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News Filed Under Natural Resources

A large alligator rests on the shoreline beside water on a sunny day.
September 22, 2017 - Filed Under: Wildlife

STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Thanks to the careful management and conservation efforts of Mississippi’s state and federal wildlife biologists, alligator populations across the state are thriving.

In fact, Ricky Flynt, alligator coordinator with the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks, said he considers the healthy alligator populations a conservation success story. From the early 1900s through the 1960s, alligators were not protected and were nearly eliminated, he explained. Now, their numbers are high enough to allow limited recreational hunting. 

September 21, 2017 - Filed Under: Water Quality, Nuisance Wildlife and Damage Management, Operation HOG, White-Tailed Deer

Wild hogs cost Mississippians millions of dollars each year, but landowners stand to lose more than money if the nuisance animals’ range and population continue to grow. 

Left unchecked, wild hogs have the potential to steal property owners’ investments and cripple the state’s ecosystem in the process. 

September 18, 2017 - Filed Under: Community, Environment

BILOXI, Miss. -- Volunteers can help tidy Mississippi’s beaches and other coastal areas during the 2017 Mississippi Coastal Cleanup on Oct. 21.

The 29th annual event begins at 8 a.m. and ends at 11 a.m. at more than 40 sites in Jackson, Harrison and Hancock counties. Participants will help remove plastic bottles, food wrappers, cigarette butts and other trash.

Organized by the Mississippi State University Extension Service and the Mississippi Marine Debris Task Force, this event has helped remove millions of pounds of trash from the state’s beaches, waterways and barrier islands since 1988. Last year alone, volunteers removed 14 tons of litter from about 200 miles of coastal area.

September 15, 2017 - Filed Under: Community, Mississippi Well Owner Network, Rural Water Association, Water Quality

BATESVILLE, Miss. -- Private well owners in seven Delta counties can get water samples pH tested and screened for bacteria and lead at an educational workshop in Batesville. 

The Mississippi State University Extension Service is cohosting a free well-owner workshop at the Extension office in Panola County Oct. 10 from 6 to 8 p.m. 

Residents of Panola, Tallahatchie, Sunflower, Bolivar, Leflore, Quitman and Coahoma counties can get their private well water screened for free. The workshop is open to all well owners. Attendance is not required to participate in the water testing.  

A gopher tortoise walking in one of south Mississippi's remaining longleaf pine forest.
September 15, 2017 - Filed Under: Natural Resources

STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Thousands of years ago, mastodons, giant ground sloths, saber-tooth cats and short-faced bears roamed the land now called Mississippi. More recently, Carolina parakeets, passenger pigeons and eastern elk lived in the forests and fields surrounding the homes and towns of European settlers living in the Southeast.

All of these animals are now extinct, which means no living individuals remain on the planet. Although climatic changes aided in the extinction of some of these species, others were lost to habitat loss and overharvest.

These are just a few of the many species in the U.S. and around the globe that are extinct. Others are on the brink of extinction. Unless we act, these endangered species may follow the same path as the mastodon and passenger pigeon.

The Pinecote Pavillion stands in the background of the pond at the Crosby Arboretum.
September 12, 2017 - Filed Under: Landscape Design and Management, Environment

PICAYUNE, Miss. -- The Mississippi State University Crosby Arboretum celebrates its formal, 20-year partnership with the university on Sept. 15. 

On that date in 1997 the facility was incorporated into the MSU Division of Agriculture, Forestry and Veterinary Medicine. Managed by the MSU Extension Service, the arboretum is an award-winning, internationally recognized native plant conservatory dedicated to research, education and preservation of plants found in the Pearl River Drainage Basin. 

"The arboretum is regarded as the premier conservatory in the Southeast, and it is an important keystone of Piney Woods heritage,” said Pat Drackett, arboretum director. “It is a wonderful educational tool that helps teach people about our local ecosystems and preserves them for future generations. We are honored every day to help fulfill the vision shaped by the Crosby family and the Crosby Arboretum Foundation almost 40 years ago."

a nest built by mice using insulation and a variety of other materials
September 8, 2017 - Filed Under: Nuisance Wildlife and Damage Management

Now is the time of year when many of us notice the pitter-patter of small feet in our attics or walls.

Complaints of mice in and around homes are common in the fall. The house mouse is one of the most troublesome and costly rodents in the United States. House mice damage structures and contaminate food sources meant for humans, pets, livestock and other animals.

During the fall, both the house mouse, which spends most of its life in human dwellings, and the deer mouse, which spends warm seasons outside, are searching for food and warm shelter to nest and breed during the winter.

Man examining a pine tree for evidence of beetles
September 7, 2017 - Filed Under: Trees, Forest Management, Forest Pests

STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Mississippi is having a breakout of tiny beetles that use pheromones to gather sufficient numbers of reinforcements to overwhelm healthy trees.

Current Mississippi Forestry Commission flyovers indicate nearly 5,000 separate Southern pine bark beetle outbreaks across the state. Outbreaks can range from just a few trees to more than an acre of infested and dying pines.

Outbreaks are especially bad on national forestland, but homeowners and private landowners are also experiencing the problem.

Four fourth-grade girls show off their personal identification cards that are passes to federal parks.
September 1, 2017 - Filed Under: Wildlife Youth Education, Natural Resources

STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Those of us with a strong connection to the natural world know that attachment was born and strengthened through personal experiences we had outdoors as children, generally when family members took us outside to spend time, relax or have fun.

A new nationwide program began in 2015 with hopes of increasing access to federal public lands for fourth-grade students, along with the goal of establishing connections to the outdoors. Every Kid in a Park begins its third year on Sept. 1, 2017. Every fourth-grader has easy access to a free pass for admission to public land from Sept. 1 through Aug. 31, 2018. 

The 2017 Gulf of Mexico dead zone, primarily off the coast of Louisiana, recently measured 8,776 square miles, the largest ever recorded in 32 years of monitoring. Reducing the size of the hypoxic zone is important to ensure continued productivity of the Gulf fishery. (Data source: N.N. Rabalais, Louisiana State University and Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium; R.E. Turner, LSU. Funding: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science, http://www.gulfhypoxi
August 25, 2017 - Filed Under: Environment, Marine Resources

STARKVILLE, Miss. -- A new record has been set in the Gulf of Mexico, but it is not one to brag about because it threatens a multibillion-dollar fishing industry.

The most recent Gulf dead zone measured in the summer of 2017 was the largest ever recorded in 32 years of monitoring. It covered 8,776 square miles, which is closer to the size of New Jersey than the average zone size of 5,309 square miles. Reducing the size of the hypoxic zone is important if we want to ensure continued productivity of the Gulf fishery.

With a new sawmill in central Mississippi and the prospect of more being built, timber plots like this one at Coontail Farm in Aberdeen will be a good investment long-term despite middling timber market conditions now. (File photo by MSU Extension Service/Kevin Hudson)
August 25, 2017 - Filed Under: Forestry, Timber Harvest

STARKVILLE, Miss. -- The combination of a middling timber market, a pine beetle infestation and wet weather is doing Mississippi tree farmers no favors this year.

Fortunately, a new sawmill in the state and the prospect of increased manufacturing gives reason for optimism long-term.

Biewer Sawmill began operations this year in Newton. Glenn Hughes, a forestry professor with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, said this indicates an upswing for the state’s forest product industry.

August 25, 2017 - Filed Under: Rural Health, Mississippi Well Owner Network

STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Mississippi homeowners with private wells have three opportunities to learn how to enhance the quality of their drinking water sources.

The Mississippi Well Owner Network, a program of the Mississippi State University Extension Service, will hold workshops at the Extension offices in Wayne County Sept. 26, Pearl River County Oct. 24 and Tate County Nov. 16. Each workshop begins at 6 p.m.

Healthy mourning dove populations allow opportunities for recreational hunting. Habitat establishments begin in the spring by planting small fields with a variety of grains such as sorghum, browntop millet and sunflowers. (Submitted photo)
August 18, 2017 - Filed Under: Wildlife, Urban and Backyard Wildlife

STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Mourning doves are popular game birds and songbirds in North America. Common in urban and suburban environments, they often are seen perched on utility wires or feeding in fallow grain fields or on the ground under bird feeders.

Mourning doves have a plump body, small head, buffy feathers with scattered black wing spots, long tail feathers, and short, pink legs. It is smaller and less colorful than its pigeon cousins that are often seen around city parks, bridges and silos.

Indoor classroom lessons about vertebrates are part of this Master Naturalist course in Jackson, Mississippi. (Photo by MSU Extension Service/Adam Rohnke)
August 11, 2017 - Filed Under: Natural Resources, Wildlife

RAYMOND, Miss. -- Funding and manpower are cited as the most common limiting factors in conducting research, especially for wildlife and fisheries studies, which can cover huge areas, involve secretive animals and collect large quantities of information.

August 10, 2017 - Filed Under: Fisheries, Seafood Harvesting and Processing

BILOXI, Miss. -- Mississippi State University has hired a new marine fisheries specialist for its Coastal Research and Extension Center in Biloxi.

Marcus Drymon began his MSU Extension Service appointment Aug. 1. Before coming to MSU, he received his doctorate from the University of South Alabama Department of Marine Sciences, where he also served on the faculty.

Newts are common inhabitants of small, woodland ponds, especially when no fish are present. (Photo by MSU Extension Service/Wes Neal)
August 4, 2017 - Filed Under: Fisheries

STARKVILLE, Miss. – Small, forested ponds are abundant in Mississippi, and there is a good chance one is somewhere on your back 40.

Most landowners see these small systems as difficult to manage for fish because they are too small, shallow, or weedy, or maybe the trees are too close to the water's edge. Fishing may not be your thing anyway. In these cases, consider managing small, wooded ponds for wildlife.

Water hyacinths produce lovely blooms on Mississippi water surfaces during the summer, but this aggressive and invasive plant blocks light, stops photosynthesis for the plants growing below the surface and eliminates oxygen in the water. Freezing temperatures will kill plants, causing additional water quality problems. (Photo by MSU Extension Service/ J. Wesley Neal)
July 28, 2017 - Filed Under: Fisheries

STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Although water hyacinth is beautiful and quite stunning when in bloom, it is not a desirable plant in ponds.

Water hyacinth floats gracefully on water surfaces. Its inflated, spongy stems feature attractive flower spikes adorned with up to 20 blue, yellow and light-purple flowers. It is common on many of Mississippi's navigable waterways, including the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway and the Pearl River drainage. Native to tropical South America, water hyacinths feel right at home with Mississippi's warm summers and fertile waters.

Keep dogs on leashes while on nature trails to keep them from chasing or harassing the wildlife. Bring all trash and leftover food with you when your outdoor adventure concludes. (Photos by MSU Extension Service/Evan O’Donnell)
July 21, 2017 - Filed Under: Natural Resources, Environment

STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Whether fishing, hunting, boating, hiking, photographing or wildlife watching, all outdoor enthusiasts should practice "Leave No Trace."

Leave No Trace is a set of seven easy-to-follow principles meant to reduce manmade negative impacts on the environment.

Brett Rushing, an assistant professor at Mississippi State University, discusses various planting and maintenance methods used on four native wildflower plots at the MSU Coastal Plains Branch Experiment Station in Newton on July 13, 2017, during the Wildflower Field Day. (Photo by MSU Extension Service/Susan Collins-Smith)
July 20, 2017 - Filed Under: Community, Natural Resources, Environment

NEWTON, Miss. -- Travelers on Mississippi highways and interstates may have noticed colorful stands of native wildflowers planted in various sites for the last two years.

Part of the Wildflower Trails of Mississippi project, these patches of flowers and grasses serve as testing areas for roadside plantings that project coordinators hope will attract tourists and provide colorful habitat for pollinators for years to come. Initiated in 2015, the project is coordinated by Keep Mississippi Beautiful and supported by Mississippi State University and several state agencies.

Wild pigs have been part of the landscape in the Southeast since Hernando de Soto released them in the 1500s as a source of food for settlers. In the last 20 years, the nuisance animals have increased their range and population in Mississippi, threatening native wildlife and causing millions of dollars in damage to crops, land, timber, structures and farm equipment each year. (Photo by MSU Extension Service/Steven Tucker)
July 19, 2017 - Filed Under: Natural Resources, Environment, Forestry, Nuisance Wildlife and Damage Management

RAYMOND, Miss. -- Wild pigs have roamed parts of the Southeast since Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto introduced them as food for early settlers in the 16th century. But during the last two decades, Mississippi has experienced a rapid uptick in the spread of the nuisance animal.

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