Places to Go

By |
From Missouri Conservationist: Jan 2015

Ted Shanks Conservation Area

Located in northeast Missouri along the banks of the Mississippi and Salt rivers, this area is home to numerous wetland wildlife and plant species and provides great outdoor recreational opportunities.

places 01-2015This 6,705-acre area historically was used as a battleground by the Sac, Fox, and Osage Indians and was later granted to prominent French fur traders and businessmen like Francois Saucier Jr. and Jean Pierre Chouteau, who helped found Missouri’s early cities, including St. Louis and Ste. Genevieve. Much later (1970–1971), the area was purchased with Pittman-Robertson funds collected by a federal excise tax on sporting arms and ammunition. The area is one of 15 Conservation Department-owned intensively managed wetland complexes in the state that provides valuable wetland habitat for both migratory birds and resident wetland wildlife that reside on the area year-round.

Bald eagles are also present on the area during their annual spring and fall migrations. In 1997, they began nesting on the area and have been producing successful nests almost every year since. Nesting activity starts in mid- to late February, and young usually leave the nest by the middle of June. Some of the best times to see eagles on Ted Shanks are during peak migration events in late fall and winter when thousands of migrating waterfowl move into and through the area. The eagles key in on large concentrations of waterfowl as a primary food source. Eagle numbers on the area frequently top 100 during late December and January!

Wetland management at Ted Shanks includes the manipulation of water levels in the area’s many pools to provide stopover habitat and food for migratory birds. The area hosts large concentrations of waterfowl during both spring and fall migrations with peak numbers usually occurring in late November and December and again in February and March. The largest documented concentration of waterfowl on the area occurred in 1978 when an estimated 305,000 ducks were counted.

Waterfowl hunting is a popular tradition during the fall months, and waterfowl hunters arrive two and a half hours before sunrise to enter a drawing for available hunting spots that include up to 34 wade-and-shoot spots, eight blinds, and one ADA-accessible blind.

Large concentrations of shorebirds are routinely found on Ted Shanks in late spring, summer, and early fall, making birding opportunities excellent. Recent highlights include more than 100 American avocets feeding in a pool of receding floodwater in July 2014, and a pair of black-necked stilts spotted on a levee during the 2013 flood.

—Mike Flaspohler, area manager

Ted Shanks Conservation Area

  • Recreation opportunities:Hunting, fishing, trapping, birding, and wildlife viewing.
  • Check area regulations on the Conservation Area Atlas at; portions are seasonally restricted to provide refuge habitat for migratory birds.
  • Unique features:Open marsh, mixed shrub and scrub emergent wetlands, bottomland hardwood forest, upland forest, oxbow lakes and sloughs, Oval Lake Natural Area
  • For More Information:Call 573-248-2530 or visit

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