News and Events

by Jim Low

Children in Nature Challenge

Gov. Jay Nixon recently issued an executive order establishing the Children in Nature Challenge and directing state agencies to promote efforts to “enhance children’s education about nature and increase children’s opportunities to personally experience nature and the outdoors.”

Executive Order 10–18 recognizes the importance of nature-based education to help build a lifelong understanding and concern for our natural resources. It specifically mentions the Conservation Department’s Discover Nature Schools program for K–12 that helps students get outside to experience hands-on learning in nature.

The governor challenges Missouri communities to use the state programs in building their own local efforts. The departments of Conservation and Natural Resources will work with other agencies to develop a way to recognize those successful community efforts.

For more about Discover Nature Schools, visit www.MissouriConservation.org/15642.


Missouri Documents First CWD

The Conservation Department is working with other state and federal agencies to learn how chronic wasting disease (CWD) got into the Show-Me State and to keep the disease from spreading.

Missouri’s first documented case of CWD involves one captive white-tailed deer at a high-fence hunting preserve in Linn County. The positive test came in February as part of routine monitoring. In response, state agencies activated a contingency plan that has been in place since 2003. The first action under that plan was placing the Linn County hunting preserve under quarantine. The next step is to trace the infection back to its source.

The Conservation Department is collecting free-ranging white-tailed deer from the area around the hunting preserve. In addition, to deer and elk within the preserve are being tested by the Missouri Department of Agriculture for CWD. The outcome of these tests will determine further actions.

CWD is a degenerative brain disease that affects deer, elk and moose. No evidence suggests that CWD can infect humans or livestock. For more information, visit www.MissouriConservation.org/16606.

Missouri joins Colorado, Illinois, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, New York, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming, plus the Canadian provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan, all of which have found CWD in captive deer or elk.

The Conservation Department has been monitoring the state’s deer herd for CWD since 2001. The most recent round of testing has failed to find any CWD-infected deer in wild whitetails. The Conservation Department continues to conduct targeted testing of sick deer. If you see a sick deer, report it to the nearest Conservation Department office (Page 3).


First Record Fish of 2010

A gigging trip on the Niangua River produced Missouri’s first record fish of 2010. Fifteen-year old Joshua Lee Vance of Bolivar gigged the 4-pound, 5-ounce white sucker Jan. 19. The fish was the first of its species ever entered in the alternative methods category.

The Conservation Department keeps fishing records in two categories—pole and line and alternative methods. Alternative-methods records include fish taken by snagging, trotlines, limb lines, bank lines, spearing, gigging or archery. The pole-and-line category is for fish hooked in the mouth with a hand-held line. The white sucker pole-and-line record is 4 pounds, 8 ounces.

A surprising number of state fishing records have never been filled. These “open records” include six for pole and line and 23 for alternative methods. Open pole-and-line records include white catfish, spotted sucker and alligator gar. Open alternative-methods records include white and yellow bass, muskellunge, shovelnose sturgeon and shorthead redhorse. Some alternative methods are not legal for some fish species. For example, trout may not be taken by gigging.

A list of state fishing records and information about applying for records are available at www.MissouriConservation.org/69. Visit www.MissouriConservation.org/71 for information about the Master Angler Program, which provides recognition for catching big fish that are not state records.


Missouri Gets $21.8 Million

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recently announced final apportionments of federal aid to wildlife and sport fish restoration funds for Fiscal Year 2010 totaling $862 million. Missouri’s share is $12.6 million for wildlife and $9.2 million for fisheries.

The Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act of 1937 (also known as the Pittman-Robertson Act) provides for excise taxes on sporting arms and ammunition, pistols and certain archery equipment. The Federal Aid in Sport Fish Restoration Act of 1951 (also called the Dingell-Johnson Act) provides for excise taxes on fishing equipment. The sport-fish restoration fund was augmented by the Wallop-Breaux Act of 1984, putting excise taxes on motor-boat and small-engine fuels.

Since these two programs’ inception, Missouri has received approximately $149 million in federal wildlife restoration funds and $144 million in federal sport fish restoration funds. Both funds and the taxes that feed them were established at the urging of hunters and anglers.


Current River State Park Turkey Hunt

The print version of the 2010 Spring Turkey Hunting Regulations and Information booklet lists the dates of a managed hunt at Current River State Park as April 20 through May 2. The correct dates are April 29 through May 2. The print version of the publication had gone to press before the error was detected. However, the information has been corrected in the online version at www.MissouriConservation.org/hunt/turkey/sprturk/managed.htm.


Big Fun Planned on the Big Muddy

If you have ever been out on the Missouri River, you know what an epic place it is. If you haven’t, you can discover the Show-Me State’s biggest, most amazing body of water at several upcoming events.

On June 19, the Missouri River Communities Network (MRCN) is sponsoring a Canoe for Clean Water! Race, Float, and Festival. Join the Clean Water 50, a canoe or kayak marathon from Glasgow to Katfish Katy’s Campground in Huntsdale. If you prefer a short sprint or a leisurely float, take part in the Clean Water 15, a 15-mile paddle from Boonville to Katfish Katy’s. Both races are pledge-type fundraisers for MRCN, with solo and tandem divisions for men, women and youth, plus mixed tandem. Shuttle service is available for the Clean Water 15.

If paddling isn’t your thing, you can just enjoy the river festival at Katfish Katy’s with live music, educational booths and great local food and drink. Those who arrive at the festival by boat or bicycle will receive a free beverage. This is Father’s Day weekend, which makes the event a fabulous opportunity to share an adventure with your dad or your kids. To learn more, visit www.moriver.org/race/race.html.

Missouri River Relief has a full schedule of river cleanups this year, stretching from March through October and from Yankton, S.D., to St. Louis. Work gloves, trash bags, lunch and a boat ride all are provided. You provide the muscle to clean up the river. Learn details and sign up for cleanups at www.riverrelief.org/upcoming

The first “Race to the Dome” canoe and kayak race July 3 will have racers paddling 16 miles from Hartsburg Access to Noren Access in Jefferson City. Details are available at www.racetothedome.org. This race is a fundraiser for Missouri River Relief.

The Greenway Network will hold two races Sept. 4 and 5. The Race for the Rivers is a staged race of 65 miles from Washington to the confluence with the Mississippi River. It is for serious paddlers. The Clean Water Challenge is for the less-experienced racers and recreational paddlers. It is a nonstop, friendly competition starting in Weldon Spring and ending at Race for the Rivers Festival in Saint Charles’ Frontier Park.

The festival features food, live music and information booths. Race pledges support Greenway Network’s various clean water initiatives. For more information, visit racefortherivers.org/schedule.php, or racefortherivers.org/participants.php.


Donations Top 2 Million Pounds

Missouri hunters passed the 2-million pound mark in charitable meat donations during the 2009–2010 hunting season. Hunters have been donating venison to food pantries and other charities since 1992. The program, started by the Columbia Area Archers and the St. Louis Longbeards Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation in 1992, grew rapidly after the Conservation Federation of Missouri and the Conservation Department adopted it. Now Share the Harvest nets more than 200,000 pounds of venison yearly. This year’s total of more than 213,000 pounds pushed the lifetime total of donations through the program to over 2 million pounds. Donations from the Conservation Department and other sponsors help pay for processing whole deer donated to the program, making donations free for thousands of hunters. The result is lean, high protein food for needy Missourians.For more information, visit www.MissouriConservation.org/9032 or call 573-634-2322.


Trout Season Starts With a Bang

Missouri is a great place to fish—trout fishing is no exception. The 2010 trout park season started this year with a total of 7,380 tags sold at the four trout parks on the March 1 season opener. Governor Jay Nixon fired the gun to start the fishing activities at Montauk Fish Hatchery/ Trout Park inside Montauk State Park. The largest catch of the opener was at Montauk, weighing in at 8 pounds, 14 ounces.

Trout fishing enriches Missouri’s economy. Here are some figures for permit and tag sales:

  • Total Tag and Trout Permit Sale Revenues for 2007—$1,940,835
  • Total Tag and Trout Permit Sale Revenues for 2008—$1,851,818
  • Trout Park Tag Sales for 2004–2008—$2,060,000

The regular season at trout parks runs through Oct. 31. Trout season in Missouri is a cooperative effort of the Department of Conservation, which operates the hatcheries and stocks the streams with trout, and the Department of Natural Resources, which manages state parks, and The James Foundation, which manages Maramec Spring Park. To learn more about trout fishing in Missouri, visit www.MissouriConservation.org/7248.