Got Nature? Blog

Posted on July 17th, 2017 in Wildlife | No Comments »

Deer in Open FieldHunters Helping Farmers Program is a service provided by the Indiana Department of Natural Resources Division of Fish & Wildlife that makes lists of hunters (willing to harvest antlerless deer) available to landowners that have difficulty finding hunters to hunt on their property. In order to minimize such damage, the DNR Division of Fish & Wildlife recommends that such landowners start a hunting program during the regular deer-hunting seasons.

Landowners and hunters interested in participating in this program can apply now through Aug. 30 utilizing the Hunter’s Helping Farmers Program form.

Resources:
Indiana Deer hunting, biology and management, Indiana Department of Natural Resources (IDNR)
​​Hunting and Access Policy: Southeast Purdue Agricultural Center (SEPAC), Purdue Forestry and Natural Resources
Scout Your Oak Trees to Identify the Best Mast Producers, Purdue Extension-FNR
Bovine Tuberculosis in Wild White-Tailed Deer, Purdue Extension-FNR
How to Score Your White-Tailed Deer – video, Purdue Extension-FNR
Age Determination in White-Tailed Deer – video, Purdue Extension-FNR

Indiana Department of Forestry and Natural Resources


Purdue University has teamed up with four zoos to protect hellbenders. This effort is a worldwide collaboration as zoos, government agencies, and other conservation groups, implement much-needed conservation initiatives. This recently published publication titled How Our Zoos Help Hellbenders shares the current zoos in Indiana that are collaborating with Purdue in this conservation effort. Zoos are conservation and research organizations that play critical roles both in protecting wildlife and their habitats and in educating the public. Thus, with hellbenders experiencing declines over the past several decades, teaming up with zoos in order to preserve and protect the hellbender species is ideal. The zoos that are currently partners with Purdue University in this effort are: Mesker Park Zoo in Evansville, Indiana; Columbian Park Zoo in Lafayette, Indiana; Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo in Fort Wayne, Indiana; and Nashville Zoo in Nashville, Tennessee.

Three videos have been released showing how the zoos are working with Purdue University to help protect hellbenders. You can check them out below!

Resources:
Conservation Efforts, Mesker Park Zoo
Hellbender Research Participation Spotlight, Columbian Park Zoo
Conservation, Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo
Hellbender Conservation, Nashville Zoo
Purdue Partners with Indiana Zoos for Hellbender Conservation – Purdue Newsroom
Help the Hellbender, Purdue Extension-FNR
Nature of Teaching, Purdue Extension-FNR
I found this in my barn. Is it a Hellbender? – Purdue FNR Extension, Got Nature

Nick Burgmeier, Research Biologist and Extension Wildlife Specialist
Purdue University Department of Forestry and Natural Resources


Posted on July 5th, 2017 in Safety, Wildlife | No Comments »
Female Aedes aegypti mosquito

Photo by: James Gathany, Center for Disease Control and Prevention

While researchers say it is difficult to determine whether unusual weather patterns this winter and spring will lead to larger mosquito and tick populations in the Upper Midwest this summer, one thing is certain – anyone planning to spend time outdoors should take steps to avoid the potentially dangerous pests.

“Every year we face the same risks and every year it is wise to take precautions,” said Catherine Hill, Purdue University medical entomologist. “If you’re going to be outside anytime from early spring to late summer and early fall, you need to be thinking about prevention and protection.”

Both mosquitos and ticks can carry a number of pathogens that could pose a serious threat to people and animals. Mosquitos can transmit several viruses that can cause severe encephalitis (inflammation of the brain and spinal cord), including Zika and West Nile virus, among others. Ticks are known carriers of Lyme disease, which infects about 300,000 people each year, as well as less common but equally dangerous conditions such as anaplasmosis, babesiosis, Powassan and Rocky Mountain spotted fever.

To avoid mosquito bites, the best advice is to stay indoors during peak biting times, which is typically dusk to dawn for the mosquitoes that transmit West Nile virus and during the day for mosquitoes that transmit Zika.

“If you have to be outside during those times, it is best to wear clothing that can help prevent bites,” Hill said. Appropriate wardrobe choices include long-sleeve shirts and long pants tucked into socks. It is also advisable to use an effective repellant, such as products containing a minimum of 20 to 30 percent – of diethyltoluamide, commonly known as DEET. The Centers for Disease Control also recommends products containing picardin, lemon of eucalyptus and IR3535. More information is available on the CDC website at https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/yellowbook/2016/the-pre-travel-consultation/protection-against-mosquitoes-ticks-other-arthropods.

Mosquitoes breed in standing water and their larvae and pupae need water to develop. Homeowners can help reduce mosquito populations in their back yard by dumping standing water out of buckets and wading pools, keeping lawns mowed and removing piles of brush or yard waste, Hill said.

Ticks can thrive in back yards as well, particularly those adjacent heavily wooded areas, in tall grass and brush and under leaf piles.

Hill said the warmer winter and wet spring could have created ideal conditions for ticks in some areas although conditions vary significantly from region to region.

“We’ve already been getting plenty of ticks,” Hill said. “They’re certainly active.”

The best defense against ticks is to wear light colored clothing with long sleeves and pants and to use a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency-approved repellant. It is also a good idea to check your body and clothing for ticks immediately after coming back indoors.

“If you can remove a tick within 24 hours, you have a very good chance of catching them before they transmit,” Hill said.

Ticks feed on blood and tend to attach themselves to tender areas of the skin, including around the hairline and in the armpit and groin.

For the full article, see Purdue Agriculture News.

Resources:
Mosquitoes, Purdue Extension Entomology
One Small Bite: One Large Problem, Got Nature?, Purdue Extension-FNR

Darrin J Pack, Writer/Editor
Purdue University Department of Agricultural Communication

Catherine A Hill, Professor of Entomology/Vector Biology
Purdue University Department of Entomology


Posted on June 30th, 2017 in Forestry, Wildlife, Woodlands | No Comments »
Eastern Hellbender

Eastern Hellbender

We have written about the Eastern Hellbender salamander (Cryptobranchus alleganiensis alleganiensis) in this blog multiple times. It is a unique species and plays an important role in the aquatic ecosystem in which it inhabits. Unfortunately, the species has been declining throughout much of its range over the past several decades and can no longer be found in many of the rivers and streams where it used to be common. In Indiana, the Eastern Hellbender can only be found in the Blue River. However, this population is also declining and without intervention will likely disappear within the next 20 years.

To help prevent this, Purdue University’s “Help the Hellbender” has teamed with Mesker Park Zoo and Botanic Garden (MPZ) to attempt to captive breed the Eastern Hellbender. Purdue University biologists have been capturing wild Eastern Hellbenders from the Blue River and transporting them to MPZ. MPZ has built an indoor stream designed to mimic the conditions in the Blue River. They have followed the advice of members of the highly successful Ozark Hellbender subspecies (C. a. bishopi) breeding program at St. Louis Zoo.

Mesker Park Zoo and Botanic Garden zookeeper, Bryan Plis, places a wild Eastern Hellbender into the new breeding raceway

Mesker Park Zoo and Botanic Garden zookeeper, Bryan Plis, places a wild Eastern Hellbender into the new breeding raceway

If successful, this captive population will provide a long-term, easily accessible source of young Hellbenders for eventual release. This will allow us to continue to repopulate the Blue River while expanding our release efforts to include other southern Indiana rivers with suitable habitat. The breeding program also will reduce the need to spend countless hours searching the river in the hopes of finding increasingly rare Hellbender nests. Through these efforts we will hopefully be able to reestablish self-sustaining populations of Hellbenders throughout southern Indiana and help prevent the extinction of a truly magnificent animal.

For more ways you can help, please visit HelptheHellbender.org.

Resources:
Mesker Park Zoo: Helping the Hellbender , Purdue Extension-Forestry and Natural Resources, YouTube
Help the Hellbender, Purdue Extension-Forestry and Natural Resources
Mesker Park Zoo and Botanic Garden
Hellbender Information, St. Louis Zoo
Purdue Partners with Indiana Zoos for Hellbender Conservation, Purdue Newsroom
I found this in my barn. Is it a Hellbender?, Purdue Got Nature?, Forestry and Natural Resources

Nick Burgmeier, Research Biologist and Extension Wildlife Specialist
Purdue University Department of Forestry and Natural Resources


Purdue Extension-Forestry and Natural Resources and Jennings County Soil and Water Conservation District would like to invite you to a white-tailed deer and wild turkey habitat management field day at Southeast Purdue Agricultural Center.  This workshop is open to anyone interested in learning more about managing habitat for deer turkey, or other wildlife.

Learn about:Turkey

  • Edge feathering for wildlife
  • Forest management for wildlife
    Tree felling & girdling demo
  • Managing oaks for acorn production
  • Marking & conducting a timber sale
  • Native grass establishment & management
    Prescribed fire demo (weather permitting)
  • ID important native plants for deer & turkey
  • Invasive plants & control methods
  • Technical & cost-share opportunities

There is no cost to attend this event and lunch will be provided (sponsored by Jennings County SCWCD). Be sure to register to be counted for the lunch.

For full details and how to register view:  Deer and Turkey Habitat Management Field Day (.0056 mb pdf).

Resources:
If You Native Grasses Look Like This, It’s Time for Management, Got Nature?, Forestry and Natural Resources
How to Build a Plastic Mesh Deer Exclusion Fence, The Education Store, Purdue Extension
How to Score Your White-tailed Deer, The Education Store, Purdue Extension
Truths and Myths about Wild Turkey, The Education Store, Purdue Extension
Bovine Tuberculosis in Wilde White-Tailed Deer, Purdue Extension-Forestry and Natural Resources

Moriah Boggess, Purdue Extension Wildlife Intern
Department of Forestry and Natural Resources

Jarred Brooke, Purdue Extension Wildlife Specialist
Department of Forestry and Natural Resources

Don Carlson, Purdue Forester
Department of Forestry and Natural Resources


Purdue zipTrips are virtual electronic field trips provided by Purdue for students to get a glimpse into what makes Purdue one of the leading universities in the nation. Students engage with Purdue faculty and scientists through a live webcast, while traveling on a “virtual electronic field trip” of labs, greenhouses, and other interesting Purdue facilities. After each live event, the webcast is archived and can be viewed online. ZipTrips covers a variety of topics, including genetics, nutrition, diseases, climate change, plants, veterinary and more. Purdue FNR Dr. Jeff Dukes and Dr. Mike Jenkins are featured in the video above for zipTrips. Other members of Purdue FNR’s staff that have appeared on Purdue zipTrips are Dr. Rod Williams, Brian MacGowan and Dr. Marisol Sepulveda.

Classrooms all over the world have enjoyed zipTrips. Rated as one of their favorite episodes is the “We’re All Animals” showing a Purdue Veterinary Medicine equine lab with the horse “Whitey” exercising on the large treadmill. Sign up for zipTrips to have access to future trips, past trips and online resources.

Past zipTrips featuring FNR Faculty:
Plant Science: The Green Machine – Youtube, Purdue Agriculture
“It’s a Gene Thing!” – Youtube, Purdue Agriculture
A Week of Scientists – Youtube, Purdue Agriculture

Other Resources:
Past zipTrips Playlist – Youtube, Purdue Agriculture
Boiler Bytes – Purdue
Purdue Forestry and Natural Resources’ Playlist – Youtube, Purdue Agriculture

Purdue Agriculture

 


Students in Forestry and Natural Resources (FNR) continue to volunteer for Hands of the Future, Inc., a non-profit program whose mission is to help educate children about the outdoors and natural resources. As this program continues to grow, one of their dreams has been to find woods to create a children’s forest. To have a natural site that has been embellished upon with children’s needs in mind and to encourage outdoor play and adventures.

The students plan on transforming 18.8 acres of idle woods into Zonda’s Children’s Forest. The children’s forest will be composed of six main areas:

  1. A children’s garden, equipped with a greenhouse and kitchen, thHands of the Futureat’ll allow children to learn how to properly grow and cook food.
  2. An enclosed area dedicated to allowing children having fun and safe adventures.
  3. A viewing area for butterflies, birds and other organisms of the wild, allowing children to easily enjoy the life of the forest.
  4. A maze designed by sunflowers, where children can have fun and do problem-solving, while close to nature.
  5. A walk dedicated to viewing the owls and other organisms composing the forest.
  6. Another enclosed area of the woods for adventures; However, it’ll also contain tree houses, bridges and other fun additions for the children.

Donations:
Donations to help make Zonda’s Children’s Forest a reality can be made here. They have six months to raise $235,000 in order to purchase the woods.

Volunteers & Interns:
Older students and adults can apply to be a volunteer. Volunteers are always appreciated, no past experience necessary. If you love nature and kids you will enjoy this program. Internships are available for college students, contact Zonda Bryant.

Resources:
Hands of the Future, Inc.
Junior Nature Club

Zonda Bryant, Director
765.366.9126
director@hands-future.org

 


Spotted salamander.

The Spotted Salamander (Ambystoma maculatum) is a common species of mole salamander. Photo credit: T. Travis Brown.

I have been asked some variation of this question multiple times over the past several years. Sometimes the “hellbender” is found in a barn, on a basement floor, crawling across a driveway, or occasionally in a pond. The common denominator is always that someone has found a salamander, and they are concerned it is an Eastern Hellbender that needs help.

I appreciate this concern. I am glad to see that people have become more aware of the existence of the Eastern Hellbender and that it is something worth helping. The Eastern Hellbender is an endangered species in Indiana, and we always welcome reports from concerned citizens. However, the Eastern Hellbender is a very rare species in Indiana and is uncommon throughout most of its range in the eastern United States. The species has been declining in Indiana over the past several decades and is now known only from the Blue River in Washington, Harrison, and Crawford Counties. For this reason alone, it is unlikely that anyone would find a Hellbender on their property.

However, another equally important reason that it is unlikely a Hellbender involves the species biology. The Eastern Hellbender is fully aquatic and lives exclusively in rivers and streams. Unlike most amphibians, its primary means of respiration is by absorbing oxygen directly from the water through its skin. One adaptation Hellbenders have evolved to help with oxygen absorption is the development of wavy skin-folds along the sides of their bodies. These skin-folds provide greater surface area for oxygen absorption. Hellbenders have lungs, but they do not function well enough to allow them to survive extended periods of time on land. Hellbenders have been found on land immediately next to rivers and streams, but this is rare and is generally considered an anomaly.

Hellbender vs. mudpuppy

Top: Hellbender, Bottom: Common Mudpuppy.

While this rules out finding them on land away from rivers and streams, what about ponds and lakes? Hellbenders typically prefer clean, cool, swift flowing rivers and streams with a high oxygen content. These conditions are not typically found in ponds and lakes, and would make it unlikely that hellbenders would willingly reside in them. Moreover, these water bodies are usually landlocked with no close access from rivers and streams, and since hellbenders do not like to travel overland, they will likely never encounter a pond or lake.

There are two unlikely possibilities that might result in a Hellbender being found in a pond or lake. The first would be if someone captured a hellbender and moved it there. The second would be a pond or lake owner that lives in the floodplain of a river containing Hellbenders. Hellbenders do occasionally get dislodged by flooding and washed downstream. A large flood has the potential, however unlikely, to wash a Hellbender into a nearby pond. I am unaware of this ever happening, but it is a possibility.

So if you haven’t found a Hellbender, what have you found? If you found your salamander on land, it is very likely one of a group of salamanders known as mole salamanders. Mole salamanders are common throughout most of Indiana. They typically breed in ponds in the spring and then hide under logs or bury themselves underground. They are commonly found during spring breeding migrations and are frequently seen in large numbers. They often times find themselves wandering onto our properties and getting stuck in window wells or hiding themselves under rocks, firewood, or in our barns.

If you found your salamander in the water then it could be either the aforementioned mole salamander or a Common Mudpuppy. Mudpuppies are commonly confused with hellbenders and do live in ponds, wetlands, and creeks. Like the Hellbender, they are fully aquatic and don’t go on land except in very rare circumstances. Mudpuppies have large, fluffy gills behind their heads, which Hellbenders do not have. Mudpuppies also lack the skins folds along the sides of their bodies.

While most people will go their entire lives without ever seeing a Hellbender, if you live in the right areas it is a possibility. If you think you have seen a Hellbender, then please take a photo and let us know by visiting our Hellbender Reporting Webpage below. We are always happy to help.

Resources:
Hellbender ID – video, The Education Store, Purdue Extension resource center
HelptheHellbender.org, Purdue Extension
Help the Hellbender: North America’s Giant Salamander, The Education Store
Salamanders of Indiana, The Education Store
Appreciating Reptiles and Amphibians, The Education Store

Nick Burgmeier, Research Biologist and Extension Wildlife Specialist
Purdue Department of Forestry and Natural Resources


Indiana Amphibian and Reptile ID PackageIf you or someone you know loves to learn about wildlife, especially reptiles and amphibians, then you will be interested in our new special offer package. We are offering our complete collection of reptile and amphibian field guides (4 softcover books) for 10% of the price of each individual book. These books cover all of the reptiles and amphibians that are found in the state of Indiana. They include detailed physical descriptions, distribution maps, and interesting information about the ecology of each species. All of the included books have been peer-reviewed by experts in the field of herpetology.

The Indiana Amphibian and Reptile ID Package can be purchased from the Purdue Education Store for $36.00.

Additional Resources, The Education Store, Purdue Extension:
Frogs and Toads of Indiana
Salamanders of Indiana
Snakes and Lizards of Indiana
Turtles of Indiana

More Resources Available:
Help the Hellbender, Purdue Extension
The Nature of Teaching, Lesson Plans K-12, Purdue Extension

Nick Burgmeier, Research Biologist and Extension Wildlife Specialist
Purdue Department of Forestry and Natural Resources


Frogs and Toads of Indiana, FNR-516Frogs and Toads of Indiana is the latest and final addition to Purdue Extension’s line of field guides focused on the reptiles and amphibians of Indiana. Readers of this guide will not only learn how to ID the Anuran species of Indiana but will also learn about their distribution throughout the state along with their habits and behaviors. The guide is richly illustrated, filled with interesting facts, and has been peer-reviewed by expert herpetologists.

As many herpetologists and recreational herpers can attest, seeing what you are hearing is not always possible. With this in mind, we developed a website The Frogs and Toads of Indiana for users that wish to learn the calls of Indiana Anuran species.

The Frogs and Toads of Indiana, FNR-516, can be purchased from the The Education Store for $10.00.

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

Additional resources:
The Nature of Teaching, Lesson Plans K-12, Purdue Extension

Nick Burgmeier, Research Biologist and Extension Wildlife Specialist
Purdue Department of Forestry and Natural Resources


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