Got Nature? Blog

Posted on February 3rd, 2023 in Wildlife | No Comments »

Despite their name, Indiana bats are found in more than 20 states. The species was first found in southern Indiana’s Wyandotte Caves where they live in close, social groups. During the winter, up to 500 bats can huddle for warmth underground within a single square foot. Their scientific name, Myotis sodalis, is actually Latin for “mouse ear companion.” While that companionship has helped Indiana bats survive for generations, it is now facilitating the spread of a deadly disease that is devastating their population.

First documented in 2006, white-nose syndrome spreads rapidly. It has killed millions of North American bats over the past decade. Named after a powdery white fungus that grows on the hairless parts of bats, white-nose syndrome spreads on surfaces and through bat-to-bat contact.

Image of Indiana Bat

“Bats spend a lot of time sleeping and really shut down when they hibernate in caves,” said Patrick Zollner, professor of quantitative ecology. During hibernation, bats lower their body temperature and metabolic rate, increasing their susceptibility to white-nose syndrome.

The fungus causes behavior changes in bats that make them more active than usual, burning the fat they need to survive and killing the vast majority of those infected.

“One reason bat populations are so sensitive is they are not prolific breeders like other small mammals,” said Zollner. Indiana bats give birth to a single pup each summer, making it hard for their numbers to rebound.

Though the effects of the population decline are visible, specifics are hard to determine. This fall, Sally Martinez, a graduate student in Zollner’s lab, began work to unravel the impact.

For full article please visit Unexpected Plants and Animals of Indiana: Indiana Bats.

If you have any questions regarding trees, forests, wildlife, wood products or other natural resource topics, feel free to contact us by using our Ask an Expert web page.

Resources:
Hardwood Ecosystem Experiment (HEE) Highlights: Bats, Video, Purdue Extension – Forestry and Natural Resources (FNR) YouTube Channel
Bats in the Belfry, Purdue Extension – FNR Got Nature? Blog
Ask An Expert: Bats on the Hardwood Ecosystem Experiment (HEE), Video, Purdue Extension – FNR Facebook
Bats in Indiana, Indiana Department of Natural Resources (IN DNR)
Bat Houses, Bat Conservation International
Creating a Wildlife Habitat Management Plan for Landowners, The Education Store, Purdue Extension’s resource center
The Hardwood Ecosystem Experiment (HEE): Indiana Forestry and Wildlife, The Education Store
HEE, YouTube Playlist, Purdue Extension – FNR
HEE – Wildlife Responses to Timber Harvesting, The Education Store

Pat Zollner, Professor Wildlife Science
Department of Forestry and Natural Resources

Robert Chad Campbell, Writer
College of Agriculture


Posted on February 3rd, 2023 in Forestry, Timber Marketing, Webinar, Wildlife, Woodlands | No Comments »

You may have many reasons of why you want to plant trees on your land and this webinar Conservation Tree Planting will help you as you define your objectives and plan your planting. This webinar differintiates the difference between conservation tree planting with ornamental or landscape tree planting. The research based techniques and resources shared will help guide you as you work towards meeting your goals.

Lenny Farlee, Purdue extension forester, discusses topics including:

  • reforestation
  • tree species
  • growth rates
  • ordering seedlings
  • weed control/herbicides
  • equipment
  • erosion control
  • windbreaks
  • soil health
  • post-planting care/thinning
  • fencing options
  • wildlife habitat management

We Want to Hear From You:
After you have viewed the webinar please fill out the Qualtrics Survey and let us know if the video was helpful.

Resources:
Resources and Assistance Available for Planting Hardwood Seedlings, The Education Store, Purdue Extension’s resource center
Creating a Wildlife Habitat Management Plan for Landowners, The Education Store
Planting Forest Trees and Shrubs in Indiana, The Education Store
Forest Improvement Handbook, The Education Store
How to Build a Plastic Mesh Deer Exclusion Fence, The Education Store
Forest Improvement Handbook, The Education Store
Woodland Stewardship for Landowners Purdue Extension – Forestry & Natural Resources (FNR) Extension YouTube Playlist
Woodland Management Moment, Purdue Extension – FNR YouTube Playlist

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


Vole on wood chips.Question: I’m interested in doing regeneration planting of oaks and hickories on my property, and have made attempts with both direct seeding, as well as starting in Rootmaker containers and then planting the seedlings after one year of growth. I have been having a major problem with voles, despite my best attempts at barriers, and am wondering if there is anyone who would be able to advise me?

As an example, I had a black oak seedling, one year old, with great growth, about 18″ tall and with a rootball of comparable size, which I planted this fall. After 2-3 months, in December, the entire root system was eaten and all that remained of the seedling was the stalk, with clear gnaw-marks where it had been chewed off at the base. It was protected by a wire mesh enclosure that covered all sides plust the top, and was set about four inches into the ground. The mesh was finer than the standard chicken wire; the openings were about dime-size.

I would appreciate any guidance your experts can share.

Answer: Based on your description, it certainly sounds like pine (=woodland) voles, Microtus pinetorum, although trapping would be needed to confirm. I am no longer doing work on voles, but earlier work, Selective Feeding of Pine Voles on Roots of Seedlings, showed that they really do like roots of oak seedlings.

When I want to exclude small mammals, I use ¼ inch mesh size or smaller. One other approach I’ve used with success is to create an “apron” of hardware cloth underground and extending outward several inches from the cylinder. Since pine voles create tunnels below the ground surface, this isn’t a guarantee of exclusion, but it certainly should discourage them.

If the problem is too severe for you to tolerate, a rodenticide bait such as zinc phosphide is another option. Thiram is a repellent that could be used – like all repellents, it has variable and short-term effectiveness (but still tends to be better than other commercial products).

The following link offers some practical tips on voles and vole control, including trapping to verify that voles are present, and methods of scouting and treating with rodenticide to reduce exposure risk to other nontarget wildlife and pets, Controlling Voles in Horticulture Plantings and Orchards in Missouri, University of Missouri Extension.

Resources:
Voles!, Purdue Extension-Agronomy
Volves (remember the V), Turfgrass Science, Purdue Horticulture & Landscape Architecture
Dealing with Mole Damage in Your Yard video, Purdue Extension-Forestry & Natural Resources YouTube Channel
Orphaned Wildlife, Got Nature? blog
A Template for Your Wildlife Habitat Management Plan, The Education Store, Purdue Extension resource center
Forest Improvement Handbook, The Education Store
Wildlife Habitat Hint, Purdue Extension – Forestry & Natural Resources (FNR) YouTube Playlist
Conservation Tree Planting: Steps to Success, Purdue Extension – FNR YouTube Video
Woodland Stewardship for Landowners, Purdue Extension – FNR YouTube Playlist
Woodland Management Moment, Purdue Extension – FNR YouTube Playlist

Rob Swihart, Professor of Wildlife Ecology
Department of Forestry and Natural Resources, Purdue University


The classic and trusted book “Fifty Common Trees of Indiana” by T.E. Shaw was published in 1956 as a user-friendly guide to local species.  Nearly 70 years later, the publication has been updated through a joint effort by the Purdue Department of Forestry and Natural Resources, Indiana 4-H, and the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, and reintroduced as “An Introduction to Trees of Indiana.”

The full publication is available for download for $7 in the Purdue Extension Education Store. The field guide helps identify common Indiana woodlot trees.

Each week, the Intro to Trees of Indiana web series will offer a sneak peek at one species from the book, paired with an ID That Tree video from Purdue Extension forester Lenny Farlee to help visualize each species as it stands in the woods. Threats to species health as well as also insight into the wood provided by the species, will be provided through additional resources as well as the Hardwoods of the Central Midwest exhibit of the Purdue Arboretum, if available. drawing of persimmon leaf

This week, we meet the persimmon or Diospyros virginiana, one of Indiana’s fruit producing trees.

The alternately held leaves of persimmon are oval shaped with smooth margins, with no lobes or teeth. The thick dark green leaves turn yellow or reddish-purple in the fall. The buds are dark colored, while leaf stems are light brown.

The bark resembles alligator hide with deep broken ridges, often with an orange coloring between the ridges.

The fruit, a pumpkin orange colored fleshy plum-like fruit, is a standout characteristic and is favored by both wildlife and humans. Once it ripens and falls from the tree, persimmon is soft and sweet. If picked from the tree, this fruit can be green, very hard, gummy in texture and acidic. The seed count in persimmon is variable with some seedless varieties and some with as many as 10 seeds.

Persimmon trees, which grow 35 to 60 feet tall, are native to southern Indiana but can be found planted across the state. This species grows best in full sun and in moist, well-drained soils, but are tolerant of alkaline soil, clay, dry sites, and occasional drought. The natural range of the persimmon is the lower Midwest and southeastern United States reaching up into southern Illinois.

For full article with additional photos view: Intro to Trees of Indiana: Persimmon, Forestry and Natural Resources’ News.

If you have any questions regarding wildlife, trees, forest management, wood products, natural resource planning or other natural resource topics, feel free to contact us by using our Ask an Expert web page.

Other Resources:
Hardwoods of the Central Midwest: Persimmon
ID That Tree: Persimmon
Morton Arboretum: Persimmon
Persimmons, The Education Store
Persimmon, Native Trees of Indiana River Walk, Purdue Fort Wayne
The Woody Plant Seed Manual, U.S. Forest Service
Fifty Trees of the Midwest app for the iPhone, The Education Store
Native Trees of the Midwest, The Education Store
Shrubs and Woody Vines of Indiana and the Midwest, The Education Store
Investing in Indiana Woodlands, The Education Store
Forest Improvement Handbook, The Education Store
ID That Tree, Purdue Extension-Forestry & Natural Resources (FNR) YouTube playlist
Woodland Management Moment , Purdue Extension-FNR YouTube playlist

Wendy Mayer, FNR Communications Coordinator
Purdue University Department of Forestry and Natural Resources

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


Posted on January 18th, 2023 in Forestry, How To, Timber Marketing, Wildlife, Woodlands | No Comments »

Forestry workshop - 11/10/2017 - Photos taken at the Martell upper field (off Ind. 26W) and at the Wright Forestry Center. The photos were taken as part of the Woodland Owner Conference field day, sponsored by the Purdue Department of Forestry and Natural Resources and the Indiana Forestry Woodland Owners Association and included sessions on timber management, Chickadee response to woodland management and insect monitoring.Do you want to learn how to manage and keep your woodlands healthy and prosperous? Want to learn how to start and where to get help? These spring workshops and courses from Purdue Extension-Forestry and Natural Resources will offer the chance to reach your goals. Discussions will include tree identification, forest history and ecology, forest management planning, considerations for selling timber, forest economics and taxation, herbicides, errosion control and wildlife habitat management. Ask the experts as these courses are taught by experienced foresters, wildlife biologists and natural resource professionals.

February 14th – April 4th, 6-9 pm, with the tour 9am-12pm
Forest Management for the Private Woodland Owner Washington County Workshop, 8 Tuesday evenings and a field tour
Registration Deadline is February 7th

March 8th – April 26th, 6-8pm, with the tour 9am-12pm
Forest Management for the Priviate Woodland Owner Morgan County Workshop, 8 evening sessions and 2 field tours
Registration Deadline is February 28th

March 9th – April 20th, 6:30-7:30pm
Forest Management For the Private Woodland Owner Virtual Workshop, view 2 to 3 videos for pre-recorded presentations and then register for live online courses.
Registration deadline is February 8th

Registration deadlines are approaching quickly, so be sure to register soon!

Resources
A Woodland Management Moment, Playlist, Purdue Extension – Forestry and Natural Resources (FNR)
Conservation Tree Planting, Purdue Extension-FNR YouTube Webinar
Woodland Stewardship for Landowners, Purdue Extension – FNR playlist
ID That Tree, Purdue Extension – FNR playlist
Forest Improvement Handbook, The Education Store, Purdue Extension resource center
Resources and Assistance Available for Planting Hardwood Seedlings, The Education Store

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

Ron Rathfon, Reginal Forester SIPAC
Purdue University Department of Forestry and Natural Resources


Posted on January 13th, 2023 in How To, Wildlife | No Comments »

Wild Bulletin, IN DNR Fish and Wildlife: Bobcats, the only resident native wild cat in Indiana, are common in southern and parts of central Indiana, and increasing in northern Indiana. They are rarely seen because of their ability to blend into their surroundings and move silently.

Bobcats have been reported from almost every Indiana county but are most common in southern and west-central Indiana. A study conducted by the DNR in south-central Indiana revealed that bobcats are capable of dispersing up to 100 miles from where they were born. The DNR collects reports of bobcat sightings, trail-camera photos, and mortalities. Bobcat reports are also collected through the annual Archer’s Index, in which volunteer deer bow hunters report the number of hours they hunted and the species they saw while hunting. Snapshot Indiana, a citizen-science trail-camera survey, also helps document bobcat presence in some areas.Image of difference between mountain lion and bocat

Bobcats prefer forested areas that have brushy areas, fields, or clear cuts that are beginning to regrow mixed in. Female bobcat home ranges may vary from 6–12 square miles, and male bobcat home ranges may vary from 30–75 square miles. Bobcats are primarily nocturnal, hunting and moving during early-morning and late-evening hours; however, seeing a bobcat during the day is not cause for concern.

To identify and learn more about Bobcat, please visit the Bobcat basics: Indiana’s Only Native Wild Cat.

Subscribe to Wild Bulletin.

Resources
A Template for Your Wildlife Habitat Management Plan, The Education Store, Purdue Extension resource center
Managing Your Woods for White-Tailed Deer, The Education Store
Woodland Stewardship for Landowners, Playlist, Purdue Extension – Forestry and Natural Resources YouTube channel
A Woodland Management Moment, Purdue Extension – FNR playlist
Wildlife Habitat Hint, Purdue Extension – FNR playlist
Ask an Expert: Wildlife Food Plots, Video, Purdue Extension – Forestry and Natural Resources YouTube channel

Indiana Department of Natural Resources


Posted on January 12th, 2023 in How To, Wildlife | No Comments »

Wild Bulletin, IN DNR Fish and Wildlife: Indiana DNR’s Sick or Dead Wildlife Reporting System collects information about wildlife that appear sick or appear to have died without an apparent cause. Please do not use this form to report animals that have died of an apparent cause, such as predation, roadkill, or window collisions. Occasionally, biologists may use the information to collect samples. Reports may not be immediately reviewed by a biologist. Reports are added to a database that tracks trends over time and helps detect disease outbreaks.

Image of of testing sick or dead

The Sick or Dead Wildlife Report is not intended to collect information on wildlife that die while in the care of a wildlife rehabilitator or as the result of nuisance wildlife animal control services. Wildlife rehabilitators and wildlife control operators record those deaths of wildlife through separate reporting requirements. To report the Sick or Dead, please visit the Sick or Dead Wildlife Reporting.

Subscribe to Wild Bulletin.

Resources
Hardwood Ecosystem Experiment – Wildlife Responses to Timber Harvesting, The Education Store, Purdue Extension resource center
Forest Improvement Handbook, The Education Store
Invasive plants: impact on environment and people, The Education Store
Managing Your Woods for White-Tailed Deer, The Education Store
Breeding Birds and Forest Management: the Hardwood Ecosystem Experiment and the Central Hardwoods Region, The Education Store
Managing Woodlands for Birds Video, Purdue Extension-Forestry and Natural Resources YouTube Channel
Subscribe: Deer, Forest Management, Invasive Species and many other videos, Purdue Extension-Forestry and Natural Resources YouTube Channel

Indiana Department of Natural Resources


Posted on December 28th, 2022 in Aquaculture/Fish, How To, Wildlife | No Comments »

Wild Bulletin, IN DNR Fish and Wildlife: In September, DNR biologists found two species of salamander, the long-tailed salamander, and the southern two-lined salamander, in Knox County, marking the first time since the 1800s that either has been documented along the lower Wabash River.Salamander Photo

While both species are more widespread in other parts of southern Indiana, the small, rocky streams they inhabit are less common along the lower Wabash. Following this discovery, additional surveys conducted in parts of Knox, Posey, and Sullivan counties revealed more populations of southern two-lined salamanders; however, Knox County contains the only known location of a long-tailed salamander population in the region.

Salamanders and other amphibian surveys conducted by DNR biologists are supported by the Nongame Wildlife Fund. Contributions to this fund support a variety of rare and endangered wildlife.

Please visit Nongame and Endangered Wildlife to determine animals that are listed by the Indiana DNR as endangered or special concerns.

Subscribe to Wild Bulletin.

Resources:
I found this in my barn. Is it a Hellbender?, Purdue Extension
Question: Which salamander is this?, Got Nature? Blog, Purdue Extension – Forestry and Natural Resources
Is it a Hellbender or a Mudpuppy?, Got Nature? Blog
Amphibians: Frogs, Toads, and Salamanders, Purdue Nature of Teaching
A Moment in the Wild, Playlist, Purdue Extension – Forestry and Natural Resources
Help the Hellbender, Playlist & Website
The Nature of Teaching: Adaptations for Aquatic Amphibians, The Education Store, Purdue Extension resource center
Hellbenders Rock!, The Education Store
Help the Hellbender, North America’s Giant Salamander, The Education Store

Indiana Department of Natural Resources


Posted on December 28th, 2022 in How To, Urban Forestry, Wildlife | No Comments »

Wild Bulletin, IN DNR Fish and Wildlife: Indiana hunters multiplied by all their harvest equals a lot of data. Keep track of DNR’s current harvest data and comparisons to previous seasons with our handy dashboard, which is updated daily throughout deer season. While the green bars indicate the season-to-date comparison to previous seasons, the blue bars illustrate the previous season counts after the current date. The numbers at the top show the harvest season totals.Deer in woods.

DNR’s online game check-in system was first offered in 2012 and made the primary system in 2015. The preliminary data reported on this page from this system are updated once per day during deer hunting seasons. To view the data collected, please view the Indiana Deer Harvest data.

Subscribe to Wild Bulletin.

Resources:
Indiana Hunting & Trapping Guide, Indiana Department of Natural Resources (IN DNR), Fish & Wildlife
Indiana 2022-2023 Hunting & Trapping Season (pdf) list, IN DNR, Fish & Wildlife
Indiana DNR Shares 2022-2023 Hunting Season, Got Nature? Blog, Purdue Extension-Forestry & Natural Resources
Wildlife Habitat Hint: Trail Camera Tips and Tricks, Got Nature? Blog
Bovine Tuberculosis in Wild White-tailed Deer, The Education Store, Purdue Extension’s resource center
Handling Harvested Game: Episode 1, Field Dressing, Video, Purdue Extension Youtube channel
Handling Harvested Game: Episode 2, Hanging & Skinning, Video
Handling Harvested Game: Episode 3, Deboning, Video
Handling Harvested Game: Episode 4, Cutting, Grinding & Packaging, Video
How to Score Your White-tailed Deer, video, The Education Store
White-Tailed Deer Post Harvest Collection, video, The Education Store
Age Determination in White-tailed Deer, video, The Education Store
Managing Your Woods for White-Tailed Deer, The Education Store
Bovine Tuberculosis in Wild White-tailed Deer, The Education Store

Indiana Department of Natural Resources


Posted on December 20th, 2022 in Wildlife, Woodlands | No Comments »

With winter upon us this is actually a good time to look for owls on your property.  Most owls breed from January to March. You can either listen for calls in the evening, or use owl calls or recorded calls to get responses from owls in the area. We have three common species in Indiana and one rare species. All are non-migratory.  However, each has different needs and habits. The following descriptions were written by Barny Dunning, professor of wildlife ecology at Purdue. These accounts were originally published in the Indiana Woodland Steward (www.inwoodlands.org).

Owls are among the most intriguing animals native to Indiana. They have been celebrated in story from the myths of the early Greeks to the books of Harry Potter. Owls are common across much of the state, but are relatively unknown, probably because of the nocturnal habits of these birds. But since they are efficient predators of mice and rats, among other things, owls are very useful birds to have around. Three species of owls are common year-round residents in Hoosier forests. The largest of these is the great horned owl, one of the dominant predators of our forests. Most people are surprised to learn that the great horned owl is as common as the familiar redtailed hawk even though the owl is much less likely to be seen.

Great horned owls (photo by Pennsylvania Game Commission)

Great horned owls hunt in open areas but nest in large trees, where they take over a nest abandoned by a hawk, crow or heron. They are common where both woods and fields mix. The owls start breeding in January and February, adding new sticks to an old nest and laying a clutch of three eggs. Most species of owls nest very early in the year so that there will be a lot of easily caught prey in the form of young mammals and birds when the owl chicks are learning to hunt on their own. Many nests of the great horned owl are in snags or trees with broken tops, therefore retaining some of these forest features will provide good nesting spots for this dominant bird.

A second species of large owl is found in the larger woodlands of Indiana. The barred owl is most common in the interiors of forests and spends less time along the woodland edge. One major reason for this is the presence of the great horned owls, which will kill and eat a barred owl. Barred owls usually nest in the cavities of deciduous trees, laying their eggs in deep winter. Their dependence on tree cavities means that barred owls are likely to respond well to land management activities that retain large trees on a property and increase the number of snags with cavities. They also do well when there are forest patches of a variety of ages on a property, in addition to the older trees that provide nest sites.

Eastern screech-owls are the smallest resident owl in the state. They nest in small tree cavities and readily make use of nest boxes made especially for them. More than the other two species, screech-owls are found in suburban backyards, urban parks and on college campuses – anywhere there is a variety of trees and shrubs. Screech-owls feed on small prey such as insects, songbirds and mice. They breed later than do the big owls and have active nests in March and April. In addition to nest boxes, these owls will use old cavities excavated by northern flickers, tree holes created by storm damage, and hollow trunks of snags. Their ready use of a wide variety of cavity types makes our screech-owls a prime beneficiary of snag retention and other habitat improvement activities. Indiana’s smallest owl does not breed here, but its numbers during the fall migration can be in the thousands statewide. The northern saw-whet owl breeds from the most northern states on into Canada and migrates from there when food becomes scarce. “Swets” are an irruptive species, meaning their populations rise and fall dramatically from one year to the next on a roughly four-year cycle. A group of volunteer researchers in Yellowwood State Forest began studying the movements of these owls in 2002 as part of the larger Project Owlnet (www.projectowlnet.org). Their first year produced 71 owls on just one ridge in Yellowwood. Since then, the annual numbers have averaged around 70, but nearly 200 owls were captured and banded on that same ridge in 2007. The low point in the cycle was in 2009 when only nine owls were captured. There are now eight such banding stations scattered around Indiana. Brookeville Reservoir had the largest number of captures in 2009 with 32; while an Indianapolis station tallied only six. Some northern saw-whet owls winter in Indiana where forests with an open understory provide good foraging opportunities throughout the winter months.

The rarest owl in Indiana is, paradoxically, the species with the largest geographic range. Barn owls are found across the globe, but in the Midwestern United States their populations have declined dramatically. The species is considered endangered in Indiana. Barn owls originally nested in tree cavities, but when early settlers built barns and other farm buildings, the owls were quick to adapt. They are not limited to barns however, as recent Hoosier nests have been found in old churches, silos, and within the walls of abandoned buildings. To be suitable, human structures must have openings that allow the owls to fly in and out and an interior area that is undisturbed and big enough for the nest. The biggest factor in their decline has been changing agricultural practices. Barn owls hunt in open areas such as pastures, but do not use row crop fields. As Hoosier farmers converted pastures to corn and soybean, the barn owl lost its hunting grounds. Farmers in the southern part of the state that still retain some open grassy fields on their land can contact the state Department of Natural Resources to have a barn owl nest box added to their outbuildings if they don’t have appropriate nest sites.

Resources
Learn how forests are used by birds new videos, Got Nature? Blog
Managing Woodlands for Birds, The Education Store-Purdue Extension resource center
Climate Change + Birds, Purdue Insitute for Sustainable Future
National Audubon Society
The Cornell Lab of Ornithology

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


Got Nature?

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