News & Events

by Jim Low

Fishing Could Become an Intramural Sport

Missouri schools will have the opportunity this spring to decide whether bass fishing should become a school activity sanctioned by the Missouri State High School Activities Association (MSHSAA).

MSHSAA has announced bass fishing will be included on MSHSAA ’s annual ballot to start as an emerging activity. The ballot will be posted on the association’s website on April 1 and will be available for principals or superintendents to vote on until May 1.

“If 50 percent plus one school of the schools voting on the ballot vote yes to approve bass fishing as an emerging activity, then it will be recognized by MSHSAA ,” says MSHSAA Executive Director Kerwin Urhahn. “If it passes then the schools will be able to sign up for bass fishing for the 2013–14 school year. If we have two years of 50 or more schools signed up to participate, then we will have a state series for bass fishing beginning during the 2015–16 school year.”

Urhahn says MSHSAA would then begin working with participating schools and fishing experts to formulate the rules and guidelines for the series.

Illinois completed its fourth year of sanctioned bass fishing this year and Kentucky has sanctioned bass fishing as an activity for 2013.

For more information about the proposed high school fishing program in Missouri, visit missourihighschoolanglers.org.

Firearms Deer Harvest Report

Firearms deer hunters checked 257,307 deer last year. That is up 8 percent from 2011 and 13 percent more than the average of the 10 previous years. Harvest totals from the various segments of firearms deer season were:

  • Urban, 1,108
  • Early Youth, 19,277
  • November, 204,668
  • Antlerless, 15,136
  • Alternative Methods, 14,921
  • Late Youth, 2,197

Missouri has more than 511,000 deer hunters, who spend about $690 million in the state each year on related activities. This has an overall economic impact of $1.1 billion in Missouri each year and supports almost 12,000 jobs.

Tree Seedlings Still Available

With winter setting in, there’s plenty of time to curl up on the couch and strategize about what trees and shrubs to plant from George O. White State Forest Nursery. The catalog and order form are easy to find at mdc.mo.gov/node/4011. This year’s selections include 14 oak species, seven evergreens, black walnut, pecan, tulip poplar, bald cypress, black cherry, persimmon, pawpaw, dogwoods, deciduous holly, hazelnut, plum, ninebark, witch hazel, mulberry, elderberry, and much more. Several are offered in regular or extra-large sizes. Prices range from 16 cents to $1.60 each, depending on species, size, and quantity. In the past, the nursery has offered special bundles with assortments of different species. This year, buyers will be encouraged to create their own bundles by combining seedlings that fit their needs. To make this easier, the nursery has reduced the minimum order from 25 seedlings per species to 10. At least 10 seedlings of each species must be ordered.

Deer, Turkey Season Dates Set

At its December meeting, the Conservation Commission set the following dates for 2013 turkeyand deer-hunting seasons.

  • Youth turkey season, April 6–7
  • Regular spring turkey season,
  • April 15–May 5
  • Fall firearms turkey season, Oct. 1–31

Turkey bag limits and shooting hours remain the same as last year. Additional details, including spring managed turkey hunts and regulations for spring turkey hunting on conservation areas, will be published in the spring turkey hunting regulation guide in March.

  • Urban portion of deer season, Oct. 11–14
  • Early youth portion, Nov. 2–3
  • November portion, Nov. 16–26
  • Antlerless portion, Nov. 27–Dec. 8
  • Alternative methods portion, Dec. 21–31
  • Late youth portion, Jan. 4–5

Other deer-hunting regulations will be set this spring. Details will be published online and in the fall deer hunting regulation guide.

Managed Turkey Hunt Applications

Hunters have until Feb. 28 to apply for managed spring turkey hunts. This year’s offerings include managed hunts for archers, youths, and people with disabilities. Managed turkey hunts are listed in the 2013 Spring Turkey Hunting Regulations and Information booklet, which is available at mdc.mo.gov/7498. A print version will be available from hunting permit vendors statewide later this month.

Visit a Champion This Month

Winter, when leaves are on the ground, is the best time to see Missouri’s champion trees and look for new ones. You might find one near home.

Missouri has more than 100 champion trees scattered across every region of the state. The St. Louis area is the champion-tree champion, with 14 records on the list in either St. Louis city or county.

Six Missouri champion trees are national champions: a burr oak in Boone County with a score of 410 points, a pumpkin ash in Mississippi County with 357, a basswood in St. Louis with 272, an eastern wahoo in St. Louis County with 156, an Ozark chinkapin in Barry County with 107, and a prairie crabapple in Callaway County with 70.

A tree’s score is the sum of its height in feet, its trunk circumference in inches, and one quarter of its average spread in feet. Since precise measurements of height and spread are difficult to obtain, trees that score within a few points of one another are counted as co-champions. An example is the hop hornbeam, for which Missouri has three champions, all within two points of each other.

Missouri’s biggest champion tree is an American sycamore in Polk County that stands 94 feet tall, has a circumference of 333 inches, and an average spread of 120 feet for a total score of 457. That tree also holds Missouri’s record for trunk circumference. The tree with the widest average spread is Boone County’s burr oak at 130 feet. Two trees — a pumpkin ash in Mississippi County and a shumard oak in Cape Girardeau County, are tied for tallest at 150 feet.

Many state-champion trees are on private property, but dozens more are on conservation areas, state parks, and other land open to the public. For a list of champion trees, visit mdc.mo.gov/294. For more about the program, visit mdc.mo.gov/node/6583.

Be Bear Aware

Spring might seem a long way off, but black bears start getting more active at this time of year, and their empty stomachs put them at risk. You can help keep bears safe by not encouraging them to form dangerous food habits.

Natural foods are scarce right now, so bears are more prone to ignore their natural fear of humans and seek nourishment in trash cans, livestock feed bins, or even bird feeders. Bears that get used to mooching from humans often get in trouble. Some have to be destroyed.

Bears can turn up almost anywhere in Missouri, but they are most common south of I-44. If you live in southern Missouri, take the following precautions to avoid tempting bears.

  • Never intentionally feed bears.
  • Do not feed pets outdoors.
  • Keep garbage, livestock feed, and other potential attractants in outbuildings or bear-proof containers.
  • Clean up feed spills completely.
  • Put out garbage as near to pick-up time as possible.
  • If a bear visits your bird feeders, take them down for two or three months to avoid becoming a regular stop on its foraging rounds.
  • Clean outdoor grills after each use and store them in sheds.
  • Don’t place meat or sweet food scraps in your compost pile.
  • Never cook, eat, or store food in tents or sleeping areas when camping.
  • Keep camp food locked inside vehicles when not in use.
  • If a bear enters your campsite, get inside your vehicle and stay there until the bear leaves.

If you see a bear, please report it to the nearest Conservation Department office or call 573-751-4115.

Community Foresters Conference

The Missouri Community Forestry Council’s annual conference is set for March 5 through 7 in Joplin, and will revolve around the theme of reparing urban forests for storms and other natural disasters.

In addition to the usual selection of speakers, discussions, and networking opportunities, the 2013 conference also will feature Ed Gilman, PhD, of the University of Florida. Gillman is a respected expert on urban trees and landscaping. He will lead a pre-conference workshop, speak at two sessions during the conference, and contribute his expertise on storm damage in urban forests.

This conference brings together tree experts working in urban areas around the state to make community forests safe, healthy, and resilient. To register, visit mocommunitytrees.com/mcfc conference2013.html.

Elk Trapping Resumes

Missouri’s elk-restoration program entered its third year in December when Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources staff began baiting corral-type traps in the

Bluegrass State. Kentucky and MDC staff began active trapping in January, after free-roaming elk had grown accustomed to entering the enclosures. With favorable weather, MDC hopes to trap 50 elk this year. Fifteen of these are to go to Virginia, which has partnered with Missouri and Kentucky in the trapping effort.

The other 35 are earmarked for transportation to Missouri in May. To date, MDC has brought 69 elk from the Appalachian Mountains of eastern Kentucky to Missouri. MDC continues to work with public and private partners to create and enhance habitat within the 221,440-acre elk restoration zone and is monitoring the health

and reproduction of the Show-Me State’s growing elk herd.

Did You Know?

We work with you and for you to sustain healthy forests. Missouri Forests and Forests Products Industry

  • Missouri has 15.4 million acres of forestland (1/3 of the state). MDC manages about 601,510 acres of forest land.
  • The majority of the forestland is privately owned (83 percent). Only 17 percent of Missouri’s forestland is held in public trust (12 percent federal and 5 percent state).
  •  In 2009, 592 million board feet were harvested in Missouri.
  • The average volume harvested on MDC forestland is about 16 million board feet.
  • MDC conducts timber harvest on conservation areas to enhance natural plant communities, wildlife habitat, and forest health. Under these objectives, forest management decisions are based on forest inventory data, land capabilities, existing vegetation, and surrounding land uses.
  • Forest management is a long term commitment that spans decades and involves forest management practices beyond timber harvest.
  • The key to maintaining the health of Missouri’s forests is sustainable management of private forestland because 83 percent of the forestland and 91 percent of the timber volume comes from private land.
  • Opinion surveys indicate that 51 percent of Missourians approve of cutting down trees to make lumber, furniture, or other wood products. Two-thirds of Missourians approve of cutting trees to improve wildlife habitat and more than 91 percent of Missouri citizens agree with cutting trees to maintain forest health.
  • The forest products industry contributes $7.3 billion to
  • Missouri’s economy and supports 41,200 jobs (2011 data). MDC timber sales return average revenue of $2.4 million.
  • MDC partners with the Missouri Forest Products Association to conduct Professional Timber Harvester Training. Professional Timber
  • Harvester training is required to purchase MDC timber sales.
  • MDC is working with the Missouri Forest Products Association and the Missouri Loggers Council to improve the image of the forest products industry through the support of the Missouri Master Logger Certification and the Logger of the Year programs.

Friday Opener Means Busy Trout Parks

March 1, opening day for catch-and-keep season at Missouri’s four trout parks, falls on Friday this year, which means the parks will be extra busy. Attendance always is greater when the opener falls on a weekend, but throngs of cheerful, excited anglers and spectators are part of the event’s charm. It also doesn’t hurt that MDC stocks tens of thousands of 12-inch rainbow trout in four trout streams to ensure good fishing. Opening morning finds anglers lining the banks of Bennett Spring State Park (SP) near Lebanon, Roaring River SP near Cassville, Montauk SP near Salem, and Maramec Spring Park near St. James. They also line up at park stores to buy fishing permits, trout tags, bait, and other fishing essentials. Daily trout tags are sold only at the parks, but you can shorten time standing in line by purchasing your fishing permit ahead of time from any permit vendor statewide or online at mdc.mo.gov/node/9258. For trout park information, visit mdc.mo.gov/2852.

What is it?

Snow Geese

Chen caerulescens

These medium-sized geese are common in marshes, rivers, lakes, and crop fields during early spring as they migrate north. Their large, calling chevrons flying overhead during migration are a timeless symbol of the changing seasons. Snow geese overwinter in the southern part of their range, including Missouri, and return north to the arctic tundra to nest. Pairs form during each bird’s second spring migration and the couples stay together for life. To read more about snow geese, listen to audio of their calls, or to watch a video of snow geese, visit mdc.mo.gov/node/2908. —Photo by David Stonner