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From Missouri Conservationist: May 2015

Get Hooked With the Department’s Free Fishing Days June 6–7

Get hooked on fishing with the Missouri Department of Conservation’s Free Fishing Days June 6–7. During Free Fishing Days, anyone can fish in the Show-Me State without buying a fishing permit, trout permit, or trout park daily tag. Normal regulations remain in effect, such as limits on size and number of fish an angler can keep. Special permits may still be required at some county, city, or private fishing areas, and trespass laws remain in effect on private property.

Conservation makes Missouri a great place to fish, and Free Fishing Days encourages people to sample the state’s abundant fishing opportunities. Missouri is blessed with more than 1 million acres of surface water, and most of it provides great fishing for Missouri’s 1.1 million-plus anglers. More than 200 different fish species, including 20 game fish, are found in Missouri.

For information on Missouri fishing regulations, permit requirements, fish identification, and more, get a copy of the Department’s 2015 Summary of Missouri Fishing Regulations at your local Department office, online at, or wherever permits are sold.

Anglers can also get weekly fishing reports, annual prospects, and more through the Department’s “Find MO Fish” free app for mobile phones and other mobile devices. Find MO Fish has a geo-location feature to guide boats to fish-attractor locations. Anglers can also view regulations for specific fish species and locations, and get detailed information on various species through the included fish guide. The free app will even show you how to obtain fishing permits. Learn more and download Find MO Fish at

Volunteer to Help the Department With Breeding Bird Survey

Calling all bird lovers and nature enthusiasts. Are you someone who can tell the difference between a Baltimore oriole, indigo bunting, and a scissor-tailed flycatcher? Do you know what a cerulean warbler sounds like? The Department of Conservation is in need of experienced birders to assist with the 2015 North American Breeding Bird Survey (BBS).

The BBS is a long-term, large-scale, international bird-monitoring program that started in 1966. According to Janet Haslerig, resource scientist with the Department, the purpose of the BBS is to track the status and trends of North American bird populations.

“Bird populations are subjected to numerous, widespread threats, including habitat loss, habitat fragmentation, land-use changes, and chemical contaminants,” said Haslerig. “If significant declines are detected, their causes can then be identified and appropriate actions taken to reverse them before populations reach critically low levels.”

Each year during June — the height of the bird-breeding season for most of the U.S. — volunteers collect bird population data along roadside survey routes. Each survey route is 24.5 miles long with stops at half-mile intervals. At each stop, a three-minute point count is conducted. During the count, every bird seen or heard within a quarter-mile radius is recorded. Surveys start one-half hour before local sunrise and take about five hours to complete.

There are currently 17 vacant routes ( in Missouri that need volunteers.

To volunteer, a person needs access to suitable transportation, must possess good hearing and eyesight, and have the ability to identify all breeding birds in the area. Haslerig stressed that knowing bird songs is extremely important. Most birds counted on these surveys are singing males, she said.

All new BBS volunteers must also successfully complete an online training program before their data can be used in any BBS analysis. For more information or to volunteer, contact Janet Haslerig at or 573-522-4115, ext. 3198.

The Department to Hold Vehicle and Equipment Auction June 6 in Salem

The Department of Conservation will hold a public auction of various used vehicles and equipment Saturday, June 6, starting at 10 a.m. at its Salem Maintenance Center, located at the junction of Highway 72 and Highway 32. The auction will feature nearly 200 items, including dozens of boats, vehicles, and trailers, along with outboard motors, tractors, dozers, farm equipment, and more.

Those interested can view auction items Friday, June 5, at the Salem Maintenance Center from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Preregistration June 5 is from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Registration the day of the sale begins at 7:30 a.m.

The list of auction items and procedures will be online the second week of May at A complete lot listing and terms of sale will be available at the registration desk the day of the auction. For more information, call the Department at 573-522-4115, ext. 3283.

Celebrating 15 Years for Grow Native!

No turkeys. No monarchs. No quail, no deer, and no black walnut or oak barrel industry — what a dismal life we would have in Missouri without our native plants. The vegetation of our prairies, wetlands, forests, and other natural communities make Missouri distinct and beautiful. The plants native to our state are also the driving force behind all other wildlife that we could not do without, are critical to the protection of our streams, air, and soil resources, and are the essential raw materials of many industries.

All plants — described in the words of the native plant advocate and entomologist Dr. Doug Tallamy — allow us, and nearly every other species, “to eat sunlight.” Plants are converting the rays of the sun into black walnuts, acorns, big bluestem grass, and myriad other plant products readily consumed by wildlife and humans.

But even our native plants that don’t want to be eaten are critically important: their leaf tissue is laden with natural chemicals to keep most insects and other animals from eating them. Over thousands of years of adaptation, however, certain insects native to Missouri have developed tolerance to the leaves of oak, milkweed, cherry, pawpaw, or other plants — and they will eat nothing else. While these insects — many of them caterpillars of moths and butterflies — are “eating sunlight,” they are next in line to become food for baby birds, amphibians, and many other animals.

In recent years, Missourians’ recognition of all the values of native plants has soared. This is due in part to the efforts of the Grow Native! program and the work of other conservation partners. Begun in 2000 as a program of the Missouri departments of Conservation and Agriculture,

Grow Native! was transferred to the nonprofit, 49-year-old Missouri Prairie Foundation (MPF) in 2012. Since then, this program, the goals of which are to increase the demand for and supply of native plants for use in the built environment and altered landscapes, has been carried out by a committee of native plant nursery owners, educators, garden center managers, and other native plant professionals.

Grow Native! promotes the use of native plants by organizing native landscaping workshops, holding a Grow Native! Professional member annual conference, producing monthly articles for several gardening and farm publications, creating native plant tags as a marketing tool for native plant growers, and maintaining the extensive Grow Native! website, which includes a native plant database.

“MPF validated the worth of Grow Native!’s accomplishments with its gutsy commitment to adopt the program in 2012,” said Betty Grace, the Grow Native! Committee chair. “Since then, MPF’s dynamic leadership and steadfast volunteers drive the program. They act from conviction about the essential role native plants play in the overall vitality of the environment, and commit their time and sustained efforts to Grow Native!’s mission.”

The Grow Native! program of the Missouri Prairie Foundation has organized many events in 2015 to recognize this anniversary and the vital importance of choosing to plant native plants in rural, suburban, and urban areas. For more information, visit or send a message to

—Carol Davit, executive director of the Missouri Prairie Foundation

What is it?

Western Kingbird: Tyrannus verticalis

Western kingbirds forage from power lines or large trees for flying insects. The name kingbird is derived from a small, bright-orange patch of feathers atop the bird’s head. This “crown” is only flashed on occasion, often in a display of aggression. The western kingbird is most common on the western side of the state. It occurs in semi-open country, roadsides, fields, and agricultural land wherever there are enough scattered trees to provide hunting perches and nesting sites. Nests are often located on the cross arms of power poles or on stadium lights. Pairs mate monogamously, staying together to feed their young for up to three weeks after the young have fledged. Each brood contains three to seven eggs, and one to two broods may be laid each year. Western kingbirds are summer residents, and they spend their winter on the Pacific side of southern Mexico, southward to Costa Rica.

—photograph by Noppadol Paothong

Richwoods Angler Catches State-Record Paddlefish

Andy Belobraydic III will remember his first paddlefish-snagging trip for the rest of his life. The 33-year-old Richwoods resident turned an already successful day on Table Rock Lake into an unforgettable one by snagging a state-record paddlefish March 21. Belobraydic’s behemoth weighed 140 pounds, 9 ounces; breaking the old record of 139 pounds, 4 ounces caught in 2002 at Table Rock. The fish, which was caught on the James River arm of the lake in Stone County, measured 56¾ inches in length (measured eye to fork of tail) and had a girth of 43¾ inches.

Belobraydic had previously snagged nongame fish, but had never snagged paddlefish. Before he hooked the state record on that red-letter day, Belobraydic had already snagged two paddlefish. He released the second one because it was too small (Missouri fishing regulations allow anglers to keep two paddlefish). As soon as he hooked his third paddlefish of the day, he knew lack of size wasn’t going to be a problem.

“I told my buddies to take a picture of it in the water because I knew if I couldn’t get it in the boat, no one was ever going to believe this,” Belobraydic said.

Thirty minutes after initially hooking it, Belobraydic finally boated the fish. It was then taken to the Missouri Department of Conservation’s Shepherd of the Hills Fish Hatchery near Branson where it was weighed on a certified scale. The catch was officially certified as a state record Monday morning.

Belobraydic’s state-record catch is a product of the Department’s paddlefish management. Because of the changes man-made impoundments have brought to Missouri’s waterways, the state’s paddlefish population is no longer self-sustaining. Today, the Department maintains the population through artificial means. Each spring, a small number of egg-bearing females are collected from Table Rock Lake, and the eggs are removed and incubated at the Department’s Blind Pony Hatchery. The resulting fry are reared in the hatchery, and the young paddlefish are then released into the Lake of the Ozarks, Table Rock Lake, and Truman Lake later in the summer. This is an example of how the Department works with and for the state’s citizens to sustain healthy forests, fish, and wildlife.

Beginning this year, the Department is conducting a five-year tagging project. This will help biologists learn more about the habits of the state’s paddlefish and how anglers are enjoying this unique fishing opportunity. Tags and catch information from harvested paddlefish must be sent in for reward. Sublegal paddlefish are not eligible for reward, and tags should not be removed. Information from all tagged paddlefish is valuable to the Department, and anglers should report all tagged paddlefish they catch. For more information about the state’s tagging project, visit

Did You Know?

We help you discover nature.

Hummingbirds Are Back — Time to Hang Feeders

  • Ruby-throated hummingbirds migrate from their nesting range in the eastern half of the United States and southern Canada to their winter range along the Gulf Coast from Texas and Florida south to Mexico. Many individuals fly nonstop over the Gulf of Mexico to winter in Central America all the way to Panama. The first arrivals return in late March to southern Missouri, and by late April they are statewide. Fall migration begins in August and most hummingbirds will leave Missouri by early October.
  • You can encourage these fascinating summer visitors to visit your yard or garden by hanging nectar feeders and planting nectar-producing plants.
  • The best food sources are Missouri’s native plants, which supply hummingbirds with the nutrient-rich nectar that can provide up to 90 percent of their diet. Ruby-throated hummingbirds especially frequent red or orange tubular flowers, such as trumpet creeper, native honeysuckles, and red buckeye.
  • For immediate gratification (yours and the birds’), fill nectar feeders with a sugar solution, and hang them where you can see them from inside your house.
  • Choose feeders with bee or wasp guards, which are plastic mesh covers that prevent insects from reaching the nectar.
  • Make nectar from a mixture of 1 part white table sugar dissolved in 3 or 4 parts water. Never use honey or artificial sweeteners. White table sugar, or sucrose, is crystalized cane or beet sugar.
  • Most hummingbirds know what nectar feeders are because people from
  • Quebec to Panama feed them throughout the year. Red food coloring is not needed to attract hummingbirds.
  • Be sure to clean the feeder with only hot water to reduce the growth of bacteria, which can sicken hummingbirds. Change the nectar weekly or more often if it becomes cloudy.
  • For more information about attracting hummingbirds, including the kinds of hummingbirds that visit our state and the list of native plants they prefer, visit

This Issue's Staff

Editor In Chief - Nichole LeClair Terrill
Editor - Angie Daly Morfeld
Art Director - Cliff White
Staff Writer/Editor - Bonnie Chasteen
Staff Writer - Heather Feeler
Photographer - Noppadol Paothong
Photographer - David Stonner
Designer - Stephanie Thurber
Circulation - Laura Scheuler