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From Missouri Conservationist: Jun 2014

By Jim Low

Donated Conservation Area Opens in Taney County

Missourians have a new conservation area in Taney County, thanks to the generosity of a native son of Rockaway Beach, the late David D. Lewis.

The area, formally named The Lewis Family, Dean, Anna Mae, and David D. Lewis Memorial Conservation Area, is northeast of Branson. It consists of 362 acres of upland and bottomland forest, woodland, savanna, and glades and contains several small wildlife watering holes. Bull Creek runs through the southern portion of the area and empties into Lake Taneycomo approximately 21/2 miles downstream. The area was opened to the public last December. It has a parking lot on its east side along Highway 176.

“Mr. Lewis contacted the Department back in 2008 and expressed his interest in donating the land,” says Resource Forester Greg Cassell. “He was passionate about preserving his family’s homestead and sharing it with generations to come. Folks coming to the area have the opportunity to enjoy a range of outdoor activities including hiking an old woods road, bird watching, fishing along Bull Creek, and hunting small game, turkey, and deer. This is just a wonderful donation and the fact that the area is so close to Branson makes it even more special.”

Lewis worked for Sears, Roebuck, and Co. in Springfield for nearly 40 years. He was known for his humility and frugality.

To reach the area, take Highway F east 3.4 miles from the intersection of Highways 465 and 65. Turn right on Highway 160 and go southeast one-quarter mile to Highway 176. Turn right and go south two-thirds of a mile to the parking lot on the west side of the highway.

Upper Mississippi CA Blind Drawing Date Set

Waterfowl hunters will have the opportunity to compete for prime fall hunting spots on the Upper Mississippi Conservation Area (CA) on July 12. That’s when the Missouri Department of Conservation will hold the biennial drawing for duck blinds on pools 24, 25, and 26 on the Mississippi River north of St. Louis.

Important to note is the change of location. The drawing will be at the Conservation Department’s regional office at 2360 Hwy. D, St. Charles, Missouri. Participants can register for the drawing from 8 until 9:30 a.m. The drawing will begin at 10 a.m.

You must be 16 or older to register for the drawing. Hunters age 16 to 64 are required to bring a 2014 Missouri Small Game Hunting Permit. All participants will need a 2014 Migratory Bird Permit and signed 2014 Federal Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp, as well as a photo ID.

Maps will be provided for successful hunters to choose their blind sites as they are drawn. Successful hunters may also select up to three co-registrants to occupy the blind with them. Successful hunters also must provide name, address, phone number, date of birth, email address, and conservation identification number for all co-registrants they wish to add to their blind.

Upper Mississippi CA includes federal lands along the Mississippi River north of St. Louis. It consists of 87 separate tracts totaling 12,500 acres between Melvin Price Lock and Dam and LaGrange, Missouri. For more information, call 314-877-6014 or 636-441-4554.

Captive Cervid Regulations Changes

The Conservation Department’s Regulations Committee recently voted to recommend to the director several changes to regulations regarding the operation of private hunting preserves and wildlife breeding facilities that hold white-tailed deer, mule deer, deer hybrids, and other members of the deer family, known as cervids. If approved by the Conservation Commission, the changes would become part of the agency’s strategy to minimize the risk of chronic wasting disease (CWD) spreading beyond the small area along the border of northeastern Linn County and northwestern Macon County where it currently exists or being introduced into new areas. Measures related to the management of the free-ranging deer herd have already been implemented.

CWD is a fatal disease that affects members of the deer family, collectively called cervids. It is different and unrelated to hemorrhagic diseases. Those diseases — blue tongue and epizootic hemorrhagic disease — are caused by viruses. Their effects are short-term and localized. Hemorrhagic diseases have been in Missouri for years, and white-tailed deer are adapted to cope with them.

In contrast, CWD is caused by abnormal proteins, called prions. There is no vaccine or treatment for CWD, and it is 100-percent fatal to infected deer. It spreads through deer herds more slowly than hemorrhagic diseases, but its potential long-term effects are much more serious.

The Department is working to ensure future generations of Missouri children can enjoy deer and deer hunting like their parents and grandparents. Protecting the state’s free-ranging deer herd, cultural traditions, and hunting heritage, and ensuring an economic engine for the future are all goals of the agency.

Besides jeopardizing the hunting traditions and wild food resources enjoyed by 520,000 Missourians, CWD could negatively impact many landowners throughout Missouri who have managed and worked their properties for better deer habitat. Those landowners have invested time and money and value their land for deer hunting and viewing opportunities.

Actions recommended by the Regulations Committee include:

  • Banning the importation of live white-tailed deer, mule deer, and hybrids from other states.
  • Improving fencing requirements for new captive cervid facilities.
  • Require CWD testing and reporting for all deer that die that are 6 months or older in Conservation Department-permitted wildlife breeder facilities and all cervids that die in Department-permitted big-game hunting preserves.
  • Better record-keeping requirements for Conservation Department-permitted captive cervid operations.
  • Not allowing any new captive cervid facilities within 25 miles of where CWD has been confirmed.

The recommendations are designed to reduce the risk of CWD spreading beyond the limited area where it currently is found while minimizing the economic impact on the captive cervid industry.

If the Conservation Commission approves the recommended regulation changes, they will be submitted to the Secretary of State for publication in the Missouri Register ( After a 30-day public comment period any comments on the proposed amendments will be forwarded to the Conservation Commission for their review and final action to approve as written, amend, or withdraw the proposed amendments.

The goal of these recommendations is to substantially reduce risk of CWD spreading, while putting in place safeguards to help prevent CWD from entering Missouri and to detect any spread of CWD early enough to take corrective actions. The Regulations Committee considers the recommendations reasonable, sensible, and responsible. Furthermore, they are in keeping with the Department’s responsibility to protect the state’s wildlife.

Don’t Adopt Wildlife

May is a month of rebirth as lush green foliage appears, and animals from robins to white-tailed deer bear their young. It’s a time when conservation agents and biologists with the Missouri Department of Conservation routinely receive calls from people wanting to know what to do with what they believe are orphaned animals. The answer — leave the animal where it is or return it to where it was found — sometimes upsets callers. But leaving wildlife in the wild is best for all concerned.

Many of the calls involve white-tailed deer fawns found without a doe anywhere to be seen.

“Many people don’t understand that it is perfectly normal for does to leave fawns for short periods to feed,” says Resource Scientist Jason Sumners. “Hanging around their fawns 24-7 would actually make them less safe by attracting predators’ attention.”

Nevertheless, every year well-meaning people remove fawns from the safety of their natural habitat to human habitations, jeopardizing their immediate health and depriving them of the chance to live free.

“A deer raised by humans typically loses its natural fear of people,” says Sumners, “and without the care of its mother, it isn’t equipped for life in the wild. It’s a lose-lose situation.”

Unlike domestic animals, which have been bred to be tame, wild animals are unpredictable and often become aggressive when they reach adulthood.

“Animals that are adorable when they are little can become unmanageable and dangerous as they mature,” says Sumners. He also notes that approaching fawns can trigger the protective instincts of their mothers, who might be watching from a discreet distance.

“Deer seem gentle, but they are surprisingly powerful for their size, and their pointed hooves can inflict serious injury. It isn’t wise to approach deer or any other wildlife.”

“It’s often very difficult to tell people not to bring young animals home,” says Wildlife Health Specialist Jasmine Batten. “Compassion is one of the best human traits, and wildlife professionals care about animals, too. But the risks to people from adopting wildlife outweigh emotional considerations, especially when you recognize that many of these animals are not orphans at all. They simply don’t happen to be with their parents.”

Besides all these reasons for not adopting wildlife, it is illegal to possess live wild animals without a permit from the Conservation Department. In cases where animals are known with certainty to be orphaned, when the parent has been struck and killed by an automobile, for example, the right course of action is to call a conservation agent or Conservation Department office.

For more information about the hazards of adopting wildlife, visit

Conservation Department Fights Invasives

If you own an aquarium, a boat, or fishing equipment, you have an important role to play in protecting aquatic resources. That is the take-home message from a recent southwest Missouri news story.

The story starts when an eastern Greene County pond owner brought an unfamiliar plant to the Conservation Department’s Springfield office for identification. It’s a good thing they did. The plant turned out to be hydrilla (Hydrilla verticillata), a highly invasive aquatic plant that had not previously been documented anywhere in the Show-Me State.

Alerted by this citizen report, the Conservation Department soon found separate sites of hydrilla infestation in Warren and Dallas counties and began eradication efforts in cooperation with landowners. Getting rid of the plant will require multiple herbicide applications over the course of several years.

Although eradicating a hydrilla infestation is not easy, it is worth the trouble. The plant crowds out beneficial native vegetation, such as coontail, and it can grow in deeper water. Once established, it covers the surface of the water, making fishing almost impossible and causes other problems, including clogging water intakes on marine engines. If it were allowed to spread to Missouri’s large lakes, it could cause substantial damage to the state’s multi-million dollar fishing tourism industry.

Conservation Department Fisheries Management Biologist Kara Tvedt says hydrilla is an extremely adaptable plant, and this includes its ability to spread to new areas.

“It is a very mobile plant,” says Tvedt. “It can be introduced into new areas when people dump water from an aquarium or it can hitch a ride on a boat trailer that has been in infested waters. Sometimes it comes in when people move other plants from one area to another. It can even travel on the feet of migrating waterfowl. Once it is in a pond, it can escape and spread downstream through overflow.” Tvedt says the Conservation Department will use what it learns from current hydrilla control efforts to advise landowners in the future. Just as important as eradication efforts, she says, is avoiding practices that can spread the plant.

Tvedt says the Conservation Department will help landowners get rid of hydrilla, regardless of how it got on their property. Equally important, she says, is avoiding practices that can spread the plant.

“It’s extremely important for boaters, anglers, and aquarium owners to know that their actions can have serious consequences for Missouri’s aquatic resources,” says Tvedt. “Removing all vegetation, mud, and other foreign material from boats and trailers before moving from one area to another is easy. So is making sure not to dump bait or water from minnow buckets or aquariums in places where hydrilla or other invasive species might get into local water bodies.”

For more information about hydrilla, visit Hydrilla is only one of several invasive plants and animals that threaten Missouri’s wild resources. More information about invasive species and how you can help prevent their establishment is available at

Conservation Commission Actions

The April Commission meeting featured presentations and discussions regarding the 25th anniversary of Missouri Stream Teams, the value of federal aid in wildlife and sport-fish restoration programs, deer population status and the 2014–2015 deer hunting recommendations, and the communications strategy overview. A summary of actions taken during the April 16–17 meeting for the benefit and protection of forest, fish, and wildlife, and the citizens who enjoy them includes:

Approved the following 2014 early migratory bird hunting seasons

  • Sora and Virginia rails: Sept. 1–Nov. 9, with limits of 25 daily and 75 in possession (combined for both species).
  • Wilson’s (common) snipe: Sept. 1–Dec. 16, with limit of eight daily and 24 in possession.
  • American woodcock: Oct. 15–Nov. 28, daily limit of three, possession limit of nine.
  • Mourning doves, Eurasian collared doves, and white-winged doves: Sept. 1–Nov. 9, with limits of 15 daily and 45 in possession (combined for all three species).

Approved the following changes in deer-hunting regulations•• Increased the number of firearms antlerless deer permits available to landowners of 75 of more contiguous acres in Barton and Jasper counties from one to two and maintained the current availability of landowner firearms antlerless permits in all other counties.

  • Allowed any number archery antlerless permits for Stoddard and Carter counties
  • Adjusted the availability of firearms antlerless permits to one in 60 counties.
  • Adjusted the availability of firearms antlerless permits to two in 20 counties.
  • Removed Christian County from the Springfield urban zone.
  • Set managed deer hunts and made changes to area-specific regulations. These will be outlined in the 2014 Fall Deer and Turkey Hunting Regulations and Information booklet and online at

The next Conservation Commission meeting is June 5 and 6. For more information, visit or call your regional Conservation office.

What Is It?

Nine-Banded Armadillo | Dasypus novemcinctus

Armadillos do not have furry skin; instead, they have hair only between hardened plates of skin that nearly encompass the body. There are two large plates with a series of nine smaller moveable “girdles” or “bands” around the midsection. Breeding occurs in the summer followed by a delay of 2–3 months during which the embryo divides into four cells before each one becomes implanted in the uterus. This results in identical quadruplets. Newborn young have no shell, but their eyes are open and they can move about.

Because they dig burrows in the ground, armadillos select wooded bottomlands, brushy areas, and fields with ground cover and loose soil. Their sight and hearing are poor, and they have the unusual habit of jumping upright when frightened, which explains why so many are hit by automobiles. They can run fast when pursued, and when cornered they often curl into a ball, protected by their shell. —photograph by Noppadol Paothong

Did You Know?

The Conservation Department partners with Missourians to sustain healthy streams.

The Missouri Stream Team Program is celebrating 25 years of citizens caring for Missouri streams.

Stream Team provides an opportunity for everyone to get involved in the conservation of more than 110,000 miles of Missouri streams. More than 4,000 active Stream Teams are located throughout the state, totaling 85,000 citizens.

Stream Team goals:

  • Education — Learn about Missouri’s 110,000 miles of flowing water. Stream Team provides training and information to better understand our stream systems and the problems and opportunities they face.
  • Stewardship — Hands-on projects such as litter control, streamside tree planting, water quality monitoring, and storm drain stenciling.
  • Advocacy — Citizens who have gained a firsthand knowledge of the problems, solutions, and needs of Missouri’s stream resources are best equipped to speak out on their behalf.

Since 1989, Stream Teams reported:

  • 10,055 tons (2 million pounds) of litter removed from waterways
  • 4,245 educational events conducted
  • 264,438 streamside trees planted
  • 17,312 storm drains stenciled
  • 25,335 water quality monitoring trips made
  • Over 2.2 million volunteer hours dedicated to conserving Missouri streams

Stream Team membership:

Stream Team membership is free to any interested citizen, family, or organization. Team members have access to a large number of supplies and educational materials. You may adopt any stream or river of your choice. The Department can suggest streams or connect you with other Teams in your area. To learn more about Missouri Stream Teams, visit or call 1-800-781-1989. Facebook users can also find information about upcoming events and accomplishments of Stream Team volunteers at

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