Reflections

Inspirational covers

All my adult life I have been trying to photograph nature-animals, wildflowers and water, and I am in awe of the beautiful pictures you take. The coyote on the cover of the January issue is a prime example of the beauty I am talking about, and then on the back cover is another artistic photograph taken by Jim Rathert. Your pictures in the Conservationist are a continuing inspiration for me to keep trying.

J. Joseph Noonan, St. Louis

More about finches

Your response when asked about finches with swollen eyes at bird feeders seemed to indicate that you are unfamiliar with finch conjunctivitis. Symptoms include swollen, crusted eyes, which may make the bird unable to find food or escape predators. The bacteria responsible, Mycoplasma gallisepticum, usually affects poultry, but other birds may be susceptible.

To keep the disease from spreading, clean feeders before winter with a 1:9 solution of bleach in water. Keep plenty of feeders out to prevent overcrowding.

An incapacitated bird I treated this year responded well to twice daily eyedrops containing antibiotic and steroids. Eye ointments or drops containing tetracycline should also work. Provide fluids and warmth as needed, depending on the bird's condition.

Sandra B. Leonard, DVM, Peculiar

Brick bird house

I enjoyed your article on bluebird houses. We had a few cheap store-bought houses at our place near Truman Lake, but cleaning them was tough and they didn't hold up. I've built eight according to your plans and they are built like the proverbial brick outhouse.

I wonder, though, how far apart should I space the houses to avoid overcompetition between birds?

Steve Johnson, Merriam, Kan.

Editor's note: We recommend spacing the boxes at least 100 yards apart. For best results mount each box 4 to 6 feet high on a post and face the entrance toward the nearest large tree or shrub. Clean and repair boxes each February. For bluebird house building plans and directions, write Bluebird Houses, Conservation Department, P.O. Box 180, Jefferson City, 65102-0180.

Trotting out complaints

Trot line fishing is the most abused method of fishing on Lake of the Ozarks. The lines are set out in the spring and remain there until fall. Many a time, I snagged trotlines with my lures that had dead and decaying catfish on them.

Rich Ziblis, Lincoln

Editor's note: The Wildlife Code clearly states that trotlines must be plainly labeled with the full name and address of the person using the equipment and that lines may not be left unattended for more than 24 hours. Report violations to your conservation agent.

trapping no snap

Your story about trapping hit home with me. I was born in Minnesota near the Mississippi River and trapped muskrats, beaver, mink and raccoon until I went into the army. When I retired I took up trapping here in Missouri. Mink are the hardest to trap.

Clarence Schueler, Waynesville

Stream repair

Do you have any advice on how to prevent a nearby creek from being polluted? We cleaned it up once, but it is again cluttered with oil cans, trash and even a spare tire. We appreciate any help you can offer.

Rachel Davidson, Kansas City

Editor's note: Try to enlist friends or neighbors to join you in a Stream Team, which would both work on behalf of the creek and call attention to its problems, including pollution and littering. For more information, write Stream Team Coordinator, Conservation Department, P.O. Box 180, Jefferson City, 65102-0180 or call (573) 751-4115.

Digital lumber mill

Your story about Russ Noah restoring antique milling equipment brought back memories of my grandad who had a wood-burning steam-powered mill set up in his pasture in Eunice, near Eminence.

He cut barrel staves and a lot of rough lumber and such for house building in that area. He was forever pushing a log in the mill too far with his hands, and when he died he only had one or two whole fingers left.

Earl French, Holt

I enjoyed the article about Russ Noah; however, I'm concerned about his method of starting his Model TT. That is a hand-crank, not a kick-start, but if he is really trying to start the engine, he is about to receive a kick, for that spark lever is advanced much too far, as is the throttle! The brake is properly set, but I wouldn't bet that the vehicle would stand still with a roaring engine. Those planetary transmissions had a tendency to creep forward.

LeRoy Danz, Gerald

Editor's note: Russ Noah was posing for a picture, not starting the vehicle.

AGENT'S NOTEBOOK

Let's say you catch a trout or bag a quail or rabbit. For whatever reason, you hand that trout, rabbit or quail to your buddy or give it to a nearby stranger who hasn't been as lucky as you. In that moment of "charity" you've gone from successful hunter or angler to violator.

According to the Wildlife Code, "wildlife legally taken and possessed may be given to another only by the taker after the completion of the day's fishing or hunt."

That rule keeps people from continuing to fish or hunt after they have taken their daily limit. And it keeps the luckier or more skilled members of a family or group from filling limits for their sons, daughters or friends.

There may be a few states that permit "party" fishing or hunting, in which the entire group works to obtain a limit for all its members, but Missouri is not one of those. In this state, each person is responsible for his or her own take and that take has to be kept separate or distinctly identifiable from wildlife taken or possessed by another.

Wildlife, including fish, legally taken can be given to another, but only after you are done hunting or fishing for the day, and the animal or fish has to be labeled with the full name, address and permit number of the taker and the date taken. Violations of these rules often are uncovered by agents at road checks, when they can't determine the taker of the wildlife they find.

LARRY G. EVANS

PHELPS COUNTY