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This young angler is actually helping an Oktibbeha County pond grow larger fish. Pond and lake managers need to harvest 1 pound of bass to 5 pounds of bream, usually beginning in the third year after stocking, to promote larger fish. (MSU Extension Service file photo/Linda Breazeale)
March 4, 2016 - Filed Under: Fisheries

STARKVILLE, Miss. -- One of the most common questions I get is, “How do I manage the fish in my lake or pond?”

My responses to these landowners vary, but I usually ask them some questions of my own. What is your goal? Do you want big bass, big bream or just an overall increase in all fish species in your pond or lake? Once the lake owners set their goals, then we can go to work.

Pond weeds start growing early as soon as day length and water temperatures allow, so start a weed management program before they become a problem. (Photo by MSU Extension/Wes Neal)
February 26, 2016 - Filed Under: Fisheries

STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Having too many weeds in a pond is the bane of many Mississippi pond owners.

Pond weeds start growing early, as soon as day length and water temperatures allow. Don’t let them get out of hand! Start a weed management program before they become a problem to keep your pond picture perfect.

After the winter breeding season, male white-tailed deer shed their antlers, which sometimes can be found by naturalists walking through the woods. (Photo by MSU Extension/Melissa Grimes)
February 19, 2016 - Filed Under: Wildlife

By James E. “Jim” Miller
Professor Emeritus, Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Aquaculture
MSU Extension Service

STARKVILLE, Miss. -- As I have gotten older, I’ve noticed changes in my neck and spine have led me to walk more bent over. I’m not the only one; many biologists and naturalists I know walk the same way. Our eyes seem to scan the ground directly in front of us more deliberately than when we were younger.

Before fertilizing a pond, be sure there will enough fishing to take care of the increased fish population. (Photo by MSU Extension/Wes Neal)
February 12, 2016 - Filed Under: Fisheries

STARKVILLE, Miss. -- The decision to fertilize a fishing pond is one that should not be taken lightly.

A fertilization program can greatly increase fish production in fishing ponds. Adding nutrients stimulates the growth of microscopic plants, or algae, which feed the small animals that feed the fish.

Different birdfeeder styles appeal to different bird species, so installing a greater variety of feeders will attract diverse birds. Most backyard bird species prefer black oil sunflower seeds. (Photos by MSU Extension Service/Adam Rohnke)
February 5, 2016 - Filed Under: Wildlife

STARKVILLE, Miss. -- You can easily get overwhelmed by the variety of birdfeeders and birdseed blends available online or at your local store.

As with anything, birdfeeders and birdseed can be as simple or as complex as you want them to be. Following the simple tips I offer in this column will ensure an enjoyable and effective bird feeding experience.

During spring and summer while bucks’ antlers are growing, they are covered with a tissue called velvet, as seen here. (Photo courtesy of Steve Gulledge)
January 29, 2016 - Filed Under: Wildlife

STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Nothing elicits wonder and fascination in the minds of deer hunters more than antlers.

Everyone can remember getting a case of the “goose bumps” during an encounter with an antlered buck, and many people remain captivated by antlers throughout their lives. So, why do deer have antlers?

Land litter washes downstream, so everyone needs to properly dispose of trash and recyclable items to keep Mississippi beautiful. (Photo by MSU Extension/Kevin Hudson)
January 22, 2016 - Filed Under: Environment

By Beth Baker
Research Associate
MSU Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Aquaculture

STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Litter or trash in streets and roadway ditches is much more than an eyesore, and it continues to be a problem across Mississippi.

Uncontrolled wild fires can be very destructive to people and wildlife. But not all fire is bad. Biologists and land managers recognize prescribed fire -- intentional, controlled and managed burning -- as a valuable tool for creating habitat for many plants and animals.
January 15, 2016 - Filed Under: Forestry, Wildlife

STARKVILLE, Miss. -- It is becoming routine for the nightly news to broadcast video of enormous fires roaring through Western forests, destroying homes and devastating thousands of acres of trees.

Migration is one of the ways wild creatures, such as these Canada geese, adapt to the onset of colder weather. (Photo by MSU Extension Service/Kat Lawrence)
December 25, 2015 - Filed Under: Urban and Backyard Wildlife

STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Winter months bring short days of weak sunlight, cold nights and icy rain. Even though Southern states have relatively mild winters, the more extreme weather conditions make life more difficult.

We humans hide indoors in furnace-warmed air, put on layers of clothing to combat the chill and use insulated coats, hats and gloves when forced to go outside. But what about the creatures that live outdoors? How do they survive until spring’s warm breezes and sunshine once again return?

Mississippi is home to several species of cicadas, including this annual cicada. (Photo by MSU Extension Service/Kat Lawrence)
December 21, 2015 - Filed Under: Insects-Forage Pests

STARKVILLE, Miss. -- While many humans anticipate making certain changes with the arrival of a new year, certain insects have much different life cycles.

Periodical cicadas may anticipate emerging from the ground in 2016, while others may simply have to wait a few more years to see the light of day.

Cicadas are curious creatures. From beady eyes on the sides of their heads to prominent veins stretching across their glassy wings, they seem to be created from the Twilight Zone. Yet, they produce one the most common sounds of summer.

The English language is filled with idioms about wildlife, including “birds of a feather flock together,” the way these wild turkeys have gathered in a field. (Submitted photo)
December 18, 2015 - Filed Under: Urban and Backyard Wildlife

STARKVILLE, Miss. -- “Birds of a feather . . .” Can you finish this sentence?

If you answered, “birds of a feather flock together,” you would be right. Wild animals are part of American culture, found in our literature, art and sports team names. Even for those who do not hunt, fish or live in wild places, wildlife may be a part of their lives.

December 11, 2015 - Filed Under: Wildlife

STARKVILLE, Miss. -- So, you have finally worked up the nerve to ask that landowner for permission to hunt his property for the upcoming hunting season, and he said yes.

Representatives of the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks are the best contacts when someone discovers a sick or injured wild animal. Their goal is to treat and re-release wild animals, as Chad Dacus, wildlife bureau director, is shown doing for this rehabilitated bald eagle at the Barnett Reservoir near Jackson, Mississippi. (Photo courtesy of Brian Broom)
December 4, 2015 - Filed Under: Wildlife

STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Wild animals are amazing for many reasons. Whether it’s flying high in the sky, singing beautiful songs or simply displaying the amazing colors and patterns of their feathers or fur, wild creatures attract people. So, when we come upon an injured or sick animal, in most cases, we want to help it any way possible.

Large groups of cormorants typically roost at night in clusters of trees, such as these, and spend their days fishing in natural lakes, rivers and catfish ponds, to the dismay of Mississippi’s catfish producers. (File photo by MSU Extension Service)
November 25, 2015 - Filed Under: Nuisance Wildlife and Damage Management

STARKVILLE, Miss -- It’s a duck, it’s a goose...no, it’s a Cormorant?

The double-crested cormorant is a 4- to 6-pound bird with black or dark plumage. Often cormorants are mistaken for common waterfowl because they are seen swimming on ponds and lakes throughout Mississippi from late fall to early spring. Cormorants migrate each year from the Great Lakes region of the U.S. and Canada to spend their winters on the warm waters of the South. They really are snow birds!

Some landowners view beavers as costly nuisances because their dams can flood agricultural fields and forests. However, these ecosystem engineers create ponds that are ultimately beneficial to the overall ecology of an area, including wildlife populations. (Submitted photo)
November 20, 2015 - Filed Under: Nuisance Wildlife and Damage Management

STARKVILLE, Miss. -- For an unassuming rodent, the beaver has quite a significant place in American history.

For more than 300 years, the beaver was one of the most valuable fur-bearing animals in North America and drove the fur trade, one of the earliest and most important industries in the development of the United States and Canada.

Turtles pose no major threat to fish populations in ponds. In fact, they have a beneficial effect on water quality by scavenging for dead animals and plants. (Photo by Evan O’Donnell/MSU Extension)
November 13, 2015 - Filed Under: Nuisance Wildlife and Damage Management
STARKVILLE, Miss. -- It happens to me at least five times each year. The phone rings, and on the line is a pond owner ready to rid his pond of “those pesky turtles.”

Often, the person is concerned that turtles are eating his fish. Sometimes the turtles are eating the pond owner’s fish food. Other times, the caller has caught a turtle while catfishing and does not like dealing with the angry reptile on the end of his line. For one reason or another, turtles have a bad reputation in Mississippi ponds. Well, it is time to set the record straight on turtles!

November 6, 2015 - Filed Under: Environment, Wildlife, White-Tailed Deer

While dressing a deer this fall, there are some common parasites you may encounter. None of these parasites actually affects the quality of the deer meat, but it is important to recognize what they are.

Louse flies…

Have you ever noticed little wingless critters crawling around on a deer’s belly? Those are louse flies -- also called deer keds. The adult flies shed their wings and become flightless. While at first glance louse flies resemble small ticks, they only have six legs.

The migration of ducks, such as this blue-winged teal, from the Mississippi Delta to the Prairie Pothole region of the northern Great Plains each year is an example of a circannual rhythm. (File photo/MSU Extension)
October 30, 2015 - Filed Under: Wildlife

Ray Iglay, Certified Wildlife Biologist
MSU Department of Wildlife Fisheries and Aquaculture

STARKVILLE, Miss. -- As creatures of habit, our lives follow patterns.

We go to sleep at night, wake in the morning, get ready for work and run out the door. Throughout the year, school and work schedules, and even holiday seasons, structure our annual cycles of activities. Across decades, we may even mark life achievements, such as starting to crawl as an infant or achieving retirement.

Opossums that live near people may visit vegetable gardens, compost piles, pet food dishes or garbage cans such as this one. (Photo by MSU Extension/Evan O’Donnell)
October 23, 2015 - Filed Under: Nuisance Wildlife and Damage Management

STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Often found scavenging in trash cans or seen lying dead on roadsides after car collisions, opossums are not the most revered or understood wildlife creatures in Mississippi.

This is an image of two mallard ducks flying. Waterfowl can carry various strains of the avian influenza virus. Hunter can help prevent spreading the virus by following recommended precautions.
October 16, 2015 - Filed Under: Poultry, Avian Flu, Wildlife, Waterfowl

It’s that time of year when medical experts recommend we all get flu shots to minimize the chance of influenza causing us to get really sick or, in extreme cases, even die. Believe it or not, wildlife can get the flu, too. 

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