Got Nature? Blog

Posted on February 19th, 2019 in How To, Safety, Wildlife, Woodlands | No Comments »
Person raking the firebreak where fire did creep away from the burn area.

Fire can creep through or spot in cool-season grass firebreaks where thatch has accumulated potentially leading to an escaped fire.

Join Forestry and Wildlife professionals for an introduction to prescribed fire in woodlands. These workshops will cover the benefits for prescribed fire for forest regenerate and wildlife, safety considerations when using prescribed fire, prescribed fire equipment, and technical and cost-share opportunities for private landowners.

View link for upcoming dates of prescribed fire demonstrations (weather permitting) and more information.

March 16
Learn-to-Burn: Grassland Management Workshop, Hillsdale, IN.

April 6
Learn-to-Burn: Grassland Management Workshop, Southern Indiana Purdue Agricultural Center, Dubois, IN.

These workshops are a great source of information for learning how to properly and safely burn.

Resources
Effective Firebreaks for Safe Use of Prescribed Fire, Got Nature? Purdue Extension FNR
Prescribed fire: 6 things to consider before you ignite, Got Nature? Purdue Extension FNR

Phil Cox, Extension Educator-Agriculture & Natural Resources
Vermillion County
Purdue Extension

Ron Rathfon, Regional Extension Forester
Southern Indiana Purdue Ag. Center
Purdue Forestry and Natural Resources


This looks to be shaping up as a tough winter for us and our trees. Lots of snow and ice are predicted for the Hoosier state and this can be a challenge for our trees and shrubs.

After a heavy snowfall, protect your trees and property with these simple tips:

Heavy limbs

Limbs bending from ice loading.

Ice on Trees

Ice accretion on hawthorn branches.

Do not shake limbs to try to remove snow or ice.
When you find your trees are bending or drooping as a result of ice or snow accumulation, your first instinct is probably to shake the branches or knock the weight off with a broom or something similar. This may cause worse damage or actually cause the branch to snap off. Stop right there! Healthy tree branches are flexible, so knocking off the accumulation of snow or ice accretion may cause them to “snap” back, potentially damaging their food and water transport system. The results of the damage may not be evident until next spring.

Trees that tend to suffer the worst damage as a result of snow and ice are upright evergreens, like arborvitae and juniper, and clump trees, like birch. And, when it comes to ice, age does not make a tree stronger; younger trees are better at actually overcoming damage in ice storms.

Hire a Professional.

Snow on Trees

Snow weighing down spruce branches.

Safely remove broken limbs.
Broken and hanging branches can be a threat to people and property. If a limb breaks off from the weight of ice or snow and remains in the tree canopy, have it removed and the remaining stub properly pruned to the branch collar as soon as weather allows. The tree will recover better when properly pruned. For undamaged limbs bending under the weight of ice or snow, don’t prune as a means of correcting the situation. Be patient. It takes time for wood fibers in the limbs to return to its natural position.

Always be mindful of walking or parking under branches loaded down by snow or ice as they may snap and fall, causing injury or damage. If a limb breaks and becomes entangled in power lines, notify your utility company immediately. Never approach a downed power line or a branch touching a utility line.

If there is substantial damage to your tree, have an arborist examine damaged branches and limbs for signs of weakness and injury for reparations. It is best to always hire an ISA Certified Arborist. To find an arborist in your area, visit the website, www.treesaregood.org

How can you help prevent ice damage to trees? Proper pruning is one way. Particularly important is the removal of poor branch attachments and weak branch structure in the tree, prior to winter. For more information on pruning, download the publication, Tree Pruning Essentials.

Full article published in the Purdue Landscape Report.

Resources
Avoid Deadly Risk of Dying Ash Trees with Timely Tree Removal, Got Nature? Purdue Extension-FNR
New Hope for Fighting Ash Borer, Got Nature? Purdue Extension-FNR
Invasive Pest Species: Tools for Staging and Managing EAB in the Urban Forest, Got Nature?
Emerald Ash Borer, Purdue Extension-Entomology
Emerald Ash Borer Cost Calculator – Purdue Extension Entomology
Corrective Pruning for Deciduous Trees, The Education Store, Extension Publications

Lindsey Purcell, Urban Forestry Specialist
Purdue Forestry and Natural Resources


How do I remedy poor branching? Is my tree at risk of splitting, and how can pruning prevent that? Corrective pruning has many implications for tree structure, health, and longevity. Developing a strong, central branch structure in a deciduous tree is critical for preventing structural failure caused by storms, wind, and ice. This 8-page publication explains the problems resulting from a co-dominant stem structure and addresses pruning strategies for correcting poor structure.

To view this full publication please go to Corrective Pruning for Deciduous Trees located in The Education Store, Purdue Extension’s resource center.

Resources
Preparations to Prevent Southwest Tree Injury, Got Nature? Blog
When do you stake a tree?, Got Nature? Blog
Top 5 List for Tree Selection and Planting, Got Nature? Blog
Tree Selection for the “Un-natural” Environment, The Education Store, Purdue Extension
Tree Support Systems, The Education Store, Purdue Extension
Tree Installation: Process and Practices, The Education Store, Purdue Extension
Planting Your Tree Part 1: Choosing Your Tree, video, The Education Store, Purdue Extension

Lindsey Purcell, Urban Forestry Specialist
Purdue Forestry and Natural Resources


Posted on November 8th, 2018 in Forestry, How To, Wildlife | No Comments »
Sandhill Cranes stopped at Jasper-Pulaski Fish and Wildlife Area during fall migration. Photo: Indiana DNR

Sandhill Cranes stopped at Jasper-Pulaski Fish and Wildlife Area during fall migration. Photo: Indiana DNR

The latest Wildlife Bulletin, provided by the Indiana Department of Natural Resources-Division of Fish and Wildlife, has all the Indiana hunting information you need to know along with upcoming events and resources. Topics include: Get your deer licenses now; Deer hunting checklist; Deer processing videos on YouTube; Hunting seasons dates; Four options to check in game; Sandhill crane migration at Jasper-Pulaski; and much more.

The Wild Bulletin is a free email newsletter offering information about Indiana’s fish and wildlife resources and recreation opportunities. Subjects covered include profiles, information about hunting and fishing season dates, regulation updates, wildlife and fisheries research status reports, tips on wildlife watching and reminders about important dates for Hoosier outdoor enthusiasts.

To subscribe to this free e-newsletter visit Wild Bulletin, Indiana Department of Natural Resources.

Other resources:
State Parks, Indiana Department of Natural Resources (IN DNR)
Outdoor Indiana, Indiana Department of Natural Resources (IN DNR)
Deer YouTube Video List, Purdue Extension-Forestry and Natural Resources and IN DNR

Indiana Department of Natural Resources


Posted on October 22nd, 2018 in Forestry, How To, Wildlife | No Comments »

Deer in woods.Hunting is an outdoor sport many enjoy while learning new skills, receiving fitness benefits and bringing healthy food options to their table. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Wildlife & Sport Fish Restoration Program, reported 36,825 licences for 2017 as hunting continues to be a recognized and respected sport.

Purdue Extension-Forestry and Natural Resources has recently increased their resources for handling harvested game. This new video series shares step by step instructions starting with field dressing and continuing all the way through to packaging.

Video Series:
Handling Harvested Game: Episode 1, Field Dressing
Handling Harvested Game: Episode 2, Hanging & Skinning
Handling Harvested Game: Episode 3, Deboning
Handling Harvested Game: Episode 4, Cutting, Grinding & Packaging

Free handling harvested game workshops are held every year in September by Purdue Extension. If you would like to attend any of the available workshops please contact Jonathan Ferris, Wayne County Extension Director, or Dave Osborne, Ripley County Extension Director.  Feel free to view the Purdue Extension Calendar or the Purdue Extension-Forestry and Natural Resources’ Calendar for future scheduled workshops.

Other resources:
How to Score Your White-tailed Deer, video, The Education Store, Purdue Extension Resource Center
White-Tailed Deer Post Harvest Collection, video, The Education Store
Age Determination in White-tailed Deer, video, The Education Store,
How to Build a Plastic Mesh Deer Exclusion Fence, The Education Store,
Bovine Tuberculosis in Wild White-tailed Deer, The Education Store,
Maine Hunting License and Rules, Maine Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife

More resources with Indiana Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) and Purdue Extension:
Deer Tips 5: Location, Location
Deer Tips 6: Etiquette
Deer Tips 7: Tracking
Deer Tips 8: After the Harvest
Deer Tips 9: Final Thoughts
Deer Processing 1: Skinning

Bob Cordes, Wildlife Biologist
Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife

Brandon Fields, Meat Science Manager
Pig Improvement Company (PIC)

Rod N Williams, Engagement Faculty Fellow & Associate Professor of Wildlife Science
Purdue University Department of Forestry and Natural Resources


Trees with colored leaves.For many people, the autumn season welcomes a pleasurable change in the weather.  We notice, even during a warm fall day, the air gets cooler and the brisk breeze forces out the fleece.  There are a couple of questions to be asked every year at about this time. Why do leaves change color and drop their leaves when fall weather appears?  Much of it has to do with day-length and temperature. The important thing is not that the amount of sunlight has decreased but rather the amount of dark has increased. The plants we’re talking about in this case are the deciduous trees, which are the trees producing the vibrant colors and those that lose their leaves annually. These woody plants “sense” the days are getting shorter during late September as winter slowly creeps in on us. Things like pigment, light, weather conditions; plant species, soil type and location all play important roles in the fall party and colorful confetti trees create for us to enjoy.

When daylight hours are less and temperatures are cooler, photosynthesis slows down and there is less chlorophyll production. This reduction reveals yellow or orange pigment called carotenoids and are usually hidden by the abundance of chlorophyll present in leaves during the growing season.

Unlike chlorophyll and carotenoids, which are present in leaf cells throughout the growing season, anthocyanins are produced mainly in the fall. These natural chemicals give color to familiar fruits such as cranberries, red apples, cherries, and plums. These complex compounds in leaf cells react with excess stored plant sugars and exposure to sunlight creating vivid pink, red, and purple leaves. A mixture of red anthocyanin pigment and beta carotene often results in the bright orange color seen in some leaves.

The cool fall temperatures cause the closing of leaf veins and prevent sugars from moving out which prolongs fall color. Thus a succession of warm sunny days and cool crisp nights can create quite a display.

Soil moisture levels have an impact on the ability to produce good fall color. A prolonged drought can delay color change for a few weeks. The ideal conditions for producing the best colors are good summer weather, with timely rainfall, and sunny fall days with the cool night temperatures.

Tree species vary in their ability to provide fall color, as some trees just don’t produce anything noteworthy. Color depends on the nutrient levels of iron, magnesium, phosphorous, or sodium in the tree.  Some tree species displaying yellow foliage are ash, birch, beech, elm, hickory, poplar, and aspen. Red leaves are seen most often in dogwood, sweet gum, sumac, and tupelo trees. Some oaks and maples present orange leaves while others range in color from red to yellow, depending on the species.

Even with these facts the timing, location, and intensity of autumn color are not completely predictable. To truly experience the colorful display you must be tuned in to your trees and your weather.  Get outside and enjoy the party our woodlands are providing and enjoy nature’s beautiful confetti.

Resources:
It’s Fall, but why are the leaves still green? article and video, WLFI.com
It’s late October and many leaves on trees are still green. What’s up with that?, IndyStar.com
Why Leaves Change Color, The Education Store, Purdue Extension
Why Leaves Change Color, USDA Forest Service, Northeastern Area
Fifty Trees of the Midwest App for the iPhone, The Education Store
Native Trees of the Midwest, The Education Store
Trees and Storms, The Education Store
Tree Installation: Process and Practices, The Education Store

Lindsey Purcell, Urban Forestry Specialist
Purdue Forestry and Natural Resources


Posted on October 1st, 2018 in Forestry, How To, Nature of Teaching, Wildlife, Woodlands | No Comments »

Six pieces of data to collect from deer you harvest this year
Deer season is upon us in Indiana! If you are a serious hunter and deer manager, here are some things you should consider collecting from deer you harvest. This data provides valuable insights to the deer herd condition, and when combined with hunter observation data and habitat data, like browse transects, you can get a clear picture of the deer herd and habitat quality on your property. However, one year of harvest data is unlikely to be much of value, but collecting data over multiple years can help you track trends in the herd and habitat quality.

What to collect
When you harvest a deer on your property you should consider collecting the following pieces of biological information:

  • Sex
  • Age
  • Weight
  • Lactation status
  • Antler measurements
  • Rumen contents

*Each deer you harvest should be assigned a unique ID number to be sure all the following data is assigned to the right deer.

Sex and Age
Collecting deer sex and age (based on tooth replacement and wear) can help you divide the rest of the data you collect into sex and age classes. Find out how to determine age by viewing Age Determination in White-Tailed Deer video. You do not Deer scalenecessarily have to age a deer to the exact year, but you should separate ages into at least 3 age classes; fawns, yearlings, and >= 2.5 years old. This can be important for tracking changes to the average weight per age class or average antler measurements per age class over time.

Weight
You can collect either live weights or dressed weights, but you should pick one or the other and collect all weights consistently. Be sure to test your scales for accuracy before weighing deer. Tracking changes to the average weight per age class can provide Lactation statusinformation about the nutritional status of the herd.

Lactation Status
Lactation status of does is often used as an index of fawn recruitment and can help determine if a doe had a fawn the summer preceding the hunting season. Lactation status for does harvested early in the season can be checked by squeezing the teats to produce milk you may need to cut into the mammary gland on does harvested later in the season to check lactation status.

Antler measurementsAntler measurement
Antler measurements should be collected from bucks harvested on your property, including yearlings. Find out how to measure the antlers by viewing How to Score Your White-Tailed Deer video.  At a minimum, you should collect the number of points on each antler and the basal circumference of the main beams.  You may also consider collecting the inside spread of the antlers and the main beam lengths. Additionally, you can collect the gross Boone & Crockett Score.

Rumen contents
Deer stool sampleThis piece of data can be helpful from a scouting and hunting aspect. Looking into the rumen of a deer can help you determine what deer may be eating during the portion of the year the deer was harvested. You may find green material (which can be hard to identify), corn, acorns, or whatever else deer may be consuming.

Things you need to collect harvest data
Here is a list of items you might need to collect data from harvested deer.

  • Jawbone extractor
  • Knife
  • Loppers
  • Scale
  • Jawbone tag or permanent marker
  • Flexible measuring tape
  • Datasheet (click here for a white-tailed deer harvest datasheet)

Putting all of this data together can give you a picture into the condition of the deer herd on your property. Collecting this data only takes a small amount of time and effort and the information you gather is well worth it! For more information of how to collect biological data from harvested deer, check out this video from Purdue Extension.

Help the Indiana Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) collect biological data from harvested deer
Most of the data we discussed in this blog post and that is covered in the White-Tailed Deer Post Harvest Collection video, are data the Indiana DNR is collecting through an online post-harvest survey. This is a great opportunity for hunters to help the DNR collect data that will be used to manage the deer herd throughout the state. More information about the survey can be found in the 2018 Hunting and Trapping Guide. If you are successful in harvesting a deer in Indiana this year, be sure to check your email for a link to the survey.

Additional Resources:
Age Determination in White-Tailed Deer video, Purdue Extension – FNR YouTube Playlist
How to Score Your White-Tailed Deer video, Purdue Extension – FNR YouTube Playlist
White-Tailed Deer Post Harvest Collection video, Purdue Extension – FNR YouTube Playlist
White-Tailed Deer Harvest Log (pdf), Purdue Extension-FNR
Indiana Deer Hunting, Biology and Management, Indiana Department of Natural Resources (IDNR)
2018 Indiana Hunting and Trapping Guide, Indiana Department of Natural Resources (IDNR)
Managing White-Tailed Deer: Collecting Data from Harvested Deer, Alabama Cooperative Extension System
Prepare Now to Collect Deer Harvest Data, Quality Deer Management Association

Jarred Brooke, Wildlife Extension Specialist
Department of Forestry & Natural Resource, Purdue University


Posted on September 5th, 2018 in Forestry, Got Nature for Kids, How To | No Comments »
Persimmon Fruit, Buwgood.org

Ripe persimmon. Photo: Rebekah D. Wallace, University of Georgia, Bugwood.org.

The American persimmon tree’s scientific name, Diospyros virginiana, is loosely interpreted “divine fruit” or “fruit of the gods” of Virginia. If you have tasted a ripe persimmon on a crisp fall day, you might agree with that assessment. Several persimmon tree species are found in both the new and old world and have been used for food and wood products for centuries. Our American persimmon is native to the southern half of Indiana but can survive in the northern half of the state as well.

The ripe fruit is famous for the sweet orange pulp used in puddings, cookies and candies. If you are unlucky enough to eat a persimmon that has not yet ripened, your opinion of its eating quality will be quite different. Unripe persimmons have a high tannin content that makes the fruit very astringent – I describe it as feeling like your head is shrinking while simultaneously trying to expel a glue ball from your mouth! Most dedicated persimmon collectors wait for the fruit to become soft and fall from the tree before collecting to avoid this unpleasant experience. Contrary to popular belief, the fruit does not have to experience a frost to ripen. Persimmon fruit normally ripen in September and October, but some trees hold fruit well into winter.

A warning to those tempted to over-indulge in persimmon fruit: the tannin in the unripened fruit can combine with other stomach contents to form what is called a phytobezoar, a sort of gooey food ball that can become quite hard. One patient had eaten over two pounds of persimmons every day for over 40 years. Surgery is often required to remove bezoars, but a recent study indicated Coca-Cola could be used to chemically shrink or eliminate the diospyrobezoar. There is very little risk to those infrequently eating ripe persimmons.

Persimmon is related to ebony and has extremely hard wood once commonly used for golf clubs when “woods” where actually made of wood. The heartwood of persimmon can be black, like ebony, but significant dark heartwood formation may not occur until the tree is quite old. Persimmon is a medium-sized tree here in Indiana but can be over 100 feet tall in the bottomland forests of the Southern U.S. Where I grew up in Southern Indiana, my family ritual in the fall was to go to Brown County State Park and pick up persimmons, separate the tasty pulp from the skin and seeds and freeze the pulp for use in persimmon pudding and candy over the holidays. We might also collect some black walnuts or hickory nuts to include in the candy. We had to be diligent, as the opossums, raccoons and deer liked persimmon as much as we did.

Persimmon Seeds, Bugwood.org

The embryo in persimmon seed – is it a spoon, knife or fork? Photo:  Lenny Farlee, Purdue Extension Forester

In addition to use for food, persimmon has some folk tradition related to winter weather forecasting. It was thought the shape of the embryo in the seed could predict the winter weather: a spoon shape indicated deep snow, a knife would indicate icy cutting winds and a fork meant it would be mild with plenty to eat until spring. I collected a few seeds from trees here on the West Lafayette campus and split them open to see what the tree wants to tell me – looks like a spoon to me, but you can make your own predictions.

The Indiana DNR Division of Forestry Nursery sells American persimmon seedlings. You can also find selections for fruit production being sold commercially, along with several Asian persimmon varieties. Male and female flowers are normally formed on separate trees, so plant several to get good pollination.

The following site has a wealth of information on persimmon, including several recipes and locations to buy pulp and seedlings, as well as natural and cultural history including the annual Persimmon Festival in Mitchell, Indiana:
http://www.persimmonpudding.com/.

Resources:
Persimmons, The Education Store, Purdue Extension resource center
Resources and Assistance Available for Planting Hardwood Seedlings, The Education Store
Tree Installation: Process and Practices, The Education Store
Tree Planting Part 1: Choosing a Tree, video, The Education Store

Lenny D Farlee, Sustaining Hardwood Extension Specialist
Purdue University Department of Forestry and Natural Resources


Indiana batAt different times of the year, I get questions about bats in structures.  Bats are a timely issue towards the end of summer because young bats will soon be able to fly.  Excluding bats from structures is limited to this time.  This process is typically called “venting” where access points (both in use and potential) are identified, most are sealed off, and the remaining points are fitted with one-way doors that allow bats to leave but not reenter. If only the opening they use is sealed off, they will simply use another entry point. Think of it this way – our houses have multiple points of entry, but you may only use one. You will use another if necessary.

Bats can make their way into a house in a number of ways – gaps between siding and chimney, gaps between roof sheathing and fascia board, etc.  New and old construction alike. Eliminating access to all of these small, potential points of access can be a challenge. The bodies of some bat species are as small as your thumb. Even though you don’t have an attic, there are still spaces inside a structure where bats can live.

Bats are one of the most difficult wildlife conflicts to deal with because of the nature of their habits. They can pass through extremely small openings, move throughout the inside of a structure, and often entre/occupy hard to reach areas. Bat exclusion is not an activity I recommend for most homeowners.  There is a skill necessary to find and seal all possible access points. Since most of these are located high above ground and accessing these points can require special ladders, lifts and other safety equipment.

Having bats in the attic isn’t simply a nuisance issue, but also can be a safety issue. Like Most wildlife carry diseases. With bats, histoplasmosis and rabies are the two that are the ones most concern for people with bats in their homes.  The Center of Disease Control (CDC) has good information on these and other diseases. Fleas that live on bats can also be vectors for disease. It is always a good idea to limit exposure to wildlife animals as much as possible. For bats, venting in the end of summer and fall and preventing reentry is a logical first step.

If you have bats and want to solve the problem now is the time to contact professionals who can help. Unfortunately, most nuisance wildlife control operators don’t do bat work because it requires specialized equipment and the difficulty of it.  Because of that, control will not be cheap for the customer.  Many people construct bat houses to attract bats. While beneficial, artificial bat houses will not attract bats from an attic.

Resources:
Selecting a Nuisance Wildlife Control Professional, The Education Store-Purdue Extension’s resource center
Bats in Indiana, Indiana Department of Natural Resources (IDNR)
Bat Houses, Bat Conservation International

Brian J. MacGowan, Extension Wildlife Specialist
Department of Forestry & Natural Resources, Purdue University


FNR-557-W What a Waste of Food!Food waste is a major issue in developed countries. This unit is designed to teach students about food waste and ways they can help reduce it. This section contains one unit with three lesson plans that will teach students how to reduce food waste by learning more about proper food storage, best-by dates, and ugly foods. It also contains a stand-alone lesson on food packaging and composting.

To view this free complete unit see: What a Waste of Food! Lesson Plans and PowerPoint, The Education Store, Purdue Extension.

Resources:
Food Preservation Methods, Purdue Extension
Washing Fresh Vegetables to Enhance Food Safety, Purdue Extension
Food Waste Lesson Plans, Nature of Teaching

Rebecca L Busse, Graduate Research Assistant
Purdue University Department of Forestry and Natural Resources

Rod N Williams, Engagement Faculty Fellow & Associate Professor of Wildlife Science
Purdue University Department of Forestry and Natural Resources


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