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Eagle Days Start Dec. 7

Each year, the Conservation Department encourages people to discover nature by attending Eagle Day events around the state. These typically include outdoor viewing of wild eagles and indoor programs with live, captive eagles, plus exhibits, activities, videos, guides with spotting scopes, and refreshments. Following is this year’s Eagle Day event schedule.

  • Mound City, Squaw Creek National Wildlife Refuge, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Dec. 7 and 8. For more information call 816-271-3100.
  • Smithville Lake, Little Platte Park Course Complex, Smithville, 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Jan. 4, and 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Jan. 5. For more information call 816-532-0174.
  • St. Louis, Old Chain of Rock Bridge south of I-270 off Riverview Drive, 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. Jan. 18 and 19. For more information, call 314-877-1309.
  • Springfield Conservation Nature Center, 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. Jan. 18 and 12:30 until 4:30 p.m. Jan. 19. For more information call 417-888-4237.
  • Clarksville, Lock & Dam 24 and Apple Shed Theater, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Jan. 25 and 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. Jan. 26. For more information call 660-785-2420.
  • Shell City Community Center and Shell-Osage Conservation Area (CA), 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. Feb. 8. For more information call 417-876-5226.

Can’t make Eagle Days? View eagles in the wild at numerous locations throughout the state including:

  • Lake of the Ozarks, Bagnell Dam Access east of Bagnell
  • Eagle Bluffs CA, off Route K southwest of Columbia
  • Lock & Dam 24, Clarksville, Mississippi River
  • Lock & Dam 25, east of Winfield, Mississippi River
  • Mingo National Wildlife Refuge (NWR), northwest of Puxico
  • Old Chain of Rocks Bridge, St. Louis
  • Riverlands Migratory Bird Sanctuary, east of West Alton
  • Schell-Osage CA, north of El Dorado Springs
  • Squaw Creek NWR, south of Mound City
  • Swan Lake NWR, south of Sumner
  • Table Rock Lake, southwest of Branson
  • Truman Reservoir, west of Warsaw

Dress for the weather and don’t forget cameras and binoculars. For an Eagle Days brochure, visit mdc.mo.gov.

Fall Turkey, Early Portion Deer Harvest Reports

Hunters checked 5,929 turkeys during the month-long fall firearms turkey season. The fall firearms turkey harvest has been declining since the 1980s, when Missouri’s turkey flock was still growing rapidly. Causes of the decline include increased popularity of archery deer hunting and many other competing autumn outdoor activities.

Meanwhile, hunters checked 600 deer in the Urban Portion of Firearms Deer Season, and hunters age 6 through 15 added another 18,676 to this year’s firearms deer harvest during the Early Youth Portion.

The urban-portion harvest was fewer than the average of approximately 1,000 per year since the urban hunt began in 2003. It is consistent with harvests for other years when warm weather prevailed during the urban portion.

The early youth deer harvest was 44 percent larger than the previous 10-year average. Factors contributing to the increase included excellent hunting weather and increasing participation in the youth portion.

Marilynn Bradford Joins Conservation Commission

Gov. Jeremiah “Jay” Nixon has appointed a central Missouri native with lifelong interests in the outdoors and a proven commitment to public service to a six-year term on the Conservation Commission.

Marilynn J. Bradford, (I), Jefferson City, has a diverse background in government, private business and citizen conservation. Her term on the Conservation Commission will run through June 30, 2019.

Bradford’s diverse career includes more than 20 years of public service in state government with the departments of Agriculture and Social Services, working primarily in community and media relations.

While employed by the state, Bradford worked with national media, including the New York Times, USA Today, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, and the Public Broadcasting Service. She worked extensively with state and national foundations developing grant funding for Missouri initiatives

A life member of the Conservation Federation of Missouri, Bradford served on the planning committee for the federation’s 2009 Summit on the Future of Missouri Outdoors.

Conservation Department Director Robert L. Ziehmer says the agency is certain to benefit from Bradford’s diverse experience. “Her long-time commitment to Missouri, interest in the outdoors and her work with various organizations gives her a firm foundation of knowledge about conservation issues. We could not be more pleased with her selection to serve on the Conservation Commission.”

Bradford and her husband are co-owners of Pyramid Home Health Services, which serves more than 3,000 elderly and disabled Missourians. They also co-own a 1,000-acre timber and hunting property in Wayne and Madison counties and a rice farm in Pemiscot County.

Bradford says her interest in conservation began as a child growing up in the “Mayberry-like” setting in Jefferson City.

“To my mother’s dismay, I was a tomboy from the get-go,” says Bradford. “My dad ran a Western Auto store and my main interests were the cap-guns and BB rifles they sold. I always wanted a Daisy BB gun.”

“We had a creek across the street and all the kids in the neighborhood took advantage of catching tadpoles, frogs, turtles, fish, and even a few small snakes. There were woods nearby where we could invent games and let our imaginations run wild.

“That’s where I remember the early evening call of the whippoorwills and owls later at night. My family enjoyed fishing and boating and we took many outings on the Osage River and to the Lake of the Ozarks and Bennett Springs.”

Her early exposure to Missouri’s trout parks was reinforced when her husband introduced her to fly-fishing, one of her favorite pastimes today.

“We have taken fishing trips across the country,” says Bradford, “but there is no better fishing than right here in Missouri.”

Bradford counts her Great Aunt Fredricka Simonsen among her formative influences.

“She was my role model,” says Bradford. “She was a true trailblazing woman. She was Missouri’s first woman pharmacist in 1899. Her spirit shaped my beliefs today and my desire to serve the public.”

Summing up her commitment, she says, “I am a fourth-generation Missourian and deeply love this state — its beauty and diversity are unmatched. There truly is no better place to live. It is a great honor to be asked to serve as a Conservation Commissioner, and I am proud to join the ranks of so many volunteer conservation leaders who have worked together to preserve our state’s natural beauty and environment for future generations.”

“Being a grandmother of 4-year-old twins reminds me daily of the important task that is ahead and the significance of this position. I look forward to contributing my energies and efforts for the Missouri Department of Conservation and our children’s future.”

Bradford replaces Don Johnson, Festus, who served from 2007 through 2013.

The Missouri Conservation Commission controls, manages, restores, conserves and regulates the bird, fish, game, forestry and all wildlife resources of the state, including hatcheries, sanctuaries, refuges, reservations and all other property owned, acquired, or used for such purposes, as well as the acquisition and establishment of those properties.

Grouse Restoration Still Not Feasible

A two-year study strongly indicates that further attempts at restoring ruffed grouse to the river hills of east-central Missouri would be impractical at this time.

The Conservation Department translocated more than 5,000 ruffed grouse from other Midwestern states to suitable habitat mostly in the central Ozarks, north-central, and east-central Missouri between the 1950s and the 1990s. But unlike the wild turkey restoration program, grouse restoration has not produced long-term success. During the past 20 years, grouse numbers have dwindled in Missouri, only a few remain today.

The Conservation Department undertook the study in 2011 in response to interest from the Missouri Grouse Chapter of the Quail and Upland Wildlife Federation (QUWF) and private landowners to restock grouse in the Missouri River hills. The effort used cutting-edge technology to determine if a portion of the river hills region could sustain a ruffed grouse population if birds from other states were released there.

The Conservation Department has used partnerships with federal agencies, nongovernmental organizations, and private landowners in the river hills region in an attempt to create more of the habitat that grouse need. Especially important to grouse is “early-successional” forest habitat that develops after forest management disturbance, such as timber harvests. The two-year study was aimed at determining whether habitat management efforts had changed the river hills landscape enough to make it suitable for ruffed grouse.

The Missouri Resource Assessment Partnership developed land-cover type maps and used light detection and ranging (LIDAR) data to assess canopy height within the study area. During the second year, results of the land cover and LIDAR data analysis enabled Resource Scientist Jason Isabelle and collaborators with the USDA Forest Service to conduct population modeling to determine how a restocked population might respond to the amount of habitat available. The study’s collaborators determined that the river hills region would not be able to meet the birds’ needs, given the amount of habitat that is currently available.

Ruffed grouse are not nearly as adaptable as their larger relatives, wild turkeys, and require young, dense, forested habitats to survive.

“Without sufficient amounts of early-successional forest habitat, ruffed grouse are simply not able to persist,” says Isabelle.

Conservation work completed on private and public land, with the assistance of the Department, in the River Hills Conservation Opportunity Area has improved habitat for wild turkey, white-tailed deer, quail, songbirds, and other wildlife.

Missouri is not alone in experiencing declines in ruffed grouse numbers. Populations of the bird have declined throughout much of their southern range as a result of forest maturation.

WHAT IS IT?

Black Bear Ursus americanus

The black bear is the only species of bear found in Missouri. Black bears live mostly south of the Missouri River in heavily wooded areas. In winter they den in a hollow tree, cave, an excavated hollow in the ground, or another shelter. Black bears eat a variety of foods, including berries, nuts, the inner bark of trees, insects, fish, frogs, small rodents, fawns, bird eggs, and many kinds of carrion. Mating is in May or June, but the development of eggs is arrested for 6 or 7 months. The eggs continue development about the time that bears enter hibernation, in October or November. Usually two to three cubs are born in late January or February — sometimes while the mother is still asleep. —photo by Noppadol Paothong

Give the Gift of Nature This Year

Are you wondering how to find the right gift for everyone on your holiday shopping list without breaking the bank? The Nature Shop online could be the answer.

The 2014 Natural Events Calendar has 365 days’ worth of visual thrills and insights into natural phenomena from meteor showers to wildlife birthing seasons. At $7, plus shipping and sales tax, where applicable, it is the bargain of the year.

The Conservation Department’s newest book, The Promise Continues: 75 years of Citizen-Led Conservation in Missouri, and a companion DVD, chronicle progress made in restoring and preserving Missouri’s forests, fish, and wildlife since the agency’s creation by a vote of the people in 1936. The handsome, hardbound book sells for $15, the DVD for $8, plus shipping and sales tax, where applicable.

Paddlers on your list would love a copy of the recently updated Paddler’s Guide to Missouri. The $8 guide has been substantially expanded to include color photos, maps, and minute details about Missouri’s most popular float streams, plus dozens of lesser tributaries. In all, the book covers 58 rivers and streams in every corner of the state.

Another great buy is Cooking Wild in Missouri, a lavishly illustrated guide to cooking the Show-Me State’s bounty of wild game, fish, mushrooms, nuts, and fruits. The 200-page book has recipes ranging from Italian gelato and Korean barbecued venison to classic American dishes. For $15, this book has something for every cook on your shopping list.

You can see the full selection of books, greeting cards, DVDs, CDs, and more at mdcnatureshop.com. Order online or by calling toll-free 877-521-8632. Many Nature Shop items also are available at conservation nature centers.

At a loss for a gift for the hunter or angler who has everything? Consider a lifetime permit. The Resident Lifetime Small Game Hunting Permit costs as little as $35 for Missouri hunters 60 or older. The same permit is an amazing bargain at $275 for Missouri residents 15 and younger. Lifetime Conservation Partner Permits, which include hunting and fishing privileges, start at $70 for Missouri residents 60 and older.

Lifetime permits are not available over the counter. For information about how to apply for one, visit mdc.mo.gov/8849, call 573-522-4115, ext. 3574, or write to Lifetime Permits, Missouri Department of Conservation. PO Box 180, Jefferson City, MO 65102-0180.

DID YOU KNOW?

Conservation works with you and for you.

Birders: Citizen Conservationists

  • CACHE, or the Conservation Area Checklist project, is an asset to birds and birdwatchers. The Web-based database, created by the Audubon Society of Missouri and the Department of Conservation, tracks the occurrence of birds on Conservation lands. The data collected are used to enhance bird habitats and birding opportunities.
  • Audubon Society of Missouri members add information to the database about birds sighted during their visits to Conservation lands. The Department of Conservation uses the bird monitoring information to create or adjust land management plans to help restore or maintain healthy bird populations.
  • Birders use CACHE as a source of information for birdwatching locations. To view CACHE information, including area checklists or how to join or enter information, visit mobirds.org.
  • Quick CACHE facts for Conservation Department areasÈÈ17,361,120 — Total individual birds reported
    358 — Distinct species reported in all areas
    24,392 — Total trips reported in all areas
    22,466 — Total volunteer hours reported in all areas
  • CACHE began in 2005. Initially, it was meant to collect bird sightings to generate printable checklists and bird occurrence data for each conservation area. However, the information is also useful for making land management decisions that benefit birds.
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