In Brief

By MDC | December 1, 2020
From Missouri Conservationist: December 2020

Give Nature Themed Holiday Gifts

MDC’s online nature shop makes holiday shopping a breeze.

Have any nature lovers on your holiday gift list? Visit MDC’s online Nature Shop for all your nature-themed gift-giving needs. Offerings include the ever popular Natural Events Calendar, plus a variety of books and more for all ages.

Holiday shoppers can also skip long lines at retail stores and visit one of our nature centers, located around the state in Kirkwood, Cape Girardeau, Springfield, Kansas City, Blue Springs, and Jefferson City. There you’ll find an array of reasonably priced, nature themed holiday gifts. (Masks are required, and other COVID-19 health precautions are in place at these locations.) Offerings include:

  • 2021 Natural Events Calendar ($9) has amazing images of native animals, plants, and places, along with phases of the moon, holidays and days of recognition, daily notes about natural events, and more.
  • Cooking Wild in Missouri cookbook ($16) features more than 100 recipes for native game, fish, fruits, nuts, and mushrooms.
  • Trees of Missouri ($8) field guide can help identify more than 170 tree species by leaf arrangement and shape, with easy-to-understand descriptions, range maps, and fullcolor illustrations.
  • A Paddlers Guide to Missouri ($8) makes a great gift for canoeists, kayakers, and floaters with color photos, maps, and descriptions of 58 rivers and streams.
  • Missouri’s Wild Mushrooms book ($16) is a great guide for hunting, identifying, and cooking the state’s most common mushrooms.
  • Missouri Wildflowers book ($16) has colorful pictures arranged by flower color and blooming time with descriptions covering plant characteristics, habitat, and range.

Buy these and other items at MDC nature centers, through our online Nature Shop at, or by calling 877-521-8632. Applicable tax, shipping and handling costs apply.

Give the gift of hunting and fishing permits for hunters and anglers on your list. Buy permits from vendors around the state, online at, or through our free mobile apps, MO Hunting and MO Fishing, available for download through Google Play for Androiddevices or the App Store for Apple devices.

Discover Nature at Eagle Days

Did you know thousands of bald eagles visit Missouri each winter, and eagle watching in Missouri can be spectacular? From late December through early February, watch for eagles perched in large trees along rivers, streams, and lakes.

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, MDC will not be hosting Eagle Days events this year, but we encourage you to look for eagles on your own. Get out early in the morning to see eagles flying and fishing. Here are some MDC suggestions for winter eagle watching:

  • Lake of the Ozarks at Bagnell Dam Access, east of Bagnell
  • Eagle Bluffs Conservation Area on Route K, southwest of Columbia
  • Lock & Dam 24 at Clarksville
  • Lock & Dam 25, east of Winfield
  • Mingo National Wildlife Refuge, northwest of Puxico
  • Old Chain of Rocks Bridge south of I-270, off Riverview Drive, St. Louis
  • Riverlands Migratory Bird Sanctuary, east of West Alton
  • Schell-Osage Conservation Area, north of El Dorado Springs
  • Smithville Lake, north of Kansas City
  • Swan Lake National Wildlife Refuge, south of Sumner
  • Table Rock Lake and Shepherd of the Hills Fish Hatchery, southwest of Branson
  • Truman Reservoir, west of Warsaw

Get more information on Eagle Days, including related MDC online events, at

Agent Advice

Chad Gray, Osage County Conservation Agent

December is here, and if you did not bag a deer yet this season, there is still time. The alternative methods portion of the firearms deer season opens statewide Dec. 26 and runs through Jan. 5, 2021. Permitted methods include atlatl, permitted archery methods, muzzleloaders, centerfire handguns, and air rifles. If using handguns, review the definition that became effective on Aug. 30. Be sure you have the correct permit before going afield. Also, be aware of county specific antler point restrictions and antlerless permit limits. Only two antlered deer may be taken during the archery and firearms deer hunting seasons combined.

For more information, see the 2020 Fall Deer and Turkey hunting regulations and information booklet, available where permits are sold or at

Invasive Species: Missouri’s Least Wanted

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

Heavenly Bamboo

Heavenly bamboo (Nandina domestica) is an evergreen shrub with lacy-looking leaves and sprays of red berries that persist through the winter. Its multi-stemmed, canelike clumps resemble true bamboo. Except in the coldest temperatures, the leaves don’t drop. They stay green all winter and are often tinged with red. Native to Asia, heavenly bamboo was introduced to America in the early 1800s as an ornamental.

Why It’s Bad

Given its effects on native plants and animals, heavenly bamboo is hardly “heavenly.” It can form thickets, and its ever present leaves shade out native wildflowers. All parts of the plant are toxic. The berries contain high levels of cyanide and can poison wild birds and other animals, including pets. It has few pests or diseases to control it.

How to Control It

Researchers have been tracking the spread of heavenly bamboo. So far in Missouri, the outbreaks are minimal, but are occurring in the Ozarks, and it seems only a matter of time before heavenly bamboo becomes a big problem in woodlands and other natural areas. Early detection and elimination are key to minimizing the impact of this invasive species. Heavenly bamboo spreads vigorously from its roots (much like true bamboo). If you try to pull up a plant and even a small piece of root remains in the soil, it can resprout. Cutting down or burning the top of an established heavenly bamboo plant results in its resprouting from the stump. Herbicides typically work best on small plants or on young resprouts. Depending on the situation, controlling this plant can include a combination of prescribed burning, hand pulling of seedlings, cutting, and herbicide treatments.

Alternative Native Plants

  • American beautyberry
  • Virginia sweet-spire
  • Carolina allspice
  • New Jersey tea
  • Wahoo
  • Black chokeberry
  • Fragrant sumac
  • Ninebark

For more information visit

Honor Missourians Who Contributed to Conservation

The Missouri Conservation Commission and MDC recognize citizens who make outstanding contributions to conservation, and are accepting nominations for their Master Conservationist Award and the Missouri Conservation Hall of Fame. The Master Conservationist Award honors living or deceased citizens while the Missouri Conservation Hall of Fame recognizes deceased individuals. Those who can be considered for either honor are:

  • Citizens who performed outstanding acts or whose dedicated service over an extended time produced major progress in fisheries, forestry, or wildlife conservation in Missouri.
  • Employees of conservation-related agencies who performed outstanding acts or whose dedicated service over an extended time produced major progress in fisheries, forestry, or wildlife conservation in Missouri.

Anyone can submit a nomination, which should include a statement describing the nominee’s accomplishments and a brief biography. A screening committee appointed by the MDC director meets annually to consider nominees, with the Conservation Commission conveying final approval.

Get more information on the Master Conservationist Award and nomination form at short. For more information on the Missouri Conservation Hall of Fame and nomination form, visit

Nominations must be submitted by Jan. 1, 2021, to Missouri Department of Conservation, Attention Julie Love, PO Box 180, Jefferson City, MO 65102-0180, or emailed to

Enjoy Winter Trout Fishing

MDC staff have stocked about 73,000 rainbow trout in more than 30 urban-area lakes around the state for winter trout fishing. Many of these areas allow anglers to harvest trout as soon as they are stocked, while others are catch-and release until Feb. 1. Find locations at short.

The daily limit for catch-and-keep is four trout with no length limit. All Missouri residents over age 15 and under age 65 must have a fishing permit. All nonresidents over age 15 must have a fishing permit. To keep trout, anglers of all ages must have a Missouri trout permit.

Buy permits from vendors around the state, online at, or through our free mobile app — MO Fishing — available for download through Google Play for Android devices or the App Store for Apple devices.


Got a Question for Ask MDC?

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

Q: How do raccoons survive the winter?

A. Raccoons do not excavate their own dens. However, they do create dens in a variety of eclectic places, including hollow trees, caves, crevices in rocky ledges, cavities beneath tree roots, stands of slough grass, or even abandoned farm buildings. They also repurpose dens and nests abandoned by other mammals, such as woodchucks and muskrats.

They don’t hibernate, but during periods of snow and ice, raccoons usually den up for a few days, either singly or in groups of up to 23. This includes both sexes and all ages. Adults seemingly appear to lead solitary lives, but may use communal dens during unusually severe weather, in periods of high population, or in places with an abundant food supply.

In the fall, raccoons eat great quantities of food and put on considerable body fat. This supply of fat is the major source of energy during the winter. By late winter, they may lose as much as 50 percent of their autumn weight. They may venture out in mid-winter to search for food, which is why it is important to keep garbage receptacles, pet food bowls, and other potential sources secured.

Q: How did the 2019 Missouri River flood impact the movement of waterfowl? I didn’t see or hear geese flying over the following November and December?

A. While local Canada geese often use the same water bodies to roost each night, they will fly to different places in search of food. In years when Missouri experiences flooding on major rivers, many farmers are unable to plant their corn and soybean crops. Since geese have adapted to take advantage of grain residue left in those fields after harvest, their typical daily flights in search of food can change in a flood year and this may be what you noticed last winter.

Geese are primarily vegetarians, and snow geese, Ross’s geese, and Canada geese are all known to eat domesticated grains. However, both local geese and migrating geese seek out other food sources. Throughout the year, they eat plants such as grasses, sedges, rushes, forbs, horsetails, cottongrass shoots, willow, roots and tubers, and even berries.

Q: These gulls appear every fall and winter, diving behind the tractor as we till the soil near Canton. They appear to be eating worms and insects, but I don’t see any. What are they eating?

A. Ring-billed gulls are common and abundant in Missouri, particularly near our large rivers and other bodies of water, said MDC Ornithologist Sarah Kendrick. They are the most common inland gull and can be found near reservoirs, lakes, ponds, streams, landfills, parking lots, and shopping malls. Most ringbilled gulls nest in the interior of the continent, near freshwater.

These opportunistic omnivores predominately eat fish and invertebrates, but they dine on anything they can get their bills on, including grain and leftover human food. The gulls you are seeing are likely feasting on the worms, arthropods, and even small rodents plowed up by the disc. Learn more about this adaptable species at

What is it?

Rough Cockleburr

The fruit of a rough cocklebur — a brown, hard, woody bur covered with stout, hooked prickles — are considered a nuisance by most people. This annual plant disperses through these spine-covered burs, which stick to clothing, pets, and livestock. Rough cocklebur is tolerant of a variety of soil conditions, ranging from moist clay to dry sand, so it grows easily.


Inspire the children in your life to get outside.

Looking for a way to coax your kids to unplug, climb off the couch, and get outside? Then check out Xplor, the Conservation Department’s free magazine for kids and kids at heart.

Six times a year, Xplor serves up eyepopping art, photos, and stories about Missouri’s coolest critters, niftiest natural places, and liveliest outdoor activities. The magazine is free to Missouri residents (one subscription per household, please). Out-of-state subscribers pay $5 per year; out-of-country subscribers pay $8.

Don’t keep the door closed any longer. Subscribe online at

This Issue's Staff

Magazine Manager - Stephanie Thurber

Editor - Angie Daly Morfeld

Associate Editor - Larry Archer

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

Art Director - Cliff White

Designer - Shawn Carey
Designer - Marci Porter

Photographer - Noppadol Paothong
Photographer - David Stonner

Circulation - Laura Scheuler