In Brief

By MDC | April 1, 2021
From Missouri Conservationist: April 2021

Leave Wildlife Wild

Young wildlife may appear abandoned, but that’s usually not the case

As you head outdoors during this long-awaited spring season, you may encounter a variety of newborn wildlife. MDC asks that you “leave wildlife wild” by not interfering with newborn or young animals as it can do more harm than good.

“Young animals are rarely orphaned,” said MDC State Wildlife Veterinarian Sherri Russell. “If the young are left alone, the parent will usually return. Parents are normally out searching for food and cannot constantly attend to their offspring.”

Russell added that baby birds are a common newborn people want to help.

“If you see a chick on the ground hopping around and it has feathers, leave it alone and bring pets inside. It is a fledgling and the parents are nearby keeping an eye on it,” she said. “Fledglings can spend up to 10 days hopping on the ground while learning to fly. If you find one that is featherless, you can return it to the nesting area if possible, as it probably fell out of the nest.”

Dogs catching baby rabbits and lawn mowers running over nests are other common issues.

“Rabbits seldom survive in captivity and can actually die of fright from being handled,” Russell said. “Even if the animal is injured, return it to the nest because the mother will most likely return.”

Despite what many think, wild mothers do not abandon their young because of a human scent, and most newborn animals do not survive in captivity.

“While people have good intentions, the care and rehabilitation of wild animals requires special training, knowledge, facilities — and permits,” she explained. “Without such care, wild animals will remain in poor health and could eventually die. And it is illegal to possess many wild animals without a valid state or federal permit.”

Russell also noted that wildlife can become dangerous as they mature, and can also carry parasites, disease, and can damage property.

“Native wildlife can carry mites, ticks, lice, fleas, flukes, roundworms, tapeworms, rabies, distemper, tuberculosis, respiratory diseases, and skin diseases,” Russell said. “Some of these can be transmitted to humans.”

Although tempting to take them into homes, the best help people can offer wild animals is to leave them alone.

Celebrate Missouri Trees in April

April gives Missourians twice the opportunity to celebrate the value of Missouri trees and forests with days and events focusing on planting native trees and practicing proper tree care.

Missouri Arbor Day is Friday, April 2. Missouri has been observing the state’s official Arbor Day on the first Friday in April since 1886, when the General Assembly declared that day be set aside for the appreciation and planting of trees. National Arbor Day is recognized on the last Friday of April, which is April 30 for 2021.

Get information on backyard tree care — including types of trees for urban and other landscapes, selecting the right tree for the right place, planting tips, watering and pruning information, and more — at

MDC’s George O. White State Forest Nursery near Licking offers a variety of low-cost native tree and shrub seedlings for reforestation, windbreaks, erosion control, and wildlife food and cover. Orders are accepted from Sept. 1 to April 15 every year. For more information, visit

Communities across the state also hold local Arbor Day activities. For more information on Arbor Day and Missouri’s Tree City USA communities, visit the Arbor Day Foundation at

Did you know?

Missouri forests cover about one-third of the state and provide outdoor recreation, wildlife habitat, natural beauty, and watersheds for streams and rivers. Spending time in Missouri forests can provide a natural health benefit, too. Exposure to nature contributes to your physical well-being, reducing blood pressure and heart rate, relieving stress, and boosting energy levels. Get more information at

Find Spring Outdoor Fun with MO Outdoors App

Spring has sprung, so now is a great time to get outside and discover nature. Looking for places to enjoy outdoor activities in Missouri, such as hiking, birdwatching, camping, shooting, fishing, and hiking? MDC has an app for that.

With our free mobile app — MO Outdoors — users can quickly and easily find MDC outdoor offerings based on the types of activities they want close to home, work, or even while traveling. MO Outdoors is available for download through Google Play for Android devices or the App Store for Apple devices. Learn more at

MO Outdoors can help users find MDC conservation areas, fishing accesses, hiking trails, shooting ranges, nature centers, and more around the state based on their desired types of outdoor activities including birdwatching, camping, fishing, hiking, hunting, or shooting. Users can also mark “favorite” locations to quickly find them in future searches.

MO Outdoors also connects users to area regulations and season information, hours of operation, images, area closings, and interactive maps of area boundaries and features.

The map function also displays features such as parking lots, boat ramps, and wildlife viewing areas, and allows users to easily navigate to the features using their device’s GPS. Users can also download maps for offline use.

Agent Advice
Statistics Elements

Corporal Matt Smith, Morgan County Conservation Agent


Turkeys gobbling in the morning is a sure sign of spring and spring turkey season. Youth season is April 10 and 11, and regular season follows April 19–May 9. Take precautions to make this season safe. Know the property lines where you’re hunting and the location of other hunters on the area. Let someone know where you’re hunting. Be sure of your target and what’s beyond it. For more information, consult the 2021 Spring Turkey Hunting Regulations and Information booklet at While afield, look for another Missouri treasure — morel mushrooms. Always be sure of your identification before consuming a wild mushroom. For assistance, consult A Guide to Missouri’s Edible and Poisonous Mushrooms at

What Is It?

Common Snapping Turtle

The common snapping turtle is a large aquatic turtle with a big pointed head, small lower shell, and a long thick tail. The upper part of the tail has large, pointy scales in a saw-toothed row. This large reptile can be found statewide anywhere there is a permanent source of water — farm ponds, marshes, swamps, rivers, and reservoirs. Often pursued for its meat, harvest is controlled by state regulation to maintain a healthy population. Refer to the Wildlife Code of Missouri for current regulations.

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