In Brief

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From Missouri Conservationist: October 2017

News and updates from MDC

Chronic wasting disease has the potential to greatly reduce deer numbers and deer hunting over time for Missouri’s .5 million deer hunters and almost 2 million wildlife watchers.

Deer Hunters: We Need Your Help

To keep chronic wasting disease (CWD) from spreading to more deer in more areas of Missouri, we need to find where it already exists.

Hunters who harvest deer in any of the 25 counties in the CWD Management Zone during the opening weekend of the fall firearms deer season (Nov. 11 and 12) must present their harvested deer at one of 56 CWD sampling stations.

Department staff will collect tissue samples to test the animals for CWD.

Counties where mandatory testing will occur include: Adair, Barry, Benton, Cedar, Cole, Crawford, Dade, Franklin, Hickory, Jefferson, Knox, Linn, Macon, Moniteau, Ozark, Polk, St. Charles, St. Clair, St. Francois, Ste. Genevieve, Stone, Sullivan, Taney, Warren, and Washington.

We also are offering voluntary CWD sampling opportunities throughout the deer season at more than 50 participating taxidermists and at designated MDC offices in and around the CWD Management Zone.

Find sampling stations and get more information on CWD in our 2017 Fall Deer & Turkey Hunting Regulations and Information booklet, available where permits are sold and online at

What is it?

What is it?

Can you guess this month’s natural wonder?


Got a Question for Ask MDC? Send it to or call 573-522-4115, ext. 3848.

Q: Last summer, I had seven baby owls that kept jumping out of the nest, with no sign of adults. If this happens again, what should I do?

A: The mother may have abandoned the nest. That happens sometimes. However, to avoid attracting predators, female birds do not sit on the nest 100 percent of the time, so the possibility exists that the mother is still tending to her young. It’s also possible the birds are fledglings, and leaving the nest is what they do. They sometimes rest on the ground as they figure out how to fly, making them vulnerable.

According to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, usually there is no reason to intervene. The parents may be tending to four or five young scattered in different directions, but they will return to care for them. You can watch from a distance to make sure the parents are returning to care for the fledglings.

The real answer to your question is let nature take its course.

Q: I usually see one or two bats flying around at night, but I want to attract more of them. Do bat houses actually attract bats? And, where can I get plans to build one?

A: Location, temperature, and design are the key factors that attract bats to a bat house, according to Kathryn Womack, resource scientist.

Wherever bats live, they must find enough insects to eat, which explains their preference for roosts near aquatic habitats. And if you live near a cave or mine? Bonus points!
Known as “The Cave State,” Missouri is home to 14 kinds of bats, all of which feed exclusively on flying insects, including agricultural pests and mosquitos. Because insects are not available as food during winter, bats survive Missouri’s cold winter months by hibernating or migrating to warmer locales.

Unfortunately, many bat populations are declining at alarming rates, in part due to white-nose syndrome, a fungal disease that affects bats during hibernation.

Bat houses help by giving these mammals protected places to roost the rest of the year. For bat house plans and information, visit

Q: What kind of mushroom is this?

A: This appears to be one of the jelly fungi, possibly Dacryopinax spathularia, known for its fan- or spatula-shaped appearance. It tends to form dense rows as it fruits through cracks in wood.

A diverse and complicated group, jelly fungi are translucent, irregular blobs that look and feel like jelly or rubber. They may have short stalks and grow mostly on wood, but can
sometimes be found on the
ground. A few jellies are edible.

Some jelly fungi have appealing colors and amusing names — such as the bright yellow witches’ butter (Tremella mesenterica), a mushroom that resembles the one pictured here, but reproduces differently.

Agent Advice from Jeremy Edwards, Dade County Conservation Agent

With firearms deer season a little more than a month away, many hunters have visions of white-tailed deer dancing in their heads. Before the season arrives, be ready to safely pursue the deer of your dreams. A deer hunter’s safety checklist should include the following:

  • An operational deer rifle that has been sighted in.
  • Appropriate clothing to suit the unpredictable Missouri weather.
  • A hunting plan, left at home or at deer camp, that contains your hunting location, your contact information, the names of people in your hunting party, if applicable, and when you expect to return.
  • A tree stand that has been properly secured, and a harness system to prevent accidental falls. Remember, always enter and exit your tree stand with an unloaded firearm.

Permits are available now, so buy them early. They are available through the MO Hunting app, at local vendors, or online at

What Is It?

Eastern Hog-Nosed Snake

The eastern hog-nosed snake (Heterodon platirhinos) may range in color, but this medium sized snake has one distinctive feature — its up-turned snout. When approached, this harmless snake can hiss loudly and spread its head and neck like a cobra. It may even “strike” — though it does so with its mouth closed. If this defense fails to ward off an enemy, the snake may thrash around, open its mouth, roll over, and play dead.

Crappie Française

Try this recipe for fresh crappie seasoned with lemon and herbs in a delicate mushroom sauce.
Serves 3–4

  • 8–12 crappie, filleted
  • 2 cups flour
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 Tbsp. chopped parsley
  • 1–2 lemons
  • 1 Tbsp. chopped oregano
  • 1 stick butter
  • ½ tsp. black pepper
  • 1 tsp. garlic salt
  • 2 cups fresh morels or button mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 cup white wine

MIX herbs and spices with flour, and roll fillets with herbed flour in a plastic bag until coated.

DIP coated fillets in beaten eggs. Lightly fry fish in 3–5 tablespoons hot oil in large pan or skillet. Turn once.
REDUCE heat and add butter, wine, mushrooms, and juice of ½ lemon. Cover and simmer 10–15 minutes until mushrooms are soft. GARNISH with lemon slices.

Watch a video for this recipe at

Natural Events Calendar Available

Discover nature every day, all year long with our 2018 Natural Events Calendar — on sale now for $9 plus tax.

The annual offering features stunning nature photography and daily notes about wild happenings. The perennially popular calendar measures 10 by 14 inches folded and 20 by 14 open. Along with amazing images of native animals, plants, and places, it also includes phases of the moon, numerous holidays and days of recognition, daily notes about natural events, and more.

Buy your copies of the calendar at MDC nature centers and regional offices, or call toll-free 1-877-521-8632. You can also order online at

This Issue's Staff

Editor - Angie Daly Morfeld

Associate Editor - Bonnie Chasteen

Staff Writer - Larry Archer
Staff Writer - Heather Feeler
Staff Writer - Kristie Hilgedick
Staff Writer - Joe Jerek

Creative Director - Stephanie Thurber

Art Director - Cliff White

Designer - Les Fortenberry
Designer - Marci Porter

Photographer - Noppadol Paothong
Photographer - David Stonner

Circulation - Laura Scheuler