Wildlife Code Changes

By John Smith | February 2, 2007
From Missouri Conservationist: Feb 2007

Missourians value the state’s forests, fish and wildlife. To ensure these resources are protected, each year the Regulations Committee reviews the Wildlife Code of Missouri. Also each year, the public, as well as Department of Conservation staff, bring proposed changes for the committee to review.

During the review process, the committee researches the effects of the proposed regulation changes. Information reviewed by the committee often includes costs to the taxpayers, effects on wildlife populations, user group surveys, public comments and feasibility studies. When research shows a change could improve management of a species or provide more opportunities for Missourians to enjoy the outdoors, a proposed regulation change is sent to Director John Hoskins. If he approves the change, he submits the proposal to the Conservation Commission, four citizens appointed by the governor. If passed by the Commission, the proposed changes are filed with the secretary of state and published in the Missouri Register, which can be found online.

The filing begins the 30-day public comment period. If no comments are received, the final regulation is filed and becomes effective either 30 days after publication in the State Code of Regulations or on the date specified in the proposal. When comments are received, the Regulation Committee reviews the proposal. Based on the public’s comments, the Commission may decide to drop, modify or implement the regulation.

To take advantage of the latest breeding statistics, population surveys and harvest data from the previous hunting season, some season dates and limits can become effective in a shorter time frame. In rare circumstances, emergency rules can become effective 10 days after filing with the secretary of state.

Letters, e-mails and phone messages from Missourians concerning regulation changes are shared with the Regulations Committee. Not every suggested change can be made, but all suggestions are carefully reviewed. If you would like to see what changes are being considered, go online.

Last year’s review resulted in the following:


Joachim Creek from the Highway V bridge to the Highway A bridge in Jefferson County now has a length limit of 15 inches for all black bass and a daily limit of one smallmouth bass. These restrictions will help maintain a quality smallmouth bass population as fishing pressure increases in this watershed.

Snagging, snaring and grabbing no longer are allowed for catching shovelnose sturgeon. This will help protect these fish that are often in high demand for their eggs.

A trout permit is no longer needed to fish in Stone Mill Spring Branch in Pulaski County, unless you want to keep a trout. This regulation change was requested by the Natural Resources Branch of Fort Leonard Wood to allow more fishing opportunities.

Bighead and silver carp are exotic nuisance species that have become common in some large rivers in Missouri. To discourage their spread to other waters, these two species may be used as dead or cut bait, but not as live bait.

The winter catch-and-release trout season at the state’s four trout parks has been expanded to four days, from Friday through Monday. Maramec Spring Park is now open daily during this season, which runs from the second Friday in November through the second Monday in February.

Koeneman Park Lake in Jennings, Liberty Park Pond in Sedalia and Spur Pond in Kirksville will be stocked with trout this winter for catch-and-release fishing from Nov. 1–Jan. 31. For bait restrictions and other regulations for the Department’s winter trout fishing areas, see A Summary of Fishing Regulations, which is available at permit vendors and online.

Commercial fishing

Illinois commercial fishermen must be licensed in Missouri if they want to fish and harvest shovelnose sturgeon from the Missouri portion of the Mississippi River adjacent to Illinois.

To stay informed of exotic bait species that could adversely affect fishing in Missouri, live bait dealers must register annually with the Department.

In the Mississippi River, only shovelnose sturgeon 24 inches to 32 inches in length may be taken by commercial fishing methods.

Hunting and fishing methods

The atlatl, an historic hunting tool, may be used to take nongame fish following the same regulations as when gigging fish and to take small game. An atlatl is a rod or narrow board used to launch a 5-to-8-foot dart. The dart is launched by a throwing motion of the arm. The Missouri Atlatl Association presented the Regulations Committee and Conservation Commission with videos, demonstrations and other data showing how the atlatl works, its accuracy and the skills needed to use this primitive method.

Darts used in hunting may not contain drugs, poison, chemical or explosives.

Hunting and trapping

To provide more opportunities for hunters age 6 through 15, two youth seasons have been established. Oct. 27–28 will be the dates for the 2007 youth-only quail and pheasant seasons; however, the pheasant season will be held in the north zone only.

Electronic calls and electronically activated calls may not be used or possessed while hunting species other than crows or furbearers.

After discussions with fur dealers, hunters and trappers, the furbearers seasons have been shortened by 15 days. Bobcat pelts must be tagged by Feb. 15.

The commercially manufactured breakaways used with cable restraints must be rated at 350 pounds.


To help recognize the Missourians who are serving our country, the new $5 Resident National Guard and Reserve Small Game Hunting and Fishing Permit provides a lower-cost option for these men and women to hunt and fish when they return home. To qualify for this permit, purchasers currently must be, or have been in the previous 12 months, mobilized and serving on full-time active military duty in either the National Guard (in Federal Status) or Reserve forces. For an application form, go online or call (573) 522-4115, ext. 3574. Allow 10 days after sending in your application for your permit to be delivered.

The price of the Resident Cable Restraint Permit has been lowered from $25 to $10. Training is required to purchase this permit, and the new lower rate reflects the lower training costs.

The surcharge for residents of states that charge significantly more for nonresident deer hunting permits than Missouri has been eliminated, but the cost of nonresident permits has increased.

The Resident Fur Dealer’s Permit has been lowered from $300 to $100, and the new Nonresident Fur Dealer’s Permit is available for $300.

General recreation

To promote recreational use of the Missouri River, a new regulation allows boaters to camp at most riverside conservation areas on any suitable site within 100 yards of the river and moor overnight adjacent to camp (but outside the navigation channel) between April 1 and Sept. 30.

On Blind Pony Lake Conservation Area, only Department-owned boats may be used.

Confined wildlife

All Class I and Class II wildlife breeders must now maintain records of animals that have died, as well as ones that have been sold. This change was made to discourage people from turning dangerous and exotic animals loose.

Hogs kept on big game hunting preserves must be enclosed in fences constructed of 12-gauge woven wire at least 5 feet high and topped with one strand of electrified wire. An additional 2 feet of such fencing must be buried and angled underground toward the enclosure interior. This change was made to keep hogs from escaping and becoming nuisances.

Fences on big game hunting preserves cannot be cross-fenced into portions of less than 320 acres.


To ensure that lessees who help manage Missouri’s private land have the same hunting and fishing privileges as resident landowners, the commission revised the lessee definition to include only those lessees who reside on and lease at least 5 acres of land in one continuous tract owned by others. Any member of the lessee’s immediate household whose legal residence and domicile is the same as the lessee’s for at least 30 days also may receive these privileges, which include no-cost deer and turkey permits to use on the leased land only.

This Issue's Staff

Editor in Chief - Ara Clark
Managing Editor - Nichole LeClair
Art Director - Cliff White
Artist - Dave Besenger
Artist - Mark Raithel
Photographer - Noppadol Paothong
Writer/editor - Tom Cwynar
Staff Writer - Jim Low
Circulation - Laura Scheuler