In Brief

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From Missouri Conservationist: June 2020

What Is It?

what is it

Can you guess this month’s natural wonder?

News and updates from MDC

Stay Healthy While in Nature

Take safety recommendations with you on outdoor adventures.

With the current public-health emergency caused by COVID-19, MDC reminds people to continue hand washing, physical distancing, and all other public-health measures during outdoor activities. We advise people to make outdoor activities as safe and enjoyable as possible by taking the following actions:

  • If you have been sick in the last two weeks, stay home for your health and the safety of others.
  • Travel in a group of 10 or fewer.
  • If a conservation area looks crowded or an area parking lot is full, please do not stop. Find another less-crowded location.
  • Keep a proper physical distance of at least 6 feet while visiting areas, especially on trails.
  • Avoid popular spots where people congregate, such as scenic overlooks, fishing docks, etc.
  • Pack water, soap, and/or hand sanitizer.
  • Get more information on best practices for keeping you and your family safe from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at

Visit our COVID-19 webpage for updates on facility and office closures, cancellations, hunting and fishing seasons, and general information on public-health measures while in the outdoors at

Free Fishing Days

Want some free fun that gets family and friends outside in nature? Get hooked on fishing with our Free Fishing Days June 6 and 7. During Free Fishing Days, anyone can fish in the Show-Me State without buying a fishing permit, trout permit, or trout park daily tag.

Other fishing regulations remain in effect, such as limits on size and number of fish an angler may keep. Special permits may still be required at some county, city, or private fishing areas. Trespass laws also remain in effect on private property.

Conservation makes Missouri a great place to fish, and Free Fishing Days encourages people to sample the state’s abundant fishing opportunities. Missouri has more than a million acres of surface water, and most of it provides great fishing for the state’s more than 1.1 million anglers. More than 200 different fish species are found in Missouri, and more than 20 of them are game fish.

For information on Missouri fishing regulations, fish identification, and more, get a copy of MDC’s 2020 Summary of Missouri Fishing Regulations where permits are sold or online at

Give Turtles a Brake

MDC encourages drivers to be cautious on the roads this spring. Turtles emerge from their burrows and begin hunting for food and mates during warm and wet conditions, which can lead them to cross roadways, oftentimes resulting in their death. Thousands of box turtles are killed every year by vehicles. Common turtles spotted crossing Missouri roads include three-toed box turtles, ornate box turtles, and snapping turtles.

Young males make up most of the travelers, sometimes wandering as many as 6 miles searching for territories and mates. Females are also crossing the roads in search of nesting areas.

Turtles are cold-blooded creatures and depend on external sources of heat to determine their body temperature. This explains why people see them on warm asphalt during cool, spring days.

If helping a turtle make it safely across the road, check for traffic and move the turtle in the direction it is traveling.

Additionally, we encourage Missourians to leave turtles in the wild. Taking a wild animal, whether a turtle or other wildlife species, and keeping it as a pet normally ends in a slow death.   Most Missouri turtles can live up to 30 years, but the common box turtle can live up to 80, occasionally living more than a century. For more information on Missouri’s turtles, visit our online Field Guide at


Got a Question for Ask MDC?

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

Q: Could you tell me what kind of beetle this is?

A. One of the brightest beetles in its family, the dogbane beetle (Chrysochus auratus) attracts the eye with an iridescent blue-green shimmer and a metallic copper-gold shine. Scientists speculate the phenomenon, called “structural coloration,” may have evolved in insects as camouflage to mimic the appearance of raindrops or as a method to send mating signals over longer distances.

This beetle’s exoskeleton is made of chitin, a transparent substance that allows small fissures to refract the light like a prism, creating the blues and greens we admire. This beetle is named for its diet, which consists of dogbane, a small genus in the flowering plant family, Apocynaceae. The word is derived from ancient Greek terms meaning “away” and “dog,” since these plants were once used to poison dogs. Dogbane beetles also eat milkweed.

Though similar in appearance with its metallic green thorax, the Japanese beetle should not be confused with the dogbane beetle. The Japanese beetle, a serious agricultural pest, is slightly larger than the dogbane beetle at more than half an inch.

Q: What is the optimal time to cut hay for cattle feed, versus when grassland birds are finished nesting?

A. In a normal year, most grassland birds finish nesting by July 15, except for quail, which attempt nesting through September. For farmers and ranchers, the best time to cut hay is late May or early June, when the protein content of fescue and brome is at its peak. To counteract early haying, conservationists promote the use of native, warm-season grasses, which typically are not harvested until most birds have finished nesting.

The benefits of native grass hayfields are ease of maintenance, dependable production, and the ability to harvest during a normal lull in farming operations. A stand of native grasses, seeded with a legume, will produce a consistent 2 to 3 tons of hay per acre when harvested in July. Since the hay is harvested after crops have been planted and cool-season grasses have slowed growth, native hayfields help to reduce the spring rush of field work.

Q: I photographed this eastern collared lizard in St. Francois County. How is this species faring in Missouri?

A.  Eastern collared lizards (Crotaphytus collaris) are stable across their range, but are considered a species of conservation concern in Missouri. Collared lizards were once widespread on glades in Missouri, but due to reduced fire frequency, resulting in changes in vegetation on the glades, lizard populations became isolated. By the 1980s, lizards were rapidly disappearing from Missouri, according to Missouri State Herpetologist Jeff Briggler.

In response to these declines, MDC began restoring the glades to their original open nature. Many cedar trees were removed, and periodic fires were set to maintain the open, rocky habitat on which the lizard depends.

Once the habitat was restored, faculty and students at Washington University, St. Louis, worked with MDC biologists to relocate lizards to the glades. With ongoing management, the eastern collared lizard is thriving and will be part of Missouri’s biodiversity for generations to come.

Agent Advice

Corporal Kearby Bridges, Stone County Conservation Agent

This spring, the Missouri outdoors saw a surge in use. Missourians visited public and private lands for relief from pandemic stress and isolation. During times of heightened use, we all have a responsibility to be ethical stewards of the outdoors. Take all trash with you or use receptacles where available. Minimize noise. Never trespass onto private land — know your whereabouts and have permission to be on private property. Follow all regulations pertaining to conservation areas. It is your responsibility to know the rules of the area you’re using. Our public and private lands depend on all of us to maintain their integrity. Know before you go. Visit for more information.

What Is It?

Wood Nettle (Stinging Nettle

what is it

Wood nettle, commonly known as stinging nettle, grows in large, thick stands in forests, along streams, and other low, wet places. Referred to as a “nuisance to anyone tramping the wooded valleys in summer and autumn” by Missouri botanist Julian Steyermark, the hairs on this plant act like little syringes. Upon contact, they release toxins in the skin that cause burning and itching.

Catfish Tacos

Catfish is one of the most sought-after fish in Missouri. In fact, this highly prized game and food fish was named the state’s official fish in 1997. Although catfish is wonderful fried, this recipe offers a different preparation, with a south of the border flare.

Serves 4–6


  • 1 pound catfish fillets
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • Salt and coarsely ground pepper
  • 4 to 6 6-inch corn tortillas
  • 2 cups chopped Romaine lettuce
  • 1 avocado, cubed
  • ¼ cup feta cheese, crumbled

Place fish on lightly oiled, rimmed baking sheet. Mix garlic and lime juice and drizzle mixture over fish. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and let stand 15 minutes.

Broil fish in oven (you also may grill it) until opaque in center, 6 to 8 minutes. While fish is cooking, warm tortillas directly on a burner over lowest heat, turning once, until heated through. Watch carefully; the first side needs only 20 seconds or so, and the second side even less time. Alternatively, you may heat tortillas in a pan. Keep them warm in a tortilla basket lined with a cloth towel or napkin.

Cut fish into 1-inch pieces. Top each tortilla with lettuce, then fish. Drizzle with salsa and top with avocado and cheese.

This recipe is from Cooking Wild in Missouri by Bernadette Dryden, available for $16 at

Migratory Game Bird and Waterfowl Hunting Seasons

Here are the details for Missouri’s upcoming 2020 migratory game bird hunting seasons and 2020–2021 waterfowl hunting seasons.

2020 Migratory Game Bird Hunting

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

  • Season: Sept. 1—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—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—Dec. 16
  • Limits: 8 daily and 24 in possession
  • Hours: One-half hour before sunrise to sunset

American Woodcock

  • Season: Oct. 15—Nov. 28
  • Limits: 3 daily and 9 in possession
  • Hours: One-half hour before sunrise to sunset

2020–2021 Waterfowl Hunting


  • Season: Sept. 12–27
  • Limits: 6 daily and 18 in possession
  • Hours: Sunrise to sunset



  • North Zone: Nov. 7—Jan. 5, 2021
  • Middle Zone: Nov. 7–13 and Nov. 19–Jan. 10, 2021
  • South Zone: Nov. 26–29 and Dec. 7–Jan. 31, 2021

Bag Limit: 6 ducks daily with species restrictions of:

  • 4 mallards (no more than 2 females)
  • 3 wood ducks
  • 2 black ducks
  • 2 canvasbacks
  • 2 hooded mergansers
  • 2 redheads
  • New: 2 scaup for first 45 days and 1 scaup for last 15 days
  • 1 mottled duck
  • 1 pintail

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—Feb. 6, 2021
  • 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—Feb. 6, 2021
  • Limits: 2 daily and 6 in possession
  • Hours: One-half hour before sunrise to sunset

Canada Geese and Brant

  • Season: Oct. 3–11 and Nov. 11–Feb. 6, 2021
  • Limits: 3 Canada geese and Brant in aggregate daily, 9 in possession
  • Hours: One-half hour before sunrise to sunset

Light Goose Conservation Order

  • Season: Feb. 7—April 30, 2021
  • Limits: No daily or possession limits
  • Hours: One-half hour before sunrise to one-half hour after sunset

Youth Hunting Days


  • North Zone: Oct. 24—25
  • Middle Zone: Oct. 24—25
  • South Zone: Nov. 21—22

Limits: Same as during regular waterfowl season

Hours: Same as during regular waterfowl season

Falconry Seasons

Falconry Season for Doves

  • Season: Sept. 1—Dec. 16
  • Limits: 3 daily and 9 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. 10—March 10, 2021
  • Limits: 3 daily and 9 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: Sunrise to sunset during the September teal season, one-half hour before sunrise to sunset during the remaining seasons

Nontoxic Shot Requirement

Shells possessed or used while hunting waterfowl and coots statewide, and for other species designated by posting on public areas, must be loaded with material approved as nontoxic by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Get more information on nontoxic shot requirements, allowed types, and conservation areas requiring use at

For more information on migratory bird and waterfowl hunting, visit or refer to the Migratory Bird and Waterfowl Hunting Digest 2020–2021, available beginning in July where hunting permits are sold.

Hunting Zones

Missouri’s waterfowl hunting zones are divided into North, Middle, and South. For a map and more information, visit

Keep Wild Animals Wild

City or countryside, Missouri’s wild animals are your neighbors, and finding a young animal alone doesn’t mean it needs help. In spring and early summer, rabbits and other wild animals are sometimes left alone for long periods while their parents look for food. If you see young wildlife in the outdoors, don’t assume it is abandoned or hurt. leave young wildlife alone.

If you believe an animal is in distress, notify the closest Missouri Department of Conservation office.

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 - Shawn Carey
Designer - Les Fortenberry
Designer - Marci Porter

Photographer - Noppadol Paothong
Photographer - David Stonner

Circulation - Laura Scheuler