Reflections

Holiday Returns

What a holiday issue! From the gorgeous David Besenger artwork on the cover to the pages of woodpeckers and the article on northern harriers!

I would like to tell Mr. Anderson that maybe he's birding in the wrong area. We see marsh hawks on a daily and multiple basis on my daughter's farm in Johnson County all summer long.

Dorothy Thomason, Springfield

Extraordinary Feet

Your recent feature on the feet of various bird species delighted and engaged our young children. The comparison of wading fowl, paddling fowl, woodpeckers, etc. was extraordinary. Let's see more along those lines.

W. Bevis Schock, St. Louis

Program Excitement

I was excited to read about the Private Lands Services Section on the inside cover of your November issue.

My family owns a farm that has barely been used in the last 30 years, other than cows tromping down everything. My cousins and I have decided it's time to restore the land to its natural goodness. My grandfather always wanted his grandchildren to use the land for fishing, hunting and recreation. Now, thanks to this new program, we will have help on where to start and how best to utilize our farm.

Melissa Barnes, Columbia

Woodpeckers

I really enjoyed "Missouri Woodpeckers." It's wonderful that seven of the 13 species of woodpeckers found east of the Rocky Mountains can be viewed in Missouri. My bird feeding station has attracted all but two of the Missouri seven. I am diligently awaiting the arrival of a red-headed woodpecker and the elusive yellow-bellied sapsucker.

Pamela Swaringim, House Springs

Photo Fan

A big pat on the back to Jim Rathert, the editor and the assistant editor for the great pictures in the November issue. I'm sending the quail article by Jason Dickey to my son; it really brings back good memories.

Paul Moyer, Hopkins

How Came This?

While traveling through the state I am amazed that certain waterways not much larger than a drainage ditch are called rivers, while some larger waterways are called branches or creeks. What's the criteria?

Dennis A. Fouts, St. Louis

Editor's note: According to strict dictionary meanings, brooks would enter larger creeks which poured into even larger rivers that might or might not divide into branches before emptying into an ocean, a lake or another river. However, almost all of our streams were known and named early. If the first people who happened upon a flow called it a creek, the name likely stuck.

Art Reviewed

I was pleased with the November Outside In article about wildlife artists John J. Audubon, David Besenger and Mark Raithel. It's important that our youth see the value in their own artistic talents while being inspired by those who have made successful careers as professional wildlife artists.

Rachel Penn, Ash Grove

Raking Pains

My wife and I really enjoyed Jim Auckley's "The Mighty White Oak." Living 50-some years on our farm, known as "Oak Leaf Acres," we can relate to the raking of oak leaves.

We thoroughly enjoy the oak trees, though, especially the large one in our circle drive. It matches the description of the large oak in the article.

Noel E. High, Purdin

Wolf Located

It should be noted that the red wolf photo on your back cover was taken at the Wild Canid Center outside of St. Louis. This organization is involved in the national red wolf recovery program. The wolf pictured will be released in North Carolina early this year.

Dr. Susan Lindsey, Executive Director

Hungry for Dogs

"Thanksgiving Quail" by Jason Dickey was excellent and the illustrations by Mark Raithel were nice, too. Dogs are some of my favorite people, and whenever I see a picture or article about them, I usually devour it.

Don Boyd, Cape Girardeau

Fleet memories

Jim Low's "Rabbits on the Run" brought back many pleasant boyhood memories from the 1930s, when we would jump on the brush piles in Benton County to flush out rabbits and then excitedly aim at the dodging bunnies.

Harry J. Bernthal, St. Louis

Poor Huey!

I read with interest your article on snakes. Returning home one evening, I noticed a black snake trying to get out of my bird cage in the living room. I don't know how he got in the cage, much less the house.

He couldn't get out of the cage because he had eaten Huey. Poor Huey! A friend removed the snake from the cage and released it at Lake Wappapello.

Catherine A. Helton, Poplar Bluff

Deer Department

I have been a Missourian all my life and remember when we didn't have any deer. The Conservation Department has done a great job bringing deer back, but now we have to curtail the deer population.

I think we should have an open season on deer year-round. "Any deer any time," and one should only be required to have a hunting license.

Orla Fergerson, Raytown

Editor's note: Deer nearly became extinct in Missouri because the population wasn't protected by a closed season. Modern wildlife management essentially works by creating or preserving wildlife habitat with the expectation that animals will use it to create a sustainable population that can be further adjusted by regulated hunting. Sometimes surpluses or shortages in the population occur because of weather, changes in predation, alteration of habitat and normal cycles

Ask the OMBUDSMAN

Q: Some friends and I recently saw a skunk that had a white body with two black stripes down the back. We kind of joked that it was a "backwards" skunk. Is this a new species?

A: We frequently get reports of all-white or oddly colored birds, deer, turkeys, squirrels, etc. You likely saw a striped skunk with an uncommon genetic make-up that resulted in the odd combination of colors. Back in the 1930s and 1940s, when skunk fur was popular in the fashion industry, skunks with the least amount of white fur were the most sought after and brought the highest prices.

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>.