News and Almanac

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From Missouri Conservationist: Nov 1998

Order now, plant later!

If you order seedlings now, you'll have time to sharpen your tree-planting shovel for spring.

The Conservation Department's George O. White Nursery near Licking has 60 species of trees and shrubs for reforestation, wildlife habitat improvement, windbreaks, erosion control and other environmental uses.

Missourians can order seedlings from now through Feb. 1. Most are sold in bundles of 25 and priced from $3 to $6. Application forms are available from Missouri Department of Conservation,

P.O. Box 180, Jefferson City, MO 65102-0180.

Orders are filled on a first-come, first-served basis, so it's best to order early. In addition to spelling out which plants you want, the order form allows you to specify when you want the plants delivered by mail. You may prefer to pick them up at the nursery from February through May.

Conservation calendar captures seasonal splendor

The Conservation Department's 1999 Natural Events Calendar is now on sale and, as usual, its more than three dozen color photographs are stunning.

Photos in the 1999 calendar run the gamut from the natural beauty of Greer Spring to the candid comedy of a sedge wren performing the splits to the high drama of a deadly battle between scorpions.

As in the past, the calendar is chock-full of daily entries that provide windows into nature. You'll know when the sun is closest to Earth and the Quadrantid meteor shower peaks (Jan. 3). You'll find out why male cardinals begin singing in early February and when hellbender breeding activity reaches fever pitch (Oct. 12). When to look for frost flowers, when fawns lose their spots, when snakes hibernate and many more landmarks of the natural year are included in the calendar.

Single copies of the calendar cost $5 plus 31 cents sales tax at conservation nature centers and regional Conservation Department offices. You can order by mail from the Nature Shop, Missouri Department of Conservation, P.O. Box 180, Jefferson City, MO 65102-0180. Add $2 for shipping and handling.

Natural Events Calendars make great Christmas presents, but supplies are limited, so buy early.

Fly with eagles to cure cabin fever

Shake off cabin fever this winter by attending one of the Conservation Department's Eagle Days events scheduled for December through February.

Missouri is a favorite wintering spot for eagles because they find abundant food here. Eagle Days events feature naturalist programs with live eagles, educational displays, videos and other activities.

The biggest attraction is getting to watch wild eagles foraging for food in their natural environment. Naturalists are on hand with telescopes to give visitors a close-up view of the action. Bring your own binoculars if you like, and be sure to wear warm clothing.

Eagle Days events run from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., unless otherwise marked, on the following dates:

  • Dec. 5-6 at Squaw Creek National Wildlife Refuge, Mound City;
  • Jan. 8 at the Runge Conservation Nature Center, Jefferson City (6-9 p.m.);
  • Jan. 9 at School of the Osage Elementary, Lake Ozark;
  • Jan. 16-17 at the Springfield Conservation Nature Center;
  • Jan. 30-31 at Lock and Dam 24 and Apple Shed Theater in Clarksville;
  • Feb. 6-7 at Mingo National Wildlife Refuge near Puxico.

Signs will point visitors to program areas. For more information and a map of each location, write to Eagle Days, P.O. Box 180, Jefferson City, MO 65102-0180.

You don't have to limit your eagle watching to Eagle Days events. Public areas where you can find eagles on your own include Swan Lake National Wildlife Refuge near Sumner, Table Rock Lake near Branson and Eagle Bluffs Conservation Area southwest of Columbia.

Forget me not!

Nov. 7 is an important day for deer hunters to remember. That's the last day you can buy Any-deer Permits and Bonus-deer Permits. After the stroke of midnight, all you will be able to buy is Firearms Deer Hunting Permits, which allow the taking of antlered deer only, even for units where the supply of quota permits was unlimited.

These bucks-only permits will remain on sale throughout deer season, but it's a good idea to buy early. Otherwise, you may find yourself waiting in long lines.

No limit on no-creel trout fun

Missouri's 1998-99 no-creel trout season opens Nov. 13 at Bennett Spring, Roaring River and Montauk state parks and at Maramec Spring Park. An ample supply of trout still fills park streams, including trophy fish of 3 to 8 pounds. Fishing is for fun-all trout must be released in good shape.

Fishing is from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, and only flies may be used. Anglers need a Missouri fishing permit, a yearly no creel permit ($5 for the whole winter season) plus a free daily tag issued at park headquarters.

Watchdogs get a boost from the "watched"

Citizens who donate their time to monitor water quality in southwestern Missouri streams recently got a financial boost from a company found polluting Missouri waters.

Dyno-Nobel, an explosives manufacturer in southwestern Missouri, agreed to pay $25,000 to the Volunteer Water Quality Monitoring Program as part of a settlement with the state of Missouri. The money will pay for workshops and equipment to help volunteers in Jasper, Newton, McDonald, Barton, Lawrence, Barry and Dade counties.

The Volunteer Water Quality Monitoring Program is a cooperative effort of the Conservation Federation of Missouri, the Missouri Department of Conservation and the Missouri Department of Natural Resources.


It's a wildlife biologist's nightmare, an impending ecological disaster.

Last spring, breeding snow geese numbered more than 4 million, higher than at any time in history. The geese are so numerous that they are destroying the Canadian tundra where they nest. They have scoured vegetation from hundreds of square miles of land around Hudson and James bays. The damage already is so extensive, it's visible on satellite photos, and it may take hundreds of years to recover.

The damage threatens other wildlife that depend on the tundra. And when diseases, such as avian cholera, inevitably sweep through snow geese the same diseases will hit ducks, geese and other waterfowl. This, in turn, will devastate a thriving tourist industry that has sprung up around wildlife refuges, causing economic as well as ecological losses.

Possible solutions include collecting snow geese eggs for food or disturbing the geese during nesting season. But there are too few people and too many geese in the Northwest Territories for this to be effective.

Hunting is no panacea either. Snow geese are difficult to hunt. Waterfowl managers hope that hunters can harvest enough of the birds to make a difference, but they aren't optimistic. Liberalizing hunting regulations might help, but hunters and waterfowl managers alike have serious reservations about loosening restrictions on hunting methods considered unethical.

Government agencies could use chemical agents to kill large numbers of snow geese, but the cost of such measures would be enormous, other animals would be affected, and many citizens would protest such drastic action.

The difficulties accompanying possible solutions make it tempting to simply wait for the snow goose population to collapse under its own weight. But "letting nature take its course" isn't realistic, either.

To begin with, humans are partly responsible for the situation. Waste grain and other agricultural residues have increased the snow goose's food supplies far beyond historic levels, and wildlife refuges and manmade wintering areas have encouraged their increase.

Conservation Department Wildlife Research Biologist Dave Graber says government officials in Canada and the United States are steeling themselves for the unhappy task of reducing snow goose numbers. He says the only chance for success lies in pursuing as many of the possible solutions.

"These measures will be distasteful to some," says Graber. "But if people appreciate the seriousness of the situation, I hope they will support every reasonable means of meeting this challenge. I would hate for history to record that a disaster occurred on our watch and we didn't do what we could to prevent it."

How does our garden grow?

A recent donation to the Missouri Conservation Heritage Foundation will enhance the beauty and educational value of Powder Valley Conservation Nature Center in Kirkwood. The nonprofit foundation's unique position allows it to serve as a go-between for citizens and groups that want to donate money for special projects. One such donation of $25,000 will honor the late Mary Bronstein of St. Louis.

Part of the gift will be used to pay a landscaper to renovate a large flower garden near the main entrance to the nature center. Native wildflowers will be arranged to make it easy for visitors to identify them. The remainder of the money will go to an endowment for maintaining the garden.

The foundation works to support programs and projects of the Missouri Department of Conservation, and assists private conservation organizations and local governments to achieve conservation goals. The idea is to help Missourians make a difference in conservation.

For information about the foundation, write to the Missouri Conservation Heritage Foundation, P.O. Box 366, Jefferson City, MO 65102-0366. All contributions are tax deductible.

Young writers can win ca$h

Talented young writers with an interest in the outdoors can win cash prizes in the 1999 Norman M. Strung Youth Writing Contest sponsored by the Outdoor Writers Association of America.

Awards range from $50 to $300. Excellent writing is the sole criterion for judging. Entries must have been published in a newspaper, newsletter, magazine, literary collection or other publication during 1998. Publications may be school or club-related or commercial.

The author must have been a student in grades 6-12 at the time the entry was accepted for publication. The subject must be outdoors-related.

For more information about the contest, contact OWAA Headquarters, 2155 E. College Ave., State College, PA 16801-7204. Phone 814/234-1011.

Art goes wild

Some of the finest artists in the country will be driving St. Louis wild

Nov. 21-22 at the Gateway Wildlife Art Show at the Doubletree

Hotel in Chesterfield. The show will be open from 10 a.m. until 8 p.m.

Saturday and from noon to 5 p.m. Sunday.

Proceeds from ticket and art sales will benefit the World Bird Sanctuary of St. Louis.

Two dozen artists will display their paintings, sculpture and woodcarvings. Two-time Federal Duck Stamp Competition winner Neal Anderson and Missouri Duck Stamp and Trout Stamp artists

Al Agnew, Eileen Melton and Chuck Witcher will display their latest work. So will Missouri Ducks Unlimited Sponsor Print artists Harold Roe and Jan Martin McGuire.

For more information, visit the Gateway Wildlife Art Show web site at <> or call (573) 498-3479.

Fish Rustler Gets A Taste Of Frontier Justice

One of the unwritten laws of the West is that you can get away with lots of things, but you don't mess with another man's horse. A recent court case proves that it's also a bad idea to mess with other people's fish.

Last May, Monroe County Senior Conservation Agent Harold Hitchcock got a call from an angler who had been tending his bank lines at Mark Twain Lake when he noticed a man in a boat tinkering with one of those lines. When he motored toward the tinkerer, the man sped away.

After a short chase, the set-line owner confronted the interloper, who admitted taking a fish from the line. The owner retrieved a 35-pound flathead catfish and took down the man's name and boat registration number. When the aggrieved angler got back home, he reported the incident to Hitchcock.

Monroe County Prosecuting Attorney Mike Wilson took the matter seriously and charged the fish rustler with stealing the fish, a Class-A misdemeanor. He also charged the man with taking fish from another person's set line, a violation of Missouri's Wildlife Code.

Associate Circuit Judge Carroll M. Blackwell accepted guilty pleas on both counts. He levied a $250 fine, a seven-day suspended jail sentence and 12 months' probation on the stealing charge. He imposed a $20.50 fine for taking fish from another angler's set line and charged the offender $134 court costs.

Total cost to the fish thief: $404.50. Fisheries biologists put the replacement value of the catfish at $49.70. Not only did the thief pay a high price for the larceny, the man whose fish was stolen received a $150 reward through Operation Game Thief for turning in the perpetrator.

Feds help Missouri welcome waterfowl

The latest in a series of grants from a federal conservation program is expected to pump nearly a million dollars into Show-Me State wetland development. The result will be one of the largest state-owned wetland areas in the Midwest. But even this impressive project is only a drop in the bucket compared to conservation progress that has been made over the years.

Each year since 1990, Congress has appropriated $12 to $15 million for projects under the North American Waterfowl Conservation Act.

To date, Missouri projects have benefitted from $5,639,300 in grants.

Now the Show-Me State has applied for another $973,420 in NAWCA money to purchase and develop 7,000 acres along the Marmaton River in Vernon County. If approved, the grant will enable the Conservation Department to join two existing tracts that make up Four Rivers Conservation Area and create a 14,000-acre wetland complex. The decision on the grant should come this fall.

Missouri's oldest deer hunter

Otto Shaw (surrounded in the photo by his hunting partners) is Missouri's oldest deer hunter. Shaw, 102, has hunted nearly every year since Missouri's first modern firearms deer season in 1944. Arthritis and joint troubles haven't stopped him, says his son, Bob Shaw, of Salem.

"He has arthritis pretty bad, and he's had two hip replacements. The replacements have played out now, but from the hips up, he's super," says the younger Shaw. "We help him into a stand on the ground. He's got a kerosene heater, his lunch and a bottle of coffee, and he'll stay there all day."

The elder Shaw, who lives at the Salem Care Center, sticks with it throughout the 11-day firearms deer season if necessary. This persistence enables him to kill a deer in Ste. Genevieve County almost every year.

Although Shaw is the oldest current hunter on record, an amazing number of older Missourians continue to hunt. According to Conservation Department records, eight state residents who were born before the turn of the century purchased deer hunting permits in 1997.

Bank's nature investment takes wing

Many Missourians know that the Conservation Department is involved in restoring endangered species to the Show-Me State. Few are aware that dedicated corporate sponsors share the credit for restoring one of our most magnificent endangered animals, the peregrine falcon.

Missouri wrapped up its peregrine falcon restoration program this year with the fledging of five young birds from a "hack" box atop a building at Southwest Missouri State University in Springfield. That crowning achievement would not have been possible without a $5,000 grant from Commerce Bank of Springfield to pay for chicks from captive falcons.

Commerce Bank of Kansas City got in on the ground floor of Missouri's peregrine falcon restoration in 1991, when it provided funding and a place on its downtown building for a hack box. Kansas City Power and Light also contributed money for the two-year falcon restoration program in Kansas City.

Falcons now are regular visitors to both Springfield and Kansas City, thanks to the cooperation between government and corporate conservationists.


This month is a good time to cut firewood, create wildlife habitat and improve forested acres. The key is timber stand improvement cuts.

Selectively removing some trees prevents crowding and helps remaining trees grow straight and produce more food for wildlife. Foresters have a simple rule of thumb for healthy tree spacing. Measure the tree's diameter in inches. Multiply this figure by two. Other trees of similar size should be that many feet away. For example, a tree 10 inches in diameter should be at least 20 feet from the other 10-inch trees.

Don't remove all the little trees from around larger ones. A scattering of serviceberry, dogwood and other "understory" trees won't hurt larger trees. These smaller trees add beauty to the forest and produce valuable wildlife food.

November is a good time to mark trees to be removed. Use a chainsaw to cut two rings through the bark all the way around the trunks of cull trees. Leave them standing while they dry. When the bark begins to slough off-usually after a year or two-they are ready to cut into cordwood.

When selecting trees to remove, choose ones that have crooked or cracked trunks, several dead limbs or those that are obviously in poor health or are unwanted species. These won't produce much food for wildlife, and they have little commercial value.

Leave three or four standing dead trees of different sizes for wildlife habitat. For example, salamanders, lizards and bats hide under the loose bark. A variety of birds eat the insects that feed on the rotting trunk. Even after they fall, they continue to provide food and shelter for woodland creatures. Hollow trees are especially valuable to wildlife. Their cavities provide dens for squirrels, woodpeckers, raccoons, opossums and other creatures. Den trees last longer if left alive.

Finally, don't let tree tops go to waste and clutter your woods. Gather them into piles with the largest limbs on the bottom. Rabbits, quail and other wildlife appreciate the shelter and the protection they provide from predators.

Quick Count

Permits issued to Missouri residents in 1997:

  • 372,000 firearms deer
  • 4,900 trapping
  • 86,000 spring turkey
  • 535,000 angling
  • 91,000 archery deer
  • 66,000 migratory bird
  • 198,000 combination
  • 57,000 small game

This Issue's Staff

Editor - Tom Cwynar
Assistant Editor - Charlotte Overby
Managing Editor - Jim Auckley
Art Editor - Dickson Stauffer
Designer - Tracy Ritter
Artist - Dave Besenger
Artist - Mark Raithel
Photographer - Jim Rathert
Photographer - Cliff White
Staff Writer - Jim Low
Staff Writer - Joan McKee
Composition - Libby Bode Block
Circulation - Bertha Bainer