News and Almanac

Cicada Hatch "Flags" Trees

If your part of the state experienced an emergence of periodical cicadas this spring, you should be aware that summer will bring a reminder of these recently departed insects.

Though periodical cicadas finish singing, mating and laying eggs in the spring, evidence of their visit crops up again about 10 weeks later in the form of "flagging." Female cicadas use knifelike appendages on their abdomens to deposit eggs under the bark of live twigs. When the eggs hatch, young cicadas burrow out, causing the tip of the twig to droop and turn brown, or "flag."

For severely affected trees, the damage can cost a year's growth. Cicada damage contributes to the death of a few trees that already are in poor health, but healthy trees recover from the injury.

Tiny cicada nymphs drop to the ground and burrow into the soil. They remain there for more than a decade until the next mass singing and mating frenzy. Naturally, we hate to see cicadas damage our trees, but it is a normal occurrence in Missouri forests. Cicadas are a noisy nuisance, but they are fascinating, too. And in the big scheme of things they don't do too much harm.

Nonresident Deer and Turkey Hunting Permit Prices Increase

Out-of-state hunters will pay more for Missouri deer and turkey hunting permits this year. Those from states that impose the highest nonresident permit prices on Show-Me state hunters will pay even more.

The Missouri Conservation Commission voted to increase nonresident deer and turkey hunting permit prices by $20. The Commission action was in response to complaints from Missourians that they have to pay more to hunt in other states than nonresidents do here. "The difference in fees sort of makes it seem as if hunting deer and turkey in Missouri is less desirable than in bordering states," said Conservation Department Director Jerry Conley. "That's not true. Our deer and turkey hunting are top-notch, and many Missourians resent the difference."

The Conservation Commission approved a $20 increase for Nonresident Firearms Any-Deer Hunting Permits (from $125 to $145), Nonresident Archer's Deer Hunting Permits (from $100 to $120) and Nonresident Managed Deer Hunting Permits (from $125 to $145). The Commission also added $20 to the cost of Nonresident Spring Turkey Hunting Permits (from $125 to $145) and Nonresident Fall Turkey Hunting Permits (from $75 to $95).

Illinois, Iowa, Kansas and Oklahoma charge significantly more for their nonresident permits than other states around Missouri. To take this into account, the Conservation Commission voted in January to tack a $25 surcharge onto nonresident deer permits for those states' residents. Both the $20 across-the-board increase and the $25 surcharge go into effect July 1, when 2002-2003 fall deer and turkey hunting permits go on sale.

It's still cheaper for nonresidents to hunt deer and turkey in Missouri than in most bordering states. In Iowa, nonresident hunters pay $220.50 for a deer permit, plus $80.50 for a hunting permit and $8.50 for a habitat stamp. Total cost to Missouri hunters: $309.50. In Kansas, the cost to Missourians is $275, in Illinois, $256.25 and in Oklahoma, $201.

The price of the Youth Deer and Turkey Hunting Permit, which is available to residents and nonresidents, will stay the same. Nonresident bonus deer hunting permit prices also will remain unchanged. The surcharge will not apply to these permits, either.

UM Press Reissues Wild Mammals Book

"The Wild Mammals of Missouri," has been revised and reissued in paperback, putting this wildlife classic within easy reach of wildlife enthusiasts on a budget. First issued in 1959, the book quickly became what The Wildlife Management Institute called "The standard for mammal identification and reference books."

The 368-page book was written and illustrated by Charles W. and Elizabeth R. Schwartz. The husband-wife team worked as wildlife research biologists for the Conservation Department and earned worldwide recognition for their wildlife films. "The Wild Mammals of Missouri" covers all mammals native to Missouri with a standardized format that includes minute details of anatomy, physiology and behavior. It is illustrated with hundreds of marvelously detailed pen-and-ink drawings by Charles Schwartz. It sells for $39.95 per copy, plus $6.75 shipping and $2.49 sales tax. To order, call toll-free (877) 521-8632 and ask for item number PB0105, or mail orders to Nature Shop, MDC, P.O. Box 180, Jefferson City, MO 65102

Taking Care of Pond Scum

Thanks to three years of dry weather, algae build-up-often called pond scum, green slime or moss- is especially heavy this spring.

Overabundant algae makes ponds less desirable for fishing, swimming and other uses. Grass carp, which eat vegetation, won't help because filamentous algae are low on their list of preferred plant foods.

Algae are primitive plants without true leaves, stems or roots. They thrive during droughty periods because a lack of rainfall allows nutrients to concentrate in ponds. Algae can be particularly troublesome when a pond's watershed includes a livestock feedlot or fertilized lawns. The problem is usually worst in spring, but may recur in summer.

Several copper-based herbicides, such as copper sulfate, are available to control pond scum. Aqua Shade is another effective product. Most are available at farm supply or lawn and garden centers.

Follow all label precautions on herbicides, and contact the nearest Conservation Department office if you have questions. The Aqua Guide publication, "Algae Control in Ponds and Lakes," has information about handling filamentous algae.

More Communities Reducing Goose Populations

Giant Canada geese can cause serious property damage and even health problems when their numbers grow large enough in a given area. With Conservation Department approval, property owners can take action to solve such problems.

The best solution is to prevent problems from developing. You can do this by creating or changing conditions so you don't attract geese. When geese are present, harassment sometimes can encourage them to relocate.

Another option is disrupting goose nests and coating their eggs with corn oil to halt their development. Dozens of Missouri communities already are addling eggs this year. Private Land Field Programs Supervisor Tom Hutton said he expects the number of treated eggs to increase substantially this year.

Last year, the Conservation Department estimated Missouri's resident Canada goose population at 50,500. To keep goose problems at acceptable levels, conservation officials want to reduce the statewide goose population to 40,000. Egg oiling can halt the growth of local goose populations, but it isn't a quick way to reduce goose numbers or the problems they cause. That's why the Conservation Department conducted goose roundups in Kansas City, St. Louis and Columbia last year.

In all, the agency removed 258 birds. Sixty-four were juveniles that had not formed attachments to their home sites. These were moved to Truman Lake and released.

Moving adult birds doesn't work. They simply fly back to where they came from. Therefore, the remaining 194 adult birds were processed for distribution to needy families through food banks. The 2001 roundups took place at sites where property owners had unsuccessfully tried other measures, such as harassing geese, using repellents and putting up special fences.

In response to landowner requests, the Conservation Department plans more roundups this year. In each case, people have made substantial efforts to solve their goose problems with other techniques. Commercial wildlife damage control providers will be invited to participate. Eventually, the Conservation Department wants commercial nuisance wildlife services to take over goose roundups.

Urban wildlife biologists in the Department's Kansas City and St. Louis offices can help, too. You can also contact the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Wildlife Services, 1714 Commerce Court, Suite C, Columbia, MO 65202; or call (573) 449-3033.

Youths Bag Gobbler Record

Young hunters took advantage of the Youth Spring Turkey Season April 13 and 14, killing 3,102 birds and completing the two-day season without a single reported hunting accident. This is the second year that Missouri residents age 15 and younger were allowed a two-day season before the regular spring hunting season. Last year, 2,530 birds were taken during the youth hunt.

Fishing Fair for Bransonians

Join the Conservation Department and Trout Unlimited in celebrating one of the Show-Me State's most popular activities-fishing.

The annual Family Fishing Fair at Shepherd of the Hills Hatchery, off Route 165 south of Branson, is set for June 8 this year. From 10 a.m. until 2 p.m., anyone can learn to cast, tie fishing knots, make fishing flies and cook fish. Information about where to fish will be available, too. Guests will get to make fish-print T-shirts, win prizes and enjoy the comedy of the The Fishin' Magicians.

The Family Fishing Fair is held in conjunction with Free Fishing Weekend June 8-9. On these two days, anyone can fish without having to buy a fishing permit, daily trout tags or trout permits at any conservation area and most other places in Missouri. 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.

For more information about the Family Fishing Fair or Free Fishing Weekend, call (417) 334-4865, ext. 0.

Former Director Noren Leaves Conservation Legacy

Carl Noren, who helped transform the Conservation Department into a national leader in broad-based conservation, died March 2 in Columbia. He was 88.

For 39 years, Noren dedicated himself to protecting and enhancing Missouri's wild resources. His devotion included ensuring that as much of the agency's budget as possible was dedicated to management programs. In 1969, for example, Noren requested the Missouri Conservation Commission to reduce his salary from $24,500 to $23,000 to bring his pay in line with that of other department heads.

Noren joined the Conservation Department as a furbearer biologist in 1940. As one of two original staffers in the Planning Section, he helped draft state policies for river basin protection.

Noren's most notable work in conservation came during his tenure as the Conservation Department's third director. Determined to provide stable funding for the agency, he laid the groundwork for Missouri's 1/8 of one cent Conservation sales tax. Missouri voters overwhelmingly approved the tax in 1976, and it provides the majority of the Department's revenue today.

Under Noren, the Conservation Department adopted an equal employment policy, and it established the Natural History Section to protect native plants and non-game species.

Among Noren's many honors are The Conservationist of the Year and Master Conservationist awards. As a fitting tribute to a man who worked to provide access to streams throughout Missouri, the Conservation Department dedicated the Missouri River Access at Jefferson City in Noren's honor in 2000.

Grants Benefit Missouri Trails

Hikers will be pleased to learn that trails on two conservation areas will receive trail development grants from the federal Recreational Trails Program. In Missouri, grants totaling more than $1 million will be used to improve, enhance or create 20 trails. The Conservation Department's Diana Bend Trail in Howard County received $36,100, and the Cave to Glade Trail in Camden County received $11,300.

To learn more about the grant program, call the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, (800) 334-6946 (voice) or (800) 379-2419 (TDD). For more information about trails on conservation areas, visit the Conservation Department Web page, <www.mdc.mo.gov>, and click on keyword "MDC Trails."

"Conservation Trails," contains information about 86 trails on 40 conservation areas and is perfect for dropping in a day pack. The book is available from The Nature Shop for $4, plus shipping and handling. To order, visit the Conservation Department Web page and click on "Nature Shop," or call (877) 521-8632.

Leave Wildlife in the Wild

What is the best thing you can do for wildlife you think has been abandoned?

Biologists with the Missouri Department of Conservation recommend leaving alone animals you believe to be orphaned. More often than not, human intervention is harmful to the animals.

Every spring, the Conservation Department gets hundreds of calls from people who find birds, raccoons, opossums and a variety of other juvenile wildlife they believe to be abandoned. In most cases nothing is wrong, and human intervention is inappropriate.

Birds, notably robins, often grow too large for their nests before they can fly. They fall or jump out, but parents continue to bring them food on the ground. "Rescuing" a young animal is likely to result in its death. Most people aren't equipped to supply young animals' dietary needs. And removing an animal from the wild, even if you return it later, increases the chances its parents won't be able to find it.

Similarly, people who report "orphaned" fawns may not understand that white-tailed deer don't stay with their young 24 hours a day. Fawns spend most of their time alone until they are old enough to keep up with their mothers. This protects fawns, which have practically no odor of their own, from detection by predators that might smell their mothers.

If your child brings home a baby bird or rabbit, forget the popular myth that human scent will prevent the parent from taking it back. Return the animal as quickly as possible to the place where it was found.

"Design" Good for Wildlife

Why do Missourians have more than 700 state-owned public areas for hunting, fishing, hiking, biking, camping, birdwatching and nature study while most other eastern states have only a fraction as many?

Why do private landowners in Missouri have access to a wide array of locally administered wildlife assistance programs? The answer to both questions goes back to the general election of 1976.

That's when Missouri voters approved a one-eighth of one percent sales tax earmarked for conservation. When money from the tax started coming in 25 years ago, the Conservation Department put that money to work by following a blueprint called "The Design for Conservation."

Since then, the Conservation Department's Wildlife Division has undergone extensive changes. The number of workers directly involved in wildlife management has increased during the past 25 years, but the number of workers in Jefferson City has been cut significantly.

Today, the Wildlife Division conducts research and manages 372 conservation areas. Thousands of acres of conservation land are within an hour's drive of urban areas, putting quality outdoor experiences within easy reach of most Missourians.

"This is land that will never be bulldozed for subdivisions or shopping malls," said Wildlife Division Chief Ollie Torgerson. "It's land where rabbits and songbirds, ducks and deer can rest, nest and thrive. For Missourians who can't afford to buy recreational property, conservation areas provide solitude and a chance to reconnect with the natural world. That's a priceless legacy."

More success from The Design for Conservation is evident in game harvest figures. In 1977, firearms hunters bagged 36,562 deer. The deer harvest topped 229,000 last season. Similarly, the state's spring turkey harvest has increased from 7,853 in 1976 to more than 57,800 in 2001.

Waterfowl numbers also have rebounded. Bald eagles, ospreys, peregrine falcons and otters no longer are rarities in Missouri.

Rather than rest on its successes, the Conservation Department continues to improve its wildlife restoration and management programs.

"We look at plant and animal communities on a landscape scale, trying to figure out where the weaknesses are," Torgerson said. "Then the different divisions-fisheries, natural history, forestry, protection, private land services and wildlife-work together to find ways to shore up those weak spots."

Torgerson says having a source of funding that's more diverse and more stable than just hunting and fishing permit revenues allows the Conservation Department to devote time and resources to nongame wildlife, like bald eagles, sturgeons, bats and lizards. It allows them to study caves and prairies and maintain the state's ecological integrity.

"Aldo Leopold said that the first rule of intelligent tinkering was to save all the pieces," Torgerson reflected. "In 1976 Missouri voters gave us the tools we needed to save all the pieces. The wisdom of that decision was unprecedented. Missourians invested small change and got big changes in return. It may be the best investment we as a state ever made."

Post Land With Purple Paint

Hunters and nature viewers should be aware that purple markings on trees and fence posts is one of the ways landowners identify private property where trespassing is prohibited.

Missouri's purple paint statute was designed as a simple way for landowners to protect their property rights. The law recognizes purple paint on trees and fence posts as a means of marking private property against trespass.

Landowners using paint to mark their property must place paint between three and five feet off the ground on trees and fence posts no more than 100 feet apart. The paint stains must be vertical lines at least eight inches long.

Applications Open July 1 for Managed Deer Hunts

Hunters can apply for one of Missouri's managed deer hunts starting July 1.

Applications can be filed by calling (800) 829-2956 between 4 a.m. and midnight seven days a week, or by visiting the Conservation Department's web page, <www.mdc.mo.gov>.

The 2002 Fall Deer and Turkey Hunting Information booklet, available by July 1 wherever hunting permits are sold, contains application instructions and a complete list of managed deer hunts. You must use a touch-tone telephone to apply by phone.

Successful applicants will be notified by Sept. 10 of whether they have been drawn for a hunt. After that date, applicants can check the status of their applications on the Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system or the Conservation Department Web page, using their conservation identification number.

Only Resident Managed Deer Hunt Permits and Nonresident Managed Deer Hunt Permits are valid for managed hunts. The number of deer that may be taken with a single permit depends on the hunt for which it is issued. In some hunts, up to three deer may be taken.

Applications received before July 1 will not be accepted. You can't apply for a youth-only, managed deer hunt via the Internet or the IVR system. See the Fall Deer and Turkey Hunting Information booklet for application procedures. If the booklet is not yet available in your area, you can find the information online.