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From Missouri Conservationist: Dec 2014

What Is It?

Our photographers have been busy exploring the intricacies of the Missouri outdoors. See if you can guess this month’s natural wonder.

what is it 01 12-2014

Ask The Ombudsman

Q. What is the best time of year to see bald eagles in Missouri?

A. Bald eagles are usually found near lakes, rivers, and marshes as they hunt for fish, and winter is a great time to see them in larger numbers.  winter eagle watching is spectacular, and the Department schedules Eagle Days around the state from December through February. For more information about an Eagle Days event near you, or for a list of the best places for eagle viewing in Missouri, go to mdc.mo.gov/node/.

Q. Is winter trout fishing catch and release only?

A. From Nov.1 –Jan. 31, it is catch and release only, meaning all trout must be released

unharmed immediately, and you may only fish with flies, artificial lures, and unscented plastic baits. Beginning Feb. , any bait may be used and four trout may be kept regardless of size. All anglers, ages  to  years, must have a valid Missouri fishing permit and any angler harvesting trout must also possess a trout permit. For a list of winter trout fishing areas near you, go online to mdc.mo.gov/node/. Winter trout fishing is a fun outdoor activity and a great alternative to being cooped up inside this winter. In addition to quality trout in Ozark streams, rainbow trout are stocked each winter by the Conservation Department in lakes around the state.

Q. Any suggestions on recycling a Christmas tree after the holidays?

A. If your community does not offer a tree-recycling program, there are several

creative ways to make further use of your tree. You can place the tree in the backyard to offer cover for wildlife, or under bird feeders to provide nesting locations in the branches. Your tree can also be shredded or chipped for mulch, or if you used a live evergreen and your ground is still soft enough to spade up, add it to your home landscape for years of enjoyment and wildlife cover. The most interesting way to recycle your tree, and perhaps the least known, is to sink it in your pond to enhance fish habitat. Trees provide woody cover that makes excellent habitat for invertebrates and are an ideal food source for smaller fish.

Note to readers: The ombudsman position is currently vacant, but please continue to send us your questions, suggestions, or complaints concerning the Conservation Department or conservation topics.

Email: Ombudsman@mdc.mo.gov

cartoon 12-2014

Agent Notes

Using Dogs to Retrieve Downed Game

During archery season, agents sometimes receive calls from hunters who have been unable to find their wounded game while afield. On occasion, hunters ask about using dogs to recover game.

The use of dogs to track game can be highly effective in some cases, but there are some things that a hunter should know before moving forward. Leashed dogs may be used to recover mortally wounded deer and turkey with the following restrictions: The hunter

  1. has exhausted other reasonable means of finding the animal,
  2. contacts a conservation agent,
  3. does not possess firearms or bows during dog-tracking activities, and
  4. maintains control of the leashed dogs at all times.

Retrieval of game never authorizes trespass, so be sure and obtain landowner permission before pursuing and retrieving game on property belonging to another. Tracking wounded game often takes skill, field experience, and patience. If you are a new hunter,  be afraid to ask for help from more experienced hunters who are skilled in the art of tracking. It is important to remember that the hard work often comes after the release of the bow string, so focus on your shot placement and make sure you are properly prepared beforehand.

Patrice Reese is the conservation agent for Crawford County. If you would like to contact the agent for your county, phone your regional conservation office.

What Is It?

Christmas FernWhat is it 02 12-2014

Polystichum acrostichoides

On Page 1 is a young fiddlehead of the Christmas fern, a Missouri native evergreen that occurs in both dry and moist wooded slopes, moist banks, and ravines. Young fiddleheads, called crosiers, arise in early to mid-spring and are silvery and scaled. The glossy green leaves, or fronds, typically grow in a fountain-like clump up to 2 feet tall. The fronds stay upright in the growing season but tend to lie down after the first frost. —photograph by David Bruns

This Issue's Staff

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