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From Missouri Conservationist: Mar 2012

Capping Pipes Saves Wildlife

Concerned about the discovery of accidental bird deaths in California State, Missourians are taking action to eliminate similar hazards in the Show- Me State.

Workers at Audubon California’s Kern River Preserve discovered the remains of hundreds of dead birds in a 20-foot-long pipe that had rusted and fallen over. Victims of the irrigation pipe, which had been in place more than 50 years, included bluebirds, woodpeckers and kestrels, along with lizards and other small animals that had gotten inside and were unable to escape. The death trap was part of an abandoned irrigation system.

Following the macabre discovery, Audubon staff began noticing similar hazards on their preserve and neighboring land. They found dead animals in pipes ranging from 1 to 10 inches in diameter and set to work removing or capping the pipes to prevent further carnage.

Missourians have discovered similar carnage here and are looking for ways to prevent further damage. Solutions include capping exposed vent pipes or fence posts or covering the open ends with hardware cloth. Removal is an option for obsolete pipes. See workinglands-pipes.php for more information.

About a month before the California revelation, MDC also had discovered a pipe problem and was re-examining the design of fishing-line disposal bins provided for anglers at popular fishing spots. The bins consist of PVC pipe mounted vertically on posts with caps on the bottom and uncapped elbows on top. Anglers place scrap line in the pipe, preventing it from becoming a hazard to wildlife.

Tree swallows and prothonotary warblers have been found dead and entangled in fishing line inside similar receptacles in other states. MDC is retrofitting line-recycling bins with covers with slits that still allow insertion of used fishing line without letting birds get inside. The covers are made from tire inner tubes or rubber roof sheeting held in place by pipe clamps. See mdc. for details.

Deer, Turkey Harvest Wrap-Up

Missouri hunters had good success during the 2011–2012 fall deer and turkey seasons, proving that Conservation makes Missouri a great place to hunt. They checked 52,671 deer during the four-month archery season. That is 24 percent more than in 2010. Archers also checked 2,923 turkeys, an increase of 34 percent from the previous year. The fall firearms turkey harvest was 7,077, a 19-percent increase from 2010.

Hunters age 6 through 15 checked 2,193 deer during the late youth firearms hunt Jan. 7 and 8, bringing the 2011–2012 firearms deer harvest to 238,921. That is a 3-percent increase from the previous year.

The combined archery and firearms deer harvest was 291,592. That was up 6 percent from the previous year and virtually identical to the past 10 years’ average of 252,029.

Expenditures by Missouri’s more than 500,000 deer hunters pump $690 million into the state’s economy each year, generating more than $1 billion of overall business activity and supporting more than 11,000 jobs.

MDC staff works with you and for you to sustain healthy wildlife. To learn more about the types of assistance available to private landowners, visit

Missourians Await Return of Martins

Hundreds of purple martins are on their way back to Missouri, and the Purple Martin Conservation Association (PMCA) needs your help finding them.

John Miller, a PMCA member who monitors purple martins in the St. Louis area, says he and other martin aficionados banded more than 800 martin nestlings in St. Louis, Licking and Marshall last year. They need to know when and where those birds return to Missouri in order to learn more about the birds’ survival and movements.

The banded martins will arrive here a little later than older birds, trickling in from late April through early June. Previous banding studies (published at showed that only 10 to 20 percent of purple martin fledglings return to their natal sites. Most return to within 30 miles of where they hatched. However, a small percentage ends up hundreds of miles away. A female martin banded at a colony near Jamesport in 2009 turned up the next year in Jenera, Ohio, 650 miles from its birthplace.

Each of the martins banded in Missouri last year carries two bands, a silver federal band and a colored Missouri band that can be read with a spotting scope. The bands bear the letters “MO” and numbers. N aturally, people who maintain martin houses have the best chance of spotting one of the banded birds.

If you spot a banded martin, contact the Missouri River Bird Observatory at 660-886-8788 or to report the sighting and learn the origin of the bird.

Help Bash Trash in April

Missourians care about keeping their state clean, and the annual N o MOre Trash! Trash Bash, co-sponsored by the Missouri departments of Conservation (MDC) and Transportation (MoDOT) each April, helps them act on that caring. The Trash Bash is part of the two agencies’ ongoing No MOre Trash! statewide anti-litter campaign. During the entire month of April, people pick up litter all across Missouri from roadsides, parks, neighborhoods, rivers, streams and other places.

“This is the 10th year of No MOre Trash! In Missouri,” said Stacy Armstrong, MoDOT No MOre Trash! coordinator. “Through the years, hundreds of thousands of volunteers have picked up more than half a million bags of trash as part of April Trash Bash activities,” she said. “Now that’s a lot of litter!”

MDC No MOre Trash! Coordinator Joe Jerek added that littering isn’t just ugly, it hurts wildlife, is illegal and costs Missourians millions of tax dollars each year.

“Animals get tangled in litter, such as plastic six-pack holders and fishing line, and it can kill them,” Jerek explained. ”Litter also poisons wild-life and can cost a litterer up to $1,000 in fines and one year in jail.”

MoDOT spends more than $5 million each year cleaning litter from Missouri’s roadsides, while MDC spends almost $1 million a year to clean litter from conservation areas and other MDC locations.

Last year more than 157,000 bags of trash and many more truckloads of debris were collected by thousands of volunteers during April. Volunteers included MoDOT and MDC employees, Adopt-A-Highway volunteers, Stream Team members and members of the public and community groups.

Anyone can report their activity at and get a free lapel pin for their efforts. “Besides the recognition, we all get a little exercise, some fresh air, and a cleaner place to work, live and play,” Armstrong said.

Photo Tip of the Month: Zoom Lenses

In last month’s photo tip we said that great wildlife photography requires more than just long zoom lenses. While that is certainly true, this month’s phototip is devoted to why those long zoom lenses are also very helpful. The goal of good wildlife photography is to show a particular critter up close and personal, and because most wildlife tends to take offense when we get too close, a telephoto or zoom lens is vitally important.

Long lenses also have the added bonus of compressing the “depth-of-field.” That is, the distance in front of and behind your subject that is also in focus is very short, so there is little else that is also in focus competing for attention with your subject. In the example image, you can see how the background is so out see how the background is so out of focus it becomes a diffuse backdrop that really helps the subject stand out.

Long lenses can, of course, get very expensive. Various things affect the price, and you have to weigh your budget against the features that are important to you. G enerally, the more money you spend the lenses get sharper, longer, have better auto-focus and other electronics, and have wider apertures. This last item is helpful because it means you can shoot in lower light conditions, or use faster shutter speeds to better freeze the motion of your subject.

This all assumes you have a camera with interchangeable lenses. If you want to take wildlife photos with your point-and-shoot, you can do so, but you have to understand the limitations. You will not be able to take photos like the pros. But, to increase your chances of getting a decent shot, be sure to purchase a point-and-shoot camera with the longest optical zoom possible. Do not be lured by the promises of digital zoom. Digital zoom essentially works by cropping your images, which degrades quality. Some point and shoots now come with as much as 21x optical zoom.

75th Anniversary of Conservation Photo Contest, Enter Now!

Remember to get out those cameras and search those photo files for your best images that

celebrate the natural wonders of Missouri and the 75-year legacy of MDC. A full list of rules and guidelines can be found on our website at Entries will only be accepted via Flickr, an Internet photo sharing service. If you are not on Flickr, it is easy to join. Just go to our 75th anniversary photo contest Flickr site for more information: When you add photos to the contest group in Flickr, the photos MUST be tagged with the category you are entering. Please read the full list of rules carefully for more information. Photos that do not adhere to the rules will be disqualified.

Mountain Lion Trapped

MDC Resource Scientist Jeff Beringer examined and released a male mountain lion trapped by a private citizen in Reynolds County in January.

The 122-pound cougar was captured in a large, cage-type live trap set by a private trapper on Mark Twain National Forest land to catch bobcats, coyotes and other mammals. The trapper reported his catch to MDC within 24 hours, as required by the Wildlife Code of Missouri, and turned the animal over to Conservation Agent Eric Long.

Beringer and Long took the mountain lion to Current River Conservation Area, where Beringer sedated the animal, weighed and measured it and clipped its ear to obtain a DNA sample. He estimated the cat’s age at 2 years. The cat was in excellent physical condition and showed no signs of having been held in captivity.

After examining the mountain lion, Beringer released it to the wild. Mountain lions are a protected species in the state under the Wildlife Code of Missouri. The Code does allow the killing of any mountain lion or bear threatening human safety or damaging personal property. The incident must be reported to the Department immediately and the intact carcass, including the pelt, must be surrendered to the Department within 24 hours.

MDC has not stocked mountain lions and has no plans to do so. Evidence to date suggests that mountain lions seen here are young male individuals dispersing from growing populations in states to the west of Missouri, including South Dakota and Nebraska.

MDC wants to learn more about mountain lions in the Show-Me State and encourages Missourians to report sightings to the Mountain Lion Response Team at

CWD Found in Wild Deer

MDC is working with hunters and landowners in Macon and Linn counties to keep Missouri a great place to hunt deer.

Ongoing monitoring of Missouri’s wild deer herd for chronic wasting disease (CWD) turned up two infected deer in January. Both of the CWDpositive deer were adult males. They were tested along with more than 1,000 others that hunters in north-central Missouri voluntarily submitted for sampling during the 2011 N ovember firearms deer season. The hunters who shot the infected deer have been notified of the positive tests.

Both CWD-positive deer were shot in Macon County, within 2 miles of captive-hunting preserves in Linn and Macon counties. Four white-tailed deer at those preserves have tested positive for CWD in the past two years.

With hunters’ help, MDC has conducted CWD tests on more than 34,000 free-ranging white-tailed deer statewide since 2002 to ensure that outbreaks of the disease are detected early enough to permit remedial action. The two freeranging deer with CWD were part of targeted testing that MDC undertook to determine if CWD was present in wild deer in the area surrounding the infected captive-hunting preserves.

In early February, again with hunters’ and landowners’ help, MDC began collecting more deer in Macon and Linn counties for CWD testing. Intensive sampling will continue during the 2012 firearms deer season to define the geographic extent of the CWD outbreak and determine how prevalent the disease is in the infected area.

“Teamwork among landowners, hunters and MDC staff allowed us to detect this infection early,” said Resource Scientist Jason Sumners. “Continuing that partnership is our best hope for containing what we believe to be a recent, localized event.”

Sumners noted that other states have gone years after similar, localized CWD outbreaks without detecting any additional cases of the disease in wild deer.

Did You Know? Conservation makes Missouri A Great Place to Fish

Reel in Some Fun

Find MO Fish, a free application for your smart phone, shows you a map of Missouri with the locations of public boat ramps to the major lakes, rivers and streams. The map also shows you the exact location of underwater fish structures put in place by the Missouri Department of Conservation over the years. These fish-attracting structures act as habitat for fish. With the geo-location feature, you can guide your boat right up to your favorite fish attractor and start fishing. The application is available for Android, Blackberry and Apple phones.

Kids’ Fishing Days are designed to help families and youth groups learn more about fishing. Each event provides fishing equipment and instruction. All you have to do is bring your kids and plenty of energy! Check the events calendar at, or contact your regional Conservation office (see Page 3). Fishing is just plain fun. It helps kids discover nature and conserve it, too.

Trout parks host special events on Kids’ Fishing Days, too. Some areas are designated “kids only” and are stocked with trout throughout the day, including some “lunkers” for the catch-of-a-lifetime. There’s casting contests, first fish presentations, prize drawings, displays, demonstrations and more. Mark your calendar to be at Maramec Spring or Roaring River on Saturday, May 19, and Saturday, Aug. 18. Montauk and Bennett Springs’ events are scheduled for Saturday, May 5, and Saturday, Aug. 4.

MDC’s Rods and Reels Loaner Program, every regional office can help Missourians get hooked on fishing. Statewide, MDC’s fisheries staff, education consultants and outdoor skills specialists are ready to support your fishing event (see Page 3 for phone numbers).

To learn more about fishing in Missouri, visit To learn more about the Conservation Department’s 75-year history of sportfish management, read the article starting on Page 10, The Lure of Fishing.

Free Fishing Days encourage you to explore the state’s fishing opportunities without having to purchase permits. Each year, Free Fishing Days are the Saturday and Sunday following the first Monday in June. Borrow a neighbor’s rod and reel, or come out to a conservation area where a Free Fishing Days program is scheduled and borrow one of ours. Learn more at mdc.

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