Can you guess this month’s natural wonder?
News and updates from MDC
MDC, Missouri legislature, Governor Parson work together to advance legislation.
Governor Mike Parson signed HB260 into law July 11. Called the Poaching Bill, it significantly raises fines for those convicted of illegally taking Missouri game species and other native wildlife. HB260 was sponsored by Rep. Jered Taylor of Republic and Sen. Mike Bernskoetter of Jefferson City.
New fine amounts include $10,000–$15,000 for each elk or black bear killed illegally, $1,000– $5,000 for each white-tailed buck, $500–$1,000 for each wild turkey, and $500–$1,000 for each paddlefish. The fines are determined by a judge, and fines collected go to the state’s education funds. The new fines went into effect Aug. 28.
If you have information on poaching, call Operation Game Thief at 1-800-392-1111. Earlier this year, MDC increased the penalty points given to individuals convicted of violating the Wildlife Code of Missouri for illegal activities, including poaching. Depending on the violation, MDC assigns a point value, ranging from zero to 16. Learn more about the point system for wildlife violations at short.mdc.mo.gov/Zg5.
Changes to the reservation system for managed waterfowl hunts begin this hunting season.
Starting this season, 50 percent of daily hunting spots at managed areas will be offered through online reservations. Of those online reservations, half will be for preseason applications and half will be allocated during a weekly in-season application period. The remaining 50 percent of spots will be held for hunters who participate in the daily morning draw, called the “poor line.”
The preseason reservation period will run Sept. 1–18 with results posted Oct. 1. The in-season weekly drawings will take place on Monday afternoons with a seven-day application period that opens the Tuesday before and closes the Monday of the draw at 3 p.m. Successful hunters will be notified via email or text message after the draw with their hunt date, location, and pill assignment. “Pills” designate the order hunting parties select their hunting locations on the area. The lower the number, the sooner hunting parties get to select their hunting location.
All applicants for waterfowl reservations must have their required permits to apply, and their Federal Duck Stamp to hunt.
Hunters with disabilities will now need to apply to use ADA hunting blinds through the online reservation system during the same timeframe as the preseason application period.
The changes are based on feedback from waterfowl hunters and other research.
For more information on waterfowl reservations, visit mdc.mo.gov and search Waterfowl Reservations, or get a copy of the Migratory Bird and Waterfowl Hunting Digest 2019–2020, available where permits are sold.
Deer hunters can have their harvested deer sampled for chronic wasting disease (CWD) at select MDC offices, through participating taxidermists, and meat processors for free during the entire deer hunting season — Sept. 15, 2019–Jan. 15, 2020. For more information, visit Voluntary Sampling at mdc.mo.gov/cwd.
MDC asks hunters to field dress and Telecheck deer before taking them for sampling. Hunters can bring the entire deer for sampling, or just the head with about 6 inches of neck in place. Deer heads that have the cape removed for taxidermy also can be sampled.
Sampling results will be available online at mdc.mo.gov/CWDTestResults.
MDC has found 116 cases of CWD in Missouri since 2012. To learn more, visit mdc.mo.gov/cwd.
MDC’s Migratory Bird and Waterfowl Hunting Digest for the 2019– 2020 hunting season is available where permits are sold and online at short.mdc.mo.gov/ZpP. The free guide has detailed information on permits and duck-stamp requirements, hunting seasons and limits, hunting areas, regulations, and more.
New points of interest for the upcoming season include:
Missouri deer and turkey hunters can get current information on fall hunting from the 2019 Fall Deer and Turkey Hunting & Regulations Information booklet, available where permits are sold and online at short.mdc.mo.gov/ ZgS. The booklet has detailed information on fall deer and turkey hunting seasons, limits, permits, managed hunts, regulations, conservation areas to hunt, post-harvest instructions, and more.
Changes for 2019 include:
Send it to AskMDC@mdc.mo.gov or call 573-522-4115, ext. 3848.
Q: I had a very curious encounter with a snapping turtle. The turtle came up to me, cautious at first and still under water. He followed me for 30 minutes. He retreated, but eventually drew close again, within 4 feet. I’ve read turtles can see a color of red that humans cannot perceive. I was wearing purple pants and a pink shirt. Is it possible this turtle was fascinated by the color of my clothing?
A. Because turtles’ eyes contain rods and cones, scientists believe some turtles can see a range of color.
Exactly why this turtle was attracted to you we don’t know. It may involve past exposure to humans or the color of your clothing. It’s possible this turtle was acclimated to people as someone’s pet, and therefore was unafraid. As to being attracted to you, it’s possible you either resemble someone who fed the turtle for a time or it was fed by someone who frequently wore clothes in the red spectrum.
It’s also possible this turtle learned to associate humans with easy prey. This occurs in places where anglers frequently confine their catch on a stringer or clean their fish near the water’s edge and throw the refuse in the water.
Q: Recently, I watched a carpenter bee visit my nasturtiums. Traveling from bloom to bloom, the bee landed on the colorful petals, but didn’t crawl inside the flowers. What was it doing?
A. You observed the carpenter bee’s nectar-robbing behavior. Flowers often have specialized shapes and colors, depending on its pollinators. Your nasturtium blossoms have long, narrow spurs that house nectar just beyond the area where pollination occurs. This floral anatomy typically attracts pollinators with long mouthparts, such as butterflies or hummingbirds.
Since carpenter bees have shorter tongues, they chew a hole in the base of the nectar spur to “rob” the sweet liquid. This breaks the plant-pollinator “agreement” because the carpenter bee is benefitting from the flower’s nectar without providing pollination services in return.
Q: Can you tell me more about this hummingbird’s unusual coloration? Could it be an albino?
A. This ruby-throated hummingbird is probably not a true albino, but it may be leucistic.
Leucism is a condition in which there is partial loss of pigmentation in an animal resulting in white, pale, or patchy coloration of the skin, hair, feathers, scales, or cuticle, but not the eyes. Unlike albinism, it is caused by a reduction in multiple types of pigment, not just melanin. Typically, leucistic animals are partly white, with brown, tan, and gray coloring.
One way to tell the difference between a leucistic animal and an albino is that albinos have white or pink eyes. The dark specks in this bird’s plumage and its dark eyes are signs of leucism, since albinism is the complete lack of pigment everywhere.
Although leucism is not a common condition, we do see it from time to time in nature.
The male stag beetle’s most prominent feature — its pincers — is actually its jaw. This antlerlike feature is used for fighting over females, similar to male elk and deer. The female’s pincers are much less imposing, but still well developed. The giant stag beetle measures from less than ½ inch to nearly 2 ½ inches and is usually black, brownish, or reddish brown. They can be found along the forest floor or sandy stream banks near driftwood.
Dove season opens Sept. 1, and many hunters will head to public areas to bag a few birds. These areas can get crowded, so be aware of your surroundings. Always allow plenty of space between you and your fellow hunters. Pay attention to signs posted on areas you’re hunting. Wear eye protection — either sunglasses or safety glasses.
For new regulations on toxic versus nontoxic shot, check Page 8 of the Migratory Bird and Waterfowl Hunting Digest 2019–2020, available where
permits are sold or online at short.mdc.mo.gov/ZpP.
Due to recent flooding, some MDC areas were not planted with sunflowers or other crops. Find maps of MDC dove areas at short.mdc.mo.gov/ZgL.
Spotlight on people and partners.
By Madi Nolte
Larry Strack, a retired system engineer for the Federal Aviation Administration, has a lifelong interest in conservation, first sparked by 4-H forestry projects. Today, Strack feeds his interest by improving his 120-acre property in St. Clair County. He has a Forest Stewardship plan written for the area, which is also registered with the American Tree Farm System. Strack also owns grassland property in Pettis County, which he manages with prescribed burns and invasive species removal.
Strack has done much of the work himself. “Larry takes pride in his land and the fact that owning land comes with responsibility,” said MDC Forester Scott Hollabaugh, who began working with Strack in 2016.
“I would say my interest was like a fire. It starts with a tiny spark and continues to grow with the accumulation of experiences and knowledge,” Strack said.
What’s your conservation superpower?
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