Saturday, October 31, 2015

New Bennett Spring Hatchery manager familiar with trout

Bennett Spring Hatchery Manager Ben Havens has worked at hatcheries at all four of Missouri's trout parks. He assumed his current position as manager of the Missouri Department of Conservation hatchery at Bennett Spring State Park on Oct. 16.
Ben Havens has worked at all four of Missouri's trout parks.
LEBANON, Mo. – Ben Havens has a new title in a profession he’s very familiar with.
On Oct. 16, Havens began his new job as manager of the Missouri Department of Conservation’s (MDC) Bennett Spring Fish Hatchery. He replaces Mike Mitchell, who was promoted to Fisheries Administrative Manager at MDC’s Central Office in Jefferson City.
Assuming the job of hatchery manager at Bennett Spring gives Havens the unique accomplishment of having worked at the MDC hatcheries of all four Missouri trout parks. He began his nearly 14-year career with MDC with a three-year stint at Roaring River Hatchery. After that, he was assistant manager at Montauk Hatchery and then assistant manager at Maramec Spring Hatchery for the last five years.
“I’ve always been interested in fish, fishing and the outdoors,” the Sullivan, Ill. native said. “I love raising trout and being able to see them grow from egg to stocker size. It’s a great feeling getting to see the joy and excitement people experience when you see them catch a fish that you helped produce.”
At Bennett Spring, Havens will manage a hatchery operation that produces approximately 360,000 trout annually. The bulk of those fish go into the waters at Bennett Spring, but some are shipped to other trout areas around the state. MDC operates the hatchery and manages fishing operations at Bennett Spring; Missouri Department of Natural Resources manages the state park.
Statewide, trout-fishing pumps millions of dollars into Missouri’s economy each year and is another example of how conservation pays by enriching our economy and quality of life.
More information about trout fishing at Bennett Spring can be obtained by calling the hatchery at 417-532-4418 or going to

MDC: Managed deer hunt makes hunting possible for disabled hunters

Arlen Summers, of Silva, and his friend, Mike Mathis (left), pose with Arlen's deer he harvested at the mobility impaired managed hunt at Wappapello this weekend. (MDC photo)
Experiencing the outdoors shouldn’t be a luxury; it should be available to everyone.
WAPPAPELLO, Mo. – Deer season is an exciting time for Missouri hunters. But for those who are mobility impaired, it can be a frustrating time when it’s difficult – or sometimes impossible- to participate in the hunt. This is why the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC), the Army Corps of Engineers and the National Wild Turkey Federation work together to host the annual mobility impaired managed deer hunt at Wappapello.
Of this year’s 19 participants, 15 hunters successfully harvested a deer this past weekend. In order to be selected for the hunt, hunters must be mobility impaired, requiring the aid of braces, crutches or a wheel chair to be mobile.
“We’re pleased that so many of our hunters were able to experience the harvest,” said Meagan Duffee-Yates, MDCwildlife biologist assistant.
Arlen Summers, of Silva, was one of the hunters. After trying two blind locations and seeing a doe on opening morning, and an 8-point buck that wasn’t in place for a good shot, he was able to harvest a button buck on the last day.
Kelly Barfoot, of Campbell, was another participant. He harvested his button buck Saturday evening. He was sitting in a blind that had a lot of deer sign, according to Yates. Barfoot’s position in his blind allowed him to watch a doe move up the hillside in front of him, but it never presented a shot that he was comfortable with. He was also able to watch a bobcat move past his blind. Finally, in the early evening, he was successful in harvesting a button buck when it walked up from behind his blind.
These stories may sound like typical deer season stories, but these experiences are especially treasured.
“Without this managed hunt, these hunters wouldn’t be able to have this experience that many of us take for granted,” Yates said, adding that she and others who work at the event aim to help the hunters have a similar experience to that of mobile hunters.
“It’s very difficult for a mobility-impaired hunter to get into the woods during the regular firearms deer season, so we work to give them an opportunity away from that,” she said. “Here they’re able to get out into the woods, be in a blind and have a chance to hunt like everyone else.”
But Yates said the hunters aren’t the only ones who benefit from the annual managed hunt.
“To see a smile on their face is our end goal,” she said. “When they harvest a deer it’s even better and knowing we’ve focused our attention on getting them out into the woods and allowing them the experience to hunt just like any other hunter is why we’re here.”
Yates said this event falls right in line with the MDC’s mission to help people discover nature.
“That goes for everyone,” she said. “Even someone with a disability should be able to get outside, enjoy nature and have the opportunity to hunt. Experiencing the outdoors shouldn’t be a luxury; it should be available to everyone.”
For more information on deer hunting in Missouri, go online to

Friday, October 30, 2015

MDC adds Farmington’s Giessing Lake to trout stocking program

The Missouri Department of Conservation announces they’ve added Farmington’s Giessing Lake to their trout stocking program. (MDC photo)
The Department will stock Giessing and Jackson’s Rotary Lake in time for the Nov. 1 opener.
CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. – The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) announces they’ve added Farmington’s Giessing Lake to their trout stocking program. Farmington city officials are working with MDC to purchase and stock rainbow trout in the city’s lake. In the southeast region, MDC also stocks trout at Rotary Lake in Jackson.
This is the first year for the trout program in Farmington and according to MDC fisheries management biologist, Mike Reed, approximately 1,200 trout, as well as a number of ‘lunkers,’ will be stocked prior to the Nov. 1 opener.  Giessing Lake joins the list of other winter trout fishing areas around the state. 
“This program is very popular because it provides a quality winter fishing opportunity when warm water fish are less active,” Reed said. “Trout fishing is also a great opportunity to introduce youth to the sport of fishing.”
Rainbow trout are cold-water fish which live in water temperatures less than 70 degrees. They do well in small city lakes such as Giessing Lake during the colder months, Reed said. Anglers can fish for trout through the fall and winter months on a catch-and-release basis and may harvest trout as of Feb. 1
Reed cautions anglers to remember that from Nov. 1 through Jan. 31, all trout must be released unharmed immediately.  During this time, anglers may only fish with flies, artificial lures, and unscented plastic baits.  In addition, they may only use one fishing rod at a time and chum is not permitted.  Starting Feb. 1, any bait may be used and four trout may be kept regardless of size.  All anglers between the ages of 16 and 64 must have a valid Missouri fishing permit and any angler harvesting trout must possess a trout permit as well. 
Trout can be caught on a wide variety of lures, according to Reed. 
“Flies, which imitate aquatic insects, are popular with fly fishers,” he said, “but spinners, small spoons, and other small lures are good choices.”
Light line and tackle will typically produce more fish than heavier tackle.  Successful anglers typically use 2-6 pound test line when fishing with lures and add little or no additional weight to the line.  Set the drag light as a trout often hits hard and makes strong runs which can break weak or frayed line, Reed said.
For more information, contact MDC’s Southeast Regional Office in Cape Girardeau at (573) 290-5730 or go online to

Public input sought for Busiek State Forest and Wildlife Area

The Missouri Department of Conservation is seeking input from the public in regards to developing a 10-year management plan for the Busiek State Forest and Wildlife Area in Christian County.
Citizens can comment on area's management plan Oct. 15-Dec. 31.
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) wants to know what Missourians think about its nearly 1,000 conservation areas around the state. The Busiek State Forest and Wildlife Area in Christian County is among the areas currently under review.
MDC is inviting the public to provide comments about Busiek to aid staff in developing a 10-year management plan for the popular public use area. Interested persons or groups – including recreational users, neighboring landowners, conservation groups, elected officials and government agencies – can share ideas online Oct. 15-Dec. 31
“Missourians care about conservation and use conservation areas for many different reasons,” said MDC Director Bob Ziehmer. “These areas help people discover nature through various activities and help make Missouri a great place to hunt, fish and enjoy outdoor activities. We want to know how conservation areas are important to Missourians. Encouraging public comments on Conservation Area Management Plans is part of MDC’s ongoing efforts of working for and with Missourians to sustain healthy forests, fish and wildlife.”
MDC staff will review comments as they develop a draft management plan for the Busiek Area. Decisions on which ideas to incorporate into area plans and on how best to incorporate them will be based on the property’s purpose, it’s physical and biological conditions and capabilities, the best roles of the property in its local, regional and state-wide context, and on the professional expertise of MDC staff.
When the initial draft is complete, the Busiek Area Plan will be posted online for additional public comments and will be available for viewing at After considering all public comments, the final plan will be drafted, approved and posted online.
The 2,700-acre Busiek State Forest and Wildlife Area is located on U.S. 65 in southern Christian County. The landscape is primarily forest, with intermittent woodland areas, glades and old fields. The area is crossed by a permanent stream (Woods Fork) and an intermittent stream (Camp Creek).
Busiek offers hunting opportunities and a variety of other recreational uses. A well-marked trail system provides approximately 18 miles of trails for use by hikers, bicyclists and horseback riders. Primitive camping is allowed only with a permit that can be obtained from the MDC Southwest Regional Office in Springfield. The area also features an unstaffed shooting range.

Friday, October 16, 2015

MDC encourages people to help prevent wildfires

MDC Forester Sam Jewett stands on the bulldozer he uses to fight wildfires.
Low humidity and dry conditions can create environment favorable to wildfires.
JEFFERSON CITY Mo – The Missouri Department of Conservation’s (MDC) Forestry Division reminds people that a combination of low humidity and dry conditions this time of year can create an environment favorable to dangerous wildfires. Each year, MDC staff work with fire departments around the state to help suppress thousands of wildfires that can consume tens-of-thousands of acres.
According to MDC’s Forestry Division, the main cause of wildfires is improper burning of debris such as trash and brush piles. The Department urges landowners, hunters, campers, and others in the outdoors to help prevent wildfires and offers the following tips.  
Outdoor Burning 
  • Do not conduct outdoor burning during times when grasses, brush and other fire fuel are very dry, humidity is low and weather is windy. 
  • Dry fuel combined with high temperatures, low humidity and high winds make fire nearly impossible to control. 
  • Check with local fire departments regarding burn bans and local ordinances.
  • A person who starts a fire for any reason is responsible for any damage it may cause.
  • For more information on using prescribed fire as a land-management tool, and search “Prescribed Fire.”
Driving Off Road
  • Wildfires can start when fine, dry fuel such as grass comes in contact with catalytic converters on motor vehicles.
  • Think twice before driving into and across a grassy field.
  • Never park over tall, dry grass or piles of leaves that can touch the underside of a vehicle.
  • When driving vehicles off road, regularly inspect the undercarriage to ensure that fuel and brake lines are intact and no oil leaks are apparent.
  • Always carry an approved fire extinguisher on vehicles that are used off road.
  • Check for the presence of spark arresters on ATV exhausts.
Making a Campfire
  • Clear a generous zone around fire rings. When humidity is low and wind is high, debris can become tinder for a stray spark or ember.
  • Store unused firewood a good distance from the fire.
  • Never use gasoline, kerosene or other flammable liquid to start a fire.
  • Keep campfires small and controllable.
  • Keep fire-extinguishing materials, such as a rake, shovel and bucket of water, close by.
  • Never leave a campfire unattended! Extinguish campfires each night and before leaving camp, even for a few moments.
Smokers: Practice Extra Caution
  • Extinguish cigarettes completely and safely and dispose of butts responsibly.
Don't Delay Calling for Help!
  • Call 911 at the first sign of a fire getting out of control.
Report Forest Arson
  • Many wildfires are set by vandals.
  • Help stop arson by calling Operation Forest Arson at 800-392-1111. Callers will remain anonymous and rewards are possible.
DID YOU KNOW: In cooperation with the U.S. Forest Service, MDC provided more than $367,000 in grants to 186 volunteer fire departments last year for protective clothing, equipment, and training. The Department also obtained more than $5 million in equipment from federal government programs for volunteer fire departments in the state, and provided wildland fire-suppression training to more than 250 Missouri firefighters.
For more information on preventing wildfires, go online to

Missouri Conservation Commission OCTOBER 2015 Meeting Tentative Agenda

Thursday, Oct. 22: CLOSED EXECUTIVE SESSION – 12:30 p.m.
MDC Twin Pines Conservation Education Center, Winona   

Friday, Oct. 23: REGULAR OPEN MEETING – 8:30 a.m.
MDC Ozark Regional Office, 551 Joe Jones Blvd., West Plains

Background documents related to the open agenda items are available for public viewing at Conservation Department Headquarters, Jefferson City, for eight calendar days prior to the meeting. Any person who would like to comment to the Commission about a specific agenda item must make a written request to the Director at least four calendar days prior to the meeting. The time period allotted for public comment and the number of speakers will be at the Commission’s discretion. Recording the open meeting is permissible, pursuant to any guidelines established by the Commission to minimize disruption to the meeting. Individuals wishing to record the open meeting by audiotape, videotape, or other electronic means should notify the Director at least four calendar days prior to the meeting so accommodations for such recording can be made.

October 22, 2015 – Closed Executive Session – 12:30 p.m.

  • Call to order, roll call, and vote to close meeting
  • E.1 – Approval of minutes of previous executive session(s) (610.021 RSMo.).
  • E.2 – Consideration of legal actions, causes of action, or litigation and attorney-client privileged communications as provided for in 610.021(1) RSMo.
  • E.3 – Consideration of supporting documentation related to recommendations to suspend or revoke hunting, fishing, and trapping privileges (621.021(1), 610.021.14, 454.440.9, 211.321 RSMo.)
  • E.4 – Consideration of confidential or privileged communications between the Commission and its Internal Auditor regarding work product (610.021(17) RSMo.).
  • E.5 – Consideration of recommendations relating to the hiring/firing/disciplining/promoting of personnel (610.021(3) RSMo.). 
  • E.6 – Consideration of negotiated contracts (610.021(12) RSMo.).
  • E.7 – Consideration of potential real estate transactions/negotiations (610.021(2) RSMo.).
  • Adjourn.

October 23, 2015 – Regular Open Meeting – 8:30 a.m.

Call to order: Marilynn J. Bradford, Chair
1. Action Item: Approval of minutes of previous open meeting(s)  2. Staff Recognition/Recent Awards -- Division Chiefs
Outreach and Education Division:
3. Presentation: Communications Update -- Joanie Straub, Outreach and Education Division Chief
Policy Coordination:
4. Presentation/Action Item: Recommendation for approval of the Conservation Priorities Three-Year Strategic Plan for Fiscal Years 2017-2019
Regulations Committee:
5. Report of the Regulations Committee (no action items) -- Tom Draper, Deputy Director and Chairman, Regulations Committee
6. Spencer Turner, Columbia, to comment on Smallmouth Bass Management in Missouri Waters -- Introduction by Tom Draper, Deputy Director
Staff Presentation:
7. Southwest Missouri Quail Ecology Project and Quail Focus Area Update -- Kyle Hedges, Wildlife Management Biologist, and Frank Loncarich, Wildlife Management Biologist, with introduction by Bill White, Private Land Services Division Chief
8. Leonard Sonnenschien, President, World Aquarium and Conservation for the Oceans Foundation, St. Louis, to comment on development plans for a new public aquarium on the St. Louis riverfront -- Introduction by Tim Ripperger, Deputy Director
Information Technology Unit:
9. Status Report/Presentation: Information Technology: Past, Present, and Future -- Douglas Fees, Information Technology Services Chief
Design and Development Division:
Jacob Careaga, Design and Development Division Chief
10. Major Construction Projects Status Report
11. Action Item: Consideration of a negotiated agreement for the design of 13 radio tower replacements across the state, and authorization to enter into a contract
12. Action Item: Consideration of proposals for the fabrication of exhibit features at Runge Conservation Nature Center located in Cole County, and authorization to enter into a contract
13. Action Item: Consideration of bids received for the construction of the Conservation Commission Headquarters Corridor Replacement project located in Cole County, and authorization to enter into a contract
14. Presentation: Fountain Grove Conservation Area Pump Station -- Jacob Careaga, Design and Development Division Chief, and Jennifer Battson Warren, Wildlife Division Chief
Administrative Services Division:
Margie Mueller, Chief Financial Officer
15. Monthly Financial Summary
16. Update on Department’s estimated appropriation authority request for the Fiscal Year 2017 Executive Budget submitted to the Governor’s Office
Human Resources Division:
Tom Neubauer, Human Resources Division Chief
17. Action Item: Recommendation for approval of personnel reclassification(s)
18. Quarterly Report of Personnel Changes
Realty Committee:
19. Action Item: Recommendation for approval to purchase two tracts containing approximately 120 acres and 175 acres, respectively, in Butler County as an addition to Big Cane Conservation Area -- Lisa Allen, Forestry Division Chief
Wildlife Division:
20. Action Item:  Recommendation for approval to designate Mingo Natural Area in Stoddard and Wayne Counties as a new Missouri Natural Area for the Missouri Natural Areas System -- Jennifer Battson Warren, Wildlife Division Chief
21. Presentation/Action Item: Hunting Incident Reporting and Investigation Policy and recommendation to approve revision -- Amy Buechler, Public Involvement Coordinator and Jason Jensen, Private Land Services Chief with Introduction by Tim Ripperger, Deputy Director
22. Action Item: Recommendation for approval to suspend or revoke one or more hunting, fishing, or trapping privileges of individuals for cause -- Lisa Wehmeyer, Internal Auditor
23. Action Item: Recommendation for approval to suspend or revoke all hunting and fishing privileges of individuals who are not in compliance with applicable child support laws -- Lisa Wehmeyer, Internal Auditor
24. Action Item: Recommendation for approval to suspend or revoke one or more hunting, fishing, and trapping privileges of individuals in accordance with the terms of the Interstate Wildlife Violator Compact -- Lisa Wehmeyer, Internal Auditor
25. Legislative Report -- Aaron Jeffries, Assistant to Director
26. Blue Ribbon Panel on Sustaining America’s Diverse Fish and Wildlife Resources Update -- Robert Ziehmer, Director
27. Other matters of interest
28. Adjourn
  • December 10-11, 2015 – Jefferson City
  • January 21-22, 2016
  • March 10-11, 2016
  • April 27-29, 2016
  • June 23-24, 2016
  • August 5, 2016
  • August 25-26, 2016
  • October 20-21, 2016
  • December 15-16, 2016

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

MDC’s Cape Nature Center hosts Fall Festival

Discover nature through fall family fun on Saturday, Oct. 17
, at the Cape Girardeau Conservation Nature Center’s Fall Festival. 
Live bird presentations, naturalist-led hikes, kids’ activities, and a campfire promise fun family time.
CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. – Discover nature through fall family fun on Saturday, Oct. 17, at the Missouri Department of Conservation’s Cape Girardeau Conservation Nature Center. All ages are invited to the Center’s Fall Festival from 4 to 7:30 p.m. to learn about Missouri’s “clean-up” crew.
“We’ll meet the misunderstood turkey vulture in live bird presentations and take a stroll to discover more about wild scavengers on naturalist-led hikes,” said Nature Center Naturalist Jordi Brostoski.
Live turkey vulture presentations offered by the Dickerson Park Zoo will be at 4:305:30 and 6:30 p.m. Guests can sit around a crackling campfire while sampling fall treats. Kids can try their hands at crafts featuring clean-up crew characters. There will also be a mushroom maze to explore while learning how fungi are also part of the clean-up crew, and an underground experience that will translate an ant’s perspective. 
“Fall is the perfect time to celebrate the outdoors with family and friends as temperatures become mild and fall colors emerge,” Brostoski said.
This and all other programs at the Cape Nature Center are free, due to the 1/8th of 1% state conservation sales tax. The Cape Nature Center boasts a 160-seat auditorium, three classrooms, hands-on exhibits for all ages, a scientific research laboratory, freshwater aquariums, and an indoor wildlife-viewing area. The center is open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and is located inside Cape Girardeau's North County Park, just east of Interstate 55 (Exit 99) and Kingshighway (State Highway 61).
No reservations are required for this program and all ages are welcome. More information on this and other programs can be found at

Monday, October 12, 2015

Springfield Nature Center program to focus on urban deer

As deer numbers increase in an urban environment, they can pose problems for homeowners and drivers. People can learn more about the issues created by growing urban deer numbers at an Oct. 22 program at the Missouri Department of Conservation's Springfield Conservation Nature Center.

Missouri Deer Hunting from Family-Outdoors
Oct. 22 MDC program will discuss challenges deer present in city environments.
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – Depending on where they’re located, deer residing in a city can be the source of unique nature sightings or nuisance wildlife issues.
People can learn more about the challenges of coping with increasing urban deer numbers at the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) program “Oh Deer! Managing Urban Deer Populations,” Oct. 22 at MDC’s Springfield Conservation Nature Center. The program, which is from 7 p.m.-8:30 p.m., is free.
Though this program will focus on Springfield’s urban deer situation, it will discuss challenges that city governments and biologists are facing in communities throughout the country. Urban settings often provide deer with ideal situations for population growth. Food is abundant while hunting pressure and predators are non-existent.
All too often, this set-up leads to situations that are problematic for humans and deer. On the deer end, an over-abundance of whitetails can lead to food shortages and can also create scenarios where it’s easier for disease to be passed from one deer to another.
For humans, too many deer lead to an increase of whitetails feeding on gardens, shrubs, fruit trees and other places where their grazing is not appreciated. It can also lead to an increase in deer/vehicle accidents.
At the Oct. 22 program, MDC Urban Wildlife Biologist Ashley Schnake will share the latest deer data from Springfield and will discuss strategies currently being used in communities around the country for keeping deer populations healthy and in check.
To register for this program, which is for ages 10-adult, call 417-888-4237. The Nature Center is located at 4601 South Nature Center Way in Springfield.
Information about deer can also be found at

MDC offers firearms safety class for youth hunters in Jefferson City

Register for the class by calling 573-526-5544.
Missouri Hunting Info from Family-Outdoors
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) is offering a free firearms safety class for youth hunters, ages 6 to 15. The class is at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Oct. 24 at MDC’s Runge Conservation Nature Center, located on HWY 179 approximately a quarter mile north of HWY 50 in Jefferson City. 
Instructors will teach young hunters the fundamentals of firearm safety. Although not a hunter-education course, this class can help youth hunters be safe during hunting season.  The course will cover tips on firearm safety, safe methods for carrying a firearm, and tree-stand safety. 
Registration is required by calling 573-526-5544.  Youth aged 6-10 years old must be accompanied by an adult. Conservation makes Missouri a great place to hunt. Learn more about hunting in Missouri at

Sunday, October 11, 2015

MDC fills conservation agent position in Reynolds County

REYNOLDS COUNTY, Mo. – The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) has appointed Kaleb Neece as a new conservation agent for Reynolds County. A recent graduate of the Department’s Conservation Agent Training class of 2015, Neece will work alongside Eric Long. 
Neece attended Southeast Missouri State University and earned a bachelor’s degree in Wildlife Conservation and Criminal Justice with the emphasis in Law Enforcement. He started working for MDC in 2011 as an hourly employee for the natural history biologist in Cape Girardeau.
In 2013, he moved to work on a feral hog eradication project for nine months in Wayne County. He then took a full-time position in MDC’s Forestry Division as a resource assistant in New Madrid until he joined The Department’s Agent Academy in April 2015.
“I enjoy southeast Missouri and the Ozarks and it’s great to know I get to stay in the area,” Neece said. “The Missouri Ozarks are beautiful and it’s a great place to be.”
Neece said he’s always been fascinated by the outdoors, even as a child.
“I love hunting and fishing,” he said. “In the summertime, my family would go camping at Sam A. Baker State Park. We would hike and ride our bikes. The outdoors was an endless possibility for me.”
As an adult, Neece has developed an interest in primitive archery.
“I enjoy taking a standing tree and crafting it into a bow that I can hunt with,” he said. “Things like that give me a connection to the land and make the outdoors come alive. Now I look forward to being in Reynolds County and helping others to enjoy the outdoors as well.”
To reach Reynolds County Conservation Agent Kaleb Neece, email him or call him at 573-561-6313.

MDC assists with sandhill crane release at refuge

Sandhill crane raised at World Bird Sanctuary released at Squaw Creek refuge
Mound City, Mo. – A young sandhill crane hatched and raised at the World Bird Sanctuary was recently released at the Squaw Creek National Wildlife Refuge in northwest Missouri. The release was a partnership effort among the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC), World Bird Sanctuary (WBS), and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
   This was the first release of a captive-hatched colt, or juvenile, sandhill crane in Missouri. The colt is the offspring of a pair of sandhill cranes at the World Bird Sanctuary at Valley Park, Mo., in the St. Louis area.
   Walter C. Crawford, Jr., the late founder and executive director of World Bird Sanctuary, acquired the parent cranes two years ago from an organization in Wisconsin. The pair laid and faithfully incubated the egg, then raised the youngster, all under the watchful eye of Crawford. The release of the crane into the wild in Missouri was to boost the species in Missouri and also to honor Crawford, said Joe Hoffmann, WBS manager.
   World Bird Sanctuary is dedicated to saving birds, preserving Earth’s biological diversity and sustaining natural habitats. MDC helped WBS transport the young sandhill crane to western Missouri and assisted with release arrangements. The bird was released at a wetland in the vicinity of a pair of sandhill cranes that has frequented the refuge all summer. Biologists hope the young crane will join that pair or other sandhill cranes that visit the refuge.
   Sandhill cranes are somewhat rare in Missouri and a species of conservation concern within the state. But they migrate through neighboring Nebraska and Kansas in large numbers and their populations are stable nationally. A few pairs have successfully nested in Missouri in recent years, said Brad Jacobs, MDC ornithologist. Squaw Creek officials said a few pairs have nested and raised young at the refuge in recent years.
This sandhill crane was raised at the World Bird Sanctuary
in Valley Park, Mo., and released Oct. 1 at the
Squaw Creek National Wildlife Refuge. Biologists hope it will
 join other sandhill cranes using the refuge. The bird's
parents cannot be released back to the wild due to wing damage.
 Holding the crane in preparation for release is Joe Hoffmann,
Wild Bird Sanctuary manager. After release in a wetland,
 the flight-ready crane calmly walked south and surveyed new surroundings.

Sandhill cranes are among the largest birds frequenting wet prairies and dry grasslands. They are gray in color, up to four feet from head to tail, and stand on very long, graceful legs. Adults have long, black bills and a red color patch on their head. Many sandhills migrate from Canada and the northern United States to spend the winter in large concentrations. They overwinter in groups of up to 10,000 birds in California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas. The Great Lakes crane population winters in Florida and along the Gulf Coast.
   “They’re a big bird and they’re very stately in how they behave and walk around,” Jacobs said. “They have a vocal tremolo you can hear from miles away, a woody, staccato sound.”
   Despite their long necks and legs, and wide wingspans, sandhill cranes are graceful when airborne. They fly in V-formations, and pairs and their young migrate together with flocks.
   “Their flight is so smooth,” said Corey Kudrna, wildlife refuge specialist at Squaw Creek. “Their wingbeats are smooth and they have very controlled flight.”
   Jacobs said sandhill crane nesting populations are growing in the upper Midwest, so Missouri may see more nesting pairs in the future.
   If the sandhill crane pair at the World Bird Sanctuary raises more young colts, they also may be released into the wild in Missouri, Hoffmann said.
   For more information on sandhill cranes in Missouri or MDC conservation programs, visit
   For information on the World Bird Sanctuary, visit The World Bird Sanctuary thanks the Kathryn G. Favre Foundation for support for the sandhill crane release.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Samantha Rhoades named new conservation agent for Osage County

OSAGE COUNTY, Mo. – The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) has appointed Samantha Rhoades as a new conservation agent in Osage County. Rhoades is among eight new agents of the Department's agent graduate class of 2015.
Rhoades received her bachelor's degree in Wildlife, Fisheries, and Aquaculture with a concentration in Conservation Law Enforcement from Mississippi State University in December 2014. Born in Memphis, Tennessee, she lived in Nesbit, Mississippi, since she was three years old. She moved to Missouri to become a conservation agent trainee in April 2015.
"I enjoy deer hunting and squirrel hunting," Rhoades says. "I like to go hiking with my dogs and play sports with friends. I love the outdoors because there is always something new to see when you step outside. There is so much to see and the only way to see it is to get out and see it."
Rhoades added that being outdoors is like being in a comfort zone.
"Everything about nature is fascinating to me and I love to learn about plants and animals and how they fit into our natural world," she says. "I feel conservation is very important because there are many beautiful places that future generations will not be able to see if we do not take care of it. Growing up and being outdoors most of the time was a big part of my upbringing and I want to ensure that my children and other people's children have the same opportunities I had to go explore and learn new things."
Rhoades said that she is here to be a member of the community people can trust. "I want to be an aid to people who use our outdoor resources and to those that want to," she said. "I want to help get people more interested in the outdoors."
Contact Osage County Conservation Agent Samantha Rhoades or by calling 573-690-3989.