MDC Notable News for 2021

News from the region
Published Date

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) had an assortment of exciting news over 2021, including the state’s first black-bear-hunting season, the state’s first elk harvested with archery equipment, numerous fishing records broken, new “four-legged” and “two-legged” conservation agents, a new commissioner, and more.

See 2021 MDC news highlights below and follow the links for more information and images.


Renovation completed at MDC's Roaring River Hatchery

The $1.9 million renovation project at the hatchery was a modernization of the facility for increased trout production and healthier fish. It also means that families who like to stroll along the raceways and see waters teeming with fish will have something to look at again. Get more information and images at

MDC removes peregrine falcons from state endangered species list

MDC’s Peregrine Falcon Recovery Working Group has been studying the world’s fastest bird and determined that the state’s population and distribution of peregrine falcons warrant its delisting as a state endangered species while keeping it a species of conservation concern. Get more information and images at


Wayne County angler catches world record-sized spotted gar

Congratulations to Devlin Rich of Williamsville on catching a new state record 10-pound, 9-ounce spotted gar while fishing with a pole-and-line at Wappapello Lake Feb. 25. His catch is not only the latest Missouri state record, but it beats the current spotted gar world record of 9-pounds, 12-ounces set back in 1994. Get more information and images at


MDC and A.T Still University ask Missourians to send ticks for research study

MDC and A.T. Still University in Kirksville partnered in a new research study asking people to save ticks they encounter and mail them to the University. The ticks will be used for two-year scientific research study to help better understand the statewide distribution of tick species and the human pathogens they carry. Get more information and images at

Jefferson County angler catches new state record yellow perch

Congratulations to Sharon Christopher of Cedar Hill for catching a new state record 2-pound, 7-ounce yellow perch while fishing at Bull Shoals Lake March 7. Get more information and images at

Osage County angler catches 112-pound invasive black carp

Jesse Hughes of Bonnots Mill was originally catfishing with friends March 4 when he hooked a 112-pound invasive black carp from the Osage River. Black carp are on the MDC Prohibited Species List – a list of species that may not be imported, exported, transported, sold, purchased, or possessed alive in Missouri. Get more information and images at

Missouri man pulls new state-record sucker from Roark Creek

Congratulations to Harvey Smith of Sparta for snagging a new state-record white sucker March 27 when he snagged the 6-pound, 2-ounce fish from Roark Creek in Taney County. The previous record under alternative methods was a 5-pound, 1-ounce fish caught from Lake Taneycomo.  Get more information and images at


Missouri angler swipes state record for longnose gar

Congratulations to Anthony Schnur, Jr. of Pevely on catching a 32-pound, 10-ounce longnose gar from Table Rock Lake April 7 using the pole-and-line method. His current record breaks the previous record of 27-pounds set in 1999. Get more information and images at

Missouri man steals redear sunfish state record from friend

Congratulations to Alex Phillips of Ash Grove on becoming the new state record holder under alternative methods for a 1-pound, 12-ounce redear sunfish he caught while bowfishing at Table Rock Lake April 28. The previous record, caught by Phillips’ friend Josh Cole, was a fish caught nearly two years ago to the day. Get more information and images at


MDC Protection Branch to launch new canine unit this summer

MDC announced in May the summer launch of its new canine unit through its Protection Branch. The new unit, consisting of five dogs and their conservation agent-handlers, will be stationed around the state, and used as necessary to work throughout Missouri. Get more information and images at

USDA funds MDC to enhance cropland acres, restore and protect sand prairies

USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service awarded Missouri $930,377 to create and implement management strategies that target unprofitable cropland acres to enhance water and soil health, target at-risk grassland-associated wildlife species habitat on agricultural land, and assist producers to avoid the need for natural resource regulatory requirements. Get more information and images at


St. Francois County angler catches state record river carpsucker

Congratulations to Steven Henson of Bonne Terre on becoming the latest state record holder for river carpsucker. Henson was fishing with his pole-and-line on the Mississippi River June 1 when he reeled in the 3-pound, 14-ounce fish. Get more information and images at

MDC congratulates Sarcoxie High School on NASP championship win

Congratulations to Missouri student archers and teams on their competition efforts at the National Archery in the Schools Program Open and NASP Championship tournaments June 10-12 in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina – especially Sarcoxie High School who took first place in the 3D Competition. Get more information and images at

Explore Missouri’s outdoors through Agents of Discovery mobile app

MDC launched its free mobile gaming app, Agents of Discovery, in June to encourage kids and adults to explore natural areas around the state and discover nature by completing “missions.” Get more information and images at

MDC breaks ground on City of Campbell Shooting Range Complex in Dunklin County

In June, MDC dedicated the future site of a target shooting range in Dunklin County -- City of Campbell Shooting Range Complex -- to further its promise of providing citizens a safe opportunity to shoot where such venues don’t already exist. Get more information and images at


MDC welcomes Margy Eckelkamp to Conservation Commission

MDC welcomed Margaret “Margy” F. Eckelkamp of Washington as the newest member of the four-person Missouri Conservation Commission in July. The Franklin County resident was appointed by Missouri Governor Mike Parson to serve a six-year term expiring June 30, 2027. Eckelkamp replaced Don Bedell of Sikeston, whose second six-year term as a Conservation Commissioner expired June 30. Eckelkamp joins Commission Chair Barry Orscheln of Columbia, Commission Vice Chair Mark McHenry of Kansas City, and Commission Secretary Dr. Steven Harrison of Rolla. Get more information and images at

MDC expands opportunities for commercial photography and filming on conservation areas

Effective July 1, professional photographers and videographers must now obtain new commercial-use permits to photograph and film on MDC areas. Get more information and images at

St. Louis teen breaks dad’s state record for longear sunfish

Congratulations to Robert “RJ” Audrain IV of St. Louis on catching the new state record longear sunfish under alternative methods. Audrain was fishing from a private pond in Franklin County July 3 when he caught the 5-ounce fish. The previous record was caught by Audrain’s father on the same day in 2020 from the same location. Get more information and images at

MDC now issuing citations for responsible recreation

MDC began partnering with Sonic Drive-In to reward Missouri youth for good outdoor behavior. MDC conservation agents are now issuing ice cream “citations” for kids caught practicing responsible nature behavior, such as wearing their life jacket, fishing or hunting with their family, or for keeping nature clean. The citation can be turned in to any participating Sonic Drive-In to claim a free ice cream cone for the responsible outdoor enthusiast. Get more information and images at

Perry County bowfisherman catches world record sized bighead carp

Congratulations to Matt Neuling of Perryville on becoming a state record holder under alternative methods after shooting a colossal 125-pound, 5-ounce bighead carp on July 24 at Lake Perry. Get more information and images at

Ripley County angler swipes rare state record for American eel

Congratulations to Carlin Allison of Doniphan on a rare feat – catching a state record American eel. Allison was catfishing on the Current River July 26 when he reeled in the 6-pound, 15-ounce eel on his pole-and-line. Get more information and images at

Governor signs Conservation Omnibus Bill

Governor Parson signed HB369 in July. Named the Conservation Omnibus Bill, the legislation includes improvements to Missouri’s feral hog law, creates a prescribed fire law for Missouri, and limits landowner liability when participating in an MDC wildlife-management program. The legislation was supported by numerous conservation and agricultural groups.


MDC names Piedmont man Logger of the Year

Congratulations to Chris L’Heureux of Piedmont on being named Missouri’s State Logger of the Year for 2021. He was also named regional logger of the year for the southeast region. Get more information and images at

MDC, partners begin round two of brown-headed nuthatch reintroduction

MDC and partners began phase two of brown-headed nuthatch reintroduction efforts in the Missouri Ozarks in July. The reintroduction of this bird species was made possible through extensive habitat restoration, and through partnerships with the U.S. Forest Service’s Mark Twain National Forest, Ouachita National Forest and Northern Research Station, Tall Timbers Research Station, the University of Missouri, and the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission. Get more information and images at


MDC, Missouri Community Forestry Council announce Arbor Award of Excellence winners

The Arbor Awards of Excellence recognize communities, institutions, businesses, organizations, and individuals who have improved trees in their community. Nominations were evaluated on sustainability, innovation, use of sound tree management principles; the contribution to the community, and the effectiveness of the tree care work, event, or program. Four winners were recognized: Individual – Doug Seely, Pine Lawn, Organization – Laurie Enhancement Committee, Business or Institution – Northwest Missouri State University, and Municipality/Government – City of St. Joseph. Get more information and images at


MDC reports Missouri hunters harvested 12 black bears during first season

Missouri hunters harvested 12 black bears during the state’s inaugural bear-hunting season, which ran Oct. 18–27. More than 6,330 hunters applied for 400 permits for the season with the maximum total harvest for the season being 40 bears. Get more information and images at

MDC congratulates Mike Szydlowski of Columbia on receiving Master Conservationist award

Congratulations to Mike Szydlowski of Columbia on being the latest recipient of the MDC Master Conservationist award. Szydlowski is a resource professional and the K-12 Science Coordinator for the Columbia Public Schools District. He was and continues to be instrumental in the development of the Boone County Nature School in partnership with MDC. This ground-breaking conservation effort is a future magnet school for fifth graders throughout Boone County and will feature indoor and outdoor classroom space and laboratory space designed to connect students with nature through hands-on learning. Get more information and images at

MDC welcomes 15 new conservation agents

Congratulations to the 15 new conservation agents on their graduation from MDC’s 2021 Conservation Agent Training Academy in October. Get more information and images at

Chris Irick took Missouri's first bull elk by archery methods

Chris Irick of Pleasant Hope was the first Missouri bowhunter to take a bull elk in state’s modern era of elk hunting. Irick bowshot the 6×6 bull in Shannon County on Oct. 18. He was among five Missouri hunters who got a permit this year to harvest one bull elk each during the state’s second elk-hunting season ever and all were successful. More at


MDC opens first public outdoor rock-climbing bluff in St. Louis area

The rock-climbing community has a new climbing bluff for outdoor climbing in St. Louis County on MDC’s Rockwoods Reservation Conservation Area in Wildwood. Get more information and images at


MDC sets deer and turkey hunting dates for upcoming seasons

Dates are set and details will be available online and in related hunting booklets closer to the seasons. Get more information and images at

MDC expands bicycle use on many conservation areas

The Missouri Conservation Commission gave final approval at its Dec. 10 open meeting to MDC proposed regulation changes that would allow the expanded use of bicycles and electric bicycles on many department-area service roads and multi-use trails. The changes will become effective Feb. 28, 2022. Get more information and images at

Learn more about these notable news items and get other news from MDC through its Online Newsroom at