Looking back on 2018, the Missouri Department of Conservation offers some highlights on its notable news during the past year.
For more on MDC activities over the past year, read the Department’s Annual Review in the January issue of the Missouri Conservationist and online at mdc.mo.gov/conmag.
Missouri Governor Mike Parson announced the appointment of long-time conservationist and outdoor enthusiast Nicole Wood of Bonne Terre to the Missouri Conservation Commission in July. More at mdc.mo.gov/newsroom/conservation-commission-welcomes-nicole-wood-new-commissioner.
Mike Hubbard of California was named MDC Deputy Director - Resource Management June 1. Hubbard assumed the role upon the retirement of MDC Deputy Director Tom Draper. Read more at mdc.mo.gov/newsroom/mdc-names-new-deputy-director.
MDC’s Cape Girardeau Nature Center received a 2018 TripAdvisor® Certificate of Excellence. The achievement celebrates businesses that have earned great traveler reviews on TripAdvisor over the past year. More at mdc.mo.gov/newsroom/cape-nature-center-earns-2018-tripadvisor-certificate-excellence.
MDC held a dedication ceremony in November at its Twin Pines Conservation Education Center in Winona to rename the education building on the area in honor of former MDC Director Jerry Presley. More at mdc.mo.gov/newsroom/mdc-honors-former-director-renaming-twin-pines-education-building.
MDC hosted open houses in December and took public comments on options for a future, limited elk-hunting season in Missouri. More at mdc.mo.gov/newsroom/mdc-holding-open-houses-taking-comments-future-elk-hunting.
Richard Bradshaw of Winona, Maverick Yoakum of Dixon, Bryant Rackers of Bonnots Mill, Michael Williams of Wappapello, Kerry Glenn of Sedalia, Rick Sartin of Birch Tree, and Jason Reynolds of Warsaw caught state-record fish in 2018.
More than 653,000 acres of MDC land was certified to one of the world’s most recognized, independent, third-party forest management certification standards -- the Sustainable Forestry Initiative ® 2015-2019 Forest Management Standard. More at mdc.mo.gov/newsroom/missouri-department-conservation-earns-%E2%80%9Csustainable-forestry%E2%80%9D-certification.
For the first time ever, more than 100 Missouri communities are participants in Tree City USA, representing 45 percent of the state’s population. More at mdc.mo.gov/newsroom/missouri-tops-100-tree-city-usa-communities.
POWER OF PARTNERSHIPS
In December, court sentencings finalized one of the state’s largest-ever poaching investigations, which involved approximately 100 conservation agents, along with other state, federal, and Canadian wildlife officers arresting multiple individuals who poached hundreds of deer over several years. The investigation tied 14 Missouri residents to over 230 charges that occurred in 11 Missouri counties. Three suspects were tied to additional wildlife violations in Kansas, Nebraska, and Canada. Two suspects were tied to Federal Lacey Act Wildlife violations that occurred in Kansas, Nebraska, and Canada. The convictions were made with information obtained from the public through Operation Game Thief, a hotline sponsored by MDC and the Conservation Federation of Missouri. Read more at mdc.mo.gov/newsroom/court-sentencings-finalize-one-state%E2%80%99s-largest-ever-poaching-investigations.
MDC’s Rod and Reel Loaner Program topped 100 community locations in February and offers free “loaner” fishing gear around the state at libraries, MDC offices and nature centers, state parks, and marinas. Learn more at mdc.mo.gov/newsroom/mdc-offers-free-%E2%80%9Cloaner%E2%80%9D-fishing-gear-more-100-locations.
MDC awarded nearly $390,000 in grant funds to 174 rural fire departments in August for the purchase of gear and equipment to help fight wildfires. More at mdc.mo.gov/newsroom/mdc-delivers-grant-checks-local-fire-departments.
MDC awarded 38 grants totaling $302,346 to Missouri communities through its Tree Resource Improvement and Maintenance (TRIM) grant program. TRIM grants offer cost-share funding for government agencies, public schools, and nonprofit groups to manage, improve or conserve trees on public lands. More at mdc.mo.gov/newsroom/mdc-awards-38-trim-grants-community-forest-improvements.
MDC, partner agencies, and private landowners removed more than 8,280 invasive feral hogs from the state as of November 2018. More at mdc.mo.gov/newsroom/mdc-and-partners-eliminate-more-7300-feral-hogs-missouri%E2%80%99s-landscape-2018-so-far.
At its August meeting, the Conservation Commission approved a regulation change that will limit free landowner permits for deer and turkey hunting to only qualifying resident landowners and members of their immediate households age six years or older. The regulation change eliminates free permits for those who lease land.
MDC expanded its restrictions on feeding deer and placing minerals for deer to seven new counties in July in response to finding cases of chronic wasting disease (CWD) in or near them. The seven new counties are: Bollinger, Cape Girardeau, Grundy, Madison, McDonald, Mercer, and Perry. The seven new counties join 41 existing counties of MDC’s CWD Management Zone where feeding deer and placing minerals for deer is restricted. More at mdc.mo.gov/newsroom/mdc-expands-deer-feeding-ban-more-counties-response-cwd.
The Conservation Commission approved regulations in August that will require the use of nontoxic shot for hunting doves on 20 conservation areas with heavy, concentrated dove hunting and adding 16 areas to its existing 21 conservation areas where nontoxic shot is required for all hunting with shotguns. The effective date is March 1. More at mdc.mo.gov/newsroom/mdc-proposes-requiring-nontoxic-shot-36-dove-hunting-areas.
MDC began offering free tissue sampling of harvested deer for chronic wasting disease (CWD statewide during the entire deer season from September through January. More at mdc.mo.gov/newsroom/mdc-offers-free-voluntary-cwd-testing-statewide-all-season. MDC also continued its mandatory CWD sampling of deer harvested during the opening weekend of the November firearms deer season with 31 counties included in the mandatory sampling and more than 20,000 samples collected. More at mdc.mo.gov/cwd.
MDC moved from semiannual live auctions to a 24/7 online auction for used vehicles, boats, motors, tractors, trailers, farm equipment, office equipment, and other items for sale through the online auction website Govdeals.com. More at mdc.mo.gov/newsroom/mdc-moves-semiannual-live-auctions-247-online-auction.
MDC began offering an all-online bowhunter education course for Missouri residents 16 year and older. More at mdc.mo.gov/newsroom/mdc-offers-new-all-online-bowhunter-education-course.
MDC launched its new, free mobile app – MO Outdoors in December to help users find MDC outdoor offerings based on the types of outdoor activities they want close to home, work, or even while traveling. More at mdc.mo.gov/newsroom/find-places-outdoor-fun-new-mdc-%E2%80%9Cmo-outdoors%E2%80%9D-app.