News and Almanac

Workshops help Missourians solve goose problems

GeesePeace St. Louis once again is offering workshops to promote non-lethal ways of dealing with problem Canada geese. The workshops, co-sponsored by the Conservation Department, the Wildlife Rescue Center and the Humane Society of Missouri, promote an integrated approach to managing goose problems. The approach includes landscaping, no-feeding policies, population stabilization techniques and discouraging geese from frequenting homes, businesses, parks, golf courses and other areas. Eight workshops are scheduled for January and February. For more information, visit online, or contact GeesePeace St. Louis, P.O. Box 6246, Chesterfield, MO 63006-6246, phone (314) 567-2081.

Order Tree Seedlings While Supplies Last

Missourians who want to make their land more productive for wildlife have a unique opportunity to pursue that ambition each year. George O. White State Forest Nursery has a large inventory of about 70 species of tree and shrub seedlings, including extra-large seedlings. At press time, they still had large seedlings of black gum, tulip poplar, green ash, baldcypress, pin oak and shumard oak, up to 4 feet tall. But these and many of their species are selling fast!

A new species offered this year is the Ohio buckeye. It is one of six species included in the Conservation Bundle, along with flowering and red-osier dogwood, American holly, shumard oak and eastern white pine. Another unique offering this year is the Walnut Variety Bundle, which contains 30 seedlings of three black walnut varieties.

Bundles of 25 seedlings sell for $3 to $12. Orders are accepted through April 30. A full list of trees and shrubs available through the state forest nursery is available online. Call (573) 674-3229 to request a catalog by mail.

Tracking hellbender health

Citizens play an important role in conserving Missouri wildlife. Two Missourians have taken a particular interest in the hellbender, North America’s largest salamander. Clifford Keith of Tunas and Chris Liesman of St. Louis both learned that the Conservation Department was interested in hellbender sightings, and both called herpetologist Jeff Briggler to share their knowledge of the giant salamanders.

Keith showed Briggler how riverside development is affecting hellbender habitat on the Niangua River. Liesman showed Briggler a previously undocumented hellbender site on the Gasconade River. Both of these citizen conservationists contributed valuable knowledge about the endangered animals.

For more information about hellbenders, visit online and click on “The Hellbender,” or write to Missouri Department of Conservation, The Hellbender, P.O. Box 180, Jefferson City, MO 65102-0180, or e-mail pubstaff@mdc.mo.gov.

2C Quail CO-OP promotes community-based conservation

In frontier times, neighboring families used to work together to harvest crops and work cattle. That same spirit of community cooperation is the goal of the 2C Quail Cooperative project in Caldwell and Carroll counties. The pioneers in this case are the Conservation Department, landowners and private conservation groups. If they succeed, they will get local quail restoration in high gear and create a model for other communities that want to bring back the bobwhite quail.

The 2C Quail Cooperative aims to focus the energy, expertise and financial resources of Quail Unlimited, Pheasants Forever, the National Wild Turkey Federation and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in a two-county area. This will enable qualifying landowners to get funding for 90 percent of certain management practices instead of the normal 75 percent.

The cooperative also encompasses two public-land Quail Emphasis Areas— Bunch Hollow Conservation Area (CA) in Carroll County and Bonanza CA in Caldwell County.

The Conservation Department plans to contact landowners in the cooperative area to provide information about the effort and invite them to field days and workshops where they can learn first-hand about conservation techniques the program promotes. For more information, call (660) 542-3361, ext. 120, in Carroll County, (660) 663-3703, ext. 133, in Caldwell County, (660) 595-2444 at Grand Pass CA, or (816) 271-3107 at Pony Express CA.

Bowhunters’ annual conclave set for Feb. 3–5

The United Bowhunters of Missouri will hold its annual festival and banquet at the Jefferson City Ramada Inn Feb. 3–5. Saturday events will include a silent auction, bow raffles, seminars, photo contest, taxidermy displays, bow makers, traditional archery equipment vendors and banquet keynote speaker Mark Baker. Advance tickets cost $30 for adults and $14 for youths 15 and younger. After Jan. 24, the prices are $35 and $18. Nonmembers can tour the display and vendor area for $7. For more information, call Mike McDonald at (636) 742-4947, Tom Dickerson at (573) 243-7113 or Dennis Voss at (636) 583-4096.

Deer hunters rebound after slow start

The November portion of the 2005 firearms deer season got off to a slow start, but it finished in the top five of all time. Hunters checked just 102,545 deer on this year’s opening weekend, down 23 percent from 2004. The decrease was attributed to windy, rainy weather and an unusual abundance of acorns.

More favorable weather and perseverance enabled hunters to make up for lost time in the remaining nine days of hunting. By season’s end, the harvest tally stood at 205,460, down just 7.6 percent from the record of 222,329 set in 2004.

Hunters age 6 through 15 checked 10,577 deer during the 2005 youth hunt Oct. 29 and 30, and hunters in the St. Louis, Kansas City, Springfield and Columbia-Jefferson City areas bagged 1,838 deer during the urban hunt Oct. 7–10.

Cedar Lodge Bed and Breakfast

 

When cedar waxwings look for bed and breakfast, they are likely to head for the nearest eastern red cedar (Juniperus virginiana) tree. This native tree’s heavy foliage offers nesting shelter during the summer, but it is especially popular in the winter, when other trees shed their leaves.

Cedars also set out a feast that attracts at least 20 species of birds. The cedar waxwing’s name comes from its preference for the red cedar’s waxy blue berries, which also attract foxes, opossums and raccoons.

When planting, remember that the red cedar is a “pioneering” species. It quickly takes root when birds drop its seeds on unused fields and other neglected areas. It can take over unless you burn such areas periodically or cut sprouts below the lowest branch. Also, remember that cedars are not suitable for planting near apple or crab apple trees, since they harbor cedar-apple rust, a fungus parasite that thrives where both cedar and apple trees are present.

For more information about landscaping with cedars and other native plants, visit  the Grow Native! web site, or call 573/751-4115, ext. 3833. For information about selecting the best trees for your site, visit online, or call 573/751-4115, ext. 3117.—Barbara Fairchild

Yes, you CAN” contest promotes litter awareness

Missouri schools can win cash while helping building awareness of litter in the “Yes, you CAN” trash can decorating contest sponsored by the Missouri departments of Conservation and Transportation.

To enter, decorate a trash can, 33 gallons or larger, and place it in a prominent school location, such as a cafeteria, gymnasium or sports field. The design must include the No MOre Trash program logo and an anti-litter message or slogan.

The winning entry in each of three categories will receive a $100 cash prize. A grand prize of $500 will go to the entry judged best from all categories.

Entries must be submitted by schools. There is no entry fee. Schools are limited to one entry in each category: grades K–2, grades 3–5 and grades 6–8. The deadline for mailed entries is Jan. 27. Entries submitted electronically must be received by 5 p.m. Jan. 31.

For entry forms and full details, call (573) 522-4115, ext. 3855, e-mail nomoretrash@mdc.mo.gov, or visit online.

“Rock snot” creeping up on Missouri’s southern border

The latest alien invader to threaten Missouri has a name nearly as unpleasant as its potential effects.

Rock snot (Didymosphenia geminate) gets its common name from its yellowbrown, slimy appearance. Didymo, as it also is known, is a diatom that thrives in cold water. Collections of millions of the microscopic, single-celled plants form impenetrable mats that can cover miles of stream bottom, choking out native plants and animals. They threaten the natural balance that makes spring-fed streams and tailwaters below dams beautiful, diverse and productive.

The organism has become invasive even in its original home, northern Europe. One didymo cell is enough to start a new colony. This has enabled it to spread to Spain, Turkey, Russia, China, Pakistan, New Zealand, the West Coast of the United States and South Dakota. It recently turned up in the White River below Bull Shoals Dam in Arkansas.

Like the zebra mussel, rock snot can overwhelm native species and interrupt the food chain that supports bass, trout, salamanders, frogs, birds and mammals. It can clog water intakes on marine motors, municipal water plants and electric power plants. Swimmers report eye inflammation after swimming in infested waters.

What can you do to avoid transferring rock snot and any other unsavory plants and animals from one body of water to another? The easiest preventative is to let items that have been exposed to water, such as boats, motors, paddles, waders, bait buckets, life vests and even pets, dry completely and then keep them out of water for at least 48 hours. It also helps to manually remove mud, vegetation and other potential contaminants.

More effective preventative measures include spray-washing with hot water or scrubbing with a solution made with 1 cup of chlorine bleach and a gallon of warm water. For more information about aquatic invasive species, visit Protect Your Waters online.

Smithsonian exhibit shows what Native Americans, pioneers ate

If you have ever been curious about what Native Americans and the Lewis & Clark expedition ate and how they cooked it, check out the Smithsonian Institution’s traveling exhibit at the Sullivan Performing Arts Theater, located on The Sullivan High School campus, Jan. 14 through Feb. 25. The exhibit uses artifacts, photographs and demonstrations to illuminate the historical, cultural and natural aspects of food in America. Every Thursday during the exhibit’s visit, conservation agents will present hands-on programs for students featuring wild game, edible wild plants and frontier food-gathering skills, such as hunting and trapping. For teacher’s guides and scheduling, contact Paige Russell, (573) 468-4588, or visit them online.

Deer and turkey meetings in Southern Missouri

In January 6 public meetings will be held in southwestern and southeastern Missouri to discuss deer and turkey management. The department desires to gather public input on management options, which includes the possibility of expanding the 4-point rule to some southern Missouri counties. The 2 hour meetings will run from 7-9 p.m. at locations listed below. The agenda will include presentations from deer program leader Lonnie Hansen and turkey program leader Jeff Beringer as well as time for open public comment. Local conservation department staff will also be present to meet with the public.

SOUTHEASTERN MEETING LOCATIONS

  • Piedmont, January 9—at Clearwater Youth Center on Highway 34 , adjacent to Clearwater High School
  • Marble Hill, January 10—at Marble Hill, Methodist Church on Highway 34 East
  • Perryville, January 12—at Perryville Community Center at corner of Spring and St. Joseph (1 block off town square)
  • Cape Girardeau, January 18—at Conservation Campus Nature Center in North Cape County Park

For more information contact the MDC Southeast Regional Office (573) 290-5730

SOUTHWESTERN MEETING LOCATIONS

Eldorado Springs, January 23—at the Legion Bldg. 1 block east of Main St. on Broadway

Clinton, January 24—at the K-BLE Bldg. 1606 N. Water

For more information contact the MDC Clinton Office (660) 885-6981

Tree farmers to meet Feb. 24–25

The 26th annual Missouri Tree Farm Conference will be held at Columbia’s Stoney Creek Inn Feb. 24–25. This year’s theme is “Creating Value-Added Woodlands.” The conference will include a full day of field activities at the University of Missouri Horticulture and Agroforestry Research Center at New Franklin. Participants will learn how to evaluate tree crowns and crop-tree management techniques. They will get to see “junk” logs turned into blanks for gunstocks and other items. Also on the agenda are quality deer management, specialty wood products, cedar marketing and new uses for small-diameter trees. For more information, contact Glenda Fry, (573) 634-3252, Glenda@moforest.org, or visit online.

Explore Outdoor Possibilities

More than a quarter of a million Missourians have discovered the fun of outdoor adventure through St. Louis County Department of Parks and Recreation programs. Now you can join them with the 2006 Outdoor Adventure/Gone Fishin’ program guide.

The 60-page booklet lists classes and field trips that include fishing, hiking, canoeing, kayaking, camping, caving, nature programs and firearms training, as well as adventure trips that include paddling and fishing on Ozark streams and in Canada. Girl and Boy Scouts will find merit-badge training offered, too.

The fun starts this month and continues through December. The nationally recognized outdoor recreation program draws participants from all over Missouri. To receive a copy of the 2006 Outdoor Adventure/Gone Fishin’ program guide, send your name and address to St. Louis County Department of Parks and Recreation, Queeny Park, 550 Wiedman Road, Manchester, MO 63011, mkoch@stlouisco.com, or call (636) 391-3474.

Agent Notebook

Training is extremely important to Missouri’s conservation agents. Immediately after being hired, each new agent completes six months of intense training in the Conservation Department’s Conservation Agent’s Training Academy.

Upon graduation, agent trainees are well versed in the subjects of wildlife and constitutional law, human behavior, patrol techniques, criminal investigation, first aid, self defense tactics, firearms safety, water safety, wildlife identification and wildlife management.

After being assigned to the field, each conservation agent is required by The Missouri Department of Public Safety to complete a minimum number of in-service training hours to remain certified as peace officers. This training focuses on criminal law and legal issues, cultural diversity, ethics, conflict management, victim sensitivity, stress management, first aid and CPR, defensive tactics and firearms and driver proficiency.

In addition, agents are continually provided information and training to keep them updated and current on changing wildlife regulations and wildlife management practices. Agents also must stay tuned to the constantly evolving society in which they work. The intense and continuous education of agents helps them to achieve their goal of protecting and conserving Missouri’s fish, forest and wildlife resources and serving citizens through a coordinated program of resource law enforcement, education, information and one-on-one contacts. —Bill Stimson, District Supervisor