Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Governor Outlines What's at Stake with Vetoes Impacting Wildlife Management and Conservation Commission

Governor Jay Nixon spoke to a nearly packed house at a little after 10:30 am on Tuesday to give a short history lesson on the Missouri Conservation Commission, and then outline how a series of his vetoes will protect the commission from political wrangling, as well as their budget from special interest sales tax carve-outs.

Bill Crawford, 2011
In an emotional and unexpected moment, after Nixon's eloquent recount of how and why the (Read more about Bill Crawford)
commission came to be in the 1930's, he introduced Bill Crawford. Mr. Crawford was also in attendance 80 years ago in this very same room as the commission was born back in September of 1935.  He was seventeen.

For those who know the history of Missouri conservation, the state of Missouri had been decimated by the 1930's by logging, market hunters, mining, and short sighted agricultural practices to name a few.  The deer and turkey populations were down to a few thousand, elk, bison, and deer were extirpated, and fish populations were painfully small.  The commission was formed to alleviate these horrendous problems by appointing a non-political entity to faithfully steward the state's natural bounty.

Leaping forward 80 years, deer and turkey populations number in the millions, elk have been reintroduced, black bear are making a natural comeback, Ozark rivers are running clean, and they are full of smallmouth bass, rainbow trout, brown trout, as well as many other species.  Even with the management practices necessary to make these things happen, the timber industry still hums along at a sustainable level, and whatever has been lost in revenues in this industry has been amply compensated for by dollars flowing into communities and state coffers by in-state and out-of-state sportsmen and women.

The Missouri Department of Conservation, overseen by the Missouri Conservation Commission has been a shining example of how to manage natural resources all across the United States.  With very little research, one can see how much better Missouri residents have fared with this system than in states using politically beholden entities.

It is therefore a true indictment of the short sightedness of Missouri legislators, almost entirely comprised of Republicans, that they would take bold steps to jeopardize this system.  In  a last minuted money grab clearly motivated by special interest lobbyists, these "representatives of the people," carved out sales tax exemptions for a bizarre cross-section of industries.  The example Nixon cited was the dry-cleaning industry.  Did you know that under legislation passed by the Missouri House and Senate, dry cleaners now enjoy exemptions from sales taxation?  Are you happy to know that the funds thus depleted will deprive the MDC from carrying out the conservation efforts cited above...to the tune of approximately $12 million per year?

Additionally, apparently the "captive cervid" lobby is thriving in Missouri as well.  Legislation vetoed by the Governor the day of his speech would have transferred regulation of these captive whitetail deer (primarily) to the Department of Agriculture.  The legislative transfer was an attempt to remove the regulatory jurisdiction of the MDC in trying to prevent the spread of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD).  The MDC has done an outstanding job of eradicating the outbreak of CWD detected a few years ago, first in captive deer and then in adjoining wild populations.  The transfer of authority would have greatly damaged such efforts.

Of course vetoes can be overridden.  The sportsmen and women owe it to the legacy of conservation in Missouri to make sure this does not happen.  By and large, the sporting community is made up of men and women who are not generally at great odds with conservative legislators and they will listen to us if we make our voices heard in great enough numbers.

Do not rely on your friend, your neighbor, or the organization to which you belong.  The two bills he vetoed today are SB 1326 and HB 506.  Additionally, he has already vetoed the sales tax carve-outs for special interests.  Contact your state senator and house member to let him or her know you expect them NOT to override these vetoes.  The future of our hunting, fishing, and natural resources depend on your efforts now.


Tuesday, June 17, 2014


Common Pheasant
 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Iowa’s unseasonably cold and snowy winter and wet spring is not likely to boost its pheasant population. 
Pheasants typically show population increases following mild winters with spring that are warmer and dryer than normal. Based on that weather model, the western third of Iowa has the best chance to see an uptick in pheasants due to below average snowfall and less than eight inches of spring rain.
The weather model predicts the rest of the state to see either no population increase or fewer birds than last year. The nesting forecast will be updated by the August roadside survey, which is the best gauge of what pheasant hunters can expect to find in the fall.
Todd Bogenschutz, upland wildlife biologist for the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, said while the weather is not what upland bird hunters had hoped for, there is some progress on pheasant habitat. Landowners began enrolling in continuous CRP on Monday.
“This is great news for Iowa’s new pheasant recovery continuous CRP practice designed specifically to help recover pheasant numbers,” Bogenschutz said. Iowa has 45,000 acres available on a first come, first served basis.
“There will not be a general CRP signup this year so this is an option that landowners with expiring general CRP should consider,” he said.
Information on Iowa’s pheasant recovery continuous CRP is available online atwww.iowadnr.gov/habitat.
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MDC offers Bowhunter Education Certification Course for Southeast Region

The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) will host a Bowhunter Education Certification Course, June 21, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Elk’s Lodge in Perryville.
According to DeeDee Dockins, an outdoor skills specialist with the MDC, this will be the only Bowhunter Education Certification Course offered this year in the southeast region.
“Most of the demand for bowhunter certification stems from hunters who are traveling out of state to bow hunt, because Missouri doesn’t require bowhunter education,” Dockins said. “As of now, 20 states have regulations requiring bowhunter education certification in order to purchase permits.”
Dockins said she encourages all bow hunters to attend the class.
“The number of tree stand accidents continues to rise and we address safety issues when hunting from an elevated position,” she said.
The course provides comprehensive information about the knowledge, skills, safety and additional opportunities available to bow hunters.   Topics covered include different types of bows and equipment, opportunities available to the bow hunter, safety information related to hunting from an elevated platform,  the role of the hunter and hunting in wildlife management and conservation, responsibilities of the outdoorsman, distance estimation, ethical practices of the hunter, and much more.
Those successfully completing the course will receive a Bowhunter Education Certification Card from the Missouri Department of Conservation. Students must be 11 years of age or older to attend.
Pre-registration is required. To register, visit mdc.mo.gov. For further information, call the MDC Southeast Regional Office at (573) 290-5730.
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Monday, June 16, 2014

Early summer fishing can be good in ponds and small lakes

 First there’s a splash and then rings of ripples move outward. Ponds and lakes become lively
places in early summer as bluegills and bass chase bugs and minnows, a good thing for anglers. June and early July are good months to fish from shore in small waters. Insects, frogs and small fish are moving about in the shallows. Skillet-worthy fish are feeding on them and within casting distance.
    The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) manages many small impoundments to provide good fishing for those who fish from shore as well as with boats. Many areas also have docks or trails easily accessed by those who use wheelchairs or who have mobility challenges. Fishable waters are found close to home or within easy driving distance for those who enjoy daytrips.
   For example, Pony Express Lake Conservation Area offers two lakes. This venerable area in DeKalb County west of Cameron has hosted anglers from the Kansas City and St. Joseph regions since the 1960s. The 245-acre Pony Express Lake opened to fishing in 1966, and MDC opened the 45-acre Buffalo Bill Lake in 1990. Building a lake is just a first step, though. Area managers monitor fish populations and lake conditions. For example, they sometimes add fish habitat such as underwater brush piles as lakes age.
   “The best bets at Pony Express are probably channel catfish because they are regularly stocked,” said Jerry Wiechman, an MDC fisheries management biologist, “and largemouth bass are found associated with brush piles and stumps.”
   Casting lures or bait to standing trees or brush piles is a good technique at any MDC lake, though fish may roam along any banks in early summer. In late summer they may move to deeper water with cooler temperatures.
   The James A. Reed Memorial Wildlife Area is an old standby fishing destination in the Kansas City metro area with a history dating to the 1950s. Area managers keep the lakes fishy with improvements such as vegetation management or adding underwater habitat such as brush piles. The Reed Area has 11 fishable lakes and anglers might catch largemouth bass, channel catfish, crappie, bluegill, green sunfish, redear sunfish, and bullheads. Some lakes are stocked with striped bass hybrids, a powerful fish that can test your tackle when hooked. The Reed Area borders Lee’s Summit and Greenwood in eastern Jackson County and the front entrance is on Southeast Ranson Road, almost a mile south of U.S. 50.
   Both the Kansas City and northwest regions offer many other lakes and ponds open to the public for fishing. Some are at conservation areas. MDC also partners with cities and counties to manage community lakes for good fishing.
   MDC’s Find MO Fish application for mobile digital devices helps anglers find public fishing areas, locate maps for areas, check for services such as fishing docks or launch ramps, get fishing reports and buy permits. Check out the app at http://mdc.mo.gov/mobile/mobile-apps/find-mo-fish. Information is also available online at http://www.mdc.mo.gov. The conservation areas tab on the home page is a quick link to find a place to fish in your community. Whether you travel near or far to whet a line, June is a fine time to go fishing.
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Sunday, June 15, 2014

Discover Nature Fishing sessions offered in KC area

Kansas City, Mo.  ̶- Fishing is a great way for people to enjoy nature, especially children. The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) is offering a new program to help kids and
families gain angling skills and confidence. MDC’s Discover Nature Fishing Program is free and teaches participants about fishing tackle, methods and where to go.
   Discover Nature Fishing will be offered in the Kansas City area as a series of four classes. The two-hour class sessions will cover all aspects of fishing. They include:
·        Session one: equipment, casting and proper fish handling.
·        Session two: how to rig a pole with tackle such as hooks, sinkers and bobbers, and how to bait a hook and what bait works for which fish species.
·        Session three: aquatic biology, ecology and conservation.
·        Session four: how and when to use various types of artificial lures to catch fish.
    Sessions one and two will be presented 9 a.m. to 12 noon on Saturday, June 21, at the Burr Oak Woods Conservation Nature Center in Blue Springs. These sessions are limited to the first 25 people to register. Participants may register by calling 816-622-0900.
   Discover Nature Fishing will be an ongoing program statewide, so watch for notices of future sessions.  MDC also welcomes volunteer instructors to teach fishing skills to others. Those interested in volunteering may also call MDC’s Kansas City Regional Office at 816-622-0900.
   Fishable waters are often found close to home, even in urban areas. Time and expense need not be barriers to going fishing. Tackle choices and methods can be simple and effective for catching fish. MDC’s Discover Nature Fishing Program is open to anyone who wishes to learn about the sport. Fishing is fun and gets people outdoors in fresh air and nature.
   One advantage, Missouri is a great place to fish. For more information on fishing and conservation see http://www.mdc.mo.gov.
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Saturday, June 14, 2014

June 2014 Conservation Action

Actions of the Conservation Commission at its June meeting.

Conservation Action
June 2014 
The Conservation Commission met June 5 and 6 at Conservation Department Headquarters in Jefferson City. Commissioners present were:
Don C. Bedell, Sikeston, Chair
James T. Blair, IV, St. Louis, Vice Chair/Secretary
Marilynn J. Bradford, Jefferson City, Member
David W. Murphy, Columbia, Member 
The Conservation Commission received a report from Dr. John Fischer, College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Georgia, Athens, and director of the Southeastern Cooperative Wildlife Disease Study, regarding a national overview of chronic wasting disease (CWD) and deer health issues. The Commission also heard reports from Protection Division Chief Larry Yamnitz and Resource Science Division Chief Mike Hubbard regarding proposed regulation changes related to captive-deer facilities and received comments on the proposed regulation changes from individuals listed below who submitted written requests prior to the meeting, representing several organizations and thousands of Missourians.
  • Tony Kalna, Missouri Deer Hunter Magazine, Dittmer, Missouri
  • Chris Kossmeyer, Marceline, Missouri
  • Kathy Etling, Osage Beach, Missouri
  • Matt Ross, Quality Deer Management Association, Clifton Park, New York
  • Robert Brundage, Missouri, Conservation Federation of Missouri Chronic Wasting Disease Committee, Jefferson City 
  • Dick Wood, Sappington, Missouri
  • Earl Cannon, Jefferson City, Missouri
  • Thomas Rizzo, Quality Deer Management Association, St. Louis, Missouri
  • Elsa Gallagher, Pheasants Forever, Inc., and Quail Forever, Excello, Missouri
The Conservation Commission approved Regulations Committee recommendations that will:
  • Require new applicants for Class I Wildlife Breeder Permits to hold white-tailed deer, white-tailed deer-hybrids, mule deer, or mule deer-hybrids (deer), to pass a written examination provided by the Department and have an on-site inspection prior to and after construction of the breeding facility as part of the application process.
  • Prohibit importation of live white-tailed deer, mule deer, or their hybrids into the state.
  • Prohibit the display of live deer other than as is listed on permits.
  • Prohibit the construction of any new Class I or Class II wildlife breeding facilities for deer within 25 miles of a location where CWD-positive animal or animals have been confirmed by the Conservation Department.
  • Require Class I and Class II wildlife breeders and big-game hunting preserves to test all mortalities of deer that are older than six months for CWD.
  • Require Class I and Class II wildlife breeders that hold deer to report confirmed positive-disease results to the Conservation Department.
  • Require Class I and Class II wildlife breeders to comply with a herd-disease response plan approved by the Conservation Department in the event that CWD is discovered.
  • Require Class I and Class II wildlife breeders that hold deer to maintain participation in a United States Department of Agriculture-approved CWD herd certification program.
  • Establish a stipulation that the Conservation Department can require additional disease sampling and testing during disease investigations or morbidity/mortality events at Class I and Class II wildlife breeders that hold deer.
  • Require source herds for deer and elk at Class I and Class II wildlife breeder facilities that hold deer to be enrolled in a United States Department of Agriculture-approved CWD herd certification program.
  • Establish a requirement for Class I and Class II wildlife breeders that hold deer to conduct an annual herd inventory in the presence of an accredited veterinarian during the annual inventory, the signature of an attending accredited veterinarian on herd records, individual animal identification, and individual animal documentation including results of CWD testing.
  • Set a minimum period of time that records must be kept by Class I and Class II wildlife breeders that hold deer.
  • Prohibit the propagation, holding in captivity, and hunting of hogs within a big-game hunting preserve unless already approved by a specific date.
  • Set a requirement for holders of Licensed Big Game Hunting Preserve Permits to conduct disease testing, report disease test results, maintain movement documentation, adhere to fencing standards, and comply with a disease response plan in the event CWD is discovered.
  • Set a minimum period of time that movement records must be kept by holders of Licensed Big Game Hunting Preserve Permits.
  • Prohibit the use of imported deer or elk (cervids) in a licensed big game hunting preserve.
  • Prohibit the construction of any new big-game hunting preserve within 25 miles of a location where a CWD-positive animal or animals have been confirmed by the Conservation Department.
  • Require source herds for deer and elk at big-game hunting preserves to be enrolled in a United States Department of Agriculture-approved CWD herd certification program.
  • Establish a requirement for more information within inventories and record keeping for cervids on big-game hunting preserves.
  • Require a minimum period of time that records must be kept for cervids on big-game hunting preserves.
In approving the changes, the Commission emphasized the importance of an informed, involved public to ensure the health of Missouri’s deer herd now and in the future. Details of the proposed regulation changes will be published in the Missouri Register. A presentation regarding captive-deer regulation changes is available at mdc.mo.gov/node/28400. The Conservation Department encourages Missourians to review this presentation and comment on the changes. Comments can be submitted online at mdc.mo.gov/deerhealthor on comment cards available at Conservation Department regional offices and nature centers. 
The Commission:
  • Received presentations from:
    • Approved the sale of the 5-acre Brookfield Maintenance Center in Linn County.
    • Approved the purchase of 240 acres in Shannon County as an addition to Sunklands Conservation Area (CA).
    • Approved the purchase of 635 acres in Shannon County as an addition to Sunklands CA.
    • Approved the purchase of 2,053 acres in Texas County as an addition to Sunklands CA.
    • Approved the exchange of 59 acres of a disjunct tract of Sunklands CA in Shannon County for 205.5 acres in Franklin County and a lease of 1,241 acres in Cole County.
    • Approved entering into a contract with Martin General Contractors, L.L.C., Eolia, Mo., for the construction of the Conservation Commission Headquarters Ground Coupled Heat Pumps for C, D, and F Buildings project in Cole County, at a total estimated cost of $393,510.40.
    • Approved entering into a contract with Cannon General Contractors, Inc., Troy, Mo., for construction of the Rocky Forks Lake Conservation Area (CA) Range Upgrade project in Boone County, at a total estimated cost of $223,016.
    • Approved the Fiscal Year 2015 Internal Expenditure Plan.
    ·        Approved recommendations for the 2015 Conservation Employees’ Benefits Plan.
    • Approved the advertisement and sale of estimated 939,003 million board feet of timber on 331 acres on Compartment 14 of Indian Trail CA in Dent County.
    • Suspended hunting, fishing, and/or trapping privileges of 22 Missouri residents and three nonresidents for Wildlife Code violations. Those whose privileges were suspended are:
    Michael J. Abounader, Kirkwood, hunting, 4 years
    Shawn Berryhill, Arcadia, all sport privileges, 1 year
    Wyatt E. Callen, Rolla, hunting, 3 years
    Erik E. Casas, Wheaton, hunting, 2.5 years
    Carrie L. Covington, Rush Hill, all sport privileges, 1 year
    Bruce A. Crump, Mineral Point, hunting, 2 years
    Damien Q. Dinh, Sutter Creek, Calif., hunting, until 3-7-15
    Karl J. Dinwiddie, Elkland, hunting, 1 year
    Kenneth C. Drewes, Troy, hunting 1 year
    Nick W. Edwards, Boonville, hunting and trapping, 1 year
    Norman F. Glazier, Sedalia, fishing 2 years
    Tyler A. Gordy, Huntsville, hunting 3 years
    Garry W. Hayes, Buckner, hunting 3 years
    Thomas A. Howard, Hamilton, hunting and trapping, 4 years
    Kyle J. Kettwig, Doniphan, hunting, 3 years
    Steven L. Krider, Independence, hunting and fishing, 1 year
    Brenden L. Macomber, Annapolis, hunting, 1 year
    Andrey Marchuk, Springfield, fishing 4 years
    Curtis D. Matheney, Centertown, hunting, 1 year
    Wayne E. Mosier, Bismarck, hunting, 4 years
    Jeffrey R. Reid, Loranger, La., hunting, 2 years
    Alex A. Shuda, Sedalia, fishing, 1 year
    Brandon L. Snyder, Minburn, Iowa, hunting, 1 year
    Calvin J. Speckhals, Jefferson City, all sport privileges, 1 year
    Franklin D. Surratt, Aurora, hunting, 2 years
    • Approved the suspension or revocation of all hunting and fishing privileges of 309 people who are not in compliance with applicable child-support laws. Privileges suspended for noncompliance are reinstated once the Division of Child Support Enforcement notifies MDC that suspendees have come into compliance with the required laws.
    • Suspended privileges of 387 nonresidents under the provisions of the Interstate Wildlife Violator Compact.
    • Set its next regular meeting for July 10 and 11.
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    Friday, June 13, 2014

    MDC Leads Efforts to Protect Deer

    Proposed regulations are designed to prevent the spread of chronic wasting disease (CWD).  Informed citizen involvement is critical to success.
    JEFFERSON CITY–The Conservation Commission voted to approve proposed amendments
    to regulations regarding the operation of hunting preserves and wildlife breeding facilities that hold white-tailed deer, mule deer, their hybrids, and other members of the deer family, known as cervids. The changes would become part of the agency’s strategy to minimize fatal disease risks to the state’s deer herd. 
    Actions recommended by the Commission include:
    • Banning the importation of live white-tailed deer, mule deer, and their hybrids from other states.
    • Improving fencing requirements for captive-cervid facilities.
    • Requiring all deer 6 months or older that die in a Conservation Department-licensed facility to be tested for CWD.
    • Establishing better record-keeping requirements for Conservation Department-licensed captive-cervid operations.
    • Prohibiting any new captive-cervid facilities within 25 miles of where CWD has been confirmed. 
    The proposed amendments are designed to ensure the health of Missouri’s entire deer herd, which includes free-ranging and captive-cervids. These proposed amendments work to reduce the risk of this fatal disease (CWD) from spreading beyond the limited area where it has been found, while minimizing the economic impact on the captive-cervid industry and the communities and businesses that benefit from deer hunting and deer-related activities.
    CWD is a fatal disease that affects members of the deer family, collectively called cervids. It is different and unrelated to the recent outbreak of hemorrhagic diseases. Those diseases – blue tongue and epizootic hemorrhagic disease – are caused by viruses and are often not fatal. Their effects are short-term and localized. However, hemorrhagic diseases have been in Missouri for years, and white-tailed deer are adapted to cope with them.
    Over 500,000 citizens enjoy deer hunting, sharing their hunting heritage and passing that heritage on to future generations. Missourians consume millions of pounds of venison and share with neighbors in need through the Share the Harvest Program. The spread of CWD could negatively impact deer-dependent businesses that support more than 12,000 Missouri jobs and generate over $1 billion in economic activity annually.
    Proposed changes to the Wildlife Code of Missouri would give white-tailed deer an extra measure of protection against this fatal disease. The Missouri Department of Conservation stresses that success depends on an informed, involved public.
    Now that the Conservation Commission has approved proposed amendments to the regulations, they will be published in the Missouri Register. There will be a 30-day public comment period beginning July 16, and any comments on the proposed rule changes will be forwarded to the Conservation Commission for its consideration. Those comments will be reviewed prior to deciding whether the rules will be adopted, amended, or withdrawn. To comment go to www.mdc.mo.gov/deerhealth.
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