Miscellany

Ask the Ombudsman

Q: How far must a hunter be from the road to fire his or her weapon?

A: There is not a standard distance from the road surface that applies everywhere. The relevant state statute (RSMO 571.030) prohibits shooting “on, along or across a public highway…” The highway includes the road surface and right-of-way associated with the public road. The width of the right-of-way can vary between roads and even along the same road. It is usually clear where the right-of-way ends because there will be a fence, a tree line, a pasture or crop field or some other change in land use that will indicate the end of public road maintenance. Even if the hunter is beyond the right-of-way, care must be taken to avoid shooting across the road or along the right-of-way.

Q: A flock of robins came to an old holly tree in our yard and spent at least five days picking all the berries from the tree. There must have been 50 or more birds. Is this common?

A: It is common for robins to really go after holly berries as you observed. They will ignore the berries for months and then strip the tree of fruit in a short period of time, usually in late winter. Presumably, the taste or consistency of the fruit changes through the freezing and thawing periods of the winter and eventually reaches a condition that is preferred by the birds. The same behavior occurs with other birds, such as cedar waxwings, and with other trees and shrubs that keep their fruits into late winter.


Ombudsman Tim Smith will respond to your questions, suggestions or complaints concerning Department of Conservation programs. Write him at PO Box 180, Jefferson City, MO 65102-0180, call him at 573-522-4115, ext. 3848, or e-mail him at Ombudsman@mdc.mo.gov.