In Brief

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From Missouri Conservationist: August 2019

What Is it?

Can you guess this month’s natural wonder?

what is it?

News and updates from MDC

Important changes to the Upcoming Deer Season

MDC reduced the number of counties in the management zone for chronic wasting disease (CWD) from 48 to 29. The change will impact restrictions on feeding deer, antler-point restrictions, antlerless permits for some counties, and mandatory CWD sampling.

The 29 counties now included are: Adair, Barry, Cedar, Chariton, Christian, Crawford, Franklin, Gasconade, Hickory, Howell, Jefferson, Knox, Linn, Macon, Mercer, Oregon, Ozark, Perry, Polk, Putnam, St. Charles, St. Clair, St. Francois, Ste. Genevieve, Stone, Sullivan, Taney, Warren, and Washington.

Hunters who harvest deer in any of the 29 counties of the CWD Management Zone during opening weekend of the fall firearms deer season (Nov. 16–17) must take their deer (or the head with at least 6 inches of neck attached) on the day of harvest to a sampling station. Hunters who harvest deer in counties no longer part of the zone are not required to participate in mandatory sampling.

Feeding deer or placing minerals for deer unnaturally concentrates the animals and can help spread CWD. Therefore, the Wildlife Code of Missouri prohibits the placement of grain, salt products, minerals, and other consumable natural and manufactured products used to attract deer year-round within counties in the CWD Management Zone. The feeding ban no longer applies to counties removed from the zone.

The antler-point restriction (APR) does not apply to counties in the CWD Management Zone. Protecting young bucks from harvest in areas where CWD has been found can increase the spread of the disease. The APR has been reinstated for some counties removed from the zone.

The increased availability of firearms antlerless permits for some counties in the CWD Management Zone can help prevent undesired populations in local deer numbers where CWD has been found.

Learn more at and from the 2019 Fall Deer and Turkey Hunting Regulations & Information booklet, available where permits are sold.

Elk Hunting in Missouri

The Conservation Commission gave initial approval for elk hunting during its June meeting. MDC will begin offering a limited season once the herd of about 175 animals reaches a minimum of 200 with an annual herd growth rate of at least 10 percent and a herd ratio of at least four cow elk for every bull elk. An inaugural hunt may be scheduled as early as fall 2020.

Elk hunting would be limited to Missouri residents at least 11 years old who have their hunter-education certification or are exempt from hunter education by age (born before Jan. 1, 1967). Hunting permits would be assigned through a random lottery of all applicants. MDC will require a $10 application fee to be eligible for the limited hunt with a $50 permit fee for those selected through the lottery. MDC will limit the random lottery to one application per person, per year with a 10-year “sit-out” period for those drawn. The hunting zone will be limited to Carter, Reynolds, and Shannon counties, but will exclude the special refuge portion of Peck Ranch Conservation Area where elk were initially reintroduced.

For more information, visit short.mdc. A public comment period on Missouri’s proposed elk season is open through Aug. 31.

Invasive Species: Invasive Carp

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

What Is It?

Native to Asia, bighead (Hypophthalmichthys nobilis), silver (Hypophthalmichthys molitrix), black (Mylopharyngodon piceus), and grass (Ctenopharyngodon idella) carp were introduced in the United States to clean algae from commercial fish farms and sewage treatment plants.

They’ve spread in recent decades due to releases or escapes caused by flooding and now thrive in many bodies of water. Common carp (Cyprinus carpio), also native to Asia, were purposefully stocked in the wild beginning in 1879 because of its popularity as a food fish.

Where Is It?

Invasive carp are found in reservoirs, ponds, and deeper parts of large rivers and lakes throughout Missouri – the Mississippi and Missouri rivers and lower reaches of their major tributaries (such as the Osage), and tailwaters of Bagnell Dam (on the Osage) and Cannon Dam (on the Salt River). They are occasionally found in nearly any stream in the state, but most of these are the result of escape from impoundments.

Why It’s Bad

Both silver and bighead carp are aggressive, long-lived efficient plankton consumers that can outcompete native species for these valuable resources. Plankton is an important food source for paddlefish, gizzard shad, bigmouth buffalo, and others. Black carp feed on mussels, many of which are declining to the point of being endangered. In
addition, black carp prey on algae-eating snails. Without snails, the composition of an aquatic community can be radically altered. Grass carp can eat the equivalent of their body weight in plant matter in a day. And at 50 pounds or more, that’s a significant amount of foliage and potential habitat removed from the water. Where overpopulated,
common carp compete with native fish for food and space.

How to Control It

Learn to ID young invasive carp.
There’s a close resemblance between shad and silver and bighead carp when they are 2 to 6 inches long. When casting nets for small fish, like shad, for catfish bait, know your catch. For help with fish identification, get a free copy of MDC’s

Know Your Catch by emailing or calling 573-522-0108.

Don’t use live carp as bait.

It is illegal to use bighead, silver, and black carp as live bait, but all anglers
can help prevent the spread of invasive carp by not using any as live bait. It is
recommended that netted bait fish be placed on ice in coolers. The temperature
shock kills the carp in 15–30 minutes but keeps them fresh for use as bait.

Don’t Drive Dump Unused Live Bait

Anglers should use caution when using live bait in any lake or river, including small community lakes. Unused bait from any source should be contained and put into the trash rather than dumped into the water.

For more information, visit

Use “Auto-Renewal” for Your Permits

Renewing Missouri hunting, fishing, and trapping permits is now easier and more convenient through our new online permit auto-renewal service. It allows online permit buyers to automatically renew their permits prior to the start of the next season or permit year so they never have an expired permit when they need it most.

Participation in auto-renewal is voluntary, and the service can only be activated by the permit buyer. There are no additional fees for the service. Permit buyers must have a valid email address and credit card to participate. The auto-renewal service will send personalized emails to participants of upcoming permit renewals and notifications of successful renewals and associated charges.

Enroll in auto-renewal at during an online permit purchase or by using the “Manage Your Account” feature. Learn more about permit auto-renewal at

Discover Nature at the Missouri State Fair

Visit the Conservation Building from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Aug. 8–17 and 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Aug. 18 to see live fish, snakes, turtles, amphibians, and other native animals. Learn about and see displays of native plants that help butterflies and other important pollinators. Ask MDC staff conservation-related questions, get educational
materials, and have fun.

Don’t miss our air-conditioned Kids’ Xplor Zone (formerly Discovery Room) between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. for hands-on fun discovering nature through crafts and other activities.
In celebration of Smokey Bear’s 75th birthday, we will be at the Smokey Bear tent near the grandstand Aug. 9 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. with crafts, giveaways, and treats. Join us in our outdoor pavilion Aug. 14 for a Smokey Bear Dance Party at 1 p.m.

Enjoy these other free conservation-related programs at our outdoor pavilion:

  • Live Raptors: See a live eagle and other birds of prey with Dickerson Park Zoo Aug. 8 and Aug. 17 at 11 a.m., 1:30 p.m., and 4 p.m.
  • Clean and Cook Fish: Learn to prepare fresh catch Aug. 9 and Aug. 10 at 11 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.
  • OGT Trailer: Visit MDC’s Operation Game Thief trailer all day Aug. 11 and 12.
  • Be Bear Aware: Learn about black bears in Missouri Aug. 13 at 11 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.
  • Wildlife Vet: Visit with our State Wildlife Veterinarian Sherri Russell all day Aug. 14.
  • Get Moving with Smokey: Join us for a Smokey Bear Dance Party Aug. 14 at 1 p.m.
  • Mushroom ID: Learn about Missouri mushrooms Aug. 15 at 11 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.
  • Historic Sawmill: See a working model sawmill Aug. 16 at 11 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.
  • Dutch Oven Demo: Learn about Dutch oven cooking Aug. 18 at 11 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.


Got a Question for Ask MDC?

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

Q: My brother was visiting Table Rock Lake last August when he photographed this moth. Can you help us identify it?

A. Recognizable for their broad pink patch and single blue eyespot on each hindwing, the blinded sphinx moth (Paonias excaecata) is a common breeding resident of

These moths undergo four stages of development: egg, caterpillar, pupa, and adult.

With wingspans between 2 and 3¾ inches, adults are short-lived and do not feed. But they do use their strong flying skill to locate new places to lay their eggs, which hatch as small caterpillars in 7–8 days. A variety of deciduous trees — apple, basswood, birch, cherry, elm, hawthorn, hop hornbeam, poplar, willow, and more — host the leafeating caterpillars. After eating their fill, the caterpillars pupate in loose soil and emerge as moths. Up to three generations of blinded sphinx moth occur in Missouri each summer.

Cleverly camouflaged, these moths hide from the hot summer sun on tree bark or dead leaves, preferring to keep a nocturnal lifestyle. Blinded sphinx moths live in open forests, along woodland edges, near shrubby areas, and even in backyard gardens. They also are attracted to electric lights. Look for them flying from late June through early September. As fall approaches, blinded sphinx caterpillars seek out sheltered places to pupate and overwinter underground until the following summer.

Q: How many meals a week do eastern copperheads eat?

A. Copperheads in captivity generally eat one to two mice weekly. Wild copperheads tend to dine far more sporadically. They are best described as opportunists, capable of eating a wide variety of foods, not only warm-blooded prey.

Growing young copperheads will eat as much and as frequently as they can, dining often on rodents, other reptiles, birds, and invertebrates such as insects, snails, and worms. Cicadas are especially nutrient-rich, said Missouri State Herpetologist Jeff Briggler. Young copperheads use the tip of their yellow tail to attract small frogs and lizards who might be fooled into thinking it’s a caterpillar.

Adult copperheads tend to eat larger meals less frequently. Mice form the bulk of their diet, but other rodents — such as shrews, moles, voles, and chipmunks —are also prey. From spring to fall, a copperhead eats when the opportunity presents itself. If a copperhead were to come across a nest of young mice, it may eat all of them and not have to dine again for a month. It’s typical for wild snakes to go weeks between meals.

Q: I recently noticed several great crested flycatchers exhibiting strange behavior on our deck. The birds land, spread their wings, nestle their chests as flat as possible, and turn their heads toward the sky with their mouths open. Can you tell me what they are doing?

A. These birds are sunbathing. While it may seem counterintuitive during hot weather, birds are thought to do this to distribute preening oil across their plumage, or to get rid of pesky parasites that infiltrate a nest and find homes in their feathers. They stand in a posture that allows the sun to hit as many feathers as possible, usually stretching their wings and tail feathers and flattening themselves on the ground or a perch.

What Is it?

Common Scouring Rush

Common scouring rush, also called horsetail, are green reedlike stems that form in dense colonies along waterways, roadways, and railroads. These hollow shoots, which can grow more than 5 feet tall, produce conelike strobili or spore-bearing reproductive structures. The strobili can grow up to an inch, and the spores are shed between March and August.

Agent Advice

Kevin Lockard, Shelby County Conservation Agent.

As the summer comes to an end, many people’s thoughts turn to fall firearms hunting seasons. Whether you dream of harvesting a birdor a buck or you just enjoy shooting sports, now is a good time to visit one of MDC’s shooting ranges. The department has five staffed shooting ranges and several unstaffed shooting ranges located at conservation areas across the state. To find one near you, visit short. Don’t go into the season unprepared. Make sure your firearm is in proper working order or familiarize yourself with a new firearm. The more time you spend shooting, the more proficient you will be afield. See you on the range!

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