Changes in Hunter Rules Offered for Public Comment

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The Missouri Conservation Commission approved several regulation changes affecting hunters at a recent commission meeting in Jefferson City. The changes will become effective Jan. 1, after Missourians have had an opportunity to comment and the proposed regulations have cleared all the procedural hurdles.

Changes approved by the commission include:

Requiring approval from the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) before property owners may destroy wild turkeys that are causing damage to crops or other property. By requiring prior approval, the Commission affords wild turkeys the same protection that deer, black bears and migratory and endangered species already receive.

Requiring hunters to search for and make reasonable efforts to retrieve any game they shoot, short of trespass. For years, the Wildlife Code of Missouri has required deer and turkey hunters to make reasonable efforts to retrieve killed or wounded game. The change makes the ethical rule a legal requirement for hunters of all game.

Prohibiting the use of night-vision equipment by persons who also possess weapons that could be used to take wildlife. The hunter's sense of fair chase has denied the use of spotlights in night hunting for most species. Sophisticated optics are available today that eliminate the tell-tale beam of the spotlight, which conservation agents rely on to detect "jacklighters." This technology made it necessary to prohibit the use of night-vision equipment for hunting.

Comments and questions about the new regulations may be directed to: Regulations Committee, Missouri Department of Conservation, P.O. Box 180, Jefferson City, MO 65102-0180.

Fish Kills Costly

JEFFERSON CITY - Fish are dying from pollution in Missouri. A conservative estimate from the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) puts the number of fish killed by pollution in 1992 at more than 160,000, and losses continue. Those responsible for the fish kills are paying a price.

MDC has investigated reports of fish kills since the 1940s, and publishes the results in annual reports. The most recent report covers fish kills that occurred in 1992. It documents 242 verified fish kills that claimed 161,289 water-dwelling animals, the vast majority of them fish. Steve Weithman, environmental services supervisor for MDC, said the scope of losses to fish kills is greater than those reflected in the annual report.

"Our figures include only fish kills that are reported," said Weithman. "Furthermore, our data include only those fish kills where we are able to verify the losses. …