During my travels in the Army, I have come to admire the efforts that the state of Missouri has expended in its conservation efforts. I have lived in Alabama, Alaska, North Carolina and Texas. Although some of these states have natural resources that Missouri does not have, none of them has enjoyed the successes that the Missouri Department of Conservation has.
I do not mind buying a license to go hunting or fishing or paying a fee to camp. I know the money is going to be wisely used to preserve and promote the state's beauty and natural resources. A hearty well done for your conservation efforts.
Jeffrey G. Martin, Independence
What a fine magazine you have! I started receiving the Conserva- tionist while I was teaching. I still enjoy the beautiful pictures and informative articles now that I've retired.
Furthermore, I save all the Conservationist is sues for my son, who lives in Texas. He shares them among his friends and fellow employees. That way, some of the Texans can see that Missouri is an "up-and-coming" state, which practices conservation in many ways.
Colleen Agee, Houston
Your June issue was pure joy! "Endangered Neighbors," outdoorswo- men, "Caring for Diversity," such heartening reading. "Dogs Who Have Known Us" was wonderful!
I must add one more kudo: Chmielniak cartoons. They are always good, and often very good. Always turn to the last page first.
Regan Kenner, Canton
NOT "A" PROBLEM
I enjoyed Jim Low's article in the June issue, but I question his use of the word amelanism to describe an organism deficient in melanin.
Normally, the prefix "a" is used to mean without, as in akinetic, asexual or amoral. The prefix hypo better describes a deficiency, as in hypoglycemia, which means not enough sugar. A better word to describe an organism that is deficient in melanin would seem to be "hypomelanistic."
R. Michael Fischer, St. Louis
Melanin is only one of the pigments - brownish-black - that might be found in skin, hair or other animal or plant tissue. Other pigments become more obvious when melanin is missing.
The turtle on the back cover was not without any pigments (albin- istic or, to coin a word, apigmented) but it was without melanin. Hence, it was amelanistic. Had the turtle merely been low in melanin, we might have used the term hypomelanistic.
BOX TURTLE TRAGEDIES
It is time to stop the senseless killing of box turtles that cross Missouri highways. I have personally witnessed an older man intentionally run over a turtle. Maybe we need a state law to protect them before they become just a memory.
Mark Poole, Columbia
Tom Cwynar's article, "Targeting Trophy Trout," was informative but could be a detriment to the trophy trout population of the North Fork River. That treasured resource should not be exposed to h is particular methods of angling.
The problem with using live bait for trophy trout lies in the mortality rate from these fish being hooked too deeply for a successful release. The North Fork River cannot withstand such pressure and maintain a population of quality fish for all of us to enjoy.
Dan Sexton, Springfield
The Conservation Department encourages use and enjoyment of our state's wild resources. We use regulations to manage and conserve those resources. In the case of the North Fork River, the upper stretch has been reserved for non-bait anglers. Bait anglers have the lower portion of this great river to catch and harvest trout.
I am a funeral director in the busy fast lane of Kansas City, but at heart I am a country girl who can hardly wait to get on the camouflage.
Twice this year I have been awed by your beautiful front cover - the morel mushrooms and the bluebird. Super.
Vonna Brown, Kansas City
For nearly as long as I can remember, our household has received the Conservationist, but a while back my wife and I realized we were no longer getting it.
I had dreaded the renewal process, but fate one day put me in the halls of the Conservation Department in Jefferson City, so I decided to fill out a new application.
The lady who handles circulation wasn't too hard to find and was friendly. When I asked to renew my subscription, she simply asked me to write my name and address on a blank piece of paper.
That was it - no long forms, no red tape, no computer sheets, no nothing. What a deal! Thanks for the good service and for keeping it simple.
Bruce Sassmann, Bland
TO WRITE A WRONG
In Laurie Peach's "Lost Souls of the Ozark Rivers," which appeared in the July 1993 Conservationist, my fathers name was printed wrong.
My father's name is Harry Paris Grubb - not Henry Grubb. He was known to his many friends and his family as H.P. Grubb.
Dad was born in 1886. He w as a very proud man and taught many people the ways of the old Current River, from the paddlewheel boat to the rafting of logs and ties.
Velma Grubb Dowdy, Van Buren
Your cowbird article made me wonder if they have had a hand in the almost complete disappearance of the whippoorwill in my area of northeast Jefferson County.
Is there anything we can do to encourage them back? Should we kill the cowbirds?
Thomas A.F. Moloney, Pevely
Cowbirds replace the eggs of tree-nesting birds with their own. Whippoorwills, however, nest on the ground. Your whippoorwills may be falling prey to raccoons and house cats, common mammalian predators in urban areas. Regulated trapping and keeping pets indoors could bring them back. Another strategy is to let grass in grassy areas grow taller to reduce predation on whippoorwill nests. Cowbirds are protected by law.
There goes a flock of gadwall!" "That's a merganser floating in the stream."
Waterfowl identification can be interesting and educational. It's a treat to be able to identify the different species of ducks and geese from a distance.
Waterfowl hunters absolutely need to be able to identify various ducks and geese, because bag limits differ for different migratory birds. For example, current regulations allow hunters three ducks per day, but only two of them may be mallards and only one of those mallards may be a hen.
The keys to learning to identify waterfowl are a good field guide, binoculars and plenty of practice.
Bird identification publications are available at bookstores and libraries. The Conservation Department produces an excellent waterfowl guide, "Ducks at a Distance," which is available at most managed waterfowl areas.
"Missouri's Spring Duck Season," which was reprinted from the Conservationist, contains pictures of Missouri's most common waterfowl in their most brilliant plumage. Get your free copy by sending a card to the Conservation Department, P.O. Box 180, Jefferson City, 65102-0180. You can purchase "The Key to Duck ID" video, by sending $10, plus 62 cents tax to the Media Library, at the same address.
Learning about ducks gives you another good excuse to visit rivers, lakes, marshes and other waterfowl areas.
"Giant" Auction Helps Operation Game Thief
The sale of a limited edition series of art prints of Missouri's world record non-typical whitetail buck will help stop those who would illegally take fish and wildlife.
"Missouri Giant" depicts the giant deer as Minnesota artist Ron Vangilder envisions it looked when it stalked St. Louis County, where it was found dead in 1981.
Vangilder provided 100 special edition copies of "Missouri Giant" to the Conservation Department. Ninety-six high quality prints will be sold by sealed bid to raise funds for Missouri's Operation Game Thief.
The program provides a toll-free number (1-800-392-1111) for people to report game law violators. The Conservation Federation raises OGT reward money for tips leading to arrests.
Bid deadline is 2 p.m. Nov. 1. Minimum bid is $125 and prints will be awarded sequentially - lowest number to the highest bid - until the prints are gone.
Bidders should send their name, address, phone number, bid amount and check or credit card number and expiration date (Mastercard or Visa only), payable to Operation Game Thief, to Missouri Giant, P.O. Box 180, Jefferson City, 65102-0180. For more information call Wildlife Division at (314) 751-4115.