The Lake Sun has teamed up with local conservation agents Derek Warnke and Tyler Brown to give our readers the answers to any questions they may have. The questions and their answers will be published once a month in the Lake Sun and on lakenewsonline.com.
Do you have a question? If so, please submit it to email@example.com or send a message on the Lake News Online Facebook page. You can also tweet at @LakeSunSports with your questions, or call the office at 573-317-8141 during business hours.
1. Armadillos have been in the area for awhile now. What is MDC’s policy on them, and is it legal to kill them?
Warnke: Armadillos are not considered wildlife in Missouri. It is legal to kill them if they are being a nuisance.
Brown: Armadillos are considered a nuisance and invasive species that is not native to Missouri. Therefore, we do not have any laws in place to “manage” the species. Basically, if the armadillo is becoming a nuisance i.e. tearing up your yard, digging up your flowerbeds, etc, then you have the right to protect your property. (3 CSR 10-4.130 Owner may Protect Property) The best and most efficient way to remove armadillos is to dispatch the animal.
2. Are there bears in the area, and should people be worried?
Warnke: We have received reports about bears being in the area towards the south end of Camden County. Nobody should feel worried, but it’s always a good idea to use caution and report any sightings to the Missouri Department of Conservation.
Brown: We field many calls throughout the year that deal with bear sightings. It is important to remember to report those sightings to MDC. It is also important to remember that in order for MDC to list it as a “confirmed sighting” we must have some evidence i.e. trail camera pictures, hair samples, footprints, etc. People should not be worried that there may be bears in the area. Bears are like most other wildlife; they are more afraid of humans than we are of them. It is important to remember that if you do see a bear or have a bear in the area where you live, do not feed it. This is how animals become associated with human contact and they then lose the fear associated with humans.
3. What reintroduction of species is new to this area, and what might be coming?
Warnke: Obviously the bear sightings are new, in the past few years we have seen a larger bear population towards the south end of the state and slowly moving north. Elk have been released at Peck Ranch Conservation Area in Shannon County. As the herd grows and moves, it is possible to see them in this area of the state at some point. That will be years down the road, but hopefully we will see a large enough herd at some point that a hunting season will be introduced. Both the black bear and elk are native species to Missouri.
4. Fishing laws: what do anglers need to keep in mind as summer approaches at the lake?
Warnke: With summer quickly approaching we will have many more anglers on the lake. A few things to keep in mind are: crappie need to be a minimum of 9” long and the daily limit is 15 on Lake of the Ozarks. Largemouth and smallmouth bass need to be 15” with a daily limit of 6, Kentucky (or spotted) bass must be at least 12” in length with a daily limit of 6, Catfish have no length limit and the daily limit is 10 channel catfish, 5 blue catfish, and 5 flathead catfish.
A couple bigger issues we come across on the water is non-residents purchasing resident fishing permits and fish being separate/identifiable. Even if you own a condo at the lake, if your driver’s license is from another state you need to purchase a non-resident fishing permit or a daily fishing permit. Also, anglers need to make sure their fish are separate OR identifiable. If there are fishermen on a boat or fishing off a dock, everyone needs to be putting their fish in separate baskets, buckets, stringers, or need to have the fish marked or tagged so you know who caught which fish. Someone might ask “what if my boat only has one live well”? Then I would recommend one person put fish in the live well, the other anglers on the boat should put their fish on a stringer before placing them into the live well or keep them separate all together.
5. Zebra mussels have been found at Barber Lake. What do residents need to know about zebra mussels?
Brown: Zebra mussels are an incredibly invasive species that could be detrimental to aquatic resources at Lake of the Ozarks, in Missouri, and across the country. Zebra mussels out-compete native mussels for food and reproduction resources and can reproduce at a much higher survival rate. There is also a significant risk of infrastructure damage caused by zebra mussels attaching themselves to various intake pipes, boats, motors, and trailers, and other submerged infrastructure around the lake.
Zebra mussels have been present in Lake of the Ozarks since 2006. Fortunately, studies have indicated that zebra mussel populations are declining in the lake.
To prevent the spread of zebra mussels, there are several processes and decontamination procedures that can take place. For a more detailed explanation of those procedures, readers can visit the MDC website.