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Habitat Management

Wildlife species require suitable or healthy habitats to help maintain or increase population numbers. Habitats provide the food, cover, space, and water needs of different animals. Management of native vegetative species, from forbs (weeds) to mature trees, will impact habitat quality to a much greater extent than will any foodplanting or supplemental efforts. Also, for many wildlife species, habitat management must be incorporated with proper protection and harvest management.

Management Tools

Soil quality determines wildlife habitat and population potential. Soil disturbances, such as timber harvest, disking, mowing, and prescribed burning, can improve wildlife habitat, and, if done correctly, can reduce the need for food plantings. However, to maximize vegetative habitat diversity and to help in wildlife harvest and viewing, you might want a mixture of both.

Disking can prepare seedbeds for planting and change the natural composition of plants by removing thicker, undesirable grasses and creating space for more desirable legumes and seed producers. Disking also increases insect production. The best method of disking is "strip disking." This technique works best with fields (pastures or agricultural) and rights-of-way but may also be used in stands of open timber. The key is to disk strips that are 30 to 50 feet wide to leave similarly undisked strips in between them. Do this alternately across the length of the field or area. You should disk strips every 3 years or so for quail.

Strip disking is excellent for providing nesting and broodrearing habitat, insect production, and important seed (food) production for quail and turkeys. As an example, blackberries, an important food to deer, turkeys, and quail, grow on an average 3-year rotation and can be promoted on a 3-year disking schedule. Aquatic plants (e.g., maidencane and smartweed), which are important duck foods at certain times, can be encouraged by spring and summer disking in drawndown ponds or marshy areas. Legumes (e.g., partridge pea, beggarweed, vetches), forbs (e.g., croton, ragweed), and large seeded grasses can be encouraged with winter-to-spring disking of fields and plots. Always disk on the contour to prevent or to minimize soil erosion.

Mowing is used primarily for the bobwhite quail and wild turkey. Late-winter (February) and late-summer (August) mowing of grasses attracts insects that are critical in the diets of juvenile birds. Late-summer mowing of grassy plots and fallow fields can increase nutrient availability of plants by providing fresh, green growth. The highest nutrient availability in grasses is in the first 8 inches of growth. Mowing can also help provide browse for deer.

Prescribed burning is the "skillful application of fire to natural fuels, under conditions that allow confinement and obtain planned benefits to forest or wildlife management efforts." Prescribed burning often is the most economical and beneficial tool used in wildlife management. It is also a controversial issue in forest and wildlife management due to potential for landowner liability and smoke management health concerns. Prescribed burning is often used in pine or upland mixed pine hardwood stands to reduce dry fuel hazards, to control hardwood competition, and to prepare sites for replanting of trees. In addition to those timber management benefits, wildlife benefits encouraged through prescribed burning include ground exposure, seed scarification, legume dispersal, hardwood butt sprouts, and the growth of nutrient-rich forbs, vines, and browse. Prescribed burning should be conducted by responsible, trained, experienced persons only! Report all unattended fires to state forestry personnel.

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News

Rows of small green plant, some near disturbed soil, in a large field.
Filed Under: Peanuts, Nuisance Wildlife and Damage Management May 25, 2018

ABERDEEN, Miss. -- Peanut growers are experiencing a mixed bag of conditions across the southeastern United States in general and Mississippi in particular.

A black and white dog stands alert with his tail up and ears forward in tall grass with trees in the background.
Filed Under: Wildlife May 18, 2018

STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Hunting, fishing, wildlife watching, outdoor physical exercise and other outdoor recreation mean millions of dollars for Mississippi annually.

Mississippi State University scientists recently found that wildlife-related recreation generates about $2.9 million in economic impact to the state each year. Some of the money spent on outdoor recreation goes to small, rural Mississippi communities that would not see these expenditures otherwise.

A red-throated hummingbird hovers over a red geranium.
Filed Under: Natural Resources, Wildlife, Urban and Backyard Wildlife May 3, 2018

Hummingbirds are fascinating creatures and fun to watch. We usually begin to see them in Mississippi in March. Here are a few tips to draw them to your landscape.

Two small gray squirrels peak out between wooden slats with nesting material behind them.
Filed Under: Wildlife April 27, 2018

STARKVILLE, Miss. -- It’s a bird…It’s a plane…It’s a flying squirrel!

While technically unable to fly like birds and bats, the southern flying squirrel is able to glide from tree to tree using the membrane between its front and back legs to stay airborne. The adaptation of gliding for this squirrel subspecies usually keeps the animals away from predators on the ground.

A coiled copperhead snake looks at the camera.
Filed Under: Natural Resources, Wildlife, Snakes April 24, 2018

If you like to enjoy the great outdoors during spring and summer, you are not alone.

Whether you’re out hiking, fishing, camping, kayaking, horseback riding, or working in your backyard, you’ll likely come across many types of wildlife, including snakes. Just the thought of a snake can cause many people to shudder with fear. But learning about the kinds of snakes you may encounter in your area and how they behave can help you avoid a dangerous encounter.

Success Stories

Wild hogs caught in a trap.
Nuisance Wildlife and Damage Management, Operation HOG
Volume 3 Number 3

Trevor Garrett stays busy. He divides his days between farming soybeans with his father, Johnnie Ferrell Garrett, and working as a research associate at Mississippi State University's Pontotoc Ridge–Flatwoods Branch Experiment Station.

Watch

Farmweek | Entire Show | February 22, 2018
Farmweek

Season 41 Show #34

Friday, February 23, 2018 - 7:30am
Venison Stroganoff January 14, 2018
The Food Factor

Venison Stroganoff

Sunday, January 14, 2018 - 7:00am
Farmweek | Entire Show | August 10, 2017
Farmweek

Season 41 Show #6

Thursday, August 10, 2017 - 2:30pm
Farmweek, Entire Show, January 26, 2017
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Season 40 Show #27

Thursday, January 26, 2017 - 10:30am
Farmweek, Entire Show, Oct 23 2015
Farmweek

Season 39 Show #16

Thursday, October 22, 2015 - 7:00pm

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Friday, May 18, 2018 - 2:00am
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Tuesday, May 1, 2018 - 7:00am
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