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."
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.
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.
For the first time since the Civil War, elk are back on Missouri soil.
The 34 elk spent three months in quarantine in Kentucky before arriving today in southeast Missouri. They'll be housed temporarily at the Peck Ranch Conservation Area, which is part of the elk restoration zone.
The elk's arrival was delayed from April 30 so conservation officials could complete all the necessary health tests.
You can also see photos of the elk and find out more about the reintroduction above. And, for more information about the elk restoration efforts prior to their arrival in Missouri, see the video below the story text.
The Missouri House has given first-round approval to legislation that would return control of the St. Louis Police Department to the city. The department has been under state control since the Civil War. Last year, the bill fell 12 votes short of first-round approval, but this year it passed overwhelmingly, with more than 75 percent of lawmakers voting yes. Supporters added a new argument this year: that it doesn't make sense to subsidize the St. Louis Police Department while having to cut the state budget in other areas.