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Extension Outdoors

A gray squirrel pauses as it climbs a tree.
January 5, 2018 - Filed Under: Housing and Homebuyer, Wildlife Economics and Enterprises

STARKVILLE, Miss. -- The coldest days of winter do not seem to slow squirrel activity.

One significant reason is that mating season for eastern gray squirrels lasts through January, and babies arrive about six weeks later.

Most squirrels build nests for these babies in the forks of tree branches or in the hollows of tree trunks. Their nests are created mostly out of dry leaves and twigs.

A sign nailed to a pine tree in a wooded area that reads, “POSTED PRIVATE PROPERTY.”
December 29, 2017 - Filed Under: Wildlife

STARKVILLE, Miss. -- When you invite guests to your private property for outdoor recreation, there are several ways to reduce potential liability concerns that could arise.

First, your duty as a landowner depends on the status of the visitor who is on your property. A landowner owes no duty to trespassers other than not to intentionally harm them.

Graphic illustration showing economic impact of wild hog damage to Mississippi agriculture: $298,000 to repair damage, $209,000 for control measures, $160,000 labor costs and $85,000 in lost crops.
December 22, 2017 - Filed Under: Nuisance Wildlife and Damage Management, Operation HOG

STARKVILLE, Miss. -- In recent years, wild pigs have been a controversial topic in wildlife and agricultural discussions from top government officials to local farmers talking over the fence.

Wild pigs are considered nuisance animals in Mississippi because of their ability to create widespread and devastating damage. Many researchers and wildlife managers have suggested that wild pigs could be North America’s most threatening invasive mammal species in terms of agricultural damage, disease transmission, native plant survival and water quality.

A small yellow bird holding a worm in its beak while perched on a small tree branch.
December 15, 2017 - Filed Under: Wildlife Youth Education

STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Winter weather makes life more difficult for wildlife, even in the South. Animals must have shelter to survive the potentially deadly effects of ice, snow and freezing rain.

Food can be hard to find in winter. Animals that eat plants or insects have few choices once their food dies with the cold weather or is covered by wintry precipitation. Even predators face food shortages since winter conditions can cause their prey to spend more time in hiding.

A drainage pipe, with stones leading to the creek bed, emptying into Catalpa Creek.
December 8, 2017 - Filed Under: Environment, Water

STARKVILLE, Miss. -- All of us live in a particular town, county, state and country. Just as importantly, we also live in a specific watershed.

Everyone on earth resides in and interacts with a watershed on a daily basis. Watersheds are natural landscape boundaries that define an area that drains into a stream, river, lake, reservoir or ocean. Watersheds can range from a few acres to thousands of square miles. They are also nested, meaning smaller watersheds make up larger watersheds.

Hunter wearing camouflage secures a portable platform to the side of a tree.
December 1, 2017 - Filed Under: 4-H Safety Programs, White-Tailed Deer

STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Although they are beneficial as a hunting tool to increase visibility, elevated tree stands come with many safety concerns.

Fortunately, it is easier than ever to hunt safely from trees. When using a tree stand, design choice and placement location are your most important decisions. Finding a healthy, large tree with no visible signs of damage or rot is essential when using fixed, permanent or ladder-style tree stands. These stands require a sturdy base to mount and climbing gear to reach ideal hunting height.

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

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.
November 17, 2017 - Filed Under: Wildlife Youth Education, Wildlife

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.

A pair of hands pull rich soil from the ground with green grass around it.
November 10, 2017 - Filed Under: Crops, Farming, Natural Resources, Environment

STARKVILLE, Miss. -- A recent survey revealed that thousands of farmers are planting cover crops and reporting benefits from the practice.

While only a few respondents to the fifth annual cover crop survey were from Mississippi, the study revealed more landowners appreciate the practice of growing crops to protect and enrich the soil. Most respondents were from the Midwest in the survey conducted by the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education program and the Conservation Technology Information Center.

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

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.
October 27, 2017 - Filed Under: Wildlife

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.
October 20, 2017 - Filed Under: Wildlife, Urban and Backyard Wildlife

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. 

The cut across the tip of this gray cat’s right ear is visible as it looks at the camera while standing in a barnyard.
October 13, 2017 - Filed Under: Wildlife

STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Feral cat control has been hotly debated in recent years because of concerns over lethal measures to limit the numbers of animals many consider to be pets.

Many of us have experienced the feel-good act of feeding or housing a stray cat. With so many cats roaming freely, how can we tell if a cat is wandering, homeless or feral? Knowing the difference can allow you to take the most humane action in helping the cat. 

A bird dog is on point in tall grass as it detects quail.
October 6, 2017 - Filed Under: Natural Resources, Wildlife

STARKVILLE, Miss. -- As hunting season begins, there are several issues landowners need to keep in mind when they allow sportsmen to use their property for hunting, fishing or other recreation. 

Landowners should consider accident liability, lease fees and a legal contract for the arrangement. In a recreational hunting lease, the landowner grants access to his or her land for a certain period of time in exchange for fees or services rendered. 

View from an airplane flying over extensive flood waters flowing over a levee and surrounding homes, farm buildings and crops.
September 29, 2017 - Filed Under: Environment, Disaster Recovery

STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Hurricanes Irma and Harvey recently blew through the Southeast and into the history books, bringing destructive winds and leaving devastating floods in their wakes.

Hurricane Harvey brought record-breaking rainfall to the continental U.S. -- 51.88 inches in a single event. After the severe winds left a path of destruction, flooding continued for days after Harvey made landfall and moved along the Texas coast.

A large alligator rests on the shoreline beside water on a sunny day.
September 22, 2017 - Filed Under: Wildlife

STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Thanks to the careful management and conservation efforts of Mississippi’s state and federal wildlife biologists, alligator populations across the state are thriving.

In fact, Ricky Flynt, alligator coordinator with the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks, said he considers the healthy alligator populations a conservation success story. From the early 1900s through the 1960s, alligators were not protected and were nearly eliminated, he explained. Now, their numbers are high enough to allow limited recreational hunting. 

A gopher tortoise walking in one of south Mississippi's remaining longleaf pine forest.
September 15, 2017 - Filed Under: Natural Resources

STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Thousands of years ago, mastodons, giant ground sloths, saber-tooth cats and short-faced bears roamed the land now called Mississippi. More recently, Carolina parakeets, passenger pigeons and eastern elk lived in the forests and fields surrounding the homes and towns of European settlers living in the Southeast.

All of these animals are now extinct, which means no living individuals remain on the planet. Although climatic changes aided in the extinction of some of these species, others were lost to habitat loss and overharvest.

These are just a few of the many species in the U.S. and around the globe that are extinct. Others are on the brink of extinction. Unless we act, these endangered species may follow the same path as the mastodon and passenger pigeon.

a nest built by mice using insulation and a variety of other materials
September 8, 2017 - Filed Under: Nuisance Wildlife and Damage Management

Now is the time of year when many of us notice the pitter-patter of small feet in our attics or walls.

Complaints of mice in and around homes are common in the fall. The house mouse is one of the most troublesome and costly rodents in the United States. House mice damage structures and contaminate food sources meant for humans, pets, livestock and other animals.

During the fall, both the house mouse, which spends most of its life in human dwellings, and the deer mouse, which spends warm seasons outside, are searching for food and warm shelter to nest and breed during the winter.

Four fourth-grade girls show off their personal identification cards that are passes to federal parks.
September 1, 2017 - Filed Under: Wildlife Youth Education, Natural Resources

STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Those of us with a strong connection to the natural world know that attachment was born and strengthened through personal experiences we had outdoors as children, generally when family members took us outside to spend time, relax or have fun.

A new nationwide program began in 2015 with hopes of increasing access to federal public lands for fourth-grade students, along with the goal of establishing connections to the outdoors. Every Kid in a Park begins its third year on Sept. 1, 2017. Every fourth-grader has easy access to a free pass for admission to public land from Sept. 1 through Aug. 31, 2018. 

The 2017 Gulf of Mexico dead zone, primarily off the coast of Louisiana, recently measured 8,776 square miles, the largest ever recorded in 32 years of monitoring. Reducing the size of the hypoxic zone is important to ensure continued productivity of the Gulf fishery. (Data source: N.N. Rabalais, Louisiana State University and Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium; R.E. Turner, LSU. Funding: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science, http://www.gulfhypoxi
August 25, 2017 - Filed Under: Environment, Marine Resources

STARKVILLE, Miss. -- A new record has been set in the Gulf of Mexico, but it is not one to brag about because it threatens a multibillion-dollar fishing industry.

The most recent Gulf dead zone measured in the summer of 2017 was the largest ever recorded in 32 years of monitoring. It covered 8,776 square miles, which is closer to the size of New Jersey than the average zone size of 5,309 square miles. Reducing the size of the hypoxic zone is important if we want to ensure continued productivity of the Gulf fishery.

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