It's been a little bit since we have done an update. Here is what you need to know to get out and enjoy the outdoors around Missouri as well as conservation, environmental, and fish and wildlife management news
MDC uses computer and satellite technology for deer study
Biologists for the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) are learning more about white-tailed deer survival, reproduction and movement as a five-year study progresses. The new study utilizes computer, telemetry and satellite technology to track deer in partnership with researchers at the University of Missouri at Columbia (UMC).
Researchers are currently tracking 90 deer wearing collars using Global Positioning System (GPS) technology. Crews from January through March trapped deer and placed collars on them. Transmitters on the collars give satellites readings on a deer’s movements, and biologists are able to download that data to computers. They can map each collared deer’s travels in fields and forests, or if movement stops, note mortality.
The trapping was done in one focus area in northwest Missouri and another in the Ozarks. Those study areas will provide deer herd trends statewide for both agriculture and forest areas. The information will help MDC manage the state’s deer herd to benefit people and wildlife.
“We want to make sure we’re using the most up-to-date information for current conditions,” said Emily Flinn, MDC deer biologist. “This will help us manage for a sustainable, healthy deer population.”
Missourians care about wildlife, and deer hold a special place in the hearts of hunters and wildlife watchers. More than 500,000 Missouri citizens enjoy deer hunting. Deer hunting generates more than $1 billion in the state’s economic activity annually.
MDC will use information from the current study to help guide decisions on deer herd management. Survival data will include deer harvested by hunters as well as those dying from other causes. Biologists will use information to help guide policy decisions about regulations and permit allocations, such as how many antlerless deer permits are allowed for a specific county. MDC collects and evaluates data on deer annually. But this is the first extensive tracking research project since the early 1990s.
“The deer population was different then,” Flinn said, “and even the hunter population was different back then.”
The GPS tracking technology is a centerpiece for the study. GPS transmitters have a battery life of three or four years. Biologists can release the collar at any time from a deer via computer.
Trapped deer were also given metal ear tags. Biologists also obtained tissue samples for a DNA database. For some trapped deer, they obtained measurements of hind legs, neck girth or antler size. Anyone finding a deer collar or tag is asked to utilize information on devices to contact MDC.
A high-tech component is internal transmitting devices that enable biologists to tell if a doe has given birth to a fawn. MDC staff will be able to find fawns shortly after birth and outfit them with special transmitter collars that expand as the deer grows.
The study will not affect hunting. Hunters will be asked to harvest deer as they normally would, even if one has a collar. Harvest mortality is valuable to the study.
One deer has already surprised biologists. An adult doe given a collar in early March has traveled more than eight miles. Adult deer are normally expected to roam within about a one-mile home range, Flinn said.
“Every day we’re getting more information,” she said.
The northwest Missouri portion of the study is focused in rural areas of Nodaway, Gentry, Andrew and DeKalb counties. Concurrently, a similar research is underway in Douglass, Howell, Texas and Wright counties in the southern Missouri Ozarks. The deer research project is funded with assistance from Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Funds.
Trash Bash event promotes “No MOre Trash” at Onondaga Cave State Park April 18
The public is invited to do their part to keep unsightly litter from building up on roadways at an event at Onondaga Cave State Park in Leasburg on Saturday, April 18. Sponsored by Missouri State Parks, the Missouri Department of Conservation and the Missouri Department of Transportation, the event is part of the ongoing No MOre Trash statewide litter awareness campaign. Participants should meet at the visitor center at 10 a.m.
The day will begin with a short safety video and distribution of safety vests and trash bags. Participants should bring gloves, wear sturdy boot or shoes and dress appropriately for changing weather conditions. Refreshments will be available for those who participate.
Onondaga Cave State Park is located seven miles south of Interstate 44 on State Hwy H. For more information about the event, call the park at 573-245-6576. For more information on state parks and historic sites, visit mostateparks.com. Missouri State Parks is a division of the Missouri Department of Natural Resources.
New nature program series offered for toddlers at Knob Noster State Park
A new nature series geared toward children ages 3-6 will begin at Knob Noster State Park on Thursday, April 16. The programs, which will begin at 1 p.m., will include a brief talk, hands on activity, and a craft.
Session 1 on April 16 will deal with plants.
Session 2 on May 14 will deal with animals.
Session 3 on June 18 will deal with habitats and the ecosystems.
Session 4 on July 16 will deal with the mysteries of nature.
Guests are encouraged to come early enough to enjoy a picnic lunch at one of the park’s picnic areas. Parents should be aware that participants may get a little dirty as they discover the natural world. Preregistration is preferred to ensure enough supplies are available.
Knob Noster State Park is located approximately 1.5 miles south of Highway 50 on Highway 23. For more information or to register, call the park at 660-563-2463. For more information about state parks and historic sites, visit mostateparks.com. Missouri State Parks is a division of the Missouri Department of Natural Resources.
MDC offers forest and wildlife workshop in Callaway County
Want to improve wildlife on your property? Are you looking to increase your timber yields? The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) is hosting a forest and wildlife workshop for landowners from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, April 18 at Bill and Margie Haag's property, 8801 Little Tavern Creek Rd. in Portland, Mo. The workshop is free, however registration is required by April 15.
MDC staff will discuss managing woodland landscapes, prescribed fire benefits, ruffed grouse habitat requirements, ways to improve timber, conducting a timber sale, available cost-share programs, and wildlife management.
“This workshop will give landowners a better understanding about the benefits of managing wooded areas on their property,” said MDC Private Lands Conservationist Jamie Barton. “Whether it's to increase wildlife on their land or to learn about various land management tools such as prescribed fire, participants will hear about practices that will help them achieve their land management goals.”
Lunch will be provided by the Missouri Grouse Chapter of the Quail and Upland Wildlife Federation (QUWF).
To register or for more information call Barton at 573-564-3715, ext. 110.
For information about how to improve your property, visit mdc.mo.gov.
MDC Cape Nature Center event features live raptors, bird fun, facts and tips
From hummingbirds that weigh less than a number two pencil, to bald eagles that build nests weighing two tons, Missouri is full of interesting bird species. Fun facts, feeding tips and species differences will be explored at the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) Cape Girardeau Conservation Nature Center’s upcoming event, Flights of Fancy, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Saturday, April 18.
According to Jordanya Brostoski, a naturalist with MDC, there’s plenty of important facts to learn from Missouri’s resident and migrant feathered friends. Brostoski said one important thing to pay attention to is the proper way to feed local birds. Although birds can get by without help from us, helping them along their journey is a great way to assist some who might otherwise struggle, she said.
“Even the healthiest birds can have difficulty finding food sources when visiting unfamiliar, urbanized areas,” she said. “Providing birds with clean food and water not only brings us the joy of viewing them but allows them a better chance at survival.”
Knowing unique details about the different bird species and what they need helps to ensure people help and don’t harm the birds along their journey. One common mistake that’s made in feeding birds is adding red dye to hummingbird feeders. Although hummingbirds are attracted to bright red objects, it’s better to have red features on the feeder so the birds don’t ingest red dye. Tips like this one will be shared at the Flights of Fancy event.
Brostoski said some of the most interesting things about birds are how they’re adapted for the varying lifestyles of different species.
“Some have long legs for walking in water, some have sharp beaks for eating meat instead of seeds, some have camouflage that let them hide, and some have the ability to copy the songs of other bird species,”Brostoski said.
Brostoski said to expect lots of activities at Flights of Fancy such as family friendly crafts and games. Live bird presentations by the World Bird Sanctuary’s Raptor Awareness Program will occur at 10:30 a.m., 11:30 a.m., and 12:30 p.m. featuring hawks, owls, eagles and vultures, and naturalists and volunteers will lead guided hikes every 30 minutes.
The Cape Girardeau Conservation Nature Center is located within Cape County Park North on Kings Highway in Cape Girardeau. For information on this and other events at the center, go online to mdc.mo.gov/CapeNatureCenter.
Volunteer to help MDC with breeding bird survey
Calling all bird-lovers and nature enthusiasts. Are you someone who can tell the difference between a Baltimore oriole, indigo bunting, and a scissor-tailed flycatcher? Do you know what a cerulean warbler sounds like? The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) is in need of volunteers to assist with the 2015 North American Breeding Bird Survey (BBS).
The BBS is a long-term, large-scale, international bird monitoring program that started in 1966. According to MDC Resource Scientist Janet Haslerig, the purpose of the BBS is to track the status and trends of North American bird populations.
“Bird populations are subjected to numerous, widespread threats including habitat loss, habitat fragmentation, land-use changes, and other chemical contaminants,” said Haslerig. “If significant declines are detected, their causes can then be identified and appropriate actions taken to reverse them before populations reach critically low levels.”
Each year during June—the height of the bird breeding season for most of the U.S.—volunteers collect bird population data along roadside survey routes. Each survey route is 24.5 miles long with stops at 0.5-mile intervals. At each stop, a 3-minute point count is conducted. During the count, every bird seen within a 0.25-mile radius or heard is recorded. Surveys start one-half hour before local sunrise and take about 5 hours to complete.
There are currently 15 vacant routes in Missouri that need volunteers.
Haslerig said to volunteer a person needs access to suitable transportation, good hearing and eyesight, and the ability to identify all breeding birds in the area.
She also stressed that knowing bird songs is extremely important.
“Most birds counted on these surveys are singing males,” said Haslerig.
All new BBS volunteers must also successfully complete an on-line training program before their data can be used in any BBS analysis.
Haslerig hopes surveyors will commit to multiple years of collecting data on the same route.
“It helps with the consistency in data collection,” Haslerig said. “And, the volunteer(s) get to know the route and have a good feel of what birds they will encounter.”
For more information or to volunteer, contact Janet Haslerig at Janet.Haslerig@mdc.mo.gov or 573-522-4115, ext. 3198.
MDC offers Discover Nature Women's Spring Fling
The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) will offer a Discover Nature Women’s Spring Fling May 1-3 at the Lake Doniphan Conference and Retreat Center at Excelsior Springs, Mo. The Spring Fling offers women training in outdoor skills such as archery, canoeing, using GPS gear, map and compass reading and other activities. MDC will provide gear and hands-on training for beginners. The camp setting offers women an opportunity to sharpen outdoor skill