The Associated Press
COLUMBIA, Mo. — A five-year experiment to determine whether to legalize noodling in Missouri could end three years early.
Citing renewed threats to breeding-age fish, state conservation officials are no longer issuing permits to fish for catfish by hand, a practice known as noodling. The suspension could be made permanent as soon as next month.
“They’re catching too many, so we can’t catch any,” said Howard Ramsey, of Paris, Mo., president of Noodlers Anonymous, in a reference to Missourians who prefer to keep their hands outside the water when fishing.
Noodlers use their bare hands to poke around underwater caves and crevices for fish with sharp teeth that can weigh up to 100 pounds. As often as not, they come up with a handful of snakes, beavers or snapping turtles by mistake.
The way Ramsey sees it, “If you don’t come up bloody, you ain’t hand fishing.”
State law allows those who fish using lines, jugs or rods and reels to catch and keep up to 20 catfish daily. Noodlers are asking the state to allow hand-fishers to keep only five fish each season — compared with the experimental limit of five each day.
An estimated 2,000 Missourians fish by hand, according to Ramsey, compared with nearly half a million who fish using traditional methods.
Steve Eder, fisheries division chief for the Missouri Department of Conservation, said the experiment should end early because scientists have found higher-than-expected mortality rates among catfish in state waters. He also suggested that further limits could be imposed on all types of catfish harvests.
“We’re probably going to be more conservative in our harvest restrictions on catfish,” he said.
The Missouri Conservation Commission approved an experimental hand-fishing season for six weeks during summer 2005, limiting such fishing to specific parts of the Fabius, St. Francis and Mississippi rivers.
Ramsey said 159 permits have been issued over the past two years, with a total of 27 catfish caught by hand. State officials alerted permit-holders to the proposed changes in a March 16 letter.
Noodling is legal in at least a dozen states, including neighboring Kansas, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Illinois. Elsewhere, the practice is a misdemeanor crime.
Legislation to lengthen Missouri’s hand-fishing season and expand it to other bodies of water has previously passed both the state House and Senate but never made it into law.
State Rep. Steve Hobbs, R-Mexico, said he plans to renew those legislative efforts and take his complaints directly to Gov. Matt Blunt once the Legislature returns next week from its spring recess.
“I’m very disappointed,” he said. “Conservation has never been a willing participant in this experiment. They had their minds made up way before any study was done.”
A Conservation Department committee will consider the proposal to restore a permanent ban at an April 3 meeting in Jefferson City. Final approval rests with the four-member commission, which could consider the measure at its own April meeting, Eder said.
The Associated Press
- State News
Gov. Nixon declares state of emergency in Missouri
Gov. Jay Nixon today declared a state of emergency in Missouri in response to severe winter weather that began early this morning, bringing hazardous travel and the possibility of power outages.
Party on? No local love in Princeton Review rankings
There's no love for Missouri Southern State University, Pittsburg State University or Crowder College in the new rankings issued by the Princeton Review. Which, given many of the survey categories, isn't necessarily a bad thing.
Publicist: Andy Williams dies
According to a publicist, Emmy-winning TV host and 'Moon River' crooner Andy Williams has died.
Lions climb into share of MIAA men's basketball lead
Without taking the floor, Missouri Southern has climbed into a first-place tie in the MIAA men’s basketball race.
2.6 magnitude earthquake recorded in Oklahoma
The U.S. Geological Survey has recorded a 2.6 magnitude earthquake near Wellston in central Oklahoma.
No injuries or damage is reported.
Audit: $108,000 taken from Missouri Veterans Commission
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — A former employee of the state auditor’s office embezzled nearly $108,000 while working as an accountant for the Missouri Veterans Commission, the state auditor alleged Monday.
Stacy Griffin-Lowery was fired by the Veterans Commission in March 2008 and pleaded guilty three months later to a misdemeanor theft charge. She repaid the state $17,665, the auditor’s office said.
But Missouri Auditor Susan Montee on Monday accused Griffin-Lowery of swiping an additional $90,192 by getting reimbursed for cash advances and purchases made on her personal credit card.
Race in Kansas’ 2nd District could heat up for GOP incumbent
TOPEKA, Kan. — A conservative Kansas legislator said Monday he will announce in a few weeks whether he will challenge freshman U.S. Rep. Lynn Jenkins in the Republican primary.
State Sen. Dennis Pyle’s actions in recent months suggest the Hiawatha farmer, who’s served in the Legislature since 2001, is running against Jenkins in the Aug. 2 primary. He set up a campaign organization in November and has a Web site featuring a brief video of him on his farm, asking viewers for support.
Oklahoma tea party leaders, lawmakers envision militia
OKLAHOMA CITY — Frustrated by recent political setbacks, tea party leaders and some conservative members of the Oklahoma Legislature say they would like to create a new volunteer militia to help defend against what they believe are improper federal infringements on state sovereignty.
Tea party movement leaders say they’ve discussed the idea with several supportive lawmakers and hope to get legislation next year to recognize a new volunteer force
- Missouri: Senate panel cuts $500 million from proposed budget JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — A Senate committee declared Thursday that it has sliced more than $500 million from Missouri’s proposed budget for next year — meeting a target set by Gov. Jay Nixon to bring it in balance.
- Kansas: Wichita-area casino in doubt after governor’s decision TOPEKA, Kan. — A proposed casino south of Wichita was in doubt Thursday after Gov. Mark Parkinson refused to grant its developers a regulatory reprieve. Partners in the $225 million Chisholm Creek project wanted to delay a state board’s decision on their plans.
- More State News Headlines
- Gov. Nixon declares state of emergency in Missouri