In Brief

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From Missouri Conservationist: December 2017

What Is It?

Can you guess this month’s natural wonder?

What is it 01

News and updates from MDC

Discover Nature Through Eagle Days

From December through February, Missouri’s eagle watching is spectacular.

Because of the state’s big rivers, many lakes, and abundant wetlands, Missouri is one of the leading lower 48 states for bald eagle viewing. Each fall, thousands of these great birds migrate south from their nesting range in Canada and the Great Lakes states to hunt in the Show-Me State. Eagles take up residence wherever they find open water and plentiful food.

MDC’s Eagle Days events include live captive-eagle programs, exhibits, activities, videos, and guides with spotting scopes. Watch for eagles perched in large trees along the water’s edge. View them early in the morning to see eagles flying and fishing. Be sure to dress for winter weather and don’t forget cameras and binoculars.

  • Mound City: Dec. 2 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Dec. 3 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Loess Bluffs National Wildlife Refuge. Call 816-271-3100 for more information.
  • Kansas City: Jan. 6 from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. and Jan. 7 from 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at Smithville Lake Paradise Pointe Golf Course Clubhouse. Call 816-532-0174 for more information.
  • St. Louis: Jan. 13 and 14 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Old Chain of Rocks Bridge south of I-270 off Riverview Drive. Call 314-877-6014 for more information.
  • Springfield: Jan. 20 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Jan. 21 from 12:30 to 4:30 p.m. at Springfield Conservation Nature Center. Call 417-888-4237 for more information.
  • Jefferson City: Jan. 27 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Runge Conservation
  • Nature Center. Call 573-526-5544 for more information.
  • Clarksville: Jan. 27 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Jan. 28 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Lock and Dam 24 and Apple Shed Theater. Call 660-785-2420 for more information.
  • Schell City: Feb. 3 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Schell City Community Center and Schell Osage Conservation Area. Call 417-876-5226 for more information.

Can’t make an Eagle Days event? Other hot spots for winter eagle viewing on your own include:

  • Lake of the Ozarks at Bagnell Dam Access, east of Bagnell
  • Eagle Bluffs Conservation Area on Route K, southwest of Columbia
  • Lock & Dam 20, Canton
  • Lock & Dam 24 at Clarksville
  • Lock & Dam 25, east of Winfield
  • Mingo National Wildlife Refuge, northwest of Puxico
  • Old Chain of Rocks Bridge, south of I-270, off of Riverview Drive, St. Louis Riverlands Environmental Demonstration Area, east of West Alton
  • Schell-Osage Conservation Area, north of El Dorado Springs
  • Smithville Lake, north of Kansas City
  • Loess Bluffs National Wildlife Refuge, south of Mound City
  • Stella at Moses Eagle Park
  • Swan Lake National Wildlife Refuge, south of Sumner
  • Table Rock Lake and Shepherd of the Hills Fish Hatchery, southwest of Branson
  • Truman Reservoir, west of Warsaw

For more information, visit

Got a Question for Ask MDC?

Send it to or call 573-522-4115, ext. 3848.

Q. Recently a red fox started visiting all day. I think he may have mange; he just sits and scratches. Is there a chance he could transmit this disease to my two dachshunds?

A. It does sound like you have encountered a fox with mange.

Mange — a class of skin diseases caused by parasitic mites that embed themselves in the skin or hair follicles — is a very real health concern for foxes and coyotes. Since providing veterinary care to wildlife would alter their lifespans, we typically recommend allowing nature to take its course. Depending on the type of mange, the animal may recover if it can continue to find adequate food.

Mange can be transmitted to dogs. If you are concerned about domestic animals contracting this canine’s disease, we recommend keeping your pets away from this fox and limiting its access to garbage and pet food. Feeding wild animals can cause them to become dependent on humans for food, which can lead to negative interactions between humans and wildlife.

For more information, visit

Q. I’m hoping to give a lifetime fishing permit as a gift. Must I have the person’s signature? I’d like to keep it a surprise.

A. We want to help you keep it a surprise, too, so the gift-giver can sign a lifetime permit.

A great way to show a commitment to conservation, lifetime permits are available to Missouri residents only. These permits range in price from $275 to $400 for people ages 59 and younger — depending on the age of the recipient.

For people ages 60 and older, the price drops to $35. All Missouri residents age 65 or older are exempt from having to purchase fishing permits, but trout permits are still required. So a lifetime permit may still be beneficial to seniors.

The lifetime permit carries the same privileges as the resident fishing permit and the trout permit, and they are not available online or from permit vendors.

To find out how to purchase a permit, call 573-522-0107 or email

Q. At night, I often hear owls hooting and calling. How can I tell what species I’m hearing?

A. One of the joys of being a bird watcher is being a bird listener.

Owls may call at any time of the day, but they are more vocal during twilight and on moonlit nights. December is a particularly good time to listen for two of Missouri’s owls, since both great horned owls and barred owls are courting this month.

Great horned owls proclaim their territories with muted, classic in a stuttering rhythm of “hoo-h’HOO-hoo-hoo.” If you hear a duet of alternating calls between a breeding pair, the female’s voice will be higher-pitched than the male’s.

The barred owl’s series of hoots is often described as, “Who cooks for you? Who cooks for you all?” But during breeding season, they also issue a raucous combination of cackles, hoots, caws, and gurgles.

One of the easiest ways to hear an owl is to drive to a quiet place in the country away from car traffic. Open land, woodlands, forests, and forest edges where different habitats meet are good places to hear them. Owls will spend the day in the woods, but will forage at night in nearby fields.

By listening to recordings of these birds, you soon will be able to distinguish their calls. A good resource is, which features an extensive audio catalog of birds’ songs.

Agent Advice

from Benny Pryor, Regional Supervisor— Northeast Region

It’s a busy time of year in Missouri’s woods. Whatever species you prefer to hunt or method you enjoy using, Missouri has a season for you! On any given day, you may see a rabbit hunter with his dogs, a sportsman chasing squirrels from tree to tree, or a duck hunter in pursuit of a flock in mid-flight. Add to this alternative methods portion of firearms season — Dec. 23 to Jan. 2 — and you have a packed landscape. With many seasons occurring at once, safety is of utmost importance. Be mindful of your surroundings and share our wide-open spaces for a successful hunt. For more information on the alternative season, allowable methods, and valid permits, visit Page 30 of the 2017 Fall Deer & Turkey Hunting Regulations and Information booklet at For current seasons, see the Outdoor Calendar.

Invasive Species: Autumn Olive

Invasive nonnative plants consume wildlife habitat and compete with crops. Do what you can to control invasive species when you landscape, farm, hunt, fish, camp, or explore nature.

What Is It?

Also known as Japanese silverberry, autumn olive (Elaeagnus umbrellata) is a multistemmed shrub that produces light-yellow flowers and bears fruit that ripens from yellow to red. It can grow 20–25 feet tall.

Where Is It?

Recorded in 32 Missouri counties, but due to extensive planting, it’s thought to be present statewide.

Why It’s Bad

“Like many invasive plants, autumn olive has high seed production and prolific growth and is readily spread by birds. It also has nitrogen-fixing root nodules,” said Nate Muenks, habitat management coordinator. “These attributes allow it to quickly invade a variety of areas and outcompete desirable vegetation in prairies, savannas, and woodlands, as well as livestock forage pasture.”

How to Control It

Pull young seedlings and sprouts by hand in early spring. Winter is a great time to kill mature shrubs. MDC experts recommend cutting the plant off at the main stem at ground level and applying herbicide directly to the cut stump to kill the roots and prevent resprouting.

For more information about autumn olive and how to remove it, visit

  • Yellow flowers appear in April and May.
  • Prolific fruit is widely spread by birds.
  • Autumn olive grows quickly and shades out native plants.

MDC Launches Teacher Portal

Missouri teachers can find conservation-related educational resources online through MDC’s new Discover Nature Schools (DNS) Teacher Portal. The department created the website to give teachers easy access to classroom materials, grant opportunities, and interactive learning activities as well as a chance to connect with other teachers and MDC staff.

The new portal is available to Missouri teachers who participate or have an interest in DNS. The DNS program began in 2007 and provides instructional materials about Missouri’s native plants, animals, and habitats for teachers and students from pre-K through high school. It also provides grant funding for classroom supplies and field trips in nature. There are more than 1,600 Missouri schools that take part in the program.

The new DNS portal allows teachers to:

  • Download free instructional materials
  • Access grant applications
  • Request class sets of student books and science notebooks
  • Order educational posters and MDC publications
  • Register for free teacher workshops
  • Post questions and ideas to the educational bulletin board for teacher collaboration

Learn more about the Teacher Portal at teachers. For more information about DNS, visit

Give Holiday Gifts from MDC Nature Shops

MDC’s Nature Shop makes holiday shopping a breeze for anyone interested in nature-themed gifts.

Holiday shoppers can visit one ofour Nature Shops, conveniently located inside our nature centers in Kirkwood, Cape Girardeau, Springfield, Kansas City, Blue Springs, and Jefferson City, or browse our selection online.

One of the most popular holiday gifts is the MDC annual Natural Events Calendar with 12 months of stunning photos and daily notes about a wide variety of wild happenings throughout the year. Get it from MDC’s online Nature Shop, nature centers, or regional offices for $9 plus tax. Another is the Cooking Wild in Missouri cookbook for
$15 plus tax. Canoeists, kayakers, and floaters will find A Paddler’s Guide to Missouri a helpful reference for $8 plus tax.

Conservation makes Missouri a great place to hunt and fish so give the gift of hunting and fishing permits. Buy Missouri hunting and fishing permits from numerous vendors around the state, online at, or 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.

To browse the online Nature Shop, visit You can also place orders by phone at 877-521-8632.

What Is It?

Silver-Haired Bat

Silver Haired Bat

Missouri is home to 14 species of bats, all of which are relatively small, with prominent ears and wings of soft, generally naked skin. The distinct feature of a silver-haired bat (Lasionycteris noctivagans) is its fur, which is black with slivery-white tips. Though secure globally, this little bat is vulnerable in Missouri.

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