Sunday, November 29, 2015

MDC stocks rainbow trout at Kansas City area lakes

Stocked trout give anglers an additional winter outdoor option in the metro area
Kansas City, Mo. – The Missouri Department of Conservation’s (MDC) annual winter trout fishing season is underway in the Kansas City metro area. Trout were stocked at four locations on Nov. 18.
   Three lakes were stocked at the James A. Reed Memorial Wildlife Area at Lee’s Summit. Coot Lake and Plover Lake each received 2,000 trout. Plus 14 lunker trout from the MDC Fish Hatchery at Bennett Spring were stocked in each lake. Also, 200 trout were stocked in Honker Pond, which is open for youth fishing only.
   Lakes at the Fountain Bluff Sports Complex in Liberty were stocked with 1,000 pan-sized rainbow trout and 14 lunkers. The complex is at 2200 E. Old 210 Highway in Liberty, east of Missouri 291.
   MDC stocked 1,000 trout in Chaumiere Lake, which is in the Kansas City park system. Chaumiere Lake is near Interstate 35 and the intersection of North Cleveland Avenue and Northeast 43rd Terrace.
   Trout require cold, clear water and are not native to the Kansas City area. But winter temperatures cool lakes and enable them to support trout. MDC stocks trout in urban lakes to give anglers additional opportunities to catch a fun, good-eating fish close to home.  
   Statewide trout fishing regulations apply. All Missouri residents over age 15 and under 65 must have a valid fishing permit, and all non-residents over age 15 must have a fishing permit. The daily limit is four trout. To keep trout, all anglers must have a Missouri trout permit.
   MDC will also be re-stocking the lakes with trout at intervals throughout the winter. A winter trout fishing hotline for the Kansas City metro area with updates on stocking is available at816-525-0300, ext. 4001.
   For information on winter trout fishing in Missouri, visit http://on.mo.gov/1k87SOk.

MDC says invasive bush honeysuckle vulnerable now

Late fall is a good time to battle invasive species that harms native plant communities

Volunteers for Kansas City Wildlands recently held workdays to cut, pull and spray invasive bush honeysuckle at several parks in the metro area. The volunteer program is a partner with MDC and public park agencies to remove invasive species from high-quality natural communities on park land.
Kansas City, Mo. – Bush honeysuckle remains green as autumn fades and winter arrives, which offers a chance for homeowners to help battle this invasive species. It’s easy to spot in early winter as one of the last shrubs to drop leaves. Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) biologists and other public land managers work to reduce bush honeysuckle in the Kansas City area because its prolific growth chokes out native plants valuable for their beauty and wildlife habitat.
   Bush honeysuckle is an import from Asia that produces leaves earlier in the spring and holds on to them late in autumn. Some stands will still be green into December given mild weather conditions, said Larry Rizzo, MDC natural history biologist. That gives it a competitive advantage over many native plants. Plus, the plant’s roots produce a chemical that inhibits the roots of other plants. The shrub grows fast and produces bright red berries in fall that birds eat and then spread the seeds.
   But those berries are not very nutritious for birds, Rizzo said. And bush honeysuckle crowds out plants and trees that are good for birds and other wildlife.
   “It’s like the potato chips of berries for birds,” he said.
   Volunteers recently donated workdays to remove bush honeysuckle at several public parks in the Kansas City metro area. Those projects are a partnership between MDC, the non-profit Kansas City Wildlands, and municipal park agencies. The goal is keeping harmful invasive plants out of high quality natural areas on public lands.
   But bush honeysuckle is also harmful growing in yards and on acreages or farms. It often sprouts up along fence lines and in brushy areas. Once started, it’s hard to stop. Homeowners can help by spotting bush honeysuckle and removing it from their property.
   “It’s really easy to identify right now,” said Erin Shank, MDC wildlife biologist.  “Our native vegetation is not green anymore this time of year so bush honeysuckle really stands out.”
   The plant’s active state also makes it susceptible to treating its foliage with herbicides if it remains green in November.
    “You can do so with minimal to no damage to native vegetation because natives are dormant and won’t uptake the chemical,” Shank advised.
   Foliar spraying of honeysuckle is most effective on young to middle-aged stands that average less than seven feet in height. The most efficient tool for foliar treatment is a mist blower, which is most useful on areas larger than one acre. Foliar spraying can also be accomplished less expensively with simple backpack sprayers. Shank recommends a three percent glyphosate (Roundup) solution with an added surfactant. Coat as much of the foliage as possible. Foliar spray when weather forecast predicts dry conditions for at least four hours after treatment.
   When plants are over seven feet high, cutting and stump treating honeysuckle is necessary. This practice can be done any time of year when the temperature is above freezing though there is some evidence that mid-autumn timing may be more effective. Cut stumps as low to the ground as possible, then treat the stump with 20 percent glyphosate solution using a squirt bottle within 10 minutes. It is crucial to treat the stump quickly after cutting. The low humidity conditions of fall causes stumps to dry enough in a short time to inhibit the uptake of the chemical to the root system. The cut surface of the stump should be lightly coated; herbicide does not need to be dripping off the stump.
    Once bush honeysuckle is gone, what are some good ways to get green back into a yard?
    “There is a whole suite of native plants that are great to replace it with,” Shank said.  She suggests American beauty berry, fragrant sumac, vernal witch hazel, wild plum, and choke cherry to name a few.  An excellent source of native plant alternatives can be found atwww.GrowNative.org.  These plants will also be far more beneficial to native wildlife than the exotic bush honeysuckle.
   Homeowners can help win the war against the invasive bush honeysuckle, and now is the perfect time to attack it.  For more information on controlling bush honeysuckle, go tohttp://mdc.mo.gov/node/5411.
   Kansas City Wildlands program has also developed a Honeysuckle Academy training program to help homeowners associations or other groups battle the invasive species in their neighborhood. For information, call (816) 561-1087.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Celebrate the holidays with help from the Cape Nature Center

The center’s popular Nature Art: Nature’s Décor program is scheduled for Dec. 5. Guests will use nature’s resources to create winter wreaths, swags and garlands. (MDC photo)
Events offer experiences that will spice up the holidays for each family member.
CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. – As the seasons change and the holidays approach, the Missouri Department of Conservation’s Cape Girardeau Conservation Nature Center has incorporated holiday themed events into their program schedule.
“Many natural items accentuate traditional holiday decorations, such as Christmas trees, wreaths and popular centerpieces,” said Sara Turner, manager of the nature center. “We like to take that even further with ornaments, cards and gifts that highlight nature and are eco-friendly.”
The center’s popular Nature Art: Nature’s Décor program is scheduled for Dec. 5. Guests will use nature’s resources to create winter wreaths, swags and garlands. Programs are offered at 9 a.m., 11 a.m., 1 p.m. or 3 p.m. to give multiple opportunities to attend the program. Turner said this program fills quickly, so hopeful participants should call the nature center to reserve a seat. Registration for this program is underway.
“We ask our guests to bring their own grapevine wreath, but we provide the natural items to decorate them with,” Turner said. “Our staff and volunteers are excellent guides to creativity with these decorative items, so be brave and come see what you can make to hang on your door to ring in the season.”
Younger nature enthusiasts, ages seven to eleven, can celebrate the holidays at Snappers: Nature’s Gifts. This program will enable youngsters to make a gift by hand with items they can find in their own backyard. This free program is scheduled for Saturday, Dec. 12, from 10 to 11:30. Turner said this program also tends to fill up quickly, so reservations may be made beginning Dec. 1.
“Sometimes it can be difficult to come up with crafts children can make for family and friends for Christmas, but this program will help with that,” Turner said. “And while they’re having fun making crafts, the kids are learning about nature, too.”
The whole family can get involved in making nature related holiday crafts Saturday, Dec. 19, from 1 to 4 p.m. at Family Craft Fun. Turner said this program is for all ages, it’s free and no registration is required.
“This program is designed for the whole family to enjoy together as they continue the holiday spirit, learn about nature and make memories together,” Turner said. “We’ll have all the supplies needed, we just invite families to come enjoy the season with us.”
For a winter nature experience to warm the holiday spirit, join naturalists Thursday, Dec. 17, for Nature Center at Night: Candlelit Wood Walk. Enjoy the serenity of the winter night along the Nature Center’s paved, lit trail. Warm beverages and time to explore the exhibits will wrap up the evening. No registration is necessary for this event.
Turner said registrations may be made for Nature Art: Nature’s Décor and Snappers: Nature’s Gifts by calling (573)290-5218 beginning Dec. 1. More information about these and other programs at the Cape Girardeau Conservation Nature Center can be found online atmdc.mo.gov/capenaturecenter. To receive event reminders on a cell phone, text nature to 91212.

Natural factors causing trout die-off at Shepherd of the Hills

A combination of natural factors has led to a trout die-off at the Missouri Department of Conservation's Shepherd of the Hills Hatchery in Taney County. Some of the fish are being temporarily transferred to other hatcheries in the state until water conditions at Shepherd of the Hills Hatchery improve.
Rapid response by MDC statewide hatchery staff mitigating loss.
BRANSON, Mo. – An unfortunate combination of late-autumn water conditions has caused a die-off of trout at the Missouri Department of Conservation’s (MDC) Shepherd of the Hills Hatchery.
This fish loss is a result of a combination of current environmental conditions that include warm water, low oxygen, high nitrogen, high sulfur levels and excess nutrient content. Hatchery staff will not know the full impact of trout loss for some time as some fish may experience delayed mortality from the stress they experienced at this time. Mortality has occurred in all sizes of fish at the hatchery. Shepherd of the Hills Hatchery, located in Taney County, is Missouri’s largest trout hatchery. It produces 1,250,000 trout annually which are stocked into Lake Taneycomo and other trout areas around the state.
Much of the above-mentioned environmental conditions can be traced to the heavy rains, hot temperatures and algae die-off that depleted water quality and caused fish die-off problems at Table Rock Lake this past summer. Shepherd of the Hills receives its water from Table Rock.
Fortunately, quick action by MDC hatchery staff is resulting in the bulk of Shepherd’s trout population being saved. Some are being moved to other raceways at the hatchery where the water quality is better; other trout are being temporarily transported to Bennett Spring Hatchery, Montauk Hatchery and Lost Valley Hatchery.
The primary cure to Shepherd’s problems will occur when cold weather arrives.
“The faster it gets colder, the sooner the water temperature at the surface (of Table Rock) will equal the water temperature at the bottom (of the lake) and allow the lake to mix,” said MDC Fisheries Management Biologist Shane Bush, who oversees fish management at Table Rock and Taneycomo reservoirs. “This will bring better water quality through the dam. This may happen as soon as this weekend with cold temperatures expected.”
The hatchery’s Conservation Center remains open to the public from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, but trout viewing opportunities along the raceway have been temporarily closed to the public.
More information can be obtained by calling the Shepherd of the Hills Hatchery Conservation Center, 417-334-4865 or the Missouri Department of Conservation’s Southwest Regional Office in Springfield, 417-895-6880.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Discover Nature with MDC Eagle Days around the state

First Eagle Days event is at Squaw Creek National Wildlife Refuge on Dec. 5.
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – From December through February, Missouri's winter eagle watching is spectacular. Discover nature with the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) through Eagle Days events around the state, or enjoy eagle viewing on your own.
Because of its big rivers, many lakes, and abundant 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.
MDC offers Eagle Days events on the dates and locations listed below. The events include live captive-eagle programs, exhibits, activities, videos, and guides with spotting scopes. 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.
  • Dec. 5 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Dec. 6 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Squaw Creek National Wildlife Refuge south of Mound City. Call 816-271-3100 for more information.
  • Jan. 9 from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. and Jan. 10 from 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at Smithville Lake Paradise Pointe Golf Course Clubhouse north of Kansas City. Call 816-532-0174for more information.
  • Jan. 16 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Jan. 17 from 12:30 to 4:30 p.m. at the MDC Springfield Conservation Nature Center. Call 417-888-4237 for more information.
  • Jan. 16-17 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Old Chain of Rocks Bridge south of I-270 off Riverview Drive in St. Louis. Call 314-877-1309 for more information.
  • Jan. 30 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Jan. 31 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. 6 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Schell City Community Center in downtown Schell City, and at the Schell-Osage Conservation Area. 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 at Bagnell Dam Access east of Bagnell
  • Eagle Bluffs Conservation Area on Route K southwest of Columbia
  • Lock & Dam 20 at Canton
  • Lock & Dam 24 at Clarksville
  • Lock & Dam 25 east of Winfield
  • Mingo National Wildlife Refuge northwest of Puxico
  • Moses Eagle Park at Stella
  • Old Chain of Rocks Bridge south of I-270, off of Riverview Drive in St. Louis
  • Riverlands Migratory Bird Sanctuary, east of West Alton
  • Schell-Osage Conservation Area north of El Dorado Springs
  • Smithville Lake north of Kansas City
  • Squaw Creek National Wildlife Refuge south of Mound City
  • Swan Lake National Wildlife Refuge south of Sumner
  • Table Rock Lake and Shepherd of the Hills Fish Hatchery southwest of Branson
  • Truman Reservoir west of Warsaw
For more information, visit mdc.mo.gov/events/eagledays.

Make smart decisions before your timber sale and Call Before You Cut

MDC Forester Aaron Holsapple gives advice to landowner about managing woodlands. 
MDC encourages landowners to Call Before You Cut to get expert advice on managing woodlands.
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – It's a pretty good bet that many landowners would benefit from expert advice when it comes to managing their woodlands, especially if they are thinking about harvesting timber. That's because caring for forested property is a long-term proposition where decisions landowners make can have long-term impacts on trees, water and wildlife.
The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) encourages woodland owners to use the Call Before You Cut program to consult with professional foresters and trained loggers before they make decisions about their property.
"If you've got more than 20 acres of forested property, Call Before You Cut can help you determine whether a timber harvest is right for your land," MDC Forestry Field Program Supervisor Steve Westin said. "Whether you're looking at your timber as a source of income or a way to improve habitat for deer, turkey or other wildlife, your woods are a valuable resource."
Landowners can call toll-free (877-564-7483) to request a packet of information that will help them set up a timber sale, contact professional help, and find other management information for their woods.
"Although woodland owners know a lot about their property, they often don't have the critical information they need to determine when to harvest trees and who to hire to do it," said Westin. "It's important for landowners to know how many trees to cut, how much the trees are worth, and what the woods will look like after the harvest is completed."
Forest covers roughly one-third of Missouri, and private landowners own 83 percent of those timberlands. They are key providers of trees to produce some of Missouri's widely sought-after wood products, such as flooring, white oak for wine barrels and black walnut products. Call Before You Cut can help ensure healthy, productive woodlands for landowners and a healthy forest industry for years to come.
"Managing your woodlands can be a rewarding and profitable activity," said Westin. "A timber harvest can start a new chapter in the history of your woods by removing mature trees, allowing younger trees to grow freely, and new trees to start growing."
MDC recently released a series of videos that offers an overview of timber management, showing how foresters and loggers can help landowners make the right decisions for their properties. The series covers how to complete a forest inventory, how to protect the property with accurate site layout, how to select a logger, and how to prevent erosion with the installation of water bars. Find the videos on the MDC YouTube channel or go directly to the video playlist here: http://bit.ly/1QHakIe.
More information about the Call Before You Cut program is available atcallb4ucut.com/Missouri.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

MDC: November firearms deer harvest ends with 189,938

Missouri's 2015 November firearms deer harvest ends with 189,938. Top harvest counties were Texas with 4,544 deer checked, Howell with 4,046, and Franklin with 3,707. The 2015 November firearms deer harvest was up from 2014  by more than 23,000.
Top three highest-harvest counties were Texas, Howell, and Franklin.
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Preliminary data from the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) shows that deer hunters in Missouri harvested 189,938 deer during the November portion of fall firearms deer season, Nov. 14-24. Of the 189,938 deer harvested, 92,020 were antlered bucks, 21,256 were button bucks, and 76,662 were does. Top harvest counties were Texas with 4,544 deer checked, Howell with 4,046, and Franklin with 3,707.
Last year, hunters checked 166,383 deer during the 2014 November portion of firearms deer season with 78,556 being antlered bucks, 19,300 being button bucks, and 68,527 being does.
"Good weather and plenty of deer activity likely are the reasons why there was an increase in deer harvest during the November portion of the firearms deer season this year," MDC Deer Biologist Jason Sumners said.
MDC reported five firearms-related hunting incidents during the fall firearms November portion. The five incidents involved self-inflicted firearm wounds and occurred in Butler (2), Franklin, Newton, and Howard counties.
Deer hunting in Missouri continues with archery deer hunting from Nov. 25 through Jan. 15, firearms antlerless portion Nov. 25 through Dec. 6, firearms alternative methods portion Dec. 19-29, and firearms late youth portion Jan. 2-3. Learn more about deer hunting from MDC athttp://on.mo.gov/1jjzeAa.
For current, preliminary harvest totals by season, county, and type of deer, visit the MDC website at http://on.mo.gov/1jjz7Ew. For harvest summaries from past years, visithttp://on.mo.gov/1MRjOLV.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

MDC says oak leaf itch mites still pesky in west Missouri

Oak leaf itch mites are tiny arachnids that can cause a bite similar to a chigger.
Kansas City, Mo. – A word of caution before you leap into a pile of raked up oak tree leaves this fall. The nearly microscopic oak leaf itch mite could cause some bites similar to those left by chiggers. The insect-like mites were an irritating pest in some areas of western Missouri, Kansas and Oklahoma in late summer and autumn. Some may be lurking in oak leaves that have fallen to the ground, said Rob Lawrence, forest entomologist for the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC).
   Cold weather, especially hard freezes, will halt the mites. But if weather remains on the warm side, those raking and handling oak tree leaves may want to take a few precautions: shower or bath after working in the leaves and launder work clothes promptly.
    An itch mite bite is similar to a chigger bite, but it has a slightly different appearance. The itch mite bite often has a raised, blister-like center that can become itchy and painful when scratched.
   The oak leaf itch mite is believed to have originated in Europe. It was first recognized in the United States when it was found in Kansas in 2004 and then later found in other states. The mite occurred at outbreak levels in 2004-2006, Lawrence said.  It has been mostly absent since then until reappearing in Kansas last year. A severe freeze in April, 2007, resulted in a widespread kill of early spring foliage. That may have directly killed the itch mites or the prey they feed upon, an insect called the marginal fold gall midge.
   The gall midges may be increasing and thus supporting a larger population of oak leaf itch mites. But itch mites will also feed on other insects. That may include eggs of the periodical cicadas that appeared in the Kansas City region this year. However, Lawrence said there are reports of itch mites in southwest Missouri where periodical cicadas did not emerge.
   MDC supports healthy urban forests. For more information, visithttp://on.mo.gov/1MmqTUq.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

MDC stocks rainbow trout at Sedalia's Liberty Park Pond

Winter trout fishing offers anglers additional outdoor fun in urban areas
Sedalia, Mo. – Rainbow trout are once again swimming in Liberty Park Pond in Sedalia. The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) recently stocked 1,300 trout in the three-acre pond at Third and Park streets. Included in the stocking were 12 large, trophy-sized trout that formerly served as brood stock at the MDC Bennett Spring Fish Hatchery.
    Anglers with a valid Missouri fishing permit can fish for the trout on a catch-and-release basis through Jan. 31. All Missouri residents over age 15 and under 65 must have a valid fishing permit, and all non-residents over age 15 must have a fishing permit.
   Beginning Feb. 1, anglers with valid fishing permits and a Missouri trout permit may keep up to four trout. Only artificial lures may be used, live or scented baits are not allowed.
   MDC annually stocks rainbow trout in several urban lakes during winter to provide anglers with additional fishing opportunities. Trout need cold, clear water to survive and are not native to the Sedalia area. But ponds and small lakes are cool enough during winter to support trout. Anglers have a close-to-home chance to fish during the winter months.
   Some anglers pursue trout with fly rods using small flies and jigs as lures. Others use spinning or spincasting rods and small lures such as spinners, spoons and jigs to catch trout.
   For more information on Liberty Park Pond and a map, visit http://on.mo.gov/1RZvpvy.
   For information about rainbow trout in Missouri, visit http://mdc.mo.gov/discover-nature/field-guide/rainbow-trout.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

MDC to receive $2.4 million from USDA for wetlands on private land

Wetland restoration techniques have improved drastically over the past 25 years. This photo of a wetland restoration in Carroll County shows the new restoration approach using shallow, landscape-based wetlands on the right next to the old-style, deeper, straight-lined wetlands on the left.
Conservation Department and Ducks Unlimited will add $700,000 for Missouri landowners.
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo -- This October, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) will receive $2.4 million for projects that protect, restore, and enhance wetlands in Missouri. The projects will be funded under the Wetland Reserve Enhancement Program (WREP) administered by the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). Missouri is one of only six states to receive WREP funding this year.
The WREP provides financial assistance to landowners interested in restoring the hydrology and improving wildlife habitat on their Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP) easements. MDC, in cooperation with Ducks Unlimited, will provide an additional $700,000 in matching funds -- bringing the total investment in wetland restoration to $3.1 million over the next three years.
"This is a fine example of how we will accomplish much more by working in partnership than any of us would be able to accomplish individually," NRCS State Conservationist J.R. Flores said. "The newer wetlands provide a wide range of benefits to wildlife and the land. NRCS is pleased to be working with landowners and our partners to get more of these wetlands on the land."
According to MDC, wetland restorations completed in the early 1990s were primarily designed to provide uniform water levels within a single-ring levee.
"Wetland restoration techniques have improved drastically over the past 25 years," said MDC Private Land Services Division Chief Bill White. "WREP provides a great opportunity to enhance these older sites and restore them in a way that better mimics natural wetland systems. Wetlands that provide diverse water levels and vegetation provide wildlife habitat for a larger suite of waterbirds including ducks, geese, and shore birds."
MDC and NRCS have a successful history of restoring wetlands through the WREP. In past years, WREP has helped restore thousands of acres of existing wetlands in a number of north Missouri counties. The current WREP is expanded so landowners with WRP easements located within 30 counties across the state will now be eligible to apply for funding to enhance their wetlands. The eligible counties are: Bates, Boone, Buchanan, Butler, Cape Girardeau, Carroll, Chariton, Cooper, Dunklin, Henry, Holt, Howard, Johnson, Knox, Lafayette, Lincoln, Linn, Livingston, Mississippi, New Madrid, Pemiscot, Pike, Platte, St. Charles, St. Louis, Saline, Scott, Shelby, Stoddard, and Vernon.
NRCS, MDC, and Ducks Unlimited will work together to provide assistance to private landowners to restore and enhance at least 10,000 acres of wetland habitat on existing WRP easements.
"The successful partnership between NRCS, MDC, and our private conservation organizations ensure Missouri landowners receive the best opportunities available to improve the wildlife habitat and natural resources on their properties," said White.
Missouri landowners may apply for the new WREP this winter.
For additional information, contact your local NRCS office or MDC Private Lands Conservationist. To find local MDC contacts, go to mdc.mo.gov under LOCAL CONTACT.

MDC presents plaque for state record flathead catfish

Angler caught 100-pound catfish in Missouri River at Kansas City
Kansas City, Mo. – The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) on Nov. 6 presented Mathew McConkey with a plaque honoring his catch of a 100-pound flathead catfish, a new state record for alternative fishing methods. McConkey caught the behemoth flathead on a trotline on Sept. 19 from the Missouri River offshore from the city of Riverside, a burg close to downtown Kansas City.
   “It’s awesome,” he said. “I’ve fished hard for it, and this is probably the fish of a lifetime.”
   
The Missouri River is producing giant catfish. On the same day that McConkey caught his record flathead, another angler entered in a rod-and-reel catfish tournament caught a 99-pound blue catfish upstream of Kansas City, said Jake Allman, MDC fisheries management biologist. That fish is not a record because another angler caught a 130-pound blue catfish on pole and line in 2010, and this year a 120-pound blue catfish set a new alternative methods record for that species.
   The elimination of commercial fishing for catfish in the Missouri River starting in 1991 boosted the production of big flathead and channel catfish, Allman said. The population of blue catfish has increased in the river since the massive floods of 1993 and flood plain mitigation efforts that followed created new spawning habitat.
   MDC this year began an extensive catfish study in the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers, Allman said. Plus MDC crews doing research on endangered pallid sturgeon have monitored all fish species in the river. The research will help MDC manage a healthy catfish fishery to benefit anglers.
   McConkey, 38, of Kansas City, is one of the anglers taking advantage of the Missouri River’s big-fish fishery. He’s started catfishing in the river 18 years ago along with family members in the Brunswick, Mo., area, and he’s fished in the Kansas City area for five years. This autumn, he’s got a fillets from a 100-pound flathead in the freezer and plans to put a replica of a state-record fish on his wall.
   “I’ve caught a lot of fish in the 50- to 70-pound range,” McConkey said. “But this flathead just blows me away.”
   For a listing of Missouri’s state record fish, visit http://on.mo.gov/1lb1pmr.
   More information about Missouri’s great fishing is available at http://mdc.mo.gov.

Friday, November 6, 2015

MDC restoration efforts improve woodlands at Marshall Junction Conservation Area

Management strategy improves forest health, wildlife habitat
MDC woodland management at
Marshall Junction Conservation
Area enhances biodiversity, wildlife
 habitat, and overall forest health.  
MARSHALL JUNCTION, Mo. – Nearly a decade of woodland management efforts by the Missouri Department of Conservation has created better hunting and nature viewing at Marshall Junction Conservation Area. 
The MDC management strategy has included a timber harvest, additional firewood permits, prescribed fire, and mechanical removal of undesirable woody vegetation.  Recently, MDC managers knocked back nearly 40 acres of overgrowth, helping to stimulate greater diversity of woodland plants and animals. 
“Over time, a diverse ground-layer of plants will develop, providing excellent browse for deer, and excellent nesting and brood-rearing habitat for wild turkeys and other small game,” said Area Manager Steven Noll. “Watch also, for improved growth of native grasses and wildflowers like big bluestem and grey-headed coneflower in areas where management practices have opened up the forest floor.” 
MDC works with and for Missourians to sustain healthy fish, forests, and wildlife. Learn more at MDC.mo.gov

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Young hunters check 14,095 deer during Missouri early youth portion

Top counties were Franklin with 338, Osage with 337, and Howell with 288.
Young hunters checked 14,095 deer during Missouri's 2015 early youth portion. Top counties for the early youth hunt were Franklin with 338, Osage with 337, and Howell with 288.
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) announced that young hunters ages 6 through 15 checked 14,095 deer during Missouri's early youth portion of the 2015 deer hunting season, which ran Oct. 31 and Nov. 1. Top counties for the early youth portion were Franklin with 338, Osage with 337, and Howell with 288 deer checked. Last year's harvest total for the early youth portion was 18,091.
The total for the firearms deer urban zone portion, which ran Oct. 9 – 12, was 401 with the top three counties being Greene with 106, Jefferson with 57, and St. Charles with 43. The 2014 total for the firearms deer urban zone portion was 599. For the latest deer harvest totals by county and portion, visit the MDC website at extra.mdc.mo.gov/widgets/harvest_table/
Archery deer hunting continues through Nov. 13 and again from Nov. 25 though Jan. 15, 2016. Up next for deer hunting in Missouri is the November portion of firearms deer season, which runs Nov. 14 through 24. That will be followed by the firearms deer antlerless portion running Nov. 25 through Dec. 6. The firearms deer alternative methods portion will run Dec. 19-29 followed by firearms deer late youth portion on Jan. 2-3, 2016.
Get more information on deer hunting in Missouri through MDC's free 2015 Fall Deer & Turkey Hunting Regulations and Information booklet available where permits are sold, from MDC regional offices and nature centers, and online at mdc.mo.gov.