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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

A group of adults gather outside a metal corral with electronics attached to it with a speaker inside the trap.
Filed Under: Nuisance Wildlife and Damage Management, Operation HOG November 22, 2017

Hunting season preparation is done to increase our odds of harvesting some of the special and iconic native species that we are fortunate to have in Mississippi, whether we're targeting white-tailed deer, small game, waterfowl or a combination of quarry.

Whatever we hunt throughout the rifle season, we all want to increase the success of our outdoor, sport-hunting experience -- while at the same time, decreasing the available space in our freezers.

Close-up photo of a brown and white owl as it looks off to the right.
Filed Under: Wildlife Youth Education, Wildlife November 17, 2017

STARKVILLE, Miss. – What do Harry Potter, Winnie the Pooh, the U.S. Forest Service, Tootsie Pops and Xyzal have in common? All prominently feature owls in their stories and marketing campaigns.

Some owls help sell products such as lollipops and allergy medications. Others sell ideas, like the Forest Service's Woodsy Owl -- "Give a Hoot, Don't Pollute." Harry had a pet owl named Hedwig, and Winnie had a friend named Owl.

Bats roosting in the cavity of large tree.
Filed Under: Wildlife November 3, 2017

STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Cooler fall weather leads bats and other wildlife in search of shelter for the winter months.

Bats are an integral part of Mississippi’s ecosystem balance, consuming large quantities of unwanted insects and supporting forest communities. However, they can become nuisances when groups of bats, called colonies, take up residence in homes or other buildings.

Two young men wearing camouflage sit in a small boat with a black dog, all looking out on the water on a sunny day.
Filed Under: Wildlife October 27, 2017

Hunting is a wonderful, fulfilling pastime that helps friends and family forge lifetime relationships that might not emerge to the same extent in other settings.

In addition to a withdrawn and disconnected outdoor user base, we have a wide diversity of ideals and beliefs of the people who participate in outdoor activities.

A teenage boy proudly holds up a catfish on his fishing line.
Filed Under: Wildlife, Urban and Backyard Wildlife October 20, 2017

STARKVILLE, Miss. -- The first settlers of North America did not realize all that they were going to find in the New World.

When European settlers came to North American, they wanted things to be different in their new country. History books tell us the promise of religious freedom, cheap land and economic opportunities gave them courage to make the long, dangerous and expensive trip. 

Success Stories

Wild hogs caught in a trap.
Nuisance Wildlife and Damage Management, Operation HOG Extension Matters: 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, Oct 23 2015
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Season 39 Show #16

Thursday, October 22, 2015 - 7:00pm

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Wednesday, October 25, 2017 - 8:15am
Friday, September 29, 2017 - 8:15am
Tuesday, September 19, 2017 - 1:00am
Wednesday, September 6, 2017 - 8:15am

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