In Brief

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From Missouri Conservationist: June 2019

What Is It?

Can you guess this month’s natural wonder?

What Is It

News and updates from MDC

Get Hooked on Fishing

Free Fishing Days, Gear, and Lessons

Anyone can fish during Free Fishing Days June 8–9 without a fishing permit, trout permit, or trout park daily tag. Other fishing regulations remain in effect, such as size and bag limits. For more information on Missouri fishing regulations, fish identification, and more, get a copy of the 2019 Summary of Missouri Fishing Regulations, available where permits are sold or online at

Want to fish, but don’t have the gear? Through MDC’s Rod and Reel Loaner Program,
you can borrow a rod with a standard spincast reel, a small tackle box with hooks, sinkers, bobbers, and a stringer to hold your catch. The program is available at more than 100 locations across the state, including many libraries, MDC offices and nature centers, some state parks, and several marinas. You need to provide your own live bait or lures. For a list of loaner locations, visit

Need to learn how to fish? MDC’s Discover Nature—Fishing program offers a series of free lessons by experienced anglers that covers equipment, casting, proper fish handling, tying hooks, stocking a tackle box, fish identification, how to release a fish, regulations, and other topics. Get more information at

Apply for Managed Deer Hunts

Starting July 1, deer hunters can apply online for a chance at more than 100 managed deer hunts around the state for archery, alternative methods, and modern firearms at hunt. Some managed hunts are held specifically for youth or for people with disabilities. Details about managed hunts can also be found in the 2019 Fall Deer & Turkey Hunting Regulations and Information booklet, available starting in early July at MDC offices and nature centers, from permit vendors around the state, and online at Hunters have until July 31 to apply.

Practice Fire Safety This Summer

As you enjoy the outdoors this summer, be careful with fireworks, campfires, and other sources of fire that could cause a wildfire.

Don’t light fireworks in areas where sparks could ignite dry grass, leaves, or other potential fire fuel. Wet the area where fireworks are being discharged and always have a fire extinguisher available. Check local ordinances for bans on fireworks and open burning. Fireworks are not allowed on MDC areas.

Making a campfire? Clear a generous zone around fire rings. Store firewood a good distance from a campfire. Never use flammable liquid to start a fire. Keep campfires small and controllable. Keep fire-extinguishing materials close, such as a rake, shovel, and bucket of water. Extinguish unattended campfires.

Check your vehicle for fuel leaks before driving on a grassy field. Wildfires can start when dry fuel, such as grass, meets hot vehicle undersides.

Don’t burn during wrong conditions. Dry grass, high temperatures, low humidity, and wind make fire nearly impossible to control. Check with local fire departments regarding burn bans. Fire used in the wrong way can create disasters. Used in the right way, fire can help create habitat for wildlife. For more information on using prescribed fire as a land management tool, visit

Call 911 at the first sign of an out-of-control fire. Wildfires are sometimes set by vandals. Help stop arson by calling 800-392-1111 and reporting potential arson activities.

Elderberry Syrup

Large quantities of elderberries are ripe for the picking by midsummer. Scout your location and plan a picking party with your friends and family. While you’re waiting for these purple beauties to be at their peak by August, Missouri offers a bounty  of other berries all summer long, including blackberries, gooseberries, strawberries, raspberries, and more. Try them in syrup, too!

Makes 1 cup of syrup

  • ¾ pound elderberries (2 packed cups)
  • 1½ cups water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

PUT the elderberries in a large, nonreactive pot with the water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a low boil and cook for 15 to 20 minutes, until berries are soft. Press through a fine sieve using a large spoon and discard the skins.

POUR the juice back into the pot, add sugar, and cook at a low boil over moderate heat for 15 minutes, until the syrup has thickened. It will thicken even more after it cools, so amount yielded depends somewhat upon how long it is cooked. Add lemon juice and cool completely. Pour into a jar and store in
the refrigerator. It keeps for several months.

Trick for Removing the Stems

Hold the berry clusters over a bowl and rake through them with a salad server (large three- or four-pronged fork). The berries will detach and fall into the  bowl. Or freeze berries in resealable bags. While they are frozen, the berries will pop off.

This recipe is from Cooking Wild in Missouri by Bernadette Dryden, available for $16 at Whether you hunt, fish, or forage, you’ll enjoy Cooking Wild in Missouri, a collection of more than 100 delicious, kitchentested recipes featuring game, fish, nuts, fruits, and mushrooms. There’s a section for appetizers, fresh salads, savory stews, elegant entrees, and delectable desserts. Suitable for the novice or advanced cook.

Upcoming Migratory Game Bird and Waterfowl Hunting Seasons

2019 Migratory Game Bird Hunting

Mourning Doves, Eurasian Collared Doves, and White-Winged Doves

Season: Sept. 1 through Nov. 29
Limits: 15 daily and 45 in possession combined total for all three species
Hours: One-half hour before sunrise to sunset Sora and Virginia Rails
Season: Sept. 1 through Nov. 9
Limits: 25 daily and 75 in possession combined for both species
Hours: One-half hour before sunrise to sunset

Wilson’s (Common) Snipe

Season: Sept. 1 through Dec. 16
Limits: Eight daily and 24 in possession
Hours: One-half hour before sunrise to sunset American Woodcock
Season: Oct. 15 through Nov. 28
Limits: Three daily and nine in possession
Hours: One-half hour before sunrise to sunset 2019–2020

Waterfowl Hunting


Season: Sept. 7–22
Limits: Six daily and 18 in possession
Hours: Sunrise to sunset

Ducks Season:

  • North Zone: Nov. 2 through Dec. 31
  • Middle Zone: Nov. 9—15 and
  • Nov. 21 through Jan. 12, 2020
  • South Zone: Nov. 28 through Dec. 1 and Dec. 7 through Jan. 31, 2020

Bag Limit: Six ducks daily with species restrictions of:

  • Four mallards (no more than two females)
  • Three scaup
  • Three wood ducks
  • Two redheads
  • Two hooded mergansers
  • One pintail (new limit)
  • Two canvasbacks
  • Two black ducks
  • One mottled duck

Possession Limit: Three times the daily bag or 18 total, varies by species
Hours: One-half hour before sunrise to sunset


Season: Same as duck season dates in the respective zones
Limits: 15 daily and 45 in possession
Hours: One-half hour before sunrise to sunset

Snow Geese (White and Blue Phases) and Ross’s Geese

Season: Nov. 11 through Feb. 6, 2020
Limits: 20 blue, snow, or Ross’s geese daily with no possession limit
Hours: One-half hour before sunrise to sunset

White-Fronted Geese

Season: Nov. 11 through Feb. 6, 2020
Limits: Two daily and six in possession
Hours: One-half hour before sunrise to sunset

Canada Geese and Brant

Season: Oct. 5–13 and Nov. 11 through Feb. 6, 2020
Limits: Three Canada geese and Brant in aggregate daily, nine in possession
Hours: One-half hour before sunrise to sunset

Light Goose Conservation Order

Season: Feb. 7 through April 30, 2020
Limits: No daily or possession limits
Hours: One-half hour before sunrise to one-half hour after sunset

Youth Hunting Days

North Zone: Oct. 26 and 27
Middle Zone: Oct. 26 and 27
South Zone: Nov. 23 and 24
Limits: Same as during regular waterfowl season
Hours: Same as during regular waterfowl season

Falconry Seasons

Falconry Season for Doves

Season: Sept. 1 through Dec. 16
Limits: Three daily and nine in possession, singly, or in the aggregate (any ducks, coots, or mergansers taken by falconers must be included in these limits)
Hours: One-half hour before sunrise to sunset

Falconry Season for Ducks, Coots, and Mergansers

Season: Open during waterfowl seasons (teal, youth, and duck) and Feb. 11 through March 10, 2020
Limits: Three daily and nine in possession, singly, or in the aggregate during the regular duck-hunting seasons (including teal and youth seasons) and extended falconry seasons (any doves taken by falconers must be included in these limits)
Hours: One-half hour before sunrise to sunset

Nontoxic Shot Requirement

Shells possessed or used while hunting waterfowl and coots statewide, and for other species as designated by posting on public areas, must be loaded with material approved as nontoxic by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. MDC reminds hunters of new regulations that require the use of nontoxic shot for all hunting with shotguns on 16 more conservation areas in addition to its existing 21 areas where nontoxic shot is required for all hunting with shotguns. New regulations also require the use of nontoxic shot on 20 conservation areas managed for dove hunting. For more information, get a copy of the 2019–2020 Migratory Bird and Waterfowl Hunting Digest, available where permits are sold beginning in July, or visit

What Is It?

What Is It

Diamondback Spittlebug

As spittlebug nymphs feed on juices from a host plant, they secrete a mass of foam. The small diamondback spittlebug nymph — light green with black undeveloped wings on its back — nestles on the plant stalk as the frothy foam flows. The bubbly foam conceals the wingless nymph and tempers the effects of hot and cool breezes, keeping its body moist and protecting it from the sun’s glare.


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

Q: What are the key differences between common snapping turtles and alligator snapping turtles?

A. Common snapping turtles are a game species frequently found in Missouri’s farm ponds, streams, and lakes. But because they resemble the far-more-rare alligator snapping turtle, an animal that’s unlawful to capture or kill, it’s easy to confuse the two. With a few tips, telling these two turtles apart is a “snap.”

Here’s what you need to know:

  • Common snapping turtles have low ridges that follow the contours of their shells and smooth out as they grow older. Alligator snappers have rows of spiky raised keels.
  • Looking down on a common snapper, you can see their eyes from above. With alligators, you can’t.
  • Common snappers have smaller heads and smaller beaks; alligators have larger heads and more-prominent hooked beaks.
  • On their tails, common snappers grow raised, saw-toothed bumps; in contrast, alligator snappers have round bumps.
  • The hatchlings look different, too. Common snapper hatchlings are grayish-brown with white spots on their under shell. Alligator hatchlings are orangy-brown with no white spots on their shells.
  • Finally, they live in different parts of Missouri. Alligator snapping turtles prefer the Bootheel’s big rivers, deep sloughs, and oxbow lakes. Common snappers make their homes statewide.

Now that you know the difference, our biologists would like your help in locating alligator snapping turtles. If you see one, please take a photo and send it, along with the location, to

Q: Can you tell me why Cape Girardeau experienced a decline of firefly activity last summer? Most summers, they are all over the place. Last summer, I hardly saw them.

A. Populations of fireflies, as well as many other insects, vary from year to year. Several studies, including a long-term, 31-year study in Japan, have shown that extreme environmental conditions, such as drought and flooding, can influence numbers of fireflies.

Commonly called lightning bugs, fireflies are beetles in the family Lampyridae. The larvae, the active, immature form of these beetles, are predatory and feed on a variety of other small invertebrates. Most firefly species’ larvae prefer damp, humid habitats with cover to hide in during the day. Favorable weather conditions can improve the availability of both habitat and prey, leading to larger populations.

The simple answer is, fluctuations in insect populations over time and space are completely normal. Although Cape Girardeau may have experienced a decline in 2018, mid- Missouri experienced a bumper crop
last summer.

Q. I have seen a northern mockingbird behaving strangely. Every morning, and occasionally in the early evening, it sits on a power line near my home, jumps straight up in the air 9 or 10 feet, does a flip, and comes straight down. This can go on for more than 20 minutes. What is going on here?

A. You are witnessing one of the male northern mockingbird’s courting rituals. Male birds of nearly all species perform some sort of courtship display to attract a femalemate for the breeding season.

Even singing is a form of courtship behavior. Some of these displays last through the duration of the breeding season from spring to the end of summer. This ascending flight, followed by a tumbling fall back to a perch, is a common one for mockingbirds. Another display that builds a pair bond includes a male and female chasing each other through a male’s territory, likely to check out resources and the territory’s boundaries.


Matthew Bryant, Hickory County Conservation Agent

As summer settles in across Missouri, more people head to the water. Many conservation areas have access to water where visitors can fish, float, boat, or simply enjoy the day. Before you head out, take a few safety precautions.

Always know the water conditions at your intended destination. If you are boating, kayaking, or using any other vessel, make sure there are life jackets for each person on board. In addition, any passengers 6 years and younger must wear their jackets at all times. Stay hydrated and wear sunscreen or protective clothing. Finally, be sure you take out what you bring in. Leave the area better than you found it. A safe day on the water is a fun day.

3 Things You Can Do to Help Monarchs Pollinators

Plant Natives

Native plants are a food source for monarch butterflies and other pollinators. Add the plants shown below to your landscape.

Keep it Blooming

Keep something in bloom each season. Some species bloom all year, others only in April and May, still others in July and August. Learn more at

Get Involved

Protect native grasslands, provide nesting places, and become a wildlife gardener. To learn how, visit

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