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.