Plants and Animals

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From Missouri Conservationist: Dec 2008

Species of Concern

Bald Eagle—Recovered!

Bald Eagle

  • Common Name: Bald eagle
  • Scientific Name: Haliaeetus leucocephalus
  • Range: Statewide
  • Classification: Secure
  • To learn more about endangered species: explore the links listed below.

Missouri got great news in September when the Conservation Commission removed the bald eagle from Missouri’s endangered species list. Less than 30 years ago, the species was on the ropes due to habitat loss, pesticide poisoning and illegal shooting. From 1962 to 1981, Missouri did not have a single known successful eagle nest. Public outrage and aggressive enforcement of laws protecting eagles dramatically reduced shooting, and a national ban on the pesticide DDT in 1972 gave the nation’s symbol a fighting chance at raising young. From 1981 to 1991, the Conservation Department, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Dickerson Park Zoo brought 74 wild-hatched eaglets from states with thriving populations to Missouri. These birds were placed in artificial nests, where they matured and took their first flights. Today Missouri has more than 150 active bald eagle nests, and that number doubles every five years or so. With vigilance, these majestic birds will continue to thrive.

Hurricane Hurts Birds

Missouri migrants need homes year-round.

Hurricane Ike did more than dump up to 9 inches of rain on Missouri. The 600-mile-wide mega-storm laid waste to Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge and other wetland areas along the Gulf Coast. The devastation will deprive hummingbirds of a refueling stop on their way to Central America and crowd king rails, blue-winged teal, great egrets and other migratory birds together in remaining wetlands. That could affect their winter survival and their physical condition going into next year’s nesting season.

Feral Hog Eradication

Swine threatened the rare Mead’s milkweed plant.

Botanists are breathing easier following the removal of hundreds of feral hogs from east-central Missouri. A serious infestation of free-ranging swine in Iron and Reynolds counties threatened the largest concentration of Mead’s milkweed (Asclepias meadii), a state-endangered species. Efforts to control Missouri’s growing feral hog population got a boost last year when Gov. Matt Blunt formed a task force to marshal state and federal resources against the problem. Workers used corral-type traps, snares and aerial shooting to remove more than 500 hogs from the wild, including 300 from the area with Mead’s milkweed. Releasing pigs to run free is illegal and threatens native plant and animal life. Feral hogs also carry diseases that can infect domestic livestock and humans. For more information, visit the links listed below.

This Issue's Staff

Editor In Chief - Ara Clark
Managing Editor - Nichole LeClair
Art Director - Cliff White
Writer/Editor - Tom Cwynar
Staff Writer - Bonnie Chasteen
Staff Writer - Jim Low
Photographer - Noppadol Paothong
Photographer - David Stonner
Designer - Stephanie Thurber
Artist - Dave Besenger
Artist - Mark Raithel
Circulation - Laura Scheuler