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From Missouri Conservationist: Aug 1996

Why not Bullheads?

I am past 80 years and fish all I can. I would like to get something done to get bullheads started in Missouri, like they have in Minnesota. I live close to Big Lake State Park and have only caught two all spring, and they were finger-size. In Minnesota, you never catch a small one. We need to get them started in our lakes.

Clyde Morris, Forest City

Editor's note: Missouri has all three species of bullhead - brown, yellow and black - but they are not as abundant as they are in eastern and northern states, including Minnesota, Michigan and New York. The fish you caught were probably black bullhead, which are more common here but do not grow as large as the other bullheads.

According to the "The Fishes of Missouri," by William Pflieger, the only self-sustaining natural population of brown bullheads in Missouri occurs at Duck Creek Conservation Area and the adjacent Mingo National Wildlife Refuge.

Because Missouri is at the fringe of the bullhead range, the fish would probably not do well here, and there are no plans to manage them.

Buried Treasure

In the "Missouri's Wilderness Family" story, there is no mention of a cemetery on Highway 5 that is named for Hannah Cole.

When you walk through the cemetery and read the inscriptions on the headstones, a wealth of history of the early settlers unfolds. If I remember right, her inscription named her the first white woman in Cooper County.

Ruth Ingraham, Louisiana

Truly Tough Times

I greatly enjoyed "Missouri Wilderness Family" in the June issue. Seldom do we get a chance to look back in time and see what it was like for our ancestors in the infancy of this great state.

If we think times are tough, we need only refer back to this article to find out what hardy stock our relatives were to not only survive but to flourish during truly tough times. I would like to see more articles about these little-known pioneer families.

Roy Heyer, Belle

Slung to Singapore

For several years I have subscribed to the Conservationist for our Air Force son. First it was a hit in San Antonio, and now it is being enjoyed and passed around in the country of Singapore.

James A. Taylor, Harrisonville

Jolting Advice

Concerning "The Electric Scarecrow" article, it should be mentioned that the bottom electric wire needs to be high enough that birds don't contact it while they are touching the ground.

A friend of ours set up an electric fence to keep the rabbits out, and it worked well, except that you occasionally found dead birds of all varieties beside the fence. Apparently they had walked up and pecked the fence or, perhaps, a bug on the fence.

Kris Harah, Warrenton

Psittacosis Warning

The letter titled "Feeding the Garden" advises using bird droppings as home garden fertilizer, which is potentially dangerous.

Inhaling atomized particles of dried bird droppings, which have been disturbed by soil turning or tilling, can result in a medical condition known as psittacosis. Symptoms include headache, nose bleed, chill followed by fever, constipation and lung disorders. There is also an increased risk of fungal infections.

Bob Soetebier, Maryland Heights

Do Traps Hurt?

Mr. Hamilton carefully avoided a direct answer to Asia's question: "Do traps hurt animals?"

Of course they do. A steel jaw trap is nothing more than a hinged metal ring operated by a powerful spring.

Alice Almstrom Snyder, Kansas City

Editor's note: Trapped animals behave in different ways. Some rest in place and seem not to be bothered by the pinching of a trap; others struggle violently and may mutilate themselves as they struggle to get free. It is impossible to gauge the pain felt or caused.

Trapping is often considered cruel, but it is an efficient way of gathering animals for human use and may be the most humane. For example, a wild mink lives its natural life without interference but might, someday, step into a trap. A ranched mink, on the other hand, spends its entire life in a small cage and faces certain death.

Haves and Have-nots

As a retired "have-not," who can't seem to find the time to do the good things in life, like getting outdoors to fish, I enjoyed your June editorial. It reminded me of the following story, which makes a good point.

There was a hard working, well-to-do executive from St. Louis who loved to float and fish the Big Piney whenever he could. He always used the same outfitter and guide, a young man from the local area, and the two became good friends.

One day the executive suggested the guide move to St. Louis where he could get a high paying job and a good career.

The guide asked: "Why do you work so hard in St. Louis?"

"So I can retire down here and fish whenever I want," the executive replied.

"But sir," the young man said, "that's what I'm doing now."

Bart Coleman, Ballwin

Respect Reptiles

I am writing to express my feelings about the way reptiles are treated. People loathe lizards and snakes to the point that they murder them.

Reptiles are almost always harmless, except when agitated or disturbed. They help keep rat and mice and insect populations down.

Cristin Cusick, Knob Noster

Let Blue Be

Old Blue should not be released into a lake where he could be caught. If he is to be retired, let him live in state waters that are closed to public fishing.

Dennis Herbst, Cape Girardeau

Credit Riverways

I enjoyed Charlotte Overby's article on backpacking the Ozark Trail. I'm glad to see someone point out that there is a lot more to do in this area than just float.

However, I was surprised that the article never mentioned Ozark National Scenic Riverways. Klepzig Mill, Owl's Bend Campground and Rocky Falls are within the Ozark National Scenic Riverways.

Bill O'Donnell, Eminence


Every hunting season conservation agents receive many questions and complaints concerning trespass laws.

Over 80 percent of the land in Missouri is privately owned, which means that most hunters have to do some, if not most, of their hunting on private land.

Part of the Conservation Department's hunter education course is devoted to cultivating good hunter/landowner relations. We teach young hunters to treat landowners and their property with respect.

We hope that by instilling this lesson into young minds, we are safeguarding and perpetuating our hunting heritage.

Every person, whether they are fishing, hunting or harvesting wild plants and berries, should heed the same lesson.

A common misconception about trespassing is that if the land is not posted, it is open to public use.

Actually, the boundaries of most public land are clearly marked, while unposted land usually belongs to some person. Remember: the land does not have to be posted for you to be found guilty of trespass. Obtain permission before entering private property.

If Missouri's outdoor enthusiasts would spend some time and effort earning the respect of landowners, they almost guarantee themselves plenty of places to hunt, fish, hike, birdwatch and enjoy other outdoor activities.

Michael Lancaster

Bollinger County

This Issue's Staff

Editor - Kathy Love
Assistant Editor - Tom Cwynar
Managing Editor - Jim Auckley
Art Director - Dickson Stauffer
Artist - Dave Besenger
Artist - Mark Raithel
Composition - Kevin Binkley
Photographer - Jim Rathert
Photographer - Paul Childress
Staff Writer - Joan McKee
Staff Writer - Charlotte Overby
Composition - Libby Bode Block
Circulation - Bertha Bainer