Got Nature? Blog

Posted on February 14th, 2020 in How To, Urban Forestry, Wildlife | No Comments »

Extension publication, No Room at the Inn: Suburban Backyards and Migratory BirdsBird migration is one of the greatest phenomena of the natural world. Birds depend on suitable habitats to rest and refuel. In this free download publication titled No Room at the Inn: Suburban Backyards and Migratory Birds, a Purdue researcher describes ways to manage your backyard to attract birds of all types, for your enjoyment and their survival. Including a list of common migratory birds in

Indiana, this publication also provides a list of other suggested resources to learn more about birds and how to identify them.

Resources:
Birds and Residential Window Strikes: Tips for Prevention, The Education Store, Purdue Extension resource center
Learn how forests are used by birds new videos, Got Nature? Blog
Managing Woodlands for Birds, The Education Store
Climate Change + Birds, Purdue Climate Change Research Center

Jessica Outcalt, Graduate Research Assistant
Department of Forestry and Natural Resources, Purdue University


Posted on February 13th, 2020 in Forestry, How To, Land Use, Wildlife | No Comments »

Just because the winter days are cold and dreary doesn’t mean the work to improve wildlife habitat on your property has to stop. In fact, now is a perfect time for a wide range of habitat projects. One such project is frost seeding native grasses and forbs. Here’s why you should brave the cold and consider sowing your seeds this winter.

Picture3

Picture 3. Smaller fields can be established with just a hand seed spreader (left), whereas an ATV or tractor-mounted spreader is better for larger fields (right).

Picture2

Picture 2. When broadcasting native seed, it should be mixed with a carrier (pelletized lime here) to help the seed flow through the spreader.

Picture1

Picture 1. After frost seeding, the native grass and forb seed is visible on the ground, but the freezing and thawing of the soil will ensure good seed-to-soil contact.

Its natural
If you think about how a native prairie works, many of the seeds ripen in the late summer and early fall and drop to the ground throughout the fall and winter. So, sowing seeds from January through March or frost seeding is mimicking what would have occurred naturally. By doing such, you are taking advantage of the freezing and thawing cycles of the soil. The helps with a couple things.

First, many native plant seeds – forbs (wildflowers) especially – need that natural freezing and thawing cycles to break their dormancy. Thus, frost seeding can help increase the germination of many of these species. Second, the freezing and thawing of the soil helps to work the seed into the soil, which can improve seed-to-soil contact, an important factor in planting success (picture 1).

Less time to waste
Dormant seeding or seeding once the soil dips below a certain temperature (as early as November) is another viable option to establish a native grass and forb stand. But with frost seeding, the seed remains on the soil for less time before germination. Which may reduce the seeds’ exposure to soil pathogens, rodents, birds, or other critters that may eat the seed or reduce germination.

Minimalist-style
Frost seeding native grasses and forbs can be done will minimal equipment. All you need to frost seed is a hand or mechanical seed spreader, the seed, and a carrier (picture 2). Using a hand seed spreader works great for small fields, but you may consider using an ATV or tractor-mounted mechanical spreader for larger fields (picture 3).

Another option is to use a no-till seed drill. Of course, this will require more specialized equipment, but many Soil and Water Conservation Districts or Pheasants and Quail Forever Chapters have no-till drills that you can borrow or rent to help complete your project.

When it comes to establishing native grasses and forbs, there is more than one way to plant a field. But, frost seeding might be the option that is best suited for you and your site.

For a How-To on frost seeding, check out our Frost Seeding Video below:

Resources
Frost Seeding to Establish Wildlife Food Plots & Native Grass and Forb Plantings, video, The Education Store, Purdue Extension Resource Center
Calibrating a No-Till Drill for Conservation Plantings and Wildlife Food Plots, video, The Education Store
Renovating native warm-season grass stands for wildlife: a land manager’s guide(pdf), The Education Store
Purdue Extension Pond and Wildlife Management Website, Purdue Extension

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


Winged Burning BushWinged burning bush, winged euonymus, or simply burning bush (Euonymus alatus) is a medium-sized deciduous shrub native to China, Japan and Korea but is widely planted in the United States. Winged burning bush has been planted in the US since the 1860s, primarily as an ornamental shrub due to its bright red fall foliage. Reports of this species escaping cultivation and establishing in natural areas, such as woodlands, prairies and other uncultivated areas, emerged in the 1970s in the Northeast and Midwest US. The species is now considered invasive in most of the eastern US, including Indiana.

Invasive Plant Series: Winged Burning Bush is an 8-page publication written by experts Brian Beheler, farm manager, Don Carlson, forester, Lenny Farlee, sustaining hardwood extension specialist and Ron Rathfon, regional extension forester SIPAC. In this publication, you can learn about the identification, distribution, impact, management and control of this deciduous shrub found in Indiana hardwood forests. For more information check out the Burning Bush Video.

Resources
Report Invasive Species, Purdue Agriculture & Indiana Invasive Species Council
Burning Bush Video, video, The Education Store, Purdue Extension resource center
What Nurseries Need to Know About the Invasive Species Regulation, The Education Store
Invasive plants: impact on environment and people, The Education Store
Invasive Plant Species: Oriental Bittersweet, The Education Store
Invasive Plant Species: Callery Pear, The Education Store
Invasive Plant Species: Wintercreeper, The Education Store

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


Posted on January 29th, 2020 in Alert, How To, Wildlife | No Comments »

coyotesJanuary IDNR Wildlife Bulletin Newsletter: It’s that time of year again – coyotes are on the move, and Indiana residents might see them more, but this should not be a cause for alarm.

Coyotes are common everywhere in the state, even in urban areas. Coyotes become more active during winter, and the bare vegetation this time of year increases the chance of catching a glimpse. Young coyotes leave their parents to find a new home, making them more likely to be seen during winter. And in January, coyotes will be looking to breed, making them even more active. Seeing more coyotes does not mean they are increasing in number.

Where people are, coyotes follow. Coyotes like to eat animals and plants that thrive around yards and homes, including rabbits, mice, fruit and squirrels. They thrive around people because of the abundant food that comes with human development.

Coyotes are a common member of Indiana’s urban wildlife community, as are raccoons, red foxes, and opossums. Coyotes are also an important member of Indiana’s wildlife community, helping control rodent populations and cleaning up carrion.

Coyotes typically weigh between 20-30 pounds and are similar in height to a German Shepherd. Winter fur, which is thicker, makes coyotes appear bigger than they actually are, potentially causing concern.

To reduce the possibility of pets having a negative interaction with coyotes or any other wildlife, keep pets leashed, in a kennel with a secure top, or indoors.

Problems between coyotes and people are uncommon. Follow these tips for making your property less attractive to coyotes:

  • Clean up fallen fruit from trees or gardens.
  • Keep garbage secure.
  • Make sure pet food and treats are not left outside.
  • If you see a coyote around your yard, take down birdfeeders; coyotes could be attracted to the rodents eating the seeds.
  • Never intentionally feed a coyote, which could result in its losing its fear of people.

Making a coyote feel unwelcome around people can help maintain its natural fear of humans, but never corner or chase a coyote – you should always allow it to have a clear escape path to get away from you.

If you see a coyote and want it to go away, try to make it uncomfortable:

  • Yell.
  • Wave your arms.
  • Spray it with a hose.
  • Throw tennis balls or small stones at it, but don’t throw anything that could be food, like apples.
  • Carry a jar of coins to shake or a small air horn to make noise.

Learn more about coyotes at Dealing with Nuisance Coyotes
Full Article >>>

Resources
Coyotes (PDF), Wildlife Conflicts, Department of Entomology, Purdue University
Urban Coyote Research Center, Urban Coyote Ecology & Managenet, Cook County, Illinois
Dealing with Nuisance Coyotes, Indiana Department of Natural Resources (IDNR)-Fish and Wildlife
Coyotes a Constant Problem in Indy Suburbs, IndyStar

Indiana Department of Natural Resources


Posted on December 20th, 2019 in Forestry, Wildlife | No Comments »

Deer

December IDNR Wildlife Bulletin Newsletter: DNR has recently launched a new interactive website allowing deer hunters to access white-tailed deer harvest data. Hunters have asked for detailed harvest data and comparisons between years. This new website is a direct result of that feedback. Harvest data is updated daily. For full article and more information >>>

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
Resources for the 2019 Deer Hunting Season, web page & video, Purdue Extension-Forestry & Natural Resources.
Indiana Deer Hunting, Biology and Management Food Safety & Handling Take-Home Tips (80kb pdf), IDNR

Rod N Williams, Professor of Wildlife Science
Purdue University Department of Forestry and Natural Resources


Posted on November 14th, 2019 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
Resources for the 2019 Deer Hunting Season, web page & video, Purdue Extension-Forestry & Natural Resources

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, Professor of Wildlife Science
Purdue University Department of Forestry and Natural Resources


Posted on November 13th, 2019 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 after the hunt survey can be found by visiting the Indiana DNR Deer After Hunt Survey page. 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
Resources for the 2019 Deer Hunting Season, web page & video, Purdue Extension-Forestry & Natural Resources

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


REEU Activities

Photos: Megan Gunn (mlgunn@purdue.edu)

This past summer marked the first year of the Research and Extension Experiential Learning for Undergraduates (REEU) program at Purdue University. This program entitled “Diversity in Faces, Spaces and Places” was designed to increase visibility of underrepresented students and professionals in Natural Resource sciences disciplines and provide targeted mentorship to current underrepresented undergraduates.

During this PAID 8-week summer program, students were exposed to and participated in a plethora of activities such as: stream ecosystem health evaluation, mammalian tracking and trapping, reptile and amphibian habitat suitability studies, avian mist-netting, bat auditory identification and examination, and the role of genetics in the susceptibility of trees to disease. Students created posters of their research, gave oral presentations, and wrote a manuscript article on their chosen topic of study at the end of the program. Be a part of the fun next year!

REEU Activities

Photos: Megan Gunn (mlgunn@purdue.edu)

View The Familiar Faces Project blog and learn more about the experiences in REEU. Contact Dr. Liz Flaherty or Megan Gunn for information on how you can participate!

Dr. Liz Flaherty
eflaher@purdue.edu
765.494.3567

Ms. Megan Gunn
mlgunn@purdue.edu
765.276.7102

Other faculty involved in the program: Ximena Bernal, associate professor, Purdue Biological Sciences; Reuben Goforth, associate professor of aquatic ecosystems, Purdue FNR; Shaneka Lawson, USDA Forest Service, HTIRC Research Plant Physiologist & Adjunct Assistant Professor; Zhao Ma,  associate professor of natural resource social science, Purdue FNR; and Marisol Sepulveda, professor of ecology and natural systems, Purdue FNR.

Resources
Considerations for Trapping Nuisance Wildlife with Box Traps, The Education Store, Purdue Extension Resource Center
Benefits of Connecting with Nature, The Education Store
The Nature of Teaching: Adaptations for Aquatic Amphibians, The Education Store
August is National Tree Check Month: Are YOUR trees safe and secure?, Got Nature? Blog, Purdue FNR Extension
Bats in the Belfry, Got Nature? Blog

Shaneka Lawson, USDA Forest Service/HTIRC Research Plant Physiologist/Adjunct Assistant Professor
Purdue University Department of Forestry and Natural Resources


Posted on August 22nd, 2019 in Alert, Forestry, Safety, Wildlife, Woodlands | No Comments »
Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease (EHD) in deer

Deer that die from EHD are often found around water. This deer was found in August 2019 in Crawford County and was likely killed by EHD. Photo courtesy of Brody Wade.

Be on the watch for deer with EHD in Indiana
Recently, a white-tailed deer in Clarke County Indiana tested positive for Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease (EHD), and potential EHD cases have been reported in 26 other Indiana counties. Here are a few things you should know about how EHD, how to spot it, and how to report it.

What is EHD and BTV?
Epizootic hemorrhagic disease (EHD) and bluetongue virus (BTV) are viral diseases, collectively called hemorrhagic diseases (HD), and are common in white-tailed deer. Both diseases are transmitted by biting midges often called “no-see-ums” or gnats. Neither disease is a human health issue, but they can cause significant mortality in white-tailed deer. Outbreaks of HD tend to impact deer populations locally, meaning an outbreak may occur in one part of a county but not in other parts.

When do EHD outbreaks occur?
EHD and BTV outbreaks often occur in late summer and early fall (August-September), especially in years with drought-like conditions. Drought causes water sources to shrink, which creates warm, shallow, and stagnant pockets of water creating ideal breeding habitat for the midges that transmit EHD. Deer also congregate in these areas to find water, which helps the midges pass the disease between infected and healthy deer. EHD outbreaks can last until a frost that kills the midges.

What are the signs of a deer with EHD?
Deer with EHD often appear weak, lethargic, and disoriented. Other signs of EHD in deer are ulcers in the mouth or on the tongue, swollen face, neck, or eyelids, and a bluish color to the tongue. Deer with EHD often search for water to combat the fever caused by the disease. EHD can be confirmed by testing blood and tissue (i.e., spleen) samples, but samples must be collected shortly after death.

Where am I likely to find a deer with EHD?
Because deer with EHD often seek out water to combat the resulting fever, deer killed by EHD are commonly found around water. If you have a stream, creek, river, or other source of water on your property, looking in the vicinity of those areas can help you locate deer that have succumb to EHD.

What do I do if I find a deer I think has EHD?
If you come across a sick or dead deer that you think has EHD you can report it through an online reporting system run by the Indiana DNR. Here is a link to the reporting system: Report a Dead or Sick Deer.

Can deer survive an EHD outbreak?
Yes, some deer will survive EHD. While up to 90% of deer that contract EHD may die from the disease, the deer that survive build up antibodies to EHD, which may make them immune to future outbreaks. Additionally, does may pass the antibodies and immunity to their offspring.

Deer hooves, chronic HD

Sloughing or splitting hooves on two or more feet of a deer taken during the fall hunting season are typlical of chronic HD. Photo courtesy of the Southeastern Cooperative Wildlife Disease Study.

How can I tell if a deer I killed during hunting season has survived EHD?
If you kill a deer during the hunting season this year, pay attention to the hooves. Deer that survive an EHD outbreak often have indentions or cracks on their hooves (see picture).

Sloughing or splitting hooves on two or more feet of a deer taken during the fall hunting season are typlical of chronic HD. Photo used courtesy of the Southeastern Cooperative Wildlife Disease Study.

Are deer that have survived EHD safe to eat?
Yes, deer that have survived EHD are safe to eat.

For updated information on EHD in Indiana check out the Indiana DNR – Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease web page.

Resources:
Report a Sick or Dead Deer, Indiana Department of Natural Resources (IN-DNR)
EHD Virus in Deer: How to Detect and Report video, Quality Deer Management Association
Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease (pdf),  Cornell University
How to Score Your White-Tailed Deer video, Purdue Extension – FNR YouTube Playlist
Deer Harvest Data Collection, Purdue FNR Got Nature? blog

Jarred Brooke, Wildlife Extension Specialist
Purdue Forestry and Natural Resources


Posted on August 12th, 2019 in Alert, How To, Safety, Wildlife | No Comments »

INDNR Division of Fish & Wildlife Wild Bulletin: You can now purchase your 2019-20 deer hunting bucklicenses. Don’t wait until right before the season! A valid Indiana deer hunting license, resident youth hunt/trap, or comprehensive lifetime hunting license is required to hunt for deer unless you meet one of the license exemptions. License exemptions can be found on the Hunting and Trapping Guide webpage. All deer harvested in Indiana must be reported within 48 hours of the time of harvest at an on-site check station, online at the Indiana Online Game Check webpage, through your Indiana Fish & Wildlife Account or by phone at 1-800-419-1326. On-site check stations information can be found on the DNR: Indiana Hunting Check Stations webpage.

Season dates and deer hunting FAQs can be found at deer.dnr.IN.gov. Deer licenses can be purchased at an authorized retailer or online at on.IN.gov/inhuntfish.

The deer reduction zone season starts Sept. 15 in designated locations. Deer Reduction Zones, previously called urban zones, give hunters opportunities to harvest deer in defined urban areas and along portions of Indiana highways, in addition to statewide bag limits. More information of deer reduction zone can be found on the DNR: Deer Reduction Zone webpage.

Other 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
Indiana Deer Hunting, Biology and Management, Indiana Department of Natural Resources (IDNR)
2019-20 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

Indiana Department of Natural Resources/Department of Fish and Wildlife


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