Vantage Point

Reality Check

April, known for its practical jokes, is a good month for a reality check. Nature plays tricks now too, warming new buds one day and nipping them the next. But do a reality check: winter is losing its grip - spring is here!

Let the following Myths and Realities help with your reality check on Missouri conservation:

Myth: The Conservation Department is buying land faster than ever before. It now owns much of the state of Missouri.

Reality: The purchase of land by MDC has declined steadily since 1982. The Conservation Department owns about 1.6 percent of the state's total land mass. Ninety-three percent of the state is privately owned.

Myth: The Conservation Department deprives counties of tax revenue when it purchases land for public use.

Reality: Since 1980, the Conservation Department has paid more than $5 million in-lieu-of-tax payments to 111 Missouri counties. Counties with land enrolled in MDC's forest cropland program earned close to $400,000 in the last fiscal year.

Myth: Forest land in Missouri is shrinking.

Reality: Forest cover in Missouri has increased by over one million acres since 1972.

Myth: Most wildlife populations are now healthy and abundant in Missouri.

Reality: Turkey and deer populations are up dramatically from 1980, but quail and waterfowl numbers are down. Prairie chickens continue to decline, and the number of animals on the rare and endangered species lists has increased by 20 percent since 1984. Declining wildlife populations are due to shrinking habitat.

Myth: The Conservation Department's program called Coordinated Resource Management will tell landowners how they must manage their land.

Reality: Coordinated Resource Management is a program to make public land management more efficient by coordinating the efforts of public agencies, involving citizens in developing strategies for natural resource protection, and providing opportunities for willing landowners to participate in programs that will benefit them.

Myth: The Conservation Department's program called the Respect Landowners Initiative will ban coyote hunting and allow landowners to shoot dogs on their property.

Reality: The Respect Landowners Initiative addresses the related problems of illegal shooting from the roadway (roadhunting), pursuing deer with dogs (deer dogging), and free-running dogs. It will provide conservation agents with additional tools for law enforcement and help resolve conflicts between landowners and hunters through citizen involvement, effective deterrence and education.

Myth: The Conservation Department stocks rattlesnakes in the Ozarks.

Reality: No way.

One Last Reality Check - Myth or Reality? The "Outdoor Tattler," featured in this issue, is a true account of outdoor activities in Missouri.