News and Almanac

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From Missouri Conservationist: Mar 2002

Deer Trap-and-Release Experiment Ends

Town & Country's three-year experiment with trapping and relocating deer ended December when the Conservation Commission voted not to renew this St. Louis suburb's trap-and-relocate permit.

Instead, the commission offered to give Town and Country a permit to trap and euthanize deer. Venison from euthanized deer would then be donated to needy families through the Share the Harvest program.

Earlier in the year, the commission voted to remove trapping and relocation from the Conservation Department's urban deer management guidelines. Based on Town and Country's experience, the commission concluded that trapping and relocating deer was inhumane, ineffective and excessively expensive. Furthermore, concern about spreading disease has cast a different light on the practice of moving deer from place to place.

Commission Chairman Anita Gorman said two diseases particularly concern conservation and agriculture officials. The spread of chronic wasting disease, which is known to affect only animals in the deer family, has been hastened by the practice of transporting live animals between captive rearing facilities. Although chronic wasting disease has not been documented in Missouri, the Commission isn't taking any chances by advocating or facilitating trap-and-transplant efforts.

Tuberculosis, which affects both deer and livestock, also has been spread by transporting captive deer and elk.

"We simply cannot fail to take those actions we can to prevent the spread of diseases that could devastate our deer herd or the state's livestock industry," said Mrs. Gorman. Commissioner Cynthia Metcalfe called stopping the trap-and-transport program "the responsible thing to do."

Wildlife Advocates to Rally in D.C. March 11-12

Conservationists from across the nation will gather in Washington, D.C. March 11-12 to urge lawmakers to pass the Conservation and Reinvestment Act (CARA).

CARA, which enjoys bipartisan support in Congress, is designed to provide federal funding for conservation and outdoor recreation programs. The money would come from existing revenues from offshore oil and natural gas leases and would be divided among the states over 15 years. Missouri's share of the money would be about $30 million annually.

Despite urgent foreign and domestic issues, CARA retains strong congressional support. The Senate is considering a similar law, the American Wildlife Enhancement Act (S.990). Promoters of the legislation are optimistic that the House and Senate versions of the bill will be reconciled and approved.

Max Peterson, executive vice president of the International Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, said much credit for progress toward passage of CARA goes to those he calls "champions of wildlife." These include Missouri Representatives Karen McCarthy, Ike Skelton and William D. Clay, and Sen. Christopher "Kit" Bond.

Arbor Day Trees to Commemorate Victims of Terrorism

When Missouri school children observe Arbor Day on April 5, they also will commemorate the victims of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Besides receiving white pine seedlings to take home, fourth-grade classes statewide will receive one large Shumard oak seedling to plant at their schools. With a life-span of up to 150 years, the Shumard oak is perfectly suited for memorial planting. The tree is hardy and can grow as tall as 90 feet.

Answers Available For Goose Problems

This is the time of year when otherwise peaceable Canada geese become confrontational with people. As days grow longer, geese stake out nesting territories and defend them against all comers, including humans. Sometimes their territoriality results in human injuries. Geese can cause other problems, too, like fouling lakes with their droppings or damaging lawns by grazing.

If you are having problems with geese, the Conservation Department can help. A wide range of non-lethal solutions are explained in "Living near geese: Tips on keeping resident Canada geese from becoming a nuisance in your neighborhood." The brochure is available from Conservation Department regional service centers statewide.

When non-lethal measures fail, the Conservation Department can work with landowners to obtain permits to disrupt goose nesting. Another option is to round up and remove problem birds. For more information about these options, contact the nearest Conservation Department regional office.

Fishing Regulation Changes Take Effect This Month

Anglers across the state will want to spend some time thumbing through the 2002 Summary of Fishing Regulations. The booklet explains fishing regulation changes effective March 1.

Anglers who fancy a mess of bass in the skillet will be pleased to learn that the daily limit for spotted bass on the Meramec River and its tributaries is increasing from six to 12. The possession limit is still 12 spotted bass. Furthermore, there is no minimum length limit on spotted bass on these waters.

The more liberal harvest regulations on spotted bass in the Meramec River won't be any practical use to anglers until May 25. That's when the season for black bass opens on streams in southern Missouri.

By allowing anglers to keep more spotted bass of any size on the Meramec River, the Conservation Department hopes to help smallmouth bass, which have been under increasing pressure from the invading spotted bass in recent years.

Anglers who fish the Mississippi River between Missouri and Tennessee will be glad to learn that 2002 fishing regulations make it easier to comply with both states' fishing regulations. The Missouri Department of Conservation has entered into a reciprocal agreement that allows an angler with a valid permit from either state to fish in the free-flowing waters of the Mississippi River on either side of the river. Furthermore, an angler with a valid Tennessee or Missouri fishing permit can fish in either state's adjacent backwaters and shared oxbow lakes. Fishing from either bank is allowed, too.

Anglers fishing Missouri/Tennessee border waters must abide by the most restrictive of the two states' fishing regulations. To know what they are, you need to get a copy of both states' fishing regulations.

Other changes in 2002 fishing regulations include:

  • A prohibition against possessing paddlefish on the Little Platte River between Smithville Dam and U.S. Highway 169.
  • A provision allowing Missouri residents with cerebral palsy or mental retardation that prevents them from fishing alone to fish without a fishing permit if accompanied by a licensed adult angler.
  • A prohibition against possessing fish traps other than legal minnow traps or crayfish traps on waters in Missouri or on adjacent banks.
  • A requirement that unanchored jug lines be personally attended at all times.
  • Reduced lifetime permit fees.

Regulation guides explaining these changes and other 2002 fishing regulations are available at permit vendors or Conservation Department regional offices statewide.

Lt. Governor Suggests Rediscovering Missouri

With everyone feeling the pinch of the current economic downturn, Lt. Governor Joe Maxwell has an idea to help Missourians maximize their leisure time and help the state's economy. It's called "Rediscover Your Missouri."

The program is a cooperative effort of the Missouri Department of Conservation, Division of Tourism, and other state agencies. The idea is to encourage Missourians to enjoy the many tourist destinations that are close to home and affordable for Show-Me State residents. Fishing, hunting, hiking and nature photography at conservation areas and exploring the natural and cultural diversity of Missouri's state parks and communities all fit nicely under Rediscover Your Missouri's umbrella.

For information about conservation areas, check out the Conservation Department's online conservation atlas, which provides information about hunting, fishing, hiking and natural areas statewide. The atlas is available online. Print copies are available at Conservation Department regional offices and nature centers.

For information about Missouri's three state-owned trout parks and dozens of other state parks and historic sites, call (800) 334-6946. The Division of Tourism also has information about Missouri attractions and events. You can request tourism information by calling (573) 751-4133.

Rediscovering your Missouri will benefit the state's economy while saving you money, and you'll discover close-to-home fun you might never have known was there.

CWD News Is Good In Missouri So Far

Tests on elk in Missouri have come back negative for chronic wasting disease (CWD), but one neighboring state isn't so lucky. Nebraska has found CWD in captive elk herds, and the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission reported in January that wild white-tailed deer and mule deer in Sioux County have been infected with CWD, possibly by contact with a captive elk herd already known to be infected.

Sioux County is in extreme northwestern Nebraska. Nebraska wildlife officials are widening their CWD testing efforts there to determine how far the disease has spread. CWD also has been documented in wild deer in Kimball County, in southwestern Nebraska. Kansas wildlife officials found one CWD-positive elk in their state that came from the infected Colorado herd.

CWD is a slow-developing, fatal disease of deer and elk. It has existed in the wild in Colorado for more than 20 years, but recently has been found in captive herds of elk, white-tailed deer and mule deer. Wildlife and veterinary health officials became concerned in 2001 when they learned that several captive elk had come to Missouri from a commercial elk herd in Colorado that was infected with the disease. Laboratory tests determined that none of the suspect elk still living in Missouri had CWD. The Conservation Department continues to test sick deer for CWD as a precautionary measure.

While always fatal to deer, CWD has not been found to affect humans or traditional livestock, such as cattle, sheep, goats or swine.

Mo. River Resources Conference Set For April 21-24

South Sioux City, Neb., will host the Sixth Annual Missouri River Natural Resources Conference April 21-24.

The conference provides a broad perspective on Missouri River issues and provides a forum for researchers, resource managers, citizens and policy makers. It is an opportunity for people to learn about the river's environmental condition and share points of view on river management.

This year's conference will focus on understanding the processes of a large, dynamic river system. David Galat,

Associate Professor in the Department of Fisheries and Wildlife at the University of Missouri-Columbia, will be a keynote speaker for the event. He will talk about how to blend ecosystem health with human needs and how to determine if river rehabilitation efforts are succeeding.

More information about the conference is available online or by calling (573) 876-1876.

State Forest Nursery Still Has Seedlings

The George O. White State Forest Nursery at Licking still has tree seedlings for sale. Tree and shrub seedlings still in stock include pecan, sycamore, green ash, Osage orange, tulip poplar, black gum, silver maple, Kentucky coffee, persimmon, flowering dogwood, smooth sumac, deciduous holly, hazelnut, wild plum, aromatic sumac, witch hazel, silky dogwood, white, black and pin oak, white, Austrian, Scotch, red and jack pines and others.

Also available are conservation bundles and wildlife cover bundles. These bundles are slightly different than last year, so check their contents before ordering. For plant availability, call (800) 392-3111 or (573) 674-3229. The information also is available online. Order forms are available from Conservation Department regional service centers or by calling (573) 674-3229.

Studies Shed Light on "Robo Duck" Debate

Hunter surveys and field observations show that motion-wing decoys (MWDs) bring birds in closer and increase hunter success. Waterfowl managers don't have immediate plans to restrict their use, however.

MWDs use rotating panels to simulate the fluttering wings of ducks landing. Some waterfowl hunters worry that such an effective new duck hunting tool will increase hunter success, making it necessary to reduce bag limits and shorten seasons to protect waterfowl populations. Others object to what they consider an unfair technological advantage over ducks. Proponents of MWDs say that getting ducks closer reduces crippling and makes duck hunting easier for novices.

According to Conservation Department studies in 2000, 80 percent of avid waterfowl hunters used MWDs. Hunters with MWDs harvested 0.78 more ducks per trip than those who didn't.

One in five duck hunters surveyed by the Conservation Department believe MWDs violate principles of fair chase. But most were willing to allow the use of MWDs as long as they don't cause shorter waterfowl seasons or smaller bag limits.

Waterfowl biologists say they can manage duck and goose populations effectively with or without MWDs. At this point, they say, MWDs don't pose a biological threat to waterfowl populations.

Calendar Has Deer Season Opener Wrong

Hunters planning for the 2002 November firearms deer season should be aware that the opening date listed in the picture calendar published by the Conservation Federation of Missouri is incorrect. The calendar lists the November segment of firearms deer season opening Nov. 9. The correct date is Nov. 16.

First Case of Hunter Harassment Leads to a Fine

A Moniteau County woman who pleaded guilty to disrupting a deer hunt has become the first person to be fined under a state law prohibiting the harassment of people legally engaged in hunting.

Pam F. Steppleman, 53, of Russellville, pleaded guilty Dec. 18 in Moniteau County Associate Circuit Court to violating Revised Missouri Statute 578.151. The law, enacted in 1997, makes intentional interference with legal hunting, fishing and trapping a Class A misdemeanor. Convictions can bring a penalty of up to a year in jail and a $1,000 fine.

Conservation Agent Rex Martensen cited Steppleman Nov. 10 after she disregarded his warning and continued to drive on a county road, honking her horn and playing her car radio loudly with the intent to disrupt the hunt of a man in a nearby tree stand.

Rudolf Bennitt Lake Opening Delayed

Anglers will have to wait a little bit longer to wet a line at Rudolf Bennitt Lake. The lake, located at Rudolf Bennitt Conservation Area, was supposed to open for fishing March 1, as announced in the February issue of the Conservationist. However, construction crews are still working on the lake's boat ramp and parking lot.

The lake will open for fishing as soon as construction is complete and the area is safe to use, probably in late spring or early summer.

NAWCA means big bucks for Missouri 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 money will go toward buying and restoring to wetland nearly 3,000 acres adjacent to B.K. Leach Conservation Area along the Mississippi River in Lincoln County.

Each year since 1990, Congress has appropriated $12-$15 million for projects under the North American Waterfowl Conservation Act (NAWCA). The federal law is nonregulatory. Instead of telling states what to do to restore wetlands, it

establishes a framework in which government and private agencies can cooperate on wetland projects. This year's NAWCA appropriation is 43.5 million. To date, Missouri projects have benefited from more than $6 million in NAWCA grants.

Now the Show-Me State has received another $999,998 in NAWCA money to augment the growing network of wetland areas along the Mississippi River. The project will benefit a wide array of wildlife, from northern pintail ducks to the western fox snake, which is an endangered species in Missouri.

Burr Oak Woods celebrates Design for Conservation's Anniversary

Burr Oak Woods will celebrate the 25th Anniversary of the Design for Conservation March 15.

Design for Conservation was a landmark plan that changed conservation in our state and became a model for other states in the country.

Between 6 and 9 p.m., The World Bird Sanctuary will bring their live bald eagle and peregrine falcon to show some of the birds the Department helped to restore. In addition, early Conservation Department employees, including the authors of several Department books, will relate their memories of events that occurred since Design for Conservation began to be implemented.

Learn more about the history of the Department and, weather permitting, see the Showboat, a restored 1946 Chevrolet paneled delivery truck typical of the kind of vehicles that regularly brought conservation messages and aid to the rural parts of Missouri. A Silver Dollar Store, balloons and games will be available for kids.

Open-and-shut case still hazardous to agents

Carter County Conservation Agents Mark Wilcoxon and Gerald Smith thought they had an easy case when they noticed an empty feed corn sack lying beside a parked truck. Leading from the truck into the woods was a trail of red flags.

Following the trail, they soon encountered a man in a tree stand overlooking a pile of corn. Because the Wildlife Code of Missouri prohibits using food to attract deer for hunting, the agents called the man down from the tree to write him a citation. They could tell he was nervous and didn't have much experience handling firearms, so they asked him to unload his deer rifle.

Recalling the incident later, Wilcoxon said, "I was a little surprised by the way he did it, though, by shooting it into the ground about two feet from our toes. When I could hear again I heard Gerald say, 'Give me that gun,' or something close to that."

This Issue's Staff

Editor - Tom Cwynar
Managing Editor - Bryan Hendricks
Art Editor - Dickson Stauffer
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