Friday, August 27, 2010

Hundreds attend MDC public meetings on elk restoration

Elk grazing in Cataloochee, in the Great Smoky...Image via Wikipedia
Department staff share information on restoration plan and gather public feedback.

JEFFERSON CITY Mo – The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) recently held open-house-style public meetings in southern Missouri to share information about proposed plans for elk restoration in the region and to gather comments from the public.

About 300 people attended the meetings, which were held in Van Buren on Aug. 23, Eminence on Aug. 24 and Ellington on Aug. 26.

MDC staff visited with members of the public at information tables that focused on various aspects of the proposed elk restoration. Topics discussed included animal health testing, the restoration zone, herd and habitat management and possible economic benefits from elk hunting and related tourism.

While the Conservation Commission has yet to approve the proposed restoration plan, the draft calls for extensive testing of all imported elk for various diseases. Following this, the proposed plan calls for a limited release of 80 to 150 cow and bull elk in early 2011 into a 365-square-mile restoration zone around the Peck Ranch Conservation Area in Shannon, Carter and Reynolds counties. According to MDC research, this area has suitable habitat, consists mostly of public lands, has limited roads running through it and has limited agriculture activity.

The MDC completed a feasibility study and held public meetings on potential elk restoration in 2000. The Conservation Commission suspended plans at that time due to the emerging issue of chronic wasting disease (CWD) and habitat concerns.

“Missourians are tied to the land and the wildlife,” said MDC Deputy Director Tom Draper. “We have an opportunity here to restore a native species that can coexist with other wildlife and land uses. There may be some issues, but we can work together to fix those. MDC wants to be a good neighbor.”


To prevent possible disease transmission from imported elk to domestic livestock and other wildlife, the MDC is working with the Missouri Department of Agriculture and State Veterinarian Dr. Taylor Woods.

“Our two agencies have developed extensive animal-health testing protocols for imported free-ranging elk that have been proven in other states and meet or exceed required health testing protocols for wildlife or livestock,” said Dr. Woods.

If the Conservation Commission decides to proceed with plans to restore elk, the protocols call for all imported elk to be tested for nine diseases: brucellosis, CWD, bovine tuberculosis, anaplasmosis, bovine viral diarrhea, blue tongue, epizootic hemorrhagic disease, Johne’s disease and vesicular stomatitis. All elk must originate from a CWD-free state and test negative for CWD, along with brucellosis and bovine tuberculosis.

The protocols also state that all imported elk would be tested in their state of origin as well as in Missouri before release. Elk would also be treated for internal and external parasites in their state of origin before being brought into Missouri. Any elk brought into Missouri would be held in a fenced area in the restoration zone prior to release.

The protocols also call for the MDC to collect health data from the state of origin several months prior to trapping elk for transportation to Missouri. Each shipment of elk into Missouri would be followed by a Certificate of Veterinary Inspection and approved by an accredited veterinarian. All imported elk that die in Missouri would be examined for cause of death.

All elk would be fitted with microchips and radio collars to help monitor their health, movements and location. 


MDC Biologist Lonnie Hansen said that elk-vehicle collisions do occur in states where elk have been restored, but such accidents have been infrequent.

Hansen is one of several MDC biologists developing the current proposed restoration plan and was instrumental in developing the 2000 feasibility study.

“Arkansas has approximately 500 elk in an area covering about 500 square miles and averages one or two elk-vehicle accident per year,” said Hansen. “Kentucky has approximately 10,000 elk in an area covering about 6,400 square miles throughout 16 counties and averages about 10-elk-vehicle accidents per year.”

He added that the 365-square-mile zone around Peck Ranch Conservation Area contains 77 miles of blacktop highway inside the restoration zone.

“This area has fewer roads per square mile than elk areas in other states,” he explained. “For example, Arkansas’ elk areas have about 2.1 miles of roads per square mile compared to 1.2 miles of roads per square mile in Missouri’s proposed restoration zone.”

Hansen said differences between elk and deer behavior during the rut make elk less prone to vehicle collisions.

“Elk do not frequent and cross roads to the same extent as deer,” he explained. “Elk are harem breeders where they win and defend a group of cows in an established area. They do not go through the chase phase of courtship like whitetails, which causes bucks and does to cross roadways.”


Hansen added that the MDC plan also deals with elk that wander where they are not welcome, and is modeled after those of other states where elk have been introduced.

“Elk may move from areas where we want them onto private land where they are not wanted,” said Hansen. “We are talking with private landowners in and around the restoration zone and listening to their concerns. The key to help prevent problems is to provide excellent elk habitat and keep them on public property as much as possible.”

The MDC plan includes having trained staff who would quickly respond to complaints about unwelcome elk. Tactics for dealing with unwelcome elk could include harassing them with shell crackers and other noise-making methods to prompt them to leave private land and not return. Staff could also sedate and relocate nuisance elk. As a last resort, staff could harvest nuisance elk and donate the meat to food pantries.

Hansen noted that Arkansas has recorded about two complaints of pasture damage and one or two complaints of fence damage per year over the past 20 years.

The MDC is also developing cost-share incentives for private landowners in the area to help them manage pastures for both improved livestock grazing and elk habitat. Potential funding support may come from the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and/or the Missouri Conservation Heritage Foundation.


The MDC’s elk restoration plan will include herd-management guidelines, with hunting in the future as the primary management tool to maintain an appropriate population.

“Our goal is to grow and maintain a herd that doesn’t exceed the supporting habitat,” said Draper.

He added that elk restoration in other states has provided economic benefits.

States that have restored elk, such as Pennsylvania, Kentucky, and Arkansas, learned that elk quickly became a key tourist attraction,” Draper explained. “Establishing an elk herd in this limited area in southern Missouri would likely result in considerable public interest and a subsequent boost to tourism and hunting.”

Governor Jay Nixon released a statement earlier this summer supporting the MDC’s exploration of possible elk restoration.

According to the governor’s statement, “Restoring our state’s native elk population could have important conservation and economic benefits… The benefits for elk restoration for tourism and hunting in Missouri could be significant…”

The Conservation Federation of Missouri (CFM), the state’s largest and oldest conservation-related organization, also supports the MDC’s elk restoration efforts.

In a letter to the MDC, CFM Executive Director Dave Murphy wrote, “…The concept that a significant part of our natural heritage can be restored is worthy of consideration… Several developments like a new live-animal [elk] test for CWD and like restorations of wild elk in a number of our neighboring states to significant cultural and economic benefits without real consequences combine to suggest that another look may be worthwhile… As an organization now with just over 90,000 members in Missouri, we see real enthusiasm and excitement for the restoration of elk…”

The L-A-D Foundation, owner of Pioneer Forest, also supports the MDC’s elk restoration efforts. Pioneer Forest covers 27% of the land in the restoration zone.

According a letter to the MDC from L-A-D Foundation President John Karel, “We are advised that the reintroduction of elk into Missouri on a limited basis is once again under consideration by your Department. We are pleased to advise that the L-A-D Foundation endorses such consideration, and hopes that it will prove feasible to restore wild elk to a place in the Missouri outdoors.”

The majority of written comments received at the public meetings were in favor of the MDC’s elk restoration efforts.

In addition to written comments received at the public meetings, the MDC is seeking comments through its website at under “Elk Restoration Comments” or mailed to Missouri Department of Conservation, Director’s Office, PO Box 180, Jefferson City MO 65102-0180.

MDC staff will include results of public comments in a presentation of the proposed elk-restoration plan to the Conservation Commission at its October 15 meeting in Kirksville.

Additional information on the MDC’s proposed elk restoration efforts is available at by searching “elk restoration.”

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Thursday, August 26, 2010

Applications open Sept. 1 for waterfowl hunting reservations

Waterfowl huntersImage via Wikipedia
Applications will be handled entirely via the Internet this year.
JEFFERSON CITY—Missourians who want to hunt ducks or geese on most wetland areas managed by the Conservation Department can start applying for reservations Sept. 1. Those who hunt at three areas will enter the drawing closer to their hunt dates. All applications will be handled online this year.
The Conservation Department will accept applications for reservations on 12 managed wetland areas from Sept. 1 through 18 at Drawing results will be available Oct. 1 at the same website.
 The phone reservation system used in the past has been discontinued this year. Wildlife Division Chief DeeCee Darrow noted that the decision was based on a need to cut the agency’s budget and on the dwindling use of the telephone system.
“Maintaining a telephone reservation system made sense when it served a significant portion of waterfowl hunters and was reasonably economical,” said Darrow, “but we have reached a point where it’s no longer a good use of taxpayer dollars.”
According to Darrow, the telephone reservation system handled 27 percent of all applications in 2002. In 2009, only 4.5 percent of hunters applied by phone. This, together with the expense of maintaining the telephone reservation system, prompted the decision to discontinue the service.
“I know that going to all computer reservations is an inconvenience for hunters who do not have Internet access,” Darrow said, “but with department revenues down, we are cutting costs wherever possible. We simply can’t justify spending thousands of dollars on the phone system that serves such a small number of hunters.”
Also for the first time this year, the Conservation Department is testing a new reservation system, called Quick Draw, at Eagle Bluffs, Grand Pass and Otter Slough conservation areas.
Having a reservation under the traditional system does not always benefit reservation holders. Reservations often do not coincide with days when large numbers of migrating waterfowl are present. Under the current system, the only way to concentrate hunting efforts on the best hunting days is to stand in the “poor line.” However, driving to wetland areas to stand in the “poor line” is a costly gamble for those who live far from their favorite hunting areas or who must take a day of vacation for a hunt. Quick Draw gives hunters more flexibility by letting them apply for hunts as little as three days in advance. This allows hunters to try for guaranteed hunting slots on the best hunting days of the year.
Quick Draw is helpful to parents who want to take their children hunting during breaks in the school year. It also gives more hunters guaranteed reservations each day by increasing the proportion of reservation holders from 50 percent of hunting spots to 80 percent. By reducing the time needed for assigning hunting spots each morning, Quick Draw will get hunters into the marsh more quickly.
Grand Pass CA will the first area to test the new system, because it is in the North Zone. Applications to hunt during the first three days of the 2010 duck season will open at 12:01 a.m. Oct. 22 and close at 3 p.m. Oct. 25. Results will be available after midnight that day. Successful applicants will be notified by e-mail or text message if they provide contact information. They also can check the results online.
Eagle Bluffs and Otter Slough CAs are in the Middle Zone, so applications for reservations the first three days of the season at those areas will run from 12:01 a.m. Oct. 29 and close at 3 p.m. Nov. 1. Results will be available after midnight a.m. Nov. 1.
After the initial drawing in each zone, Monday drawings will award reservations for Friday through Monday. Applications will be open from Monday through Wednesday to assign reservations for Tuesday through Thursday.
Whether applying through the traditional reservation system or Quick Draw, applicants need the nine-digit identification number found at the top of their hunting or fishing permit. The number also is shown next to the bar code on Conservation Heritage Cards.
To apply for reservations under Quick Draw, hunters over age 15 and under age 65 need a small-game hunting permits and a migratory bird permit. Hunters under age 15 only need a Conservation Identification Number. Disabled veterans need a Conservation Identification Number and a certified statement of eligibility from the Veterans Administration. The certification must be presented the morning of the hunt.
Quick Draw applications will close at 3 p.m. the day of the draw. Results will be posted at the Quick Draw website at 12:01 a.m. the following day. Successful applicants who provide e-mail addresses will receive notice of their reservation and of their order in the morning lineup to select hunting spots. Unsuccessful applicants will not be notified, but can check draw results online.
Neither Quick Draw nor the traditional systems allow nonresidents to apply for reservations. However, resident hunters who draw reservations can include nonresidents in their hunting parties. Nonresidents also can take part in the daily, on-site “poor-line” drawings under both systems.
Up to three additional people can hunt with someone who gets a reservation through Quick Draw. If four people want to hunt together, it makes sense for all four to apply. Hunters who fail to use their reservations are not penalized. Unclaimed reservations are added to those available in the “poor line,” where hunters who show up without reservations can draw for a chance to hunt.
Quick Draw also will determine reservation holders’ place in line for selecting hunting spots. To give “poor line” hunters an equal chance at the best hunting spots, Quick Draw divides the selection process into tiers of five spots each. In each tier, one spot will be reserved for poor-line hunters. Daily “poor line” drawings will continue under the every-member-draws system.
Quick Draw will handle reservations for handicap-accessible blinds at the three Quick Draw pilot areas. Handicap blind reservations at other areas will be handled as in the past. The trial will not affect youth hunts.
Hunters may apply for reservations at only one Quick Draw area per day. However, there is no limit on the number of days you can apply. If you submit an application and change your mind about where you want to hunt, you can change your application up until the time of the drawing.
Hunters should check hunting conditions before applying for reservations. For the latest report, visit
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Monday, August 23, 2010

MDC offers wingshooting workshops for game-bird hunters

Male mallard duckImage via Wikipedia
JEFFERSON CITY Mo – The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) will offer free workshops throughout the state to help migratory and upland game-bird hunters improve their shooting skills, especially with non-toxic shot. Topics will include ammunition and choke selection, improving shooting skills, improving range and distance-estimation skills, shotgun patterning and general information on the latest non-toxic shotgun ammunition.

Participants will need to bring a hunting shotgun, choke tubes if applicable, non-toxic shotgun ammunition to pattern, eye and ear protection and a stool or chair. Clay targets and 12- and 20-gauge non-toxic practice ammunition will be provided for range practice.

Workshop participation is limited, so pre-registration is required. Lunch arrangements differ at each site, so inquire when registering.

Dates, locations and contact information for regional workshop are:

Sept. 11 -- University of Central Missouri Range, Warrensburg
Contact Mark Miller: 660-530-5500

Sept. 18 -- Charles A. Green Conservation Area, Ashland
Contact Jeff Cockerham: 573-884-6861

Sept. 17-19 -- Jay Henges Shooting Range, High Ridge
Contact Jake Hindman: 636-938-9548

Sept. 26 -- Missouri Western State University, St. Joseph
Contact T.J. Peacher: 816-271-3100

Sept. 24-26 – August A. Busch Memorial Conservation Area Shooting Range, Weldon Spring
Contact Eric Edwards: 636-441-4554

Oct. 2 -- 63 Gun Club, Macon
Contact Jeff Cockerham: 573-884-6861

Oct. 8-10 – Andy Dalton Shooting Range, Bois D’Arc
Contact Michael Brooks: 417-742-4361

Oct. 15-17 -- Fort Leonard Wood
Contact Larry Lindeman: 417-256-7161

Oct. 22-24 – Duck Creek Conservation Area, Puxico
Contact Dee Dockins: 573-290-5730

For more information on hunting seasons, permits and other related information, visit

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Friday, August 20, 2010

Conservation Agents Conduct Large Wildlife Violation Investigation in the Ozarks

Published on: Jul. 18, 2010
WEST PLAINS Mo – A large investigation involving illegal commercialization of wildlife and wildlife parts was brought to a close this weekend where the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) documented a total of 299 serious violations in seven counties across southern Missouri.
“Investigators were able to document that 62 percent of the wildlife brought in for mounting at a local taxidermy shop was taken illegally in some manner,” said MDC Protection Regional Supervisor Gary Cravens.
The violations include those related to deer, turkey, furbearers, both game and non-game fish, and migratory birds. This documentation occurred over the past two years in Crawford, Dent, Miller, Howell, Iron, Oregon and Shannon counties.
Beginning July 17, Conservation agents contacted individuals believed to have been involved in violations.
“Teams of agents met with 68 individuals and were able to document another 126 violations, bringing the total number of violations to 425,” said Cravens. “Of these, 289 were related to deer and 23 were related to turkey.”
Conservation agents seized a total of 240 items including 90 deer mounts or sets of antlers, approximately 20 various small game, fish, or furbearer mounts, 70 frog legs, one rattlesnake, and 16 firearms. Some of the wildlife was sold illegally. Additionally, three individuals were arrested on a total of 11 outstanding warrants including two for out-of-state felonies.
“This investigation was important to the state,” Cravens remarked. “These violators are in effect stealing wildlife that belongs to all of us here in Missouri who obey the laws. And it’s our job to make sure that wildlife resources are protected.”
The MDC’s mission is, “To protect and manage the fish, forest and wildlife resources of the state; to serve the public and facilitate their participation in resource management activities; and to provide opportunity for all citizens to use, enjoy and learn about fish, forest and wildlife resources.”
“A lot of hard work went in to investigating these wildlife violations but it is worth our time and effort if we change the attitudes and behavior of those who commit such acts,” Cravens said.

Conservation agents seized 240 items including deer and other mounts, antlers and firearms as part of a large investigation in the Ozarks.

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Conservation Commission approves appeal of Ripley County judgment

Map of Missouri highlighting Ripley CountyImage via Wikipedia
Department plans appeal over three deer hunting regulations.
JEFFERSON CITY Mo – At its Aug. 20 meeting in Jefferson City, the Missouri Conservation Commission announced its decision to have the Missouri Department of Conservation appeal a judgment by Ripley County Circuit Judge Robert Smith who ruled in early August that three state regulations prohibiting the use of motorized vehicles and dogs in deer hunting are too vague to be constitutional.
The ruling followed a case involving two Ripley County hunters who sued in February over the regulations.
At issue are Missouri Wildlife Code regulations that prohibit the use of “motor-driven air, land or water conveyances” while deer hunting and regulations stating that deer may not be “hunted, pursued, taken or killed with the aid of dogs, in use or possession.”
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Conservation Action August 2010

Lands (owned and leased) that were managed by ...Image via Wikipedia
The Conservation Commission met Aug. 19 and 20 at Conservation Department Headquarters in Jefferson City. Commissioners present were:
Becky L. Plattner, Grand Pass, Chair
Don R. Johnson, Festus, Vice Chair
Don C. Bedell, Sikeston, Secretary
William F. “Chip” McGeehan, Marshfield, Member
The Commission approved the following 2010-2011 waterfowl seasons, contingent on final federal approval:
North Zone: Oct. 30 through Dec. 28
Middle Zone: Nov. 6 through Jan. 4
South Zone: Nov. 25 through Jan. 23
Shooting Hours: One-half hour before sunrise to sunset.
Bag Limit:  Six ducks daily, with species restrictions of:
·        4 mallards (no more than 2 females)
·        3 wood ducks
·        2 scaup
·        2 redheads
·        2 hooded mergansers
·        2 pintails
·        1 canvasback
·        1 black duck
·        1 mottled duck
Possession Limit: Twice the daily bag (12 total; varies by species).
COOT SEASON:  Concurrent with duck seasons in the respective zones, with a daily bag limit of 15 and a possession limit of 30.
·        Blue, snow, and Ross’s geese:  Oct. 30 through Jan. 31 statewide.
·        White-fronted geese: Nov. 25 through Jan. 31 statewide.
·        Canada geese and brant: Oct. 2 through 10 and Nov. 25 through Jan. 31 statewide.
Shooting Hours: One-half hour before sunrise to sunset.
Bag/Possession Limit:
·        3 Canada geese daily (6 in possession)
·        1 brant daily (2 in possession)
·        2 white-fronted geese daily (4 in possession)
·        20 blue, snow, or Ross’s geese daily (no possession limit)
YOUTH HUNTING DAYS: Any person 15 years or younger may participate in the youth waterfowl hunting days without permit, provided they are in the immediate presence of an adult 18 or older. If the youth hunter does not possess a hunter education certificate card, the adult must be properly licensed and have a valid hunter education certificate card unless he or she was born before Jan. 1, 1967. The adult may not hunt ducks but may participate in other seasons that are open (e.g., geese) on the special youth days. Youth hunting days are:
North Zone:                Oct. 23 - 24
Middle Zone:              Oct. 23 - 24
South Zone:                Nov. 20 - 21
 Bag Limit: Bag limits for ducks and geese are the same as during the regular waterfowl season (including three Canada geese daily and six in possession). 
FALCONRY SEASON FOR DUCKS, COOTS AND MERGANSERS:   Falconry hunting is open during the teal and regular firearms duck season, including the youth seasons in the respective zones. In addition to these periods, falconers may hunt during the extended falconry season Feb. 10 through March 10 statewide. The daily bag and possession limits shall not exceed three and six birds, respectively, during the regular duck hunting seasons (including teal and youth seasons) and extended falconry seasons.
LIGHT GOOSE CONSERVATION ORDER:  Feb. 1 through April 30, 2011. Persons must possess a Conservation Order permit to chase, pursue, and take blue, snow, and Ross’s geese between the hours of one-half hour before sunrise to one-half hour after sunset. Hunters 15 and younger are exempt from the permit requirement if they possess a valid hunter education certificate card or hunt in the immediate presence of a properly licensed hunter 18 or older who has in his possession a valid hunter education certificate card, or who was born before Jan. 1, 1967. Methods for taking blue, snow, and Ross’s geese during the Conservation Order include using shotguns capable of holding more than three shells, and with the use or aid of recorded or electrically amplified bird calls or sounds, or recorded or electrically amplified imitations of bird calls or sounds. There is no daily bag limit during the Conservation Order.
The Commission:
  • Received the following staff presentations:
Ø  Design and Development Division Report from Design and Development Division Chief Jacob Careaga.
Ø  Fishers & Farmers Partnership from Fisheries Division Chief Chris Vitello.
Ø  Forest and Woodland Management on Lands Held in Public Trust from Forestry Division Chief Lisa Allen.
  • Presented service awards to the following employees:
35 years
Paul Schulte, Jefferson City
30 years
Kathy Cooper, Windsor; Dale Cornelius, Lebanon; Timothy Grace, Columbia; Thomas Leifield, St. Charles; Timothy Pratt, Hermitage; Patti Redel, Eureka; Timothy Stanton, Nixa; Kevin Sullivan, Clinton; David Whitener, Ellington;.
25 years
Jerome Austin, Marshfield; Noella Biram, Licking; Francisco Campa, Poplar Bluff; Michael Christensen, Bowling Green; Kevin DeBrecht, Sullivan,James Kuenzle, Warrenton; Clinton Medlock, Salem; Sandy Payne, Russellville; Robert Scott, Sullivan; Thomas Skinner, Jacksonville; Michael Smith, Jefferson City; Thomas Strother, Columbia; Bryan Wollard, Hartville.
  • Presented special awards to:
Ø  Private Land Conservationist Kyle Lairmore, Owensville, who received the Missouri State Employee Award of Distinction for Public Service.
Ø  Conservation Agent Kevin Eulinger, Hawk Point, who was named 2009/2010 Mississippi Flyway Waterfowl Enforcement Officer of the Year.
  • Authorized staff to seek:
1)      executive operating lump sum spending authority of $145,534,841 for fiscal year 2012;
2)      capital improvement biennial spending authority of $44,000,000 for fiscal years 2012 and 2013;
3)      reauthorization of the fiscal year 2011 federal stimulus and capital improvement appropriations; and
4)      appropriations to other state agencies from the Conservation Commission Fund for fiscal year 2012 for related operational expenditures.
  • Approved changing the employee retirement contribution rate to Missouri State Employees’ Retirement System (MOSERS) for employees hired after Jan. 1, 2011.
  • Approved entering into a contract with Lappe Cement Finishing, Inc., Perryville, for the construction of Eminence City Park Access Development Project in Shannon County at a total estimated cost of $353,846.51.
  • Approved the purchase of 171 acres in Jefferson County as an addition to LaBarque Creek Conservation Area.
  • Approved the advertisement and sale of an estimated 846,000 board feet of timber on 241 acres of Compartment 4, Fourche Creek Conservation Area in Ripley County.
  • Suspended hunting and/or fishing privileges of 11 people for Wildlife Code violations and affirmed actions taken by Missouri courts suspending privileges of three Missouri residents. Those whose privileges were suspended are:
Jared J. Bachman, Warrensburg, hunting privileges, until 6/1/11
Jeremy L. Broomhall, Memphis, all sport privileges, 7 years
Joshua S. Cook, Warrensburg  , hunting privileges, until 6/1/11
Jonathan R. Hudson, Hannibal, all sport privileges, 1 year
Pascual F. Jaramillo, St. Joseph, all sport privileges, 1 year
Justin T. McDonald, Milan, all sport privileges, 1 year
Harold E. Miller, II, Quincy, Ill., commercial fishing, 1 year
Johnny R. Moore, Crane, all sport privileges, 1 year
James R. Ross, Warrensburg, hunting privileges, until 6/1/11
Sarah J. Sandusky, Dexter, all sport privileges, 1 year
Jonathan R. Sawyer, Walnut Grove, all sport privileges, 1 year
John M. Sweeny, Warsaw, all sport privileges, 2 years
Dustin R. Winder, Springfield, all sport privileges, 1 additional year
Ezekiel Young  , Summit, Miss., all sport privileges, 1 year
  • Approved the suspension or revocation of all hunting and fishing privileges of 209 people who are not in compliance with applicable child support laws.
  • Suspended privileges of 57 people under the provisions of the Interstate Wildlife Violator Compact.
·        Imposed hunting privilege suspensions of six months to five years for four Missouri residents who injured or killed other persons in hunting incidents. The hunters must complete a hunter-education training course before restoration of privileges.
  • Director Bob Ziehmer announced the Conservation Commission’s decision, in closed session, to appeal the recent Ripley County Circuit Court decision regarding the illegal activities of deer dogging and hunting from a motor vehicle.
·        The Commission confirmed its next meeting for Oct. 14 and 15 in Kirksville.
- end –
This document is provided for public information only and is not an official record of the Missouri Department of Conservation or Missouri Conservation Commission.
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MDC’s Sedalia Office Earns EPA ENERGY STAR® award

MDC Sedalia facility joins MDC Kirksville office and 27 other office buildings in Missouri recognized for environmental stewardship through energy efficiency.

SEDALIA Mo -- The Missouri Department of Conservation’s (MDC) Sedalia office at 2000 S. Limit Ave. recently earned U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) prestigious ENERGY STAR award. It joins the Department’s Northeast Regional Office at 3500 S. Baltimore in Kirksville, which received ENERGY STAR recognition earlier this year.

The Sedalia office received the ENERGY STAR award for incorporating energy-efficient technologies and practices into its construction, operation and maintenance. These include geothermal heating, maximizing the use of natural daylight, efficient fluorescent lighting, an outside air recovery unit, window tinting, good insulation and a commitment by staff to practice energy conservation.

ENERGY-STAR certification is the national symbol for protecting the environment through superior energy efficiency. To qualify, buildings must perform in the top 25 percent of similar facilities nationwide for energy efficiency. The MDC facility joins only 28 other office buildings in Missouri to receive ENERGY-STAR designation.

The Sedalia facility received a rating of 76 on the ENERGY-STAR performance scale. The Kirksville facility received a rating of 79. This measurement helps organizations assess how efficiently their buildings use energy relative to similar buildings nationwide. A building that scores a 75 or higher on EPA’s 1-100 scale is eligible for the ENERGY-STAR certification.

“The Conservation Department is pleased to accept the EPA’s ENERGY STAR award in recognition of our energy-efficiency efforts,” said MDC Director Bob Ziehmer. "This achievement highlights our continued commitment to conservation stewardship and wise use of funds through lowering energy costs.”

MDC Design and Development Division Chief Jacob Careaga added that the state agency is broadening its efforts to improve energy efficiency at other MDC offices and nature centers throughout Missouri by 20% over the next five years.

These energy-reduction efforts include simple actions, such as reminding employees to turn off lights, computers and other equipment when not in use. Other efforts include improved energy efficiency of heating-ventilation-air-conditioning (HVAC) systems and installing more energy-efficient lighting. Larger-scale efforts include maximizing energy efficiency for new MDC facilities and for renovations of existing facilities.

“We use energy-conservation measures as much as possible in new construction and in renovations,” said Careaga. “These measures range from making sure that existing systems are operating as efficiently as possible to drilling wells for geothermal heating, utilizing natural daylight as much as possible, installing motion-sensor lighting and selecting more energy- efficient equipment for replacement.”

Improving the energy efficiency of buildings is critical to protecting the environment, explained Jean Lupinacci, chief of the ENERGY STAR Commercial and Industrial Branch. “From the boiler room to the board room, organizations are leading the way by making their buildings more efficient and earning EPA’s ENERGY STAR.”

Commercial buildings that earn the ENERGY STAR award use an average of 35 percent less energy than typical buildings. 

Commercial buildings that can earn the ENERGY STAR include offices, bank branches, financial centers, retail stores, courthouses, hospitals, hotels, schools, medical offices, supermarkets, dormitories, houses of worship and warehouses.

The EPA introduced ENERGY STAR in 1992 as a voluntary, market-based partnership to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through energy efficiency. Today, the ENERGY STAR label can be found on more than 60 different kinds of products, new homes and commercial and industrial buildings. Products and buildings that have earned the ENERGY STAR prevent greenhouse gas emissions by meeting strict energy-efficiency specifications set by the government. Last year alone, Americans, with the help of ENERGY STAR, saved nearly $17 billion on their energy bills while reducing the greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to those of 30 million vehicles.

For more information about ENERGY STAR, visit

For more information about the MDC, visit
 - Joe Jerek -
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MDC’s Kyle Lairmore receives State Employee Award of Distinction

Governor recognizes MDC Private Land Conservationist for outstanding public service. 

JEFFERSON CITY Mo – Missouri Governor Jay Nixon recognized Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) Private Land Conservationist Kyle Lairmore with the 2010 Missouri State Employee Award of Distinction for Public Service at an Aug. 18 ceremony at the Capitol.

The award recognized Lairmore for his “outstanding dedication to the advancement of state service, which enhances the quality of life to citizens and is above and beyond the employee’s normal job requirements.”

The annual awards are coordinated through the Office of Administration, Division of Personnel, and recognize outstanding state employees in the categories of Public Service, Human Relations, Safety and Heroism and Innovative Suggestion of the Year.

“Missouri’s outdoor resources are some of our greatest treasures, and preserving them for the use and enjoyment of future generations depends on our wise stewardship today,” said Gov. Nixon. “I commend Kyle Lairmore for his dedication to both his profession and to conserving those natural resources we are blessed with.” 

A five-year employee with the MDC, Lairmore works with private landowners and others in Maries and Gasconade counties to help them achieve their land-use objectives in ways that enhance the conservation of Missouri's fish, forest, wildlife and natural communities. He is also active in numerous MDC committees and working groups from feral-hog eradication efforts to driver’s training to customer service.

His public-service activities include staffing fishing events for kids, assisting conservation agents on patrols, working with the Missouri Seed Program, coordinating local stream-bank stabilization projects for the Soil and Water Conservation District, teaching hunter education courses, serving as an instructor for Missouri’s National Archery in the Schools Program, serving as a guide and mentor for the annual Governor’s Youth Turkey Hunt and assisting with the MDC’s Prairie Chicken Recovery Project. 

“Kyle exemplifies what it means to be conservation professional, and we value him, his talents and his energy,” said MDC Private Lands Division Chief Mike Hubbard. “He conducts hundreds of on-site visits with landowners and provides dozens of workshops and presentations that teach thousands of people about conservation. Kyle’s passion and enthusiasm for Missouri’s natural resources also carry over into his personal life.”

A resident of Owensville, Lairmore is active in his community and with other conservation-related organizations.

He helped establish the Mid-Missouri Dream Hunters program for young hunters with disabilities and helps with other hunts for youth with special needs. He is active in the Gasconade River Gobblers chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation, the Four Rivers chapter of Quail Forever, the Ozark Border Bobwhites chapter of Quail Unlimited, the Gasconade County Youth Shooting Sports groups and other local organizations. 

He has been recognized for his conservation-related leadership and public service by the Conservation Federation of Missouri (CFM) and is active in the CFM’s Conservation Leadership Corps where he helps students and young professionals as they begin careers in natural- resources fields. Lairmore was recognized recently by the CFM as its Conservation Educator of The Year. 

Lairmore also received the National Rifle Association’s award for the Best NRA Youth Club for 2008-2009 and a Partnership Award from the Natural Resources Conservation Service for his work.

Lairmore was also named Owensville “Man of the Year” for 2010. 

 Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) Private Land Conservationist Kyle Lairmore recently received the 2010 Missouri State Employee Award of Distinction for Public Service from Governor Jay Nixon during a ceremony at the Capitol. Pictured are (l-r): MDC Private Land Services (PLS) Unit Chief Bob DeWitt, MDC PLS Agricultural Program Coordinator John Knudsen; Fisheries Unit Chief and Lairmore’s former supervisor Brian Canaday, Conservation Commissioner Don Johnson, MDC PLS Division Chief Mike Hubbard, Lairmore, Gov. Nixon, MDC Director Bob Ziehmer, MDC Deputy Director Tom Draper, Lairmore’s mother Chris Lairmore, Lairmore’s father Jerry Lairmore and Lairmore’s grandfather
Maurice Landwehr.
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Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Writer gets northern exposure on Missouri’s Grand River

A new reel and an old filet knife get a workout on the trip

Bud Howsman, Chillicothe, has no trouble minding three fishing poles at once while fishing familiar haunts on Missouri’s Grand River.
 (Photo by Sara DeBold)
GALLATIN, Mo.— “How long you been fishing Howsman?” asked David Gray.
            “Oh, since I was six I'd guess,” replied Bud Howsman.
For Howsman, of Chillicothe, that meant 80 years. Gray could not match the older man’s depth of experience. However, as the founder of a high-end fishing reel manufacturing company, he had every reason to call himself an ardent angler.
The three of us, all newly acquainted, had one thing in common when we met to fish the Grand River last August: We were eager to catch catfish. Until that day, I had never tossed a lure in northern Missouri. I am not the only one. Many anglers turn south to Missouri’s big lakes and rivers to catch their limits. A day on the Grand River with Howsman and Gray convinced me that northern Missouri has a lot to offer an angler.
            We slipped Howsman’s 14-foot johnboat onto the smooth water of the Grand just after 7 a.m. After Howsman got the aging outboard motor running with a carefully placed tap from some old pliers, cool air whipped around the hair poking out under my new ball cap, which bore the name “Ardent Outdoors.” That is the name of Gray’s company, based in Macon. With Howsman's years of experience and Gray's high-quality bass fishing reels, I was smelling a fish fry in my future.

Long-time Grand River angler Bud Howsman, left, and Ardent Outdoors founder David Gray spent a day fishing for catfish with writer Sara DeBold last August. The outing was a revelation for DeBold, who had never cast a line in northern Missouri before that day.
 (Photo by Sara DeBold)

             By 7:15, Howsman had his boat wedged among some logs, and we were getting rigged up. Sunshine finally hit the river, striking sparks from every ripple. Howsman grabbed a fistful of plastic worms, which glowed red in the morning sun. I caught a familiar, pungent aroma.
Looking for the source, I spied a plain white bucket filled with a peanut butter-like substance. I knew better than to have a taste. It was Sonny's Dip Bait. Howsman has been using it for years. We took turns dunking our red worms in the goo with a stick until a sizable glob stuck.
            While we waited for the first bite, Gray showed off his new reel, which already had logged quite a few miles since leaving the Ardent factory in Macon. He had taken the reel to a trade show in Florida. I would have expected the owner of a company that makes bass reels to test his product with a professional bass angler at the Lake of the Ozarks. Instead, he was testing new waters.
            “Bass fishers like catfishing too,” he explained.
.           Fishing northern Missouri is not exactly new to Gray. He may not have Howsman’s tenure, but he knows the benefits of Missouri’s northern waters. His Macon-made reels get tested on local waters. Gray said anglers overlook many great fishing spots on conservation areas.
            “People tend to think they need a huge reservoir like Mark Twain for good fishing,” he said. “You can have these bodies of water to yourself during the week.” 
The one boat we saw all day proved his point.  
            We made our second stop abruptly at 8:45 a.m., when Howsman slammed his boat against some flood debris. It was a bit disconcerting getting rammed into logs in a 14' boat, but I was more concerned with catching a fish. Just then, Gray got the first bite. His new reel got its first fish.
            “Your reel works,” Howsman said as he landed his first catfish of the day. “That's a nice smooth reel,” he said, cranking in his catch.
            I picked Gray's brain about his company. Anything made in the USA is worth talking about these days, but bass reels manufactured in Missouri, now that's cause for conversation. Ardent Outdoors employs 35 people, mostly in Macon. Gray explained that when he started Ardent Outdoors, there was no manufacturing of general bass reels going on in the United States. He set out to make high-performance fishing reels for American anglers.

David Gray brings in a catfish.
 (Photo by Sara DeBold)

             “Most anglers feel our reels work the best. It's certainly rewarding for all the work I've put in,” Gray said, not noticing a little bend in the tip in his rod. He said more than 30 professional anglers use Ardent reels.
            “We have the work ethic that made America great. Everyone in the plant is concerned with making the best fishing reels in the world.”
He discussed his company with such enthusiasm he missed at least two more bites. This didn't seem to bother him. He was happy just to be out fishing with a first-rate guide.
            “I take a lot of people fishing but I don't consider myself a guide,” Howsman said modestly.
I felt a tug and instinctively gave my rod a yank. The fight began. Gray quickly adjusted the drag on my Ardent reel and then, smoother than butter, I reeled in my first catfish of the day.
            “We’re going to catch us a mess of fish,” said Howsman.
He was right. We fished that honey hole for a good hour. The three of us rocked the boat to the rhythm of catfish landing in a plastic bucket, which soon was jumping with catfish.
            When the bucket was full, we stopped fishing so Howsman could dress the fish for us. He performed the operation right there in the boat, using a board and a knife whose blade was almost worn through from cleaning countless fish. Age apparently is no obstacle to efficient fish cleaning. The mess of fish was ready for the skillet in astonishingly little time.
“I can clean 30 crappie in 30 minutes,” Howsman said matter-of-factly.
            Howsman’s fishing knowledge extends well beyond the Grand River. He let us in on a few of his crappie-fishing secrets and followed them up with some good fishing stories from the area. This further whetted my appetite to check out northern waters.
“What’s the most important thing to know when fishing?” asked Gray. “Where to fish,” said Howsman. And Howsman knows where to fish.
After only one trip with Howsman, I didn't really know much about where to fish. To learn more, I contacted Conservation Department Fisheries Management Biologist Greg Pitchford. He said the Grand River owes its productivity to Northwest Missouri’s fertile soils. Despite the good habitat, channel catfish grow slowly in the Grand River. A channel catfish takes about 5 years to grow to 11 inches there.
Flathead and blue catfish are most common in the lower river, where the water is deeper. Channel cats are found consistently throughout the Grand.
According to Pitchford, all of Missouri’s stretch of the Grand River has good catfish numbers. He says that while you might not see many people, plenty of fishing goes on there. The farther you go upstream, the more difficult it becomes to maneuver a boat.

Bud Howsman.
 (Photo by Sara DeBold)

There are no dams on the Grand, and plenty of places to reach the river on conservation areas and boating accesses. Besides the 13 formal public access points, there are bridges where anglers can slip a canoe or kayak in the water. Pitchford suggests concentrating fishing efforts around deep holes with little current and around woody debris.
You can find fishing spots on the Grand River using the searchable Conservation Atlas Database at
-Sara DeBold-
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Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Doves, places to hunt them plentiful in Missouri

The Conservation Department manages fields especially for
doves and hunters. The birds get credit for their own abundance.
JEFFERSON CITY–For many Missourians, the opening of dove season on Sept. 1 marks the start of hunting season, and the state’s top mourning dove expert says this year’s season is full of promise.
Approximately 33,000 people hunt doves in the Show-Me State. Resource Scientist John Schulz says the mourning dove not only is the state’s most popular game bird, it is the most democratic, attracting hunters from every walk of life.
This popularity results from the mourning dove’s prolific nature. A pair of doves can easily raise six broods of two chicks each nesting season, starting as early as March and persevering well into September. Population surveys conducted in May and June showed a slight drop in dove numbers, but Schulz said this is nothing for hunters to worry about.
“You have to keep in mind that those surveys are a snapshot in time,” said Schulz. “When they were conducted we were having a lot of heavy rain. That may have caused a decrease in early hatching, but a lot can change between June 1 and Sept. 1.”
Schulz said reports he gets from around the state indicate an abundance of doves, and he sees plenty of doves wherever he goes.
“I’m seeing birds everywhere, and I’m hearing the same thing from people all around the state. If things stay like they are, I wouldn’t be surprised to see a very good harvest this year.”
Abundance does not guarantee quality hunting, however. Hunters can spend hours in the field and only see a handful of doves, mostly too far away for a shot, unless something draws the birds into a small area. That “something” usually is an agricultural field. Doves have a strong preference for landing on bare ground, and they love to eat sunflowers, corn, wheat, sorghum and other grain left in crop fields after harvest. The first fields harvested each year attract astonishing numbers of doves.
Knowing this, the Conservation Department arranges to have sunflowers and other crops planted on 150 fields at 90 areas around the state. The fields total approximately 5,000 acres. These fields are managed to offer abundant food for doves and maximum opportunity for hunters.
“When people ask me how to find a dove hunting spot, I ask them how theycouldn’t find one,” said Schulz. “We go out of our way to make sure there’s a managed dove field near almost everybody who wants to go dove hunting.”
He said hunters can call any Conservation Department office to learn the location of managed dove fields or use the interactive locator map at
He offered one caution about the Conservation Department’s managed dove fields. Repeated heavy rains early in the summer hampered planting and growth of crops on some fields. Hunters should visit fields they want to hunt beforehand or at least call area managers for up-to-date information about field condition. Contact information for area managers is available through the Conservation Atlas database at
Schulz also had advice for hunters who enjoy the challenge of finding their own, private dove-hunting spots. The obvious choice is to get permission from a farmer who has a harvested crop field. Some farmers do still welcome hunters, but the days of easy permission are past.
“It’s not 1965 anymore, and Aunt Bea isn’t in the kitchen baking peach cobbler,” said Schulz. “If you want to hunt farm ground today, you usually have to know the farmers or take time to build relationships with them.”
Other options are available, however. Hunters who understand doves’ habits and preferences sometimes can locate spots as productive as any managed dove field.
Doves like open ground, seeds, perching sites and water. Any spot that combines two or more of these elements can be an excellent hunting spot. An abandoned gravel road, an old airstrip or parking lot is a start. A pond with a wide margin of bare soil or mud is another possibility. Add a telephone line or some dead trees for perching, and you have a dove magnet.
“Say you have an old roadbed with foxtail and other weeds growing beside the pavement. The weeds drop their seeds, and maybe there are some low spots that catch rainfall. Birds can fly down to pick up seeds, flutter over a short distance for a drink, then fly back up to perch and digest their meal. A place like that can be just as good as a managed dove field.”
The Conservation Department bands approximately 2,500 birds annually as part of a nationwide effort to create a dove-management database. Approximately 12 percent of those doves are recovered and reported, mostly by hunters. Schulz said the most important thing dove hunters can do to improve their sport is to check every bird they shoot for a leg band and report any they find or by calling 800-327-BAND (2263).
“Data from band recoveries drive a wide array of analytical processes that directly affect how we establish mourning dove regulations each year,” said Schulz. “By reporting band numbers, hunters are helping manage our dove resource for future generations.”
He said a small number of hunters are asked to take part in the National Mourning Dove Hunter Wing Survey each year. Under this program, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) gives hunters pre-paid mailers in which to send wings from doves they shoot to the annual National Mourning Dove Wing Bee in Kansas City. Biologists from around the nation gather there to examine wings for age and other characteristics.
Statistics from conservation areas where the Conservation Department records the number of doves killed and the number of shots fired show that hunters fire an average of five shots per dove. If you kill a limit of 15 doves with fewer than three boxes of shotgun shells, pat yourself on the back for being an above-average wingshot.
Then pick up all the empty hulls littering the ground around you. Leaving them in the field is littering, and could earn you a ticket.
-Jim Low-

For Great Missouri Public Lands Hunting, visit Missouri Public Lands Hunting