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From Missouri Conservationist: Feb 2016

By Kristie Hilgedick

Heavy Rains Cause Flooding Across Missouri

Heavy rains and flash flooding that paralyzed much of the state in late December also affected the Department of Conservation.

In the southwest and Ozark regions, conservation agents performed several swift-water rescues while assisting local and state law enforcement officers. One vehicle was flooded and a swift-water rescue boat also was damaged. The George O. White State Tree Nursery suffered losses when parts of the nursery’s field beds were submerged.

Across the state, several conservation areas closed due to high water and road damage. Peck Ranch, Caney Mountain, and Drury-Mincy conservation areas were closed in response to flash flooding. Although most of the major waterfowl areas in northern Missouri were spared the worst of the storm, Schell-Osage Conservation Area was almost completely flooded.

But the state’s fisheries bore the brunt of the storm. Staff at the state’s five coldwater hatcheries worked around the clock to keep the trout alive. At Maramec Spring Fish Hatchery, the dam surrounding the spring was breached. Three employees at Roaring River Fish Hatchery were unable to leave due to high water blocking the hatchery complex. At Shepherd of the Hills Fish Hatchery where releases from Table Rock Lake were at record levels, floodwaters approached the base of the brown trout building. And at Bennett Spring Fish Hatchery, the Niangua River rose so high that the entire complex was flooded.

“Instead of having multiple production pools, we had one large pool,” Fisheries Field Operations Chief Bruce Drecktrah explained.

Several steps taken before the flooding occurred likely saved thousands of fish. At Montauk Hatchery, a recirculation system — which allows hatchery staff to block out debris-laden riverwater, while still maintaining flow — helped prevent losses, Drecktrah said. And at Maramec Spring Hatchery, screen covers kept fish in the raceways, even when they were overflowing their banks.

According to the Missouri Climate Center, 2015 was the fourth wettest on record with an average statewide annual total precipitation of just over 55 inches.

New Permit System to Launch

A new permit system designed to help outdoor enthusiasts purchase hunting and fishing permits with ease and speed is slated to launch by this summer.

“This new system will allow easy, online access for the purchase of permits, anytime and anywhere,” said Permit Services Supervisor Greg Jones, who retired in December.

The system serves more than 1 million customers and works with the assistance of approximately 1,000 retailers across the state.

The new system is expected to make the permitting process more convenient for permit buyers, waste less paper, and save the state money.

As part of the implementation process, the Department eliminated the $1 convenience fee formerly charged by the vendor to customers who bought their permits online. A $2 convenience fee for phone sales will remain.

Regardless of where a customer purchases a permit, each document will look the same statewide, Jones added. The new system also allows vendors to condense up to three permits on the same page, eliminating paper waste and bulk. Similar technology has been tested and embraced elsewhere, Jones said.

“Permit sales are a very important function of the Department, and we’ve carefully worked with vendors on the new system,” Jones said.

The contract was awarded to a company with Missouri ties and will be managed in state. The close-to-home contract will also lower annual costs for the Department due to reduced maintenance and equipment costs.

Report All Sightings of Feral Hogs

The Department continues to work with elected officials, community groups, partner agencies, and landowners to raise awareness of feral hogs and eradicate them from the landscape.

Experience gleaned from other states and trends in Missouri show hunting does not help to eradicate hogs. Instead, hunting results in expanded populations. Hunting and shooting scatters groups of hogs, or sounders, whereas eradication efforts, like trapping, can eliminate an entire sounder at once. Feral hogs have a high reproductive rate. Sows can have up to two litters every 12–18 months with an average of six piglets per litter, so elimination of entire sounders is necessary.

Eradication efforts, such as trapping, have increased this year, and citizens are asked to report feral hog sightings or damage as soon as possible.

“Feral hogs destroy habitat, eat wildlife, compete with native animals for food, degrade our water quality, and spread disease,” explained Wildlife Regional Supervisor Matt Bowyer. ”We ask Missourians to partner with the Department to ensure we reduce that destruction by reporting all sightings of feral hogs so we can work together to remove the threat.”

Reynolds County landowner Don Kory and his family have trapped more than 190 feral hogs on their property with the help of the Department and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Kory said landowners who haven’t yet experienced feral hogs on their property sometimes don’t understand the damage the animals cause. But after years of trapping and responding to the wreckage they leave behind, he knows the situation all too well.

“It seems many people think it would just be great fun to have ‘wild boars’ on your property to hunt,” he said. “But if you are a landowner, I say be happy if you never see a feral pig.”

To gain ground in the feral hog fight, people must stop hunting hogs and start reporting them, Bowyer said. Other states, such as Tennessee, Michigan, and Kansas, have experienced success by using this strategy.

“Feral hogs are highly adaptable and easily avoid trapping efforts when hunters encroach into their occupied area,” explained Bowyer. “We’re learning that hog hunting actually increases the spread of populations and pushes them into new territories, making their movements less predictable.”

Bowyer asks anyone who encounters a feral hog to report the sighting to 573-522-4115, ext. 3296. Those who witness illegal release of hogs should immediately contact their local conservation agent or report it to Operation Game Thief at 1-800-392-1111. For more information about feral hog eradication efforts, visit

New Opportunities for Outdoor Recreation

The Missouri Outdoor Recreational Access Program (MRAP), an initiative piloted by the Department last fall, provides landowners an opportunity to generate extra income by opening their property to the public for fish and wildlife related recreational activities. In addition, special incentives are available to enhance wildlife habitat on MRAP properties.

Seven northeast and southeast counties were included in the pilot, and approximately 1,500 acres were enrolled in the program.

This summer, the Department will use federal funds from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Voluntary Public Access and Habitat Incentive Program, along with Department funding, to expand the program. To be eligible, sites must have 40 contiguous acres and meet certain standards for quality wildlife habitat. The exception is land offered for fishing access, which is not subject to the minimum acreage and habitat requirements.

Annual payment rates will be determined by the type of access provided by the landowner, amount of quality habitat available, and other factors. Most landowners can expect to earn $15 to $25 per acre each year that they participate.

Examples of quality habitat targeted by MRAP include native grass fields, wildlife-friendly field buffers, restored wetlands, enhanced woodlands, and old fields. Upon enrollment, landowners will be able to choose how their land will be used.

The options include:

  • All-access hunting and fishing
  • Small game and turkey hunting
  • Youth-only hunting and fishing
  • Archery hunting
  • Fishing
  • Wildlife viewing

All MRAP lands will be open to foot traffic only, and area users must self-register at designated property entry points. Unless otherwise agreed upon by the landowner, parking will occur along roadsides, and public access will only be for the uses and activities agreed upon by the landowner.

For those who have concerns about liability, Missouri’s Recreational Use Immunity Law offers liability protection to participating landowners.

For more information, visit There you can find property enrollment information for landowners, area rules and procedures, and maps of enrolled properties. Landowners interested in participating should contact their local private land conservationist or MRAP Manager Jeff Esely at

Department Sets Deer and Turkey Hunting Dates and Regulation Changes for the 2016-2017 Season

The Missouri Conservation Commission in December approved staff recommendations for the 2016-2017 deer hunting and 2016 turkey hunting seasons.

The recommendations established season dates, changed the allowed methods for both deer and turkey hunting, and altered the deer season structure.

Spring Turkey Hunting Dates
  • Spring Youth Portion: April 9–10, 2016
  • Spring Turkey Season: April 18–May 8, 2016 Fall Deer and Turkey Hunting Dates
  • Archery Deer and Turkey: Sept. 15–Nov. 11, 2016 and Nov. 23, 2016–Jan. 15, 2017
  • Firearms Turkey: Oct. 1–31, 2016
  • Firearms Deer Early Youth Portion: Oct. 29–30, 2016
  • Firearms Deer November Portion: Nov. 12–22, 2016
  • Firearms Deer Antlerless Portion: Dec. 2–4, 2016
  • Firearms Deer Alternative Methods Portion: Dec. 24, 2016–Jan. 3, 2017
  • Firearms Deer Late Youth Portion: Nov. 25–27, 2016

Deer and Turkey Hunting Regulation Changes

The Commission approved the following regulations regarding deer and turkey hunting:

  • Move and expand the late youth portion of the firearms deer season to three days, beginning the first Friday after Thanksgiving.
  • Reduce the length of the antlerless portion of the firearms deer season from 12 to three days and begin it on the first Friday in December.
  • Eliminate the urban-zones portion of the firearms deer season.
  • Allow crossbows as a legal method during archery deer and turkey seasons.
  • Allow the use of crossbows during the fall firearms turkey season.
  • Remove the hunting method exemption requirement related to crossbows during the archery deer and turkey season.
  • Reduce the limit of antlered deer from three to two during the combined archery and firearms deer hunting season, with no more than one antlered deer taken during the firearms deer hunting season.

The regulations will become effective March 2016.

The Commission initially approved the deer hunting regulations at its August 2015 public meeting followed by a public comment period.

Changes to the deer hunting season structure and methods come after Department efforts over the past 18 months to gather public input. That public input included hunter and landowner surveys, numerous public open houses around the state, community presentations, media communications, information in various Department publications, discussions with conservation partner organizations, and other efforts.

The approved recommendations were based on the Department’s use of deer population simulations, biological data, and harvest information.

“The goal of the Conservation Department’s deer management program is to use research based wildlife management combined with public input to maintain deer population levels throughout the state that provide quality recreational opportunities while minimizing human deer conflicts,” said Wildlife Division Chief Jason Sumners. “As deer populations in Missouri have changed over the past 75 years, so have our management strategies. In modifying the hunting season structure, our aim is to achieve a deer population that is biologically and socially acceptable, while also promoting hunter participation, recruitment, and retention.”

For more information on deer and turkey hunting, visit and click on the Hunting/Trapping menu.

Sign up for a Spring Managed Turkey Hunt

Missouri youth, archery, and firearms turkey hunters can apply online for managed hunts during the 2016 spring turkey season. The signup period ends Feb. 29.

Details and application procedures for the managed hunts are outlined on the Department’s web site at Application results will be available beginning March 14.

More information on spring turkey hunting can be found in the Department’s 2016 Spring Turkey Hunting Regulations and Information booklet, available by early February at Printed booklets will be available from permit vendors, Department offices, and nature centers by mid-February.

What Is It?

Turkey Vulture | Cathartes aura

They hold their wings in a V position when soaring, and they frequently tilt from side to side when in the air. They are especially fond of bluffs, where they can catch rising warm air currents. These raptors roost in large colonies, generally in large, bare trees. Breeding occurs in spring, and turkey vultures lay eggs in caves, cliffs, crevices, hollow trees, or brushy thickets. There are usually two chicks per clutch. The helpless young hatch in 30–40 days and are fed by the parents for 10–11 weeks. Families stay together until fall. Turkey vultures forage individually and are highly specialized carrion feeders, locating their food by smell as well as by sight. They are often attracted to road-killed carcasses. As scavengers, turkey vultures perform a valuable service by cleaning up the woods, grasslands, and roadsides.

—photograph by Noppadol Paothong

Conservation Commission Actions

The December Commission meeting featured presentations and discussions regarding the

Agricultural Crop Program, the Missouri Deer Survey Program, a report of the regulations committee, recommendations for the 2016–2017 fall deer/turkey season structure, methods, and limits, 2016 Missouri wild turkey hunting regulation recommendations, upcoming waterfowl/hunter public engagement meetings, major construction projects status report, 2016 permit system vendor changes, and information technology projects status report. A summary of actions taken during the Dec. 10–11 meeting for the benefit and protection of fish, forests, and wildlife and the citizens who enjoy them includes:

  • Recognized Conservation Agents Brian Ham, Doug Yeager, Adam Bracken, and
  • Matthew Bryant (2015 Department Pistol Team) for awards received at the National Police Shooting Championships.
  • Recognized two work teams as recipients of the 2015 Department Workforce Diversity
  • Award. Team members are: Conservation Agents Chris Campbell, Tammy Pierson,
  • Marsha Jones, Chris Decoske, Brian Bartlett, Adam Doerhoff, Becky Robertson, Kearby
  • Bridges, Christa Cox, Alan Lamb, Lexis Riter, Kevin Powell, and Protection Supervisor
  • Jerry Elliott.
  • Recognized the 2015 Missouri 4-H Shooting Sports State Team for Top Overall Honors at the 4-H Shooting Sports National Championships. Representatives of the 36-member team in attendance were: Dalton Fisher, Nichole Gann, Seiler Johnson, Stewart McCollum, Cole Sandbothe, Leanna Schwartze, Jake Tanner, Levi Walker, and Hunter Weller.
  • Recognized Stewart McCollum as the Top Overall Individual in the Senior Division at the 2015 NRA International Youth Hunter Education Challenge.
  • Approved final recommendations for 2016–2017 fall deer/turkey season structure, methods, and limits.
  • Approved 2016 Missouri wild turkey hunting season regulation recommendations.
  • Approved recommendations for changes to the Wildlife Code of Missouri to limit the spread of Chronic Wasting Disease.
  • Approved entering into a contract for acquiring LiDAR and aerial photogrammetry of 34 conservation areas.
  • Approved an amendment to the negotiated agreement for design of the new Grand River Pump Station at Fountain Grove Conservation Area (CA) in Livingston County.
  • Approved an increase to the permit vendor commission rate effective upon implementation of the new electronic permit system.
  • Approved the exchange of 16 acres of Angeline CA in Shannon County for 9 acres in Shannon County as an addition to Angeline CA.
  • Approved the purchase of 14.69 acres in Jefferson County as an addition to Myron and Sonya Glassberg Family CA.
  • Approved the 2014–2015 annual report for the Department of Conservation.

The next Conservation Commission meeting is March 10 and 11. For more information, visit or call your regional Conservation office (phone numbers on Page 3).

Did You Know?

We work with you and for you to sustain healthy fish, forests, and wildlife

Community Tree Care Programs

The Missouri Department of Conservation offers cost-share, help, and recognition for community tree care through several programs. Efforts for 2015 include the following:

  • Awarded more than 48 Missouri communities $496,003 in cost-share assistance that leveraged $362,965 in local matching funds for tree inventory and maintenance through the Tree Resource Improvement and Maintenance (TRIM) program.
  • Recognized 87 Missouri municipalities as Tree City USA communities last year. This program is run in partnership with the Arbor Day Foundation.
  • Recognized seven colleges and universities as Tree Campus USA institutions. This program is run in partnership with the Arbor Day Foundation. Each institution has a campus tree advisory committee, a campus tree care plan, dedicated funding, provides an opportunity to engage the student population with projects related to trees, and celebrates Arbor Day.
  • Recognized 11 Missouri utility providers as TreeLine USA companies for their tree-care efforts. The Conservation Department and Arbor Day Foundation jointly run this program.
  • Recognized four entities including a county, an individual, a business, and an organization through the Missouri Arbor Award of Excellence program. The Conservation Department and the Missouri Community Forestry Council co-sponsor this program.

To learn more about and participate in the Conservation Department’s community tree care programs, visit

This Issue's Staff

Editor - Angie Daly Morfeld
Art Director - Cliff White
Associate Editor - Bonnie Chasteen
Staff Writer - Heather Feeler
Staff Writer - Kristie Hilgedick
Staff Writer - Joe Jerek
Photographer - Noppadol Paothong
Photographer - David Stonner
Designer - Les Fortenberry
Designer - Marci Porter
Designer - Stephanie Thurber
Circulation - Laura Scheuler