Missouri Department of Conservation

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.

Nick Varvel / Flickr

The Missouri Department of Conservation would have to pay up if two new legislative proposals become law.

One pre-filed bill would require the department to pay for any property damage caused by "wild otters, elk, or bear."

Ground venison donated by Missouri hunters is ready to be distributed to Operation Food Search's 250 partner organizations and needy families in the region.
Courtesy Missouri Department of Conservation

Hunters can help their hungry neighbors by donating fresh deer meat through an annual Missouri Department of Conservation program.

(all photos via Missouri Department of Conservation)

Though it's generally well run, the Missouri Department of Conservation has had trouble following directions.

That is the conclusion of a report released Friday by auditor Nicole Galloway, a Democrat.

Thirteen-year cicadas will begin emerging in southeastern Missouri in mid-May.
Courtesy Missouri Department of Conservation

They’re ba-a-ack. Those noisy cicadas with their bright red eyes and dark bodies soon will emerge again in Missouri and Illinois after years underground, poking holes in the soil starting in mid-May.

Lake Sturgeon live in the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers and their tributaries. They can live more than 100 years and weigh as much as 300 pounds.
courtesy Missouri Department of Conservation

For the first time in 30 years, the Missouri Department of Conservation has confirmed evidence that the state-endangered lake sturgeon is reproducing in the wild.

Sam Hardy and Kristin Biagioli witnessed the sturgeon spawning first-hand in the Mississippi River north of St. Louis in mid-April.

Residents using many of the state's unstaffed shooting ranges will be asked to take a voluntary exit survey throughout 2015.
Courtesy Missouri Department of Conservation

Missourians going to practice shooting or sight their rifles at many of the state's public shooting ranges throughout 2015 now will be asked to take a brief exit survey.

It's part of a year-long effort by the Missouri Department of Conservation to collect public input on usage and needs for its 70 unstaffed shooting ranges. The department also runs 5 staffed shooting ranges.

According to the Missouri Department of Conservation, deer populations will offer plenty of hunting opportunities this year, as numbers are recovering from disease outbreaks across the state.
Noppadol Paothong, Missouri Department of Conservation

It's good news for hunters, but maybe bad news for drivers: the Missouri Department of Conservation says the state will see a pretty good deer population this year.

Many parts of the state should see a "large and healthy deer herd" this season, after years of declining populations, according to the department's Jim Low. He estimates the state has more than a million deer, offering "plenty of deer hunting opportunity out there."

Recovery from disease

Tim Eby

If you're looking to spot some fall tree color this first weekend of autumn, try using your smartphone.

Magnificent Missouri

You may have seen the billboards, calling honeysuckle an "enemy of the state."

Huh?

It turns out that pretty bush with its fragrant, white and yellow flowers isn't so sweet after all.

Erin Shank is an urban wildlife biologist with the Missouri Department of Conservation. But she spends a lot of her time these days trying to get rid of invasive honeysuckle.

"We certainly have quite a bit of it, no doubt about that," Shank said. "And it’s a bugger of a plant to control and manage."

David Stonner/Missouri Department of Conservation

A report released on Friday by the Missouri auditor's office says the state continued to overspend on its elk restoration project, even after a 2011 audit found it was way over budget.

The current audit found the Missouri Department of Conservation spent close to $3.4 million to bring 129 elk into the state. Only an estimated 115 elk have survived.

But conservation department Deputy Director Tom Ripperger says those figures are misleading.

Ian Sane | Flickr

The number of deer in Missouri harvested by hunters using firearms this November is down, compared to a year ago, and last year's drought and heat wave may have played a key role.

Jim Low with the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) says the extreme heat and drought last summer caused a drop in the deer population in northern and central Missouri.

Most of Missouri's native bees are thriving

Oct 29, 2013
Coneflower bee, Andrena helianthiformis.
Mike Arduser | Missouri Department of Conservation

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: If you visit one of Missouri’s native prairies when the coneflowers are blooming, you will see plenty of bees buzzing around them. You may not realize that some of these bees are a single species that collects pollen only from the pale purple coneflower and only on native prairie. This coneflower specialist flies for just a few weeks each year, collecting the pollen to feed its offspring until the coneflower blooms again.

(via Flickr/Robert Scoble)

Conservation officials in Missouri want deer hunters to take precautions this fall in order to prevent the spread of Chronic Wasting Disease.

CWD cases are so far limited to a containment zone in north central Missouri, with the state's first documented case occurring three years ago.  Joe Jerek with the Missouri Department of Conservation says hunters should wear latex gloves when field-dressing a deer.

A Missouri House interim committee heard testimony Monday on whether Chronic Wasting Disease, or CWD, poses a grave threat to the state's white tail deer and elk populations.

Missouri Department of Conservation

A total of 40 additional elk have arrived at Peck Ranch in southeastern Missouri, including a male calf born en route from Kentucky.

David Stonner/Missouri Department of Conservation

Efforts to reestablish an elk population in southeastern Missouri are now in their third year, and the Missouri Department of Conservation considers the project a success.

There are close to 70 elk now living in parts of Carter, Shannon and Reynolds counties, with another 50 arriving in May.

The Missouri Department of Conservation’s elk restoration program coordinator, Ronald Dent, says almost all the elk have stayed in the restoration zone, and so far they haven’t caused any problems.

Kristin McGuire/Environment Missouri

Environment Missouri, a state environmental advocacy group, kicked off its campaign today by calling on state legislators to take action on what they say are $400 million worth of back-logged repairs to state parks.

The organization says that state parks are crucial to the economy, bringing an average of 18 million visitors a year, and providing over 14,000 jobs.

Parks are currently funded by (bear with me) half of a one-tenth-of-one-cent sales tax, a tax voters have continued to renew over the years. But Environment Missouri thinks that it’s not enough.

Missouri Department of Conservation

If you live or spend time in St. Charles or Lincoln Counties, you’ve probably noticed an unusual number of snow geese around. The birds have been congregating near the confluence of the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers — estimates of their numbers run as high as 20,000.

Mo. Dept. of Conservation

This summer’s devastating drought and heat wave actually benefited some of Missouri’s native birds, in particular the bobwhite quail.

Bobwhite quail build their nests on the ground, and the hot and dry weather from both this summer and last provided better conditions for incubation.  Max Alleger is a wildlife ecologist with the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC).  He says the bobwhite quail population took a big hit in 2008 due to record-setting rainfall, as it was hard for them to keep their eggs warm on wet ground.

Marshall Griffin/St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri’s fall foliage may not be a bust this year, after all.

Jim Low  with the Missouri Department of Conservation says things looked pretty grim until a cold front this week dumped several inches of rain in portions of Missouri.

“Trees were very stressed because of the lack of moisture," Low said.  "The photosynthesis going on in those leaves was minimal."

Kurt Schilligo contributed reporting for this story.

The record summer heat has probably contributed to the death of some of the elk herd recently reintroduced in the Missouri Ozarks.

The Missouri Department of Conservation says six female adults and four calves died in mid-to-late July. The mothers of two of the calves were among the dead females.

(via Flickr/US Department of Agriculture)

Jacob McCleland contributed reporting for this story.

With the unofficial start of the summer season behind us, the Missouri Department of Conservation is urging campers not to transport firewood - in an effort to stop the spread of the emerald ash borer.

"Don't move firewood," said MDC forest entomologist Rob Lawrence. "It's not only the emerald ash borer that we're concerned about, and it's not just ash wood. There are a lot of pests that are not native to North America that have gotten carried in here, and they hitchhike on firewood."

(Missouri Dept. of Conservation)

A controversial Missouri Department of Conservation plan to reintroduce elk into southeastern Missouri is under fire from Republican state auditor Tom Schweich.

For the first time ever, an endangered amphibian found only in a few Missouri and Arkansas counties has been successfully bred in captivity.

Officials with the St. Louis Zoo and Missouri Department of Conservation said Wednesday that 63 Ozark hellbenders have been bred at the zoo. The first hatched on Nov. 15, and an additional 120 eggs are expected to hatch within the next week.

The breeding is the result of a decade-long collaboration of the zoo and the conservation department. 

(via Missouri Department of Conservation/Amy Nold)

Some Missouri deer hunters made unexpected discoveries while hunting this fall. Five female deer have been reported by hunters to the Missouri Department of Conservation sporting fully formed antlers. The antlered deer, analyzed by MDC Resource Scientist Emily Flinn, appear to be externally female. Flinn specializes in deer biology and says this phenomenon all comes down to hormones.

The elk brought to Missouri early last month as part of a restoration project have been released from their holding pen.

The Missouri Department of Conservation released the 34 elk along with five newborn calves on Wednesday.

The adult elk and calves have been fitted with GPS radio collars as part of a cooperative research project with the University of Missouri-Columbia. The collars will help researchers track the elk's health, movement patterns and preferred types of vegetation.

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