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Missourians trade outdoor tips at Conservation Cafe

Missourians who enjoy sharing their outdoor experiences or who want to pick others' brains about the best spots to fish, sources for wildflower seeds or how to deal with troublesome varmints can share such information on the Internet by visiting the Conservation Cafe.

The Cafe is a service of the Missouri Department of Conservation, but information found there isn't from the Conservation Department. The Conservation Cafe is a forum where Missourians can share their outdoor knowledge and experiences.

If you want expert advice, there is a link to the Conservation Department's web page, but the Conservation Cafe is strictly a people-to-people connection. Messages and replies are posted as they are received, so it is possible for Cafe patrons to have an ongoing exchange. But postings also are available for visitors to read later on. You can browse through recent postings by category--hunting, fishing and nature--or you can search for a particular topic or location.

Fishing, spring turkey hunting and mushroom hunting were hot topics when the Cafe opened its doors in April. Seasonal activities probably will continue to dominate discussions. Grab a cup of Joe, fire up your home computer and join in.

You can stop in the Conservation Cafe by visiting the Conservation Department's home page or go directly to it at <http://www.mdc.mo.gov/chat/>.

"Conservation On Call"

Journey into the outdoor world with Conservation Department Director Jerry Conley by tuning in to

Conservation On Call. The weekly radio program airs on:

WXTM, 104.1 FM, in St. Louis at 5 a.m. Sundays

KSHE, 94.7 FM, and WKKX, 106.5 FM,

  • in St. Louis at 6 a.m. Sundays
  • KPCR, 1530 AM, in Bowling Green at 8:30 p.m. Mondays
  • KLRQ, 96.1 FM, in Clinton at 7 a.m. Saturdays
  • KAYO, 97.7 FM, in Warsaw at 7:15 a.m. Saturdays
  • KTUI, 1560 AM, in Sullivan at 7:30 a.m. Saturdays
  • KTTR, 1490 AM/99.7 FM, in Rolla--Check local listings for air time.

You can call in questions, comments and suggestions to the Conservation On Call comment line, (573) 751-4115, ext. 671, weekdays from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. You also can write to:

Missouri Department of Conservation
P.O. Box 180
Jefferson City, MO 65102-0180

or e-mail your question to <coc@mdc.mo.gov>.

ROCK BASS RULE!

At the request of anglers who want better rock bass (goggle-eye) fishing, the Conservation Department is evaluating experimental regulations on the 10-mile reach of the Big Piney River from the Highway 17 Bridge near Houston to Sand Shoals Bridge on the county road linking Routes AA and E in Texas County.

The regulations began in January 1995 and require that all rock bass less than 9 inches in total length be returned to the water unharmed immediately after being caught. No more than nine rock bass may be possessed in this area. Statewide regulations apply in all other waters. The results of this study will set the stage for broader management of rock bass populations in the Missouri Ozarks.

Early indications are that more rock bass in the special management area may be reaching the 7- to 9-inch range. Because the population received heavy fishing pressure before the regulation went into effect, several years are needed for recovery and observation before sound recommendations can be made for managing this species in other waters.

Meanwhile, three out of four anglers in this area continue to support these experimental efforts, because they enjoy the pleasure that comes from a hefty goggle-eye on a light line.

LYME DISEASE VACCINE NO HELP TO MISSOURIANS

A new vaccine, called LYMErix, is available to prevent Lyme disease in some parts of the United States. However, the vaccine was developed to fight a different disease organism than the one most often seen in Missouri, and the manufacturer does not know if the vaccine would be effective in Missouri.

Both Lyme disease and the "Lyme-like disease" prevalent here are spread by ticks. The most consistent symptom is a raised rash that begins at the site of a tick bite and spreads outward, fading at the center to produce a bull's-eye pattern. Other common symptoms include fever, stiff neck and aches in muscles and joints. Treatment with antibiotics is simple and effective.

Prevention is much better than treatment. The Missouri Department of Health recommends using a tick repellent containing DEET or dimethylphthalate, wearing protective clothing and removing ticks immediately when discovered.

To minimize chance of infection, grasp imbedded ticks firmly but gently close to the skin with tweezers and pull slowly straight out. Avoid squeezing the tick, and don't apply heat or chemicals. If tweezers are not available, use a cloth to protect your fingers when removing ticks. Disinfect the bite and tweezers or fingers afterwards.

Don't let fear of contracting Lyme-like disease prevent you from enjoying your favorite outdoor activities. Fewer than one in 180,000 Missourians gets the disease each year.

Fish FREE June 12 & 13

Anglers who fish June 12 and 13 can leave their permits at home. Those are Free Fishing Days in Missouri; you can fish without having to buy a fishing permit, daily trout tags or trout permits at any conservation area and most other places in the state.

Requirements for special permits still may apply at some county, city or private areas, and normal regulations, such as size and daily limits, still apply everywhere.

Free Fishing Days are part of the 20th annual National Fishing Week Celebration. The week is designed to increase public awareness about the fun and tradition of recreational fishing. Check with your local Conservation Department office for details about programs in your area.

Lee's Summit couple named Conservationists of the Year

Helen and Arnold Meysenburg of Lee's Summit are the Conservation Federation of Missouri's 1998 Conservationists of the Year. The honor recognizes the husband-and-wife team's efforts on behalf of state parks, soil conservation, the Lee's Summit Outdoor Science Center and Kansas City area highway beautification projects.

Roger E. Wilson and Stephen D. St. Clair of Hannibal shared the Wildlife Conservationist of the Year Award. Robert Duren of Festus and his son Ralph Duren of Jefferson City shared the Conservation Communicator of the Year Award. Mary Ann Carr of Willow Springs was named Conservation Educator of the Year and Ike Ikerd of Buffalo received the Hunter Education Instructor of the Year Award.

Missouri Department of Conservation Wildlife Biologist Doug Rainey of Memphis won the Federation's Soil Conservationist of the Year Award, and the award for Water Conservationist of the Year went to Michael DeRuntz of Imperial. The Forest Conservationist of the Year is Rick Kammler, a resource forester for the Conservation Department in Perryville. John Madras, chief of planning for the Missouri Department of Natural Resources' Water Pollution Control Program, was named Professional Conservationist of the Year. The Northeast Missouri Chapter of the NWTF is the Federation's Conservation Organization of the Year.

Missourians win a flock of awards from Turkey Federation

Nine Missourians received honors at the National Wild Turkey Federation's (NWTF) 23rd annual convention in areas ranging from turkey calling to conservation education.

David Metcalf of Cuba won the 1999 Grand National Senior Calling Championship. He edged out first runner-up Chris Parrish of Mexico by a score of 541 to 540. Second runner-up was Walter Parrott of Fredericktown with a score of 534.

Metcalf received a trophy and $5,000 for his win. "I promised my boy a pair of rollerblades if I won," quipped the grand champion. "He probably thought he'd never get them. Well I guess now I better pay up."

Walter Parrot, a five-time grand champion himself, won the title "Champion of Champions" and a $1,000 prize in a special competition among former grand national senior champions. He also split the $3,000 first prize with partner Joe Drake of Forston, Ga., for winning the Team Challenge Calling Championship. Larry Shockey of Willow Springs was on the first runner-up team, and Chris Parrish was on the second runner-up team.

Ralph Duren of Jefferson City was third runner-up in the Grand National Gobbling Championship.

Kent Freeman of Cape Girardeau won third place in the decorative box call making competition, second place in the decorative duck call competition and second place in best of show for decorative duck and goose call making. Freeman was the subject of a feature story in the August 1998 issue of the Missouri Conservationist.

Niles Oesterle of Maryville won third place and honorable mention for entries in the owl hooter or locator call making competition.

Mike McKelvey of Waynesville won best of show in the wild turkey carving and sculpture competition and first place in the half-size or less turkey carving competition.

Dr. Robert Dettmer of Ironton received the C.B. McCleod Distinguished Service Award for his contributions to the Ozark Mountain Gobblers NWTF chapter and his contributions at the state and national levels.

The Heartland Gobblers Chapter of the NWTF of Poplar Bluff tied for top honors for the best JAKES (Juniors Acquiring Knowledge, Ethics and Sportsmanship) event for a chapter with 100 to 199 JAKES members. The Poplar Bluff chapter also received third runner-up honors for best local chapter, and Michael McClendon received a volunteer service award for his work with the Heartland Gobblers.

Squirrel blurs line between small/big game

If the Boone and Crockett Club had a category for squirrels, Chris Sorrell's place in hunting history would be secure. The Garden City resident was deer hunting on his property near Stockton last fall when he spied what looked like an opossum wearing a white helmet. Then he realized the mystery animal was an enormous squirrel. He returned later with a shotgun to bag the chunky bushytail.

The fox squirrel tipped the scales at six pounds, twice the maximum weight listed for the species in The Wild Mammals of Missouri by Charles and Elizabeth Schwartz. Conservation Department biologists say the white head and white splotches down its back indicate it is a "genetic mosaic," the squirrel equivalent of a calico cat.

Missouri barking up right tree with activity guide

The Missouri Arbor Week Activity Guide is one of three educational projects nationwide to receive an award from the National Arbor Day Foundation.

The Conservation Department developed the guide in cooperation with teachers. It outlines five days of classroom activities to help kids learn about forestry as they achieve educational goals in core subjects. The guide is part of a statewide program that reaches 130,000 Missouri students each year in conjunction with the National Arbor Day celebration.

Show me the mushrooms!

Are you fascinated by mushrooms? If so, mark Aug. 12 through 15 on your calendar. That's when the Missouri Mycological Society will host the 1999 North American Mycological Association (NAMA) Annual Foray in Cape Girardeau.

The conference theme is "Show Me the Mushrooms!" With Mingo National Wildlife Refuge, Duck Creek Conservation Area and an abundance of other bottomland hardwood forest areas close at hand, mushroom fanciers from across the continent are likely to find a treasure trove of mushrooms to hunt, identify and--with appropriate caution--eat.

Renowned experts will be on hand to help identify the area's diverse fungi, and informative workshops will increase participants' knowledge. Workshop topics include "Shitake Cultivation in the Ozarks," "Mushrooms on the Internet," "Naming of Mushrooms," "Mushroom Photography" and "Morel Ecology." The NAMA Culinary Committee will offer cooking demonstrations and prepared samples of each day's mushroom finds. For conference registration information, call Ken Gilberg at (314) 458-1458.

June bruins can be bears

June is a lean month for black bears. Missouri bruins are lean and hungry after their winter fast, so it's not surprising that one occasionally is found with its nose in a dumpster at this time of year.

The Conservation Department receives 100 to 250 reports of bear encounters each year. Most come from Iron, Shannon, Carter, Ripley, Reynolds, Howell, Ozark, Barry, Taney, Christian, Stone and Douglas counties. These encounters usually are brief and harmless, with the bear fleeing at the first sign of humans.

Sometimes, however, bears grow accustomed to handouts and lose their natural fear of people. Then they can be troublesome or downright dangerous, so Missourians need to know how to handle bear encounters.

To avoid problems, don't leave anything edible where bears can get at it. If a bear visits your home or business, get indoors and make noise by banging pots. If a bear won't leave, call your county conservation agent for help.

Don't feed a bear so you can watch it. A bear that loses its fear of humans is dangerous to people and that is dangerous for the bear.

When hiking, talk, whistle or sing to warn bears of your approach. If you encounter a bear and it has not seen you, leave the area quietly and quickly. If the bear is aware of your presence, avoid making eye contact and walk away while speaking in a normal tone of voice.

Attacks by black bears (the only kind found in Missouri) are rare. None have taken place in Missouri in recent history. However, a bear in Arkansas bit a camper through the wall of his tent a few years ago, apparently trying to get at food. Another Arkansan who was unlucky enough to blunder between a female bear and her cubs was chased up a tree and had his feet severely bitten.

Most black bear attacks occur because the animal is frightened or defending its cubs against a perceived threat. Black bears are excellent climbers, so trees offer little refuge.

If you encounter a bear, stay calm. Don't show fear, run or make sudden movements. If the bear hasn't seen you, speak in a gentle tone to let the bear know you are there and back away slowly, avoiding eye contact, which bears interpret as a threat.

Bears' poor vision sometimes makes it difficult for them to identify humans, even at close range. In such situations, bears often stand on their hind legs and lift their noses high in the air. This is not a threat. The bear is just trying to use its keen sense of smell to identify an intruder. Speak softly to the animal and calmly move away.

Avoid making a bear feel cornered. Black bears seldom attack if they can retreat. On a trail, step off the trail on the downhill side and slowly leave the area.

If you see a cub, move slowly and calmly away from it. Be on the lookout for other cubs and avoid getting near them, which could trigger adult bears' protective parental instincts.

If a bear attacks, fight back. Black bears have been driven away when people fought back with rocks, sticks, even bare hands.

Recent events indicate that southern Missouri may also have a small number of free-ranging mountain lions. The chances of being attacked by a mountain lion in Missouri are exceedingly small, but such attacks are occurring with increasing frequency in western states as the big cats' numbers and human population increase there. It doesn't hurt to know what to do in case of a mountain lion attack.

Mountain lions are less afraid of humans than bears are. In fact, they may regard people as potential food. Consequently, the first rule of avoiding mountain lion attack is not to act like prey.

Don't run away. In fact, don't turn your back on a mountain lion. Make yourself look as large as possible by standing tall and extending clothing, such as a jacket, to increase your apparent bulk. Speak to the cat in a normal tone of voice, and maintain eye contact while slowly backing away. Throw objects at the cat if possible, but don't stoop to pick up objects.

It is important to fight back if a mountain lion attacks. Hitting the cat's face, gouging its eyes, stabbing with a knife and kicking all have proven effective in stopping attacks.

WIN PRIZES FOR HELPING OTHERS "Step Outside"

Do you have friends you'd like to spend more time with, but seldom find time? Maybe you have a son or daughter, niece or nephew you wish you could connect with, but you just don't have much in common. Have you ever considered inviting them to go fishing, break a few clay pigeons or shoot a few arrows at a target? Now there is an organization dedicated to helping you share your love of outdoor activities with others. It even offers opportunities to win recognition and valuable prizes.

Step Outside is a national program that offers tips on how to get others interested in the outdoors. The first step, outlined in the Step Outside handbook, One-On-One, is to think who you might invite. Family members, neighbors, coworkers, golf buddies and aerobics classmates are likely candidates. So are your minister, scout troops or other youth groups.

If you think they won't accept, think again. Research by Roper Starch Worldwide concluded that 67 million men and 47 million women in the United States would go target shooting if asked.

Given these chances of someone taking you up on an outdoor invitation, it makes sense to be prepared for the next step. Step Outside can help there, too, with a booklet full of hints about how to make that all-important first outing enjoyable.

Once you take the plunge and get a friend to "step outside," you can enter a drawing for prizes, including a $1,000 gift certificate for outdoor equipment. That's a lot of shotgun shells or fishing lures. Your outdoor guest also will be registered automatically, and you'll receive a free Step Outside lapel pin, embroidered patch or window decal. You can register for each person you invite outdoors, increasing your chances of winning.

Increased involvement in outdoor activities translates into greater concern for wildlife and the environment, so conservation benefits from Step Outside, too.

Single copies of One-On-One are available free of charge. Groups and government agencies can order up to 250 copies at no cost. For larger quantities, the price is 25 cents per copy. To order, write to Step Outside, 11 Mile Hill Road, Newtown, CT 06470-2359, telephone (203) 426-1320 or send e-mail to <info@nssf.org>. You can also get One-On-One and even register electronically for prizes at the organization's web site, <www.stepoutside.org>.

Judge upholds goose hunt

A federal judge has denied a request from animal-rights groups to halt a special snow goose hunting season.

Judge Thomas F. Hogan of the U.S. District Court in Memphis, Tenn., ruled that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) could proceed with a "conservation action" that extended hunting for snow geese through April. The measure was aimed at averting an environmental disaster due to burgeoning snow goose numbers.

Snow goose numbers have risen to unprecedented levels in recent years as a result of conditions created by modern agriculture. Animal-rights advocates asked the judge to stop the hunt in spite of overwhelming evidence that the overabundance of snow geese is rapidly destroying their arctic nesting habitat. Hogan ruled that "the scientific evidence regarding the overpopulation of snow geese strongly favors FWS."

Ducks Unlimited, the National Audubon Society and other citizen conservation groups supported the FWS action, noting that human intervention was required to prevent a snow goose population crash and irreparable damage to habitat used by dozens of species of wildlife.

Habitat Hints: PREVENTING SUMMER FISH KILLS

Most fish kills result from low oxygen content in the water, usually as a result of excessive plant growth. When algae or other plants die, they decay, consuming oxygen. The situation often becomes critical on cloudy days and at night.

Anything that increases nutrients in a pond can cause excessive plant growth. Fertilizer used on lawns, gardens and cropland can wash into ponds after heavy rain. Drainage from septic systems and manure on livestock feed lots can have the same effect.

Use fertilizer sparingly and keep manure and sewage out of your pond's watershed. In small ponds that already have excess nutrients, you can reduce the likelihood of fish kills by removing algae by hand or killing it a little at a time with herbicides.

To help fish survive a time of low oxygen, set up a boat motor or pump to produce a fine spray of water across the pond surface. This puts oxygen back in the water. Pump water from the surface of the pond, not the bottom. Aeration is most important from midnight until noon.

The Conservation Department has several Aquaguides with detailed information about the use of herbicides and other measures to control pond vegetation. The Conservation Department's 10 regional offices can help you choose the best publication for your situation.

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