News and Almanac

HUNTERS TAKE ADVANTAGE OF SHELTER VENISON SUBSIDY

Shelter Insurance paid Missouri deer hunters $5,680 to help process venison donated to the Share the Harvest program in the 1998-99 deer hunting season.

Missouri deer hunters donate more than 20,000 pounds of venison annually to charitable agencies for needy families. Last year Shelter offered to reimburse hunters for $20 of the cost of processing of any whole deer for Share the Harvest. Almost 300 hunters took the company up on the offer.

Shelter plans to repeat the program this year. To take advantage of the offer, you must donate a whole deer and have it butchered by a participating meat processor. The processor will give you a coupon and a receipt for the processing. Present these at a Shelter Insurance office by May 31, 2000, and you will receive a check for $20 by mail.

BALLARD NAMED TO HEAD CONSERVATION FEDERATION

Dennis Ballard, whose tenacious and pragmatic pursuit of grassroots conservation has earned him Missouri's most prestigious conservation awards, has been named to head the state's largest citizen conservation group.

Ballard, 57, began work in July as executive director of the Conservation Federation of Missouri (CFM). The Boone County resident is a familiar face at the CFM, which named him Conservationist of the Year in 1994. He also was the first recipient of the Missouri Wildlife

Society's G. Andy Runge Award in 1994, and he received the Missouri Conservation Commission's highest honor, the Master Conservationist Award in 1996.

Among Ballard's lasting contributions to conservation is the Share the Harvest program, which lets hunters donate venison for needy persons. He started the project in Columbia, where he worked out logistical details with food pantries and charitable groups. Then he labored for years ironing out regulatory wrinkles with state and federal agencies and the state legislature so the idea could be implemented statewide.

CFM President Howard Fleming said Ballard's record of conservation achievements made him a stand-out in a field of more than two dozen highly qualified candidates from around the nation.

Ballard replaces Deirdre Hirner, who served as CFM's executive director from July 1993 until March of this year. The CFM is Missouri's largest conservation group, with 35,000 members and more than 100 affiliate organizations.

EXPLORE NATURE'S FRONTIER AT POWDER VALLEY CONSERVATION NATURE CENTER

Powder Valley Nature Center in Kirkwood is providing outdoor opportunities for families through the Conservation Frontiers program. Conservation Frontiers helps families learn about the natural world through activities. Powder Valley provides nature programs each month to help families who are enrolled in Frontiers earn points toward awards. The monthly programs are open to children ages 7 through 12 and are offered the second Wednesday evening of each month. For more information, call (314) 301-1500.

TEAL NUMBERS REACH RECORD HIGH

Continued favorable water conditions have pushed numbers of teal to record levels. Waterfowl biologists found 6.7 million ponds in waterfowl breeding areas this year, up 37 percent from the long-term average. Numbers of breeding ducks were up 34 percent overall.

The number of breeding mallards was estimated at 11.1 million, just short of the record of 11.2 million set in 1958.

Blue-winged teal breeding numbers are estimated at 7.2 million, compared to a previous record of 6.4 million, and green-winged teal were estimated at 2.8 million, compared to the record of 2.7 million.

MISSOURIAN'S AT THE HELM OF DU

Five Missourians recently were elected or re-elected to leadership positions in Ducks Unlimited (DU), North America's leading private waterfowl conservation organization.

Julius Wall, Clinton, was re-elected to a second one-year term as DU president. Wall has been active in DU since 1974.

Also elected to DU leadership positions were: Mike Brooks,

St. Louis, national secretary; Lowell Mohler, Jefferson City, Northwest Mississippi Flyway senior vice president; Jim Sowers, Rolla, West Central Mississippi regional vice president; and former Missouri Conservation Commissioner Jeff Churan, Chillicothe, chairman of the Institute for Wetlands and Waterfowl Research.

Since its founding in 1937, DU has raised more than $1.2 billion to conserve more than 8.8 million acres of critical wildlife habitat.

TURN CATFISH INTO CA$HFI$SH

Somewhere beneath the murky waters of the Missouri River along Missouri's northwest border swim more than 800 fish that could enrich anglers' lives even more than the average fish.

The flathead catfish are part of a study being conducted by the Conservation Department to learn how heavily the area is fished for catfish. Fish marked for the study range from 12-inch fryers to 42-pound lunkers.

Marked fish have red plastic disks fastened to their backs below the dorsal fin. Each tag has a number on one side and the word "REWARD" on the other, urging the lucky angler to report the catch. As an incentive, the Conservation Department has assigned rewards ranging from $5 to $100 for each tag.

To receive the reward, anglers must return the tag to the Conservation Department, along with their name, address, phone number and social security number, where and when the fish was caught, its length and weight and whether it was kept or released. Tags and information should be sent to Missouri Department of Conservation, Attn: Fisheries, 701 NE College Drive, St. Joseph, MO 64057.

If you'd like to get in on the action but lack catfishing expertise, check out Fishing for Catfish by Keith Sutton. This 128-page book explains how to find catfish, equipment needed to catch them, fishing techniques for flatheads and even how to clean and cook catfish. To order, call 501/8479643 or e-mail<keithsutton@aristotle.net>.

STREAM CARE PROGRAM GOING STRONG

Missouri Stream Teams now number more than 1,200 and have 35,000-plus members. Stream Teams is a volunteer program that is jointly sponsored by the Conservation Department, the Missouri Department of Natural Resources and the Conservation Federation of Missouri. Teams adopt specific streams and care for them.

Reported volunteer hours in 1998 totaled more than 62,300. At $13.73

per hour (the estimated value of volunteer time in 1998, according to the U.S. Department of Labor), that means that volunteers contributed more than $856,000 worth of labor on behalf of Missouri streams last year.

Some stream teams perform stream cleanups, while others monitor the purity of the water in their adopted streams. Last year Stream Teams collected enough trash to fill 441 pickup trucks and checked water quality at 419 sites.

Information about Missouri Stream Teams is available by calling, toll free, (800) 781-1989.

BUY DEER TAGS BY NOV. 7 TO AVOID BEING CAUGHT SHORT

Don't wait to buy your Any-Deer Permit this year, or you could miss out on deer hunting opportunities.

Any-Deer and Bonus-Deer Permits will be on sale until midnight Nov. 7, the Sunday before the opening of the November portion of firearms deer season. After that date and until the end of the November portion, you can only buy bucks-only permits. Any-Deer and Bonus Deer Permits will go on sale again on Nov. 24, the day after the November portion of firearms deer season closes.

Hunters who miss the Nov. 7 deadline might be tempted to buy a "bucks only" permit so they can hunt during November. But if they do, they won't be able to buy Bonus Deer Permits for use in December or January, because you must buy an Any Deer Permit before you can buy a Bonus Deer Permit, but you can't buy an Any-Deer Permit if you have bought a "bucks only" permit. If they kill a deer during the November portion of the firearms deer season their deer hunting will be over.

Buying a "bucks only" tag has another disadvantage. It rules out taking part in the January Extension of firearms deer season in northern Missouri, which is only open to hunters with unused Any-Deer or Bonus Deer Permits.

To avoid this quandary, be sure to buy your Any-Deer Permit before midnight Nov. 7. Once you have the Any-Deer tag, you can wait until later to buy Bonus-Deer permits for the December and January seasons in units with open quotas.

FORESTS IN THE PRAIRIE

When I tell someone I'm a forester in northern Missouri, people sometimes say, teasingly, "How's your one tree doing?" I usually respond with a grin. Actually, the northern half of the state has a fabulous forest resource with a rich history.

Besides the prairies that we associate with northern Missouri, early settlers found forests growing on the sides of ridges, along narrow stream corridors and in rich, moist river valleys. A surprising share of the region was savanna-land where trees and grasses shared the landscape.

Historical accounts of Macon County talk about oaks and hickories growing along the streams and ridges in the Ten Mile area. Bottomland forests along Ten Mile Creek were canopied with moisture-loving tree species.

Much of northern Missouri's forest land was cleared for agriculture early in the settlement period. Unlike the Ozarks, where most cleared land quickly reverted to forest, cleared land in northern Missouri tended to be kept clear because of its agricultural value.

Where settlers abandoned abused and eroded land, it grew up in post and blackjack oak. Some landowners deliberately allowed stands of black oak, white oak and hickory to develop; some of these now are 60 to 80 years old. A few of the region's original white oaks, now more than 150 years old, still survive.

Today, northern Missouri's bottomlands support a mix of bur oak, swamp white oak, pin oak, silver maple and black walnut trees. Many large bottomland areas have pure stands of pin oak, which thrive in wet, poorly drained soil. In other areas you find American elm mixed with silver maple, ash or cottonwood.

Trees also have invaded areas that used to be prairie. Farmers planted fence rows with hedge apple and black locust as wind breaks to control erosion in the dust bowl days. Other areas grew up naturally in pin oak and shingle oak. These areas are steadily losing ground, however, and with them is lost the cover that quail, rabbits and other wildlife favor.

Trees continue to serve their historical functions of protecting stream corridors and holding soil in place on steep slopes. Now, as in the past, the patchwork of forest and open land make northern Missouri one of the nation's best areas for hunting deer and turkey.

As landowners become more familiar with the environmental and economic benefits of trees, tree farming is growing in popularity in northern Missouri. That's where Conservation Department foresters like me come in.

We can help landowners make their forests as attractive and productive as possible.

Our "one tree" is doing very well, and with knowledge and a little management, it will continue to enrich northern Missouri's landscape.

Brian Schweiss, resource forester

WHETTING HUNTER'S APPETITE FOR QUALITY DEER

Deer management changes at Whetstone Creek Conservation Area will increase the variety of deer hunting experiences available to Missouri hunters. The area may serve as a proving ground for deer management techniques to be used on private land.

In 1991, Whetstone Creek had a very low deer population-about eight per square mile. The primary cause was heavy hunting pressure. Hunters' preference for antlered deer prevented many bucks from surviving more than 18 months, virtually eliminating any potential for taking an adult buck there.

Since opportunities to harvest does and small bucks were plentiful, the Conservation Department asked hunters if they would support special management to develop high-quality deer hunting at Whetstone. Eightyfour percent of hunters surveyed said they would, so the Conservation Department restricted firearms deer hunting with a managed deer hunt.

This was intended to accomplish three goals: 1) Reduce the deer harvest so the herd could rebuild to about 40 deer per square mile; 2) Allow more bucks to survive long enough to develop their full potential in antler growth and 3) Give gun hunters more room to roam by reducing the number of hunters on the area during deer seasons.

Restricting the firearms deer harvest turned out not to be enough. Nearly 600 archery hunters continued to harvest deer each year at a rate that slowed population growth. So starting this year archery hunting at Whetstone will be on a managed-hunt basis, also.

After reaching the desired deer population level, managers hope to regulate Whetstone's harvest so about 25 does and 14 bucks are killed annually. The managed hunts will accommodate 100 firearms deer hunters and 200 archers each fall.

GORMAN TO SERVE SECOND TERM ON COMMISSION

Anita B. Gorman of Kansas City will serve a second six-year term on the Missouri Conservation Commission.

Gov. Mel Carnahan appointed Mrs. Gorman to the post in 1993. She is the first woman to serve on the four-member panel that oversees Conservation Department operations. In July, Carnahan reappointed her to a term that will run until July 1, 2005.

"Anita has done an outstanding job on the Commission," said Carnahan in announcing her reappointment. "Her work on the Discovery Center in Kansas City and the Columbia Bottom project in St. Louis is a testament to her commitment to conservation in the State of Missouri."

Conservation Department Director Jerry Conley said Mrs. Gorman's energy and diverse experiences have been great assets to the conservation movement in Missouri. "She has worked tirelessly on projects that benefit the state's forest, fish and wildlife resources in every region of the state," said Conley.

NOTORIOUS POACHER TURNS STATE'S EVIDENCE

A Missouri man who served hard time for illegally killing more than 500 deer, elk, bighorn sheep, turkeys and other wildlife has agreed to testify against another poacher in return for more lenient treatment in cases still pending against him.

John H. Partney of Van Buren was charged in Wyoming with felony conspiracy to destroy property worth more than $350. In return for his testimony in another case, however, the charge was reduced to misdemeanor wanton destruction. He received a suspended two-year jail sentence and a $400 fine.

Partney, 50, was ordered to pay $12,500 in fines in 1997 after pleading guilty to 25 counts of misdemeanor wildlife violations in Missouri. He received a 21-month jail sentence for hiding evidence and got four 12month jail sentences in connection with the illegal killing of a bighorn sheep in Glacier National Park and an elk in Yellowstone National Park and transporting the trophies across state lines. He also was ordered to pay $5,500 restitution and forfeited firearms that later sold at auction for more than $12,000.

ST. LOUIS RV SHOW SEPT. 10-12

Come to the 10th annual Midwest Gateway RV Dealers' Association Fall RV Show Sept. 10 through 12 and you can see more than 200 recreational vehicles on display.

RV dealers will provide displays covering nearly 150,000 square feet at the Mid Rivers Mall, 17 miles west of St. Louis on I-70 at St. Peters.

The show will be open from 10 a.m. until 8 p.m. Sept. 10 and 11, and from 11 a.m. until 5 p.m. Sept. 12. For more information, call (314) 355-1236.

LION ATTACK? FIGHT BACK!

The sighting of a free-ranging mountain lion in Texas County last January prompted some citizens to ask what they could do legally to protect property and people from mountain lion attacks. While the possibility of a lion attack in Missouri is extremely small, the Conservation Commission recently answered that question with an addition to the Wildlife Code.

The addition to Rule 3CSR10-4.130, titled "Owner May Protect Property," says that "Mountain lions attacking or killing livestock or domestic animals, or attacking human beings, may be killed without prior permission, but the kill must be reported immediately to an agent of the department and the mountain lion carcass must be surrendered to him/her within 24 hours."

Anyone who kills a mountain lion in Missouri will have to justify their action by showing evidence that an attack occurred.

DOVE DISEASE STUDY CONTINUES

During hot, dry weather, many mourning doves fall prey to a disease known as trichomoniasis. The Conservation Department is in its second year of a four-year study aimed at learning what impact the disease may be having on dove numbers statewide.

Wildlife researchers gather samples from doves that may be infected with trichomoniasis. Most of the sampling takes place during dove hunting season at check stations at the James A. Reed Memorial Wildlife Area. Samples also will be taken from infected doves found at bird feeders across the state.

Infected doves have difficulty flying, act listless and may have swollen necks. The Conservation Department needs help finding sick doves. Anyone who sees a mourning dove with these symptoms should call Elena Seon at (573) 882-9880, ext. 3287. Dead birds should be placed in plastic bags and kept cool but not frozen. The protozoa that cause trichomoniasis are not harmful to humans.

Habitat Hints

IF YOU HAVE CATTLE DRINKING DIRECTLY FROM A POND OR STREAM, YOU MAY BE DOING A DISSERVICE TO BOTH YOUR LIVESTOCK AND THE WILDLIFE LIVING ON YOUR PROPERTY.

Making cattle walk long distances for water causes soil erosion. It also causes cattle to drink less often, which slows weight gain.

Allowing cattle to stand in the water they drink increases their susceptibility to pink eye, hoof rot and other health problems. It also makes it hard for fish and other aquatic wildlife to survive.

Alternative watering systems that make life easier for cattle and wildlife may be eligible for cost-share assistance under the Conservation Department's Stream Incentive Program. The program also provides technical, material and financial incentives for addressing erosion and other stream management problems.

To learn more about the Stream Incentive Program, contact the nearest regional Conservation Department office.