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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.

The right gear and a little preparation can make a fall camping trip fun and enjoyable. (Photo by iStock)
October 17, 2014 - Filed Under: Environment, Urban and Backyard Wildlife, Family

MISSISSIPPI STATE -- The sight of a flickering camp fire. The glow of faces bathed in warm firelight. The sound of crickets chirping in the background.

Research shows connecting with nature and one another is helpful to hurried and task-weary souls. Camping is one way to relax, get outdoors and reconnect with loved ones. If you have never experienced the rewards of camping, fall is the perfect time to try it.

Managing small ponds for large, healthy crappie, such as these pictured, requires careful management and a willingness to give up the expectation of also harvesting large, healthy bass from the same pond. (Submitted photo)
October 10, 2014 - Filed Under: Environment, Fisheries

MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Most people think of pond fishing and management as a warm weather affair, but there is much to do -- and catch -- during the cooler months of the year.

Winter drawdown can be a useful tool for the farm pond manager, if done properly. It poses no threat to the fish population and costs nothing if the pond is equipped with a water control structure. Water level drawdown prevents or corrects overcrowding of prey fish and reduces nuisance weeds in ponds.

Adult venomous snakes, like this copperhead, will use camouflage or run away to avoid conflict, rather than strike first. (Photo from iStock.)
October 3, 2014 - Filed Under: Nuisance Wildlife and Damage Management, Snakes

“The only good snake is a dead snake” is an attitude probably triggered by common myths about snakes.

Snake myths are found in cultures around the globe, giving evidence of the troubled relationship between people and these reptiles. People are often afraid when they do not need to be. There are more snake myths than one article can cover, but let’s expose a few of the more common ones to the truth.

Myth: Rattlesnakes always give a warning rattle before they strike.

Invasive cogongrass is taking over many Mississippi fields, including these in Clay County. Cogongrass is an exotic plant species from Asia that has aggressively expanded its range in the Southeastern United States and is difficult to control. (Photo courtesy of Rocky Lemus)
September 26, 2014 - Filed Under: Agriculture, Weed Control for Crops, Weed Control for Forages, Environment, Invasive Plants

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

MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Driving along Mississippi highways is always best when the surrounding landscapes capture the driver’s imagination. Our road systems serve as scenic byways showcasing nature’s beauty.

Kelvin Jackson, a conservationist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture/Natural Resources Conservation Service, plants a mix of rye, wheat, winter pea and crimson clover as a cover crop in Winston County on Sept. 12, 2014. No-till cover crop planting helps to retain soil moisture and reduce erosion. (Photo courtesy of USDA/NRCS Kavanaugh Breazeale)
September 19, 2014 - Filed Under: Environment, Wildlife

MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Whether you are a small-scale gardener, a large agricultural producer or somewhere in between, you probably know that soil health is just as important to your success as water and sunshine.

Properly disposing of trash and cleaning up litter keep the outdoors safe for wildlife, helps preserve water quality and makes communities more attractive. (Photo by Thinkstock)
September 12, 2014 - Filed Under: Environment, Waste Management, Wildlife, Pets

By James E. “Jim” Miller
Professor Emeritus, Department of Wildlife Fisheries and Aquaculture
Mississippi State University

People discard millions of tons of trash daily in recycling containers or garbage cans, but unfortunately, many people leave trash in other places, where it can harm wildlife and pets.

Whether it is carelessly tossed out of car windows or off the sides of boats, left on the ground from routine farming or construction activities, or casually dropped while walking down the street, litter is more than an unsightly nuisance.

Managing small ponds for large, healthy crappie, such as these pictured, requires careful management and a willingness to give up the expectation of also harvesting large, healthy bass from the same pond. (Submitted photo)
September 5, 2014 - Filed Under: Fisheries

MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Many landowners would like to fish for crappie in their ponds and small lakes, but crappie can cause major problems in smaller waters.

The diet of crappie is very similar to the diet of other desired pond species, such as bass and bream. This overlap in dietary needs between species is not a problem when the population of crappie in a pond is low.

Beaver activity, such as this dam, can significantly alter the surrounding habitat, for the worse or for the better. (Photo from iStock)
August 29, 2014 - Filed Under: Nuisance Wildlife and Damage Management

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

MISSISSIPPI STATE -- The American beaver, the largest native rodent in North America, is an ecosystem engineer, building dams and creating ponds that contribute to plant and animal biodiversity. However, beavers can cause serious property damage and frustrate landowners and managers.

Multiple types of forage can benefit cool-season food plots, but ryegrass can take over, such as in this food plot originally planted with red clover. (Photo courtesy of Bronson Strickland)
August 22, 2014 - Filed Under: Forages, Environment, Wildlife

As fall approaches, many hunters and landowners begin to turn their attention toward planting cool-season wildlife food plots. If you’re like me, it’s something you enjoy doing, and it’s a good excuse to get outside and play in the dirt.

But while you’re out there having fun, you might as well get the most for your time and money. Here are some often overlooked, but important, tips and suggestions for making the most of your cool-season food plots this fall and winter.

Pintails are among the first ducks to migrate south in the fall, just in time for the start of Mississippi's waterfowl hunting season. (Photo by iStock)
August 15, 2014 - Filed Under: Environment, Wildlife, Waterfowl

MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Every July, waterfowl biologists from the Mississippi Flyway Council, comprised of 14 states and 3 Canadian provinces, look at many factors to predict the total number of ducks available for harvest in the fall flight forecast. Then they use this number to determine the framework of seasons, dates and bag limits for the fall hunting season.

This year we are expected to have an annual fall flight of 49.2 million birds, which is an 8 percent growth in population from last year and 43 percent higher than the long-term average for North American waterfowl.

August 8, 2014 - Filed Under: Environment, Fisheries

MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Largemouth bass are one of the most popular sport fish in Mississippi, and many anglers chase these beasts on the Magnolia State’s medium to large reservoirs every day.

With a little help from the pond owner, though, smaller bodies of water -- one acre and larger -- can also produce trophy bass consistently.

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