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From Missouri Conservationist: Dec 2011

Ask the Ombudsman

Q: I always thought that the rich, dark coloring of a bass or other fish meant the fish was healthy. The largemouth bass where I grew up in northeast Missouri were typically dark. Now I’m catching bass in St. Charles and Warren counties that seem to be much lighter in color. What causes the color differences?

A: Fish can change their colors like chameleons for two main reasons—mood and camouflage. They communicate with each other by the intensity of the color and pattern that they display. They also choose colors and patterns that will blend into their environment. Fish in darker water may deepen their colors so they do not stand out to predators or prey. They would do the opposite in lighter-colored water. The intensity of sunlight on the water, or the presence of shadows, can cause a fish to adjust its coloration.

Q: What is going on when coyotes howl? Is it just a greeting or are they about to share a meal?

A: Coyotes are social animals and howling in unison is one aspect of their social behavior. Howling by a family group is a way to identify their territory and make other coyotes aware of their presence. It can also serve to reassemble a group whose individuals have been hunting on their own. Coyotes tend to howl more during the mating period in February or early March and less when they are tending young in May and June. Howling is most often heard at night but daytime howling also occurs, sometimes triggered by a storm or a noise like a siren or whistle. I expect that coyotes derive some pleasure from a howling chorus but I can’t say for sure.

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 email him at Ombudsman@mdc.mo.gov.

cartoon 12-2011

Agent Notes

Expanded opportunities for trappers and hunters.

For many years, trappers and hunters have pursued Missouri’s wildlife for their pelts. Fortunately, furbearer populations are doing well for most species throughout the state, and most regions of the state have the quality pelts desired by the fur trade. Proper fur handling and care are the key to getting the most out of your pelts. As a trapper, I certainly do all I can to maximize the profit from my pelts. It takes time and hard work, but it is very rewarding to see the end result.

Pelts can be sold either green or dried. Green fur is just the skinned pelt. Dried fur involves the entire process of fleshing, stretching and drying the pelt on stretchers. That is the way I sell most of my pelts. Typically, dried pelts bring more money.

There are several options when it comes time to sell your fur and there are fur buyers scattered throughout Missouri. The Missouri Trappers Association has two auctions in Columbia. Another option is to ship your fur to a national or international auction. These auctions are held at different times throughout the year.

In past years, trappers and hunters were required to sell their pelts by a specific date. This sometimes limited their selling options. Also, there was a Resident Fur Handlers permit, which allowed an extension to the possession date and allowed trappers and hunters more time to possess and sell their dried pelts. In July 2011, MDC rescinded this permit and made code changes allowing trappers and hunters with a valid permit to possess, transport and sell furs throughout the year. This new regulation change allows trappers and hunters more time and opportunity to sell their furs. To find more information on trapping in Missouri including seasons, regulations and classes, visit mdc. mo.gov/node/3097

Chris Chesher is the conservation agent for Chariton County. If you would like to contact the agent for your county, phone your regional conservation office listed on Page 3.

Outdoors Calendar

To view fishing and hunting seasons, visit mdc.mo.gov/seasons

For complete information about seasons, limits, methods and restrictions, consult the Wildlife Code and the current summaries of “Missouri Hunting and Trapping Regulations” and “Missouri Fishing Regulations,” the “Fall Deer and Turkey Hunting Regulations and Information,” the “Waterfowl Hunting Digest” and the “Migratory Bird Hunting Digest.” This information is on our Web site at mdc.mo.gov/about-us/about-regulations and at permit vendors.

The Conservation Department’s computerized point-of-sale system allows you to purchase or replace your permits through local vendors or by phone. The toll-free number is 800/392-4115. Allow 10 days for delivery of telephone purchases. To purchase permits online go to www2.mo.wildlifelicense.com/start.php.

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