MDC wetlands in the Kansas City region need more rain

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Kansas City
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Kansas City, Mo. – Recent rains have helped some wetlands, but drought conditions are lingering and hampering hunting opportunities in many Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) wetlands in the Kansas City region. Wetlands within the Middle Zone for waterfowl hunting in western Missouri need far more rain to fall and fill marsh pools. Waterfowl hunting seasons in the Middle Zone will be open in two parts: Nov. 4-12 and Nov. 18-Jan. 7. Despite dry conditions, duck and goose hunters will find some hunting opportunities at MDC areas.

MDC will start with 12 hunting positions at the Four Rivers Conservation Area in Waterfowl Draw Units 1 and 2 with the hope of more if conditions improve, said Shane Allen, MDC wildlife biologist. 

“Units 3 and 4 have very little water in the lowest lying areas”, Allen said, “but hunters may be able to find some opportunity. The boat lanes are unusable in Units 3 and 4 due to drought conditions. Food and cover for waterfowl is excellent this year. But the area is in dire need of significant rainfall or flooding to accommodate both wildlife and hunters.”

For updates on conditions at all MDC wetlands statewide, waterfowl hunters can monitor the Waterfowl Page on the MDC website at For Four Rivers, hunters can also call the area’s hotline at 417-395-4495 for wetland information that is updated on Mondays and Thursdays throughout the waterfowl season.

The dry conditions did have benefits at Four Rivers. Two significant construction projects were completed during spring and summer. All outdated and faulty water control structures were replaced. Concrete floodways were installed in Units 1 and 2.

“During rainy years, Four Rivers experiences significant flooding and the concrete floodways will be a great benefit,” Allen said.

The drought has been a blessing and a curse at the Schell-Osage Conservation Area, said John Henry, MDC wildlife biologist. Dry conditions have allowed a contractor to make good progress on a new pump station that’s part of a long-term renovation of wetlands and Schell Lake. However, Pool A which offers walk-in hunting through self-registration at the area headquarters is mostly dry. The pool needs rains to offer hunting opportunities.

Conditions are wetter at some pools at the Ralph and Martha Perry Memorial Conservation Area, said Joe Coy, MDC wildlife biologist. Pools 1, 2, and 3 are still dry with minimal rain runoff.

However, “pools 4, 5, 6, and the 7130 Pool were more fortunate in localized rainfall and are 70 percent full pool or higher,” Coy said. “Moist soil plant conditions in all the pools are very good to excellent this year.”

Dry conditions will hamper hunting as the season begins at the Montrose Conservation Area, said Brian Bokern, MDC wildlife biologist.

“Montrose Lake is still very low and there is no lake access for boats,” Bokern said. “We only have one blind that could be hunted, and it is 16 blind. For this reason, we will suspend holding a morning draw until conditions improve. In-season reservations are suspended until conditions improve. If conditions improve, we will go back to normal and hold a drawing for hunting positions. For now, waterfowl hunters will have to utilize the self-registration box located at the headquarters to hunt. We will allow hunters to go find water and hunt if they want to.” 

Hunters are strongly encouraged to not try to walk across the lakebed because they could break through the dry silty sediment on top and get stuck in mucky conditions below. All refuge closures and boundaries are still in effect. Information will be updated weekly.

Recent rains did little to improve water conditions in wetlands at the Settles Ford Conservation Area, Bokern said.

“As of now there is a little water in only a couple of the area pools,” he said. “A lot more rain is needed to fill pools. Hunting options on both the Settles Ford and Montrose areas are extremely limited.”

Missouri weather is notorious for rapid change, however. If more rains arrive, hunters can check conditions at MDC waterfowl areas via the update page,