Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Eagle Fun!

By Liz Lyons, Conservation Education Supervisor

For those of us who love the outdoors, cold weather means opportunity—the annual chance to see bald eagles right here in the St. Louis area. In 1782, the bald eagle was formally adopted as our national emblem. At that time, experts believed there were probably as many as 20,000 nesting pairs of bald eagles in what is now the United States.

Over the next 200 years, however, those numbers dwindled. Bald eagles were victims of human encroachment, habitat destruction, environmental contamination, and poaching. The bald eagle population was so small, that in 1978 the federal government declared the bald eagle an endangered species.

From 1981 to 1990, the Missouri Department of Conservation, in cooperation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Dickerson Park Zoo, released 74 young bald eagles in Missouri to reestablish them as nesters. Efforts such as these paid off—bald eagles recovered dramatically. In 1995, the bald eagle’s status in the U.S. was changed from endangered to threatened. Today, the bald eagle is considered fully recovered.

The Missouri Department of Conservation holds several Eagle Days events to celebrate the return of the bald eagle throughout the state. These events are often co-sponsored by other agencies, offer children’s activities, and are free to the public. Take a couple of hours, bundle up the kids, and head to an Eagle Days event near you.

St. Louis Eagle Days is held at the Old Chain of Rocks Bridge, I-270 and Riverview Drive, January 15 & 16, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

For more information on this event, visit www.confluencegreenway.org/eagledays.php
For information about other Eagle Days events in the state, visit www.mdc.mo.gov/discover-nature/programs/eagle-days

18th Annual Missouri Community Forestry Conference Information

Please join us for the 18th Annual Missouri Community Forestry Conference to be held March 1-3, 2011 at  Truman State University in Kirksville where experts from Missouri and around the country will provide you with the latest information on community forestry topics. Our keynote speaker is Guy Sternberg, co-author of Native Trees for Northern Landscapes.  Guy has propagated and grown hundreds of species of trees and maintains his own research arboretum, Starhill Forest, in Petersburg, IL.

This year’s conference will focus on managing urban ecosystems, making it of interest to municipal, commercial, and consulting arborists as well as professionals in the field of public works, engineering, landscape architecture, and planning.  At least 10 ISA and SAF CEU’s will be provided. 

For more information and to register, please visit the Missouri Community Forestry Council’s website at http://www.mocommunitytrees.org/conference2011.html .

Platte County sighting confirmed to be a mountain lion

JEFFERSON CITY Mo – The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) recently confirmed a mountain lion sighting in northwest Missouri. A landowner in southern Platte County near the Missouri River contacted the MDC with a photograph he took on Nov. 26 of a mountain lion in a tree on his property.

“The photo is clearly of a mountain lion,” said Jeff Beringer, resource scientist with the MDC’s Mountain Lion Response Team.  “We visited with the landowner, who wishes to remain anonymous, to confirm the location and to gather additional information.”

The MDC receives dozens of reports each year from Missourians claiming to have seen a mountain lion. Of the more than 1,500 reports received since 1994, only 11 -- including the Platte County sighting -- have yielded enough evidence to confirm the presence of a mountain lion. 

Mountain lions are nocturnal, secretive and generally avoid contact with humans.

Beringer said that there have been no documented cases in Missouri of attacks on livestock, people or pets by mountain lions.

Beringer added that he identified claw marks on the tree where the mountain lion was photographed and collected hair samples from where the big cat was perched to submit for DNA testing.

“We will use the DNA results to help us identify where the cat came from,” explained Beringer. “We will compare the results with our database of captive mountain lions in Missouri and also look at mountain-lion DNA information from western states.”

The Mountain Lion Response Team conducts field investigations in situations where there is potential physical evidence such as photographs, wildlife or livestock kills, scat, hair or tracks. The Team has investigated hundreds of mountain lion reports since it was created in 1996. 

“More than 90 percent of reported mountain lion sightings turn out to be bobcats, house cats, or dogs,” Beringer said. “And most of the photos we get of mountain lions turn out to be doctored photographs circulating on the Internet.”

He added that most mountain lions confirmed in Missouri in modern times, such as two killed on highways, are thought to be young males traveling from western states looking for new territory to the east.

“While mountain lions occasionally wander into Missouri from other states, we have no proof of a self-sustaining, reproducing population,” Beringer said.

He added that the MDC has never stocked or released mountain lions in Missouri and has no plans to do so. 

Mountain lions (Puma concolor), also called cougars, panthers and pumas, were present in Missouri before pioneer settlement. The last documented Missouri mountain lion was killed in the Bootheel in 1927. The nearest known populations are in Wyoming, Colorado, North Dakota, South Dakota, northwestern Nebraska and Texas.

Mountain lions are a protected species in the state under the Wildlife Code of Missouri. The Code does allow the killing of any mountain lion attacking or killing livestock or domestic animals, or threatening human safety. The incident must be reported to the MDC immediately and the intact carcass, including the pelt, must be surrendered to the MDC within 24 hours. 

To report a sighting, physical evidence or other incident, contact a local MDC office or conservation agent, or email the Mountain Lion Response Team atmountain.lion@mdc.mo.gov.

For more information on mountain lions in Missouri, visitwww.MissouriConservation.org and search “mountain lion.”

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Appalachian Wildlife Foundation pledges support for MO elk restoration

Male elk bull in Benezette Township, Elk Count...Image via Wikipedia
Foundation is raising funds and offering expertise for Missouri elk restoration efforts.

JEFFERSON CITY Mo – The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) and the Appalachian Wildlife Foundation (AWF) recently entered into an agreement that establishes a framework for cooperative efforts between the two organizations and a commitment by the AWF to assist in funding the reintroduction of elk in southern Missouri.

Under the agreement, the MDC and AWF will work together to restore elk to the indentified restoration zone in southern Missouri. The MDC acknowledges that the AWF is working to raise a minimum of $50,000 towards the costs associated with the capture, disease testing, transport, radio collaring and initial monitoring of elk in Missouri. The MDC and AWF will also collaborate to develop a long-term conservation plan for elk in Missouri, in concert with other entities, through a working group established by the MDC.

“We look forward to the opportunity to partner with the Appalachian Wildlife Foundation as we move to restore elk in Shannon, Carter and Reynolds counties in southeast Missouri,” wrote MDC Director Bob Ziehmer in a letter to the AWF.

“As you know, Missourians are connected to the land and value the great natural resources of this state,” wrote Ziehmer. “This dedication to natural resources, firm commitment to conservation heritage, and history of restoration of native species provides citizens with a rich conservation legacy. The partnership between the Appalachian Wildlife Foundation and the Department of Conservation will be another historic chapter in the history of conservation in Missouri.”

The Missouri Conservation Commission approved the MDC plan to restore elk at its October meeting. The plan calls for releasing up to 150 wild elk in a 346-square-mile (221,509 acres) elk restoration zone in parts of Shannon, Carter and Reynolds counties. The Conservation Department selected this limited restoration zone because of extensive public lands, suitable habitat, low road density, minimal agricultural activity and landowner support. The plan includes health protocols, herd management guidelines and habitat management recommendations. Releases of elk could begin as soon as early 2011.

The MDC is also in discussions with the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and other conservation organizations regarding cooperative efforts and funding support.

Elk restoration programs in Arkansas, Kentucky, Pennsylvania and Tennessee have successfully restored limited elk populations with economic benefits through wildlife viewing and hunting. 

Elk are native to the Show-Me State but were gone by the mid-1800s, due to unregulated hunting and habitat changes. 

The elk restoration plan is available at www.MissouriConservation.org.

Hunting, Fishing, and Camping Information for Experienced and Not-so-Experienced Outdoors People:
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Wednesday, November 24, 2010

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Seeks Input on Developing Wind Energy Habitat Conservation Plan

Icon of Wind TurbinesImage via WikipediaThe U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will host an open house Tuesday, December 7, 2010, to gather comments and answer questions about development of a Habitat Conservation Plan for the proposed High Prairie Wind Energy Facility near the town of Queen City in Schulyer County.  The open house will be from 5 pm to 7 pm at the Days Inn in Kirksville.

Representatives from the Service and from High Prairie Wind Energy, a subsidiary of Wind Capital Group, will be on hand at the open house to answer questions about the planning effort and to hear ideas and opinions about potential impacts of the project on the Indiana bat, the little brown bat and the northern bat.  The Indiana bat is listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act, and all three species occur at the site.

High Prairie is working with the Service to develop a Habitat Conservation Plan to address possible effects from the project on the Indiana bat.  The plan will describe project features, natural resources, and measures High Prairie Wind Energy will implement to protect and conserve bats.

A Habitat Conservation Plan developed by High Prairie and approved by the Service would include measures for long-term conservation of Indiana bats and other bat species and will be used by High Prairie to apply for a Service permit to exempt an otherwise lawful activity (construction and operation of a wind energy facility) from the prohibition of take under the Endangered Species Act.   Take, under the Act, means harming, harassing, or killing endangered or threatened species.

As part of the Service's review of the plan, and High Prairie’s request for an incidental take permit, the Service will prepare an Environmental Assessment evaluating effects of the project.

The Service encourages participation in the open house to solicit information on issues, concerns, or other information that should be considered in the Environmental Assessment.  The forum will also serve as an opportunity to identify or provide information on historic or cultural resources that should be considered in the assessment.

High Prairie’s proposed project will consist of wind turbine generators, transformers at the base of each turbine, access roads, a project operations and maintenance building, and other infrastructure.  All project facilities and infrastructure will be placed on private land.

The Indiana bat was listed as endangered in 1967, under the precursor to the current Endangered Species Act, because of large population declines believed to be from disturbance of caves where bats hibernate during the winter.  The Indiana bat is found across much of the eastern and central United States.   From late fall through winter Indiana bats in Missouri hibernate in caves in the Ozarks and Ozark Border Natural Divisions.  During the spring and summer, Indiana bats use living, injured (e.g. split trunks and broken limbs from lightning strikes or wind), dead or dying trees for roosting throughout the state.  Indiana bats forage for flying insects (particularly moths) in and around floodplain, riparian and upland forests.

For more information on the Indiana bat and habitat conservation plans, visit the Service’s website at www.fws.gov/endangered

The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect and enhance fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals and commitment to public service. For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit www.fws.gov.
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Hunters check 188,205 deer during November firearms portion

http://www.family-outdoors.com/MO-Public-Hunting.htmlHarvest numbers were up in the north and down in the south.

JEFFERSON CITY Mo — Missouri’s 2010 November portion of the firearms deer season ended Nov. 23 with 188,205 deer checked. The 2009 total for the portion was 193,155.
The top harvest counties were Benton with 3,390 deer checked, Howell with 3,246 and Macon with 3,195. Top counties in 2009 were Texas with 4,372 deer checked, Howell with 3,871 and Benton with 3,616.

Antlered bucks made up 41 percent of this year’s November deer harvest, the same percentage as in 2009.
“We generally had good weather for deer hunting and crops were out of the fields,” said MDC deer biologist Lonnie Hansen.

He added that harvest numbers were down in southern Missouri and up in the northern part of the state.

“We expected that due to an abundance of acorns in the Missouri Ozarks. In this situation, deer tend to stick to the woods and not move around as much,” Hansen said. “This makes hunting more difficult.”

Hansen added that hunters play a vital role in managing the population of Missouri’s most valuable wildlife resource.

“Adult deer have no widespread natural predators in Missouri so hunting is the primary way to control the population,” he explained. “Missouri is a great place to hunt deer.”

Hansen added that deer hunting enriches the state and local economies and Missourian’s quality of life. “Nearly 500,000 deer hunters spend more than $750 million each year directly related to deer hunting. Deer hunting in Missouri generates more than $1 billion in overall business activity and supports more than 11,000 jobs.”

Deer hunters still have opportunities to fill their freezers and to help feed their neighbors through the Share the Harvest program. Share the Harvest provides a way for deer hunters to donate venison to the needy.

The firearms deer antlerless portion runs Nov. 24 to Dec. 5. The second round of the archery deer season runs Nov. 24 to Jan. 15. The muzzleloader portion runs Dec. 18-28. A second firearms youth weekend will be Jan. 1-2.

The MDC recorded nine firearms-related deer-hunting incidents during the November hunt. Eight of those were self-inflicted. The MDC also recorded three falls from tree stands. No fatalities were reported.

More information on the 2010 deer season and on Share the Harvest can be found at www.MissouriConservation.org, or in the 2010 Fall Deer & Turkey Hunting Regulations and Information booklet available at MDC offices and where permits are sold. 

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How to Stay Warm When Camping in Winter

Winter camping in SwedenImage via Wikipedia
As I sit here on a cool, but not yet cold November evening, I am already contemplating our Winter camping trips. I enjoy them as much as I do any camping trips we take all year long. Of course Winter camping is not for everyone. If you simply detest cold weather, no matter how much preparation you make, and no matter how much gear you own, your trip will likely not be an enjoyable one. However, if the thought of camping in a snowy scene with a full moon and the stillness that snow on the ground brings does pique your interest, then read on.

First, it is my opinion that unless you are in a warmer climate region, simply camping out with no attendant activities may not fulfill your wishes and/or needs. We find that we enjoy our Winter camping trips the most when we are engaging in some other activity such as hiking, hunting, or fishing. This is in juxtaposition to trips we take in Fall Summer, and Spring when just hanging out at camp and getting some R&R may be just the ticket. Realistically, unless you brought enough wood for a perpetual bonfire, sitting around camp when the temperature is well below freezing may not be what you consider recreation.

Staying warm on your camping trip involves paying attention to the following areas. For the purposes of this article, we will speak in generalities as opposed to discussing specific gear or synthetic materials. We will save these more in-depth discussions for future treatment. Our discussion will delve into clothing and footwear, sleeping gear, tents, and campfires.

When it comes to clothing there are some basic principles to remember. First, insulation created by pockets of air are what help us retain body heat. The enemies of this principle are moisture and wind. Moisture hinders heat retention in two ways. First of all, many synthetic and natural materials loose their insulation potential to a great degree when moisture becomes present via environmental sources or from sweat from the body. The classic example is cotton fabrics. Blue jeans are an awful choice for example for outdoor activities in cold weather, especially when they might become wet. Other poor examples of Winter clothing are flannel shirts made only of cotton.

As far as natural materials go, wool is the best. Even when wet it retains a high percentage of its insulation potential. Also, there are a number of outstanding synthetics on the market. These materials can however be quite expensive. The advantage of some of the synthetics is their breathability.

A couple of structural issues bear mentioning as well. First, dress in layers. This allows you to shed layers as you warm and add them back as you chill. Also, remember that a very large percentage of your body heat is lost through your head. A cap in cold weather is a must. On the other end of things, good footwear is critical as well. Waterproof and insulated boots are great. Coupled with wool or synthetic socks, you should be in good shape.

When sleeping in your tent, a good sleeping bag is critical when Winter camping. Couple this with a good pad between you and your sleeping bag and the ground. This sleeping pad is vital. Even if you do not care about comfort, the heat transfer between you and the ground without the pad will cause rapid body heat loss. I like a mummy bag where is can cinch the top closed. This crates a situation where the bag keeps in not only my body heat but my breathing also helps with warmth. Take the time and make the effort to get your bag zipped properly and if equipped with a drawstring, that you draw the hood tight.

When it comes to your tent, depending on where you live, you may or may not be able to get by with a three season tent. We use 3-season solo tents (individual tents) during the Winter. With the fly attached, not much heat escapes, and with such a small area to heat, our body heat has to do less work to warm the tent area. For more extreme climates (we are in the Midwest), a more expensive four season tent will be a real plus or even a necessity. These 4-season tents can be bought realistically at the low end for around $200 all the way up to $1,000 or more.

Building a campfire can bring its own challenges in Winter weather. If there is snow, the dampness may make it hard to ignite the fire. We bring fire starter sticks that can be purchased at local stores for under a dollar. These sticks are infused with a fuel and burn hot for quite some time. They are easy to start. With a good layer of kindling you should be able to start a fire in most conditions. As a back-up, I like to bring a one-burner stove. I can boil water or heat chili or whatever we food we have should a fire not be an option.

Some of my favorite camping memories are from Winter trips. The invigorating aspect of awaking on a cold Winter morning makes me feel more alive. At another level, this activity makes me appreciate more my warm bed at home. At any rate, we hope these tips are a quality starting point for your Winter camping considerations.

Camping Tips, Places, and Gear Information

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Sunday, November 21, 2010

Neosho National Fish Hatchery Celebrates Visitor Center Grand Opening: Ribbon Cutting and Open House on December 9

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Neosho National Fish Hatchery (NFH) in southwest Missouri will host the grand opening of its state-of-the-art visitor center on Thursday, December 9, 2010.  The visitor center is expected to accommodate more than 100,000 visitors per year, enhance environmental education and interpretation opportunities, and generate economic benefits for Newton County and surrounding areas.  

“We are so proud to see this project come to fruition,” said Tom Melius, Midwest Regional Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. “The architectural style of the facility commemorates the beginnings of the National Fish Hatchery Program. As the oldest operational Federal fish hatchery in the country, Neosho can be proud to be both a living legacy of conservation and its community.” 

Public and media are invited to attend the ceremony and tour the facility alongside Federal and state legislators and Fish and Wildlife Service officials. The ceremony will begin at 9:30 a.m. CT and conclude with a ribbon cutting at 10:30 a.m.  Formal tours will begin at 10:45 a.m. and the facility will be open from noon to 5:00 p.m for informal tours.  The hatchery is located at 520 E. Park Street, Neosho, Missouri. For additional information, contact hatchery manager David Hendrix at 417-451-0554.

The 9,500 sq. ft. facility is registered with the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED program and includes photovoltaic solar panels, energy efficient building systems, geothermal wells, and was built using environmentally friendly, natural materials including fiber cement siding, wood framing, metal roof, stained concrete and marmoleum flooring. The visitor center is expected to generate local economic benefits in the form of enhanced tourism revenues and associated employment opportunities in southwestern Missouri. 

Neosho NFH was established in 1888 and is the oldest operating federal fish hatchery. The hatchery raises endangered pallid sturgeon for recovery efforts in the lower Missouri River and rainbow trout for stocking in Lake Taneycomo. The hatchery also supports conservation of the endangered Ozark cavefish and restoration of native mussels.  

The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect and enhance fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals and commitment to public service. For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit www.fws.gov. 


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Creepy Crawly Conservation Tuesday, December 7, 7:30 p.m., Saint Louis Zoo Living World

Featured Speaker: Jennifer Hopwood,Midwest Pollinator Outreach Coordinator, Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation
Though often overlooked or even despised, insects and other animals without backbones are surprisingly essential to our daily lives. While some are harmful, those that spread disease and eat our crops make up a small fraction of the known species; the rest are indispensable members of nearly every ecosystem. Pollinators, such as bees, butterflies, moths, beetles and flies, pollinate many flowering species, including many agricultural crops we rely on for food. Seeds and nuts, also a product of pollination, are an important food source for birds and mammals. But pollinators are not immune to destruction, and this presentation will include an overview of pollinator conservation efforts underway to protect the animals that contribute to human health as well as to the health of entire ecosystems.
For more information call 314-533-8586 or email rsvp@academyofsciencestl.org
Conservation Conversations are Co-sponsored by:

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Hunting the Big Woods Whitetail Deer

We know this runs a bit late but still is interesting.
Hunting the Big Woods for Whitetail Deer

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Friday, November 19, 2010

Blue catfish survey is hands-on

Written by Bill Graham, Missouri Department of Conservation

TRUMAN LAKE Mo -- Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) biologists recently wrapped up the first phase of a new blue catfish survey at Truman Lake and Lake of the Ozarks. MDC crews used methods typically employed by anglers to catch a representative sample of fish from each lake.

Crews at Truman Lake, led by Fisheries Biologist Mike Bayless and Resource Scientist Zach Ford, concluded their final survey day on Nov. 4. Winds following a cold front sent whitecaps across the Berry Bend area where they hauled in 52 jug lines set on the Osage River arm. Using hooks baited with cut shad, they landed 17 blues. All fish were measured, weighed, evaluated and released.

The information expands the database for a popular sport fish that faces heavy fishing pressure.

“This survey is being conducted in advance of proposed regulation changes,” Bayless said. “We’ll gather data over a three-year period. Then, if our proposed regulation is approved and takes effect, seven or eight years down the line we’ll start another three-year survey so we can determine if the regulation has had the desired positive impact on the blue-cat fishery.”

Anglers can currently keep five blue catfish of any size daily.

A committee of biologists and other MDC staff is proposing a regulation change that would allow each angler to keep 10 blue catfish daily. The current proposal would require that all fish between 25 and 35 inches long, usually 6- to 17-pounds, would have to be released. The proposal calls for allowing one or two fish above the slot to be part of the overall limit.

The goal is to allow more blue catfish to reach their potential larger sizes – 20 to 80 pounds – because big fish are why many anglers target blues with rod and reel, trotlines or jug lines. Many anglers and biologists are concerned that the numbers of big blue catfish have declined at Truman Lake, and the proposed regulation is designed to reverse that.

“We started hearing concerns from anglers back in the early 1990s,” Bayless said.

Since the regulation change would allow anglers to keep 10 blue catfish, including one or two above the slot limit, anglers would still be able to harvest plenty of fish to eat.

Bayless said that Truman Lake still has large numbers of small blue catfish and reproduction remains strong. He added that growth rates for blues at the lake are slower than normal, which may be due to the large numbers of small catfish.

“Blue catfish are vulnerable to fishing pressure,” he said. "Most blue catfish are being caught before they reach the larger sizes coveted by many catfish fans. They readily take baits and they swim in open waters easily accessible to anglers."

An MDC survey at the lake from 2003 to 2008 utilized reward tags placed on blue catfish. Anglers were paid $50 for reporting the tags. The study showed that for blue catfish 24 inches or larger, 92 percent were caught within the five-year period.

Angler harvest rates in the study were two-to-three-times higher than similar catfish studies nationwide.

In a 2002 catfish-angler survey by the MDC, the largest percentage of anglers responding said the Truman Lake fishery had declined.

Bayless explained that the MDC is proposing the slot limit to restore more large blue catfish in Truman Lake. The same regulation is proposed for Lake of the Ozarks to keep that catfish fishery from declining.

The MDC's Regulations Committee reviews such proposals. Pending that review, it would then be presented to the Department director and then to the Missouri Conservation Commission, which sets regulations.

MDC biologists began gathering blue catfish data this fall to have more reference information. But because the fish grow slowly it will take some years before results can be measured, Bayless said.

A similar survey was conducted this fall at Lake of the Ozarks by Fisheries Management Biologist Greg Stoner and Fisheries Resource Technician Clark Foster and crews.

“We wanted to use methods for the survey that are like what many fishermen use,” Bayless said. “And we wanted to be able to catch fish of all sizes.”

Monday, November 15, 2010

Deer firearms opening weekend numbers up over 2009

Cooler weather and some rain before and during opening weekend improved conditions for hunters and were also good for deer activity.

JEFFERSON CITY Mo — Rain and cooler temperatures across Missouri came just in time for the Nov. 13-14 opening weekend of the state’s firearms portion of deer season.

Harvest numbers for 2010 opening weekend were up almost 14 percent over 2009 with 97,856 deer checked compared to 86,202 last year.

The top harvest counties for opening weekend were Benton with 1,968 deer checked,
Callaway with 1,749 deer checked and Macon with 1,719 deer checked.

“Cooler weather and some rain before and during opening weekend improved conditions for hunters, and were also good for deer activity,” said Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) Resource Scientist Lonnie Hansen, who is in charge of the MDC’s deer-management program.

Hansen noted that heavy rain during four of the first five days of the 2009 deer firearms portion was a major factor in lower numbers last year. Adding to that were weeks of wet weather before the season, which forced farmers to leave a considerable amount of corn standing. This provided a refuge for deer and made them more difficult to find.

He added that hunters usually harvest about 60 percent of the total for the November portion of the deer firearms season during opening weekend.

There were three self-inflicted injuries, two incidents of falls from tree stands and no fatalities reported during opening weekend.

Hansen said that hunters play a vital role in managing the population of Missouri’s most valuable wildlife resource.

“Adult deer have no widespread natural predators in Missouri so hunting is the primary way to control the population,” he explained. “Missouri is a great place to hunt deer.”

Hansen added that deer hunting enriches the state and local economies and Missourian’s quality of life. “Nearly 500,000 deer hunters spend more than $750 million each year directly related to deer hunting. Deer hunting in Missouri generates more than $1 billion in overall business activity and supports more than 11,000 jobs.”

Deer hunters still have opportunities to fill their freezers, and to also help their neighbors through the Share the Harvest program. Share the Harvest provides a way for deer hunters to donate venison to the needy.

The November portion of firearms deer season continues through Nov. 23.  The firearms deer antlerless portion runs Nov. 24 to Dec. 5. The second round of the archery deer season runs Nov. 24 to Jan. 15. The muzzleloader portion runs Dec. 18-28. A second firearms youth weekend will be Jan. 1-2.

More information on the 2010 deer season and on Share the Harvest can be found at www.MissouriConservation.org, or in the 2010 Fall Deer & Turkey Hunting Regulations and Information booklet available at MDC offices and where permits are sold. 

For More Information on where to Hunt...See Public Land Hunting in Missouri
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Sunday, November 14, 2010

Judgment on use of vehicles and dogs in deer hunting stayed

Ripley County judge’s ruling on state regulations regarding use of motorized vehicles and dogs in deer hunting as too vague is stayed by Missouri Court of Appeals.

JEFFERSON CITY Mo – The Missouri Court of Appeals filed an order on Nov. 12 in which it stayed the August ruling by Ripley County Circuit Judge Robert Smith that three state regulations prohibiting the use of motorized vehicles and dogs in deer hunting are too vague to be constitutional.

The Court of Appeal’s order makes the Ripley County judge’s ruling unenforceable pending the resolution of the appeal.

The Missouri Department of Conservation filed an appeal on the judge’s ruling with the Missouri Court of Appeals in September.

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.”

The ruling followed a case involving two Ripley County hunters who sued in February 2010 over the regulations.

The appeal process continues and the MDC expects a decision in the next several months.

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Friday, November 5, 2010

State Fire Marshal and National Weather Service urge public to avoid any open burning

Northwest Crown Fire Experiment, Northwest Ter...Image via WikipediaJEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – The Office of the State Fire Marshal and the National Weather Service are urging extra caution with open burning in Missouri due to low moisture conditions, low humidity and high winds that increase the danger of wildland fires.

“With the current weather conditions in Missouri, there is a real danger of what is believed to be a controlled burn quickly getting out of control,” said Missouri State Fire Marshal Randy Cole. “During these conditions we urge you to refrain from burning leaves or brush for the foreseeable future.”

The National Weather Service has been monitoring conditions and has been in close contact with the Office of the State Fire Marshal. “The weather has been quite dry across Missouri this fall,” said Jon Carney, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in St. Louis. “The dry and occasionally breezy weather pattern is expected to continue for at least the next week.”

Cole said fall and spring are the peak times of year for firefighters to respond to wildland fires that start out as controlled burns. The fires all too often result in property damage, injury and even death. Cole said three people died in February and March in Missouri when controlled burns got out of hand.

Cole urged the following precautions:

·        Check for local burn bans or restrictions before conducting any open burning.
·        Keep fire a minimum of 75 feet from all buildings.
·        Never use gasoline, kerosene or any other flammable liquid to start the fire.
·        Do not leave a fire unattended.
·        Have fire extinguishment materials on hand, including a water supply, shovels and rakes.
·        Be prepared to extinguish your fire if the winds pick up.
·        DO NOT delay a call for help – call the fire department immediately at the first sign of the fire getting out of control.
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Thursday, November 4, 2010

Fall firearms turkey harvest down 29 percent

JEFFERSON CITY–Hunters checked 5,928 wild turkeys during Missouri’s fall firearms hunting season Oct. 1 through 31. It was the second-smallest harvest in the fall season’s 33-year history.

Top harvest counties were Greene with 199 turkeys checked, Franklin with 157 and Webster with 154.

Resource Scientist Jason Isabelle, who oversees the Missouri Department of Conservation’s turkey-management program, said the harvest was about what he would expect based on the number of fall firearms turkey hunting permits sold.

“The number of turkeys harvested per permit sold has remained relatively constant for the last 20 years,” said Isabelle. “This year’s permit sales were off by about the same percentage as the harvest.”

Missouri held its first autumn firearms turkey hunt in 1978. Hunters bagged 4,374 turkeys that fall. The size of the fall harvest increased gradually over the following seven years. It nearly doubled in 1986, when the bag limit increased from one to two birds.

The fall harvest peaked in 1987, when hunters checked 28,139 birds. After that, the number of hunters participating in the fall season declined from a high of approximately 50,000 to 13,736 this year. The harvest trend mirrors declining hunter numbers.

Isabelle said several factors have contributed to fall turkey hunting’s declining popularity. Among those factors has been the increasing popularity of archery deer hunting.

All 13 counties where hunters checked more than 100 turkeys during the fall firearms turkey season are south of the Missouri River.

“Northern Missouri counties led the state in turkey harvest for a long time,” said Isabelle. “Hunters frequently saw lots of turkeys up there during the summer, and it got them excited about fall hunting. They have been seeing fewer birds, especially in the past few years, and I think that lots of turkey hunters in northern Missouri recognize that the population is down in that region of the state and are taking it upon themselves to not hunt birds in the fall as a result.”

Isabelle said the sharp drop in this year’s fall firearms turkey permit sales and harvest is not evidence of a proportional decline in the state’s turkey population. He noted that the slide of the fall firearms turkey harvest began 25 years ago, when the state’s turkey flock was still growing in some parts of the state.

“Our spring turkey harvest continued to increase during much of that period,” he said. “From the mid-1980s to the early 2000s, it grew from about 30,000 to just over 60,000. The decreased interest in fall turkey hunting obviously was not because we didn’t have enough turkeys.”

This year’s fall firearms turkey harvest included 3,877 hens, or approximately 34 per county. Isabelle said a fall turkey harvest of this size has no effect on the number of turkeys available to hunters the following spring.

“Missouri’s wild turkey population is estimated at approximately 500,000 birds,” said Isabelle. “Population modeling indicates that as long as fall harvest does not exceed 10 percent of the statewide turkey population, it has little impact on the population. Even when you combine the fall archery and firearms harvests, the total is less than 2 percent of the state’s turkey population. That is well below the 10-percent threshold.”

Isabelle said that although turkey numbers are down in parts of the state due to a poor reproduction, turkey hunters can still expect some outstanding hunting opportunities during the 2011 spring season.

-Jim Low-

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

2010 Youth Deer Harvest Numbers Hold Steady

.30-30 Winchester cartridgeImage via Wikipedia
Youth deer harvest holds steady
Young guns posted the third-largest
harvest in the early youth hunt’s 10-year history.
JEFFERSON CITY–Hunters age 6 through 15 checked 13,263 deer during the early youth portion of Missouri’s firearms deer season Oct. 30 and 31. That is the third-largest number in the season’s 10-year history and only slightly less than the record.
The first youth season was in 2001, when young hunters checked 6,277 deer. The most ever taken during the two-day hunt was 13,466 in 2004. The harvest during last year’s early youth hunt was 13,328.
According to the Missouri Department of Conservation, this year’s top counties were Osage with 304 deer checked, Callaway with 277 and Franklin with 266.
The Conservation Department makes it easy to create a lasting reminder of young hunters’ first deer. An official First Deer Certificate, complete with congratulations and signature by Conservation Department Director Bob Ziehmer, is available at http://bit.ly/9bmk38. To create a certificate suitable for framing, you need only fill in the hunter’s information, print the form and add a photo.
From 2001 through 2007, the youth portion of firearms deer season ran for two days in early November or late October. In 2008, the Conservation Department added two days of youth hunting in January. The harvest during the late youth hunt has been small compared to the early portion, averaging a little over 1,700.
The Conservation Department recorded no firearms-related deer hunting incidents during this year’s early youth season.
Next on Missouri’s deer-hunting calendar is the November Portion of Firearms Deer Season Nov. 13 through 23. This portion normally accounts for approximately 80 percent of the state’s firearms deer harvest.
Three other portions follow the November hunt. The Antlerless Portion runs from Nov. 24 through Dec. 5. The Muzzleloader Portion is Dec. 18 through 28. The final portion of the firearms season is the Late Firearms Youth Portion Jan. 1 and 2.
Missouri also has an archery deer season that opens Sept. 15 and closes Jan. 15, with an 11-day hiatus during the November firearms deer season.
Hunters spend more than 5.7 million days pursuing deer in Missouri each year. The approximately $700 million they spend on their sport annually generates $1.1 billion in business activity and supports 11,000 jobs.
-Jim Low-

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