In Brief

By MDC | June 1, 2024
From Missouri Conservationist: June 2024

Jason Sumners Named Director of the Missouri Department of Conservation

MDC deputy director tapped to succeed Sara Parker Pauley

The Missouri Conservation Commission has selected Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) Deputy Director of Resource Management Jason Sumners as MDC’s next director, effective June 1. Sumners will succeed MDC Director Sara Parker Pauley, who announced her retirement this spring after 30 years of public service. With this appointment, Sumners will become the 10th director in the department’s 87-year history.

“I am excited and humbled by this opportunity the commission has entrusted me with and the conservation team I get to work with across the state and country,” Sumners said. “The Missouri outdoors have defined my personal and professional life, so getting to serve in this capacity and continue to tackle the ever-evolving challenges in conservation is an exciting endeavor.”

MDC protects and manages the fish, forest, and wildlife resources of the state, and provides opportunities for citizens to use, enjoy, and learn about these resources.

“The commission did a national search for the director position because we knew we had tough shoes to fill with Sara leaving,” said Missouri Conservation Commission Chair Steven Harrison. “Jason is uniquely poised for this director role with his background, experience, and national connections in conservation. We are looking forward to a smooth transition with Jason at the helm with high expectations with him as the next director.”

As deputy director of resource management, Sumners oversees the resource management efforts of the agency, including statewide resource management, regional resource management, and protection. He also leads the regulations committee. Prior to his deputy director role, Sumners served as Science Branch chief, leading a team of more than 80 scientists that specialize in fish, forest, and wildlife research and management. He began his career at MDC in 2008 as a private lands deer biologist and later became the head of the state’s deer management program.

During Sumners’ tenure at MDC, he has been instrumental in developing the agency’s strategic and operational direction, served as Wildlife Division chief, led the state’s white-tailed deer management program, took part in Missouri’s elk reintroduction efforts, developed a private lands deer management program, and led the department’s effort to develop and implement a chronic wasting disease management and surveillance strategy. He also worked at the national level on the Relevancy Roadmap for state fish and wildlife agencies to enhance conservation efforts through broader engagement.

Sumners received a Bachelor of Science in Fisheries and Wildlife from the University of Missouri and a Master of Science in Biology from Mississippi State University. He is a National Conservation Leadership Institute fellow, professional member of the Boone and Crockett Club, active with many non-government organization partners, represents MDC on numerous regional and national committees, and has been recognized by the Conservation Federation of Missouri and the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies for his leadership in science-based approaches to wildlife conservation. He has published popular and scientific articles on wildlife, natural resources management, and conservation relevancy.

Sumners grew up in the small town of Lincoln, Mo., where his love for the outdoors began. His interests include hunting, fishing, and camping. He and his family live in Hartsburg.

Free Fishing Days

Conservation makes Missouri a great place to fish, and MDC invites everyone to experience it during Free Fishing Days, June 8 and 9. During Free Fishing Days, anyone may fish in the Show-Me State without buying a fishing permit, trout permit, or trout park daily tag.

Aside from not needing permits, 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 remain in effect on private property.

For information on Missouri fishing regulations, fish identification, and more, get a copy of the 2024 A Summary of Missouri Fishing Regulations, available where permits are sold or online at

Want to learn to fish? MDC’s Discover Nature — Fishing provides a series of free lessons throughout the state. All fishing gear is provided. Learn more at

Need fishing gear? MDC works with numerous libraries and other locations around the state to loan fishing gear for free. Loaner gear includes fishing poles and simple tackle boxes with hooks, sinkers, and bobbers. Worms, minnows, or other bait are not provided. Find MDC Rod and Reel Loaner Program locations at

Need a fishing spot? MDC’s free MO Fishing app helps anglers find the best places to fish in Missouri, access regulation information, identify fish by species, and more. Anglers can also buy, store, and show fishing permits right on their mobile devices. MO Fishing is available for download through Google Play for Android devices or the App Store for Apple devices. Learn more at

New Cases of CWD

After sampling and testing more than 37,000 deer for chronic wasting disease (CWD) during the 2023 surveillance year, MDC found 162 deer that tested positive for the disease.

Those 162 deer bring the total number of CWD cases found in the state to 572 since the first case in wild deer was confirmed in early 2012. Including recent sampling efforts, more than 280,000 tissue samples from wild deer have been collected for CWD testing in Missouri since MDC began CWD surveillance in 2002.

Of the deer tested during the 2023 surveillance year, CWD-positive deer have been found in 27 counties: Adair (3), Barry (1), Barton (15), Carroll (2), Chariton (4), Clark (1), Crawford (3), Dallas (4), Franklin (23), Grundy (1), Jasper (1), Jefferson (15), Linn (9), Macon (7), Maries (1), Oregon (4), Osage (3), Perry (3), Polk (2), Pulaski (1), Putnam (3), Randolph (4), Scotland (3), Ste. Genevieve (31), Stone (7), Sullivan (2), and Taney (9).

CWD is a 100 percent fatal disease in white-tailed deer and other members of the deer family. The disease has contributed to population declines in other states and threatens Missouri’s deer population, hunting culture, and economy.

The goal of MDC’s CWD management in Missouri is to slow the spread of the disease while researchers work to develop a cure and additional management tools, and to keep the percentage of infected deer low. Learn more at

Give Turtles a Brake

Be cautious on the roads this spring and give turtles a brake. These reptiles are often hit by cars during the warmer months but are at special risk this time of year because they are more active. Common turtles spotted crossing Missouri roads include three-toed box turtles, ornate box turtles, and snapping turtles.

Vehicles are one of the leading threats box turtles face in Missouri, and MDC urges motorists to be cautious and slow down if they see a turtle in the road. If helping a turtle make it safely across, check for traffic and always move the turtle in the direction it is traveling.

Additionally, MDC urges the public 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. Leave turtles in the wild, follow the speed limit, keep your eyes on the road, and watch out for turtles.

Migratory Game Bird and Waterfowl Seasons

The Missouri Conservation Commission approved recommendations at its April meeting for the upcoming 2024 migratory game bird hunting seasons and 2024–2025 waterfowl hunting seasons.

2024 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. 18–Dec. 1
  • Limits: 3 daily and 9 in possession
  • Hours: One-half hour before sunrise to sunset
  • Season: Same as duck season dates in the respective zones (See dates under Waterfowl Hunting for Ducks)
  • Limits: 15 daily and 45 in possession
  • Hours: One-half hour before sunrise to sunset

2024–2025 Waterfowl Hunting

  • Season: Sept. 7–22
  • Limits: 6 daily and 18 in possession
  • Hours: Sunrise to sunset
  • Season:
  • North Zone: Nov. 2–Dec. 31
  • Middle Zone: Nov. 2–10, 2024 and Nov. 16, 2024–Jan. 5, 2025
  • South Zone: Nov. 28–Dec. 1 and Dec. 7, 2024–Jan. 31, 2025
  • 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
  • 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
Canada Geese and Brant
  • Season: Oct. 5–13 and Nov. 11–Feb. 6, 2025
  • Limits: 3 Canada geese and brant in aggregate daily, 9 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, 2025
  • 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, 2025
  • Limits: 2 daily and 6 in possession
  • Hours: One-half hour before sunrise to sunset
Light Goose Conservation Order
  • Season: Feb. 7–April 30, 2025
  • Limits: No daily or possession limits
  • Hours: One-half hour before sunrise to one-half hour after sunset
  • Methods: For the taking of blue, snow, and Ross’s geese, hunters may use shotguns capable of holding more than three shells and recorded or electronically amplified bird calls or sounds or imitations of bird calls or sounds.

Youth Hunting Days

  • North Zone: Oct. 26–27
  • Middle Zone: Oct. 26–27
  • South Zone: Nov. 23–24
  • Limits: Same as during regular waterfowl season
  • Hours: Same as during regular waterfowl season

Requirements: Any person 15 or younger may participate in youth waterfowl hunting days without permit provided they are in the immediate presence of an adult 18 or older. If the youth hunter is not certified in hunter education, the adult must have the required permits and have in his or her possession proof of hunter education, unless exempt. The adult may not hunt ducks but may participate in other seasons that are open on youth hunting days.

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, duck) and Feb. 11–March 10, 2025
  • 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

Change to Federal Duck Stamp

Per the Federal Duck Stamp Modernization Act of 2023, the Federal Duck Stamp has been converted to a digital version and hunters are no longer required to carry a paper copy. Hunters must have a digital version in their possession.

For more information on migratory bird and waterfowl hunting, visit MDC online at, or get MDC’s Migratory Bird and Waterfowl Hunting Digest 2024–2025, available in July, online and where hunting permits are sold.

Agent Advice
Statistics Elements

Kyle Dick
Polk County
Conservation Agent


There are few things more refreshing on a hot summer day than a trip to the water. June is a popular time to get out on the water in a boat, kayak, or canoe. Regardless of the vessel you choose, always abide by Missouri’s boater safety laws. You must have U.S. Coast Guard-approved personal flotation devices (PFD) available for every person on your vessel. These devices must be easily accessible and in good working condition. Anyone under the age of 7 must always wear a U.S. Coast Guard-approved PFD while on a boat, kayak, or canoe. Make sure PFDs properly fit your passengers. For more information on Missouri’s boater safety laws, visit the Missouri Highway Patrol’s website at Be safe and have fun!

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.


Northern Snakehead Fish

by Angela Sokolowski


The northern snakehead fish (Channa argus) is a long bodied, predatory fish that is not native to the U.S. Considered an injurious species and known invader, it cannot be possessed alive in Missouri.

This fish’s head resembles a snake, thus its name. Its body can grow up to 3 feet long with python-like coloration and pattern. The dorsal fin is long, and the anal fin is about half its body length. They are voracious predators with sharp teeth. Unlike most fish, they can breathe air, which allows survival in poorly oxygenated water or out of water for several days if their skin stays moist. Snakeheads can slither across land to return to water.

Snakeheads can live in rivers, reservoirs, and wetlands, but prefer shallow, still water with mud bottoms and vegetation. 

The only confirmed locations in Missouri have been in the Bootheel region.

Why It’s Bad

Snakeheads do not have a natural role in our aquatic habitats. They are aggressive predators with high reproduction rates that pose a serious risk of outcompeting and preying upon our native fish, including bass, and threaten aquatic species of conservation concern.

What to Do if You Catch One

  • Make sure it’s a snakehead and not a native bowfin. Snakeheads have an anal fin almost as long as the dorsal fin while bowfin have a short anal fin.
  • Photograph the fish and note the location of the catch.
  • Do not release it or throw it on land, as it could move back to the water. Remember this fish is an airbreather and can live several days out of the water.
  • Kill the fish by severing the head, gutting it, or placing it in a sealed plastic bag.
  • Report any catches and sightings of the fish to MDC’s Southeast Regional Office at 573-290-5858.

Invasive Species: Northern Snakehead

  • Pelvic fins close to pectoral fins and gills
  • Extended anal fin
  • Native to parts of Asia
  • Can grow about 33 inches long and are generally tan with dark brown mottling
  • Jaws contain many small teeth similar to pike and pickerel
  • Capable of breathing air, can go dormant in the mud during drought, and can move short distances on land using their pectoral fins
  • Can live out of water for up to three days in moist environment

Native Species: Bowfin

  • Black spot at base of tail
  • Pelvic fins set back from pectoral fins and gills
  • Short anal fin
  • Typically found in swamps and backwater of sluggish rivers
  • Can grow to about 32 inches long and are tan-olive with dark olive patterning
  • Jaws contain peg-like teeth
  • Can also breathe air and withstand droughts by going dormant in the mud

To learn more, visit

What is it?

Purple Prairie Clover

Purple prairie clover have unusual flowering heads, ringed with rose-magenta flowers and attractive foliage. Considered a perennial legume, it is often found in prairies, glades, and other open places. With its ease of care and lengthy blooming period — June through September — it’s becoming increasingly common in landscape plantings and home gardens. It also tolerates drought conditions, which makes it ideal for hot Missouri summers.

This Issue's Staff

Magazine Manager - Stephanie Thurber
Editor - Angie Daly Morfeld
Associate Editor - Larry Archer
Photography Editor - Cliff White
Staff Writer - Kristie Hilgedick
Staff Writer - Joe Jerek
Staff Writer – Dianne Van Dien
Designer - Marci Porter
Photographer - Noppadol Paothong
Photographer - David Stonner
Circulation – Marcia Hale