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Elk Surveys Reveal Support, Sources of Concern

Most Missourians like the idea of reintroducing elk to the state, according to survey results released by the Missouri Department of Conservation. Even farmers, many of whom strongly oppose the possibility of elk releases, are about evenly divided into pro- and anti-elk camps.

Leading concerns about bringing the big grazers back to Missouri include the potential for collisions with automobiles and effects on agriculture. Missourians also see benefits, foremost of which are hunting and viewing opportunities.

Results of extensive public surveys about elk were released at a series of public meetings in September. Highlights include:

  • 74 percent of survey respondents favored elk restoration, both statewide and in the 10-county, potential elk restoration area.
  • 48 percent of farmer/operators and landlords in the 10-county, potential elk restoration area opposed elk restoration, while 46 percent favored restoration.
  • Elk restoration was least popular in the Ozarks and in central, west-central and east-central Missouri.
  • 86 percent of those surveyed were very concerned about elk-vehicle collisions and property damage.

Farmers and landlords were especially concerned about conflicts between elk and agricultural activity, including fence damage (77 percent), crop damage (75 percent), disease transmission to livestock (73 percent), hunter or viewer trespass problems (73 percent) and elk poaching (69 percent).

Results from a statewide elk restoration telephone survey revealed that respondents were very concerned about elk-vehicle collisions and property damage. Most respondents were concerned about elk and vehicle collisions (86 percent), followed by crop damage (79 percent), elk poaching (71 percent), hunter or viewer trespass problems (68 percent) and elk competing with deer for food and space (67 percent). In the potential elk restoration counties, respondents were most concerned about elk-vehicle collisions (80 percent), followed by hunter or viewer trespass problems (80 percent), elk poaching (69 percent) and crop damage (68 percent).

Farmer/operators in the 10-county area of the Ozarks identified as a potential elk release site said they thought the most benefits would come from hunting (70 percent) or wildlife viewing and tourism (66 percent). Most were concerned about elk and vehicle collisions (83 percent), followed by fence damage (77 percent), crop damage (75 percent), disease transmission to livestock (73 percent), hunter or viewer trespass problems (73 percent) and elk poaching (69 percent).

The Conservation Commission will consider survey results and citizen comments when deciding whether to reintroduce elk.

Wildlife Forever Sponsors 2000 Missouri State Fish Art Contest Winners

10th-12th-Grade Division

Nikki Heuring of Scott City won first place in 10th-12th-grade division of the 2000 Missouri State Fish Art contest, sponsored by Wildlife Forever.

7th-9th-Grade Division

Pamela Thompson’s depiction of a channel catfish won first place in the 7th-9th-grade division in the 2000 Missouri State Fish Art Contest, sponsored by Wildlife Forever. The winning artist is from Cedar Hill.

4th-6th-Grade Division

This painting by Tiara Jenkins of Pittsburgh, Mo., won the 4th-6th-grade division of the 2000 Missouri State Fish Art Contest, sponsored by Wildlife Forever.

No Forest Management is Bad Forest Management

We've all heard the old saying, "If you fail to plan, you plan to fail," but failing to plan is what 99 percent of Missouri’s forest landowners do.

Only about 1 percent of forest landowners take time to map out strategies to make or keep their wooded acres what they want them to be. While the pace of change in trees is almost imperceptible, changes that accumulate over time can diminish your forest management "success," whether your goal is growing high-quality trees for harvest or simply providing a place to enjoy nature.

Whether you own 10 acres or 10,000, it’s a good idea to take stock of what your acreage contains, set goals for its management and consider ways of achieving those goals.

One approach would be to remove diseased or stunted trees so the remaining ones can thrive. Another alternative might be to replace some of the existing trees with black walnut trees. The nuts and long-term timber value of black walnut gives landowners and future landowners extra incentives to nurture their forest investment. Land that pays for itself is more likely to be valued and cared for.

The Conservation Department’s Private Land Services and Forestry divisions give all landowners access to professional forest planning. Foresters and biologists are available for consultation about how to achieve your forest management goals. When discussing your objectives, ask about the 108-page book, Forest Management for Missouri Landowners.

You can contact the Private Land Services Division by calling the nearest Conservation Department office.

Deer deadlines dropped, but don’t delay buying

The deadline for buying any-deer and bonus, antlerless-only deer permits has been eliminated this year, but it’s still not a good idea to wait until the last minute to purchase these permits.

Last year, sales of quota permits were suspended at midnight the Sunday before the deer season opener. This year, you can buy any type of deer permit any time through the end of deer season. However, avoiding a last-minute rush to buy permits is a significant incentive to buy early.

Seven deer management units that had limited quotas for some permits last year have open quotas this year.

HABITAT HINTS

Late Hummer Feeders May Get Surprise Visitors

Missourians who leave their hummingbird feeders out this fall might host some unusual visitors. Observers in Kansas have spotted hummingbird species normally not found west of the Rocky Mountains. Bird experts believe the hummers were forced to move east when wildfires destroyed their western habitat.

Birdwatchers reported seeing calliope, broad-tailed, broad-billed and rufous hummingbirds in Kansas this summer. Other species that might make it to Missouri this year include the green violet-eared, Anna’s, Allen’s, lucifer, violet-crowned, magnificent, blue-throated, black-chinned and Costa’s hummingbirds.

It’s OK to leave nectar feeders out for hummers into winter. The little birds know when to leave on their own. Western hummingbird species are more accustomed to cooler temperatures than the ruby-throated hummers normally seen here, and they may migrate through Missouri as late as December. Feeding late migrants could actually help them by providing fuel for their long journey.

TAN YOUR HIDE

Later this month, more than 100,000 firearms deer hunters will possess several million pounds of fresh venison. When that natural bounty is safely laid up in freezers, they will have to decide what to do with 175,000 deer hides.

Many hunters lack the time or knowledge to tan these hides and will discard them. It doesn’t have to be that way. Commercial tanneries can turn hides into products ranging from buckskin wall hangings to luxurious leather gloves, vests and purses. Such items make terrific Christmas gifts.

In Missouri, you can sell hides to Richard Tietjens in De Witt by calling (660) 549-3444. Tietjens also trades hides for deerskin gloves. For tanning services, contact Tanning Unlimited, Rt. 1, Box 1090, Hermitage, MO 65668, (417) 745-6374.

A full line of tanning services and fine leather products made from deer hides are available from:

  • W.B. Place & Co., 402 W. Sumner St., Hartford, WI 53027-1400, (800) 826-4433, www.wbplace.com.
  • Fox Valley Tanning, 633 W. Center St., North Salt Lake, UT 84054, 801/936-3894.

Local taxidermists often provide tanning services or may be able to refer you to other tanneries. Some taxidermists, fur buyers and meat processors also buy deer hides. An average hide that has been well cared for may bring $5 "green," or more if it has been salted and dried flat.

Unsatisfactory results from commercial tanners usually result from improper care of hides before they are processed. Hides must be preserved immediately after removal. You can keep a hide frozen for a short time. However, the best results are obtained by removing all flesh from the hide, laying it out flat and salting the inside surface liberally until it no longer weeps. Then it can be carefully folded and taken or shipped to the tanner. When shipping, put the salted hide in a paper (never plastic) bag first, and ship the bagged hide in a box.

Nature Center Hosts Premier Party

A hot new music video for kids will premier at 3 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 5 at the Runge Conservation Nature Center in Jefferson City. Critter Rock, produced by the Conservation Department, features six groovin’ "natural" greats, including Reptile Rap, Hairy No Scary and No Trashpassing. The premier is the highlight of a 1 to 4 p.m. Artists & Premier Party, during which you can meet the Conservation Department artists, performers and other staff members who create all those great conservation books, videos and more. Throughout the event, you’ll be able to purchase books, videos and prints and have them signed by the artists who created them.

Staton Joins Hunter Ed Hall of Fame

Protection Programs Supervisor Bob Staton has been inducted into the International Hunter Education Hall of Fame for his contributions to hunter education.

Staton received a bronze sculpture of a mountain lion at his formal induction May 31 at the annual meeting of the International Hunter Education Association (IHEA) in Regina, Saskatchewan. Staton has served as president of the IHEA and helped develop the Hunting Incident Investigation Academy. He cites Missouri’s 70 percent decrease in annual hunting incidents as the most rewarding aspect of his 21-year involvement with hunter education.

David Knotts, executive vice president of the IHEA, said, "No one has done more for hunter education in recent years than Bob Staton. He is the most respected hunter education administrator today."

Centennial Forests:

Ecosystem Management (1990s)

In the 1990s, widely divergent interests challenged foresters to protect the natural values of forests while still producing commercial commodities. A new way of looking at forest management, called ecosystem management, emerged. Ecosystem management is managing a forest ecosystem for all of its values and uses, not just the commercially valuable products.

To determine how existing forest management practices were affecting the ecosystem, the Conservation Department commissioned the Missouri Ozark Forest Ecosystem Project (MOFEP). MOFEP is one of the most ambitious research projects in the country, involving more than 9,000 acres of state forest land over 100 years.

The study area is divided into three parts. On one-third of the land, trees will be harvested in a sustainable manner using small clearcuts. Another third will be managed with selective cuts so the land is never without trees. The remaining third will serve as a control area where no trees are cut.

Before any trees were cut, researchers gathered baseline data covering a multitude of forest characteristics. The data will appear in studies tracking populations of mammals, reptiles, amphibians, birds, insects and other invertebrates that inhabit the forest floor and canopy.

Other studies focus on changes in the genetic diversity of trees, the abundance and diversity of herbaceous plants, soil productivity and nutrient cycling.

Though still in its infancy, MOFEP is already providing some surprising results. For example, clearcutting was once thought to fragment a forest, making it less desirable for migratory songbirds. MOFEP research has shown that songbirds are actually attracted to young clearcuts and feed on the abundant insects found there. No doubt many other insights are in store as we learn more about the interconnections of the forest ecosystem. - Bruce Palmer

Writers Group to Kick Off Missouri’s Lewis & Clark Bicentennial

Media coverage of the Lewis and Clark expedition bicentennial will get an early boost at the Outdoor Writers Association of America (OWAA) conference in Columbia in June 2003.

Columbia outbid Juneau, Alaska, for the privilege of hosting the conference. Attention generated by the 2,000-member group’s visit is expected to boost Missouri tourism by $50 million during the following decade.

OWAA is the nation’s oldest and largest organization of professional outdoor communicators. Members include many nationally known writers, editors, broadcasters, authors, photographers, artists, film makers and videographers. About half the group’s active members are expected to attend the Columbia event.

The OWAA gathering will include workshops, news conferences with resource management officials, presentations by private conservation organizations, and outings to gather story material.

"This is exciting news for Columbia and for the state," said Chris Jennings, director of the Missouri Division of Tourism. "We look forward to having this group in Missouri and giving them a glimpse of Missouri’s outdoors."

Guides Blaze Trail to the Great Outdoors

Need help planning a float trip? Want to explore the more than 800 conservation areas in Missouri? The Conservation Department’s Nature Shop has books covering these topics at bargain prices.

Missouri’s Conservation Atlas is a 264-page book showing the location of conservation areas, community lakes, boat ramps and other features on large county maps. It also includes directions to each area, details about fish and wildlife species, and user activities. The atlas sells for $15, plus $5 shipping and 93 cents sales tax for Missouri residents.

Missouri Ozark Waterways contains more than 100 pages of detailed maps and descriptions of three dozen creeks and rivers in the southern half of the state. It sells for $5, plus $2 shipping and 31 cents tax.

To order these or other Conservation Department publications, call toll-free (877) 521-8632 or mail your order to Nature Shop, Missouri Department of Conservation, P.O. Box 180, Jefferson City, MO 65102-0180.

Wild for Art in St. Louis

Some of the nation’s finest artists will be in St. Louis Nov. 11-12 for the third annual Gateway Wildlife Art Show at the Holiday Inn Westport. The show runs from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday, and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday

Proceeds from ticket and art sales benefit the World Bird Sanctuary of St. Louis.

Twenty-five artists will display their paintings, pottery, sculpture and wood carvings. Notable participants include Missouri Duck Stamp and Trout Stamp artists Eileen Melton and Chuck Witcher, Minnesota scratchboard artist Martiena Richter, Oklahoma western and wildlife artist Carolyn Mock, Michigan songbird carver Michael Van Houzen, and West Virginia bronze sculptor David Jones.

For more information, visit the Gateway Wildlife Art Show website at www.gateway-wildart.com, or call (573) 498-3479.

Wylie Bluebird Trail Dedicated

Renowned Missouri naturalist John Wylie was honored recently with the dedication of a bluebird nest box trail at Sweet Springs. The project was a joint venture of Kansas City Power and Light Company and Sweet Springs Boy Scout Troop 44. Present for the John Wylie Bluebird Trail dedication were Sweet Springs Mayor Danny Merrick, Conservation Commissioner Anita Gorman and Wylie’s grandchildren Michelle and Zack Royle, center, and KCP&L Vice President Richard Spring. The Scouts will continue to participate by monitoring bluebird nest success and cleaning out the boxes periodically.

Kudos for Joe Polka

Joe Polka, a volunteer at the Powder Valley Conservation Nature Center, was recently honored for more than 5,000 hours of service at the nature center in Blue Springs. His extensive knowledge of nature and welcoming smile make him a favorite of nature center visitors and staff.

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