From the Missouri Conservationist Magazine
November 2020 Issue

In Brief

What Is It?

Can you guess this month's natural wonder?

What is it

MDC Announces Changes to Firearms Deer Season Sampling

CWD sampling voluntary due to Covid-19

MDC has changed mandatory sampling requirements for chronic wasting disease (CWD) to voluntary sampling in 30 counties during the opening weekend of this year’s November firearms portion of deer season. The change was prompted by ongoing cases and public health concerns in Missouri regarding the COVID-19 pandemic.

The change will impact hunters who harvest deer Nov. 14 and 15 in any of the 30 CWD Management Zone counties: Adair, Barry, Cedar, Chariton, Christian, Clark, Crawford, Franklin, Gasconade, Hickory, Howell, Jefferson, Knox, Linn, Macon, Mercer, Oregon, Ozark, Perry, Polk, Putnam, St. Charles, St. Clair, St. Francois, Ste. Genevieve, Stone, Sullivan, Taney, Warren, and Washington.

While CWD sampling is no longer required opening weekend in the management zone, MDC’s 71 CWD sampling stations located throughout the zone will remain open. We encourage hunters to have their deer sampled for CWD on the day of harvest.

”CWD represents a great threat to the health of Missouri’s deer and elk herds and to our hunting culture,” said Kevyn Wiskirchen, private lands deer biologist and CWD mandatory sampling coordinator. ”Sampling deer for CWD allows early detection of the disease and allows for rapid management intervention to slow its spread. Hunters play a critical role in helping MDC find and manage CWD by having their deer sampled.

”Although sampling is voluntary this year, to help us detect CWD as early as possible and protect the state’s deer herd, we strongly encourage hunters in CWD Management Zone counties to have their deer sampled at one of our stations on opening weekend, or at other locations throughout the duration of deer season.”

MDC staff will take precautions to ensure the health of both staff and the public during CWD sampling. Social distancing will be practiced at all stations. MDC staff will wear gloves and face masks at all times. Hunters and those with them will be asked to remain in their vehicles while their deer is being sampled. Hunters will only be asked to provide county of harvest and will not be asked to identify harvest location on a map. We ask hunters and others who are exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19, have recently tested positive for COVID-19, or have a known COVID-19 exposure to refrain from visiting CWD sampling stations.

MDC will continue to offer statewide voluntary CWD sampling and testing of harvested deer during the entire deer season at select locations throughout the state, including participating MDC offices, cooperating taxidermists, and new freezer head-drop locations. Sampling and test results are free. Find locations and more information online at mdc.mo.gov/cwd or by contacting an MDC regional office.

We remind deer hunters to follow carcass movement restrictions when traveling to a sampling station. Learn more at short.mdc.mo.gov/ZuQ.

Before arriving at a sampling station:

  • Field dress and Telecheck deer.
  • Bring the carcass or just the head.
  • Position deer in vehicles with heads and necks easily accessible.
  • Capes may be removed in preparation for taxidermy before going to a sampling station.
  • Make sure the person who harvested the deer is present.
  • Have the hunter’s conservation number, along with county of harvest, available.
  • If using a paper permit, detach it from the deer for easy access.
  • If using the MO Hunting app, have permit and Telecheck information available.

CWD is a deadly disease in white-tailed deer and other members of the deer family, called cervids. The disease has no vaccine or cure and eventually kills all cervids it infects. There have been no reported cases of CWD infecting people, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) strongly recommends having deer tested for CWD if harvested in an area known to have the disease. The CDC also recommends not eating meat from animals that test positive for CWD.

Get more information on CWD and related regulations online at mdc.mo.gov/cwd, or from our 2020 Fall Deer and Turkey Hunting Regulations & Information booklet, available where permits are sold and online at short.mdc.mo.gov/ZuA.

Ask MDC

Got a Question for Ask MDC?

Send it to AskMDC@mdc.mo.gov or call 573-522-4115, ext. 3848.

Q: I went bow hunting last week and came across this oak tree. How did this happen?

A. Inosculation is a natural phenomenon in which trunks, branches, or roots of two trees grow together. It is biologically like grafting, and such trees are referred to in forestry terms as gemels from the Latin word meaning “pairs” or “twins.”

It is most common for branches of two trees of the same species to grow together, though inosculation may be noted across related species. The branches first grow separately in proximity to each other until they touch. At this point, the bark on the touching surfaces gradually wear away as the trees move in the wind. They sometimes self-graft and grow together as they expand in diameter. Inosculation customarily results when tree limbs are braided or pleached, a technique that involves the interweaving of living and dead branches.

Q: I killed a doe this year and found these in the neck. Do you have any idea what they are?

A. Known as “hemal nodes,” these normal anatomical structures pose no risk to animals or to humans. But they do occasionally worry hunters, who may not recognize them. Hemal nodes — pea-sized spherical structures, usually black or maroon in color — are important filtering organs for animals’ circulatory systems. They may be either solid or fluid-filled and embedded within the fatty tissues of the body.

They’re numerous in ruminants, such as deer and elk, and can be seen in other mammals and birds. They resemble a small clot and are often misinterpreted as tumors or bird shot. Hemal nodes may look unappetizing, but they are not indicative of disease. They are typically trimmed out with excess fat during processing.

Q: Are porcupines ever seen in Missouri?

A. Porcupines (Erethizon dorsatum) are rodents best known for their coats of sharp quills, which they use defensively to ward off predators.

This species’ range includes northern Mexico, the western United States, Canada, and Alaska. Missouri isn’t currently considered a part of their native range; however, archeological records show they did occur here prehistorically.

Over the decades, they have been seen only sporadically in the Show-Me State. Credible observations mostly consist of deceased porcupines found on roadways. In 2006, a porcupine was treed by a dog near Lone Jack, and a year later, quills were removed from two dogs near Oregon, Missouri.

More recently, a live porcupine was reported crossing a road in Taney County in 2017, although it is hard to say if the specimen was native or exotic, since no confirmation photo was taken. A road-killed porcupine also was discovered in Pettis County in 2019.

The number of sightings has increased over the last 10 years. “Whether this is due to more moving into Missouri from Kansas, or if it is just easier for people to report what they see, we do not know,” said Janet Sternburg, MDC resource science supervisor.

What Is it?

Alligator Gar

Alligator Gar

The alligator gar, recognized as the state’s biggest gar, has two rows of teeth in its upper jaw. It’s one of the largest freshwater fishes in North America, reaching 10 feet and 300 pounds. The alligator gar is one of the few native fish large enough to help control invasive, human introduced Asian carp, which is one reason many conservation departments work to reintroduce it and prevent its decline.

MDC Director Named AFWA President

Congratulations to MDC Director Sara Parker Pauley on being named president of the Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies (AFWA) through September 2021. AFWA represents North America’s fish and wildlife agencies to advance sound science-based management and conservation of fish and wildlife and their habitats in the public interest.

“It is a huge honor to be selected to serve as president of AFWA, including being the first female to serve in this role since AFWA’s beginning in 1902,” said Pauley. “As people have flocked to the outdoors in record numbers during this pandemic, this is a crucial time for state agencies to look closely at how we connect with our diverse mix of citizens, some personally experiencing the positive benefits of nature for the first time. It is also imperative that we secure the critical funding through the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act, which would be a game changer for conservation in this country. I look forward to working with the state and Canadian agency directors, as well as the outstanding AFWA staff, in the coming year and serving as a catalyst on pushing our conservation priorities forward.”

AFWA represents its state agency members on Capitol Hill and before the administration to advance favorable fish and wildlife conservation policy and funding, and works to ensure that all entities work collaboratively on the most important issues. Working together, the association’s member agencies are ensuring that North American fish and wildlife management has a clear and collective voice.

To learn more, visit short.mdc.mo.gov/Z6H.

Agent Advice

Captain Joni Bledsoe | Kansas City Region

With deer season upon us, hunters should be aware of new carcass movement restrictions. Whole carcasses, heads, and certain parts of deer harvested in the Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) Management Zone can be removed from the county of harvest only if they are delivered to a licensed meat processor or taxidermist within 48 hours. Deer harvested within the zone must be reported through the Telecheck system before leaving the county. These regulations are designed to slow the spread of CWD. For more information, refer to the 2020 Fall Deer and Turkey Hunting Regulations and Information booklet, available where permits are sold, at MDC regional offices, and online at short.mdc.mo.gov/ZXv.

We Are Conservation

Spotlight on people and partners.

By Larry Archer

Mike Kromrey

As a child growing up in the Ozarks, Mike Kromrey spent much of his time “playing in the creek and running around out in the fields.” So, it makes sense that Kromrey, now 40, still spends his days focused on creeks and fields. As executive director of the Watershed Committee of the Ozarks (WCO) since 2012, he heads an organization dedicated to improving water quality in the Springfield and Greene County area.

Expanding WCO’s reach

In addition to strengthening existing partnerships, Kromrey has worked with WCO staff to expand its role in the community with new offerings like the Watershed Conservation Corps, a program for students interested in environmental careers, and Watershed Natives, a retail outlet for native plants. Both programs are designed to be self-supporting, he said.

In his own words

“Focusing on the mission is at the heart of it, but finding new ways to pursue our mission has been something that I try really hard to do, and one of the exciting ways we’re furthering our mission is by starting programs which achieve our goals, but are supported by the revenue that they generate.”

American Goldfinches

Delight backyard birdwatchers all winter. To attract them to your yard throughout the season, stock your feeders with their favorites — sunflower and niger seeds. Many birds winter in Missouri, so grab a birding guide and some binoculars and see what you’ll discover right outside your window. For more information about backyard feeding, visit short.mdc.mo.gov/Z28.

Also in this issue

Helping to halt stream bank erosion

Healthy Streams, Healthy State

A partnership between MDC and the Stream Stewardship Trust Fund protects Missouri's flowing waters.

A bird sit in the water

Wetland Restoration

Working with — instead of against — nature.

And More...

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This Issue's Staff:

Magazine Manager - Stephanie Thurber

Editor - Angie Daly Morfeld

Associate Editor - Larry Archer

Staff Writer - Bonnie Chasteen
Staff Writer - Heather Feeler
Staff Writer - Kristie Hilgedick
Staff Writer - Joe Jerek

Art Director - Cliff White

Designer - Shawn Carey
Designer - Les Fortenberry
Designer - Marci Porter

Photographer - Noppadol Paothong
Photographer - David Stonner

Circulation - Laura Scheuler