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From Missouri Conservationist: March 2020

Southeast Region |  Coon Island Conservation Area

By Larry Archer

As waterfowl and other spring migratory birds begin heading north, it’s a good time for birders to be heading south. And Coon Island Conservation Area (CA) is about as far south as one can get and still be in Missouri.

Located south of Poplar Bluff just north of the Arkansas state line, this 3,223-acre combination of wetlands and bottomland hardwoods is an early stop on the way north for many migratory species, said Coon Island CA Manager Luke Wehmhoff.

“It depends on when in March you’re here, you may still have snow geese around and you may still have pintails around,” Wehmhoff said. “Toward the end of the month, you’re getting into blue-wing teals and shovelers.”

The wetlands — and the waterfowl they attract — aren’t the only draw for birders.

“It’s a pretty big chunk of bottomland hardwood habitat — one of the bigger chunks in southern Butler County — so the Neotropical migrants may start filtering through, too,” he said.

Anglers, using either rod and reel or bow, can take advantage of the Black River and its backwaters, Wehmhoff said.

“It’s a real common time of year for it to be flooding,” he said. “So, some people may bowfish in the flood waters down there.”

“They may see swamp rabbits if they rattle some bushes in some of the bottomland habitats, so it’s kind of neat that you can see swamp rabbits as opposed to just cottontails.”

—Coon Island CA Manager Luke Wehmhoff

Coon Island Conservation Area consists of 3,223 acres in Butler County. From Poplar Bluff, take Highway 53 south, then Route HHsouth 8 miles, then County Road 244 east 1 mile. 573-624-5821

What to do When You Visit

  • Birdwatching The eBird list of birds recorded at Coon Island CA is available at
  • Camping Individual campsites
  • Fishing Black bass, white bass, catfish, crappie, and sunfish
  • Hiking Hiking allowed on levees and on area access trail.
  • Hunting Deer and Turkey Deer and turkey regulations are subject to
  • annual changes. Please refer to the Spring Turkey or Fall Deer and Turkey booklets for current regulations. Also rabbit and squirrel.
  • Trapping Special use permit required.
  • Waterfowl Hunting Open hunting. Waterfowl regulations are subject to annual change, so check the Migratory Bird and Waterfowl Hunting Digest 2019–2020 for current regulations.

What to Look For When You Visit

  • Beaver Red-eared slider
  • Nuttall’s oak
  • Mississippi kite
  • Bowfin

This Issue's Staff

Magazine Manager - Stephanie Thurber

Editor - Angie Daly Morfeld

Associate Editor - Larry Archer

Staff Writer - Bonnie Chasteen
Staff Writer - Heather Feeler
Staff Writer - Kristie Hilgedick
Staff Writer - Joe Jerek

Art Director - Cliff White

Designer - Les Fortenberry
Designer - Marci Porter

Photographer - Noppadol Paothong
Photographer - David Stonner

Circulation - Laura Scheuler