Friday, November 29, 2013

Missouri State Parks encourages families to enjoy ‘Black Friday’ hikes

English: A map of Missouri showing the route a...

Missouri State Parks is encouraging Missourians to get outdoors on Nov. 29 to enjoy an adventure on a trail in Missouri State Parks. Missouri State Parks includes 87 state parks and historic sites with nearly 1,000 miles of trails to explore.      
“The day after Thanksgiving is a great time to start a family tradition of exploring the outdoors with a hike on a trail,” said Bill Bryan, director of Missouri State Parks, a division of the Missouri Department of Natural Resources. “Missouri State Parks is also a proud partner of the Governor’s 100 Missouri Mile Challenge, and ‘Black Friday’ is a great opportunity to get outdoors and log miles on our award-winning trails.”
To celebrate Missouri’s distinction as the “Best Trails State” by American Trails and to encourage Missourians to enjoy the outdoors, Gov. Jay Nixon and First Lady Georganne Nixon are inviting Missourians to join them in completing 100 Missouri Miles of outdoor physical activity by the end of the year.
For more information and to take the Challenge, visit 100MissouriMiles.com. Participants can also share adventures, post photos and learn about upcoming events by connecting with 100 Missouri Miles on Facebook and Twitter.
More than 12,000 participants have logged more than 1 million miles since 100 Missouri Miles kicked off in June. Participants can run, walk, bike, ride, swim or roll on trails or other outdoor venues to achieve the challenge of 100 Missouri Miles.
From a short walk on a paved trail to a hike through the wilderness, Missouri State Parks’ trail system has a lot to offer. Both experienced trails enthusiasts and beginners can get more information on these trails in “Trails of Missouri State Parks,” a 422-page, full-color book that lists trails in 58 state parks and historic sites. Each trail is summarized with a written description and a map that includes contour lines, GPS coordinates for trailheads and outstanding features like overlooks. The spiral-bound book makes a great holiday gift and is available for purchase atmostateparks.com/shop.
For information about trails in state parks and historic sites, visit mostateparks.com. Missouri State Parks is a division of the Missouri Department of Natural Resources.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Diverse factors reduce November deer harvest

English: Map of the administrative regions of ...

Of all the factors in play, weather probably was least important.
JEFFERSON CITY–Hunters shot 157,273 deer during the November Portion of Missouri’s Firearms Deer Season. Biologists with the Missouri Department of Conservation say this is a significant decrease from last year and from the long-term average and say contributing factors vary by region.
Top harvest counties were Texas with 3,309 deer checked, Howell with 3,292, and Oregon with 3,227.
This year’s November harvest is 23 percent fewer than in 2012, when hunters checked the third-largest number of deer in the November season’s history. This year’s figure also is 24 percent below the past 10-year average.
Because it influences both deer and hunter behavior, weather always plays a role in determining deer harvest. But Resource Scientist Emily Flinn says weather’s role was perhaps the least important factor in holding down this year’s November harvest.
“The weather could have been much better for hunting on both weekends of the season,” says Flinn. “But with an 11-day season, there was plenty of opportunity for hunters to make up for lost time. Other factors clearly were at work.”
Those other factors, says Flinn, differ from region to region. For example, the harvest in southern Missouri often is strongly affected by acorn abundance. When acorns are scarce, as they were in 2012, deer must move around more and leave the shelter of forest to find food. That makes them more vulnerable to hunters, a fact that led to a particularly strong deer harvest in southern Missouri last year. The resulting reduction in deer numbers, combined with more abundant acorns this year, held down this year’s deer harvest in parts of southern Missouri.
Deer numbers are down throughout Missouri because of last year’s unusually severe outbreak of hemorrhagic diseases. These diseases occur every year, but they are most prevalent in drought years, when deer are forced to gather around stagnant water that breeds biting flies that spread the diseases. Flinn says last year’s losses to hemorrhagic diseases were intensified in some parts of the state by the strong 2012 deer harvest.
“Losses to disease are extremely difficult to measure,” says Flinn. “Last year’s outbreak seemed to be worse in northeastern and central Missouri, and it certainly played an important role in limiting this year’s harvest.”
Meanwhile a decade-long downward trend in deer numbers continues in northwestern and north-central Missouri. It began with increased availability of antlerless deer permits and other regulation changes aimed at reducing the deer herd in that area.
The Conservation Department recorded five firearms-related incidents during the November Portion. None was fatal. Four were self-inflicted. Two involved loaded firearms in or around motor vehicles, one involved a hunter climbing into a tree stand with a loaded rifle, and one involved a hunter who fell asleep with his finger on the trigger. The only shooter/victim incident involved one hunter mistaking the movement of another hunter for a deer during a drive. The only reported fatality during the November Portion was a hunter who fell from a tree stand.
The Antlerless Portion of Firearms Deer season opened today and will continue through Dec. 8. The Alternative Methods Portion opens Dec. 21 and runs through Dec. 31. Last is the Late Youth Portion Jan. 4 and 5.
-Jim Low-

Monday, November 25, 2013

U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and the Missouri Department of Natural Resources Award $750,000 to Missouri Prairie Foundation


Prairie chicken. Photo by USFWS.
Prairie chicken. Photo by USFWS.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Missouri Department of Natural Resources have awarded the Missouri Prairie Foundation $750,000 to purchase and protect tallgrass prairie in southwestern Missouri.
The funds are the result of a Natural Resources Damage Assessment settlement with ASARCO, a lead mining and smelting company that polluted the environment while it operated in Jasper and Newton counties over the last century.  By-products of lead and zinc mining on the landscape have degraded the environment for many years and have contaminated streams with runoff from waste. Funds recovered from Natural Resource Damage Assessment settlements are dedicated to restoring natural resources in contaminated areas as well as other affected areas nearby.
Missouri Prairie Foundation will use the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service funds to purchase remnant prairies from willing sellers and reconnect existing prairies, or establish wildlife habitat easements. The foundation submitted the best proposal in a competitive process, and will use the awarded funds for work in Jasper and Newton counties.
“The Missouri Prairie Foundation is extremely grateful for this funding from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.” said Jon Wingo, President of the foundation’s board of directors. “The funding will allow us to purchase and protect perhaps several hundred acres of the fewer than 90,000 scattered acres of original tallgrass prairie remaining in the state. Our mission is to protect prairie gems that remain, which are part of Missouri’s rich natural heritage, and to reconstruct land to connect remnants, thereby building larger prairie landscapes. We invite individuals to learn more about our work and how they can contribute to the conservation of our 2,600 acres, and help us protect even more.”  
Prior to European settlement in Missouri, there were 15 million acres of prairie in the state.
The areas in which Missouri Prairie Foundation will be working to protect and restore prairie with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife award is  a focal area for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and is part of the “Our Missouri Waters Initiative” for the Missouri Department of Natural Resources. By protecting and restoring upland areas, downstream resources such as the Spring River will benefit.
Missouri Prairie Foundation is an established non-profit land trust that has operated in Missouri for nearly 50 years. This organization not only preserves 2,600 acres of tallgrass prairie for the benefit of wildlife and the public, but also reconstructs former prairie areas that have been converted to agriculture or other development and engages in prairie outreach and education statewide.  For more information, call Missouri Prairie Foundation at 888-843-6739, or visit their website at www.moprairie.org.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Opening-weekend deer harvest blown away

Numbers are down, but hunters have plenty of time to make up the difference.

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Hunters checked 61,446 deer during the opening weekend of the November Portion of Firearms Deer Season, in spite of awful weather conditions. The Missouri Department of Conservation says the slow start doesn’t diminish prospects for a normal deer harvest.

The opening-weekend harvest was down 12 percent compared to 2012. Conservation Department biologists predicted that this year’s deer harvest would be smaller than last year’s, due to a smaller statewide deer population and acorn abundance.

Last year’s opening-weekend harvest of 69,614 was the smallest opening-weekend harvest in more than 20 years. Yet, in spite of that slow start, hunters shot enough deer during the remainder of the firearms deer season to post the third-largest total deer harvest in Missouri history.

“The distribution of our deer harvest over the course of the season has changed dramatically in the past 20 years,” says Conservation Department Resource Scientist Jason Sumners. “Back then, people only had nine days to hunt with modern firearms, so a significant reduction in the opening-weekend harvest was almost certain to result in a reduced deer harvest for the year. Today, Firearms Deer Season spans 42 days, so there is no rush to shoot a deer the first two days of the November Portion.”


That is not to say that hunters don’t want to shoot deer on opening weekend. But this year’s weather was challenging, even for highly motivated hunters.

“I didn’t think it could get any worse than last year,” says Sumners, “but it did.”

“Worse” included temperatures in the 70s, rain on Saturday and winds so gusty that the eastern third of Missouri was under a tornado watch on Sunday morning.

“Those conditions are guaranteed to reduce deer harvest,” says Sumners. “Deer are less active when the weather is warm or extremely windy, and rain keeps some hunters indoors. By noon on Sunday, I think a lot of hunters just gave up fighting the weather.”

All the same, Sumners is optimistic about prospects for the rest of the season. He said he expects hunters to persevere throughout the remainder of the November, Alternative Methods, Antlerless, and Late Youth portions of firearms deer season – 36 days in all.

Top harvest counties for the opening weekend were Howell with 1,278 deer checked, Texas with 1,275, and Oregon with 1,109. The fact that three adjoining counties in the heart of the Ozarks had the highest harvest totals probably is no coincidence. The Ozarks’ rugged terrain creates sheltered refuges from wind, making deer easier for hunters to find. Also, the Ozarks had the lowest acorn production of any region in the state, further concentrating deer around available food.

The Conservation Department recorded two nonfatal, firearms-related hunting incidents during the opening weekend.

-Jim Low-

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Marilynn Bradford joins Conservation Commission

Missouri’s new conservation Commissioner has a strong background in government and private business.

Gov. Jeremiah “Jay” Nixon has appointed a central Missouri native with a lifelong interest in the outdoors and a proven commitment to public service to a six-year term on the Conservation
Commission.
Marilynn J. Bradford, (I), Jefferson City, has a diverse background in government, private business and citizen conservation. Her term on the Conservation Commission will run through June 30, 2019.
Bradford’s diverse career includes more than 20 years of public service in state government with the departments of Agriculture and Social Services, working primarily in community and media relations. 
While employed by the state, Bradford worked with national media, including the New York Times, USA Today, theWall Street Journal, the Washington Post, and the Public Broadcasting Service. She worked extensively with state and national foundations developing grant funding for Missouri initiatives
A life member of the Conservation Federation of Missouri, Bradford served on the planning committee for the federation’s 2009 Summit on the Future of Missouri Outdoors.
Conservation Department Director Robert L. Ziehmer says the agency is certain to benefit from Bradford’s diverse experience.
“Her long-time commitment to Missouri, interest in the outdoors and her work with various organizations gives her a firm foundation of knowledge about conservation issues. We could not be more pleased with her selection to serve on the Conservation Commission.”
Bradford and her husband are co-owners of Pyramid Home Health Services, which serves more than 3,000 elderly and disabled Missourians. They also co-own a 1,000-acre timber and hunting property in Wayne and Madison counties and a rice farm in Pemiscot County.
Bradford says her interest in conservation began as a child growing up in the “Mayberry-like” setting in Jefferson City.
“To my mother’s dismay, I was a tomboy from the get-go,” says Bradford. “My dad ran a Western Auto store and my main interests were the cap-guns and BB rifles they sold. I always wanted a Daisy BB gun.”
“We had a creek across the street and all the kids in the neighborhood took advantage of catching tadpoles, frogs, turtles, fish, and even a few small snakes. There were woods nearby where we could invent games and let our imaginations run wild.
“That’s where I remember the early evening call of the whippoorwills and owls later at night. My family enjoyed fishing and boating and we took many outings on the Osage River and to the Lake of the Ozarks and Bennett Springs.”
Her early exposure to Missouri’s trout parks was reinforced when her husband introduced her to fly-fishing, one of her favorite pastimes today.
“We have taken fishing trips across the country,” says Bradford, “but there is no better fishing than right here in Missouri.”
Bradford counts her Great Aunt Fredricka Simonsen among her formative influences.
“She was my role model,” says Bradford. “She was a true trailblazing woman. She was Missouri’s first woman pharmacist in 1899. Her spirit shaped my beliefs today and my desire to serve the public.”
Summing up her commitment, she says, “I am a fourth generation Missourian and deeply love this state – its beauty and diversity are unmatched. There truly is no better place to live. It is a great honor to be asked to serve as a Conservation Commissioner, and I am proud to join the ranks of so many volunteer conservation leaders who have worked together to preserve our state’s natural beauty and environment for future generations.”
“Being a grandmother of 4-year old twins reminds me daily of the important task that is ahead and the significance of this position,” says Bradford. “I look forward to contributing my energies and efforts for the Missouri Department of Conservation and our children’s future.”
Bradford replaces Don Johnson, Festus, who served from 2007 through 2013.
The Missouri Conservation Commission controls, manages, restores, conserves and regulates the bird, fish, game, forestry and all wildlife resources of the state, including hatcheries, sanctuaries, refuges, reservations and all other property owned, acquired or used for such purposes, as well as the acquisition and establishment of those properties.
-Jim Low-

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Discover nature with MDC Eagle Days events around the state

Events include live captive-eagles, exhibits, activities, videos and guides with spotting scopes.


JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- From December through February, Missouri's winter eagle watching is spectacular. Discover nature with Missouri Department of Conservation’s (MDC) Eagle Days events around the state, or enjoy eagle-viewing on your own.

Because of its big rivers, many lakes and wetlands, Missouri is one of the leading lower 48 states for bald eagle viewing. Each fall, thousands of these great birds migrate south from their nesting range in Canada and the Great Lakes states to hunt in the Show-Me State. Eagles take up residence wherever they find open water and plentiful food. More than 2,000 bald eagles are typically reported in Missouri during winter. Watch for eagles perched in large trees along the water’s edge. View them early in the morning to see eagles flying and fishing. Be sure to dress for winter weather and don’t forget cameras and binoculars.

The following locations are hot spots for eagle viewing and MDC offers Eagle Days events on the dates listed. The events include live captive-eagle programs, exhibits, activities, videos and guides with spotting scopes:

·         Dec. 7-8 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.at Squaw Creek National Wildlife Refuge south of Mound City. Call 816-271-3100 for more information.
·         Jan. 4 from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. and Jan. 5 from 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at Smithville Lake north of Kansas City. Call 816-532-0174 for more information.
·         Jan. 18 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Jan. 19 from 12:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the MDC Springfield Conservation Nature Center. Call 417-888-4237 for more information.

·         Jan. 18-19 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Old Chain of Rocks Bridge south of I-270 in St. Louis. Call 314-877-1309 for more information.

·         Jan. 25 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Jan. 26 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Lock and Dam 24 and Apple Shed Theater in Clarksville. Call 660-785-2420 for more information.

·         Feb. 8 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Schell City Community Center in downtown Schell City and the MDC Schell Osage Conservation area north of El Dorado Springs. Call 417-876-5226 for more information.

Can’t make an Eagle Days event? Other hot spots for winter eagle viewing include:

·         Lake of the Ozarks Bagnell Dam Access east of Bagnell
·         Eagle Bluffs Conservation Area on Route K southwest of Columbia
·         Lock and Dam 25 east of Winfield
·         Mingo National Wildlife refuge northwest of Puxico
·         Riverlands Migratory Bird Sanctuary east of West Alton
·         Swan Lake National Wildlife Refuge south of Sumner
·         Table Rock Lake southwest of Branson
·         Truman Reservoir west of Warsaw

For more information, visit mdc.mo.gov/events/eagledays.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Youngsters check 18,676 deer during early hunt

Expert attributes the strong harvest to favorable weather
and growing awareness of the youth portions of firearms deer season.
JEFFERSON CITY-Fair weather helped participants in the Early Youth Portion of
Missouri’s Firearms Deer Season post the second-largest harvest on record.
Hunters ages 6 through 15 checked 18,676 deer during the hunt Nov. 2 and 3. Top counties for the early youth hunt were Franklin with 424, Osage with 421, and Howell with 409 deer checked.
Emily Flinn, the resource scientist in charge of deer management for the Missouri Department of Conservation, says two factors – weather and increasing participation – contributed to the strong harvest.
“We had great weather for this year’s early youth hunt,” says Flinn. “The temperatures were cool but not cold, and it didn’t rain. Hunters tend to stay in the woods longer under those conditions.”
Equally important, says Flinn, is the long-term growth of participation. Traditions like those associated with the November firearms deer season take time to develop. Now in its 13th year, the youth season is developing its own traditions as experienced hunters discover the rewards of mentoring youths during a season set aside especially for that purpose. When Missouri held its first youth hunt in 2001, the Show-Me State had approximately 40,000 deer hunters under age 16. By 2012 they numbered more than 70,000.
Youth seasons are one facet of ongoing efforts to recruit new hunters. The Conservation Department also uses low-cost permits, partnerships with private mentoring programs, an Apprentice Hunter Authorization, and outdoor-skills training to encourage Missourians to take up hunting.
Missouri’s $17 Resident Firearms Any-Deer Permit is a bargain compared to the average of $46.63 for equivalent privileges in surrounding states. Missouri charges only $8.50 for a resident any-deer permit for hunters under age 16. Resident youths pay just $3.50 for antlerless-deer permits.
The Apprentice Hunter Authorization costs $10 per year and allows people 16 and older to buy hunting permits for two years without having to complete hunter-education training first. Authorization users must buy the appropriate hunting permits. They also must hunt in the immediate presence of a properly licensed hunter 18 years or older who is hunter-education certified or exempt from the hunter-education requirement due to age.
Missouri’s hunting tradition is essential to managing the state’s deer herd. It also contributes substantially to the state’s economy. Deer hunters spend approximately $700 million on their sport annually in Missouri, generating $1.1 billion in business activity and supporting 11,000 jobs.
The Conservation Department makes it easy to create a lasting reminder of a young hunter’s first deer. An official First Deer Certificate, complete with congratulations and signature by Conservation Department Director Robert L. Ziehmer, is available at mdc.mo.gov/node/10469. To create a certificate suitable for framing, you need only fill in the hunter’s information, print the form and add a photo.
Next on Missouri’s deer-hunting calendar is the November portion of firearms deer season Nov. 16 through 26. This portion normally accounts for approximately 80 percent of the state’s firearms deer harvest.
-Jim Low-

Friday, November 8, 2013

Informational meeting for St. Joe State Park and Missouri Mines State Historic Site Nov. 21

 The public is invited to bring their ideas to an informational meeting regarding St. Joe State Park and
Missouri Mines State Historic Site on Thursday, Nov. 21. The meeting will be held in the museum at Missouri Mines State Historic Site near Park Hills from 5-7 p.m.
Recent accomplishments at the park and site will be highlighted during this open house. The work plan underway at St. Joe State Park will also be discussed. Visitors are invited to share feedback on the services and operations of St. Joe State Park and the Missouri Mines State Historic Site. This informational meeting is part of an ongoing effort by Missouri State Parks to ensure that citizens have input on facilities and services offered in state parks and historic sites.
The Missouri Mines State Historic Site is located on Highway 32 in Park Hills. Individuals requiring special services or accommodations to attend the meeting can make arrangements by calling the facility directly at 573-431-6226.  For information about state parks and historic sites, visit mostateparks.com. Missouri State Parks is a division of the Missouri Department of Natural Resources.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Informational meeting for General John J. Pershing and Locust Creek Covered Bridge state historic sites Nov. 19

The public is invited to bring their ideas to an informational meeting at the General John J. Pershing
Boyhood Home State Historic Site in Laclede on Tuesday, Nov. 19. The meeting, which will also include information on Locust Creek Covered Bridge State Historic Site, will be held from 6-8 p.m.  
Park representatives will provide information on future plans for the facilities and answer questions. Visitors are invited to share feedback and suggestions about services and operations. The Pershing Memorial Association will also discuss recent efforts regarding the site. This informational meeting is part of an ongoing effort by Missouri State Parks to ensure citizens have input regarding the facilities and services offered in state parks and historic sites.
Gen. John J. Pershing Boyhood Home State Historic Site is located at 1100 Pershing Drive in Laclede. Individuals requiring special services or accommodations to attend the meeting can make arrangements by calling the facility at660-963-2525. For more information on Missouri state parks and historic sites, visit mostateparks.com. Missouri State Parks is a division of the Missouri Department of Natural Resources.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Hunters check 5,929 turkeys in fall firearms season

English: Female Wild Turkeys (Meleagris gallop...

This year’s harvest is the third-smallest since the season began in 1978.
JEFFERSON CITY–Hunters checked 5,929 turkeys during Missouri’s fall firearms turkey season Oct. 1 through 31, continuing a long-term decline in participation in the fall hunt.
Top harvest counties were Greene with 208 turkeys checked, Webster with 158, and Laclede with 152. Harvest numbers were down statewide. The decline was smallest in northeastern Missouri (11 percent from 2012) and greatest in the St. Louis (50 percent), central (41 percent), and Kansas City (32 percent) regions. The declines in harvest were approximately 25 percent in the northwest, southeast, southwest, and Ozark regions.
This year’s fall firearms turkey harvest is the third-smallest on record. The smallest was in 1978, when hunters checked 4,389 turkeys during the fall firearms season. The fall harvest increased dramatically for the first nine years after it began, building to 28,139 in 1987. It has declined steadily ever since.
A parallel decline in sales of fall firearms turkey hunting permits indicates that the harvest decrease is largely the result of waning hunter interest. Further evidence is the fact that the fall archery turkey harvest increased steadily during the same period. Archers checked 108 turkeys in 1978 and 3,217 last year.
“Fall turkey hunting had a brief period of increasing popularity early on,” says Jason Isabelle, a resource scientist with the Missouri Department of Conservation. “Over time, I think that fall turkey hunters have gradually been drawn away to archery deer hunting and all the other hunting opportunities available in October. Fewer and fewer people have hunted turkeys in the fall each year, even throughout the late 1980s and 1990s, when the state’s turkey flock was growing rapidly and when our spring harvest continued to increase.”
The Conservation Department sold 14,898 fall firearms turkey permits this year, which is a decrease of 9 percent from 2012 and well-below the 115,020 permits sold for this year’s spring season. Isabelle says he expected the decrease, because turkey nesting success was down compared to the previous two years.
“For the last several years, fall firearms turkey permit sales have tended to track the hatch,” he says. “When hunters see fewer birds in the woods they generally buy fewer permits.”
Isabelle notes that in spite of the downward trend, the fall firearms turkey season remains popular with some hunters. These turkey fanatics enjoy the extra month of hunting opportunity.
Fifty-three percent of the turkeys checked during the fall firearms turkey harvest were hatched earlier this year. That is in line with the juvenile-adult ratios of other years. Population models and more than 30 years of experience show that the current level of fall harvest has no effect on the potential for wild turkey population growth.
For county-by-county combined fall firearms and archery turkey harvest figures, visit mdc.mo.gov/node/264.