News and Almanac

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From Missouri Conservationist: Jul 2001

Researchers need help tracking dove disease

The Conservation Department wants to learn more about a disease that kills thousands of mourning doves each year. You may be able to help.

The presence of trichomoniasis in Missouri is nothing new, but Wildlife Research Biologist John Schulz wants to keep tabs on it. He also would like to learn how the disease is affecting the state's dove population over a long term. For the past two years, Schulz has checked for signs of the disease in doves taken by hunters. Bird watchers and people who feed birds can broaden that sample by keeping their eyes open.

Infected doves may have trouble flying, act listless and have swollen necks. Anyone who sees mourning doves with these symptoms should call Schulz at (573) 882-9880, ext. 3218. Do not attempt to preserve a sick or dead bird; the phone call is sufficient.

Trichomoniasis is an often-fatal disease of the upper digestive tract of mourning doves. It is also known to afflict pigeons, chickens, turkeys and birds of prey. The disease causes sores in birds' mouths and throats, making it difficult for them to swallow or drink.

The sores are formed by a single-celled protozoan parasite called Trichomoniasis gallinae. Given the right weather conditions, trichomoniasis spreads when healthy birds come in contact with food or water contaminated by infected birds.

The ability of the disease to be transmitted through water accounts for the increased incidence of trichomoniasis during hot, dry conditions Schulz says. Drought forces birds to use a few watering sites, and the larger the number of birds gathering at a drinking supply, the greater the risk of disease transmission.

The severity of trichomoniasis depends on a bird's susceptibility to the disease and the strain of the disease attacking the animal. Trichomoniasis gallinae's virulence varies from year to year, much like the flu. When what biologists describe as a "hot" or pathogenic strain occurs, the potential of the protozoan to be widespread increases.

Acquisitions to Triple Size of B.K. Leach Conservation Area

The Conservation Department recently purchased a 942-acre tract in the Mississippi River flood plain of Lincoln County as an addition to the B. K. Leach Memorial Conservation Area. Purchase of a 1,967-acre tract in November will triple the size of the area.

The addition will increase wetland habitat along the Mississippi River. More than 90 percent of historical wetlands in the state have been destroyed, due mostly to conversion to farmland. Restoration of wetlands in the Mississippi River corridor is vital to ensuring adequate feeding and resting areas for waterfowl, shorebirds, colonial waterbirds, forest dwelling birds and other wetland-dependent species.

The restoration will include construction of levees and other water control structures to create 1,600 acres of managed wetlands. Work will begin upon possession of the property by the Conservation Department and is scheduled to be completed within three years. The area will be opened to the public following completion of the project. Recreational opportunities will include hunting, wildlife viewing and nature study.

  • The land purchase is made possible through the partnership efforts of:
  • The American Land Conservancy, which is selling the land to the Conservation Department at $260,000 below its appraised value;
  • Ducks Unlimited, which contributed $500,000;
  • Waterfowl USA, which provided $25,000;
  • The Natural Resources Conservation Service, which bought a $2.8 million perpetual easement for 2,797 acres of the addition and will provide $569,000 for the wetland restoration;
  • The Forrest Keeling Nursery in Elsberry, which is donating trees valued at $15,000 to reforest parts of the addition.

The Wrong Way To Deal With Harmless Bears

An Arkansas man learned the hard way that Missouri doesn't tolerate frontier justice when it involves dealing with a nonaggressive black bear.

The bear was seen around several turkey hunting camps in Oregon County in late April. It wasn't as afraid of people as most bears are, and hung around looking for food. Conservation Department workers tried to find the bear to scare it away, but couldn't locate it. The reason was simple. The Arkansas hunter had shot it.

Apparently the shooter grew afraid Conservation Department personnel would find the bear's carcass just a stone's throw from his camp. He called the agents and admitted shooting it. He claimed he had been frightened of the bear, but this contradicted what he had told agents earlier, saying the animal had not been aggressive. When agents examined the carcass, they discovered that the man had cut off one of its front claws. He was charged with killing the bear illegally, a Class-A misdemeanor punishable by a $1,000 fine and a year in jail. He also is subject to federal charges, since the bear was killed on National Forest land and the claw was transported across state lines to his home in Sheridan, Arkansas.

The Conservation Department can help when a bear becomes a legitimate concern. Most bears can be discouraged from human contact without killing them. The Wildlife Code of Missouri permits people to kill bears or other wildlife that pose threats to life or property, but it requires a good-faith effort to deal with wild animals by other means before killing them.

Be Bear-Smart To Avoid Problems

Black bears-the only bears that live in Missouri-are always hungry in the spring and early summer, when their natural foods are least abundant. This is when they are most likely to be drawn to pet and livestock feed and garbage. These should be kept indoors or in bear-proof containers. Bird feeders also may attract bears, and should be taken down in parts of southern Missouri where bears are most common.

Although Missouri has not had a reported bear attack in modern times, the possibility does exist. Most black bear attacks occur because the animal is frightened or defending its cubs against a perceived threat.

To avoid startling a black bear, it's a good idea for hikers to talk, whistle or sing to warn bears of their approach. If you encounter a bear and it has not seen you, leave the area quietly and quickly. If the bear is aware of your presence, avoid making eye contact. Bears perceive a stare as a threat. Instead, turn and walk away slowly and quietly while speaking in a normal tone of voice. Don't show fear, run or make sudden movements. Avoid making a bear feel cornered. Black bears seldom attack if they can retreat. On a trail, step off the trail on the downhill side and slowly leave the area.

If you see a cub, move slowly and calmly retrace your steps. Be on the lookout for other cubs and avoid getting near them, which could trigger the mother's protective instincts.

If a bear attacks, fight back. Black bears have been driven away when people fought back with rocks, sticks or even bare hands.

Bass Tourney to Benefit Spinal Cord Research

Bass anglers have until July 31 to enter the sixth annual Spinal Cord Society Buddy Bass Tournament Aug. 5 at Long Shoal Marina on Truman Lake. Proceeds support research into helping people who have spinal cord injuries.

Contestants will have a chance to win a Ranger R61 bass boat package and more than $13,000 in cash prizes. Tournament participants also can attend an auction and barbecue the night before the tournament. For registration information, call 913/451-6253.

Late entries, accompanied by a $20 late entry fees, will be accepted up to 30 minutes before take-off on tournament day.

Rediscover Lewis & Clark's Expedition With New Videos

The romance and adventure of Meriwether Lewis and William Clark's Corps of Discovery come back to life in two new videos from the Conservation Department's Nature Shop. "Lewis & Clark" explores the explorers' exhilarating and sometimes harrowing experiences through selections from their journals and stunning footage of the landscapes through which they traveled on their epic journey nearly 200 years ago. "Missouri 1804" focuses on the land, water and wildlife the explorers encountered in Missouri and the recreational opportunities those same resources offer today.

Each video runs 27 minutes and is available in closed-captioned form. Separately, the tapes sell for $10 plus tax and handling, or you can get both for $15 plus tax and handling. You can order through the Conservation Department's e-commerce site, via e-mail at <>, by conventional mail at The Nature Shop, Missouri Department of Conservation, P.O. Box 180, Jefferson City, MO 65102-0180, or by calling toll-free (877) 521-8632 or faxing (573) 522-2020.

Apply Now for Managed Deer Hunts

Missouri deer hunters will find the application process for managed deer hunts simple again this year.

Paper forms and stamps disappeared from the managed deer hunt application process last year. Now, applications are processed through the Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system or the Conservation Department's web page.

From July 1 through Aug. 15, hunters can apply for one of Missouri's 65 managed deer hunts by calling (800) 829-2956 between 4 a.m. and midnight seven days a week or online.

To apply by phone you need the information contained in the 2001 Fall Deer & Turkey Hunting Information booklet. The booklet will be available from hunting permit vendors statewide in mid-July. The information is available online now at <> under key words "seasons and regulations." If you don't have access to a computer, don't worry. There's no hurry. Applications received by the Aug. 15 deadline will receive the same consideration as those filed July 1.

To apply using the IVR system, you need a touch-tone telephone and your conservation identification number. Successful applicants will receive notices of their selection by mail. After Sept. 10, all applicants can check the status of their applications on the IVR system or the Conservation Department Web page using their Conservation I.D. numbers.

Only a Resident ($15) or Nonresident ($125) Managed Deer Hunting Permit is valid at a managed deer hunt. The number of deer that may be taken with a single permit depends on the hunt for which they are issued. In some hunts, up to three deer may be taken. Youth-only managed hunt applications will be handled on paper, as in the past. You can't apply for a youth deer hunt via the Internet or the IVR system. See the 2001 Fall Deer & Turkey Hunting Information booklet for details.

Show us Show-Me Muskies

If you catch a muskellunge in Missouri, the Conservation Department would like to hear about it. It's more than just bragging. Fisheries biologists need information about the state's growing muskie population to manage the toothy fish properly.

Your part is easy. Volunteers receive Show-Me Muskie Trip Record forms to fill out after each muskie fishing trip, whether you catch fish or not. It takes less than a minute to do. Then, twice a year, you mail your forms to the Conservation Department in a postage-paid envelope.

Information on the forms is confidential. Your fishing success and favorite fishing spots won't become public knowledge. However, each year you will receive a copy of the report based on your and other muskie anglers' reports.

To participate, contact Mark Boone, Muskellunge Program Advisor, Missouri Department of Conservation, 2302 County Park Drive, Cape Girardeau, MO 63701.

Do your fish suffer from a lack of aquatic food and cover?

Landowners often go out of their way to provide food and escape cover for deer and rabbits, but fail to do the same for bass and bluegills.

Some ponds have a few large sunfish and many small, slow-growing largemouth bass. That is exactly the reverse of the desired condition, where a plentiful supply small fish feeds a moderate number of big, fast-growing bass. Often, a lack of water plants is responsible for the imbalance. Turning this situation around can be as simple as bringing in some beneficial aquatic plants.

Water willow, arrowhead, pickerel weed, sweet flag and soft rush thrive in shallow pond edges. Besides making ponds more attractive, they provide food and breeding sites for insects, frogs and other food items that young bluegills need to thrive. Pond plants also give growing bluegills places to hide from predators until they are big enough to make a decent meal for bass and other predatory fish.

The presence of prey among submerged plants attracts bass, making them easier for anglers to find. Plants also stabilize shorelines, reducing wind and wave erosion, and they put oxygen in the water, creating a healthy growing environment.

Too many pond plants can be nearly as bad as none at all, and a few plant species can be serious pests. Details about which plants make good additions to a fishing pond and how to make other habitat improvements are available in "Turn Your Pond into an Aquatic Briar Patch." For a copy, write to Department of Conservation Fisheries Division, P.O. Box 180, Jefferson City, MO 65102-0180. Phone 573/751-4115. Internet

First fish? Celebrate with an award

Catching your first fish should be a memorable event. The American Sportfishing Association makes it easy to commemorate the occasion with a beautiful first-fish certificate.

At ASA's website, <>, a proud angler can enter his or her name, type of fish, the date and place where it was caught and bait or lure used and instantly create an official certificate. Certificates are available in English or Spanish and can be printed in either color or black and white to serve as reminders of the excitement of that first fish.

The offer is part of the national Water Works Wonders campaign, which promotes fishing and national, state and local fisheries conservation efforts. To learn more, visit them online.

Zebra mussels found in Kansas City

The other shoes continue to drop in the zebra mussel saga. The latest fell on the west bank of the Missouri River.

The Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks reported finding the shells of seven zebra mussels on May 16 on the Kansas side of the river. The shells were on screens covering water intake pipes of a municipal power plant in Kansas City. The shells and samples of sediment inside the intake pipe are being tested for the presence of larval zebra mussels.

The zebra mussel originated in Eurasia. It jumped the Atlantic Ocean in the ballast water of cargo ships headed for the Great Lakes. Since its first detection there in the 1980s, it has moved rapidly down the Mississippi River watershed and, more slowly, up tributary streams, including the Missouri River.

Zebra mussels were found in the Missouri River just south of Sioux City, Iowa, in April 1999. The first sighting in Missouri's interior waters was in the Meramec River in August 1999. No other Missouri infestations have been discovered since then.

The first sign of a zebra mussel infestation is a sandpaper-like deposit of small mussels on submerged objects, such as boat hulls, docks and buoys. Anyone detecting zebra mussels is asked to contact the nearest Conservation Department office.

For more information about zebra mussels, visit the Conservation Department web site.

What wood you use to make these things?

Everyone knows that paper, furniture and the lumber used to build our homes comes from trees, but wood fiber goes into a surprising variety of not-so-obvious products. For instance, did you know that the clear plastic bubble packs you see in stores and the backing for photographic film comes from wood? Some kinds of floor tile and straws for sipping drinks are made from wood fiber cellulose, too.

Acetate fabric used in clothing and rayon cord for car tires comes from trees, too. Waxes from tree bark are used in making polishes and cosmetics. Sugars extracted from wood contribute to the manufacture of ethyl alcohol and Torula yeast for human and animal foods. Chemicals recovered from making paper go into adhesives and ammonia. Other wood byproducts are useful in tanning leather and making paints and varnishes.

Irrigation pipes, tempering oils, car batteries, molded luggage, stereo speaker cones, insulation, printing inks, vanillin, turpentine, wood preservatives, menthol, fungicides, rubber gloves, agitators for washing machines and eyeglass frames are just a few of the hundreds of everyday necessities made with wood products.

The best thing about wood as a manufacturing material is its renewability. One day, the world's supply of petroleum will run out, but with continued good management by private landowners and government agencies, we will have trees forever.

Cartoons to grace the walls of nature centers

Conservationist readers who have enjoyed the cartoons on this page since 1986 won't want to miss a display of "Chmielniak" cartoons at the Runge Conservation Nature Center from now through August. Subject matter for the humorous monthly cartoons has ranged from the ridiculous to the sublime through the eyes of wildlife. The 50 or so original drawings on display are among the creator's favorites.

After its run at the Runge Center, the cartoon exhibit will move to the Conservation Department's other nature centers. Details of future appearances will be announced in the News & Almanac section.

Low-impact fish weighing

Catch-and-release fishing is a great way to "recycle" fish. Occasionally, though, you want to know how big your fish is before you release it. To satisfy your curiosity without harming the fish, measure its length from tip of nose to tip of tail without removing it from the water. Then release the fish, dry off your hands and punch one of the following formulas into a calculator to find its approximate weight in pounds.

For largemouth bass, cube the length and divide by 1,600. For example, the weight of a 22-inch largemouth bass would be 22 x 22 x 22 = 10,648 ÷1,600 = 6.66 pounds.

For bluegill and other types of sunfish, cube the fish's length and divide by 1,200. For an 11-inch sunfish, this would mean: 11 x 11 x 11 = 1,331 ÷ 1,200 = 1.11 pounds.

For catfish, use the divisor 2,000. The approximate weight of a 52-inch blue catfish would be 52 x 52 x 52 = 140,608 ÷ 2,000 = 70.3 pounds.

Don't feel guilty if you like to eat the fish you catch. Fishing regulations are designed to keep fish populations healthy and plentiful enough to provide tasty, healthful table fare.

Can You Name This Sport?

Can you name the sport described below?

  • It is played indoors and outdoors.
  • Both winter and summer Olympics include this event.
  • Only two Olympic sports have more participating countries.
  • U.S. national champions have ranged in age from 16 to 60.
  • Men, women and people with physical disabilities compete on an equal footing.
  • Statistics show this sport has fewer injuries than any other played at the high-school level.
  • College scholarships are available for this sport.

The mystery sport is competitive rifle shooting.

This Issue's Staff

Editor - Tom Cwynar
Managing Editor - Bryan Hendricks
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