Developing Wildlife Identification Skills
As a responsible hunter, you should educate yourself about wildlife prior to your hunt. The ability to identify species accurately will make you a better hunter and will increase the enjoyment of your hunting experience. Consult with the Missouri Department of Conservation for legal game species and their hunting seasons.
Developing wildlife identification skills is a basic requirement for hunters. Mistakes can lead to illegal harvest of game or non-game animals. To identify game properly, you must learn to recognize key characteristics of the animal you’re hunting.
Identifying animals accurately can be a challenge. Sometimes the difference between animals in the same species is subtle, such as the size of their ears or distinctive coloring.
Recognizing tracks, scat, food sources, and habitat types also can help you identify animals.
Many resources are available for learning about wildlife. Good sources are books, television shows featuring hunting and nature topics, and websites such as that of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.
It is common to categorize wild animals into groups that are similar in some way; for example :
- Large mammals
- Small mammals
- Upland birds
- Waterfowl and wetland birds
- Birds of prey
Threatened or Endangered Species
Within each of the groups, species may be "threatened" or "endangered." Some species are protected from hunting because their numbers are small and they produce no surplus to harvest. "Threatened" and "endangered" species are protected by law.