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Extension Outdoors

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.

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.

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