Reflections

Mussel Power

Are any Missouri mussels suitable for human consumption? [Outside In; November 2006]

Maria Simone, Cole Camp

Editor’s note: Freshwater mussels are eaten by raccoons, mink, otters and some ducks and fish. Humans can eat freshwater mussels, but should be careful.

The meat of freshwater mussels is tough compared to saltwater mussels. This is because most saltwater mussels attach themselves to rocks by strong filaments. Therefore, they do not need to use their body to dig into the river bottom like freshwater mussels do. This makes the freshwater mussel’s “ foot” tough. Since freshwater mussels also filter water from the streams they live in, they may contain contaminants.

For more information on Missouri’s mussels, see below for the link to Missouri’s Freshwater Mussels by Sue Bruenderman and Janet Sternburg.

Translation, Please?

It has been quite some time since I have been on the farm. So, can you try to explain to a little old lady what a watershed, a riparian corridor, a glade and a revetment are?

Also, on page 23 of the December issue, what is the orange thing around the dog’s neck?

Mary Alice Porter, via Internet

Editor’s note: A watershed is an area of land that drains into a particular body of water, such as a stream, river or lake. A riparian corridor is the strip of land and vegetation adjacent to a streambank and usually back from the water’s edge about 100 feet. A glade is a treeless and brushless clearing that may resemble a prairie and often has bedrock at, or just below, the surface. A revetment is a barrier—in this case [Don’t Go With the Flow; December 2006], something to protect the stream bank from erosion, such as trees anchored along the bare bank. The orange thing around the dog’s neck is an electronic collar used to communicate with and locate dogs in the field.

Everyone Likes Dessert

I took pictures this summer of a downy woodpecker that took to visiting our hummingbird feeder. He showed up daily and apparently drank the nectar. Is this common or rare?

Craig Lingle, via Internet

Editor’s note: According to Andy Forbes, Department of Conservation ornithologist, what you describe at your hummingbird feeder is not uncommon. Woodpeckers love the sweet sugar water in hummingbird feeders, and they will often visit them for a drink. Baltimore orioles will also do this quite often. Raccoons are also sometimes known to pop off the yellow “flower” guards and chug the sugar water. If woodpecker feeding is something you want to discourage, there are a few things you can do:

  1. Feed woodpeckers and other birds as far away as possible from hummingbird feeders. You can also buy specially designed nectar feeders with larger holes that woodpeckers and orioles tend to prefer and put them in another place.
  2. You can purchase smaller feeders or “mobile” feeders (like a mobile over a crib) that are too light for larger birds to land on but are no problem for hummers.

Otherwise, sit back and enjoy their antics!

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: When are you going to start offering preference points for managed deer hunts? I’ve put in year after year and never been selected.

A: We will be implementing a change for the 2007 season.

Managed deer hunts are popular with many hunters. These hunts are held in a variety of locations around the state to provide a unique hunting opportunity and, in some locations, such as state parks, community parks and refuges, to control deer numbers. Due to limited space, managed hunts can accommodate only a certain number of hunters, so a random drawing process is used to determine who will get to hunt at these areas.

Hunters may apply for only one hunt, and the random drawing process has ensured that everyone has had the same odds of being selected. However, depending on the number of applicants for a hunt, the odds of being selected could be very low—3 percent last season for a hunt at Swan lake, or very high—100 percent at Caney Mountain. See below for odds information.

For a long time, unsuccessful hunters have asked for special consideration that would help them get selected for managed hunts. The Department of Conservation hesitated initially because there was no way to be fairer than giving all applicants the same chance. Another justification for a totally random process was simplicity. Any type of point system would be administratively difficult.

With current advances in technology, the Department feels that some help can be provided to unsuccessful applicants for managed hunts by implementing a weighted, random selection process. Hunters will now have their names entered into the random drawing an additional time for each year they are not selected. So, those who miss out in 2007 will go into the hat two times in 2008. If they are again not selected in 2008, their names will go into the hat three times in 2009 and so on, until they are selected.

Because it is important to encourage young and new hunters, successful applicants for managed hunts one year will still be allowed to apply the following season. To encourage parties to include persons who have fewer “points,” the average number of points for hunters in a party will be used.

Details on deer season will be on the Department’s web site and at permit vendors this summer. If you are interested in managed deer hunts, please check out the information provided.

Opening day of the November portion of the firearms deer season will be November 10, 2007. Other season dates will be announced this summer.

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) 522-4115, ext. 3848, or e-mail him at Ken.Drenon@mdc.mo.gov.