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Miscellany

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Ask the Ombudsman

Q: A tree by our house has a big spot on the trunk that is leaking sap. It bubbles through the bark and has a very bad odor. Can you tell us what this is?

A: Wetwood, or slime flux, is unpleasant and somewhat alarming. Bacteria and yeast have invaded the tree and are breaking down the wood through a fermentation process, hence the bad smell and the bubbles.

There isn’t much you can do once wetwood/slim flux is established, but the tree might be able to wall off the area and heal. The oozing fluid might also attract insects. They are not known to spread the disease, so there is no need for control.

Take preventive measures to stave off wetwood/slime flux. Avoid wounding your trees and learn the best methods for mulching and watering them to promote good tree health. For tips, read Mulch: Your Tree’s Best Friend online. or request a print copy from your local conservation office. The publication Watering Trees is also available at local offices.

See the links listed below for more information on bacterial wetwood.

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.

Agent Notes

Missouri’s natural areas invite visitors, but don’t bring unwelcome guests.

On a recent Sunday, I patrolled three easily accessed Shannon County natural areas: Blue Spring, Powdermill Ferry Cave and Prairie Hollow Gorge. Seeing license plates from Florida, Illinois, Kentucky, Ohio, Oklahoma, Michigan and Texas at these areas reminded me of how mobile a society we’ve become. It’s wonderful that we’re so easily able to visit wild places across our nation, but with that ability comes a responsibility for those areas.

Visitors have introduced, sometimes intentionally and sometimes unintentionally, many organisms into areas where they were not previously found. These include gypsy moths, zebra mussels and rusty crayfish. Introduced species often displace native species.

You can greatly reduce the possibility of introducing nonnative species to our natural areas by exercising a little caution. Before visiting, take a few minutes to consider where you’ve been, what species might be found there, and the possible ways they might hitch a ride. (More information is available online.) Dedicating just a few minutes to ensure that the integrity of these special places is not compromised means they will still be here to be enjoyed by the next generation. That is a goal worthy of all our concern.

Brad Hadley is the conservation agent for Shannon County, which is in the Ozark region. If you would like to contact the agent for your county, phone your regional Conservation office.

Time Capsule

September 1977

Birds of Bell Mountain by John Karel introduces readers to the work of David Plank. Plank is a wildlife artist from Salem who finds inspiration for his paintings in watching the birds at Bell Mountain Wilderness Study Area in eastern Missouri. A survey of natural areas in southeast Missouri by the University of Missouri identified five separate biological communities on only one 640-acre portion of Bell Mountain. The diversity of habitats is partly the result of the dramatic terrain of Lindsey and Bell Mountains. Through Plank’s art, we can appreciate the variety and beauty of our native birds in their primitive surroundings. —Contributed by the Circulation staff

Behind the Code

The Wildlife Code tells you what you can do.

by Tom Cwynar

Legal codes typically allow everything that they do not prohibit. Missouri’s Wildlife Code differs from most legal codes in that it is a permissive code. This means that it lists what people can do, not what they can’t do. Methods, times and limits not specifically allowed by the Wildlife Code are considered illegal.

Missouri’s permissive code is unique among other states’ fish and game law codes. It dates back to The Wildlife and Forestry Act of 1946, which replaced all old fish and game laws, some of which predated the relatively new Conservation Commission, with 27 new sections of regulations.

Wording in the sections relating to possession (Section 17) and means of pursuit and the disposition of wildlife (Section 27) established the permissive nature of the code. Both contained the wording, “except in the manner, to the extent and at the time or times permitted.”

This philosophy is echoed in Chapter 4.110 of the current Wildlife Code, which includes the words, “except as specifically permitted by these rules.”

Having a permissive code simplifies the rules for people enjoying the outdoors, for conservation agents and for prosecutors and courts. It also closes doors to those who might look for legal loopholes.

The current code contains some prohibitions and does not address all particulars, but the spirit of Missouri’s Wildlife Code is, if it’s not listed, it’s not legal.

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