Forest Service Updates

AVA, Mo. (Feb 10, 2020) –Mark Twain National Forest’s wildland firefighters on the Ava/Cassville/Willow Springs Ranger District (ACW RD) are continuing to prepare for spring-time prescribed burning.  As soon as the weather cooperates, the District will begin working in the field.  With a new firefighter hired on the District, and the fire management officer returned from fighting wildfire in Australia, the team is ready to go as soon as there is a break in the cold.

District Ranger Cody Lunsford wants to remind the public to slow down and drive with their headlights on if they do come across smoke from any nearby prescribed burning operations.  “Our crews do a great job planning burns to minimize smoke impacts, but it is important to drive carefully and be alert for Forest Service vehicles if you encounter smoke from a prescribed fire,” he stated.

The U.S. Forest Service and Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) are working together to combat Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD).  Last fall, hunters harvested two deer that tested positive for the disease on U.S. Forest Service property east of Shell Knob in Stone County.  CWD is 100% fatal to deer, so to help determine the prevalence of the disease in this core area, MDC is conducting a winter culling operation across a 25-square mile area.  This operation will also help remove potentially infected deer and slow the spread of the disease.  

Landowner participation in this operation is completely voluntary.  Landowners can choose not to participate or they can be authorized by MDC to shoot deer on their own property.  If landowners don’t want to shoot deer but would like trained MDC staff to harvest deer on their property, that option is available too.  All deer culled will be tested for CWD.  When CWD test shows no signs of the disease, the meat from the deer will be given back to the landowner or donated to MDC’s Share the Harvest program which goes to local food pantries in the area.  Meat from deer testing CWD positive will be properly disposed.  There is no charge to landowners for the processing which is being funded by the Conservation Federation of Missouri.   

This winter CWD culling operation will last until March 15, 2020.  In next month’s edition, we will report how the operation is going as well as inform you on how many deer have been harvested and what the test results are.  Stay tuned.  You learn more about CWD on the MDC website at https://huntfish.mdc.mo.gov/hunting-trapping/wildlife-diseases/chronic-wasting-disease-cwd.

As a reminder, in honor of President’s Day on February 17, 2020, the Ava and Cassville District Offices will be closed. 

If you have any questions, call the Ava District Office at 417-683-4428, M-F, 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.