KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Major flooding this spring and summer along the upper Osage rivers, including the Marais des Cygnes, altered wetland habitat conditions at the Four Rivers Conservation Area south of Kansas City. But the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) is working to recover some habitat by waterfowl season. Most of the area’s wetland pools became flooded in mid-March and still have not drained. Some have flooded again due to recent rains.
Hunters will find poor to fair native moist-soil plant production in Unit 1 and Unit 2 pools due to the flooding. Those plants usually provide food and cover that attract ducks and geese. No crops were planted in the bottoms this year due to wet conditions, said Chris Daniel, MDC wildlife management biologist and Four Rivers manager.
“We aerial seeded millet on about 1,800 acres in Units 1 and 2 in late July,” Daniel said. “So far the millet looks really good. Unfortunately, more flooding is in the forecast following recent heavy rains so it is too early to predict conditions. There should be normal hunting opportunity during duck season, but habitat may be marginal.”
Hunters will find minimal water in Unit 1 and 2 wetland pools during the Sept. 7-22 early teal season. Pools should have normal water levels when the Middle Zone duck hunting season opens on Nov. 9. Hunters draw for shooting positions in Unit 1 and 2. Flooding caused minor road damage. But repairs should be completed by the opening of the duck season.
In Units 3 and 4, the open units, flooding has also affected habitat conditions. The Unit 3 levee was breached by floodwaters on May 24, Daniel said. The area took on 15 feet of water and has not yet drained. The levee is still breached. Unit 4 flooded in mid-March and water levels remain high.
Hunters will find scant cover or habitat in Units 3 and 4 because of the flooding. On the positive side, those units will have more than 2,000 acres of water during the early teal season.
Portions of the wetland complex in Vernon and Bates counties are designated as waterfowl refuge. For more information about Four Rivers Conservation Area and the August A. Busch, Jr. Memorial Wetlands, visit https://short.mdc.mo.gov/ZpS.
MDC has also published the Migratory Bird and Waterfowl Hunting Digest 2019-2020, which has statewide information about regulations and seasons. They are available where hunting permits are sold or online at https://short.mdc.mo.gov/ZpP.