News and Almanac

Conservation partners curb troublesome creek

Bill Ambrose bought his Osage County farm for a hunting retreat. Then he discovered that Little Tavern Creek was chewing away at the most productive 30 acres. Everyone said it was no use trying to stop the erosion. But he decided to give it a try.

Ambrose found two partners. The Miller County Commission provided equipment for the project. In return Ambrose gave them permission to take gravel from the creek for county roads, using practices to prevent environmental damage. The Conservation Department also donated equipment time and provided technical expertise in designing water control structures and obtaining the necessary federal permits. Ambrose provided rock blasted from a hillside on his land to build the structures. He also bought and planted 1,425 trees to help anchor stream banks.

Now the creek actually is building up part of the land it formerly washed away. "I bought the farm as a getaway," said Ambrose, "but I wanted to keep it a functioning agricultural unit. Every cubic foot of topsoil that went down the creek was a foot of lost crop land. And it was choking fish habitat."

Ambrose’s success resulted from a unique situation where each partner had a stake in success. The Conservation Department has technical assistance and cost-share programs to help landowners in similar situations manage stream corridors and enhance wildlife habitat. To learn more, contact the nearest Conservation Department office and ask to talk to someone in the Private Land Services Division.

Missouri sturgeon growing up, branching out

Endangered sturgeons released in the Missouri and Mississippi rivers are turning up in distant places, and fisheries biologists want anglers to help protect the fish. Three Illinois anglers recently reported catching lake sturgeons that were among the more than 100,000 released in Missouri as part of a restoration effort. The Conservation Department also released nearly 10,000 young pallid sturgeons - another endangered species - to establish self-sustaining populations.

Pallid sturgeons, and the more common shovelnose sturgeon have broad, flattened noses and lips with four lobes. These species’ barbels are fringed. The fish seldom grow longer than 3 feet.

Lake sturgeons have cone-shaped snouts and lips with two lobes. The whisker-like barbels in front of the mouth are not fringed. Lake sturgeon are larger, often exceeding 5 feet in length.

Lake and pallid sturgeons caught by any method must be released unharmed immediately. Commercial anglers must release sturgeons measuring more than 30 inches from the tip of the snout to the fork of the tail. Anglers who catch pallid or lake sturgeons are asked to notify the Conservation Department or the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.

Get along, little beetle

Forestry officials are asking Missouri citizens to help rein in a herd of Texas longhorns. The roundup won’t be as hard as it sounds; these critters are only about an inch long.

This spring, foresters learned that several shipments of goods from the Lone Star State arrived in Missouri with wood packing material that showed signs of infestation by Asian long-horned beetles. The insects are extremely destructive pests of maple, horse-chestnut, locust, elm, birch, willow and ash trees.

So far no adult Asian long-horned beetles have turned up, but the Missouri Department of Agriculture asks that Missourians report any signs of infestation immediately. Warning signs include round or oval pits in tree bark where female beetles have chewed niches for their eggs, sap oozing from tree trunks or branches where eggs have been laid, coarse sawdust around the limbs or bases of trees and round holes three-eighths inch or more in diameter on tree trunks and branches.

If you find what you suspect are Asian long-horned beetles, put them in a glass container and freeze them. If you find adult beetles or other evidence of their presence, call (573) 751-5505 or (573) 882-9880 or take the beetles to the nearest Conservation Department or University of Missouri Extension Service office. You also can contact forestry officials at foresthealth@mdc.mo.gov

Conservationist photographer wins national honor

Missouri Conservationist Photographer Cliff White won second place in the color photography category of the national "Good Shots, Great Stories" contest. The photo appeared with an article about handmade waterfowl layout boats in the September 1998 Conservationist. White’s win was announced in June at the annual convention of the Outdoor Writers Association of America in Greensboro, N.C.

Centennial Forests:

Multiple-use management (1970s)

As complex ecological communities, well-managed forests produce a variety of benefits, including recreation, timber, watershed protection, wildlife habitat and scenic, scientific and historic values.

A pure pine plantation protects the watershed and is efficient at producing wood, but it is not very inviting to recreational visitors or wildlife. In contrast, a forest with a variety of tree species and sizes is healthier and produces a wider range of values.

Since the early 1970s, the concept of multiple-use management has been applied to Missouri’s public forests. The Conservation Department and Mark Twain National Forest developed a timber-wildlife coordination system that furnishes a variety of sizes and ages of trees on a continuous basis. This diverse vegetation is home to a wide array of animals. It also provides for recreation and watershed protection and for special areas, such as old growth, natural areas and cultural sites, to be set aside.

To integrate all these values, foresters must have a working knowledge of hydrology and soils, recreational planning and administration, economics, business administration and wildlife management. They also must understand social concerns.

Managing forests requires balancing the physical and social needs of the forest user with the ecological needs of the forest resources. A growing population means more demands on our forests for wood products, recreation, wildlife habitat and clean air and water. These forest benefits are not mutually exclusive. The key to providing them is integrated management of all forest resources and uses.

Bruce Palmer

Run, walk, hop or fly to the second annual Endangered Species Walk/Run

Do whatever it takes to get to the second annual Endangered Species Walk/Run October 28 on the KATY Trail in Central Missouri.

The Endangered Species Walk/Run is sponsored by the Missouri departments of Conservation and Natural Resources, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. It will include a 10K run and a 5K walk/run. Event headquarters will be the North Jefferson City Pavilion at the intersection of highways 63 and 54.

Participants will receive long-sleeved T-shirts, which feature stunning artwork by Conservation Department artist Mark Raithel. More than 300 walkers and runners participated last year to support habitat restoration, research and education of Missouri endangered animals and plants.

Registration costs $15 for participants 15 and older, and $10 for those 14 and younger. Entry forms are available from Endangered Species Walk/Run, Missouri Department of Conservation, P.O. Box 180, Jefferson City, MO 65102-0180, or phone (573) 751-4115, ext 3807. You also may download the registration form at www.missouriconservation.org, and type in keyword: walkrun.

If you can’t participate, but would like to make a donation of $18 or more, we will send you a T-shirt. If this is your desire, please mark it on your registration form.

NH&F Day chairman takes conservation seriously

Sometimes national spokespersons are just pretty faces recruited to stump for good causes. But Ward Burton, honorary chairman for the 2000 National Hunting and Fishing Day celebration, is a bona fide outdoorsman and conservationist.

Burton, 38, makes his living on the NASCAR Winston Cup racing circuit. But he says he thinks of himself as a conservationist first. Four years ago, he set up the Ward Burton Wildlife Foundation to foster interest in hunting and the outdoors among young people.

"A child and the natural world are alike in a way," says the soft-spoken racer. "If you look after them, they’re going to be okay. There is nothing better you can do for the environment than to take a kid fishing or hunting. Children who learn to love the outdoors want to take care of nature."

Burton urges hunters and anglers to take children outdoors on National Hunting and Fishing Day, Sept. 23. Special events around the state make this easy for novices. To learn about events in your area, call the nearest hunting or fishing club or Conservation Department regional office.

Lions and tigers in Illinois - Oh my!

A year and a half after a confirmed sighting of a free-ranging mountain lion in Missouri, Illinois officials report that the Prairie State also had one.

The 110-pound cat turned up on a railroad right-of-way near Chester, Ill., where it apparently was killed by a train. That’s just across the Mississippi River from Missouri and only about 100 miles from the Texas County farm where two Missouri rabbit hunters saw a mountain lion in January 1999. That sighting was confirmed by Conservation Department biologists.

An examination of the carcass of the Illinois lion showed it was in good health before it died. Its stomach contained wild prey, indicating that it was catching its own food.

Jeff Ver Steeg, chief of Illinois’ Division of Wildlife Resources, said the mountain lion was a male about two years old. He said DNA tests will be performed to try to learn more about the animal’s origin. Similar tests performed on the carcass of a lion found beside a gravel road in Missouri in 1998 were inconclusive.

Ver Steeg said the probability that Illinois has a self-sustaining mountain lion population is very small. In areas with significant lion populations, road kills and other confirmed sightings are fairly common.

Missouri Department of Conservation Wildlife Research Biologist Dave Hamilton says it is difficult to say where the cats came from. "There is a very active trade in captive mountain lions," he says. "There are a lot of these cats in captivity, and if unconfirmed reports of sightings are any indication, there may be several that have escaped or been released from captivity. These are not, strictly speaking, domestic animals, so it’s not surprising that some would learn to fend for themselves and survive in the wild, at least for awhile."

Ver Steeg noted that Illinois game wardens recently shot and killed a tiger that was running free and attacked a horse.

Short course targets quality deer management

Landowners who want to grow bigger deer won’t want to miss the first-ever Quality Deer Management short course Sept. 23 at the University of Missouri-Columbia.

The Conservation Department and the nonprofit Quality Deer Management Association are offering the course to help landowners and hunters improve the quality of deer herds and hunting experiences.

Topics during the day-long course include proven management techniques, antler growth and deformities, food plots and hunting tips.

Registration costs $15 per adult and $25 per couple. Children under 16 can attend free with paying adults. Registration includes lunch, refreshments and door prizes. For details, call (800) 209-3337.

Meet your conservation agent at Powder Valley

Sept. 30 is St. Louis area residents’ chance to meet their conservation agents during a special program at Powder Valley Conservation Nature Center, 11715 Cragwold Road, Kirkwood.

Agents from St. Louis, St. Charles and Jefferson counties will be on hand from 1 to 4 p.m. to answer questions about where to hunt, fish, and float in and around the St. Louis region. Agents can clue you in to the best places to enjoy the outdoors during autumn, one of the most beautiful and pleasant times to be outdoors in Missouri.

Agents will have "Discover Outdoor Missouri" maps and individual maps of area conservation areas free of charge. The Powder Valley gift shop will have Missouri’s Conservation Atlas and Missouri Ozark Waterways, two must-have books for finding your way around Missouri’s hundreds of conservation areas and streams. If you have a Heritage Card, you will get 15 percent off all merchandise in the gift shop.

No reservations are needed for the "Meet Your Conservation Agent" program. If you have questions, call (314) 301-1500, ext. 2223.

Follow the herd to Prairie Day

Celebrate Missouri’s frontier history Sept. 16 during Prairie Day at Shaw Arboretum.

Living history characters will reenact the lives of early prairie inhabitants. Visitors can take free guided tours of the Missouri Botanical Garden’s 75-acre prairie. An archaeologist and flint knapper will display and explain artifacts of prairie life.

Play pioneer games and view wild animals - including a herd of bison. Listen to live music and storytellers, watch weaving, spinning and other craft demonstrations. You can even buy native plants, buffalo burgers, baked goods, homemade sarsaparilla and kettle corn.

Prairie Day will run from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. The Arboretum is south of I-44 at the Gray Summit exit. Watch for signs showing the way to designated parking areas. For more information, call (314) 301-1500.

Meeting will focus on natural areas

The Missouri Natural Areas Association will hold its twenty-seventh annual meeting Oct. 16 through 20 in St. Louis.

The theme of the conference is "Managing the Mosaic: Connecting People and Natural Diversity in the Twenty-first Century." Activities will include scientific paper presentations, poster sessions, social events, cave tours, prairie walks and float trips on the Missouri River.

For registration information, visit www.missouriconservation.org, and type in keyword: naconference.

Waterfowl reservation hotline opens Sept. 5

Waterfowl hunters with touch-tone phones can apply for reservations at managed wetland areas 24 hours a day, seven days a week from Sept. 5 through Sept. 25. To apply, call (800) 829-2956. Computer users can go to www.missouriconservation.org and type in keyword: duckhunt.

Before calling or logging on, make sure you have a touch-tone phone and the conservation identification number from your hunting permit or Conservation Heritage Card. This number also is available from any hunting permit vendor statewide.

Details about the application process are available in a waterfowl reservation information sheet, available wherever hunting permits are sold.

Results of the reservation drawing will be available at the same phone number and internet site after Oct. 2. Again, you will need your conservation ID number.

Outdoorswomen get their own website

Women hunters now have their own website. Women’s Hunting Online, womenshunting.rivals.com, features articles by nationally known female outdoor writers, news of interest to women who hunt and fish, a message board, a chat room and links to related sites.

Stream Teams bigger, better every year

Missouri Stream Teams continue to multiply, in both number and productivity. Missourians formed 209 new teams last year, bringing the total to 1,422.

More than 30,000 Stream Team members invested over 76,000 hours in litter pickup, water quality monitoring, storm drain stenciling, tree planting and other projects. Stream teamers created a zebra mussel monitoring program, removed 1,200 tons of trash from streams, published a booklet to help streamside landowners and conducted 14 water quality monitoring workshops.

To get involved in keeping Missouri’s brooks, springs, creeks and rivers healthy, call (800) 781-1989 and ask how you can form a Stream Team.

Get deer and turkey hunting info online

Got questions about fall deer and turkey hunting? You could drive to the nearest permit vendor and pick up a printed copy of the 2000 Fall Deer & Turkey Hunting Information booklet . . . or you could sit down at your computer and page through the booklet online. Go to the Conservation Department’s website, www.missouriconservation.org, and type in keyword: deerhunt. You’ll find season dates, limits, bonus permit quotas, managed deer hunt information - even a summary of last year’s harvest figures.

Teal numbers set new records

Hunters looking forward to teal season Sept. 9 through 24 will be pleased to know that both blue-winged and green-winged teal numbers are at record levels for the second year in a row.

Surveys of breeding birds showed an estimated 7.4 million blue-winged teal in the northern United States and Canada this summer. That’s a 4 percent increase from last year.

Green-winged teal reached a record of nearly 3.2 million breeding birds. That’s a 21 percent increase from 1999 and an astonishing 56 percent increase from 1998.

Missouri teal hunters’ success depends mostly on weather. It takes cool conditions on their nesting marshes to start the little ducks flying south. Once here, they must find flooded wetlands and food. Otherwise, they keep migrating.