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Promising Duck Season, Quick Draw on the Horizon

duck hunting

Missouri hunters have reason for optimism about the upcoming waterfowl season, and those who plan to hunt at three of Missouri’s most popular managed wetland areas will be trying a new reservation system designed to optimize hunting opportunities.

Summer surveys of the north-central United States and central Canada showed good nesting habitat and good numbers of ducks again this year. The number of ponds was up 4 percent from last year and 34 percent above the long-term average (LTA).

Blue-winged teal showed the only statistically significant population change from 2009, with a 14 percent increase. Blue-winged teal now are 36 percent above the LTA. Mallard, gadwall, widgeon and green-winged teal numbers were about the same as last year. Mallard numbers were 12 percent above the LTA, and the total number of ducks was 21 percent above the LTA.

Hunters will take part in a trial of Quick Draw, a new, online waterfowl hunting reservation system, at Grand Pass Conservation Area (CA) in the North Zone and at Eagle Bluffs and Otter Slough CAs in the Middle Zone this year. The Quick Draw system will begin accepting applications eight days before the Saturday season opener in each zone. The first drawing will take place on the Monday before opening day and will award reservations for the first three days of the season, Saturday through Monday. After that, Monday drawings will award reservations for Friday through Monday. Applications will be open from Monday through Wednesday for weekly drawings to assign reservations for Tuesday through Thursday.

Quick Draw will handle reservations for handicap-accessible blinds at the three Quick Draw pilot areas. The trial will not affect youth hunts, which will be handled as in the past.

This year’s limited trial of Quick Draw will enable the Conservation Department to evaluate whether the system achieves its goal of making hunting more convenient and accessible to more hunters. Depending on how well it works, the system could be modified and expanded to other state-managed wetland areas. More information about Quick Draw is available at bit.ly/a5wp1q.

Natural Areas Conference

Missouri is hosting the 37th Natural Areas Conference Oct. 26 through 29 at Marriott’s Tan-Tar-A Resort, Osage Beach. The Conference theme, “Connecting for the Future Across Generations and Disciplines,” brings together natural resource professionals, students and volunteers in a forum that provides practical, land management information through symposia, workshops, field trips, paper sessions, posters, round tables and opportunities for social networking. The conference draws land managers, university faculty and students, researchers, planners and administrators from throughout the nation. To register or learn more about the conference, visit: www.naturalarea.org/10conference, or contact Mike Leahy at 573-522.4115, ext. 3192, mike.leahy@mdc.mo.gov.

Conservation Auction

Regulars at Conservation Department surplus property auctions will find procedures a little different at the next auction Oct. 16 in Salem. Master Card and Visa debit cards are acceptable with a valid driver’s license as identification. Identification is unnecessary for purchases with cash or cashier’s checks.

Credit cards and personal checks are acceptable with the buyer’s valid driver license as identification. However, vehicle, outboard motor, trailer or boat titles will be held until checks clear. Tractors and heavy equipment also will be held until checks clear.

Auto dealers must present copies of dealer certificates and valid driver licenses as identification. A person acting as an agent for a dealer must have a signed letter from the dealer stating they have permission to purchase items under the dealer’s name. A copy of the dealer’s certificate must be supplied along with the presentation of a valid driver license as identification.

Only the name of the person who is registered with the auction as a bidder will be put on titled items. If a vehicle or other titled item is being purchased for someone else, the bidder must register under that person’s name. If a vehicle or titled item is being purchased for a business, the bidder must register under that business name. Sales of all titled items will be reported to the Department of Revenue.

Auctions include items ranging from office equipment to trucks, sport-utility vehicles, sedans, boats, farm implements, tractors and heavy equipment. A full list of items in the October auction will be available in mid-September at www.mdc.mo.gov/about/sale, or by calling 573-522-4115, ext. 3279 or 3283.

Popular Trapping Clinic Returns

Missourians who are intrigued by the idea of trapping minks, raccoons, otters and other furbearers but don’t know how to get started have a golden opportunity at a free trapping clinic Oct. 16 and 17 at Swan Lake National Wildlife Refuge. The clinic, cosponsored by the Conservation Department, the Missouri Trappers Association and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, will cover all aspects of trapping, from equipment to ethics. Participants will make actual trap sets on Saturday and check them on Sunday morning. Food and onsite camping for the event are provided free of charge. Eighty-four people participated the last time this event was offered in 2008. To register for the clinic, call 660-856-3323 or visit www.fws.gov/midwest/swanlake

Three State Fishing Records Fall in July

Three record catches in July focused national attention on Missouri’s world-class fishing. Two of the fish might qualify as world records. For full details, see www.mdc.mo.gov./newsroom/its-raining-records

TOP RIGHT: Robert Neal Davidson set a new state alternative-methods record when he caught this 99-pound flathead catfish from the Missouri River near Mokane July 23. He was using a bank pole. With him in this photo are his son, Drake, and father, James L. Davidson, both of whom were with him when he boated the monster fish, which was 53 inches long and had a girth of 35 inches.

BOTTOM RIGHT: John West, of Republic, caught this Missouri pole-and-line record striped bass at Bull Shoals Lake July 8, using a swim bait. The fish weighed 58 pounds, 10.4 ounces, and measured a little more than 48 inches from nose to tail. It might qualify for a 30-pound line-class world record.

BELOW: Greg Bernal, of Florissant, caught this Missouri pole-and-line record blue catfish from the Missouri River near Columbia Bottom Conservation Area July 20. The fish was 57 inches long, 45 inches around and weighed 130 pounds, making it the potential world record as well.

Help Protect Missouri’s Waters From New Invasive Alga

invasive alga

Didymosphenia geminata (Didymo or “rock snot”) is an invasive alga that can form large mats on the bottom of lakes and streams. Didymo can grow in layers so thick that it smothers the aquatic life in the stream vital to the food chain that supports fish such as rainbow and brown trout. Didymo has been found in the White River in Arkansas, but so far Didymo has not been found in Missouri.

Preventing the occurrence and spread of this invasive species is critical to the health of Missouri’s lakes and streams. Recreational equipment such as boats, lifejackets and fishing gear (particularly waders) is the most likely way for Didymo to spread. Prevention measures include “Check and Clean or Dry.”

  • Check all gear and equipment that has been in contact with the water and remove any visible algae.
  • Clean all equipment with a 2 percent household bleach solution, 5 percent saltwater solution, or dishwashing detergent and allow all equipment to stay in contact with the solution for at least one minute. Soak all soft items, such as felt-soled waders and life jackets, in the solution for at least 20 minutes.
  • Expose all equipment to sunlight and dry for at least 48 hours.

 

Replacing felt-soled waders with waders that have rubber or synthetic soles will also minimize the risk of spreading Didymo and other invasive species. Manufacturers are now offering waders with alternative soles that grip slippery rocks as you wade, but minimize the risk of transporting this troublesome invader. —by Shane Bush

Deer Season Notes

A few deer hunting regulations have changed from last year, and hunters need to be aware of some other items before going afield. The complete 2010 Fall Deer & Turkey Hunting Regulations and Information booklet PDF can be downloaded at www.mdc.mo.gov/node/3656

  • Hunters can use as many antlerless deer tags as they want in Gasconade and Osage counties. These counties also are open to hunting during the antlerless portion of firearms deer season.
  • Hunters can use atlatls to hunt deer during all portions of the firearms deer season except the muzzleloader portion.
  • Only antlerless deer may be taken during the urban portion of firearms deer season Oct. 8 through 11. This is not new, but some hunters remain unsure of this provision.
  • Mussel Fork Conservation Area (CA) in Linn and Macon counties is open to hunting under statewide regulations.
  • The Conservation Department will conduct a voluntary CWD surveillance effort in Chariton, Linn and Macon counties and parts of Adair, Randolph and Sullivan counties. Hunters in this area are encouraged to take their deer to collection sites during opening weekend of the November deer season. Tissue sampling will not reduce the food or taxidermy value of deer. A special section on Page 3 of the fall deer and turkey booklet shows the boundaries of this area and locations where hunters can bring deer for testing.
  • To keep chronic wasting disease from spreading, hunters who bring deer, elk or moose with the spinal cord or head attached into Missouri must call 877-853-5665 within 24 hours and take the carcass to a licensed meat processor or taxidermist within 72 hours. Meat processors and taxidermists must dispose of the spinal cord and other parts in a properly permitted landfill.
  • Changes in regulations on some CAs also are detailed on pages 34 through 42 of the fall deer and turkey hunting booklet. If you hunt on a CA, check to see if regulations there have changed.
  • The phone number for Squaw Creek National Wildlife Refuge on Page 20 of the fall deer and turkey booklet is wrong. The correct number is 660-442-5754, ext. 13.

Wildlife Grants 10th Anniversary

Ten years ago, after years of lobbying and with much fanfare, Missouri and other states began receiving federal funds through the State Wildlife Grants (SWG) program. Missouri played an important role in the national Teaming With Wildlife (TWW) coalition that secured the funding.

The idea is to keep common wildlife species common and conserve dwindling species before they become so rare that recovery is prohibitively expensive. To date, grants totaling $617 million have gone to state wildlife programs, including $12.5 million for Missouri.

Matching funds from the Conservation Department and private partners leveraged federal funds, boosting the actual benefit to Missouri conservation programs to nearly $40 million.

That money funded more than 560 projects in every part of the state. SWG money is helping protect or restore prairies, glades, forests, wetlands, savannas, lakes, rivers and caves. SWG funds also have supported research, private landowner assistance and strategic conservation planning. The work continues, and you can help. Citizen conservation or sporting groups, businesses and other organizations can join the TWW coalition at no cost, increasing its national clout. To join TWW, or for more information, visit: www.confedmo.org/teaming, or contact Dennis Figg at 573-522.4115, ext. 3309, dennis.figg@mdc.mo.gov.

Protecting Streams

An independent study by university scientists showed that use of forestry best-management practices on conservation areas (CAs) prevents erosion and protects streams.

Critics of timber harvesting say that removing trees causes soil erosion and impairs water quality. The Conservation Department developed best management practices (BMPs) to address these concerns but until recently did not know how well they worked. A professor of civil and environmental engineering at the University of Missouri conducted a seven-year study to answer that question. Researchers examined the amount of sediment entering streams on CAs before, during and after timber harvests. The study also tracked 11 other measures of water quality, including nitrogen and phosphorus compounds.

Field work occurred in 2008, the wettest year in Missouri history, providing the ultimate test of BMP’s erosion-stopping power. Researchers found no significant difference in erosion between harvested and unharvested sites.

The study has huge implications for better management of Missouri forests. More than 80 percent of Missouri’s forestland is privately owned. Unlike CAs, most of this land is not under active management. This is partly because landowners are concerned timber harvests will harm their forest. Evidence that trees can be harvested in an environmentally responsible way could lead to more active management of private forests, with benefits for wildlife and landowners.

To learn how the Conservation Department manages its forests to protect streams and water quality, download a PDF of this booklet http://www.mdc.mo.gov/20867

Beat the Hunter Education Rush

If you need to attend a hunter education class and haven’t enrolled yet, do it now! The longer you wait, the greater the chances that classes will be full. To find a class near you, visit http://bit.ly/9dxTLV. You also can take the hunter education course online at www.hunter-ed.com/mo/. People born on or after Jan. 1, 1967, must complete an approved hunter education class or buy an Apprentice Hunter Authorization before buying hunting permits. Most hunters also need hunter education to mentor hunters who are not certified and not hunting on a landowner permit. Taking a hunter education class with a youngster, even if you are not required to, is an excellent bonding opportunity and helps set the tone for safe, ethical hunting experiences that build relationships and positive character traits.

New Books Explore the World of Mushrooms, Herps

The Nature Shop recently introduced two new must-have books for people who are fascinated by mushrooms and crawly things.

Show-Me Herps: An uncommonly colorful guide to 50 cool amphibians and reptiles in Missouri is a pocket-sized, 152-page guide with gorgeous color illustrations. Snakes, skinks, lizards, turtles, salamanders, frogs and toads all are represented, along with a wealth of information about where and how they live and how they affect our lives. The price is $7.95 plus sales tax and shipping and handling.

Another amazing addition to the Conservation Department’s book selection is Missouri’s Wild Mushrooms: A guide to hunting, identifying and cooking the state’s most common mushrooms. If names like Dead Man’s Fingers, Wolf’s Milk Slime, Fairy Ring, Big Laughing Gymn, Blusher and Destroying Angel make you wonder, this is where to satisfy your curiosity. The 185-page book provides clear color photos of these and dozens more fungi, along with detailed information about edibility, when and where they are found and look-alike species. There are even tips on preserving mushrooms and recipes such as “Shrimp Parmesan with Cinnabar Chanterelle Garni,” “Salmon with Black Trumpet Sauce,” and “Chanterelle and Bacon Pizza.” The price is $14 plus sales tax and shipping and handling.

To order either book, call toll free 877-521-8632 or visit www.mdcNatureShop.com.

Northeast Regional Office Receives ENERGY STAR® Award

The Missouri Department of Conservation’s (MDC) Northeast Regional Office recently earned U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) prestigious ENERGY STAR award.

The facility at 3500 S. Baltimore in Kirksville received the ENERGY STAR award for incorporating energy-efficient technologies into its construction and maintenance. These include geothermal heating, maximizing the use of natural daylight, efficient use of artificial lighting through dimmers and motion sensors, energy-efficient heatingventilation- and-cooling (HVAC) systems, a highly efficient structural insulated panel system (SIPS) for the building and processes that assure all equipment is operating as efficiently as possible.

ENERGY STAR certification is the national symbol for protecting the environment through superior energy efficiency. To qualify, buildings must perform in the top 25 percent of similar facilities nationwide for energy efficiency. The MDC facility joins only 27 other office buildings and a total of 93 facilities in Missouri to receive ENERGY STAR designation.

The Kirksville facility received a rating of 79 on the ENERGY STAR performance scale. This measurement helps organizations assess how efficiently their buildings use energy relative to similar buildings nationwide. A building that scores a 75 or higher on EPA’s 1-100 scale is eligible for the ENERGY STAR certification.

“The Conservation Department is pleased to accept the EPA’s ENERGY STAR award in recognition of our energy-efficiency efforts,” says MDC Director Robert Ziehmer. “This achievement highlights our continued commitment to conservation stewardship and wise use of funds through lowering energy costs.”

MDC Design and Development Division Chief Jacob Careaga added that the state agency is broadening its efforts to improve energy efficiency at other MDC offices and nature centers throughout Missouri by 20 percent over the next five years.

These energy-reduction efforts include simple actions, such as reminding employees to turn off lights, computers and other equipment when not in use. Other efforts include improved energy efficiency of HVAC systems and installing more energy-efficient lighting. Larger scale efforts include maximizing energy efficiency for new MDC facilities and for renovations of existing facilities.

“We use energy-conservation measures as much as possible in new construction and in renovations,” says Careaga. “These measures range from making sure that existing systems are operating as efficiently as possible to drilling wells for geothermal heating, utilizing natural daylight as much as possible, installing motionsensor lighting and selecting more energy- efficient equipment for replacement.”

Commercial buildings that earn the ENERGY STAR award use an average of 35 percent less energy than typical buildings. Commercial buildings that can earn the ENERGY STAR include offices, bank branches, financial centers, retail stores, courthouses, hospitals, hotels, schools, medical offices, supermarkets, dormitories, houses of worship and warehouses.

The EPA introduced ENERGY STAR in 1992 as a voluntary, market-based partnership to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through energy efficiency. Last year alone, Americans, with the help of ENERGY STAR, saved nearly $17 billion on their energy bills while reducing the greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to those of 30 million vehicles.—by Joe Jerek

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