, but mushroom hunters are out looking for those springtime delicacies — morels. Always be mindful of all resource users. Though hunter orange is not required when turkey hunting, it is a good idea, especially when you are moving in and out of the woods. Never wear colors that resemble a turkey, especially red, white, blue, or black. Should you bag a bird, wrap it in orange to transport it out of the woods.
Always shout to make your presence known to a fellow hunter. A safe hunting day is a good hunting day. For more information on the 2019 spring turkey season, visit short.mdc.mo.gov/ZZf.
Invasive nonnative species destroy habitat and compete with native wildlife. Do what you can to control invasive species when you landscape, farm, hunt, fish, camp, or explore nature.
Introduced in North American waterways through international shipping, zebra mussels were discovered in Lake St. Clair near Detroit. Since then, they have spread rapidly throughout the Great Lakes and connected waterways of the Mississippi River. Zebra mussels were first reported in Missouri in 1991.
Zebra mussel’s range is spreading. Currently, they are found in Missouri reservoirs, including Lake of the Ozarks, Bull Shoals Lake, Lake Taneycomo, Lake Lotawana, and Smithville Lake. They are also in several rivers, including the Osage (below Bagnell Dam), Missouri, Mississippi, and lower Meramec.
Zebra mussels have tremendous reproductive capabilities, producing as many as 1 million eggs per year. They gather in densities of 30,000–40,000 per square meter and cover any surface available. They starve and suffocate native mussels by attaching to their shells and surrounding habitat, decimating native species in many areas. Zebra mussels filter plankton from the water, reducing this basic food source for aquatic life. They can clog power plants and public drinking water systems, foul boat hulls, and impact fisheries.
Economic impacts of zebra mussels in North America during the next decade are expected to be in the billions of dollars.
No one has found a way to rid infested waters of zebra mussels, but by following these “clean boating” tips, you can help prevent further spread:
To learn more, visit short.mdc.mo.gov/Zcz
Good habitat remains a key component in building quail numbers. Good partnerships among landowners and conservation agencies are key to creating that habitat.
For more than a decade, private landowners in Carroll and Knox counties, MDC, and Quail Forever have partnered to rebuild habitat for this iconic bird, resulting in some of the highest known quail densities in Missouri in nearly 40 years.
Fall quail numbers in portions of the partnership effort at Bee Ridge Quail Restoration Landscape (QRL) in Knox county reached one bird per 2 acres in both 2017 and 2018 while populations in the 2C QRL in Carroll County reached one bird per acre during the same time. This equates to about five and 10 coveys per 100 acres, respectively.
Most other managed areas in the state average one bird per 3 acres or less. This equates to about three or fewer coveys per 100 acres.
For help with managing land for quail and other wildlife, contact your local MDC office or private land conservationist. Find them at short.mdc.mo.gov/ZoF.
MDC has updated information available for hunters, trappers, and anglers.
The 2019 Spring Turkey Hunting Regulations and Information, Summary of Missouri Hunting and Trapping Regulations, and Summary of Missouri Fishing Regulations booklets are available for free at regional offices, nature centers, and locations where permits are sold. They are also available online at short.mdc.mo.gov/ZZf and short.mdc.mo.gov/Zq3.
You can also pick up the Wildlife Code of Missouri at these same locations or view it online at short.mdc.mo.gov/ZJ8.
These handy booklets have information on permits, seasons, species, regulations, limits
Serves 2 to 4
In a 4-quart cast-iron pot, heat olive oil over medium heat. Salt and pepper steaks on both sides and add to hot oil. After first side is browned, turn over and add cardamom and cumin seeds to the oil around meat, and stir to heat seeds thoroughly. Add lemon, garlic, onion and pimentos and stir. Cook until onion is softened. Add pepper flakes, prunes, stock and tomatoes. Turn meat over, stir thoroughly and cover with lid. Simmer atop burner for 2 to 3 hours until meat is tender.
Place meat on a heated platter and cover. Skim fat from pot and bring contents to a boil to reduce liquids. Season to taste and pour over venison. Serve with couscous or saffron rice and your favorite bold red wine.
Find more wild recipes in Cooking Wild in Missouri. Order yours at mdcnatureshop.com.
Editor - Angie Daly Morfeld
Associate Editor - Larry Archer
Staff Writer - Bonnie Chasteen
Staff Writer - Heather Feeler
Staff Writer - Kristie Hilgedick
Staff Writer - Joe Jerek
Creative Director - Stephanie Thurber
Art Director - Cliff White
Designer - Les Fortenberry
Designer - Marci Porter
Photographer - Noppadol Paothong
Photographer - David Stonner
Circulation - Laura Scheuler