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From Missouri Conservationist: Apr 2011

Rock Snot Prevention

The latest invader to threaten Missouri sounds awful, and it could be even worse than its name. Didymosphenia geminata, commonly known as “didymo” or “rock snot,” is a type of algae that forms dense mats on stream bottoms. It has gained footholds in streams worldwide, including some of the most revered trout waters on Earth. The infestation nearest to Missouri is in the White River just south of the Missouri-Arkansas border.

The jury is still out concerning didymo’s possible ecological effects. It definitely is bad news for anglers, though. Stringy algae threads catch on hooks from dry flies to crankbaits, making fishing nearly impossible.

MDC has been holding public open-house forums to help educate anglers and boaters about rock snot. The last of these will take place at 6 p.m. April 7 at the Emory Melton Inn and Conference Center at Roaring River State Park and at 6 p.m. April 11 at the James Memorial Library, 300 W. Scioto St., St. James.

Contamination of recreational equipment, such as boats, life jackets and fishing gear, particularly waders, is the most common way for didymo to spread. MDC is considering regulation changes to reduce this risk, but Missourians can take preventive action on their own right now.

To avoid spreading rock snot, remember: “Check. Clean. Dry.”

  • Check all gear and equipment and remove any visible algae. Do not dispose of algae by putting it down a drain or into bodies of water.
  • Clean all gear and equipment with a solution of 2-percent bleach, 5-percent saltwater or dish detergent. Allow all equipment to stay in contact with the solution for at least three minutes. Soak all soft items, such as felt-soled waders and life jackets, in the solution for at least 20 minutes.
  • Dry all gear and equipment in the sun for at least 48 hours.

Replacing felt-soled waders with rubber-soled models also reduces the risk of spreading rock snot and other invasive species.

Share the Harvest Donations Rise

Missouri hunters donated 50,000 more pounds of venison to needy families through the Share the Harvest program during the 2010–2011 hunting season than the previous year. However, organizers say the program still has tremendous potential for growth.

Share the Harvest is a cooperative effort of MDC, the Conservation Federation of Missouri and communities statewide. Conservation agents coordinate the efforts of local civic groups, food banks, meat processors and sponsors. Additional financial support from MDC and other statewide sponsors pays for processing of whole deer donated by hunters. Hunters also can donate part of the venison they bring to meat processors.

Last year, hunters donated more than 5,000 whole deer, which produced in excess of 150 tons of lean ground venison. Hunters also made partial donations of 4,122 pounds, bringing the season total to 305,643 pounds.

To put this in practical terms, Share the Harvest gathered enough meat last year to supply the annual protein needs of 550 four-person families.

Conservation Federation of Missouri Executive Director Dave Murphy says he sees no reason why Share the Harvest could not collect 250 tons of venison annually. Addressing Conservation Federation of Missouri members at their annual meeting Feb. 26, MDC Director Robert Ziehmer said that funding no longer is the main obstacle to increasing venison donations. He said MDC is exploring ideas for encouraging more hunters to donate deer.

Cicadas Are Coming

Brides-to-be, take note. If you are planning an outdoor wedding this spring, you probably should provide earplugs for guests along with packets of rice. You are going to have a few thousand extra and very noisy guests.

The good news is, your uninvited guests—periodical cicadas—will sing a wedding song. The bad news? What cicadas consider romantic most people find annoying at best.

Periodical cicadas are different from the familiar annual cicadas, which emerge from the ground in late summer. Periodical cicadas emerge in “broods” every 13 or 17 years, depending on the brood. The geographic extent can span several states.

The enormous number of cicadas emerging at one time swamps birds and other cicada predators with more juicy insect food than they can consume. This allows most of the cicadas in the brood to mate and lay eggs. When the next generation of cicadas hatches, the little ones return to the safety of subterranean burrows, where they feed on roots until they mature and stage the next mass emergence.

Missouri witnessed the emergence of a particularly large brood of 13-year cicadas in 1998, so 2011 promises to be a noisy spring in much of the state. This year’s emergence is expected to cover most of Missouri. Exceptions are the Bootheel and northwest Missouri. The cicada chorus is likely to begin tuning up later this month, reach a deafening crescendo in May, and taper off in June.

Although periodical cicadas are not much bigger than the end of your pinkie finger, these musical insects can drown out a chainsaw. Male cicadas are the singers. They use a pair of structures called tymbals to produce their song. The tymbals are located just behind the last pair of legs. They make sound the same way as a plastic soft drink bottle popping back into shape after being compressed. Tiny muscles contract and relax rapidly, crumpling the tymbals and letting them snap back into their original shape. They make a loud click each time they snap back, creating a high-pitched droning sound.

Female cicadas use a saw-like appendage to slice into pencil-sized tree twigs, where they lay their eggs. Twigs often die, and sometimes they break and droop. This “flagging” can be quite visible in areas with large numbers of cicadas. The damage to mature trees is minor, so pesticide use is not recommended. Cheesecloth, mosquito netting or netting with mesh smaller than 3/8-inch is effective for protecting small trees.

A periodical cicada emergence creates a brief food bonanza for birds and fish. It also creates opportunities for anglers. As fish go on feeding binges, anything resembling a cicada can prompt a bite.

The 1998 emergence coincided with the emergence of a brood of 17-year cicadas. It was the two broods’ first convergence since 1777 and created a memorable racket. Other single-brood appearances are expected in northern Missouri in 2014 and in west-central and southeastern Missouri in 2015.

For more information, visit, or

Share Turkey Thrills With A Youth

2011 marks the 11th anniversary of Missouri’s youth spring turkey season, which falls on the weekend of April 9–10 this year. The youth season is part of MDC’s ongoing efforts to preserve Missouri’s hunting heritage. Youth seasons for turkey, deer, quail, pheasant and waterfowl give experienced hunters the opportunity to share their love of hunting outside the regular season, freeing them to give their full attention to young apprentices. The harvest during the youth season is small, averaging about 3,300 per year since 2001, or about 6 percent of the annual turkey harvest. The rewards are big, however, as hunters pass the torch to the next generation of turkey hunters. For more information about turkey hunting in Missouri, visit

Blue Catfish Update

Efforts continue to survey blue catfish populations and gather public opinion about these fisheries on Truman Reservoir and Lake of the Ozarks. The Conservation Department sampled blue catfish populations on Harry S. Truman Reservoir and Lake Ozark during the fall of 2010 and additional sampling will occur in 2011 and 2012. No regulation changes are planned for blue cats during 2011. Statewide limits (5 fish daily/10 fish in possession) still apply for blue catfish on both reservoirs with the exception of the no-boating zone below Truman Dam where the daily limit is 4 catfish in the aggregate (channel catfish, blue catfish, and flathead catfish) of which only one can be more than 24 inches in total length. We are still interested in hearing anglers’ questions or comments on these important fisheries. If you have questions about Truman, you can call 660-885-6981, ext. 253 or for Lake Ozark 573-346-2210 ext. 235. Questions or comments can also be placed online at

Waterfowlers Invited To Workshops

This year, the Department will consider duck season dates for the next five years. Zone boundaries for the 2011 through 2015 hunting seasons also will be set this year. First, however, we want to hear from duck hunters at the following Duck Season Dates and Zone Boundaries Workshops. We already held 11 workshops in March, but there are four more chances to attend a workshop in the beginning of April. The workshops will be held from 7 to 9 p.m. Details are available by calling the number listed for each workshop.

  • Mound City, April 4 at Squaw Creek National Wildlife Refuge headquarters, 5 miles south of Mound City, just off Interstate 29. Take exit 79 and drive 3 miles west on Hwy 159, 816-271-3100;
  • Chillicothe, April 5 at Grand River Inn, 606 West Business 36, 816-271-3100;
  • Kirksville, April 6 at the MDC Northeast Regional Office, 3500 S Baltimore, 660-785-2420;
  • Hannibal, April 7 at the Knights of Columbus Hall, 1 Columbus Road, 573-248-2530.

Year of the Forest

2011 is the International Year of the Forest. It is a reminder that keeping Missouri’s 15.4 million acres of forests and woods healthy is vital to Missouri’s wildlife, outdoor recreation, economy and quality of life.

Tree and forest health affects you, whether you live in the country, suburbs or cities. Covering more than one-third of the Show-Me state, our forests and woods protect our soil from erosion and filter our water. They provide oxygen we need to breathe, and they clean our air by trapping and storing pollution, including tons of carbon emissions from fossil fuels.

Trees provide shade in the summer and fuel in the winter, lumber and numerous other wood products used around our state and the world. This industry supports more than 32,000 Missouri jobs and generates almost $6 billion in economic activity annually.

Missouri’s forests provide habitats for an amazing diversity of plants and animals that could not exist without them. They create a wealth of outdoor recreational opportunities and breathtaking scenic beauty. Our trees and forests help connect us to nature.

But our trees and forests face increasing threats on numerous fronts. Invasive insects, plants and diseases threaten the health of our trees and forests. Extreme weather events, such as ice storms, wind storms, droughts and floods damage trees, and human development sometimes carves up forests in ways that are not sustainable.

More than 80 percent of the Show-Me State’s forests and woodlands are privately owned, so citizens play a vital role in keeping our forests healthy. If you own woodlands, please manage your forests responsibly.

Even if you don’t own woodland, you can still help our trees and forests. Get out in nature and enjoy our forests. Use Missouri forest products to help support jobs and sustainable forestry practices. Plant trees. Don’t bring invasive insects, plants and diseases into Missouri.

For more information on how to manage and protect your land’s forests and trees, visit

Did You Know?

Listening to Missourians

  • Every year the Conservation Department strives to understand public opinions, expectations and participation in outdoor recreation. This information guides decisions about regulations and fish, forest and wildlife management.
  • 66,752 Missourians were involved in 26 different Conservation Department information gathering activities last year that included public surveys, focus groups, public meetings and contacts with our ombudsman.
  • More than 27,000 people have joined the Conservation Department on Facebook where they can post their questions and opinions about conservation in Missouri. To post your conservation questions or opinions, or to read the latest conservation news, join us on Facebook at
  • As part of their community relations efforts, Department staff contact close to a million citizens each year.
  • Ombudsman Tim Smith will respond to your questions, suggestions or complaints concerning MDC. Write him at PO Box 180, Jefferson City, MO 65102-0180, call him at 573-522-4115, ext. 3848, or e-mail him at
  • You can also post your questions and comments online at


This Issue's Staff

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