Got Nature? Blog

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 28th, 2018 in Safety, Wildlife | No Comments »

Deer crossing road sign.As a child growing up in rural St. Joe County, I can vividly recall the feeling of excitement when the occasional deer visited our backyard. It’s hard to believe now, but we actually placed salt licks out to attract deer for viewing. I still enjoy the sight of a white-tailed deer, but things are a lot different today – the Internet, iPods, and yes, more deer. Estimating the size of wildlife populations is a difficult task in most cases. Currently, experts estimate about 30 million white-tailed deer throughout its range. There are probably more white-tailed deer in North America today than at the time of European settlement. In Indiana, the total deer harvested today exceeds by many times the numbers harvested during my days of youth in the 1970s.

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, there are approximately one and a half million deer-vehicle collisions in the United States each year, resulting in about 150 deaths and over $1 billion in vehicle damage. The average claim of these deer-collisions is $3,995.

While deer-vehicle collisions can happen any time of year, October to December is the peak. Most collisions occur from dusk to dawn on high speed rural roads. In Indiana, if a deer dies following a collision with a motor vehicle, a conservation officer, DNR property manager or other law enforcement officer may issue a permit to an individual to possess the deer.

Don’t Waste Your Money
Many tactics have been tried over the years to reduce collisions. Most of these have proved ineffective or at least need more investigation. One common approach that does not work is the deer whistle. Deer whistles are attached to vehicles and emit noises at moderate to fast speeds. The noise presumably warns deer of approaching vehicles, thereby reducing collisions. While manufacturers contend that deer can hear the whistles up to a quarter mile away, published studies have not verified their effectiveness or whether or not deer can even hear them. The lack of deer response to deer whistles may be because deer don’t recognize the sounds as threatening or they have too little time to react.

What can I do?
There is no foolproof way to prevent deer-vehicle collisions. Hunting is the most biologically and economically effective method of maintaining Indiana’s deer herd at an optimal level – all else being equal, less deer translates to reduced probability of hitting a deer. Fencing deer from roadways has been proven most effective at reducing accidents at specific locations, but it is very costly to construct and maintain.

So what do you do? There are some common-sense precautions all drivers can take to reduce the risk of deer-vehicle collisions. The Insurance Information Institute recommends the following driving tips.

  • Be vigilant in early morning and evening hours, the most active time for deer.
  • Use your high-beam headlights.
  • Slow down and blow your horn with one long blast to frighten the deer away.
  • Brake firmly when you notice a deer in or near your path. Do not swerve. It can confuse the deer as to where to run. It can also cause you to lose control and hit a tree or another car.
  • Be alert and drive with caution when you are moving through a deer crossing zone.
  • Obey posted speed limits and always wear your seatbelt. Most people injured in car/deer crashes were not wearing their seatbelt.
  • Look for other deer after one has crossed the road. Deer seldom run alone.

Got Nature? Blog post was also published in the IndyStar, How to avoid hitting a deer with your car, and what to do when you can’t.

Brian MacGowan, Extension Wildlife Specialist
Department of Forestry and Natural Resources, Purdue University


Posted on September 14th, 2018 in Forestry, Wildlife, Woodlands | No Comments »

Snake fungal disease (SFD), caused by the fungus Ophidiomyces ophiodiicola, is an emerging pathogen of snakes identified in more than 15 genera of captive and free-ranging snakes in 21 states.Snake Fungal Disease

SFD is not considered a risk to people.

Some infected snakes show no symptoms. Others develop facial swelling and disfigurement, skin and scale lesions and internal lesions. For some snakes, the disease is fatal.

The fungus can persist in the soil. The route of transmission is unknown, but may occur through contact with soil, other infected snakes, or from mother to offspring.

SFD in Indiana
Researchers from the University of Illinois first identified SFD in Indiana in late 2017 during a surveillance project for the disease.

The researchers swabbed the skin of 53 snakes from 10 Indiana counties. Of those, 13 tested positive for the fungus. Two of those 13 snakes had visible lesions. Species that tested positive included the northern water snake (Nerodia sipedon), racer (Coluber constrictor), milk snake (Lampropeltis triangulum) and queen snake (Regina septemvittata).

The surveillance project was funded by the Indiana Department of Natural Resources State Wildlife Grant T7R22.

Why monitoring SFD is important
Snakes are important predators and play a critical role in maintaining a balanced ecosystem. Having healthy snake populations in Indiana is necessary to keep rodent populations in check.

Documenting the distribution of this disease will help us develop conservation and management plans.

Snake fungal disease may cause high mortality rates in eastern massasauga rattlesnakes (Sistrurus catenatus), a federally threatened and state-endangered species in parts of northern Indiana. The potential long-term effect on populations of massasaugas and other snakes remains uncertain.

Contact an Indiana DNR wildlife biologist if you have any information you would like to share.

For full article view Snake Fungal Disease, Indiana Department of Natural Resources.

Resources:
Snakes and Lizards of Indiana, The Education Store, Purdue Extension’s resource center
Snakes of the Central and Northeastern United States, The Education Store

Indiana Department of Natural Resources (IDNR)


Posted on September 5th, 2018 in Aquaculture/Fish, Safety, Wildlife | No Comments »

box turle

People have been catching wild turtles and selling them as pets, leading to many species becoming endangered.  This is very dangerous for the health and survival of the turtle as well as being highly illegal in Indiana. We highly discourage you from taking turtles from their natural habitat and turning them into pets (or any animal for that matter). Here’s a list of reasons why it is not good to make a pet out of a wild turtle and what you can do if you see any turtle miss handling and turtle wrong doing.

Turtles DO NOT make good pets!

Reasons why turtles aren’t good pets:
  • Turtles require time and money for proper care, and some species can live up to 50 years.
  • Pet turtles do not like to be held and are loners; therefore, they can become boring pets for children.
  • Turtles are cold-blooded and need a source of heat. They also require an ultraviolet light for proper growth and health.
    • Without this special light, many health issues arise such as metabolic bone disease.
  • It is very important to know what kind of species you want and the care it needs before you acquire a pet turtle. Many need special food and tanks.
    • Each species has different feeding requirements, with some being strictly carnivores or herbivores. Map turtles, for example, have restricted diets that must include snails, aquatic insects and crayfish. Some species of aquatic turtles, such as the red-eared slider, map turtle and soft-shell, grow up to 12 inches long, requiring a large tank for swimming and basking.
  • Land turtles need a large pen, with sufficient substrate, properly sized water bowl, a hide area, as well as heat. Some require more humidity than others.
  • If you no longer want your pet turtle, you cannot release into the wild because it is not likely to survive.
    • It will have to find its own food, deal with the elements and deal with predators.
    • These once-captive turtles are also likely to transmit diseases to wild turtle populations.
  • Turtles can carry salmonella bacteria.
    • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that children, pregnant women, and persons with compromised immune systems avoid contact with reptiles to avoid getting Salmonella.
    • The DNR does not encourage the keeping of turtles as pets, but does allow it if the turtle species is obtained legally with a hunting or fishing license.

 

It is illegal to sell wild turtles

Many native, wild-caught turtles are still sold as pets, even though this practice is illegal in Indiana. The collection of wild turtles has caused many species to become endangered, especially when combined with habitat loss, water pollution and predators. Predators such as raccoons eat a large number of turtle eggs each year, and some species do not even breed until they are several years old, meaning that it can take many years for a population to become established. You can help protect Indiana’s turtles by helping to preserve turtle habitat, especially wetlands, through local conservation organizations or the Indiana Nongame and Endangered Wildlife Program.

Help our endangered turtle species and report any wrong handling, contact DNR Customer Service Center.

For the full article, see Turtles As Pets, Indiana Department of Natural Resources.

Resources:
Turtles of Indiana, The Education Store, Purdue Extension’s resource center
Reptile and Amphibian Regulations, Indiana Department of Natural Resources
Eastern Box Turtle Information, Indiana Department of Natural Resources

Indiana Department of Natural Resources (IDNR)


Posted on August 27th, 2018 in Forestry, Uncategorized, Wildlife | No Comments »

A color-banded loggerhead shrike found south of Goose Pond FWA in July 2017 successfully raised six young in Davies County this summer. Fledging six young is exceptional for shrikes, which on average fledge 2.6 per nesting attempt.

Loggerhead photo from IDNR

Loggerhead photo from IDNR

This female is even more special because she is the only one of 12 banded shrikes that hatched last year to be sighted back in Indiana this year. This summer she paired with a male shrike that did not nest in 2017, likely because there were no female shrikes left in his area after steep declines in this songbird’s population.

For more information view the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, Fish and Wildlife, Loggerhead Shrike.

Resources:
Birds and Residential Window Strikes: Tips for Prevention, Got Nature? blog post, Purdue Forestry and Natural Resources (FNR)
Learn How Forests are used by Birds, Got Nature? blog post, FNR
Managing Woodlands for Birds, The Education Store, Purdue Extension’s resource center
Breeding Birds and Forest Management: the Hardwood Ecosystem Experiment and the Central Hardwoods Region, The Education Store

Article from MYDNR Email Newsletter, Indiana Department of Natural Resources


Posted on August 16th, 2018 in Forestry, Wildlife, Woodlands | No Comments »

Deer camera captureTrail camera surveys are a great tool that provide a wealth of information about white-tailed deer and other wildlife on your property. You can gather information about deer population density, doe-to-buck ratio, and fawn recruitment, which may ultimately help guide management decisions on your property.

Here are a few tips when conducting a trail camera survey for deer.

Survey design

  • Place cameras at a density of 1 camera per 100 acres of property
  • Run cameras for 10-14 days
  • Check cameras every 4-5 days
  • Conduct surveys in the late summer before hunting season or late winter after hunting season

Camera set-up & placement

  • Set the camera to the correct date and time
  • Turn the burst mode to off
  • Set camera to a 5-10 minute delay (the delay can be shorter, but it will result in more pictures that will take longer to analyze)
  • Place the camera about waist height (2.5 – 3 feet) above the ground
  • Place the bait 10-15 feet from the camera
  • Face the camera north or south to avoid over-exposure from the sun
  • Place a ID tag on a tree in the view of the camera to differentiate camera locations

Analyzing camera data

When analyzing camera data from a survey, based on antler characteristics you can then determine the number of unique bucks captured during the survey. You also need to determine the total number of bucks, does, and fawns in all the photos. This will help you determine density, doe-to-buck ratios, and fawn recruitment (fawn-to-doe ratio). For easy data analysis check out this Trail Camera Data Computation Form from the Quality Deer Management Association.

Trail camera surveys can be a fun activity for you and your family to do prior to or after the hunting season. They can also provide you with information about deer and other wildlife that are using your property.

*Before conducting a baited camera survey be sure to check the wildlife feeding and baiting laws in your state. For the state of Indiana you can find this information in the Indiana Hunting & Trapping Guide.

Resources:
Conducting Camera Surveys to Estimate Population Characteristics of White-tailed Deer, Mississippi State University Extension
Estimating Deer Populations on Your Property: Camera Survey, University of Missouri Extension
How to Run a Trail-Camera Survey – QDMA
Handling Harvested Game: Field Dressing, The Education Store, Purdue Extension resource center
Bovine Tuberculosis in Wild White-tailed Deer, The Education Store

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


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


Posted on July 18th, 2018 in Forestry, Wildlife, Woodlands | No Comments »

Do you want to know how Food Plots fit into wildlife habitat management?
At this Purdue Extension-Forestry and Natural Resources Field Day experts will be discussing cool-season food plot strategies and visit some of these cool-season food plot demos.

Want to learn Forest Management tips for both Bucks and $$$?
The experts will also be sharing how to blend forest management for the benefits of timber and wildlife, as well as visiting a few of these forest management demo areas.

Come out and learn about forest management and food plots for wildlife:
August 18, 2018
9:00am to 2:00pm EST

Deer eating on tree.

Register by contacting:
Cody Widner
Extension Wildlife Intern, Purdue
widnerc@purdue.edu
(574) 571-0090

Please Register by August 13th!
*All Activities are outside, please dress accordingly

For more details view: Forest Management and Food Plots for Wildlife Field Day Flyer.

Resources:
Calibrating a No-Till Drill for Conservation Plantings and Wildlife Food Plots, Purdue Extension, Education Store
Food Plots for White-Tailed Deer, Purdue Extension, Education Store
The Basics of Managing Wildlife on Agricultural Lands, Purdue Extension, Education Store

Jarred Brooke, Wildlife Extension Specialist
Forestry and Natural Resources

Cody Widner, Purdue Extension Wildlife Intern
Forestry and Natural Resources


NatureOfTeaching_FNR_Pub552Conservation biology is considered by some to be a “crisis discipline.” Decisions within the field must often be made quickly, sometimes without enough time to gather all of the data one would ideally have, and they can decide the fate of a species. This Nature of Teaching unit titled “the Scientific Process of Conservation Biology: Analyze, Design, Debate,” introduces students to the field of conservation biology and the process of conserving a species. It includes 4 lessons and 4 case studies as well as a teacher information section and list of sources.  Students will learn how to: analyze literature, graphs, and figures to discern factors threatening a species; identify different careers involved in conservation biology; learn how to edit, revise an original management plan to better comprehend the iterative process of science; and much more.

To view this free complete unit see: The Scientific Process of Conservation Biology: Analyze, Design, Debate, The Education Store, Purdue Extension.

Resources:
Health & Wellness Lesson Plans, Nature of Teaching
Wildlife Lesson Plans, Nature of Teaching
Food Waste Lesson Plans, Nature of Teaching

Briana Widner, student
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

 


Posted on June 11th, 2018 in Alert, Got Nature for Kids, How To, Safety, Wildlife | No Comments »

If you care about wild animals, let them be wild. Most young wild animals you encounter are not orphaned. What may seem like an abandoned animal is normal behavior for most wildlife, to avoid predators. Picking up a wild animal you think is orphaned or abandoned is unnecessary and can be harmful to the animal or you.

DeerIf you find a wild animal that is truly abandoned, sick or injured, here is what you can do:

  • Leave it alone, in its natural environment. Don’t turn wildlife into pets.
  • Call a licensed wild animal rehabilitator who is trained in caring for wild animals.
  • If the animal is sick or severely injured, call a licensed veterinarian.

Resources:
Mammals of Indiana, J.O. Whitker and R.E. Mumford
Common Indiana Mammals, The Nature of Teaching, The Education Store-Purdue Extension’s resource center
Orphaned and Injured Animals, Indiana Department of Natural Resources (IDNR)

MyDNR Indiana’s Outdoor News, Indiana Department of Natural Resources


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