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From Missouri Conservationist: April 2017

By Joe Jerek

Did You Know?

Missouri forests cover about one-third of the state and provide outdoor recreation, wildlife habitat, natural beauty, and watersheds for streams and rivers. Missouri forests also provide employment for more than 44,000 people who convert trees into essential products. Get more information at

Celebrate Missouri Trees During Arbor Days

The Missouri Department of Conservation encourages Missourians to celebrate the value of Missouri trees and forests during Arbor Days in April by planting native trees and practicing proper tree care.

Missouri Arbor Day is Friday, April 7. Missouri has been observing the state’s official Arbor Day on the first Friday in April since 1886 when the general assembly declared that day be set aside for the appreciation and planting of trees. National Arbor Day is recognized on the last Friday of April, which is April 28.

Find information on backyard tree care — including types of trees for urban and other landscapes, selecting the right tree for the right place, planting tips, watering and pruning info, and more — at

MDC’s George O. White State Forest Nursery near Licking offers Missouri residents a variety of low-cost native tree and shrub seedlings for reforestation, windbreaks, erosion control, and wildlife food and cover. Orders are accepted from Nov. 1 to April 15 every year. For more information, visit

Communities around the state also hold local Arbor Day activities. For more information on Arbor Day and Missouri’s Tree City USA communities, visit the Arbor Day Foundation at

Spring Turkey Hunting

Missouri spring turkey season starts with the youth portion April 8 and 9, followed by the regular portion April 17 through May 7. Find details on hunting regulations, harvest limits, allowed methods, required permits, and other related information in the 2017 Spring Turkey Hunting Regulations and Information booklet, available where permits are sold. Get more information on turkey hunting at

Buy Missouri hunting permits from vendors around the state; through MDC’s free mobile apps, MO Hunting and MO Fishing, available for download through Google Play for Android devices or the App Store for Apple devices; or online at

MDC Offers New Permit Card

Beginning April 1, MDC will offer Missouri hunters, anglers, and trappers its new permit card.

The new plastic cards are another alternative to MDC’s paper and electronic permits. As new permits are purchased and old ones expire, the updated information is automatically accessible through the one-time-purchase cards. Conservation agents can scan users’ cards to verify active permits. Cardholders can verify their active permits online at, through permit vendors around the state, through MDC’s MO Hunting or MO Fishing mobile apps, or by contacting an MDC office.

Choose from four nature-inspired background images: bass, buck, mallard duck, or bluebird. Permit users can buy the new permits cards for a one-time fee of $2 online at buypermits, from permit vendors around the state, or through the MDC MO Hunting and MO Fishing free mobile apps. Buyers will get a confirmation document at the time of purchase and the plastic permit card will be mailed.

Because of permit-notching and Telecheck requirements for deer and turkey hunting, the new card cannot be used for deer and turkey hunting permits. The new card cannot be used as proof of daily trout tags at trout parks, so anglers will still need to purchase and wear their daily trout tags. The new permit card cannot be used to show possession of a federal duck stamp, so waterfowl hunters must still carry the document verifying the purchase of a federal duck stamp or the actual stamp. The new permit cards do not replace commercial permits and lifetime permits, which must be purchased through MDC’s Permit Services Unit by calling 573-751-4115.

The new card replaces the existing Heritage Card, and Heritage Cards will no longer be issued. Existing Heritage Cards will still be valid for hunter-education verification, purchasing permits, and discounts, but will not be legal as a permit. As with the MDC Heritage Card, permit cardholders receive a 15 percent discount on merchandise purchased at MDC facilities and online at MDC Hunter Education graduates will receive permit cards instead of the discontinued Heritage Card.

MDC and CFM Thank Hunters for Sharing the Harvest

MDC and the Conservation Federation of Missouri (CFM) thank the 4,280 Missouri deer hunters who donated 198,277 pounds of venison to the state’s Share the Harvest program this past deer season. The donated deer meat will help feed hungry Missourians all across the state.

Share the Harvest is coordinated by MDC and CFM. Deer hunters donate their extra venison to participating meat processors who grind the deer meat into 1 pound packages. The packaged venison is then given to food banks and food pantries for distribution to Missourians in need of food assistance. Since the program was started in 1992, Share the Harvest has provided about 3.7 million pounds of lean, healthy venison to hungry Missourians.

Processing fees are covered entirely or in part by local and statewide sponsors, including MDC, CFM, Shelter Insurance, Bass Pro Shops, Missouri Chapter of Safari Club International, Missouri State Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation, Midway USA, Inc., Missouri Food Banks Association, United Bowhunters of Missouri, Missouri Trappers Association, Missouri Hunter Education Instructors Association, and the Walmart Foundation.

For more information on Share the Harvest, visit

Help Prevent Wildfires

MDC reminds people that a combination of strong winds, low humidity, dry conditions, and warming temperatures this time of year increases the potential for unexpected wildfires. According to MDC’s Forestry Division, the main cause of wildfires is improper burning of debris such as trash and brush piles.

Each year, MDC staff work with fire departments around the state to help suppress numerous wildfires that can consume thousands of acres. The department urges landowners, hunters, campers, and others in the outdoors to help prevent wildfires and offers the following tips.

Outdoor Burning

  • Do not conduct outdoor burning during times when grasses, brush, and other fire fuel are very dry, humidity is low, and weather is windy. Dry fuel — combined with high temperatures, low humidity, and high winds — makes fire nearly impossible to control.
  • Check with local fire departments regarding local burn ordinances or burn bans that may be in place.
  • A person who starts a fire for any reason is responsible for the damage it may cause.
  • Done properly, prescribed fire can be a beneficial tool to improve land for wildlife habitat and grazing. For more information on using prescribed fire as a land-management tool, visit

Driving Off Road

  • Wildfires can start when fine, dry fuel such as grass comes in contact with catalytic converters on motor vehicles.
  • Think twice before driving into and across a grassy field.
  • Never park over tall, dry grass or piles of leaves that can touch the underside of a vehicle.
  • When driving vehicles off road, regularly inspect the undercarriage to ensure that fuel and brake lines are intact and no oil leaks are apparent.
  • Always carry an approved fire extinguisher on vehicles that are used off road.
  • Check for the presence of spark arresters on ATV exhausts.

Making a Campfire

  • Clear a generous zone around fire rings. When humidity is low and wind is high, debris can become tinder for a stray spark or ember.
  • Store unused firewood a good distance from the fire.
  • Never use gasoline, kerosene, or other flammable liquid to start a fire.
  • Keep campfires small and controllable.
  • Keep fire-extinguishing materials, such as a rake, shovel, and bucket of water, close by.
  • Never leave a campfire unattended! Extinguish campfires each night and before leaving camp, even for a few moments.

Smokers: Practice Extra Caution

  • Extinguish cigarettes completely and safely and dispose of butts responsibly.

Don’t Delay Calling for Help

  • Call 911 at the first sign of a fire getting out of control.

Report Forest Arson

  • Many wildfires are set by vandals.
  • Help stop arson by calling Operation Forest Arson at 800-392-1111. Callers will remain anonymous and rewards are possible. For more information on preventing wildfires, go online to
  • Support for Volunteer Fire Departments In cooperation with the U.S. Forest Service, MDC provided more than $344,000 in grants to 158 volunteer fire departments last year for protective clothing, equipment, and training.
  • MDC also obtained more than $4 million in equipment from federal government programs for volunteer fire departments and provided wildfire-suppression training to more than 400 Missouri firefighters.

Conservation Commission Actions

The February Commission meeting featured presentations and discussions regarding permit cards, the Enterprise GIS and Infrastructure Asset Management System, forest management on conservation areas, Fiscal Year 2017 mid-year review of revenue and expenditure trends, shooting ranges and the hunter education program, and Design and Development Division report. A summary of actions taken during the Feb. 16–17 meeting for the benefit and protection of fish, forests, and wildlife, and the citizens who enjoy them includes:

  • Recognized the department’s Waterfowl Managed Hunt System team for receiving the 2016 Innovation Award from the Organization of Fish and Wildlife Information Managers for their development of MDC’s new Waterfowl Managed Hunt System.
  • Approved plans for 80th Anniversary Open House Forums to provide opportunities for public engagement.
  • Approved recommendations for regulation changes identified during the annual review of the Wildlife Code of Missouri.
  • Rejected bids received for construction of the Shepherd of the Hills Fish Hatchery Conservation Center Replacement and Storage Buildings Improvements Project in Taney County.
  • Approved the purchase of 280 acres in Shannon County as an addition to Sunklands Conservation Area (CA).
  • Approved the purchase of 671 acres in Dallas County as a new conservation area.
  • Approved the sale of 4.5 acres of Neosho Towersite in Newton County.
  • Approved the donation of 80 acres in Buchanan County as a new conservation area.
  • Approved the exchange of 13 acres of Flight Lake CA located in Vernon County for a 13-acre tract in Vernon County as an addition to Flight Lake CA. The next Conservation Commission meeting is April 5–7. For more information, visit or call your regional Conservation office. To watch a Commission meeting via Livestream, visit

What Is It?

American Bullfrog | Lithobates catesbeianus

American bullfrogs, Missouri’s largest and most aquatic species of frog, range in color from green to olive to brown. The average size is 3 to 6 inches, but they have been known to reach 8 inches. Their call is a deep, sonorous “jug-a-rum, jug-a-rum” that can be heard from half a mile away or more. Found statewide, they spend most of their time in or near lakes, ponds, rivers, large creeks, sloughs, and permanent swamps or marshes. The size and age of a frog, the season, and the type of habitat influence their diet. In general, foods include insects, spiders, crayfish, fish, amphibians, birds, and even small mammals. Bullfrogs commonly eat other frogs, and they don’t hesitate to eat their own kind. Bullfrogs are active from late March to October, and overwinter by burrowing in the mud of rivers or ponds. Breeding is in mid-May to early July, at which time males become territorial and physically aggressive with each other. Eggs are laid in shallow water in a wide, floating mass. Females can lay over 20,000 eggs per clutch, which hatch in 4–5 days. Tadpoles turn into froglets in about 11–14 months, but adult size isn’t reached for another 2–3 years. —photograph by Noppadol Paothong

Did You Know?

We help people discover nature.

It’s Morel Season

In mid-April, Missouri’s most popular mushroom, the morel, begins popping up on forest floors. Hunting these distinctive, delicious fungi is a great way to explore nature and deepen connections with friends, family, and Missouri’s culinary heritage.

If you’re new at hunting morels, play it safe. Tag along with an experienced mushroom hunter, who can show you the difference between morels and their poisonous cousins, such as amanitas and false morels.

We also recommend carrying a good field guide, like Missouri’s Wild Mushrooms. This full-color guide features photographs and detailed descriptions of 102 mushroom species. Buy it at any MDC regional office or nature center. Or order it online for $14, plus tax and shipping, at

When to Hunt Morels

  • Mid-April to mid-May (in northern Missouri)
  • The day following a warm rain
  • When the average daily temperature climbs into the 50s

Where to Hunt Morels Best locations are moist woods, river bottoms, and south-facing slopes early in the season and on north-facing slopes later on. Morels are often found near elm trees — the older the better, and recently dead is the best. Also check near ash, basswood, or cherry trees. Look in old orchards, burned areas, and recently logged areas. Most public lands allow mushroom collecting for personal consumption (noncommercial purposes), and no permit is required. In general, conservation areas allow mushroom collecting, although several nature centers and MDC headquarters in Jefferson City do not. Before you travel, check area rules at

What to Look For A thimble-shaped, deeply dimpled fungus varying in color from gray to tan to yellow. Morels average 3–4 inches tall, but they can become quite large — up to a foot tall. The caps of true morels are attached to the stem, and the whole mushroom is hollow from top to bottom.

ID, Prepare, Taste, and Enjoy Never eat a wild mushroom unless you’re certain of its identity. Always cook wild mushrooms before tasting them. Slice morels in half, clean, and soak overnight in salt water. Rinse well and drain, and then sauté lightly with olive oil or butter. Find more mushroom recipes at

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