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From Missouri Conservationist: Dec 2009

Ask the Ombudsman

Q: Why is there a crow season?

A: Depending on your point of view, you might ask why there is an open season on crows or why there is a closed season. Although not considered a game bird, crows are eaten by some. Crows fall under federal regulation because they are migratory birds. Federal regulations allow the states to establish a hunting season not to exceed 124 days during the calendar year and prohibit hunting during the peak nesting period. Special federal and state permits may be obtained for shooting nuisance crows at other times. The Missouri hunting season is timed to allow the shooting of crows during the period when crows are causing the most damage to nut growers, agricultural crops and ornamental tree seedlings at nurseries. That allows crows to be controlled without special permits. The season is November 1st through March 3rd. A small-game hunting permit is required. For more information, see the link listed below

Q: What happens to the fish and other wildlife in a pond when the pond freezes enough to ice skate on it?

A: The water in a pond freezes from the top down because ice is less dense than liquid water and therefore floats. So the pond may have a foot or more of ice at the surface but still have liquid water beneath. Fish can live under the ice but can be stressed or killed under persistent ice if snow prevents light from penetrating through the ice and reduces oxygen production from aquatic plants. Ponds in Missouri that are intended for fish should be constructed with a minimum depth of 8 feet, which will insure that they don’t freeze solid. Some frogs, turtles, aquatic insects and other wildlife in a pond will overwinter in the mucky soil of the pond bottom. For more information on winter fish kills, download the Department’s Aquaguide on Fish Kills in Ponds and Lakes through the link listed below.

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.

Agent Notes

Increase your odds of seeing wildlife this winter.

Winter is a great time for viewing wildlife. After a new snow, the white background makes spotting wildlife much easier. Harsh conditions keep wildlife on the move, also increasing your chances of seeing many different species.

Extended periods of snow and ice can be detrimental to wildlife. Generally, wildlife need four things to multiply and survive—food, cover, water and space. In many areas of Missouri water and space are available, so concentrate on food and cover. If you decide to feed wildlife be sure to do so near escape cover. It doesn’t take predators long to learn the location of prey. Create cover that can stand up to wintry conditions.

Food can be supplied in several ways. Some food sources are weed seeds, acorns, food plots and grain left in the field by farmers. Wildlife rely on known food sources through winter, so continue to feed once you have started. Also remember feeding wildlife is considered baiting while hunting many species of wildlife, and it is illegal to hunt on property that has feeders or grain placed on it. Be sure to have all grain cleaned up at least 10 days prior to hunting the property. Consult the Wildlife Code for the complete regulations about baiting.

Follow these tips for providing food and cover during the severe winter months and you will be rewarded with many wildlife viewing opportunities.

Rob Farr is the conservation agent for Benton County, which is in the Kansas City 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 Terrill
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