In Brief

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From Missouri Conservationist: March 2019

What Is it?

Can you guess this month’s natural wonder?

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News and updates from MDC

Spring Turkey Hunting Includes Nontoxic-Shot Requirements

Additional 16 Conservation Areas Require Nontoxic Shot for Hunting with Shotguns

Spring turkey hunting youth weekend will be April 6 and 7, with the regular spring season running April 15 through May 5. Detailed information on spring turkey hunting is available in MDC’s 2019 Spring Turkey Hunting Regulations and Information booklet, available where permits are sold. Learn more about turkey hunting in Missouri at short.

The Missouri Conservation Commission added 16 new areas to the list of places where nontoxic shot is required for all hunting with a shotgun – including turkey hunting. These additions bring the total number of areas requiring nontoxic shot to 37.

The commission also approved regulations that require the use of nontoxic shot for hunting doves on 20 new conservation areas that have heavy, concentrated dove hunting. The new regulations became effective March 1.

The 16 conservation areas that require nontoxic shot for all hunting are: Aspinwall Bend, Church Farm, Corning, Deroin Bend, Diana Bend, Franklin Island, Frost Island, Lower Hamburg Bend, Nishnabotna, Perry (Ralph and Martha), Platte Falls, Plowboy Bend, Thurnau (H. F.), Rose Pond, Rush Bottom, and Wolf Creek.

The 16 areas have been added to these 21 conservation areas that already require nontoxic shot for hunting with shotguns: B. K. Leach, Bob Brown, Black Island, Columbia Bottom, Cooley Lake, Coon Island, Duck Creek, Eagle Bluffs, Fountain Grove, Four Rivers, Grand Pass, Little Bean Marsh, Little River, Marais Temps Clair, Montrose, Nodaway Valley, Otter Slough, Schell-Osage, Settle’s Ford, Ted Shanks, and Ten Mile Pond.

The 20 conservation areas that now require nontoxic shot for dove hunting are: Bilby Ranch Lake, Bois D’Arc, Busch (August A.), Crowley’s Ridge, Davisdale, Harmony Mission Lake, Lamine River, Logan (William R.), Maintz Wildlife Preserve, Pacific Palisades, Park (Guy B.), Peabody, Pony Express Lake, Reed (James A.) Memorial Wildlife Area, Reform, Talbot (Robert E.), Truman Reservoir Management Lands (Bethlehem), Weldon Spring, Whetstone Creek, and White (William G. and Erma Parke) Memorial Wildlife Area.

Lead is a well-known toxin that hurts the health of both people and wildlife. Research shows that doves, waterfowl, and many other species of birds can suffer from lead poisoning after consuming lead pellets from spent shotgun shells. Lead poisoning can be fatal to birds and other wildlife, including bald eagles that feed on waterfowl with lead shot in the carcasses.

Waterfowl hunters have been required by federal law to use nontoxic shot since 1991 and must use nontoxic shot for all duck, goose, and coot hunting in Missouri regardless of where they are hunting. Requiring the use of nontoxic shot has reduced the incidences of lead poisoning from lead-shot ingestion by birds and other wildlife.

MDC Changes Eligibility for Free Turkey and Deer Landowner Permits

MDC now limits its free landowner permits for deer and turkey hunting to qualifying resident landowners and members of their immediate households age 6 years or older. Those who lease land no longer qualify for the free permits. Learn more at

MDC Busts One of State’s Largest-Ever Poaching Rings

Tips from the public to MDC’s Operation Game Thief hotline helped lead to the arrests and convictions of several Missourians for a long list of illegal fish and game activities, including the poaching of hundreds of deer over several years. Many of the deer were trophy bucks taken for just their heads, leaving their bodies to waste.

MDC agents worked with numerous state, federal, and Canadian wildlife officers over several years to tie 14 Missouri residents to more than 230 charges that occurred in 11 Missouri counties. Three suspects were tied to additional wildlife violations in Kansas, Nebraska, and Canada. Two suspects were tied to Federal Lacey Act Wildlife violations that occurred in Kansas, Nebraska, and Canada.

For further details, visit the MDC Newsroom at

If you see a wildlife violation, report it through the Operation Game Thief Hotline at 800-392- 1111 or call your local conservation agent.

Hunters Harvest More Than 290,300 Deer

The 2018–2019 deer season ended with a total harvest of 290,339 deer. Top counties for the season were Franklin with 5,826 deer harvested, Callaway with 5,545, and Howell with 5,350. Hunters harvested 284,477 deer during the 2017–2018 season.

Deer hunting ended with the close of archery season on Jan. 15. Hunters checked a record 54,447 deer during archery season. Fall archery turkey hunting also ended Jan. 15, with 2,095 turkeys harvested. For more deer and turkey harvest data from the current season, visit

MDC reported eight firearms-related hunting incidents during the 2018 fall deer and turkey seasons. Three were fatalities. Two were considered incidental to hunting, occurring at camp, and one was a self-inflicted incident in the field. Of the five nonfatal incidents, four were self-inflicted, and the fifth occurred when a shooter shot a victim while swinging on game.

School Trash Can-Decorating Contest Ends March 15

MDC and the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) invite Missouri public, private, and home-school students in grades K–8 to help fight litter in the Show-Me State — while having creative and educational fun — by participating in the 2019 “Yes You CAN Make Missouri Litter-Free” trash can-decorating contest. The annual contest is sponsored by MDC and MoDOT as part of the state’s “No MOre Trash!” statewide litter campaign.

The contest encourages school classes and school groups to join in the fight against litter by decorating and displaying a large trash can with the “No MOre Trash!” logo and a litter-prevention message using a variety of creative media. Schools may submit one entry in each competition category: K–2, 3–5, and 6–8. Entries are judged based on creativity, adherence to contest rules, and effective use of theme and logo.

First-place winners from each competition category receive $200 awarded to the sponsoring schools. All first-place winners are then eligible for a grand prize trophy and $600 awarded to the sponsoring school. There is no entry fee for the contest. Participating school groups must submit a completed entry form online with up to three photos to by Friday, March 15.


Got a Question for Ask MDC?

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

Q: What is the best time of year to raise a purple martin house?

A. You can expect purple martins to arrive in Missouri the third week of March, so now is a great time to invest in a purple martin house. Though originally cavity nesters, martins now rely almost entirely on the nest boxes provided by humans.

If the weather is mild, an adult pair will begin building a nest within days of selecting a compartment. The flat nest is constructed of soft, spongy plants and grasses. They sometimes add mud to the front entrance, and they exhibit a unique bird behavior by adding green leaves to the nest bowl, particularly when egg laying begins. The young fly from the nest when they are about a month old.

For more information, visit

Q: I hear people say that because of a colder-than normal winter, we may have fewer problems with insect pests this summer. Is there any truth to this?

A. A cold winter is unlikely to set back pest populations the following summer. Many insect species are well-adapted to Missouri’s winter weather. Some hide in sheltered places like under tree bark or buried in the soil, while others invite themselves into warmer spots like attics and crawlspaces. Some overwinter as eggs while others produce chemicals in their bodies that keep them from freezing. Whatever their method, most insects are well-equipped to tolerate temperatures lower than we ever experience in Missouri.

While extremely cold winter temperatures may not reduce insect pest populations, long spells of abnormally warm winter weather can decrease some species’ numbers. Insects transition to an overwintering stage when we have a slow progression from warm fall days into colder nights and eventually cold winter temperatures. If a string of several warm winter days and mild nights occurs, some insects may be prematurely coaxed out of dormancy, losing some of their cold tolerance. When struck by a sudden temperature drop well below freezing, many of these insects won’t survive. Fortunately for the bugs, a few warm winter afternoons in a row won’t be enough to wake them up, so this isn’t a common occurrence.

Q: I found many of these empty shells in the Meramec River. Can you help me identify them?

A. This is a threeridge mussel (Amblema plicata), one of Missouri’s common mussel species. They tend to have moderately thick, solid shells with at least three — but often more — concentric ridges. The inner shell layer, or nacre, is white, mottled, or sometimes iridescent blue at the posterior end.

Threeridge mussels can be found in rivers and lakes partly buried in a firm mixture of cobble, gravel, sand, and silt. Mussels prefer flowing water, and they survive in stream areas that are deep enough to be submerged even during drought.

Living mussels are secretive and seldom seen, but they provide vital functions in aquatic ecosystems. They are an important source of food for a variety of animals, including fish and small mammals. They filter algae, bacteria, and other particles from the water, improving water quality and cycling nutrients and energy in streams and lakes. Because many mussel species are sensitive to habitat disruption and pollution, they are good indicators of the overall health of aquatic ecosystems and water quality.

To receive a free copy of A Guide to Missouri’s Freshwater Mussels, call 573-522-0108 or email pubstaff@

What Is it?

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Eastern Spiny Softshell

Eastern spiny softshells (Apalone spinifera spinifera) lack hard shells, but they defend themselves with strong jaws and sharp claws. They also are swift swimmers. Their upper shells have small bumps along the front ridge. Their shell color indicates age and sex. Males and young turtles have an olive or grayish tan upper shell with small black dots. Adult females have a dark olive or tan upper shell with brown and gray blotches.

Agent Advice

Andy Bullock, Henry County Conservation Agent

There’s no better way to kick off spring than with a fishing trip. Before you head out to wet your line, all anglers should remember to keep their catch separate and identifiable. Every angler must adhere to a length and daily limit. Those limits vary depending on location and species. Refer to the Wildlife Code of Missouri for more information. Each angler is required to keep his or her catch separated from fellow anglers and be able to identify his or her fish. If there is just one live well in a vessel, use various colored stringers or a separate basket or bucket to store fish. It’s always a good day to fish in Missouri. Taking these simple steps will make it even better!

We are Conservation

By Cliff White

Spotlight on people and partners: Paul and Kathy Breitenstein

Paul, a retired captain of the Cape Girardeau Fire Department, and Kathy, a school nurse, work to improve their Bollinger County property. They use timber stand improvement methods in their forest, and they plant native warm-season grasses and wildflowers and use prescribed fire to enhance their woodlands and grasslands. They also control invasive species.

They go the extra mile

“They hold habitat workshops to showcase practices and share their experience using federal and state costshare programs,” said Quail Forever Farm Bill Biologist Wes Buchheit. “The Breitensteins are eager to share their experiences, knowledge, and love of nature with other landowners,” said MDC Priority Habitat Coordinator Roger Frazier.

In their own words

“Once I realized what a magnet the natives were for wildlife,” said Kathy, “I readily began replacing some of my nonnatives!” Paul agreed. “We get so excited because it’s always changing. We enjoy walking the fields and seeing what’s new.”

What’s your conservation superpower?

This Issue's Staff

Editor - Angie Daly Morfeld

Associate Editor - Larry Archer

Staff Writer - Bonnie Chasteen
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