Thursday, February 28, 2013

More than 8,000 anglers expected at March 1 trout-park opener

More than 25,000 trout will await them.

Written by Jim Low, MDC

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Sitting in front of a crackling fire tops the list of places to spend a gray winter day for many Missourians. But if you are smitten with the idea of reeling in shimmering, feisty, delicious trout, there is no better place to greet a wintry sunrise than Missouri’s four trout parks.

By: Larry R. Beckett
March 1 marks the opening of catch-and-keep trout fishing at Bennett Spring State Park (SP) near Lebanon, Montauk SP near Licking, Roaring River SP near Cassville, and Maramec Spring Park near St. James. In the gray light of dawn on that day, thousands of people clad in down jackets and chest waders find their spots along the parks’ spring-fed streams, ready to tempt rainbow trout with everything from dry flies to dough bait.

The long-range weather forecast for March 1 points to chilly but not unseasonably cold weather, with high temperatures in the 40s and a small chance of rain. That sort of weather is unlikely to discourage anglers who think nothing of standing up to their bellybuttons in chill water for hours, trying to fill a limit of four hatchery-reared trout. No doubt they are warmed by the knowledge that more than 25,000 trout, averaging around 12 inches, are stocked for opening day, with a few hundred “lunkers,” ranging from three to 10 pounds, thrown in for good measure.

The other factor that determines opening-day attendance is what day of the week March 1 falls on. Weekends draw crowds that can top 10,000. But with opening day falling on a Friday this year, the parks expect a total of approximately 8,600 anglers to turn out.

The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) operates hatcheries at all four trout parks. To predict turnout on a particular day, hatchery managers rely on records going back more than 70 years.

Montauk Hatchery Manager Tom Whelan is expecting 2,500 anglers on opening day and plans to stock 7,500 trout, including 50 lunkers. Gov. Jeremiah “Jay” Nixon is expected to fire the pistol to kick off the season there.

By: Larry R. Beckett
Paul Spurgeon, who manages the hatchery at Roaring River, says he expects approximately 2,300 anglers on opening day and will stock 7,000 trout, including 100 lunkers, for the event. Ron Moffet who has volunteered his time for kids’ fishing programs at Roaring River since 1985, will fire the starting gun there. Anglers will find fishing at Roaring River enhanced by improvements to fish habitat and repairs of damage from a flood in 2011.

Bennett Spring Hatchery Manager Mike Mitchell also expects 2,300 anglers on opening day and plans to stock 7,000 trout for them, including 
approximately 80 lunkers. Don Brown will be starting the trout season at Bennett as he celebrates his 56th opening day.  Brown was a Lebanon business man whose store would serve opening-day fishermen.  As a member of the Jaycees, he would serve donuts and coffee to the cold anglers waiting for the start of trout season.

At Maramec Spring Park, hatchery manager Wesley Swee is planning for 1,500 anglers on March 1 and will stock 4,500 trout, plus 50 lunkers. The honor of firing the starting pistol at Maramec goes to Gary Benson this year. He has been fishing at Maramec Spring for more than 50 years and supports kids’ fishing there both as a volunteer and with donations of fishing supplies for youngsters’ use.

Three of Missouri’s trout parks–Bennett Spring, Montauk, and Roaring River–are owned by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources. Maramec Spring Park is owned by the James Foundation. For more information about trout-park fishing, call:

-        Bennett Spring - 417-532-4418
-        Maramec - 573-265-7801
-        Montauk - 573-548-2585
-        Roaring River - 417-847-2430.

Anglers need a daily trout tag to fish in Missouri’s trout parks. Missouri residents 16 through 64 need a fishing permit in addition to the daily tag. Nonresidents 16 and older also need a fishing permit.

For more about opening day at Missouri's trout parks, check out the photo feature article in the March issue of Missouri Conservationist magazine at


One feature at all four parks is the availability of wader-wash stations with salt-solutions for boots and fishing gear. They are designed to kill the aquatic invasive species, Didymosphenia geminata, commonly known as Didymo. It’s less appetizing nickname, “rock snot,” captures its slimy experience and general undesirability.

Didymo is an invasive alga that forms dense mats on stream bottoms. It can become so thick that it disrupts natural food chains, making fishing impossible. Its arrival in trout streams around the globe probably is the result of its ability to cling to the porous surface of felt-soled fishing waders. Didymo is known to infest streams in 19 states. The infested stream nearest to Missouri is in northern Arkansas.
To prevent the spread of didymo, the use of shoes, boots or waders with porous soles of felt, matted or woven fibrous material is prohibited at all four trout parks, along with trout streams, Lake Taneycomo and buffer areas.

Anglers can unknowingly spread the microscopic alga on fishing gear, waders, and especially in any porous materials on wader soles. MDC strongly encourage anglers to make use of the wader-wash stations to completely clean waders as far up as contact with water has been made, along with any fishing equipment that has been used in other states.

Anglers can also help prevent the spread of rock snot by cleaning fishing gear and waders and drying them in the sun for 48 hours when moving between waters. They also can help by replacing felt-soled waders with rubber-soled ones. More information on and photos of Didymo are available at

A Trout Permit ($7 for adults, $3.50 for anglers under age 16) is required to possess trout on waters outside trout parks. A fishing permit also is required, unless the angler is exempt.

Trout hatcheries are just one way that conservation pays in Missouri. A survey conducted in 2001 showed that trout anglers spent more per day on their sport than anglers pursuing any other species. Trout anglers’ expenditures that year totaled $115,561,474.

These expenditures generated more than $240 million of business activity, supporting 2,078 jobs and creating nearly $52 million dollars in wages. This produced more than $5.5 million in state sales taxes, $2 million in state income taxes and more than $8 million in federal income taxes.

Thirty percent of Missouri’s trout anglers come from other states, so a substantial portion of trout fishing expenditures is “new money” for the state’s economy.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Missouri NWTF names MDC Agent Killian as Wildlife Officer of the Year

Written by Candice Davis, MDC

WEST PLAINS, Mo. – The National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF) chose Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) Ripley County Conservation Agent Darren Killian as Wildlife Officer of the Year for Missouri. Killian was presented the award on Feb. 16 at the NWTF’s national convention in Nashville, Tenn.

MDC Agent Darren Killian is congratulated
by NWTF Regional Director Larry Neal
on being named Missouri Wildlife Officer of the Year.
MDC Protection Regional Supervisor Gary Cravens, who is Killian’s supervisor, said Killian is known for making unique and quality wildlife arrests.

“Darren continually strives to improve the professionalism of wildlife law enforcement and has done a tremendous job in maintaining a well-rounded conservation agent program. He covers all aspects of assigned duties and he always places a strong emphasis on wild turkey regulation enforcement,” Cravens said.

Killian is in his thirteenth year as a conservation agent in Ripley County. He is consistently one of the top agents in the region for cases related to illegal turkey hunting, according to Cravens. During his tenure, he has cited more than 65 individuals for hunting turkeys during the closed season.

Killian is also involved with the NWTF JAKES program and the Kiwanis Club. He contributes to a monthly radio program and he plays an active role with the feral hog eradication project in Ripley County.

One of Killian’s other great characteristics is his ability to relate and work well with children, Cravens said. He enjoys training and teaching children about the outdoors. This year he gave presentations on gun safety at two JAKES events, helped instruct the clay bird shoot, and served as a judge in the youth turkey calling competition.

“Killian is one of our most respected officers in the Ozark Region with his approach and creativity in enforcement,” Cravens said. “Conservation agents look to him for guidance because of his effectiveness in building difficult cases. He conveys a humble attitude and is a shining example for all Department of Conservation employees.”

A Sikeston native, Killian earned a degree in Criminal Justice from Southeast Missouri State University prior to his training at the Conservation Agent Academy.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Bowhunters of Missouri choose Henry as Agent of the Year

Written by Candice Davis, MDC

WEST PLAINS, Mo. – Douglas County Conservation Agent Mark Henry has received the prestigious United Bowhunters of Missouri Agent of the Year Award for 2012. Henry was presented the award at the recent United Missouri Bowhunters banquet held in Jefferson City.

Henry’s supervisor, Protection Regional Supervisor Gary Cravens, said Agent Henry is known for making unique and quality wildlife arrests.
This year he took advantage of the Telecheck system, had excellent public cooperation, and utilized Operation Game Thief to assist in investigating possible archery violations, Cravens said.

MDC Douglas County Conservation Agent Mark Henry
received the prestigious United Bowhunters
 of Missouri Agent of the Year Award for 2012.
“Without a doubt, he had an outstanding archery season with many exceptional wildlife violation cases,” Cravens said.

Henry is an avid archery hunter and enjoys sharing his archery knowledge with the public. Henry was a pivotal member in the formation of the city of Ava’s first Mother/Son Outdoor Adventure event. He helped organize the seventh annual National Wild Turkey Federation Jakes event in Douglas County with an emphasis on a youth archery station. He assisted Ava school administration in setting up the Missouri National Archery in the Schools Program (MONASP) at the Ava Middle School. He worked at the popular “Hootin’ and Hollerin” archery event in Ozark County, and conducted archery programs for events that reached those who might not otherwise be introduced to the sport of archery. Henry spent valuable hours this year in his local schools teaching youth the importance of firearms and archery techniques and safety, Cravens said.

According to Cravens, Henry’s resourceful law enforcement and effective balance of program responsibilities contributed to his selection of this honor. “Henry has developed a tremendous wildlife law enforcement and public relations program in Douglas County,” Cravens said. “He represents the MDC and his division well.”

Agent Henry’s home town is Fordland, Mo. He earned a degree in Animal Science from College of the Ozarks and joined the Department of Conservation in 2002. He held jobs with Wildlife and Forestry Divisions prior to being accepted into the conservation agent training class in 2005. After six months of intensive training, Henry was assigned to Douglas County.

For more information about conservation agent jobs in Missouri, go online to

Monday, February 25, 2013

2013 hunting, trapping, fishing regulation booklets available from MDC

The Missouri Department of Conservation’s (MDC) 2013 Summary of Missouri Hunting and Trapping Regulations and 2013 Summary of Missouri Fishing Regulationsbooklets are now available. The booklets contain related regulation information in an easy-to-read format, including regulation changes and other new information for the year ahead.  Booklet content becomes effective March 1.  

“Conservation makes Missouri a great place to hunt and fish, and abiding by the regulations of theWildlife Code of Missouri is important to keep it that way by sustaining healthy forests, fish and wildlife,” says MDC Protection Division Chief Larry Yamnitz.  “These handy regulation summary booklets are great resources for hunters, trappers and anglers.”

Get copies of the booklets where permits are sold, at MDC offices throughout the state, and online. The online link to the hunting and trapping regulations booklets is The online link to the fishing regulations booklet is

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Grant applications are available for outdoor recreation projects

English: Missouri state parks and historical d...

 Applications are available for the federally funded Land and Water Conservation Fund grants to assist in financing outdoor recreation projects. All local governments and public school districts are eligible for the federal LWCF funds, which are made available through the U.S. Department of the Interior's National Park Service. Projects can be for the development or renovation of outdoor recreational facilities, or for acquisition of park land. A 55 percent match is required.

Applications must be postmarked by April 22, 2013. An estimated $600,000 is expected to be awarded in the fiscal year 2013 cycle.

In Missouri, the Department of Natural Resources administers the LWCF grant program. The application is available on the department’s web page at or by writing to the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, Division of State Parks, Grants Management Section, P.O. Box 176, Jefferson City, MO 65102.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Black River produces record fish

The Missouri Department of Conservation has
two ways to recognize anglers who catch big fish.
Courtesy MDC
POPLAR BLUFF – Brian Taylor, Poplar Bluff, took a 1-pound, 14-ounce gizzard shad from the Black River on Jan. 9 to set the first Missouri state fishing record of 2013.

Taylor gigged the 16-inch fish, earning a state record in the alternative-methods category. The previous record was a 1-pound, 8-ounce fish taken by Haden Crouch, Bradleyville, from Beaver Creek in 2011. The pole-and-line record belongs to Johnny Lee Ash, Windsor, for a 1-pound, 6-ounce gizzard shad he caught below Truman Dam in 2001.

More information about Missouri fishing records is available at

Anglers who catch unusually large fish but fall short of records can get recognition through the Missouri Department of Conservation’s Master Angler Award program. To qualify, fish must meet minimum weight or length requirements. For example, a gizzard shad must measure at least 13 inches or weigh at least 1 pound to qualify for a Master Angler Award. For more information about the Master Angler program,

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Volunteers Sought To Work On Mark Twain National Forest Piney River Heritage Farm


ROLLA, Mo. -- Mark Twain National Forest is looking for eight volunteers to test and stabilize Piney Ridge Heritage Farm April 22-26, 2013.The farm is 9 miles from Roby or 27 miles from Houston, Missouri. Volunteers must be at least 12 years old; under 18 years with a responsible adult and must commit to working all five days. Application deadline is Monday, February 25, 2013 at
Piney River Heritage Farm offers a rare glimpse of early farm life in Missouri's Ozark Mountains. The farm was established in the mid-19th century and was in operation until shortly before 1980, when the property was acquired by USDA Forest Service.
Working with Missouri Barn Alliance and Rural Network (MoBARN), volunteers will work with Mark Twain National Forest staff to work toward stabilizing several of the farm’s remaining structures. Volunteers will also be building and repairing fences, clearing vegetation and debris, and chipping in with whatever is required for the historic structures.
“Additionally, the historic site warrants further archaeological study, so in tandem with preservation efforts, we'll do systematic shovel testing of the property, and we'll create an accurate, scaled, and up-to-date site map,” said Mark Twain National Forest Heritage Program Manager Kerri Hicks. “This is an important project and one that promises to be fun and rewarding. We hope to see you on the Mark Twain this spring!”
Previous construction, carpentry, historic structure stabilization, archaeological survey, mapping, and/or sketching experience helpful, but not required.
Tent and RV camping available at no charge on site or at nearby Paddy Creek Recreation Area campground; vault toilets and solar shower, no potable water, no hookups. One additional RV pad available at no charge at nearby Roby Complex site; full hook-ups, first come, first served.
Licking and Houston are full-service communities with motels, restaurants, and a range of other amenities. Volunteers are responsible for personal camping equipment/lodging, meals, water, and transportation.
For more information, contact Keri Hicks at or call 573-341-7442.
Mark Twain National Forest is the largest public land manager in Missouri with 1.5 million acres in 29 counties in southern and central Missouri. Mark Twain National Forest’s mission is to continue to restore Missouri’s great outdoors and maintain a healthy, working forest.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Conservation Action February 2013

The Conservation Commission met Feb. 7 at the Lake City Outdoor Education Center and Shooting Range, 28505 East Truman Road, Buckner, and on Feb. 8 at the Anita B. Gorman Conservation Discovery Center, 4750 Troost Ave., Kansas City. Commissioners present were:
Don C. Bedell, Sikeston, Chair
James T. Blair, IV, St. Louis, Vice Chair
Becky L. Plattner, Grand Pass, Secretary
Don R. Johnson, Festus, Member

The Commission:
  • Received presentations from:
Ø  Forestry Division Chief Lisa Allen regarding forest and woodland management on conservation areas (CAs)
Ø  Chief Financial Officer Margie Mueller regarding Fiscal Year 2013 mid-year review of revenue and expenditure trends
Ø  Design and Development Division Chief Jacob Careaga regarding major construction projects
Ø  Information Technology Services Chief Douglas Fees regarding major information technology projects
Ø  Federal Aid Coordinator Doyle Brown regarding federal aid in wildlife and sport fish restoration programs
  • Approved entering into a contract with Martin General Contractors, LLCEolia, for the construction of the Shepherd of the Hills Fish Hatchery Drum Filters for Brown Trout Complex project in Taney County at a total estimated cost of $373,700.  Federal Aid in Sportfish Restoration Program funds will be used to cover 75% of the total project cost.
  • Approved entering into a contract with Tandem Paving Company, Inc., Blue Springs, for the construction of the James A. Reed Memorial Wildlife Area Road System Renovation project in Jackson County at a total estimated cost of $652,045.70
  • Approved exchanging a 23-acre tract and a 40-acre tract of the Clearwater Conservation Area in Reynolds County for an 80-acre tract in Wayne County as an addition to the Riverside CA
  • Voted to encourage the Regulations Committee to continue exploring options for an elk-hunting season
  • Suspended hunting, fishing, and/or trapping privileges of three Missouri residents for Wildlife Code violations and affirmed actions taken by Missouri courts suspending privileges of three Missouri residents. Those whose privileges were suspended are:
Jonathan M. Bassnett, Sedalia, fishing privileges, 3 years
Grady W. Bentley, Bakersfield, hunting privileges, until Dec. 11, 2013
Austin Lamb, Bakersfield, hunting privileges, until Dec. 11, 2013
Eldon E. Luckey, Frohna, all sport privileges, lifetime
Danny R. Tankersley, Dexter, hunting privileges, until Oct. 5, 2013
Raymond L. Treon, Brunswick, all sport privileges, 1 year
  • Approved the suspension or revocation of all hunting and fishing privileges of 404 people who are not in compliance with applicable child-support laws. Privileges suspended for noncompliance are reinstated once the Division of Child Support Enforcement notifies MDC that suspendees have come into compliance with the required laws.
  • Suspended privileges of 285 people under the provisions of the Interstate Wildlife Violator Compact.

Missouri Trout Parks - Part IV of the Missouri Trout Fishing Series

I have fished for trout in quite a few places and must say that I really do not know anyplace that quite equates to a Missouri Trout Park.  Now I am not asserting that similar places do not exist- heck, I am not even asserting that Missouri Trout Parks are going to be everyone's cup of tea.  In fact, I have encountered quite a few people who find them down right reprehensible.  I get that sentiment, but I surely do not share it.

Missouri Trout Parks are something akin to going to one of those game farms where they put out some pheasants or whatever you are hunting and then you "hunt" them.  There are some major differences, and I am going to make a case that they serve a valuable purpose in Missouri and for fishermen from anywhere.  Let me tell you just a bit about the parks that Missouri plays host to, all south of I-70 and all but one south of I-44.

Maramec Springs
The Missouri Trout Parks include Maramec Springs, Montauk, Bennett Spring, and Roaring River.  They are spread out in such a way that fishermen from just about anywhere in Missouri, western Illinois, eastern Kansas, northern Arkansas, and northeastern Oklahoma are within reasonable driving range of at least one of them.  All of them are fed by the cold water springs that make some Ozark Missouri streams suitable as trout habitat.  They are stocked mainly with rainbows, but also to a lesser e3xtent with brown trout.  They have opportunities for bait fishermen, spin fishermen, and to fly fishermen.  These parks are for many regional trout fishermen their introduction to the sport of trout fishing.  They often serve as a launching pad for a lifetime of trout fishing not just in the parks, but across the Ozark region and beyond.  For other trout fishermen, the parks fulfill their trout fishing desires for a lifetime.  For a few fishermen, they cut their teeth at these parks, then later experience more traditional waters perhaps in the Rocky Mountain West which brings them around to a snobbish attitude towards the waters where they began.  My trout fishing life kind of worked in reverse of this phenomenon.

Yampa River in NW Colorado
I was born in Colorado and raised in Alaska.  I really learned the art of trout fishing on waters of Baranof Island in Southeast Alaska, followed by a stint fishing for salmon trout and grayling in the Copper River Valley of Alaska.  Later, we moved back to Colorado, where we fished the Yampa, Green, and White Rivers of northwest Colorado.  These were trout fishing paradises, and I took them for granted.  I never even contemplated living somewhere that these kinds of fisheries did not exist.  Somewhere along the way, life happened, and I ended up in central Missouri for reasons not of interest to anyone reading this.  I never even knew that trout fishing existed in Missouri for perhaps six months or a year after I arrived.

As a matter of fact, I was really feeling sorry for myself.  I had lost all the hunting, fishing, and outdoor opportunities to which I was accustomed.  One day, I made a resolution that I would stop complaining about the opportunities that did not exist and try to find the ones that did.  That simple resolution changed my life.

The way this fits into this discussion of Missouri Trout Parks is that the discovery of these places got me, as well as my two boys (at the time elementary age kids), starting to get out and experience what the Ozark region of Missouri had to offer.  Given the fact that I had thought there were no trout fishing options in Missouri, the last thing I was going to do was turn my nose up at these places.  Plus, with younger kids, they were a pretty nice place to be able to set a kid in the bait fishing area and have them enjoy a great opportunity to catch their four fish limit and pretty much always have some action going.

During the "catch-and-keep" seasons at the trout parks, the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) essentially stocks fish based on the number of fishermen that visit the parks.  These are all hatchery fish, some from hatcheries on the premises and some from other hatcheries, primarily Shepherd of the Hills on Lake Taneycomo.  This is where I equate the trout parks to a game farm.  Of course they are not setting out specific trout with the idea that these trout are for you and those over their are for me.  The streams of the trout parks teem with fish and it's really kind of fun if you have the right attitude to do some site fishing and go after them.

Truthfully, the trout park fish are kind of naive.  They have been raised on hatchery food and are not exactly wise to the ways of the trout world.  Having said that, they do still retain a bit of their instincts to go after traditional trout offerings.  Fly fishermen probably use egg patterns ( a more common name for them in the trout parks is glow bugs or glow balls) more than anything else.  Other "flies" will work however - woollies, Adams, the locally known crackleback, Dave's hoppers, and many more.  One offering that bridges the gap between fly and spin fishermen is "mini-jigs" in white, reg, orange, black, pink, or some combination of these.  For bait fishermen in the parks, what you see used successfully most often is the prepared baits like Powerbait, or dough recipes made at home or purchased at one of the trout park stores.

Woolies are a great option
for fly fishermen in Missouri
Trout Parks
If you are fishing these parks in the summertime, you can get what you need to fish very cheaply.  The least expensive way to go is to get an ultralight with 4 lb test line, some tiny split shot sinkers and small treble hooks, and an assortment of colors of Powerbait pastes.  You will also need one of those nylon stringers that cost about a buck.  Throw in some tiny floats (bobbers) and an old pair of tennis shoes if you plan to "wet wade" and you are set.  Stop by the park store with your fishing license and you'll be set once you get your park tag for a just a few bucks (it's been $4 for as long as I can remember).  If you plan to bring home trout, bring a cooler too, but I recommend frying them or baking them the night you catch them at your campsite if you are making a camping trip out of it.

You can fish the parks in the winter too.  They are open limited days and hours for catch-and-release fishing. If you find the hustle and bustle of the parks a little to much during the regular trout park seasons, the winter season might be for you.  There are some additional regulations you must know during this time of the year, so make sure you visit the MDC site before you go.  Often, at this time of year, the park stores are not open to answer questions - but the parks are still patrolled by conservation areas and regulations enforced.

By: Larry R. Beckett
If you are a real adventurous soul, consider visiting a park on opening weekend.  The MDC stocks some real lunkers then and you will have the great honor to compete for them with thousands of other fishermen all around you.  It is not for everyone, myself included, but for some Missouri outdoorsmen, it is an annual tradition.

After getting familiar with the Missouri Trout Parks, we branched out to places like the Meramec River below Maramec Springs, the Current River below Montauk, and the Niangua below Bennett.  From there we have fished and learned the locations of dozens of other awesome streams across the Ozarks - some with their own unique strains of wild trout. These parks can be a lot of fun if approached with the right attitude.  They have served a great purpose in our outdoor lives and perhaps they can do the same for you.

Monday, February 18, 2013

More than 1,300 students to compete at state archery tournament

Courtesy MDC
The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) and the Conservation Federation of Missouri (CFM) expect more than 1,300 student archers from around the state to compete at the Missouri National Archery in the Schools Program (MoNASP) fourth annual state tournament on Saturday, March 23, at the University of Central Missouri Multipurpose Building, 500 S. Washington Ave., in Warrensburg. The state tournament, which will begin at 8 a.m., is free to watch and open to the public.

Student archers who shoot a qualifying score at the state tournament will earn a spot at the National Archery in the Schools Program (NASP) World Championship in St. Louis June 28-30 at the America Center and Edward Jones Dome.

MoNASP is coordinated through MDC and CFM in partnership with participating schools and numerous supporting organizations throughout the state. MoNASP is an affiliate of NASP and promotes education, self-esteem and physical activity for students in grades 4-12 through participation in the sport of archery.

More than 58,000 Missouri students from 266 schools participate in MoNASP. Since NASP's beginnings in 2002, more than 10 million students have participated in the program through more than 10,000 schools in 47 states and six countries.

For more information, including participating schools and communities, visit and search “MoNASP.”

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Mark Twain National Forest Welcomes New Forest Supervisor

ROLLA, Missouri-- Bill Nightingale is Mark Twain National Forest’s new forest supervisor.
Before moving to Missouri, Nightingale worked in USDA Forest Service’s Eastern Regional Office in Milwaukee, Wisconsin where he was a program manager for the region.
In 1978 he graduated from the University of Minnesota with a degree in Forestry.  He worked for several years as a seasonal employee before starting his career as a Forest Technician on the White River National Forest.  He then worked on the Black Hills, Bighorn, Tongass and Superior National Forests in a variety of positions focusing on silviculture, sale prep, sale administration, and planning. He served as a District Ranger on the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest in Georgia before joining the Forest Management staff in Milwaukee.  He has also served as the Acting Forest Supervisor for the Chippewa and the Allegheny National Forests, along with being the Acting Regional Director for Public and Government Relations for the Eastern Region.
“I’m enjoying working with Mark Twain employees and the communities that surround the forest” said Nightingale. He is married with two children attending college.  He enjoys hunting, fishing, golfing and spending time with his family.
Nightingale’s reporting date was November 5, 2012. He followed Dave Whittekiend, who accepted a position as the Forest Supervisor for the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest in Utah.
Mark Twain National Forest is the largest public land manager in Missouri with 1.5 million acres in 29 counties in southern and central Missouri. Mark Twain National Forest’s mission is to continue to restore Missouri’s great outdoors and maintain a healthy, working forest.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Mark Twain National Forest Plans Spring 2013 Prescribed Fires

ROLLA, Mo. – Mark Twain National Forest’s spring 2013 prescribed fire season will begin early February 2013, weather permitting.
Prescribed fires are used primarily to reduce hazardous fuel accumulations, which helps reduce the threat of unplanned wildfires on and around National Forest lands. 
“Prescribed fires are also used to improve wildlife habitat in the Forest,” according to Mark Twain National Forest Fire Manager Jody Eberly. “Native species are adapted to fire, and in many cases actually depend on fire in order to thrive.  Managed fires help restore native habitats such as glades and woodlands, which can suffer from the encroachment of woody species.   Deer, turkeys, quail and other species benefit from the use of fire to maintain or improve the habitat they depend on. “
Eberly said prescribed burns will be carefully planned and monitored by the Forest’s Fire Management staff and will take place between early February and late April.  The ignition and timing of these prescribed burns depends on weather and vegetation meeting pre-determined conditions. 
A prescribed fire is one that is ignited by highly trained fire personnel under very specific fuel and weather conditions.   “We monitor weather and fuel conditions up to the very moment the match is lit, and if all conditions are not right, we will cancel or reschedule some of these prescribed fires to make sure we are achieving our objectives,” Eberly said.
For a schedule of upcoming Mark Twain National Forest scheduled prescribed fires, go to Fire Info
For a map showing upcoming Mark Twain National Forest scheduled prescribed fires, go to Google Maps
Mark Twain National Forest is the largest public land manager in Missouri with 1.5 million acres in 29 counties in southern and central Missouri. Mark Twain National Forest’s mission is to continue to restore Missouri’s great outdoors and maintain a healthy, working forest. For more information about the Mark Twain National Forest, go to or contact your local Mark Twain National Forest office.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

State agencies urge skunk, rabies awareness

Striped skunk

These little carnivores can carry more than a bad smell.
JEFFERSON CITY–Skunks soon will emerge from their winter naps, and state officials urge Missourians to exercise caution in encounters with these formidable little creatures.
Missouri’s only common skunk is the striped species, Mephitis mephitis. Skunks spend the winter holed up in sheltered spots, such as rock piles, barns, and out buildings. Occasionally one finds its way under a front porch.
Mating season begins in late February and continues through March. Males can cover 5 miles in a night of searching for food and mates, so it isn’t surprising that human encounters with skunks increase at this time of year. 
Striped skunks aren’t big, measuring only about 12 inches not counting their fluffy tails. A 10-pounder is a jumbo skunk. They normally are not aggressive, and leave when they encounter people. However, skunks can lose their natural fear of humans if they learn to associate people with easy meals, as sometimes happens around campgrounds. In such situations, they may become alarmingly fearless.
What skunks lack in heft, they make up in aroma. One well-placed spray from a skunk’s musk glands can leave a human or a would-be predator gagging and gasping for breath. But as obnoxious as skunks’ scent can be, it is not the most dangerous thing about them.
Rabies can occur at any time of year. Skunks are one of two primary carriers of the rabies virus in Missouri. The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) found 12 rabid skunks and 16 rabid bats in 2012. The confirmed rabies cases came from 14 counties scattered from extreme northwestern Missouri to the Ozarks. All the rabid animals were tested because of abnormal behavior.
In skunks, rabies symptoms include abnormal behavior, such as being active in the daytime, aggressiveness, seizures, stumbling, and vocalizing. However, skunks and other infected animals can transmit rabies before they show symptoms of the disease.
The rabies virus is transmitted through infected animals’ saliva. Exposure normally occurs as a result of a bite. Less commonly, the virus can enter the body through an open wound or mucous membranes. It takes three to six weeks from the time of exposure for symptoms to appear, but the incubation period can be much longer.
There is no treatment for rabies once symptoms appear. Treatment must begin within days of exposure if the biting animal is known to be rabid or cannot be tested. In the past, rabies treatment consisted of multiple, painful injections in the abdomen, but this has been replaced by simple injections into the arm muscle.
Fortunately, human cases of rabies are rare. The last recorded case in Missouri occurred in 2008. The victim did not seek medical advice or treatment after being bitten by a bat. The last case of human rabies in Missouri before that was in 1959.
Several things should be done immediately if a person is bitten by a wild animal or a domestic animal that has not been vaccinated against rabies. First, wash the wound with soap and water and continue flushing the wound with water for five minutes. Then get medical attention immediately.
The biting animal should be trapped or killed if this can be accomplished safely. If possible, contact a law-enforcement agency so they can dispatch a conservation agent or animal-control officer to do the job.
The undamaged brain is needed for rabies testing, so if the animal is shot, it should be shot in the body, not the head. A skunk will spray when shot, so stay upwind and shoot from a distance if possible.
Use rubber gloves when handling dead animals and avoid any contact with the body. Place the carcass in a garbage bag and then double bag it. Live animals should be confined in a manner that prevents contact with other animals or people. Call a conservation agent, law-enforcement agency, or state or local health department for help with testing.
A rabies vaccination provides excellent protection for dogs, cats, and ferrets. It may protect other species, such as pet rabbits, but it is not licensed for these other animals, so there is no guarantee of protection.
If a vaccinated pet is bitten by a suspect skunk or other animal, the biting animal should be tested for rabies. In the meantime, the bitten pet must be revaccinated and kept out of contact with people or other animals. If the biting animal tests negative for rabies, the pet is safe. If rabies is confirmed, the vaccinated and revaccinated pet must be confined for 45 days to be sure rabies does not develop.
An unvaccinated pet that is bitten by a rabid animal is almost certain to die. Unvaccinated dogs, cats, and ferrets exposed to a rabid animal should be euthanized immediately. If the owner refuses to euthanize, vaccination and a six-month quarantine are required by law. However, there is evidence that the administration of vaccine after exposure to the virus will not prevent the disease.  Missouri State Wildlife Veterinarian Kelly Straka, with the Missouri Department of Conservation, says euthanizing is the wisest and kindest course of action.
“The law does not require you to euthanize a pet in a case like that,” says Straka, “but keeping an unvaccinated pet that has been exposed to rabies is a huge liability and risk to children and other pets. You have to keep the animal in strict quarantine from any contact with people or other animals for six months. In the meantime, you and all the people and animals in your neighborhood are at risk, and the pet is almost certainly going to suffer terribly.  Keeping your pet’s vaccinations current is the best tool we have to prevent rabies.”
More information about rabies prevention is available at
Some other states have strains of the rabies virus that infect foxes and raccoons. Those strains have not been found in Missouri to date, and Missouri law prohibits importation of foxes and raccoons as a preventive measure.