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Heartland Outdoors

New Federal and Junior Duck Stamp

Tue, July 10, 2018

Mallards and emperor geese were the stars of the show today as the 2018-2019 Federal Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp – commonly known as the Duck Stamp – went on sale. The new Federal Duck Stamp and its younger sibling, the Junior Duck Stamp, debuted at a special event hosted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service at Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World in Hanover, Maryland.

Painted by three-time winning Federal Duck Stamp Contest artist Robert Hautman of Delano, Minnesota, the new Duck Stamp will raise millions of dollars for habitat conservation to benefit wildlife and the American people.

The 2018-2019 Junior Duck Stamp, which also went on sale today, raises funds to support youth conservation education and this year, features an emperor goose painted by Rayen Kang, 17, of Johns Creek, Georgia.

The Federal Duck Stamp plays a critically important role in wildlife conservation. Since 1934, sales of this stamp have raised more than $1 billion to protect more than 5.7 million acres of wetlands habitat on national wildlife refuges around the nation.

“The Duck Stamp program is just one of the many ways that sportsmen and women contribute to the conservation of our nation’s wildlife and their habitat,” said U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke. “The kick-off of the sale of these stamps every year lets us know that hunting season isn’t far off. I encourage everyone who spent time growing up in a duck blind, to get out and purchase their stamp and share that love with the next generation.”

Last fall, a panel of five judges chose Hautman’s art from among 215 entries in the 2017 Federal Duck Stamp Art Contest. This was Hautman’s third Federal Duck Stamp Contest win. His brothers Jim and Joe each have won the contest five times.

At the National Junior Duck Stamp Art Contest in April, judges chose Rayen Kang’s rendering of an emperor goose from among best-of-show winners from states, the District of Columbia, and several U.S. territories.

The new Duck Stamps are available for purchase online, at many sporting goods and retail stores, and some post offices and national wildlife refuges. Find all buying options at

“After 85 years, the Federal Duck Stamp remains among the nation’s most successful and effective conservation tools thanks to waterfowl hunters and other outdoor enthusiasts,” said Service Principal Deputy Director Greg Sheehan. “Looking ahead, the 2019-2020 Federal Duck Stamp, with its artistic theme of ‘Celebrating Our Waterfowl Hunting Heritage,’ will pay special recognition to the contributions waterfowl hunters have made through their purchase of Duck Stamps.”

Funds raised from the sale of Federal Duck Stamps go toward the acquisition or lease of habitat for the National Wildlife Refuge System. Duck Stamps – while required by waterfowl hunters as an annual license – are also voluntarily purchased by birders, outdoor enthusiasts and fans of national wildlife refuges who understand the value of preserving some of the most diverse and important wildlife habitats in our nation.

A current Federal Duck Stamp is also good for free admission to any refuge that charges an entry fee. Of the more than 560 refuges, many offer unparalleled outdoor recreational opportunities, including hunting, fishing, bird watching and photography.

The Junior Duck Stamp Art Contest is the culmination of a year-long educational program that helps students learn about wetlands and waterfowl conservation, explore their natural world and create a painting or drawing of a duck, goose or swan as their “visual term paper” to demonstrate what they learned.

The winning art at a national contest is made into a stamp the Service sells for $5 to conservationists, educators, students and the public. Proceeds support conservation education. Since the first Junior Duck Stamps went on sale in 1993, well over $1 million has been raised, which has been re-invested in this unique conservation arts and science education program.

The 2018 Federal Duck Stamp Art Contest to select the 2019-2020 stamp will be held September 14 and 15 at Springs Preserve in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Learn more about the Federal and Junior Duck Stamps at Downl.oad partner quotes here.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service works with others to conserve, protect and enhance fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people.  For more information, visit or co,nnect with us through any of these social media channels: Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Flickr.


MDC expands deer feeding ban

Thu, June 21, 2018

The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) has expanded its restrictions on feeding deer and placing minerals for deer to seven new counties 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 feeding ban for these seven new counties becomes effective July 1.

These seven new counties join 41 existing counties of the Department’s CWD Management Zone where feeding deer and placing minerals for deer is restricted. The Zone consists of counties in or near where cases of the disease have been found. The 48 counties are: Adair, Barry, Benton, Bollinger, Boone, Callaway, Cape Girardeau, Carroll, Cedar, Chariton, Cole, Cooper, Crawford, Dade, Franklin, Gasconade, Grundy, Hickory, Jefferson, Knox, Linn, Livingston, Macon, Madison, McDonald, Mercer, Miller, Moniteau, Morgan, Osage, Ozark, Perry, Polk, Putnam, Randolph, Schuyler, Scotland, Shelby, St. Charles, St. Clair, St. Francois, Ste. Genevieve, St. Louis, Stone, Sullivan, Taney, Warren, and Washington.

According to the Wildlife Code of Missouri, the placement of grain, salt products, minerals, and other consumable natural and manufactured products used to attract deer is prohibited year-round within counties of the CWD Management Zone. Exceptions are feed placed within 100 feet of any residence or occupied building, feed placed in such a manner to reasonably exclude access by deer, and feed and minerals present solely as a result of normal agricultural or forest management, or crop and wildlife food production practices.

“CWD is spread from deer to deer and the potential for transmission increases when deer are unnaturally congregated,” said MDC Wildlife Disease Coordinator Jasmine Batten. “CWD can also spread when healthy deer come into contact with salvia, urine, or feces shed into the environment by infected deer. Placing feed and minerals for deer can facilitate the spread of diseases such as CWD. Recent research has confirmed the presence of CWD at mineral sites, which further supports this ban.”

For the seven new counties, MDC has also increased the availability of antlerless permits, and expanded the firearms antlerless portion to help harvest more deer in the counties and limit the spread of the disease.

MDC confirmed 33 new cases of CWD following the testing of nearly 24,500 free-ranging Missouri deer through its sampling and testing efforts last season. The new cases were found in Adair, Cedar, Franklin, Jefferson, Linn, Macon, Perry, Polk, St. Clair, and Ste. Genevieve counties. These new cases bring the total number of free-ranging deer in Missouri confirmed to have CWD to 75.

For more information on the feeding ban, visit MDC online at under “Feeding Ban and Other Regulations.”


MDC Federal Duck Stamps only Online

Thu, June 21, 2018

Due to declining sales of physical Federal Duck Stamps at its offices where hunting permits are sold, the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) will no longer sell physical stamps at its offices.

Waterfowl hunters can still buy Federal Duck Stamps electronically through MDC’s online permit website at or through its mobile app MO Hunting. For MO Hunting users, Federal Duck Stamps bought through MDC’s website or the app will appear on the app. Learn more about MO Hunting at .

When you buy an electronic Federal Duck Stamp, it is valid as a Federal Duck Stamp for 45 days from the date of purchase. Within that time, a physical Duck Stamp will be mailed to you. If you purchase the Federal Duck Stamp electronically from MDC, the stamp will show up on the MO Hunting app or can be printed immediately after purchasing. After 45 days, you must carry your current, signed Federal Duck Stamp while hunting.

According to MDC, out of the 33,300 duck stamps sold through the Department last year, only around 500 were bought at MDC offices, or about 1.5 percent. The rest were purchased online.

Waterfowl hunters can still purchase physical Federal Duck stamps at select U.S Postal Service locations. For more information, visit, call 800-782-6724, or contact a local post office.

For more information on the Federal Duck Stamp program, go online to


Fishing Event at Pere Marquette State Park

Thu, May 17, 2018

GRAFTON, IL – For a day filled with fun and educational activities for the entire family, check out the Two Rivers Family Fishing Fair on Saturday, June 9 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Pere Marquette State Park near Grafton, on Illinois Route 100. 

The 28th annual Fishing Fair will include a wide variety of favorite activities from previous years.  Participating children will find a new and improved catch-and-release bluegill pond, where young anglers can have their photograph taken with their catch; the popular One-Cast station, where everyone wins a prize; and, bowfishing stations where children can shoot at moving targets in a pool, or at a 3D target.  Every child who completes at least seven stations will receive a prize and have the chance to catch a trout in the trout pond.

A 4,000-gallon mobile aquarium - Texas Bass Tanks with Brad Campbell - will be featured this year, stocked with many of the fish species found in the Illinois River. Fishing seminars will be presented all day, featuring local experts providing a variety of fishing information.  “Camo the Clown” will be back at the fishing fair this year, and the Lodge Brothers will be returning as part of the event entertainment.  There will be food available for purchase throughout the day.

“We want to get kids to get hooked on fishing, and not on some of the less desirable things that are available for our kids to do,” said Scott Isringhausen, Illinois Department of Natural Resources Urban Fishing Coordinator. “Thanks to our generous sponsors, we are able to continue to offer this free event. We are very fortunate to have the support of the Phillips 66 Wood River Refinery as a Premier Sponsor, along with Farm and Home Supply, Cabela’s of Hazelwood, Walmart, the Jersey County Board, and many others.”

The event is hosted by the United States Army Corps of Engineers, the National Great Rivers Research and Education Center (NGRREC), Two Rivers National Wildlife Refuge (administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service), and Pere Marquette State Park (administered by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources).

There is no charge to attend the Two Rivers Family Fishing Fair, or to catch a fish, and parking is free. No fishing license or fishing gear are needed to participate in the event. For more information contact: Two Rivers National Wildlife Refuge at 618-883-2524 or Pere Marquette State Park at 618-786-3323 ext. 1.


Free Fishing Day at Crab Orchard Refuge

Fri, May 11, 2018

The event is for kids 12 and under but it is one of the more pleasant experiences of the year. Annual Free Fishing Days Kids Derby at Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge in southern Illinois.  The event on June 9, 2018 is staffed and sponsored by local merchants, the US Fish & Wildlife Service, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources and local volunteers from Take Pride in America and Friends of Crab Orchard Refuge.

The only expense to families in attendance is the cost of gasoline to get to Prairie Creek Recreation Area.  To get there exit Illinois Route 13 at Green Briar Road and go south to Campground Road.  Follow Campground Road 1 ½ miles west to the Prairie Creek Recreation Area.

Participants may bring their own tackle or use the rods and reels provided.  Bait is provided.

Worms are the most popular bait among the young set.  They catch almost any kind of fish.  Worms are not difficult to thread on a hook.  Adult assistance for fishing techniques and in baiting a hook is available if required.

The first 100 children to register at the site receive a free T-shirt.  Other awards are for the biggest fish, smallest fish and most fish in each of the age categories.  Fishing began at 8:00 A.M. and continues until noon when the participants are treated to a free lunch and the awards are announced.

The idea is for the youngsters to have a positive experience.  Then they will want to return.  They might even bring an adult with them.

For more information about this event, contact the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Visitor Center at Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge.  The telephone number is 618-997-3344.  The center is located at 8588 Route 148, Marion, Illinois 62959.

For more information on lodging accommodations as well as outdoor activities in Williamson County, or to receive a free color Fishing Guide, contact VisitSI at 1602 Sioux Drive, Marion, IL 62959.  Call 800-GEESE-99 or email .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).  Current information is also available online at


Illinois Conservation Foundation Announces Recipient of 2018 Conservation Achievement Scholarship

Thu, May 10, 2018

SPRINGFIELD, IL – The Illinois Conservation Foundation (ICF) today announced the selection of Preston Launius of Sesser as the recipient of the 2018 Conservation Achievement Scholarship. The Sesser-Valier High School senior will receive $2,000 to apply to specified college expenses.

“The Illinois Conservation Foundation is pleased to award the 2018 Conservation Achievement Scholarship to Preston Launius for his academic efforts in the classroom, and his community service efforts in and around his hometown of Sesser in southern Illinois,” said Wayne Rosenthal, chairman of the Illinois Conservation Foundation Board of Directors and Director of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.  “Thanks to the donors who make the program possible, the Conservation Achievement Scholarships are one way in which the ICF is able to recognize and reward the hard work on conservation stewardship and natural resources protection being done by youth in Illinois.”

Preston Launius is an avid outdoors enthusiast, who enjoys fishing and hunting.  He is also a longtime member of the Sesser-Valier High School Outdoorsmen Club.  One of the club’s primary events each November is joining the Corps of Engineers in hosting a special deer hunt for people with disabilities at Rend Lake.  Club members construct hunting blinds prior to the hunt, and camouflage the blinds by cutting invasive autumn olive, helping control the troublesome plant. Club members then assist participating individuals during the three-day hunt, providing a worthwhile experience for the disabled hunters.  Preston also improves fish and wildlife habitat using discarded natural Christmas trees, and he and other youth hunters target coyotes to help protect and expand populations of rabbits, wild turkeys and deer.

Preston Launius plans to attend Rend Lake College in Ina, Illinois, and hopes to pursue a career as an Illinois Conservation Police officer.

“Congratulations to Preston Launius on being selected as this year’s scholarship recipient, and thank you to all of the donors to the Illinois Conservation Foundation’s scholarship fund,” said Eric Schenck, ICF Executive Director. “Over the years, the Conservation Achievement Scholarship program has been able to provide more than $100,000 in support to the academic and career endeavors of young conservationists in Illinois.”

Applicants for the ICF Conservation Achievement Scholarship program must be outstanding high school seniors in Illinois who have demonstrated effective, voluntary, long-term dedication to the preservation, protection, enhancement and/or promotion of Illinois’ natural resources. Other criteria also apply. For more information, check the ICF website at

For information on donating to and supporting the Conservation Achievement Scholarships or other ICF programs, contact the foundation at 217-785-2003, or donate online at


Stay Safe this Paddling Season

Wed, April 18, 2018

Paddlers are itching to get out on the water after this year’s long and cold winter. Review these simple safety tips before you head out on the water for your first paddling trip this year.

Check your canoe or kayak for any needed repairs or maintenance after being stored for several months. Look for holes and leaks, make sure all hatch lids fit snug and securely and check your paddle blades for signs of cracking or splitting.

Dust off your life jacket and make sure all buckles and zippers work properly and look for holes and tears. Replace the life jacket if it has damage that cannot be repaired. Wear a life jacket at all times while on the water, regardless of your swimming ability.

Wear a wetsuit or dry suit, along with layers, to help avoid hypothermia or cold water shock. Do not wear cotton. Dress for water immersion, not the air temperature. You can adjust your clothing needs as the water heats up over the next several weeks.

Always bring along a dry bag with a set of extra clothes you can change into if you get wet, a first-aid kit and a protected cell phone or weather radio. Pack plenty of water to stay hydrated. Stretch before you enter your boat to help prevent injuries.

Let a friend or loved one know where you are going and when you are expected to return. It will be easier to find you if you need help.

Be Aware of Changing Conditions
After snowmelt and heavy rains, water levels can rise quickly and produce strong and fast current. “Strainers” are numerous on most rivers, especially after high water events. A “strainer” can be a pile of tree limbs and debris, usually found on the outside of river bends where they continue to collect and pile up. The river’s current can suck you under a deadly “strainer” and hold you underwater with little chance of escape. A “sweeper” is found above the water’s surface and can be a tree that is ready to fall into the river. Hanging tree limbs can knock you out of your boat or grab you by your life jacket or clothing and not let go.

Always be aware of where low head dams are on the river you are paddling. Never go over a low head dam. Watch for warning signs, as well as signs telling you where and when to get off the river. Put back in well downstream of the low head dam. The hydraulics of the dam will not let you escape as the turbulence of the water will be strong enough to keep pulling you and your boat under the water over and over again.

Jet skis, motorboats, water skiers and anglers will be out on the water when the weather is nice. Give everyone plenty of room. If a “wake” is approaching your boat, point the front of your boat into the wave to prevent your boat from tipping when the wave strikes.

New Water Trail Maps
Now that you are prepared for water fun, start planning your trip with the new Iowa DNR Water Trail maps. Pocket-sized brochures for a dozen water trails, including the Lower Des Moines, Maquoketa, South Skunk, and all of the Raccoon Rivers can be requested. Download easy-to-print PDF versions formatted to 8.5 x 11 from the Iowa DNR Web site at

Media Contacts: Todd Robertson, Iowa DNR River Programs Outreach Coordinator at 515-243-3714 or John Wenck, Iowa DNR River Programs Water Trails Coordinator at 515-725-8465.


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