The March issue detailing the progress of Missouri's "Design for Conservation" program shows what can be done once you remove politics from conservation. Over the past several years I have regularly read conservation magazines from some high-profile states, including Michigan, Pennsylvania and New York, and the contrast with the conservation climate in Missouri could not be greater.
To me the greatest eye opener is the letters columns of those magazines, which contain nothing but complaints about conservation policies and decisions, many of which are made based on the politics of the day.
In case there are any doubters among us, we are fortunate to have the best conservation department in the country. You might want to send a copy of the March issue to the other 49 state conservation departments to show them how it should be done.
Bob Davis, St. Charles
I just browsed through my copy of the March Conservationist. Great job! I was really enthused by your format on "Celebrating 25 years of Conservation Achievements." This type of information and education goes a long way in helping residents realize what is going on in Missouri. I really enjoy being a native Missourian, and I'm very proud of what the Missouri Department of Conservation has achieved. Keep up the good work!
Jim McBride, Hazelwood
My son, who recently graduated from college, has been a bird expert since he was about 6 years old. He says that on page 22 of your April issue, the picture in the upper right hand corner is not a prothonotary warbler. It is a female American redstart. He showed me a picture of both, and the female redstart has the yellow on her tail but the warbler does not.
Steve Rideout, Blue Springs
Editor's note: Your son is correct. The bird is a female American redstart.
Some of us old boys (all over 65, all fishermen) were having coffee at our local get-together spot the other day when one of the guys mentioned that a host of a fishing show mentioned that you could identify a poisonous snake from a non-poisonous one by the way it swims.
He couldn't remember which was which, nor could he remember the name of the fishing show or host, but he did remember that one snake swims with only its head out of the water and other swims with most of its head and body out of the water.
Is this true? If so, which is which?
John E. Dumolt Sr., Gladstone
Editor's note: Our amphibian and reptile expert, Jeff Briggler, says that cottonmouth snakes ride high in the water column when they swim. Harmless water snakes, on the other hand, tend to swim with only their head above water.
My husband and I have been married for 20 years. Each year we disagree about June bugs. He says they are the little brown beetles. I say they are a fluorescent green. Who is right?
Mary Dial, Eldon
Editor's note: Many insects are called June bugs or June beetles, or May bugs or May beetles. In Missouri, for example, we have 10 major species of the genus Phyllophaga that emerge from the ground on spring evenings and are night flyers. Adults have light to dark brown bodies. We also have Japanese beetles (Popillia japonica). These are daytime flyers and have metallic green bodies with coppery-brown wing covers. Finally, Missouri is home to green June beetles (Cotinis nitida). The adults fly during the day and have velvety green wings and shiny brown head, legs and underside. The pupae, which are about the same shape and size of the adults, become metallic green before the adult emerges.
I really enjoyed the article about "Critter Rock." It's perfect for young children. It gives them something to do and teaches them about Missouri wildlife and outdoors. Jan Syrigos is doing a great job.
Mike Penberthy, Rogersville
Your article on building johnboats was very informative. However, the wood used in the White River bottoms of eastern Arkansas is cypress.
The building method is much the same, except one should get one or two extra cypress planks and place them under the barn or other outbuilding. That way, 50 years later, should your boat need repair, you'll have like-aged cypress planks available.
Louis Pushkarsky, Trenton
The letters printed here reflect readers' opinions about the Conservationist and its contents. Space limitations prevent us from printing all letters, but we welcome signed comments from our readers. Letters may be edited for length and clarity.
Ask the Ombudsman
Q: Does Missouri provide "free" fishing like other states? And where can I go to fish?
A: Yes, Free Fishing Days have been around in Missouri for a number of years. There's actually a permit exemption in Chapter 5 of the Wildlife Code which says, "Any person may fish without permit, trout permit and prescribed area daily tag during the free fishing days. Free fishing days are the Saturday and Sunday following the first Monday in June."
If you've always wanted to try trout fishing, but didn't want to spring for the daily tag at one of the trout parks, or the trout permit required for other waters, June 8 and 9 present a perfect opportunity. If you have out-of-state guests or relatives visiting that weekend, take them fishing. Although no permit is required for June 8 and 9, all other regulations (methods, creel and length limits, etc.) apply. For details, see Chapter 6 of the Wildlife Code, which is available from Conservation Department offices, permit vendors and online.
Keep in mind that residents over the age of 65 and everyone under the age of 15 are allowed to fish at any time without a permit, except for trout. See pages 4-5 of the 2002 summary of Missouri Fishing Regulations for details.
Conservation areas provide a lot of variety when it comes to fishing. Anglers can fish conservation area ponds and lakes, or launch canoes and boats from Conservation Department public fishing accesses located on almost every stream in the state.
Area regulations are posted at conservation areas, and they may be more restrictive than statewide regulations. Chapter 11 of the Wildlife Code also covers conservation area regulations.
For more on Missouri fishing visit or contact your local MDC office and ask for the 2002 Fishing Prospects at Selected Missouri Lakes and Streams and the Discover Outdoor Missouri map.
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. 3848, or e-mail him at <Ken.Drenon@mdc.mo.gov>.