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Extension Outdoors

June 5, 2015 - Filed Under: Nuisance Wildlife and Damage Management

STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Growing skunk populations in Mississippi are causing a stink in the Magnolia state.

Striped and spotted skunks, which are both found in Mississippi, are among the most common and widely distributed mammals in North America. Skunks are solitary and typically nonaggressive, and they have not historically been a serious threat to homeowners, agricultural producers and other wildlife. However, that could change.

Landowners interested in both timber investments and wildlife habitat must understand the trade-offs involved in managing property for dual purposes. (File photo/MSU Ag Communications)
May 29, 2015 - Filed Under: Environment, Forestry, Wildlife

STARKVILLE, Miss. – I was born and raised in the South, so it’s hard for me to imagine a world without trees.

Bottomland hardwoods, mixed oak and hickory forests, and pine savannahs are all iconic scenes of Mississippi’s wild lands. Trees are not only a beautiful fixture of the Southeastern landscape; they are also very important economically and ecologically. Whether you realize it or not, trees impact our lives in many ways. The houses we live in, the furniture we sit in and sleep on, and the paper products we use every day are all derived from trees.

Warm-season food plots planted with legumes, such as these soybeans, help white-tailed deer get the protein they need when natural vegetation is less plentiful and harder to digest. (Submitted photo)
May 22, 2015 - Filed Under: Environment, Wildlife, White-Tailed Deer

STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Summer is a critical season for white-tailed deer, especially in the Deep South.

Adult does are lactating, fawns are growing, and bucks are producing new antlers. The nutritional needs of each developing animal are high. If landowners and managers are going to plant warm-season food plots of quality legumes, they should plant between mid-April and early June. These forages can be an excellent way to supplement the natural food sources provided by Mother Nature in a well-maintained habitat.

A balanced pond is a healthy pond in which both bass and bluegill are reproducing and growing well. (Photo by Wes Neal)
May 15, 2015 - Filed Under: Environment, Fisheries, Wildlife

STARKVILLE, Miss. -- A quality fishing pond requires a balance in size and abundance of predator species and their prey -- usually largemouth bass and bluegill, respectively.

A pond owner or manager needs to have a basic understanding of the size range and species composition in the pond to maintain quality fishing. An annual checkup of the fish will yield information to help identify and track problems with the fish population.

The landscape at the Oktibbeha County Heritage Museum in Starkville includes native plants and rainwater capture strategies to make the most of water resources. (Photo by MSU Office of Public Affairs/Megan Bean)
May 8, 2015 - Filed Under: Water, Landscape Architecture

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

STARKVILLE, Miss. -- As many regions of the country face drought conditions this summer, it’s important to remember to use water efficiently.

Mississippi sees a large amount of rainfall each year compared to other states. But only a small portion of that moisture makes it back into the stored groundwater, which is the primary supply for household usage, including water for lawns and gardens. Luckily, having a beautiful yard doesn’t have to mean using a lot of water.

Pond owners may want to consider using fertilization programs to increase fish production. However, discontinuing the program can lead to an unhealthy fish population. (File photo by MSU Ag Communications)
May 1, 2015 - Filed Under: Environment, Fisheries

RAYMOND, Miss. -- One of the most common questions people ask about lakes and ponds is whether they need to apply fertilizer to promote fish population growth.

“Do I have to fertilize my lake and if so, what should I use and how much of it should be used?” I get these questions every year, and my response typically is, “How much fishing pressure does it receive? Are there any weed/invasive plant issues?” If there are just a few folks using the lake and not much fishing pressure, fertilizer may not be necessary.

In Mississippi, most venomous snakes, such as this copperhead, have a triangular-shaped head with vertical, cat-like pupils in their eyes. The only exception is the coral snake. (Photo courtesy of Taylor Hannah)
April 24, 2015 - Filed Under: Environment, Wildlife, Nuisance Wildlife and Damage Management, Snakes

STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Warmer weather means wild creatures of all shapes and sizes are on the move, which makes it a whole lot more likely you will encounter a snake during the spring or summer.

Baby wild animals, such as this robin, may appear abandoned, but usually a parent is nearby. Humans should let nature take its course. (Submitted photo)
April 17, 2015 - Filed Under: Urban and Backyard Wildlife

STARKVILLE, Miss. -- April showers bring May flowers, as the old adage tells us. However, spring also brings baby wild animals.

Longer days and warmer temperatures are triggers that cause birds and other wildlife to mate and have young. Winter conditions are harsh, but spring has softer days and plentiful food, conditions more ideal for raising offspring.

Armadillos have flat, pig-like snouts used to assist in digging, and many homeowners can detect the presence of these insect eaters by the shallow holes and rooting they leave behind when digging for food. (Photo by iStock)
April 10, 2015 - Filed Under: Environment, Wildlife

STARKVILLE, Miss. -- It can climb, dig, swim and run, but in spite of its physical skills, the nine-banded armadillo is frequently roadkill.

You might not have even known it is a member of the mammal class. It bears very little resemblance to any other mammal in that it is not covered in fur or hair. Instead, it has nine bony armor rings covering the area between its shoulder and hip. Its long tail has an additional 12 bony rings.

Bats eat about 50 percent of their body weight in insects every night, performing an important pest control service that benefits human health, agriculture, horticulture and forestry. (File Photo by MSU Ag Communications)
April 2, 2015 - Filed Under: Environment, Wildlife, Urban and Backyard Wildlife

By Jeanne Jones, Professor, and Daryl Jones, Extension Professor
MSU Forest and Wildlife Research Center
Mississippi State University

STARKVILLE, Miss. -- On warm Mississippi days as daylight gives way to dusk, flying, furry creatures -- the centerpieces of our Halloween decorations -- take wing in pursuit of mosquitoes and other pests.

Eastern cottontail rabbits are common in urban, suburban and rural areas where abundant food and shelter are available. (Photo by iStock)
March 27, 2015 - Filed Under: Environment, Urban and Backyard Wildlife

STARKVILLE, Miss. -- With spring holidays just around the corner and garden season quickly approaching, there is no better time to discuss Mississippi’s resident rabbit, the eastern cottontail.

Many people think rabbits are a type of rodent because they have a tooth structure similar to that seen in squirrels, rats and mice. They also have a tendency to gnaw on plants, wood and other structures. However, rabbits are classified as lagomorphs because they have two pairs of upper and lower front teeth, and their food goes through a double-digestion process.

Before you go out on the water, make sure that your family and friends are fitted properly with lifejackets and that they keep them on at all times while in the boat. (File photo by MSU Ag Communications)
March 20, 2015 - Filed Under: Community

STARKVILLE, Miss. -- It looks like spring has finally sprung in Mississippi, and that means increased boat traffic on the waterways.

Using native plants in the landscape will attract a variety of pollinators, such as this buckeye butterfly. (Submitted photo)
March 13, 2015 - Filed Under: Environment, Urban and Backyard Wildlife

By Jeanne Jones, Professor, and Daryl Jones, Extension Professor
MSU Forest and Wildlife Research Center

STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Native plants can add attractive accents to Mississippians’ yards and provide excellent food sources for birds and butterflies.

With the help of clothing layers for warmth, hiking with friends in one of Mississippi's many local and state parks does not have to stop during colder months. (Submitted photo)
March 6, 2015 - Filed Under: Environment, Fisheries, Wildlife

STARKVILLE, Miss. -- For many Mississippians, this is the least likely time of the year to venture outside to explore. Some feel it is much too cold and others feel it is too wet, but for a lover of the outdoors, this is a perfect time of year to hit the trail.

It all comes down to being prepared for your outing and keeping a positive mental attitude.

Spring gobbler season is just around the corner, so hunters should review safety precautions before heading to the woods. (File photo by MSU Ag Communications/Kat Lawrence)
February 27, 2015 - Filed Under: Environment, Wildlife

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

STARKVILLE, Miss. -- With spring gobbler season quickly approaching, here are some precautions hunters need to remember before they head to the forest.

Mice and other rodents need food and shelter. Human environments can provide both if steps are not taken to exclude the pests from homes and other buildings. (Photo by iStock)
February 20, 2015 - Filed Under: Environment, Nuisance Wildlife and Damage Management

STARKVILLE, Miss. -- “Say your prayers, varmint!”

If you recognize this quote, you know its source: Looney Tunes cartoon character Yosemite Sam, who never got the upper hand in his dealings with Bugs Bunny. Sometimes it seems we -- like Yosemite Sam -- battle with “varmints” that live around us. This column will give you a little insight into why the battle rages and what you can do to get the upper hand.

Before building a trap, landowners and managers should use whole-kernel, shelled corn to establish bait sites that attract wild hogs. (Photo courtesy of Rob Holtfreter)
February 13, 2015 - Filed Under: Environment, Nuisance Wildlife and Damage Management

STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Wild pigs are a growing problem for property owners, land managers and farmers throughout Mississippi. Because of their high reproductive rate, they can be difficult to control.

 

Contrary to what many people think, a prescribed, controlled burn performed by a registered professional actually improves habitat quality for many of Mississippi's wildlife species. (MSU Ag Communications/File Photo)
February 6, 2015 - Filed Under: Environment, Natural Resources

STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Although it may sound contradictory, burning the landscape actually improves habitat quality for many of Mississippi’s wildlife species.

I’m often asked, “How can destroying the habitat with fire help wildlife?” Another common question is, “Where will the wildlife go if you’re burning down their homes?”

This squirrel enjoys the fruits of his labor after digging up a nearby cache. (Photo by Marina Denny)
January 30, 2015 - Filed Under: Environment, Nuisance Wildlife and Damage Management

STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Bare trees in the winter provide clear views of squirrels chasing each other up, down and every which way.

Mid-December through January is a common mating period for eastern gray squirrels, which explains the heightened activity. Baby squirrels are born about six weeks after mating occurs.

Typically, squirrels will build nests for these babies in the forks of tree branches or in the hollows of tree trunks. Their simple nests are fashioned mostly out of dry leaves and twigs.

Mississippi State University students Jason Bies, left, and Clint Lloyd install an artificial, commercially-available fish habitat at Blackjack Pond on the MSU campus. (Photo by MSU Extension Service/Wes Neal)
January 23, 2015 - Filed Under: Environment, Fisheries

By Wes Neal
Associate Extension Professor, Fisheries
MSU Extension Service

MISSISSIPPI STATE -- As a fisherman, which is more pleasing: casting mindlessly into an open expanse of water, or carefully casting around a sunken log where you feel sure that a lunker is waiting to inhale your bait?

Catching fish is only part of the overall experience; aesthetics play an important role as well.

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