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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.

The Eastern wild turkey, such as this adult male, is found in Mississippi's coastal longleaf pine country, mixed pines and hardwoods and bottomland hardwoods. (Photo by iStock)
August 1, 2014 - Filed Under: Environment, Wildlife

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

MISSISSIPPI STATE -- That first raucous, exhilarating gobble of the spring season heralds the thrill of the chase for millions of North American turkey hunters, including me.

Historians estimate between 7 and 10 million wild turkeys roamed the continent prior to European settlement. However, by the 1930s, only 30,000 birds remained, most in isolated populations in a few states.

American dog ticks, such as this adult female, are one of 19 species of the disease-carrying parasite found in Mississippi. (Photo courtesy of Marina Denny)
July 25, 2014 - Filed Under: Environment, Insects-Human Pests, Insects-Pet Pests

Mississippi summers evoke thoughts of family vacations, rainy days and outdoor explorations. But with the heat and humidity come tiny critters that, if not discovered quickly, can ruin a fun day.

Nineteen species of ticks exist in Mississippi, but only a few are known to bite humans.

The tubular shape and red color of coral honeysuckle flowers make them a favorite nectar source for hummingbirds in Mississippi. (Photo courtesy of Kathy Jacobs)
July 18, 2014 - Filed Under: Environment, Urban and Backyard Wildlife

MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Small in size but large in visual appeal, hummingbirds are one of the most popular birds around for watching and feeding.

Hummingbirds get their name because of the humming sound created by their wings, which beat at high frequencies audible to humans. They hover in mid-air with rapid wing beats, typically around 50 times per second. Their wing beats can be as high as 200 times per second, allowing them to fly at speeds exceeding 30 mph, even backwards or upside down.

Pond plants are an important part of the food chain and oxygen cycle in ponds and lakes, such as these at Bluff Lake at the Sam D. Hamilton Noxubee National Wildlife Refuge on June 16, 2014. (Photo by MSU Ag Communications/Kevin Hudson)
July 11, 2014 - Filed Under: Environment, Fisheries

MISSISSIPPI STATE -- A common question in all county Extension offices this time of the year is, “Will the weeds in my pond hurt my fish?” As the water in ponds warms up, the vegetation starts growing.

Is vegetation growing in a pond a problem for the fish? Not necessarily.

Closeup -- The invasive fire ant, known for its reddish color and nasty sting, is a common enemy of most homeowners and gardeners in Mississippi. (Photo courtesy of Marina Denny)
July 3, 2014 - Filed Under: Fire Ants

MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Fire ants are more than aptly named, given the reddish-orange color of their bodies and the painful, burning sting they can give.

Fire ants were unintentionally introduced to the United States from South America. The first documented release of fire ants occurred near Mobile, Alabama around 1918, and by the late 1930s, most of Mississippi had them.

Fire ants are very small and aggressive. When disturbed, they swarm, bite and sting, producing a painful or itchy pustule within hours.

Prescribed burning is a useful and very valuable management option on public and private lands. (Photo by MSU Extension Service)
June 27, 2014 - Filed Under: Environment, Forestry, Wildlife

MISSISSIPPI STATE – A well-managed prescribed burn is an important tool in a landowner’s kit.

Yet news stories about wildfires often discourage landowners from using prescribed burning as a management tool. Prescribed burning is a useful and very valuable management option on public and private lands. Prescribed burning can benefit a variety of wildlife species and are necessary in fire tolerant ecosystems, such as longleaf pine forests and coastal savannas.

White-tailed deer, such as this buck grazing in a Bolivar County, Miss. field, play an important role in the larger ecological landscape and are part of the public trust. (File photo by MSU Extension Service/Bill Hamrick)
June 20, 2014 - Filed Under: Environment, Wildlife, White-Tailed Deer

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

MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Wildife is too important to be owned by an individual.

Photos taken using game cameras provide valuable information on deer population statistics, feeding patterns and more. (Photo courtesy of MSU Department of Wildlife, Fisheries & Aquaculture.)
June 13, 2014 - Filed Under: Wildlife, White-Tailed Deer

MISSISSIPPI STATE -- A camera that began as a cool gadget for photographing bucks and monitoring food plots or game trails has become an important survey instrument for managing deer populations.

White-tailed deer management involves more than managing habitats and planting supplemental food plots. Proper deer management requires managing populations as well. Deer managers can use game cameras to estimate deer population characteristics and develop good harvest management strategies. This will help maintain a healthy and productive deer herd.

Kevin Nelms, a wildlife biologist with the Natural Resources Conservation Service, talks about land management practices for quail at a Mississippi State University Extension Service landowner workshop in Benton, Miss., hosted by Field Quest Farms. (File Photo)
June 6, 2014 - Filed Under: Environment, Natural Resources, Wildlife

By Daryl Jones
Natural Resource Enterprises
MSU Extension Service

MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Outdoor recreation in Mississippi provides income not only for those who own the land, but also for the state as a whole.

That’s because economic impact is not limited to the first person who receives money for goods or services. Every dollar spent has direct effects, but it also has indirect and induced effects.

Most snakes in Mississippi, such as this ringneck snake, are nonvenomous and help control rodent and other nuisance wildlife populations. (Photo by iStockphoto)
May 30, 2014 - Filed Under: Environment, Nuisance Wildlife and Damage Management, Urban and Backyard Wildlife, Snakes

MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Despite most people’s fears, snakes are an important part of our natural world and are also helpful to us in many ways.

All snakes are predators, meaning they feed on other animals. Snakes kill and eat rats, mice, moles, insects and other pests that can damage crops and property or spread disease. Because snakes can get into places that other predators cannot or will not go, they can capture rodents that threaten livestock feed or farming equipment and supplies.

Flowering trees and shrubs, such as this weeping yaupon holly, provide nectar for bees, berries for birds, and shelter and nesting sites for a variety of other animals. (Photo courtesy of Marina Denny)
May 23, 2014 - Filed Under: Environment, Urban and Backyard Wildlife

MISSISSIPPI STATE – Twice a year, I get the urge to do something “wild” in my backyard. Now, granted, this is something I could do year-round in my neck of the woods, but the sounds of the birds and the bees twittering and buzzing away -- usually in the spring and fall -- really get me excited.

My foray into the wild side begins with identifying what my backyard already has to offer in the way of food, water, shelter and a place to raise young. My venture: to fill in the gaps.

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