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From Missouri Conservationist: Mar 2014

Submissions reflect readers’ opinions and might be edited for length and clarity

A Peck-tacular Time

This past December 5-8, I was invited to tag along on a managed deer hunt at Peck Ranch CA. The experience of sleeping on the ground, in a tent, with 2 inches of sleet and 10 inches of snow, and a wind chill of below zero on Friday night was a true adventure. I want to commend the staff at Peck Ranch. They were very professional, thorough, friendly, and, most of all, caring. I was very pleased to see how some people take their jobs above and beyond. The employees at Peck Ranch are an asset to the Department of Conservation.

Terry R. Smith, Fulton

Trapping Bobcats

I am just now reading the January issue of the Conservationist. I have been curious about this for several years: When looking at hunting and trapping seasons, I always see the bobcat listed. I know they are a shy, elusive animal. I do see their tracks on our north Missouri property, but their numbers must be incredibly small. And with the coyote to contend with, I think their numbers really don’t need to be reduced further by hunting or trapping [“I Am Conservation”; Back Cover]. Can you tell me what the Department’s philosophy is regarding this animal?

Phyllis Pryor, via Internet

Ombudsman’s Note: The Missouri bobcat population is stable to slightly increasing over the past several years, despite the statewide harvest by hunters and trappers of 2,000 to 4,000 bobcats annually. Bobcats’ secretive, and primarily nocturnal, habits keep them mostly out of sight. Their harvest is strictly monitored to ensure sustainability, and each animal or pelt must be registered and tagged to be possessed legally.

We do believe that trappers and hunters are providing a service in helping to manage furbearer populations. Due to the availability of food and habitat and the lack of hunting in many urban and suburban areas, trapping plays an important role in preventing overabundant populations and associated disease issues. Conservation is the wise use of natural resources, and harvest does help to maintain a healthy balance of wildlife populations. Our philosophy is to provide opportunities for Missourians to use renewable resources as long as animal populations remain at healthy, sustainable levels. That is certainly the case currently with bobcats. —Tim Smith

That’s no Sycamore

The sycamore tree on Page 2 of the January issue [“Reader Photo”; Busy Beaver] looks more like a cottonwood tree to my practiced, but sometimes wrong, eyes.

I appreciate the work all of you do at the Department, which has always been a leader to other states. I am a lifelong outdoorsman after spending my early years in Wayne County in the 1930s and 1940s. Wayne County is one of Missouri’s jewels, and I am near publication of a general history of the area with a special focus on the area where I spent my childhood. I previously published similar histories of Butler and Stoddard counties that devote sections to wildlife and natural resources.

Robert H. Forister, Bloomfield

Ombudsman’s Note: You are correct that we published an incorrect identification of the beaver-cut tree as a sycamore. I agree with you that it is most likely a cottonwood. We regret that this item slipped past our reviewers.

Wayne County is an interesting part of Missouri. For most of my career with the Department I was a botanist, and I was able to explore some beautiful parts of that county around the upper reaches of Lake Wappapello. The Cedar Bluff area of the Johnson Tract, just south of Greenville, is a wonderful spot with some uncommon Missouri plants. —Tim Smith

This Issue's Staff

Editor In Chief - vacant
Managing Editor - Nichole LeClair Terrill
Art Director - Cliff White
Staff Writer/Editor - Brett Dufur
Staff Writer - Jim Low
Photographer - Noppadol Paothong
Photographer - David Stonner
Designer - Stephanie Thurber
Circulation - Laura Scheuler