Note To Our Readers

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From Missouri Conservationist: Jan 2015

Keep Getting Better

There is a time and season for everything. While I greatly enjoy the holiday traditions with my family, I also look forward to the start of a new year, which brings its own season of reflection and resolutions.

The custom of setting New Year’s resolutions dates back to the Roman Empire, where they pledged their moral obligation to be good to others. In today’s world, even with many of our resolutions focused on self-improvement, the goal of New Year’s resolutions remains the same through the ages — keep getting better.

The Conservation Department is no different. We continue to build on our 78-year legacy of citizen-led conservation by outlining strategic priorities for the future to help us successfully manage fish, forest, and wildlife. Some of those priorities continue to build on the integral partnerships we’ve already developed over the years, but hope to keep expanding, such as private landowner conservation efforts. With more than 90 percent of land in Missouri privately owned, working with private landowners to improve habitat on their lands and waterways for healthier fish and wildlife populations is a critical goal in the state’s continued conservation success.

We also continue to tackle the tough threats affecting the health of Missouri’s fish, forest, and wildlife in Missouri, such as chronic wasting disease in our deer herd. Missouri offers some of the best deer hunting in the country and is an important part of many Missourians’ lives and family traditions. Infectious diseases, such as chronic wasting disease, could reduce hunting and wildlife-watching opportunities for Missouri’s nearly 520,000 deer hunters and almost 2 million wildlife watchers. Since 2001, the Department has collected and tested more than 41,000 free-ranging deer for chronic wasting disease statewide. The Conservation Commission also took further action to protect deer in Missouri by passing regulations last October regarding the operation of hunting preserves and wildlife breeding facilities to prevent the spread of diseases.

We’ve set some new goals that also extend to conservation efforts on a national level. In September, a national Blue Ribbon Panel was developed through the Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies to work together to produce recommendations and policy options on a sustainable model to fund conservation on a full array of fish and wildlife species. Missouri is a national leader in fish, forest, and wildlife conservation due to Missouri citizens’ unique and proactive support of conservation efforts, and I am honored to serve as a representative on the Blue Ribbon Panel with 23 other panelists working together on future conservation solutions.

But no matter how many priorities are in front of us in the coming year as a Department, each of them ties directly back to the heart of our mission: To manage and protect the fish, forest, and wildlife resources of the state and to provide opportunities for all citizens to use, enjoy, and learn about those resources. It is thanks to you, and countless other Missourians, who have worked hard to conserve the rich outdoor resources we now enjoy. I hope you will take time this year, no matter what your resolutions, to enjoy Missouri’s rich conservation legacy in your own unique way. There are so many opportunities waiting for you to learn, explore, and discover nature.

Happy New Year! Robert L. Ziehmer, director

This Issue's Staff

Editor In Chief - Nichole LeClair Terrill
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