News and Almanac

Fall events WOW Missourians

Families and individuals are invited to take part in the WOW (Wonders of Wildlife) National Outdoor Recreation and Conservation School at two Missouri locations this fall. The sessions will take place Sept. 17 at Big Spring in the Ozark National Scenic Riverway south of Van Buren and Oct. 7 through 9 at Roaring River State Park south of Cassville.

The events will include classes on archery, canoeing, fishing, fly-fishing, hunting, natural history, shooting, primitive skills, outdoor cooking and outdoor adventures. The sessions are suitable for learning new skills or improving existing ones. All are taught in the field with a focus on conservation, safety and outdoor ethics. For more information, call (800) 334-6946 or (877) 245-9453.

Don’t dump live bait!

With fishing season in full swing, anglers need to know that how they handle live bait could have a tremendous effect—for better or worse—on future fishing opportunities.

When leaving your favorite lake or stream, it’s tempting to dump bait into the water to give fish a free meal. But sometimes, invasive exotic species are sold as live bait. The culprits can be exotic minnows, worms, mussels or other species. Crayfish are especially dangerous because they are able to survive for days out of water and may travel overland.

When exotics get loose, they can upset the ecological balance of Missouri waters, endangering native species, including sport fish.

Instead of dumping live bait, put it in a sealable plastic bag or other secure container, and deposit it in a dumpster or other trash receptacle. For more information about protecting Missouri fishing from exotic invaders, visit online.

WOODPECKER ONCE THOUGHT EXTINCT FOUND IN ARKANSAS

Bird enthusiasts around the world got the thrill of a lifetime in April when one of North America’s most spectacular birds seemed to step back across the threshold of extinction.

Ornithologists have considered the ivory-billed woodpecker—North America’s largest woodpecker—extinct for decades, though unconfirmed reports continued to crop up sporadically. Now experts from the Arkansas Game & Fish Commission, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, The Nature Conservancy and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology have seen, photographed and recorded the species in Arkansas Cache River National Wildlife Refuge.

Mature ivorybills can be 20 inches long, compared to 16.5 inches for pileated woodpeckers, which are common throughout much of the eastern United States, including Missouri. Ornithologists say the ivorybill sighting in Arkansas already has touched off a flurry of reports from other areas, where the similar-looking pileated woodpecker is common.

Ivorybills once thrived in the vast forested swamplands of the southeastern United States. Their decline paralleled the destruction of their habitat through logging and draining of swamps.

Ivory-billed woodpeckers’ bills are pale colored, while those of pileated woodpeckers are black. Ivorybills have white feathers on the tops and bottoms of their wings, forming a distinctive trailing edge that is visible while the bird is perched. Pileated woodpecker wings have white only on their underside, near the armpits. The white is not visible while the birds are perched. Ivorybills have black chins, while those of pileateds are white.

Ivorybills’ calls have a honking quality, like a tin trumpet. The call of the pileated woodpecker is a loud, raucous cackling. In flight, ivorybills glide on outstretched wings. The flight of pileated woodpeckers typically has an undulating flap-drop, flap-drop pattern.

Birdwatchers who want to see the ivory-billed woodpecker can visit designated sites at Dagmar Wildlife Management Area in Arkansas. For a map, visit online For more information about ivorybilled woodpeckers, visit online.

Sericea eradication best done early

Is your land starting to look dull and uniform? Maybe you should check to see if you have an invasion of sericea lespedeza.

Sericea is an exotic member of the pea family that can rapidly crowd out the variety of native plants found in natural prairies, glades and savannas. The loss of natural biological diversity is bad enough; worse yet, sericea has very hard seeds that have little nutritional value for livestock or wildlife.

Sericea infestations are most easily eradicated when detected early. Clover, partridge pea, Illinois bundleflower and Korean, Kobe, slender and round-headed lespedeza are good replacements for sericea. First, though, you have to get rid of it. This can be done by spraying it with herbicide several summers in a row.

Any Conservation Department or Natural Resources Conservation Service office will help you determine if you have sericea and offer eradication advice.

NATIONAL ENVIROTHON COMES TO SMSU

Dozens of environment-savvy youths from across the nation will converge on Springfield July 18 through 24 to compete for scholarships, equipment and bragging rights in the 2005 Canon Envirothon. Teams of high-school students qualify for the national event in regional and state competitions. State qualifiers demonstrate their knowledge of soil and land use, aquatic ecology, forestry, wildlife and environmental issues in the week-long event at Southwest Missouri State University. Details about the national program are available at online. For information about the Missouri program, visit online.

Salt River Folklife Festival CELEBRATES SILVER ANNIVERSARY

If you have ever wished you could go back to the 19th century, Florida, Mo., is the place to be Aug. 13 and 14. That’s when the Salt River Folklife Festival will celebrate its 25th anniversary. The town turns into a time machine each August with living-history programs straight out of Lewis and Clark’s century.

Reenactors in period garb go about the daily business of bygone days, tanning hides, forging iron tools and hand-crafting items ranging from wooden barrels and wicker baskets to children’s toys. The savory smell of frontier cooking fills the air, and vendors offer souvenirs of every description.

Admission is free. Exhibits run from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, the Friends of Florida and the Monroe County Historical Society sponsor the event.

Mistaken identity costly for swans, hunters

Carelessness on the part of five hunters resulted in the deaths of a trio of trumpeter swans at Robert E. Talbot Conservation Area in Lawrence County last January. The hunters said they thought they were shooting at snow geese. Conservation Agent Don Ruzicka investigated the incident.

The hunters were ordered to pay a total of $5,487.50 in fines, restitution and court costs. They also received 180-day suspended jail sentences and lost their migratory bird hunting privileges for two years. In addition, they were ordered to speak to students in hunter education classes about the importance of identifying game positively before shooting.

Agents say Telecheck will help enforce game laws

Some hunters worry that trading the old physical deer and turkey check stations for the telephone- and computer-based Telecheck system will lead to more poaching. Conservation agents think otherwise.

For one thing, they say sneaking game out of the woods is no easier under the new system than it was before. The immediate tagging requirement remains in effect, and a deer or turkey permit with the tag removed is not valid.

Agents also point out that switching from physical checking to electronic checking reduces the amount of time they spend on administrative work and increases time available for enforcement work. Agents spent an average of 40 hours—a full workweek—each year setting up and administering check stations.

Another advantage of Telecheck is that agents have instantaneous access to information about who has checked deer in their counties and whether those deer were bucks, does or button bucks.

For example, an agent might find several deer hanging from a hunting camp game pole. If the hunters claim they checked the deer but forgot to write the numbers on the transportation tags, the agent can simply dial up the Telecheck database and check the hunters’ story.

Agents who patrol remote areas say they expect Telecheck to increase checking compliance. Hunters are much less likely to avoid checking their deer when they can make a phone call instead of driving to a check station with their deer carcasses.

Conservation agents believe people who try to manipulate the new system will be the same ones who were inclined to cheat under the old one. Game laws work only when the vast majority of hunters believe in them and obey them. By doing so, law-abiding hunters enable conservation agents to concentrate on game thieves, ensuring that a few outlaws don’t ruin things for everyone.

Telecheck is not without disadvantages. Agents have to go to hunters if they want to verify information phoned in or logged over the Internet. But on balance, they say it is a good tradeoff.

Hunters also can help put poachers out of business by reporting them to the toll-free Operation Game Thief hotline at (800) 392-1111.

No MOre Trash offers shotshell bags

Car owners can buy litter bags to stash their trash, so why not hunters? As an extension of the No MOre Trash! program, the Conservation Department now offers a bag to help shooters keep track of spent ammunition. The rugged, green nylon bag measures 7x9x3 inches. Belt loops make it perfect for dove hunters or target shooters. It is large enough to hold two boxes of empty shotgun shells. The No MOre Trash! shell bag is available for $10 through the online Nature Shop.

TREEKEEPER TRAINING IS FREE

Learn about trees, their benefits and care, and get hands-on training in tree identification, biology, planting, pruning, and insects and diseases during a six-week, treekeeper training class at the Meramec Campus of St. Louis Community College.

Class size is limited to 25 students. Classroom instruction will run from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. Tuesdays from July 19 through Aug. 23. Field sessions will be run from 9 a.m. until noon on July 30 and Aug. 20.

The course is free. However, participants are asked to provide 24 hours of volunteer service after graduation. These hours may be fulfilled through tree-care projects in the participants’ communities or through projects arranged by Forest ReLeaf. The volunteer work qualifies as Master Gardener service.

The Conservation Department cosponsors the classes. To register, call (314) 984-7777. For more information, call (314) 533-5323.

Lend a hand to clean up the Missouri River

Missourians looking for a way to connect with nature and do something good for the environment might want to join upcoming Missouri River cleanups. Missouri River Relief has scheduled a cleanup around Boonville Sept. 24. Groups are asked to register in advance at www.riverrelief.org. More information is available at www.cooperslanding.net. Event sponsors include the Missouri departments of Conservation and Natural Resources, AmerenUE, Anheuser-Busch, American Compressed Steel, Bass Pro Shops, the City of St. Charles, the Great Rivers Greenway District, Lafarge North America, the Midwest Area River Coalition, REI Recreational Equipment, Tracker Marine, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Environmental Protection Agency. —Francis Skalicky

EDUCATOR’S GUIDE is portal to educational treasure trove

Missouri educators can choose from an amazing array of programs and materials that help them teach children about our conservation, nature and outdoor recreation. These range from hunter education classes and outdoor skills workshops to field trip grants, discovery trunks, publications, films and videos. The Conservation Department also provides classroom visits by naturalists and exciting curriculum materials designed to meet state requirements.

A new publication helps teachers from preschool through high school, home-schooling parents and Scout, 4-H and FFA leaders identify resources to add natural excitement to their programs. The “Educator’s Guide” summarizes the full range of education assistance available through the Conservation Department.

The free, 12-page booklet (Item No. E00030) is available at Conservation Department regional offi ces statewide or from Conservation Department Distribution Center, P.O. Box 180, Jeff erson City, MO 65102-0180, phone (573) 522-4115, ext. 3630, or by e-mail at pubstaff@mdc.mo.gov.

Anglers can keep Missouri free of used fishing line

Loose monofilament fishing line can be a real problem at popular fishing spots. Besides being a litter nuisance, wads of tangled fi shing line can be fatal to birds and other wildlife that become ensnared in its loops. Now the Conservation Department has a way to ensure that used fi shing line doesn’t harm nature.

Through the Monofi lament Recovery and Recycling Program, anglers can be part of the solution to the monofi lament problem. All they have to do is request plans for simple, inexpensive recycling bins made of PVC pipe and install them at favorite lakes and streams. Line collected from the bins is sent to Pure Fishing, a fishing equipment manufacturer headquartered in Spirit Lake, Iowa. The company will recycle the line to create artifi cial fish habitat structures.

The program is a natural fit for Stream Teamers, who already are engaged in conservation initiatives, and for No MOre Trash!, which aims to reduce litter. For details, contact Stream Team coordinator Mark Van Patten, mark. vanpatten@mdc.mo.gov, (800) 781-1989, or visit www.mostreamteam.org.

TURKEY TAKE STRONG DESPITE WEATHER

Despite cold, windy and rainy weather, Missouri turkey hunters posted the fourth-largest spring turkey harvest in history this spring, checking 57,692 birds. The total included 53,798 birds checked during the three-week regular spring season and 3,894 during the two-day youth season.

This year’s top harvest counties were Franklin with 1,048, Texas with 1,011 and Laclede with 897 turkeys checked. Regional harvest figures were: northeast, 8,615; northwest, 8,035; central, 7,880; Kansas City, 7,241; southwest, 6,887; Ozark, 6,491; southeast, 4,619; and St. Louis, 4,040.

No firearms-related hunting accidents were recorded during the youth season, maintaining a spotless safety record for the hunt’s five-year history.

AGENT NOTEBOOK

When it comes to squirrels, it seems people either love them or despise them. When I was a kid, I can remember my grandfather live-trapping squirrels out of his garden and releasing them in a wooded area about ten miles away. His next-door neighbor drowned the squirrels he trapped to make sure they never returned. This sure didn’t sit well with the neighbor lady who fed the “harmless” squirrels. Needless to say, a rift developed.

Each year conservation agents receive calls from concerned neighbors reporting “illegal” squirrel trapping. Conservation agents base their enforcement actions on the Wildlife Code of Missouri, which addresses the issue of nuisance animal trapping.

Except for migratory birds, deer, turkey, black bear and endangered species, wildlife that beyond a reasonable doubt are damaging property may be captured and/or killed by a property owner outside of regular hunting seasons and without a permit. The Code also includes regulations concerning trapping methods and procedures and the disposal of animal carcasses.

Although the Wildlife Code allows property owners to trap and relocate or use lethal means to control damage causing wildlife, property owners are encouraged to modify their property in ways that reduce the opportunity for animal damage.

Anyone who has had the misfortune of having squirrels chew through their roof and move into the attic can appreciate that the law permits them to take care of the problem without buying a permit and waiting for squirrel season to“hunt” the squirrels out of their home. A homeowner can take care of nuisance wildlife immediately by trapping out the animals themselves or by hiring a private nuisance animal control professional to remove the animals and block off points of access.

To keep the peace in the neighborhood, give consideration to concerned neighbors and make every effort to place traps in safe, discrete locations. Conservation employees can usually offer a variety of options to people seeking advice about controlling nuisance wildlife. —Scott Rice, Boone County