Reflections

Turkey Daze

In your last magazine, the author stated that spring turkey season will begin April 24. He explained that the season always opens on the Monday closest to April 20. I'm a bit confused; seems like the 17th is closer to the 20th than the 24th.

Brett Boice, Joplin

Editor's note: We apologize for our editing error. The turkey season will open on April 24 next year, as we stated, but we incorrectly explained that the opener always fell on the Monday closest to April 20. In fact, the Wildlife Code says the "Spring season annually will begin on the Monday closest to April 21."

Sharing Dogs

Joel Vance's article, "Hunting for a Good Dog," arrived at a very opportune time, when I was vicariously grieving over the loss of my nephew's hunting companion of 15 years, Diana. The observations of other authors quoted in the article were quite poignant and familiar, in particular Charlie Waterman's closing comments on the special relationship between hunters and their dogs and their inability to communicate directly. I shared the piece with my nephew, who took comfort in the comments.

John Erkmann, Anchorage, Alaska

Rabid Results

Further testing on a raccoon that died in the St. Louis area last summer has failed to confirm that the animal had Eastern raccoon rabies, as reported in the September Conservationist. Although the initial test conducted at the Missouri State Public Health Laboratory was positive for rabies, two subsequent tests at other laboratories could not confirm this result (although neither result was conclusively negative). If the St. Louis raccoon was rabid, it most likely was infected with a local strain of the rabies virus, not the Eastern raccoon strain.

Howard Pue, DVM, Dept. of Health

Scared Straight

I really enjoyed Joan McKee's article, "Wild and Free." It set me straight on feeding wild animals. I threw out corn and people food for a hungry raccoon and her two babies, but I won't do it any more, since it will just attract more and I don't need a bunch of them around my house. This just proves it "ain't true" that you can't teach an old dog new tricks.

Mildred Marriott, Trenton

Architect Speaking

"Green Architecture" in the September issue pointed out some of the challenging issues that we as architects must address in designing sustainable buildings that have minimal environmental costs while improving the quality of life. The Monsanto Center, which was featured in the story, was designed by Christner Inc. , in association with Louis R. Saur & Associates. The collaborative effort of the design team and the owner, the Missouri Botanical Garden, deserved mention in the article.

Joseph Bauer, project architect

Seeing Starlings

I have noticed that every July the European starlings form huge flocks and seem to be in this area until November, when they disappear. What's going on?

James Le Grand, St. Louis

Editor's note: After the breeding season in spring and early summer, starlings form flocks and remain together through winter. Gathering together provides "safety in numbers" from predators and may help the birds locate food. The flocks move about, but they do not migrate. European starlings are considered permanent residents.

Penalty Phase

Regarding your "Notorious Poachers" article, it is apparent that our penalty system is unprepared to deal with wildlife violations. When someone snubs his nose at our laws and illegally kills in excess of 500 protected wildlife, it is "Pay-for-Crime-Time." What is fair? I believe $500 and six months jail time per kill to be served consecutively.

Joe Jeter, Richland

Skunk Ardor

You should publish an article to educate people about skunks, emphasizing that they are beautiful, peace-loving animals that will do one no harm unless they are aggravated or startled. Even then, they will give warning by patting the ground with their little front feet. Whenever I mention skunks, the usual response is, "Skunks, ugh!" which annoys me. I wish it were possible to teach people the truth, that skunks are beneficial, eat a great many insects and are a joy to watch.

Catherine Gaines, Kansas City

Quail vs. Coyote?

I enjoyed your quail article in the October issue. I grew up fence row hunting quail in Mississippi County in the 1960s. Now the farmers have the big center-pivot irrigation systems, and all the fence rows have been ripped out. We also never saw or had to contend with coyotes, which now pose a problem. Two years ago--the last time I hunted quail--when two birds flushed, out came a coyote hunting the same birds we were hunting.

Blair Moran, Sikeston

Editor's note: If adequate food and cover are available, quail can thrive in areas of high coyote populations. A study of Missouri coyotes showed that wild birds, which include quail, constitute 1/2 of 1 percent by volume of the food items found in coyote stomachs. Rabbit, for the sake of comparison, constituted nearly 54 percent.

Ask the OMBUDSMAN

Q: If the Conservation Department is selling unlimited numbers of any-deer permits in some units, why can't hunters hunt in any one of those units?

A: In the future it may be necessary to reduce the number of permits available in some of these units. Keeping this system in place allows that to be accomplished more easily. Also, making hunters select a unit helps distribute hunting pressure. Hunters may use their any-deer permit to hunt for legal bucks anywhere in the state.

Q: When the quota for any-deer permits isn't filled in some of the limited quota units, why don't you reissue those permits to the hunters who didn't make the Aug. 15 deadline?

A: It's a matter of time and fairness. The reason for the Aug. 15 deadline is to allow enough time for processing and drawing. Distributing the remaining permits after that date could result in permits arriving during or even after the season. It also would eliminate the effectiveness of the original deadline.

Ombudsman Ken Drenon will respond to your questions, suggestions or complaints concerning Conservation Department programs. Write him at P.O. Box 180, Jefferson City, MO 65102-0180, call him at (573) 751-4115, ext. 848 or e-mail him at <Ken.Drenon@mdc.mo.gov>.