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Extension Outdoors

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.

From left, Beth Poganski and Joby Czarnecki are research associates with the Mississippi State University Extension Service and specialize in natural resources conservation. (Submitted photo)
May 16, 2014 - Filed Under: Environment, Natural Resources, Water

MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Gardening season is in full swing, and rain barrels are displayed for sale in local gardening stores. Rain barrels are systems that collect rainwater that would otherwise be lost into city sewers. The rainwater can be used to keep tomatoes, herbs and other treasured garden plants flourishing.

The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that 40 percent of total household water use during the summer is for lawn and garden watering. Rain barrels are easy ways to both conserve water and cut your water bill.

Birding is a fun and easy activity that requires comfortable clothing, a pair of binoculars and a good reference guide, shown here by participants in a Mississippi State University Extension Service workshop in 2011. (File photo by MSU Ag Communications/Scott Corey)
May 9, 2014 - Filed Under: Environment, Urban and Backyard Wildlife

MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Spring is the time to get outside and enjoy soft, warm breezes and glorious sunshine before summer’s heat forces us to seek shelter indoors. One way to connect with nature and awaken your winter-weary soul is getting to know your feathered neighbors.

Moles spend 90 percent of their lives underground. They are known for their hairless snouts and large, paddle-like claws. (Photo by iStockphoto)
May 2, 2014 - Filed Under: Environment, Nuisance Wildlife and Damage Management, Urban and Backyard Wildlife

MISSISSIPPI STATE -- You hardly ever see them, but their small, cylindrical bodies can wreak havoc on your lawn. Each year, Mississippi homeowners spend countless hours and hundreds or thousands of dollars attempting to rid their yards of these solitary insectivores.

The inviting, safe environment of residential lawns and gardens may create an annual mole problem. Understanding mole behavior, trapping early and vigilantly, and modifying landscapes to discourage digging will mean less time dealing with moles and more time enjoying your backyard.

Prevention is the best way to control pond weeds, such as this American pondweed growing in Clay County in 2008, but physical, mechanical, biological and chemical control measures can be used once weeds become established. (File photo courtesy of Wes Neal)
April 25, 2014 - Filed Under: Environment, Fisheries

The birds are singing, the flowers are blooming, and yes, the weeds are starting to grow in your fishing pond. Don’t let them get out of hand! Start your weed management program early, before the problem becomes too difficult to treat.

Prevention is the best way to avoid weed problems. Shallow areas where light reaches the pond bottom are ideal for the growth of rooted aquatic weeds. Deepening pond edges so that the water depth quickly reaches 3 feet helps reduce weeds. For safety, make the slope 3:1, or one foot deeper for every three feet farther from shore.

Water control structures, such as low-grade weirs, help reduce pollutants in agricultural runoff and improve water quality. These weirs were in an agricultural drainage ditch in Humphreys County on May 7, 2013 (Photo courtesy of Beth Poganski)
April 17, 2014 - Filed Under: Environment, Natural Resources, Water, Water Quality

By Beth Poganski
MSU Extension Service

MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Mississippi might not have been ranked the healthiest or the wealthiest state in 2013, but if there were a ranking for water resources, Mississippi would be near the top of the list.

Several factors place Mississippi in the very fortunate situation of having what much of the world does not: water.

Dr. Marina Denny
April 11, 2014 - Filed Under: Environment, Wildlife

MISSISSIPPI STATE – September and the opening of dove season are several months away, but planting food plots in spring allows plants to reach maturity before the dove hunting season begins.

Whether you’re planting dove plots for personal or business use, they need proper preparation.

“Doves really depend on a lot of foods that are in agricultural fields and in open meadow fields,” said Jeanne Jones, wildlife ecologist at Mississippi State University. “They are weak scratchers, so they need a certain amount of bare ground.”

Perennial white clover is an ideal food plot plant. It is a lush groundcover that fixes nitrogen in the soil, attracts deer and provides protein. (Photo courtesy of Bronson Strickland)
April 4, 2014 - Filed Under: Environment, Wildlife

In the South, springtime means turkey hunting, bass fishing and preparing wildlife food plots.

Food plots are the most affordable way for hunters to provide high-quality forages for the deer, turkey and other wildlife on the property.

A productive, warm-season food plot can generate up to 4,000 pounds of high-quality forage per acre -- that’s a lot of bang for the buck.

March 28, 2014 - Filed Under: Environment, Wildlife

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

MISSISSIPPI STATE – Offering feed to wildlife is a trend gaining traction in newspaper outdoor columns, outdoor magazines, catalogs, ads and campfire discussions, but the practice can be harmful to wildlife.

Beekeeping is a popular activity in Mississippi. The state has 12 full-time commercial beekeepers, 35 part-time honey producers and several hundred hobbyists. (Photo by MSU Extension Service/File Photo)
March 21, 2014 - Filed Under: Beekeeping

MISSISSIPPI STATE -- If thoughts of keeping bees have been buzzing in your head, you’re not alone.

“Beekeeping can be a fascinating hobby, a profitable sideline, or a full-time occupation,” said Jeffrey Harris, beekeeping specialist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service.

Mississippi is home to approximately 12 full-time commercial beekeepers, 35 part-time honey producers, and several hundred hobbyists. The state ranks twenty-eighth in the nation in honey production, with about 2.25 million pounds of honey produced each year.

March 14, 2014 - Filed Under: Wildlife Youth Education, Urban and Backyard Wildlife, Waterfowl

MISSISSIPPI STATE -- The days are getting longer, and the temperatures are warming up. Spring is almost here, and soon the birds will arrive.

More than 200 bird species migrate northward every spring from their wintering grounds in the southern U.S. and Central and South America.

Dr. Bronson Strickland
March 7, 2014 - Filed Under: Nuisance Wildlife and Damage Management

Wild hogs continue to be a plague throughout Mississippi, occupying about half of the state’s land area.

A farmer recently said, “I wish I had a deer problem.” His statement summed up the hog problem very well. There’s no doubt that deer can cause a lot of damage to certain crops, but that damage is minor compared to the destruction wild hogs can cause. What’s more, hog damage is no longer limited to farmland. You may even see them in your back yard!

February 28, 2014 - Filed Under: Environment, Fisheries

A fertilization program can greatly increase fish production in fishing ponds.

Adding nutrients stimulates the growth of the microscopic plants, or algae, that feed the small animals that feed the fish. Fertilization can increase fish production by three to four times, resulting in more fish, bigger fish or both in properly managed ponds. Also, these tiny plants can shade the bottom and prevent aquatic weeds from taking over.

Silver carps jump above the water's surface on the Mississippi River. The presence of silver carp, a type of Asian carp, in rivers and streams reduces the number of quality-sized native fish because they compete against each other for food. (Photo courtesy of Asian Carp Regional Coordinating Committee)
December 24, 2012 - Filed Under: Environment

STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Stories about Asian carp abound, but what exactly is an Asian carp and why should we be concerned?

Asian carp is a vague title assigned to a category of fishes native to Southeast Asia that have been introduced into the U.S. for their beneficial uses in aquaculture. This group of iconic fishes includes the common carp, grass carp, black carp, largescale silver carp, and silver and bighead carp. The species of most concern are the silver carp and the bighead carp, which I will refer to as “bigheaded carps.”

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