Can you guess this month’s natural wonder?
The Missouri Conservation Commission gave initial approval of changes to permits and the permit system at its May 23 meeting, and MDC wants public input. The changes include:
To comment on the proposed changes, visit short.mdc.mo.gov/Z49.
The next step in the rulemaking process is a public comment period during July and early August. Comments received will be considered, and final proposals will then go to the commission for further action at its Aug. 23 meeting. If enacted, the changes will become effective in February 2020.
Starting July 1, fees at MDC’s five staffed shooting ranges will increase for the first time in nearly 20 years. The current fee of $3 per hour on the rifle, handgun, patterning, or archery ranges and $3 per round on the trap/skeet ranges will increase to $4 per round or hour.
The price increase will apply to Andy Dalton Shooting Range and Outdoor Education Center in Greene County, August A. Busch Memorial Conservation Area Shooting Range and Outdoor Education Center in Saint Charles County, Jay Henges Shooting Range and Outdoor Education Center in Saint Louis County, Lake City Range in Jackson County, and Parma Woods Range and Training Center in Platte County.
Learn more about our staffed shooting ranges at short.mdc.mo.gov/ZZF.
MDC invites you to a series of open houses to learn more about black bears in Missouri. The open houses will include information on MDC black bear research projects and management efforts, our draft black bear management plan, potential future hunting opportunities, and how to handle conflicts with nuisance bears. MDC staff will also be taking comments on these and other related topics.
The meetings will be from 6–8 p.m., with a presentation at 6 p.m. No registration is required.
For more information, contact MDC Public Involvement Coordinator Michele Baumer at Michele.Baumer@mdc.mo.gov or 573-522-4115, ext. 3350.
Send it to AskMDC@mdc.mo.gov or call 573-522-4115, ext. 3848.
Q. I found this web at Pickle Springs Natural Area. What spider made it?
A. The spined micrathena (Micrathena gracilis) is one of three species of Micrathena spiders found in Missouri that are also known as spiny orbweavers because of the conical-shaped protuberances on their bodies and their ability to spin intricate, circular webs.
Because of their small size, these spiders are frequently overlooked. But if you’ve ever ran into a spider’s eye-level silk dragline while hiking down a trail, you’ve probably encountered them.
Males and females mature in early summer and females can be found until October. Female spined micrathenas typically are black and white, have five pairs of black conical protuberances encircling their abdomens, and are twice as big as males. Males visit females in their webs, but their courtship can prove fatal, since they are often eaten to provide nourishment to their mates and offspring.
These spiders are commonly found in woodland areas, but they also like suburban settings. They rarely enter homes and are not known to bite people.
Like many spiders, they capture insects in the sticky strands of their webs. Once caught, a dose of venom subdues their prey and starts the digestion process. Although humans tend to fear spiders, they control insects naturally. Additionally, these spiders provide some of the sticky webbing hummingbirds use to build their own nests.
Q. Shortly after sunset, I heard whistles coming from the woods — short, one-syllable sounds that started out loudly and faded quickly. The closer they were, the raspier. What was making these whistles?
A. You are hearing young barred owls calling to their parents. To beg for food and make their parents aware of their location, these owls emit a one note call that can vary from a melodic whistle to a raspy hiss. To hear their begging calls, visit allaboutbirds.org/guide/Barred_Owl/sounds.
Barred owls don’t migrate, or even move far away. According to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, of 158 birds banded and rediscovered, none had moved more than 6 miles away. So, the juvenile barred owls you are hearing in your neighborhood may stay nearby.
Barred owls often nest in natural cavities in mature forests but will also use human-made nest boxes. To attract a breeding pair, you might consider putting up a box this fall. To learn more, visit nestwatch.org/ learn/all-about-birdhouses/birds/ barred-owl.
Q. I recently saw a video of a tree squirrel eating a young bird. I have never heard of this. Is this common or a freak phenomenon?
A. While not commonly observed, it is not uncommon.
Squirrels have an extremely varied diet, eating parts of about 100 different species of plants. Squirrels eat the nuts, twigs, buds, flowers, berries, seeds, and wild fruits of hickory, pecan, oak, walnut, elm, and mulberry trees. They may also occasionally eat eggs and young birds. Insects and insect larvae are eaten in small amounts as well, mostly in late spring and summer.
The ruby-throated hummingbird (Archilochus colubris) uses its needlelike bill to extract nectar from feeders and flowers. This tiny bird also dines on insects. The ruby-throated hummingbird frequents forests and other wooded places where it builds nests from spider webbing and plant materials. Watch for a peak in hummer numbers in August as they migrate through Missouri.
Kyle Clinton, Crawford County Conservation Agent
Looking for summertime fun? Visit one of MDC’s conservation areas. With so many outdoor opportunities waiting to be discovered, conservation areas are a great way to connect with nature. Whether you have enjoyed an area before or you are exploring a new area, be sure to download the free MO Outdoors app before you go. The app, available through Google Play for Android devices or the App Store for Apple devices, provides easy access to area information, activities, maps, hours, directions, and a contact number for additional information. As always, plan your trip ahead of time, bring plenty of water, tell someone where you are going and for how long, and have the proper permits if your activities require them.
Spotlight on people and partners
By Cliff White
Like many anglers, Ray Lee Caskey has enjoyed pulling trout out of the Eleven Point River in and around Oregon County for decades. Unlike most, the former Oregon County Prosecuting Attorney and Circuit Court Judge also spent 50 years helping put many of those same fish in the river. In 2018, Ray, 79, was recognized for his volunteer work with MDC agents stocking the Eleven Point.
During his volunteer tenure stocking trout, which began in 1968, the process evolved from dropping large numbers of fish at department river access points to getting on the river with agents and distributing the fish more evenly throughout the river.
“He cherished the outdoors, and he wanted to build on those relationships, especially with our division, with those agents, and understand what they were going through, the challenges of being a conservation agent in Oregon County during that time period,” said Ozark Region Protection Supervisor Gerald Smith, who recognized Ray during his last stocking trip in June 2018. “It was a chance for him to get on the river, have those conversations, and build those relationships as much as anything.”
“I’ve loved fishing for all my life and have loved the river ever since I’ve been here,” said Ray. “I’ve loved doing it, and really became good friends with all the agents.”
What’s your conservation superpower?
MDC and the Conservation Commission honored Pioneer Forest’s longtime Forest Manager Clint Trammel posthumously by inducting him into the Missouri Conservation Hall of Fame. The award was presented to Trammel’s family during a ceremony at Pioneer Forest’s annual community barbecue in Salem in April. The privately owned, 143,000-acre Pioneer Forest is in the heart of the Missouri Ozarks.
Trammel died June 21, 2018, at the age of 78, following a lifelong passion for and career in forestry. With the addition of Trammel, the Conservation Hall of Fame honors 44 Missourians posthumously who have made substantial and lasting contributions to forestry, fisheries, and wildlife conservation efforts in the state. Learn more at short.mdc.mo.gov/Zxn.
Congratulations to Grant Woods, Ph.D., of Reeds Spring on becoming the 61st recipient of our Master Conservationist award, which was first presented in 1942. Dr. Woods received the award at the May 23 commission meeting at Big Cedar Lodge near Branson.
Dr. Woods is a wildlife biologist who is nationally known and respected as a leading authority on deer management, research, and education. He is also a strong proponent of hunting as a vital tie to wildlife conservation.
“Dr. Woods exemplifies Missouri’s Show-Me spirit through his comprehensive wildlife-management philosophy, strong conservation ethic, and love for wildlife,” said MDC Director Sara Parker Pauley, who presented the award. “He is so very well deserving of the award because of his decades of dedication to white-tailed deer, habitat management, environmental and conservation education, and the continuation of our rich hunting heritage.”
The Master Conservationist Award honors living or deceased citizen conservationists, former MDC commissioners, and employees of conservation-related agencies, universities, or organizations who have made substantial and lasting contributions to the state’s fisheries, forestry, or wildlife resources, including conservation law enforcement and conservation education related activities. Learn more at short.mdc.mo.gov/Zxh.
Missouri adults 16 and older can complete hunter education training all online.
The all-online course includes engaging video and animation on hunter safety, firearm safety, ethics, regulations, and wildlife management.
Learn more about MDC’s hunter education program at mdc.mo.gov/huntereducation
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