News and Almanac

Deer Still Plentiful in Town & Country

Entering its third year of trapping and relocating deer, Town and Country is still seeking the best solution to its urban deer problem.

In December 2000, Conservation Department biologists counted 441 deer in an aerial survey of the St. Louis suburb. Factoring in the number of deer normally missed in such surveys, Missouri Department of Conservation biologists estimated the municipality's whitetail population to be between 555 and 576.

That equals 60 to 80 deer per square mile. The Conservation Department tries to maintain deer populations between 20 and 40 per square mile in rural areas to minimize property damage and deer-vehicle accidents. In urban areas, it aims for deer population density between 15 and 20 per square mile.

Town and Country's deer population was estimated at about 600 before the start of the trapping and relocation program in December 1998. Conservation Department biologists say that removing 120 female deer from the local deer population for two consecutive years would bring the population to a more desirable level.

A contract trapper removed 59 does in 1998-99, 44 in 1999-2000 and 48 in 2000-2001. Trapping was to continue through March.

Three steps to better pond fishing

Does it seem like the fishing action in your pond is going downhill? Maybe the number, size or species of fish is out of balance. You can discover your pond's problems in three easy steps.

The first step is to go fishing. Do it as often and as long as possible. The more you fish, the more you will learn about your pond's fish population.

The second step is to keep a written record of your fishing. This should include the date, number of anglers, hours spent fishing and number and length of each species caught each time out. Measure your fish carefully. Exact information is important. You might also want to record the type and color of lure or bait, how deep you were fishing or how fast you were retrieving.

Finally, analyze your fishing records. Compare the numbers and sizes of fish caught per hour on recent trips with records from previous months or years. The trends documented in your records will provide concrete information about emerging fish population trends. They will also help you become a better angler.

To make the most of your fishing records, request a copy of "Good Record Keeping Means Better Fishing." Detailed information about how to analyze fishing records is available in the "Missouri Pond Handbook." Both publications are available from Randy Noyes, Fisheries Division, Missouri Department of Conservation, P.O. Box 180, Jefferson City MO 65102-0180.

Confining Cats Benefits Birds

Every year domestic cats kill millions of birds and small mammals. Running loose isn't great for cats, either. Cars, dogs, coyotes and disease all take a toll on free-ranging felines. For all these reasons, the American Bird Conservancy and Wild Bird Centers of America are sponsoring National Keep Your Cat Indoors Day, May 12, 2001.

The American Bird Conservancy's Cats Indoors! program encourages cat owners to keep felines indoors. It also advocates laws, regulations and policies to protect cats and birds. Such measures include the humane removal of free-roaming cats from areas important to wildlife.

The campaign promotes grassroots efforts to address the issue at state and local levels. Educational materials developed for Cats Indoors! include a four-color brochure and poster titled, "Keeping Cats Indoors Isn't Just For The Birds." There's also an education kit complete with fact sheets and brochures.

Information is available on topics such as learning how to turn an outdoor cat into a contented indoor pet, reducing the impact of free-roaming cats on wildlife in your community and how to get local cat ordinances passed to address cat overpopulation.

To learn more and obtain program materials, call (202) 452-1535, or visit the American Bird Conservancy's Web site.

Cooperative Effort Seeks to Bring Back Bob

Quail Unlimited and the Missouri Department of Conservation have developed a new quail habitat initiative to help bring back the bobwhite quail to its former abundance.

Quail Unlimited chapters across Missouri have dedicated some or all of their wildlife habitat budgets to four cost-share or incentive practices promoted by the Conservation Department. These practices address Missouri's most significant quail habitat problems. The Conservation Department will match Quail Unlimited chapters' contributions and provide technical assistance to qualifying landowners.

The quail habitat initiative, called "Bring Back Bob," provides 75 percent cost-share or incentive payments to landowners with a wildlife management plan to implement approved practices. Qualifying practices include controlling herbaceous vegetation, establishing nesting cover, annual disturbance and old field/hedgerow renovation. Other practices may be eligible depending on local habitat needs.

Cost share or incentive payments are not available for land enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP). However, acres enrolled in the Conservation Department's Environmental Quality Incentives Program or Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program are eligible for enrollment in continuous CRP buffer practices.

Quail Unlimited's participation in "Bring Back Bob" is limited to counties served by participating QU chapters. Acreage and dollar limits apply. For more information, contact your local Conservation Department Private Lands Conservationist or Natural Resources Conservation Service office.

FISH FREE June 9 & 10

June 9 and 10 are Free Fishing Days in Missouri! For those two days, you can fish without having to buy a fishing permit, daily trout tag or trout permit at any conservation area and most other places in the state.

Requirements for special permits still may apply at some county, city or private areas. Normal regulations, such as size and daily limits, still apply everywhere.

Free Fishing Days are part of the second annual National Fishing Week Celebration.

Check with your local Conservation Department office for details about events in your area, or visit the fishing section of the Conservation Department web page.

Cassville Kids Rule at Trout Opener

Missouri youths are big supporters of Missouri's March 1 trout park opener, and the kids of Cassville are the undisputed champs of trout opener participation.

In the past, no one knew how many youths took part in the early spring trout mania. Now, with the creation last year of a special, discounted permit for anglers 15 and younger, this information is readily available.

Of the slightly more than 7,000 anglers who bought tags to fish in Missouri's four trout parks for the 2001 opener, 10 percent were youth anglers. A park-by-park breakdown of permit sales reveals that Roaring River had the largest youth participation with a whopping 49 percent of total youth permit sales.

Why are southwest Missouri kids so wild about trout fishing? The answer may lie in the fact that the schools in Cassville and several surrounding communities have declared March 1 a school holiday.

Conservation Federation Honors Conservation Work

Creation of a Missouri River water flow plan that addresses environmental and economic concerns has earned Dan Witter the Conservation Federation of Missouri's (CFM) 2000 Conservationist of the Year award. During his 23-year career with the Conservation Department, Witter has worked to protect and improve Missouri's outdoor and wildlife resources.

Bill and Charlene Cooper of St. James received the CFM Conservation Educator of the Year award. The Soil Conservationist of the Year is Randy Freeland.

Rebecca Matthews, Emeritus Professor of Mathematics at Southwest Missouri State University, received the Conservation Communicator of the Year award, and Dr. Wayne Morton, an advocate for prairie chickens and prairie conservation, is recipient of the CFM Wildlife Conservationist of the Year award.

Carl Moritz of St. Louis was chosen as CFM Hunter Education Instructor of the Year. The 2000 Water Conservationist of the Year award recipient is Burt Stewart, a Boy Scout Troop leader who organized Stream Team 288.

Conservation Department Natural History Division Administrator Richard Thom was honored as the Professional Conservationist of the Year. Thom helped lead efforts to establish a federal funding source for wildlife management, conservation education and outdoor recreation.

Gateway Parks & Trails 2004 of St. Louis earned the Conservation Organization of the Year Award for its successful effort to establish the Metro Park and Recreation Districts. CFM presented the awards at its annual convention March 30 at Lake of the Ozarks.

Prairie partnership gets national support

The Nature Conservancy and Phillips Petroleum Company played key roles in establishing a Harrison County grassland reserve that will benefit grassland birds.

Partners in Flight, an international consortium of conservation groups and agencies, launched the Bird Conservation Area project. The Nature Conservancy, a nonprofit organization committed to preserving biological diversity, became a key partner when it bought the 2,200-acre Dunn Ranch property. The purchase includes 1,400 acres of high-quality prairie that supports a tremendous variety of grassland birds and other wildlife.

The Phillips Bird Conservation Fund contributed $100,000 to the project through the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF). The NFWF matched the oil company's gift and sent the money to the Missouri Conservation Heritage Foundation (MCHF), which will administer the funds.

To enhance the value of The Nature Conservancy's core prairie area, the Conservation Department coordinates management of its nearby 476-acre Pawnee Prairie Conservation Area with efforts at Dunn Ranch. The Conservation Department also offers incentives for private landowners in the area to practice wildlife-friendly management of their property.

The Nature Conservancy will receive $100,000 from the MCHF as partial reimbursement for the purchase of about 800 acres that was added to Dunn Ranch. The MCHF will pay the Conservation Department $50,000 for managing the Pawnee Prairie CA and Dunn Ranch. Another $50,000 will go to the Conservation Department for a study to learn how grassland bird populations respond to prairie management in Harrison County and eight other grassland focus areas in northern and southwestern Missouri. This money also came to the Conservation Heritage Foundation from the NFWF.

Lowell Mohler, whose career has united conservation with farming, recently became Missouri's 46th Master Conservationist.

The Missouri Conservation Commission presented the state's highest conservation honor to Mohler at the Missouri Natural Resources Conference in February.

In January, Gov. Bob Holden appointed Mohler to head the Missouri Department of Agriculture. The new agriculture chief already had long and illustrious careers in agriculture and conservation. He served as chief administrative officer of the Missouri Farm Bureau Federation for 26 years. During the same period he served as vice-president of Ducks Unlimited and was a member of the University of Missouri's School of Natural Resources advisory council.

Mohler worked with federal legislators on the Conservation and Reinvestment Act (CARA). He was instrumental in helping to secure funding for the construction of the Anheuser-Busch Natural Resources Building at the University of Missouri-Columbia. His skill in conflict resolution has helped keep Missouri's agriculture and conservation communities focused on common goals.

Mohler previously has been named Man of the Year in Agriculture by Missouri Ruralist magazine and Ag Leader of the Year by the Missouri Ag Industries Council. He also has received the Missouri University Distinguished Service Alumni Award and the Missouri Chapter of the Wildlife Society's G. Andy Runge Award.

Lowell Mohler and his wife, JoAnn, live on a 200-acre farm northwest of Jefferson City.

Contest Boosts Grassland Awareness

Youths taking part in the annual Mid-America Grassland Evaluation Contest will learn firsthand what makes a healthy, profitable pasture and what makes agricultural grassland good for wildlife.

The contest is the brainchild of the Missouri Department of Conservation, the University of Missouri Extension and the Natural Resources Conservation Service. They designed a contest and a curriculum to promote wise grasslands management. Today, the effort includes an educational curriculum and district and state competitions in October.

This year's contest will take place June 11-13 at Cape Girardeau. Teams of three or four students from several states will take part in the hands on contest, drawing on knowledge of plant identification, grassland condition and soils.

The contest is open to any interested FFA or 4-H member. For information, contact Mel Marshall at (573) 364-6202, ext. 3, by email: mel.marshall@mo.usda.gov, or Mark Kennedy at (417) 967-2028, by email: mark.kennedy@mo.usda.gov.

Mississippi River Fishing Regulations Made Simpler

An agreement between the Conservation Department and the Illinois Department of Natural Resources makes it easier for anglers from both states to fish the Mississippi River.

The agreement, which went into effect March 1, allows anglers to fish anywhere in the Illinois-Missouri boundary waters of the Mississippi River or its backwaters, mostly under one simple set of regulations.

For Missouri fishing regulations, a backwater is "any flowing or non flowing water lying exclusively within the flood plain of a river and connected to that river at any water level below official flood stage." Anyplace along the Missouri side of the Mississippi River where you can go in a boat under any river stage short of a flood is a backwater, and Missouri- or Illinois-licensed anglers may fish there. Tributary streams and ditches are not considered backwaters. To fish those waters on the Missouri side, you need a Missouri fishing permit.

Missouri anglers enjoy the same privileges in Illinois backwaters. Illinois defines the term more broadly, but Missouri anglers can enjoy worry-free fishing in waters that are connected to the Mississippi River at levels below flood stage.

One significant change for Missouri anglers is the reduction of the number of poles that can be used at one time. The limit now is two poles on the Mississippi River. The limit is three poles everywhere else in Missouri. However, the number of hooks that Missouri anglers may use on labeled set lines on the Mississippi River has increased from 33 to 50.

For all species except paddlefish there is no closed season on the Illinois/Missouri boundary waters. Snagging for paddlefish will be allowed from March 15 through May 15, and again from Sept. 15 through Dec. 15 on the Mississippi River in Missouri and Illinois waters.

The agreement also establishes a 12-inch minimum length limit for largemouth and smallmouth bass. Both states dropped complex length limits for striped bass or their hybrids. No other sport fishing length limits are in effect on these boundary waters.

There are a few exceptions to the new uniformity between the two states' fishing regulations on boundary waters. Missouri maintains its statewide minimum length limit of 24 inches for paddlefish (measured from the eye to the fork of the tail), while Illinois license holders (and those exempt from buying an Illinois fishing license) may keep paddlefish of any size if caught in Illinois boundary waters.

New Fishing Limits

  • Daily sport fishing limits on Illinois-Missouri boundary waters of the Mississippi River now are:
  • 20 channel and blue catfish combined
  • 10 flathead catfish
  • six black bass
  • 30 white bass and hybrid striped bass, combined
  • 8 walleye and sauger, combined
  • 1 northern pike
  • 30 white and black crappie, combined
  • 2 paddlefish
  • 100 other fish, combined

Signs informing anglers of these new regulations have been posted at marinas and other points of boater access on the Mississippi River in Illinois and Missouri.

Take-A-Kid Fishing Charity Tournament is May 12

The annual Take A Kid Fishing Tournament May 12 at Table Rock Lake will benefit the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

In this fund-raising tournament, the winning adult/youth team will receive $1,000. Tournament sponsor Lost Creek Bass Club will award one additional cash prize for every 20 boats in the tournament, based on total entries. A drawing for a Champion bass boat and trailer will follow the weigh-in. There will be a cash prize for the biggest bass caught, and Rick's Taxidermy will create a free replica mount for the biggest bass caught by a youth in the tournament.

The tournament will be held at Port of Kimberling Marina. Entry fee is $45 per team, including the big-bass entry fee. The first flight will leave at 8 a.m. For more information call (800) 833-5551.

Hoskins is New Top Conservation Agent

The Conservation Commission has tapped a former conservation agent with more than 20 years' experience to lead its law enforcement efforts. John D. Hoskins assumed leadership of the Conservation Department's Protection Division Jan. 26.

A native of Van Buren, Mo., Hoskins earned a bachelor of science degree in education from Southeast Missouri State University in 1975. He received a master of public administration degree from the University of Missouri Columbia in 2000. He taught science in Charleston and Ellington before going to work for the Conservation Department.

Hoskins, 46, has worked as a conservation agent in Butler County, an Ozark regional protection staff specialist and the Central Region protection supervisor, a protection unit chief and the general services section chief.

Bronzebacks and Bushytails are Legal May 26

Squirrel hunters and stream anglers should mark May 26 on their calendars. That's opening day for squirrel season statewide and for keeping black bass on streams in most of southern Missouri.

The daily limit for squirrels is six fox and gray combined; the possession limit is 12. The black bass daily limit is six smallmouth, largemouth or spotted bass in the aggregate in most waters. However, some lakes and streams have special length or creel limits. Check the "2001 Summary of Missouri Fishing Regulations" for rules that apply where you intend to fish.

Parlez-Vous Dogwood?

Five of Missouri's finest flowering dogwood (Cornus florida) seedlings now grace the new American Grove at the Chateau de Versailles in France.

The Friends of Vieilles Maisons Françaises, Inc., contacted Gov. Bob Holden's office in January to request specimens of Missouri's state tree. The American nonprofit organization wants to strengthen ties between France and the United States. When a violent storm devastated portions of the park in Versailles, France, the group seized the opportunity to help replace part of the park's extensive gardens with a grove containing all 50 American states' official trees.

The project soon gained the support of American and French diplomats, and Gov. Holden asked the Conservation Department's George O. White State Forest Nursery at Licking to supply the requested trees. After a thorough inspection by the U.S. Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, the trees were shipped by plane in February.

If you plan to travel to France and would like to visit The American Grove, contact: Friends of Vieilles Maisons Françaises, Inc., 14 E. 60th Street, Ste. 605, New York, NY 10022, phone: (212) 759-6846.