Morel mushroom hunters warned about floodwaters

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COLUMBIA - The wet weather has created some extra risks for morel mushroom hunters.

An article by the University of Missouri Division of Plant Sciences warned mushroom hunters about the dangers that come with hunting in flooded areas. The warning said the mushrooms absorb toxins from the floodwaters and are ultimately inedible.

Robert Hemmelgarn, a spokesperson for the Missouri Department of Conservation, said safe practices should always be taken when it comes to morel hunting.

“You want to be thinking about safety first always,” Hemmelgarn said. “If mushrooms are in an area where there has been stagnant water, it’s probably a good idea to wash them off.”

Hemmelgarn also said the other risks of the outdoors like ticks, poison ivy and animal hunters in the forest.

“Morel hunting is a great time to get outdoors in spring,” Hemmelgarn said. “Don’t let the risks deter you from getting out and enjoying the outdoors.”

Morel hunter Tristan Peneston, who has been hunting since he was a kid, said he hasn’t experienced a bad mushroom due to stagnant water, but he also knows not to pick there.

“You can tell, I normally just don’t pick it,” Peneston said.

Peneston tipped that it is good to soak the mushrooms in salt or tap water after finding them. He said that the main draw for morel hunting is the hunt and the mushroom’s taste.

As more rain is expected, hunters should practice safe hunting and keep an eye out for where they find their mushrooms.