Missouri Department of Conservation | St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri Department of Conservation

Ray Schultz, a Missouri Department of Conservation volunteer, is riding an Action Track Chair.
The Missouri Department of Conservation

Special motorized chairs are making it possible for people with physical disabilities to enjoy Missouri’s state parks.

Action Track Chairs, offered by the Missouri Department of Conservation, have special wheels and controls that enable users to navigate rugged trails and waterways.

Guy Vogt, the assistant outdoor education center manager at August A. Busch shooting range in Defiance, said with the fall hunting season in full swing, the chairs are equipped to do a lot.

A ruffed grouse
Missouri Department of Conservation

For the next three years, Missouri conservation officials are bringing 300 ruffed grouse into the state from Wisconsin in hopes of raising the native bird’s population.

The ruffed grouse is a stout-bodied, medium-sized bird with white, grey or brown feathers and mostly spends its time on the ground. In Missouri, the ruffed grouse lives mainly in the River Hills region, located in an east-central part of the state that covers Callaway, Montgomery and Warren counties. 

While the ruffed grouse have fairly healthy populations in the northern parts of the United States, its Missouri population has declined in recent years. In 2011, the state suspended the hunting season for the bird, in place since the 1980s.

iStock

Julie Monroe is accustomed to seeing deer around her Kirkwood neighborhood, but not this many.

On a recent evening, Monroe and her son counted 17 deer on the drive home from Manchester.

“It was dark outside, so we don’t know how many were beyond our vision,” she said.

The emerald ash borer was first detected in Missouri in 2008. Since then, it has spread to 53 counties.
Mark Smith | Flickr

An invasive beetle is spreading rapidly across the state.

This week, the Missouri Department of Conservation reported the emerald ash borer appeared in 11 more counties in 2018, bringing the total number of affected counties in the state to 53. The larvae of the metallic green beetle burrow under the bark of ash trees and kill them within a few years.

Missouri Department of Conservation fisheries technician Shane Creasy treats a five-acre lake in Warren County with aquatic herbicide to kill hydrilla on June 8, 2018.
Shahla Farzan | St. Louis Public Radio

Shane Creasy stands on the edge of a lake and casts a plastic beaker full of thick white herbicide into the water.

The herbicide slowly fans out across the surface of the lake, as Creasy, a fisheries technician with the Missouri Department of Conservation, peels off his protective gloves. The target, an invasive aquatic plant known as hydrilla, is a tenacious adversary that takes years to eradicate.


Missouri Department of Conservation

The Ballwin Police Department is urging residents to be cautious after a black bear was spotted Sunday in a St. Louis County neighborhood.

According to a post on Facebook by the police department, a resident saw a large bear running between the Castle Pines Subdivision and Oak Run Lane.

An aerial shot of wildlife officials from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Missouri Department of Conservation removing Asian carp from Creve Coeur Lake in winter 2018.
Missouri Department of Conservation

Federal and Missouri state wildlife officials have successfully used a new technique to remove the majority of Asian carp from Creve Coeur Lake in St. Louis County. 

Earlier this year, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Missouri Department of Conservation and St. Louis County Parks and Recreation deployed a method to extract the invasive species from the lake.

Asian carp has invaded many Midwestern lakes and rivers, outcompeting native fish populations and tainting water quality. Traditional netting methods have not been effective, since the fish jump over the nets. Under the "unified method" developed in China, nets and electric barriers create a grid-like system where fish are herded and then removed.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife officials navigate the Illinois River where there are jumping silver carp, a type of Asian carp.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

State and federal wildlife officials plan to pull out all the stops this month to eliminate Asian carp from Creve Coeur Lake in St. Louis County. 

The invasive species are relentless bottom feeders that have damaged water quality, disrupted the food chain and driven down native fish populations in many Midwestern waterways. 

42 cases of chronic wasting disease, a fatal neurological disease, has been found in white-tailed deer in Missouri.
Bill Bumgarner | Flickr

The Missouri Department of Conservation is conducting a mandatory chronic wasting disease tissue sampling of deer killed in 25 select counties this Saturday and Sunday.

Deer hunters will be required to bring all harvested white-tailed deer to a designated sampling station to test if it has chronic wasting disease— or CWD. It’s a fatal neurological disease, which causes the breakdown of brain tissue in deer.

An alligator snapping turtle, one of several wild turtle species that live in Missouri.
File Photo | United States Fish and Wildlife Service

Wild turtles in Missouri may soon be protected from trappers, as the Missouri Department of Conservation proposed a ban this week on the commercial harvest of turtles in the state. 

Many wild turtles that are captured and exported from the United States are sold as exotic pets or processed into food and traditional Chinese medicine. Missouri is one of a few states in the country that doesn't impose a limit on how many wild turtles that trappers can collect.

Missouri Department of Conservation

Instead of kicking that Christmas tree to the curb after the holiday, state wildlife officials want St. Louis area residents to donate their used trees to build fish habitats. 

The Missouri Department of Conservation has been submerging used trees in park lakes for 30 years.

"Over the years, that's really helped our fish population and fishing," said Kevin Meneau, a state fisheries management biologist. Anglers, he said, have noticed that fishing is better near the sunken trees.   

The Indiana bat is on the endangered species list.
Provided by the Missouri Department of Conservation

The Missouri Department of Conservation is preparing to survey the bat population in the northern half of the state.

Tony Elliott is a resource scientist with the conservation department.  He said the survey will focus primarily on two species: the Indiana bat and the northern long-eared bat.

Missouri Department of Conservation's lake sturgeon coordinator Travis Moore holds a tracking device above a tagged lake sturgeon.
Provided by the Missouri Deparment of Conservation

Missouri Department of Conservation officials are stocking the Meramec River with lake sturgeon, a species that is endangered in the state, in hopes of raising their population. 

The lake sturgeon, a fish that can grow up to 8 feet and live for over a century, declined sharply in the 19th century due to over harvesting and river projects that removed its habitat. State wildlife officials began stocking the species in the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers and their tributaries in 1984.

Sara Parker Pauley
Missouri Department of Natural Resources

The Missouri Department of Conservation has found its new director, and didn't have to look far.

Sara Parker Pauley is moving to Conservation from the Department of Natural Resources. She was appointed to that position by Gov. Jay Nixon in December 2010.

Missouri Department of Conservation official Mark McLain shows how the BoarBuster, a feral hog trap, can be deployed with his phone.
Eli Chen | St. Louis Public Radio

The invasive feral hog roams in more than 30 counties in Missouri, decimating farmland and wildlife areas in its path.

This summer, state officials banned feral hog hunting on public lands in their latest effort to eradicate the pest from Missouri. They’re also beginning to use new technology to trap the animals.

A black bear revival is coming to Missouri

Aug 21, 2016
A bear cub observes the Conservation Department team from the safety of a tree branch.
Mallory Daily | St. Louis Public Radio intern

Three black bear cubs look down on a team of Missouri conservationists from a tree branch about 60 feet above. They’re scared, but after climbing that distance in a matter of seconds, they’re safe.

They were probably about 4 months old, Mike Woodring, a retired conservation officer, said, in a recent interview. Woodring is involved with the Missouri Department of Conservation’s efforts to track the growing black bear population in Missouri. He’s trapped more than 30 bears during his career, his most recent was on that morning, when this mother of three took the bait.

Lauren Mitchell | Flickr

Have you noticed the millions of armadillos wandering around the St. Louis area and across Missouri this summer? Okay, maybe not millions, but they’re there and that’s weird, right? You’re not alone in thinking this.

You often see dead armadillos on highways because the animal jumps a few feet off the ground when it is frightened by loud noises. In the wild, that works to scare off predators. On a highway, however, that is about the height necessary to be hit by vehicle instead of making its way between the wheels.

Provided by Missouri Department of Conservation

For five years, state officials and researchers have been trying to bring back an endangered beetle species that disappeared in Missouri more than 40 years ago. Now, they're counting the bugs to see if there's enough of them for a sustained population. 

Provided by Missouri Department of Conservation

Centuries ago, European settlers brought hogs to North America. But little did they know that the wild descendants of those animals would become a major pest. Considered an invasive species, the feral hogs are known to ruin natural areas, spread diseases and cause enormous property damage for local farmers.

On the Eleven Point
Charlie Llewellin | Flickr

In the wilderness of southern Missouri, 44 miles of the Eleven Point River is part of the National Wild and Scenic River system. Part of the river is nestled between the Mark Twain National Forest and a historically rich parcel called the Irish Wilderness. As the river descends to the Missouri-Arkansas border, cattle grazing intermingles with the edge of the forest.

Now, Missouri is considering developing the southern part of the river into a state park. But the park has become controversial -- both for its very existence and for the money used to buy it.

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