Reflections

Straining Cats & Dogs

Congratulations on your "Pets on the Prowl" article. On my farm, I see dozens of cats (over half with collars and tags) at my feeder and along the road.

I trust a few of these pet owners may read your article and take note. However, many will continue to turn their pets loose, free to roam and kill our native birds and other animals.

I suggest cat owners who want to make their pets safer and healthier visit the American Bird Conservancy's web site to learn more about their "Cats Indoors" program.

Bob Foreman, Kansas City

In your April issue, one writer stated that all cats and dogs should be restrained in order to protect other wildlife.

As a lover of all animals, but dogs in particular, it angers me when someone suggested that dogs should be relegated to "prison" or "life on a chair," in order that other animals may enjoy the freedom the dogs can no longer enjoy.

Not far from me there is a family that has kept a small dog on a 12-foot chain, 24/7, for years. I'm sure the writer of the article would find this treatment entirely acceptable, but I think the dog would be better off dead.

I am pleased to own four dogs, all of them neutered and well-fed, and with all shots. I would not dream of denying them the freedom to run over my 10 acres and the surrounding farm fields. I know how I would react if someone painted me into a corner, and I will not do that to my animals.

By the way, I do feed birds but I place the feeders where none of my three cats can get near them.

Doyle H. Wyatt, Lawson

Last year our neighbor's cat killed two hatchlings of cardinals, my favorite bird. I told them, and they said their cat was always bringing home dead birds. They seemed concerned, but so far have done nothing, even after I had made a suggestion.

I told them about how one city had passed an ordinance that all cats outdoors had to wear a collar with three bells. I'm sure they were small bells, but three, so that the birds would be warned of a cat's presence. Maybe this would be a good solution for the cat problem.

Ronald Hedley, Salem

There were some good suggestions in the article, "Pets on the Prowl." However, it doesn't make sense to malign cats for merely going where the birds are: to birdfeeders.

Wildlife research biologist Leroy J. Korschgen analyzed 71 cat stomachs obtained mostly from farm and suburban house cats killed on Missouri highways. He found that rodents comprised 63 percent of the food content by volume. This indicates that rural cats are great "mousers" and only take birds incidentally. Town and city cats opportunistically take advantage of the concentration of birds.

As the conservationist's anthem goes, "Don't bomb the crow and shoot the cat, but spend the money on habitat."

D. M. Christisen, Columbia

Note From the Front

It came as a great surprise when the Conservationist found its way to me while in the Middle East. All of the Marines in my platoon read it cover to cover, and it helps keep our minds occupied while being deployed so far from home. Keep up the outstanding work.

Cpl. Scott Mills, Warsaw

Traditionally Speaking

As vice-president of United Bowhunters of Missouri, I want to set the record straight about UBM not being a traditional-only, archery club. The UBM sets our rules to follow the Pope & Young rules of fair chase. These rules recognize the compound bow with some limitations to let-off percentage and the use of the overdraw on the arrow rest.

While a majority of our members shoot traditional archery tackle, many have started out using a compound bow prior to joining. The UBM is a good way for those interested in traditional and primitive archery to learn of some of the alternatives to compound bows, but traditional tackle is not a requirement. One of the main objectives of the UBM is to promote archery, particularly with children. I would like to encourage bowhunters to join a state or local club to help promote bowhunting throughout the state.

Mike McDonald, Villa Ridge

Timely Issue

I recently came across a copy of the February magazine in my mother's things. What an outstanding issue, especially with the Lewis and Clark Bicentennial Celebration now in bloom! I believe that the libraries in Missouri, the historical societies, and all schools could learn from this magazine, including the fifth-grade students who study and prepare Missouri notebooks.

You have been a good and faithful steward of the funds you obtained through the small sales tax.

Patricia Petre Surber, Lee's Summit

I'm a teacher in the Aldine District, and I was delighted with your Lewis and Clark lesson.

My five social studies classes made the "dug-out" canoe. Instead of using clay, we used bananas. Even though the room smelled like banana cream pie, I believe the children will never forget Lewis and Clark.

Joyce Glynn, Aldine

Oops!

The final line of Suzanne Wilson's "Deer Gardening" article in the April issue was missing from the printed version of the magazine. The final quote in her story should have read: "One homeowner reporting deer damage was actually receiving visits from a neighboring llama." We apologize for our error.

Ask the Omsbudman

Q: Why have you restricted camping to 30 days for a calendar year? We camp all summer. Does this apply to state parks?

A: This regulation has nothing to do with state parks. State parks are administered by the Department of Natural Resources. For details on state parks please see their website.

The Conservation Department handles the state's forest, fish and wildlife resources and administers about 800 conservation areas. On some conservation areas camping is allowed (usually primitive camping with no amenities and no fees charged) as long as it does not interfere with hunting, fishing, nature viewing and conservation education, which are the primary uses of Department areas.

The new camping restriction prevents people from essentially taking up residence on conservation areas. Not only do prolonged stays create unsanitary conditions, they deny others camping opportunities.

The special use permit provision within the new regulation provides for legitimate area campers who may exceed the 30 days within a calendar year. Application for the special use permit should be made to the area manager. For information about contacting the area manager, contact the appropriate Conservation Department regional office. You'll find office contact information on MDC's website at www.mdc.mo.gov/about/srvcentr.html.

For details on conservation area camping and other uses, see 3CSR10 11.140 in Chapter 11 of the Wildlife Code or go to www.sos.state.mo.us/adrules/ csr/current/3csr/3csr.asp.

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>.