In Brief

By MDC | October 1, 2021
From Missouri Conservationist: October 2021
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Join us for Poosey Conservation Area Fall Tour

The 35th annual driving tour is Sunday, Oct. 17, from noon to 4 p.m.

Enjoy autumn color as you drive slowly through Poosey Conservation Area’s (CA) winding gravel roads of scenic forests and woodlands. Visitors will receive a tour brochure at the entrance. Nature interpretive stops will be placed along the route, and a portable sawmill will be cutting lumber from logs at a demonstration site.

This popular event allows people to ride or drive on area service roads that are normally closed to public vehicle traffic. The tour traverses shallow creeks and rugged terrain with some steep climbs and descents, so a vehicle with high clearance is recommended.

The tour begins at Pike’s Lake off Route W and County Road 502. Gates open at noon, and the last vehicle will be allowed to begin at 4 p.m.

MDC requests that visitors observe COVID-19 precautions such as physical distancing when exiting vehicles to view exhibits or when hiking near others, such as at the trail to the limestone outcropping called the Panther’s Den.

Poosey CA is located in Livingston County 6 miles southeast of Jamesport, 9 miles northeast of Lock Springs, 12 miles southwest of Trenton, and 13 miles northwest of Chillicothe.

For tour information, contact MDC Resource Forester Samantha Anderson at 660-646-6122. Get maps and information about Poosey CA at short.mdc.mo.gov/ZSS. For other fall color tour opportunities, check out the fall color forecast at mdc.mo.gov/fallcolor.

Conservation Commission Gives Initial Approval to Fishing, Bicycle use Regulations

The Missouri Conservation Commission gave initial approval during its Aug. 27 open meeting to several proposed regulations related to fishing and the use of bicycles on MDC conservation areas.

MDC invites public comments during October online at short.mdc.mo.gov/Z49. Comments received will be considered and final proposals will go to the commission for further action at its Dec. 10 meeting.

Minimum Length Catfish on Mark Twain Lake

The proposed regulation sets a minimum length limit of 26 inches for blue catfish and flathead catfish on Mark Twain Lake but will not apply to channel catfish.

Under the regulation amendment, blue catfish and flathead catfish caught from Mark Twain Lake that are less than 26 inches in length must be returned to the water unharmed immediately after being caught. There is a current daily limit on Mark Twain Lake of five blue catfish and five flathead catfish with no size limit.

A minimum length limit could improve catfish numbers in Mark Twain by increasing the abundance of preferred sized catfish (30-inch) and memorable sized catfish (35-inch) with minimal or no reductions in the yield, or pounds harvested by anglers.

Expanding Bicycle Use on Conservation Areas

The proposed regulation changes would allow the expanded use of bicycles and electric bicycles on most department area service roads and multi-use trails. The commission also gave initial approval to MDC definitions of bicycles and electric bicycles.

Bicycle use on MDC’s approximately 1,100 conservation areas is currently restricted to roads open to public vehicle traffic and some multi-use trails. Bicycle use is currently not allowed on conservation area service roads.

The regulation change will affect approximately 300 MDC areas. Approximately 30 of these areas will be closed to bicycle and electric bicycle use during all portions of the firearms deer hunting season and the spring turkey hunting seasons.

Exceptions would also include service roads used by staff at fish hatcheries and other heavily used MDC areas or where bicycle use could damage sensitive habitats, such as designated natural areas.

Changes at Lost Valley Hatchery

The proposed regulation permits free fishing at Lost Valley Fish Hatchery, near Warsaw, by reservation for educational and other organized groups.

Currently, Lost Valley Fish Hatchery offers catch-and-release fishing for kids ages 15 and under from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday from March through November on designated waters. Due to staffing limitations, it was necessary to change fishing at the hatchery to by reservation only for educational and other organized groups, such as school classes.

Learn more about Lost Valley Fish Hatchery online at short.mdc.mo.gov/Z9X.

Changes to Fishing, Paddlefish Regulations

The proposed regulation changes update the Wildlife Code of Missouri concerning paddlefish, snagging, and commercial fishing.

Snagging Definition

A proposed regulation change establishes a definition of snagging, which is currently undefined in the Code. Snagging is a popular method for taking fish, such as paddlefish, that do not go after baited hooks because they “filter feed” on tiny crustaceans and insects by swimming through the water with their large mouths open. Snagging uses a heavy-duty fishing pole with a large, three-pronged hook on a line to snag a fish along its body as it swims.

With the change, snagging would be defined in the Code as: “Hooking or attempting to hook a fish in a part of the body other than the mouth or jaw by means of a pole, line, and hook. Snagging is characterized by a repeated drawing or jerking motion of the pole, line, and hook or by trolling with an unbaited hook rather than enticement by bait or lure.”

Statewide Minimum Length

A proposed regulation amendment establishes a statewide minimum length limit of 32 inches for sport/recreational taking of paddlefish, up from the current minimum length of 24 inches for most areas of the state. The existing minimum length limit of 34 inches will remain in effect for Lake of the Ozarks, Table Rock Lake, Truman Lake, and their tributaries. All paddlefish under the legal minimum length must be returned to the water unharmed immediately after being caught.

Paddlefish can grow to a length of 7 feet and weigh more than 100 pounds. The increased length limit will allow female paddlefish to reach sexual maturity before being harvested. This will help make paddlefish waters more sustainable for natural reproduction and result in larger fish available for harvest.

15 More Days Added to Season

Another proposed regulation amendment adds 15 days to the fall/winter snagging, snaring, or grabbing season for taking fish — except paddlefish — by extending the season end from Jan. 31 to Feb. 15. It also prohibits snagging for all species of fish on Table Rock Lake after taking the daily limit of two paddlefish.

The paddlefish snagging season for the state’s major paddlefish snagging waters — Lake of the Ozarks, Truman Lake, and Table Rock Lake — and most other waters in the state remains March 15 through April 30. The paddlefish season for the Mississippi River remains March 15 through May 15 with a fall season of Sept. 15 through Dec. 15.

The proposed amendment extending the fall snagging, snaring, or grabbing season provides additional opportunities for anglers. It also aligns the snagging, snaring, or grabbing season with the season allowing some fish to be taken by gig or atlatl.

Commercial Fishing Season

A proposed amendment establishes a commercial paddlefish fishing season of Nov. 1 through April 15 on the Mississippi River to limit the commercial harvest of paddlefish only during cooler water temperatures. It also sets a minimum length limit of 32 inches for taking paddlefish on the Mississippi River.

The primary justification for the season is to prevent paddlefish mortality. Paddlefish captured in nets during warm-water temperatures (late April through October) are more likely to perish, causing the waste of fish that would have otherwise been harvested and the unnecessary death of paddlefish under the legal length. Establishing a paddlefish commercial season will also better align Missouri regulations with those of other states along the Mississippi River.

To read these proposed regulations in their entirety, visit short.mdc.mo.gov/Z49.

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Invasive Species: Missouri’s Least Wanted
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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.

Wintercreeper

First introduced from China in 1907 as an ornamental ground-cover plant, wintercreeper (Euonymus fortunei) is an aggressive perennial woody vine. It climbs rocks and trees, reaching heights of 40 to 70 feet. Birds, small mammals, and water disperse wintercreeper seeds.

Why It’s Bad

Due to wintercreeper’s aggressiveness, it can form a dense ground cover that reduces or eliminates native species in woodlands and forests. As it outcompetes native plants for space and sunlight, it also hinders them by depleting nutrients and moisture in the soil. The dense ground cover can also restrict tree seedling establishment. Climbing wintercreeper can smother and kill shrubs and small trees.

How to Control It

Small areas of wintercreeper

Pull individual vines by the roots and remove. This method requires that the entire plant, including all roots, runners, and seeds, be removed or resprouting will occur.

Mature stands of wintercreeper

Cut vines by hand and spray each cut stem with 25 percent glyphosate or triclopyr solution. Cut stump treatment is best applied after the last killing frost and prior to spring wildflower emergence to prevent harm to non-target species. Cutting without the application of herbicides is not recommended because this will lead to root sprouting.

Alternative Native Plants

  • Cross vine
  • Trumpet vine
  • American strawberry bush
  • Creeping mahonia

For more information on wintercreeper and control, visit short.mdc.mo.gov/Zjj.

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Agent Advice
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Jacob Plunkett
Wayne County
Conservation Agent

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Don’t store your kayaks and canoes just yet. Fall is a great time to discover an Ozark stream. The temperatures are great, the fall foliage is beautiful, and the smallmouth fishing is exceptional. Before you head out, pack a life jacket for each person. Grab a bag for all your litter. If you’re packing a cooler, leave the glass containers at home. Secure the cooler to your vessel in case you flip. Carry a dry bag with a complete change of clothes in case you get wet, and the temperatures drop. If you’re fishing, purchase the proper permits and understand the pertinent regulations. For more information, visit short.mdc.mo.gov/Z9n.

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What Is It?
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Red-Sided Eastern Gartersnake

The red-sided eastern gartersnake, a subspecies of the eastern gartersnake, varies in color — from blackish, dark brown, greenish, or olive — and its back scales are keeled. They live in a variety of habitats, but favor areas near water, such as ponds, marshes, or swamps and damp woods or forested areas along creeks and rivers. Gartersnakes are active through early November but may stay active during a mild winter.

This Issue's Staff

MAGAZINE MANAGER
Stephanie Thurber

EDITOR
Angie Daly Morfeld

ASSOCIATE EDITOR
Larry Archer

PHOTOGRAPHY EDITOR
Cliff White

STAFF WRITERS
Bonnie Chasteen
Kristie Hilgedick
Joe Jerek

DESIGNERS
Shawn Carey
Marci Porter

PHOTOGRAPHERS
Noppadol Paothong
David Stonner

CIRCULATION MANAGER
Laura Scheuler