Reflections

A DEER PRICE

First of all, I’d like to tell you that the Missouri Conservationist is a great resource for hunters and the general public alike. Many members of my family, both hunters and non-hunters, really appreciate the magazine for its informative topics and great pictures.

The December 2006 issue pointed out a topic that I wasn’t personally aware of myself. In the “Agent Notebook” he noted that processed deer meat must be collected by May 1st. Although I’ve always been so anxious to get my own processed meat back and usually have it picked up within two days of the phone call saying it’s ready, I can see how this could be a big burden to local processors. Though something may be able to be done with the meat itself, those hunters should still be punished or fined for their actions. The fines and punishment help to discourage these things from happening.

I think it’s very helpful for you to mention this kind of thing in the “Agent Notebook” and other areas of the magazine. I think it will help point out things that most of us should know but might not necessarily be aware of. It might be little things here or there, but if it’s something that helps the promotion of Missouri conservation, then I think it helps us all.

Rodney Boatright, via Internet

Editor’s note: According to Agent Jim Taylor, agents do ticket violators, and the cost can be as much as the processing fee.

NO SWAN SONG HERE

A day or so after seeing the beautiful photo of trumpeter swans on the back cover of the December 2006 issue, I had the opportunity to see several of the group of about 60 swans that was spending the last part of December at Riverlands, near lock and Dam 26 in St. Charles County. My understanding is that they are part of an effort to reestablish the species along the Mississippi flyway.

Ed Schmidt, Richmond Heights

Editor’s note: Following decades of restoration work by state and federal wildlife management agencies, about 1,000 trumpeter swans once again migrate between the upper Midwest and the lower Mississippi River Valley.

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: Where do the finches, titmice and juncos live at night during the winter? We never see any nests in the trees after the leaves fall. We live on a lake and there is a martin house available to them, but it never seems to have any activity during the winter.

A: The martin house probably isn’t very appealing because of the open surroundings. I spoke with our bird expert and he says the titmice congregate in natural cavities, several to a hole. The other two species get out of the elements in bramble patches, cedar thickets, etc.

This time of year heavy cover is crucial for birds. It’s not unusual for hundreds of birds to roost together in cedars where they’re protected from the wind and cold.

Snow cover usually isn’t too much of a concern, as south-facing slopes generally open up quickly. Prolonged snow cover may cause difficulties for some species.

Bird feeding in the winter is something many Missourians enjoy. However, there are a lot of things we can do during the rest of the year that will help birds survive the cold months. Special plantings like deciduous holly, sumac, etc. will provide natural food. Cover can be developed by planting cedar, plum and other thick-growing plants. For details on providing for backyard wildlife please see the link listed below or ask for publications on this topic.

The Department’s seedling program provides Missouri property owners with a variety of plants that will help birds and other wildlife all year long. Plants are nominally priced. Order information can be found online or contact your local conservation office for the printed version. For a recorded message concerning possible shipping delays and the kinds of trees still available, call 800/392-3111.

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.