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From Missouri Conservationist: Feb 2014

What Is It?

Our photographers have been busy exploring the intricacies of the Missouri outdoors. Can you guess this month's natural wonder?

What is it 01

Ask the Ombudsman

Q. Can you tell me how a large Canada goose is able to walk on such a thin layer of ice on my lake? Why doesn’t the ice break?

A. Canada geese can weigh up to around 16.5 pounds. As with other waterfowl, their feet have webbing between the toes and that tends to spread their weight over a larger surface area of the ice, reducing the chance that they will break through. It’s the same principle as a person wearing snowshoes to prevent their feet from breaking through crusted snow. There is some limit to the thinness of the ice that will support the goose. If the ice becomes too thin, the bird will break through. Geese spend a lot of time around ice and open water, so they probably develop good judgment about which ice will support them.

Q. I completed the hunter-education training years ago and still have my orange card that I received as proof of completing the course. I use the card when I purchase firearms hunting permits, but the permits themselves, and my Heritage Card, do not include a hunter-education identification number. Why is that?

A. Several decades ago, our hunter-education records were not computerized as they are today. If there is no hunter-education identification number on your permits, then our computer records do not include that information. Please contact our Hunter Education staff at our Department headquarters (see Page 3) so that we can add your certification record to our database. Once that is done, you will see a certification number on any future permits that you purchase, and you will not have to continue to present the orange card when you buy firearms hunting permits. It is important to get us that proof of completion of the course before the old card is lost or it falls apart. It may save you from having to take the hunter-education course again, which can happen if you lose your documentation.

Q. What are the rules on removing tree stands after deer season ends?

A. The tree stand removal regulations of this Department only apply to areas that we manage, primarily conservation areas. On those areas, portable tree stands may be placed or used only between Sept. 1 and Jan. 31. Unattended stands must be plainly labeled with the full name and address or Conservation Identification number of the owner and must be removed by Feb. 1 each year.

Ombudsman Tim Smith will respond to your questions, suggestions, or complaints concerning the Conservation Department.

Address: PO Box 180, Jefferson City, 65102-0180

Phone: 573-522-4115, ext. 3848

Email: Ombudsman@mdc.mo.gov


What Is It?

Striped Skunk

Mephitis mephitis

what is it 02

Cat-sized mammals, skunks produce an unpleasant scent when agitated. Glands at the base of the tail secrete this stinky musk and can be aimed and sprayed at will. Prior to spraying, skunks usually stamp their feet and hold their tails high in the air to warn intruders. They are found statewide but are least numerous in the Mississippi Lowland where there is little high land for den sites. As scavengers, skunks eat small animals and insects, helping to control those populations. Females more than 1 year old begin breeding in February while younger females mate about a month later. The single litter of 4–6 young is born from early May to early June.

This Issue's Staff

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