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From Missouri Conservationist: Dec 2011

Special Seedling Bundle Celebrates 75th Anniversary

The Conservation Department is 75, and the George O. White State Forest Nursery is observing the anniversary with a special bundle of trees that can live 75 years or longer.

The 75th Anniversary Bundle consists of two seedlings of 10 species, including flowering dogwood, bald cypress, black walnut, white fringetree, red oak, white oak and shortleaf pine.

Another special deal this year is the Extra- Large Nut-Tree Bundle with 30 trees all more than 30 inches tall. Species in the bundle are pecan, walnut and butternut. Besides the special bundle, the nursery has extra-large seedlings of nine species—red oak, bur oak, pin oak, shumard oak, black walnut, pecan, tulip poplar, butternut and bald cypress.

Two of last year’s most popular bundles are back again. The Nut Tree Bundle has five each of five nut-producing species. The Wild Edibles Bundle includes five each of 10 species that produce edible berries.

In all, the nursery has more than 70 species of trees and shrubs to help Missourians create wildlife habitat. Most bundles consist of 25 seedlings and cost $8. Prices for the seven special bundles offered this year vary. For prices and ordering information, visit, or call 573-674-3229. The nursery accepts orders through April. However, many bundles and individual tree and shrub species will sell out before then. Orders are shipped starting in February.

Call Before You Cut!

Caring for your woodland is a long-term process where one decision can have impacts for decades. A new outreach effort, Call Before You Cut, provides information to help Missouri woodland owners conduct tree harvests wisely.

Although woodland owners know a lot about their woods, they often don’t know how many trees they can cut, how much the trees are worth and what the woods will look like after the harvest is completed. Call Before You Cut gives all Missouri forest owners a place to go for free information about sustainable timber harvesting.

Visit or call 877-564-7483 toll free. Live operators are available from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays, except holidays.

Questions About Ruffed Grouse

Jason Isabelle wants to know if the ruffed grouse has a future in Missouri. The Quail and Upland Wildlife Federation wants to help Isabelle answer that question, and other states are watching.

Isabelle’s duties as a MDC resource scientist include studying ruffed grouse—handsome, forest-dwelling birds three or four times the size of bobwhite quail. MDC tried restoring the species as early as the 1940s, transplanting more than 4,000 grouse from other states to the best available habitat here. Ruffed grouse persist in small numbers in a few of the original restoration areas, including an area known as the River Hills Conservation Opportunity Area in Callaway, Montgomery and Warren counties. However, grouse numbers have dwindled almost to the vanishing point. The most likely cause of their decline is inadequate habitat.

When the Quail and Upland Wildlife Federation approached MDC about giving ruffed-grouse restoration another try, Isabelle set aside earlier discouragements and considered the possibilities. He will evaluate potential grouse habitat within the River Hills Conservation Opportunity Area to determine whether another attempt at grouse restoration makes sense.

MDC Director Robert L. Ziehmer said he views cooperation with the Quail and Upland Wildlife Federation as the first step in what could be a significant restoration effort in the future.

“Grouse are a special, unique part of Missouri’s natural heritage,” said Ziehmer. “We don’t want to lose them if we can help it, but we face some big challenges. Missouri’s landscape has changed dramatically over the course of the last several decades, and grouse population declines elsewhere show this is a widespread and complicated issue with lots of uncertainty.”

New Record Fish and Tree

Missouri has a new champion white mulberry tree and a new record spotted gar.

The tree towers over a farm fence on land owned by Phillip Moore near Pleasant Hill. It has a girth of 23 feet, stands 48 feet tall and has an average crown width of 57 feet. Foresters use a formula combining these measurements to determine state-champion trees. The Cass County mulberry scored 338 points to beat out the old record holder, a 284-point tree in nearby Lafayette County.

White mulberry trees are native to China. They were brought to the southeastern United States in Colonial times in a failed attempt to start a silk industry. They are the preferred host for the Chinese silk worm. But the trees can also be prolific berry producers with white or sometimes reddish or blackish fruit. Those berries carry seeds, and wildlife eating the fruit and spreading the seeds caused white mulberries to become naturalized in the United States.

A list of Missouri state champion trees is available at

The new fishing record belongs to Eric Whitehead of Puxico. On Oct. 8, he was bowfishing with his wife, Sara, from a boat on Wappapello Lake in Wayne County at 11 p.m. when he shot the 9-pound, 15.5-ounce spotted gar. It measured 38 inches from snout to tail.

Whitehead, 30, has been hunting and fishing since he was 5 years old. He said it was unusual for him to be fishing without his 9-year-old son, Hunter, but not unusual to be out with Sara. “If my boat’s in the water, my wife’s in it with me,” he said.

Missouri’s previous alternate-methods record spotted gar also was taken from Wappapello Lake by archery. It weighed 9 pounds, 2 ounces and was taken by Jason Rhodes of O’Fallon in May 2007.

Spotted gar are native to North America and range from Lake Erie and southern Lake Michigan to the Gulf of Mexico. Like other gar species, they have long bodies and elongated mouths full of teeth. Adult spotted gar typically grow 20 to 30 inches long and weigh 4 to 6 pounds.

More information about Missouri fishing records is available at

CWD Found in Captive Deer Herd

The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced in October that a captive white-tailed deer in Macon County from a captive-hunting preserve operated by Heartland Wildlife Ranches, LLC, tested positive for Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD). The animal that tested positive for CWD was inspected as part of Missouri’s CWD surveillance and testing program. Preliminary tests were conducted by the USDA National Veterinary Services Laboratory in Ames, Iowa.

In response, the Missouri departments of Agriculture, Conservation (MDC) and Health and Senior Services initiated the CWD Contingency Plan developed cooperatively in 2002. MDC gathered tissue samples from deer taken by hunters in the area around Heartland Ranch during the November deer season to check for CWD in freeranging deer.

CWD is a neurological disease found in deer, elk and moose. State Veterinarian Dr. Linda Hickam said there is no evidence that CWD poses a risk to humans, domestic livestock, household pets or food safety.

This is the second case of CWD confirmed at a facility operated by Heartland Wildlife Ranches, LLC. The first was in February 2010 at a captive hunting preserve in Linn County. The remaining deer at that facility were euthanized and tested for CWD. No further infection was found. The current case was identified through increased surveillance required by the management plan implemented from the previous CWD incident.

CWD is transmitted by animal-to-animal or soil-to-animal contact. The disease was first recognized in 1967 in captive mule deer in the Colorado Division of Wildlife captive wildlife research facility in Fort Collins, Colo. CWD has been documented in deer and/or elk in Colorado, Illinois, Kansas, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and the Canadian provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan. More information about CWD, including a PDF of a brochure to download, is available at

Good News About Zebra Mussels

The latest news from the war on invasive species in Missouri is good—most Show-Me State waters are free of zebra mussels.

This year’s zebra-mussel screenings of selected Missouri lakes and streams showed none of the invasive mussels at Smithville, Table Rock, Stockton, Norfork, Clearwater, Bull Shoals, Mark Twain, Pomme de Terre, Mozingo, Montrose, Hazel Creek, Forest, Thomas Hill, Blind Pony, Hunnewell, Springfield, Hazel Hill, Maple Leaf, Binder, D.C. Rogers, Blue Springs, Longview, Little Dixie and Watkins Mill State Park lakes, and the Gasconade River.

MDC Invasive Species Coordinator Tim Banek says this good news is important for Missouri boaters and anglers.

“If people feel like zebra mussels are all over the place, they have no reason to take precautions to avoid spreading them,” he said. “They need to know where zebra mussels are, so the Conservation Department publishes those badnews reports, but people need to know where zebra mussels aren’t, too.”

The only Missouri waters currently known to have zebra mussels are Lake of the Ozarks, Lake Taneycomo, upper Bull Shoals Lake, Lake Lotawana, the Missouri and Mississippi rivers, the lower Meramec River and the Osage River below Bagnell Dam. Knowing these lakes and streams have zebra mussels empowers Missourians to avoid spreading the invasive mussel and the ecological and economic damage it can cause.

Please remember the following points:

Clean—Remove all plants, animals and mud, and thoroughly wash everything, especially live wells, crevices and other hidden areas. Wash boat bilges, trailers, motor drive units and live wells with hot water (at least 104 degrees). Most commercial car washes meet this standard.

Drain—Eliminate all water before leaving the area, including live wells, bilge and engine cooling water.

Dry—If boats and equipment can’t be thoroughly washed, allow them to dry in the sun for at least five days before launching in other waters. Dispose—Anglers can also avoid spreading zebra mussels and other invasive pests by obtaining live bait locally and disposing of leftover bait properly.

For more information on zebra mussels and other invasive species, visit

Arbor Day Poster Contest

Time for Missouri fifth graders to prepare for the 2011 Arbor Day Poster Contest. The theme is “I like trees because…” Winners receive a $50 savings bond. Each school can submit a winning poster. The statewide winner gets a tree planted at their school and a chance to attend the Arbor Day Proclamation signing at the Capitol. The contest is sponsored by MDC, the Missouri Community Forestry Council and Forest ReLeaf. For more information, visit

Entries must be postmarked no later than Feb. 6, 2012, to Nickie Phillips,, Poster Contest Coordinator, PO Box 180, Jefferson City, MO 65102.

Fall Youth Harvests Up

An increase in this year’s fall firearms turkey harvest could be the first concrete evidence that Missouri’s wild-turkey population is recovering. Meanwhile, youths reaped the benefits of a delayed deer season.

Hunters checked 7,077 turkeys during the fall firearms turkey season Oct. 1 through 31. That is a 19.4-percent increase from last year and an early indication that a return to drier weather allowed Missouri’s turkey flock to begin recovering from losses suffered in recent years. The increased fall harvest confirmed reports of improved nest success.

More good news came in from the early portion of the youth deer season Nov. 5 and 6. Hunters age 6 through 15 checked 16,392 deer, a 13-percent increase from last year’s figure.

MDC Resource Scientist Jason Sumners said the main reason for the harvest increase was the fact that the early youth season occurred a week later than usual.

“In response to hunter requests, we pushed the youth hunt back to avoid conflicts with Halloween,” said Sumners. “That meant kids were hunting closer to the peak of deer rutting activity. Your chances of shooting a deer are better when bucks are on the move, chasing does.”

Missouri held its first youth hunt in 2001. The season was two days long, and the harvest that year was 6,277. For the first seven years, the youth hunt consisted of a Saturday and Sunday before the main firearms deer season, and the harvest averaged around 10,000 deer.

Starting with the 2008–2009 hunting season, MDC doubled the length of the youth season by adding a two-day late portion in January. For the past three seasons, the early youth harvest has averaged a little more than 13,000. This year’s early youth harvest is larger than the total youth harvest for any previous year.

The Conservation Department makes it easy to create a lasting reminder of young hunters’ first deer or turkey. Official First Deer and First Turkey certificates, complete with congratulations and signature by Conservation Department Director Robert L. Ziehmer, are available at

Hunters spend more than 5.7 million days pursuing deer in Missouri each year. The approximately $700 million they spend on their sport annually generates $1.1 billion in business activity and supports 11,000 jobs.

Did You Know?

Conservation pays by enriching our economy and quality of life.

MDC County Assistance Payments

  • $1,478,695 was paid to Missouri counties for levee and drainage district taxes, forest cropland payments, payments in lieu of real estate taxes and county aid road trust payments last fiscal year.
  • $15.7 million has been paid to Missouri counties in lieu of real estate taxes since 1980.
  • MDC makes payments in lieu of real estate taxes on land as long as we hold the land in public trust.
  • The county aid road trust program is designed to support maintenance of roads accessing Department areas. This program enables MDC to cost share roadway maintenance with counties and other local area governments throughout the state. Cost share is usually 50 percent with a county’s match being in-kind services.
  • About $400,00 is provided annually statewide through the county aid road trust program.

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