Area Squirrels Ramp Up Their Fall Nutty Activities

Photo by Charles Hoessle, former St. Louis Zoo Director.

By Don Corrigan

If you’ve been paying attention to the wildlife near your home, you may have noticed squirrels are going a little nuts. They’re in their pre-winter ritual of hoarding and burying acorns.

An animal expert who finds squirrel antics fascinating is Charles Hoessle, former St. Louis Zoo Director. Hoessle has been up close and personal with large, wild animals at the world-renowned zoo, but he has a real soft spot for – squirrels.

“We have two white squirrels, which are quite rare, living in the trees near my home,” said Hoessle. “I don’t know how they got here, but they do show up every so often and they do not seem to be bothered by all the gray squirrels.”

Hoessle has a hoard of photos of his neighborhood white squirrels that he has taken on his cell phone. This is quite an accomplishment, because white squirrels can be shy as they are very visible out in the open and vulnerable to predators.

The vulnerability of white squirrels has made them rare, but they are populous in one town in Illinois. Olney is the white squirrel capital of America and the town’s police will levy heavy fines if you harass or hit them, even accidentally, with your vehicle.

“I lure the white squirrels out in my yard by sprinkling some cracked corn around,” said Hoessle. “I can never tell when they will show up, but the corn seems to attract them.”

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Hellbender Conservationists Continue Saving An Endangered Spiecies

Hellbender at Saint Louis Zoo. Photo: Ray Meibaum, Saint Louis Zoo

Over 800 hellbenders from Saint Louis Zoo released into native Ozark rivers by Missouri Department of Conservation this summer

Over 800 Ozark and eastern hellbenders raised from eggs at the Saint Louis Zoo were released into their native Missouri Ozark rivers this summer by Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) State Herpetologist Jeff Briggler, Ph.D., in cooperation with the Zoo and U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS). Since 2008, 9,476 Saint Louis Zoo-raised endangered hellbenders (8,599 Ozark and 877 eastern) have been reintroduced to the wild in Missouri.

Even through the COVID-19 pandemic, the team of biologists from MDC and the Zoo have continued to collaborate while staying safe and providing the best care for the hellbenders. In 2020 and 2021, more than 1,800 hellbenders were successfully reintroduced.

“We have continued our COVID-19 safety precautions, such as reducing contact and maintaining social distancing, when transporting and releasing hellbenders into their native rivers. Release quotas for 2021 were achieved and successfully conducted, and now we prepare for upcoming collections of eggs from the wild and captive breeding to obtain future release animals,” said Jeff Briggler, Ph.D., Missouri Department of Conservation State Herpetologist.
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Washington University Receives Funding For Research Of New Biotechnology Products

Washington University in St. Louis Receives Over $740,000 in EPA Funding for Research to Assess Health and Environmental Impacts of Biotechnology Products

Recently, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that Washington University in St. Louis is one of five institutions to receive a total of $3,041,583 in funding to develop science-based approaches to evaluate the potential human health and environmental impacts of new biotechnology products.

Washington University has received $744,262 to develop an “auto destruction switch” for genetically engineered microorganisms and a system to ensure lab observations can match field predictions.

“EPA is funding this research to better understand advancements in biotechnology, which have many potential benefits for society, and to ensure public health and environmental protection,” said Jennifer Orme-Zavaleta, acting assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Research and Development and EPA Science Advisor.

“Washington University is pushing science forward with this biotechnology research,” said Acting Region 7 Administrator Edward H. Chu. “Genetically engineered microbes have a lot of potential in naturally break down pollutants and the research Dr. Tae Seok Moon and his team are doing will help ensure that the solutions used in future applications are both responsible, effective and protective of human health.”

“Our project will provide novel technologies that minimize the risks associated with environmental applications of genetically engineered microbes to ensure their biocontainment and public safety,” said Dr. Tae Seok Moon, associate professor in the Department of Energy, Environmental and Chemical Engineering at Washington University.

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Ride The Rivers Century Ride Set For October 9, 2021

Information from Trailnet for The Ride the Rivers Century. (August Newsletter)

The Ride the Rivers Century presented by Streets of St. Charles is the best 100 mile ride in the midwest. Challenge yourself on Trailnet’s flagship ride of the year. Ride the Rivers brings together all of the best elements of biking across the region.

The route is the experience. From an early morning in Old Town St. Charles, to ferry crossings*, cruising along the Mississippi, cutting through the City, rolling through Forest Park, winding down the Katy Trail and ending with a party at the Streets St. Charles; this supported ride gives you a unique chance to crush 100 miles.

Want to join in on the century fun but don’t want to knock out a full 100 miles? Enjoy a very European 100 km (62 mi) metric century that explores the Missouri and Mississippi River valleys before returning to St. Charles for the street party.

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Squirrel Photo Winners To Be Awarded At Magnificent Missouri Event On Oct. 17

Squirrels are frantically flipping out and burying acorns. It’s their pre-winter thing. Which makes squirrels great photo subjects this time of year.

A squirrel photography contest is now frantically underway.

Send your best squirrel images to the Missouri Nature Blog, EnvironmentalEcho.com. Limit of three photos per photographer, please. Deadline is October 15.

Squirrel photograph images should be sent on the worldly squirrel wide web to the email address: environmentalecho@gmail.com. Photograph winners will receive Squirrel Baskets packed with plenty of squirrel goodies.

Three winners will be announced at the Squirrel Day Table at Magnificent Missouri’s Elevator Days on Sunday, Oct. 17 at Treloar on the Katy Trial. Shuttle will be available to take visitors to the Peers Store just east of Treloar on the Katy Trail.

Professor Don Corrigan will give a Powerpoint lecture on his book, “Nuts About Squirrels” at the Peers Store at 1 p.m. The lecture and his book detail the importance of squirrel characters in our American popular culture.

Some tips about photographing live squirrels: Good squirrel photos should be close-up showing their character. Action photos are best.

Squirrels make good subjects because they are just plain cute. They are very cunning and will work very hard to get to a food source, i.e., your bird feeder. They offer endless opportunities for great photos with their gymnastic abilities.

They can be difficult at times to photograph because they are constantly on the move and you have to anticipate what they are going to do next. This is what makes photographing them so much fun.

Missouri Prairie Foundation Bestows 2021 Awards

The 55-year-old prairie conservation organization and land trust honored champions of prairie and native plant conservation on August 20 during its virtual Annual Dinner. Awardees hail from Marshall, Columbia, Harwood, Springfield, Meadville, and Eminence, Missouri, as well as Hudson, Wisconsin.

The Missouri Prairie Foundation’s Annual Dinner, held virtually on August 20, 2021, is a celebration of Missouri’s prairie legacy. During the event, the 55-year-old prairie conservation organization and land trust paid tribute to seven awardees.

“Missouri’s remaining prairies are rare and priceless treasures,” said David Young, Missouri Prairie Foundation President. “Protecting and promoting them requires dedication and commitment from many people. Our award program recognizes individuals who have made or are making a positive difference in the conservation of Missouri’s prairie legacy and in the promotion or protection of native plants.”

The Missouri Prairie Foundation 2021 awardees are:

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Introducing the Forest Park Experience Vlog Series

Photo by Holly Shanks

Check out the new vlog from Forest Park Forever.

Forest Park Forever recently announced a new video series highlighting visitors of Forest Park. This new mini-series will feature a video each week. During the first episode, we encourage you to flow with yoga instructor Spenser Gaines, who says, “Forest Park has always played a role where I knew I could come and just feel centered.”

Other episodes in the series will include sketching, dancing, circuit training, fly fishing, birding and more!

Visit the Forest Park Forever YouTube page for more videos like the one below.

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Expanding Bicycle Use On Conservation Areas Proposed by MDC

MDC has proposed regulations that would allow the expanded use of bicycles and electric bicycles on most department-area service roads and multi-use trails, such as at Canaan Conservation Area in Gasconade County (shown). Photo: MDC

Proposed regulations would allow expanded bicycle use on many conservation area service roads and/or multi-use trails while restricting access to heavily used areas and natural areas.

The Missouri Conservation Commission gave initial approval to the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) at its Aug. 27 open meeting on proposed regulation changes that would allow the expanded use of bicycles and electric bicycles on most department-area service roads and multi-use trails. The Commission also gave initial approval to MDC definitions of bicycles and electric bicycles.

According to MDC, conservation-area users have expressed interest in expanding the use of bicycles and electric bicycles to include conservation-area service roads and multi-use trails for greater access to the areas.

Bicycle use on MDC’s approximately 1,100 conservation areas is currently restricted to roads open to public-vehicle traffic and some multi-use trails. Bicycle use is currently not allowed on conservation-area service roads.

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ZOOFARI 2021: Biennial Fundraiser To Benefit the Saint Louis Zoo

Enjoy dinner, drinks and music under the night sky at the Saint Louis Zoo’s most-anticipated fundraiser! Proceeds support the Saint Louis Zoo and its conservation efforts here and around the world.
When: 7 p.m. until midnight on Friday, Sept. 10, 2021
On Sept. 10, the Zoo is open to the public from 9 a.m. until noon, when it will close for preparations.
Where: Saint Louis Zoo
Event Information: The biennial creative black-tie party for ages 21+ includes:
  • Live music by local bands and DJs on multiple stages, including the Fabulous Motown Revue, Miss Jubilee, Mo Egestion, The Usual Suspects, Wax Museum, DJ Chris Brown and DJ Micro
  • Food stations throughout the Zoo offering unlimited sweet and savory dishes with catering provided by the Zoo’s executive chef and culinary team.
  • The 2021 event format has changed and does not include local restaurant vendors this year.
  • Premium open bars with beer, wine, and specialty cocktails
  • Special fundraising activities to benefit the Zoo, including a wine and spirits pull, local restaurant gift card pull, and Kendra Scott Color Bar™ experience
  • Take a ride on the Mary Ann Lee Conservation Carousel and the Emerson Zooline Railroad
Tickets: Advance tickets are required. Purchase tickets online at stlzoo.org/zoofari.
  • General Admission tickets available at stlzoo.org/zoofari:
    • $200 per person for Zoo Members
    • $250 per person for non-members
  •  Sponsorship-level tickets available at stlzoo.org/zoofari:
    • $1,000: 2 tickets, access to VIP reception, table accommodations and program listing
    • $3,500: 10 tickets, early admission, reserved table and program listing
    • See stlzoo.org/zoofari for additional sponsorship levels and benefits

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The Plants of Creve Coeur Park: Walk & Learn

Pictured: Mitch Leachman.

Mitch Leachman will lead a tour of the bottomland forest, prairie restoration and lake edge at Creve Coeur Park on September 11, starting at 8 a.m., located at Creve Coeur Park Lake, 2160 Creve Coeur Mill Rd., Maryland Heights, MO 63146. The tour is free and registration is required.

 

Find more information about the event below from the Sustainable Backyard Network.

Don’t miss our first in-person gathering since the 2019 Shindig! In this outdoor lesson in biodiversity, Mitch Leachman will lead a tour of the bottomland forest, prairie restoration and lake edge at Creve Coeur Lake Memorial Park’s Mallard Lake. Both native and non-native plants will be highlighted as the group traverses a 2.5 mile loop trail. Commentary will be offered on plant behavior, wildlife value and suitability for landscaping projects.

Group size is limited to 20 and advance registration is required. Please note: All are welcome to attend, regardless of vaccination status. Should you not be fully vaccinated, we do ask that you wear a mask at all times out of consideration for the presenter and each other.

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