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From Missouri Conservationist: Jan 2010

Ask the Ombudsman

Q: Why does quail season end in the middle of January? Some other states allow quail hunting through January or even into mid-February.

A: Harvest of quail in January or February has a greater effect on reducing the number of breeding quail than harvest earlier in the season. In Missouri, natural mortality (predation, exposure to weather, etc.) increases in January and continues at a high level through the winter. Available food and cover is diminished and energy losses due to harassment can result in higher mortality. We set the quail season to allow most of the harvest to occur in November and December, when hunting is less likely to impact the next breeding season. The key to more quail is suitable habitat plus good production and survival of young in the spring.

Q: My friends and I are avid fish giggers. During the winter, we hardly ever see Asian carp or common carp in the lower Gasconade River. Where do they go during the winter?

A: The Gasconade River is not ideal for Asian carp, nor for common carp, at any time of the year due to its fast flow rate, low fertility and clear water. The carps’ lower metabolism in the winter makes faster currents even less attractive. Several studies have shown that carp tend to move downstream in the fall and overwinter in deeper holes like the ones you find behind dikes or at the mouths of larger tributaries to the Missouri River. Carp in the lower Gasconade may leave that river each fall and become less active in deep holes in the Missouri River. Asian carp will remain more active during the winter than common carp.

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

Traditional tools for modern day issues

I didn’t know the first thing about trapping before becoming a conservation agent. What I knew about trapping came from watching movies or walking through a theme park’s leather shop.

From day one as a conservation agent, I began recognizing the great number of animals that live around us (especially in metro areas), and the tremendous skills trappers need to catch the animals. Almost immediately, I began receiving calls from homeowners, farmers, groundskeepers and gardeners who felt frustrated, even helpless, in controlling the damage some of these animals caused.

As time has gone by, I have learned a few tricks about dealing with raccoons in chimneys, skunks under porches, squirrels in attics, groundhogs under sidewalks and beavers damming up drainage ditches. I took the opportunity to educate myself on some basic trapping techniques. In fact, I have even begun trapping beavers and muskrats as a hobby on some lakes and subdivision ponds near my home. These homeowners get so frustrated when they lose a 50-year-old ornamental tree from their backyard overnight that they beg me to come back each year.

The more I trap, the more I understand the value of these historic and nearly forgotten skills. Modern trapping is a reputable and valuable wildlife management tool that deserves great respect.

Scott Rice is the Protection district supervisor for the Central Region. If you would like to contact the agent for your county, phone your regional Conservation office.

Become a Master Naturalist

Co-sponsored by the Missouri Department of Conservation and University of Missouri Extension, the Master Naturalist™ program helps you become a well-informed community leader dedicated to improving natural resources.

To become a Master Naturalist, enroll in a 50-hour course on Missouri’s natural resource ecology and management. Once your training is complete, join your local chapter. To support your chapter, plan to donate 40 hours of natural resource-based volunteer service and achieve eight hours of continued education each year. Volunteer service falls into three categories: stewardship, education and interpretation, and citizen science.

Spring training starts in February and March in Columbia, Cole Camp, Camdenton and Joplin. Cost for the training varies by chapter. Visit the link listed below for more information.

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