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Extension Outdoors

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.

Wildlife-vehicle collisions often occur at dawn and dusk, when wildlife are most active. (Submitted photo)
January 16, 2015 - Filed Under: Environment, Nuisance Wildlife and Damage Management, Urban and Backyard Wildlife

MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Wildlife on roadways can be as hazardous to motorists as texting or reckless drivers.

State Farm Insurance reported Mississippi ranks sixth in the nation for wildlife-vehicle related accidents. More than one third of Mississippi’s 70,000 auto crashes are due to collisions with wildlife, specifically with white-tailed deer. One in 84 people statewide will be in a crash involving wildlife annually.

Ben Carr of Ackerman, left, helps his brother Pete, cousin Max Hudson of Louisville and sister Carrie move their grandfather's Christmas tree to the edge of his yard for wildlife cover on Jan. 7, 2015. (Photo by MSU Ag Communications/Kevin Hudson)
January 9, 2015 - Filed Under: Christmas Trees

MISSISSIPPI STATE -- According to the National Christmas Tree Association, American consumers purchase nearly 30 million real trees annually from one of more than 15,000 Christmas tree farms. Real-tree enthusiasts cite three main reasons for their yearly choice: tradition, fresh pine scent and appearance.

Selecting a real tree is also an environmentally friendly choice. Real Christmas trees are 100 percent biodegradable and can be recycled in a variety of ways.

The National Christmas Tree Association offers these little-known facts about real trees:

January 2, 2015 - Filed Under: Environment

By Adam Rohnke
Urban Wildlife Specialist
MSU Extension Service

MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Funding and manpower are the most common limiting factors in conducting research. These factors are especially limiting for wildlife and fisheries research projects, which cover vast geographic areas, involve secretive animals and generate large quantities of information.

Consistently providing nutritious seeds and nuts to songbirds in the wintertime can offer humans a closer view of these wild animals. (Photo by Marina Denny)
December 26, 2014 - Filed Under: Environment, Urban and Backyard Wildlife

MISSISSIPPI STATE -- As the days get colder and food sources for wildlife become scarce, people worry about wild animals being able to survive the winter without supplemental feeding.

Even in the relatively mild Mississippi winters, wildlife food sources go dormant and temperatures can dip below freezing -- especially at night.

Water resources are connected, like this stream entering an oxbow in the Mississippi Delta. Chemicals that enter in one area have the potential to spread far and wide, impacting water quality and the health of aquatic organisms. (Photo by the MSU Water Quality Laboratory)
December 19, 2014 - Filed Under: Environment, Water

By Beth Baker
Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Aquaculture
Mississippi State University

MISSISSIPPI STATE -- A simple step toward improving water quality is as close as the home bathroom cabinet.

Many people take medications, whether prescribed or over-the-counter. Many also use a variety of personal care and household products, such as perfumes, hand sanitizer, sunscreens and cleaners.

John Louk with the Treestand Manufacturer's Association demonstrates a properly secured safety harness when using a portable, lock-on tree stand. (File photo courtesy of the Treestand Manufacturer's Association)
December 12, 2014 - Filed Under: Wildlife

One of the most useful tools for hunters, besides their weapons, is a tree stand.

The basic function of a tree stand is to elevate hunters off the ground to improve their visibility of an area. A good tree stand location can also provide cover and prevent game from detecting human scent.

Eastern bluebirds will benefit from suet, a high-fat, high-calorie treat, in the winter months. (Photo by Jeanne Creech)
December 5, 2014 - Filed Under: Environment, Urban and Backyard Wildlife

Brrr…it’s cold out there…we need some cover!

Winter arrived early this year in Mississippi. Not only did humans notice, but so did the birds. Providing winter habitat in your backyard for birds is quite simple, as long as you have the essentials: cover, food and water.

The coyote is an opportunistic hunter in both rural and urban areas. It looks like a medium-sized collie or German shepherd. (Photo courtesy of Eric Wengert)
November 25, 2014 - Filed Under: Environment, Wildlife

MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Before 1965, coyotes did not live in southern states east of the Mississippi River.

However, over the last 40 years, the coyote population has expanded rapidly for several reasons, including loss of larger carnivores such as red wolves and cougar, the introduction of coyotes to the area by humans, reduced trapping in the West and widespread timber harvesting.

November 21, 2014 - 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.

Damaged, broken or cracked hooves indicate the deer contracted hemorrhagic disease, caused by either the epizootic hemorrhagic disease virus or bluetongue virus. (Photo by MSU Extension Service/Bronson Strickland)
November 14, 2014 - Filed Under: Environment, Wildlife, White-Tailed Deer

As a wildlife specialist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, I get many phone calls and emails from hunters during the hunting season asking, “What’s wrong with this deer?” The hunter then provides some details regarding what he is seeing on the deer. Together we can usually diagnose the problem.

Most of the questions can be answered by one of two common disease categories: hemorrhagic disease or cutaneous fibromas. This summary of these two common deer diseases should help you at the skinning shed this fall and put your mind at ease.

Wild hogs reproduce quickly, have few natural predators and can cause damage and spread disease, making them more than a mere nuisance to humans. (Photo by iStock)
November 7, 2014 - Filed Under: Environment, Nuisance Wildlife and Damage Management

MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Wild hogs are a nuisance and potential danger to farmers and landowners throughout the United States. Brought to the Americas by early Spanish explorers as a livestock animal and later transported by hunting enthusiasts, wild hogs have spread rapidly throughout the Southeast.

One reason wild hogs are a growing problem is they can adapt quickly to a variety of temperatures, climates and conditions. They also reproduce rapidly and have few, if any, effective predators, other than humans.

Teaching the next generation about wildlife management, especially responsible hunting, will help ensure future stewardship of diverse and sustainable wildlife populations for all Americans to enjoy. (MSU Ag Communications/File Photo)
October 31, 2014 - Filed Under: Environment, Wildlife

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

MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Hunting is about individual responsibility. Aldo Leopold, the father of wildlife management, said, “A particular virtue in wildlife ethics is that the hunter ordinarily has no gallery to applaud or disapprove of his conduct. Whatever his acts, they are dictated by his own conscience, rather than by a mob of onlookers. It is difficult to exaggerate the importance of this fact.”

This hoary bat, Lasiurus cinereus, is a solitary animal found in Mississippi that prefers to roost in the foliage of trees. Bats provide many environmental benefits, including pollination and insect control. (Photo courtesy of Raymond Iglay)
October 24, 2014 - Filed Under: Environment, Wildlife

MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Bats are popular, but often misunderstood, Halloween symbols. These strange-looking mammals generate fear among children and adults alike, but the truth about bats is really quite fascinating.

With more than 1,200 species worldwide, bats are divided into two suborders -- Microbats and Megabats. All bats have webbed wings, making them the only mammal capable of true flight. Bats are present throughout the world, with the exception of Antarctica and the northernmost parts of North America, Europe and Asia.

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