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From Missouri Conservationist: Aug 2009

Ask the Ombudsman

Q: Can snakes bite people while both are in the water?

A: Yes, snakes can bite while in the water. The snake’s striking distance is less while on, or in, the water due to lack of a solid surface from which to launch the strike. In Missouri, we have several species of nonvenomous water snakes whose diet includes fish and frogs. These prey are often taken while the snake is in the water or is underwater. As on land, most snakes in the water will try to avoid people.

Q: How do wild grape vines rise straight up, 20 feet or more, to the crown of trees?

A: They don’t. The old grape vines that you see suspended from the crowns of trees had support in reaching those heights. When an opening occurs in a forest through logging, natural tree fall, or wind storms, a thick growth of young trees becomes established while there is plenty of light for growth. Young grape vines will grow rapidly then and use their tendrils to attach to other plants for support. As the new forest continues to grow, the canopy of tree crowns will again close and severely limit the amount of light that penetrates beneath the canopy. Many of the plants that grew well in full sunlight will eventually die, fall and rot away. By that time the grape vines that were attached to those plants will have their leafy stems up in the canopy and the older, woody portions of the vines, which no longer have tendrils, may be suspended in mid-air or draped against the trunks of older trees.

Ombudsman Tim Smith will respond to your questions, suggestions or complaints concerning Department of Conservation programs. Write him at PO Box 180, Jefferson City, MO 65102-0180, call him at (573) 522-4115, ext. 3848, or e-mail him at Ombudsman@mdc.mo.gov.

Time Capsule

August 1949

Showboat Skipper was written by Bill Gamble about a Conservation employee and his traveling projector. Jim Gladden was a forestry assistant who drove a forest-green truck known as the “Showboat” that was equipped with a generator for electricity and a projector. He showed a movie on forestry, fire prevention and wildlife to rural Missourians in every part of the state. He traveled 35,000 miles a year doing 45 shows per month. He gave a brief informal talk to the public about the Conservation Commission and the need for restoring and protecting Missouri’s wooded hills. Note: the “Showboat” is on display at the Twin Pines Conservation Education Center in Winona. — by the Circulation staff

Agent Notes

Coyotes are great predators and prey in Missouri.

Every year I receive complaints about coyotes. They are often mistakenly blamed for missing or injured livestock and declining small game populations.

However, coyotes are a valuable resource. They help control wildlife populations. A large part of their diet consists of mice and rats. They are also an exciting animal to trap or hunt. The two most popular ways to hunt them are with dogs or with calls. Coyote hunting with calls is comparable to turkey hunting.

To hunt coyotes, Missouri residents between the ages of 16 and 64 are required to have a small game hunting license, with the exception of landowners on their property. There is no harvest limit. Coyotes may be hunted throughout most of the year; except for during daylight hours from April 1 through the day prior to the beginning of the spring turkey hunting season, and through the spring turkey hunting season. Additional regulations apply during deer season. Check the Fall Deer and Turkey Hunting Regulations and Information booklet or A Summary of Missouri Hunting and Trapping Regulations (available at permit vendors) for details.

Give coyote hunting a try. It’s a great way to enjoy the outdoors and it can be a good warm-up for deer season. I think you will find it requires the patience of deer hunting with the heart-pounding excitement of turkey hunting.

Chris Cox is the conservation agent for Ralls County, which is in the Northeast Region. If you would like to contact the agent for your county, phone your regional Conservation office.

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