Got Nature? Blog

Posted on July 3rd, 2020 in How To, Safety, Urban Forestry, Webinar, Wildlife | No Comments »

Across the entire United States, and into Canada and Mexico, coyotes can be found just about everywhere. But what would you do if you encountered a coyote while out all alone? Would you feel comfortable knowing how to act? How about how to keep your children or pets safe in such an encounter? 

In our June 11th Ask the Experts series, “Coexisting with Coyotes,” Purdue researchers Brian MacGowan and Bee Overbey talked about these topics and more. As a keystone species in their ecosystem, coyotes play an extremely important role in maintaining population levels of other animals, such as deer, rabbits, raccoons, and voles. By keeping these populations in check, plants and trees are better able to grow, and this creates greater biodiversity and healthier habitat. And coyotes are not going anywhere! This resilient, intelligent species has learned to adapt around humans and every change that we bring.

Check out the video below to learn more about coyotes, how important they are to the lands where they are found, and tips on how to coyote-proof your property and keep yourself and your loved ones safe in coyote encounters. By working together, we can easily and safely coexist with this vital native species.

Resources
Ask an Expert, Playlist, Purdue Extension – Forestry and Natural Resources Youtube Channel
Coyote Safety, Video
Coyotes are on the Move, Got Nature? Blog, Purdue FNR Extension
Urban Coyotes – Should You Be Concerned?, Got Nature? Blog
Coyotes (PDF), Wildlife Conflicts, Department of Entomology, Purdue University
Urban Coyote Research Center, Urban Coyote Ecology & Managenet, Cook County, Illinois
Coyotes, Indiana Department of Natural Resources (IDNR)-Fish and Wildlife
Coyotes a Constant Problem in Indy Suburbs, IndyStar

Brian MacGowan, Wildlife Extension Specialist
Purdue Forestry and Natural Resources

Brande (Bee) Overbey, Graduate Research Assistant
Purdue Forestry and Natural Resources


Posted on July 2nd, 2020 in How To, Wildlife | No Comments »

Each year, the Indiana DNR conducts their Turkey Brood Survey to determine wild turkey productivity. They rely on Hoosier outdoor enthusiasts from across the state to report the number of hens and poults they see from July 1st to August 31st. This helps them calculate a Productive Index (number of poults per hen; figure 1) for counties across the state. Does this sound like something you are interested in? Here 4 simple steps to be involved!

  1. Register for the turkey brood reporting system.
  2. Spend time outdoors from July 1st to August 31st.
  3. Count the number of hens and poults you see while spending time outdoors (figure 2).
  4. Report the number of hens and poults on the DNR’s online portal.

DNR biologists can’t collect brood observations across the state alone. In order to reach the goal of 3,000 observations this year, they need our help! If you’re interested in sharing your turkey broodmobservations with DNR, visit on.IN.gov/turkeybrood and register after June 10. Record observations any time from July 1 to August 31, 2020. Recording observations takes less than 5 minutes.

The DNR appreciates your help to document turkey broods around the state. Sharing observations is easy and critical to the management of wild turkey.

Wild Turkey Brood Production 1993-2019

Figure 1. Wild turkey brood production from 1993 to 2019. Image is from the 2019 Wild Turkey Summer Brood Production Index (pdf).

 

Adult hen with one week old poults

Figure 2. Example of how to count and record turkey broods for the turkey brood survey. Image is from the Introduction to Documenting Turkey Brood Publication (pdf) from the Indiana DNR.

As you enjoy the outdoors, whether it is for recreation or managing your property, we thank you in advance for helping with wildlife conservation.

Resources
Wild Turkey Hunting, Biology and Management, Indiana Department of Natural Resources (IDNR)
Turkey, Indiana Department of Natural Resources (IDNR)
Truths and Myths about Wild Turkey, The Education Store, Purdue Extension Resource Center
Forest Improvement Handbook, The Education Store

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

Indiana Department of Natural Resources


Marking your property line can ensure you are receiving the full benefit of the property you own. Lenny Farlee, Purdue Extension forester, shares in the video below a new inexpensive way to mark your property line and has the same force of the law as no trespassing signs have.

Resources
Indiana Department of Natural Resources – Division of Forestry, District Foresters 
A Woodland Management Moment, Playlist, Purdue Extension – Forestry and Natural Resources Youtube Channel
Woodland Stewardship for Landowners, Playlist
Investing in Indiana Woodlands, The Education Store, Purdue Extension resource center
Forest Improvement Handbook, The Education Store
Timber Harvesting and Logging Practices for Private Woodlands, The Education Store

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


As you decide best management practices for your woodlands, this short video shares how native grape vine can be a positive addition or a detriment depending on your goals. Lenny Farlee, Purdue Extension forester, shows you what it looks like and how it grows even to the tops of the trees.

Resources
A Woodland Management Moment, Playlist, Purdue Extension – Forestry and Natural Resources Youtube Channel
Invasive Species, Playlist
Woodland Stewardship for Landowners, Playlist
Investing in Indiana Woodlands, The Education Store, Purdue Extension resource center
Forest Improvement Handbook, The Education Store
Invasive plants: impact on environment and people, The Education Store
What are invasive species and why should I care?, Got Nature? Blog, Purdue Extension
Woodland Invaders, Got Nature? Blog

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


Posted on June 19th, 2020 in Disease, Forestry, How To, Land Use, Urban Forestry | No Comments »

Purdue Landscape Report: Trees provide many benefits for our homes and properties. If a tree is found to have a defect such as dead branches or broken limbs from a storm; it can become a risk issue. It is important to understand that tree owners have a duty to inspect and maintain their trees. All property owners should take reasonable steps to protect themselves by involving a qualified consultant or certified arborist when needed.

Pic-1

Figure 1. Trees should be inspected for defects which pose a threat or risk to targets.

All trees have some sort of risk involved with it. They are living organisms that are endangered by environmental impacts and pests. However, it is important to create a balance between the risk a tree may pose and the benefits provided by the tree. We don’t want to remove trees unnecessarily, but rather reduce the liability by Identifying, analyzing and evaluating the problem.

Inspect regularly: Trees should be assessed through inspections by a qualified arborist, preferably an International Society of Arboriculture Certified Arborist. It is especially important to inspect trees after major weather events. At a minimum, trees should be carefully checked out every 3-5 years.

Document and maintain records: Every inspection should be recorded and kept on file for future reference. Past evaluations can show how a tree has changed in its health and structure over the years. Also, these written evaluations could minimize liability if a failure occurs and a claim is filed against the tree owner.

Pic-2

Figure 2. Targets are people, property or activities that could be disrupted by a tree failure.

Tree Inspections: For a tree to be considered a risk it must be defective and a target that is threatened.

target is people, property or activities that could be injured, damaged or disrupted by a tree failure. Review everything in the target zone. This should include the area inside a circle around the tree, which is at least as wide as the total tree height.

Read the body language of the tree. Inspect each section of the tree including the crown, branches and root zone to check for signs of failure. These include:

  • Dead, diseased, dying or broken branches.
  • Thinning or poor canopy health.
  • An unstable branching pattern overextended or weakly attached branches, or cracks in the stems.
  • Cracks or decayed areas in the main trunk.
  • Exposed or decayed roots, heaving of the soil, fungus growth or cracks in the soil around the root plate.

Among the characteristics to consider when conducting tree risk evaluations are:

  • Decay, cankers, cracks and other positive indicators of weakness in the roots, stems and branches.
  • Canopy size, shape and weight distribution. This is especially true in situations where a tree is exposed to windy conditions, is leaning or has a poor stem-to-canopy ratio.
  • Crown architecture. Poor branching and similar characteristics can create high-risk situations in strong winds and other weather conditions.
  • Plant health and vigor. This determines how a tree can overcome wounding or pest infestations.
Pic-3

Figure 3. Regular tree inspections should occur reviewing all parts of the tree.

What do you do when a defect is found?
The goal is to reduce the likelihood of failure. Most of the time pruning can improve risk situations. Perhaps cabling and bracing may be an option. Also, plant health care improves the trees condition which can reduce risk… the last option should be removal and that should be an informed decision.

Recurrent inspections to determine tree health and condition are important for sustainable, long-lived tree plantings. The most important factor for any tree owner is know when to contact an ISA Certified Arborist who understands tree risk assessment. They can help with the decision making for the tree if there are concerns about its safety and health.

For more information refer to the publication Tree Risk Management and Trees and Storms at the Purdue Education Store.

Find a certified arborist in your area by going to Trees are Good.

Resources
Planting Problems: Trees Planted Too Deep, Video, Purdue Extension – Forestry and Natural Resources Youtube Channel
Planting Your Tree Part 1: Choosing Your Tree, Video, Purdue Extension Youtube Channel
Tree Planting Part 2: Planting a Tree, Video, Purdue Extension Youtube Channel
Tree Appraisal and the Value of Trees, The Educational Store, Purdue Extension resource center
Surface Root Syndrome, The Education Store
Iron Chlorosis of Trees and Shrubs, The Education Store
Tree Pruning Essentials, Publication & Video, The Education Store
Cold Injury to Trees, Got Nature? Post, Purdue FNR Extension

Lindsey Purcell, Urban Forest Specialist
Purdue University Department of Forestry and Natural Resources


Recently during an online program (video) I received a question about the risk of using toxicants for controlling moles in lawns. Specifically, the question was if animals (pets or wild animals) ate the moles that consumed the bromethalin “worms” or “grubs” would that harm them. I decided to do some digging (no pun intended) for more information so people can make informed decisions regarding their use.

What is bromethalin?
From the Purdue University Animal Disease and Diagnostic Laboratory:
“Bromethalin was developed and released in 1985 to combat a world-wide problem of rodent resistance to warfarin-like anticoagulant rodenticides. Bromethalin is not an anticoagulant but is a highly potent rodenticide that provides a lethal dose to rodents in a single feeding. Death occurs within 24 to 36 hours after ingestion. It is a pale, odorless, crystalline solid compound in the diphenylamine family. Its mechanism of action is to uncouple oxidativephosphorylation in the mitochondria of the central nervous system. This leads to a decreased production of ATP. Low levels of ATP inhibit the activity of the Na/K ATPase and lead to a subsequent buildup of cerebral spinal fluid and vacuolization of myelin. The increased CSF results in high intracranial pressure, causing damage to nerve axons, inhibiting neural transmission and leading to paralysis, convulsions and death. Signs of a sub-lethal dose include hind limb ataxia, depression, extensor rigidity, opisthotonus, lateral recumbency and vomiting. High doses may bring about severe muscle fasiculations, hind limb hyper-reflexia, seizures, hyperthennia, depression and death.”

From the Merk Veterinary Manual:
“Bromethalin, a nonanticoagulant, single-dose rodenticide, is a neurotoxin available as bars (blocks), pellets, seed, and worm. Mole baits are sold as worm containing 0.025% bromethalin, whereas rat and mouse baits contain 0.01% bromethalin. Bromethalin and its main metabolite desmobromethalin are strong uncouplers of oxidative phosphorylation. This results in intra-myelin fluid accumulation, leading to long nerve demyelination and intra-myelin cerebral edema. The net result is cerebral and spinal edema and increased CSF pressure, leading to neurologic dysfunction. In toxicity trials, the oral toxic dose of bromethalin when used as part of bait appears to be much lower than the dose administered as a technical grade agent. For example, in dogs, an average lethal dose of technical grade bromethalin is reported to be 4.7 mg/kg but 2.38 mg/kg in bait. Young dogs (<1 yr old) appear more sensitive; death has been reported at dosages of ~1 mg/kg in bait. Dogs are more commonly involved. Cats are 2–3 times more sensitive than dogs.”

moleDamage2 MoleDamage1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What is the risk with mole baits?
The level of risk of any pesticide depends on a combination of toxicity and exposure. Anytime you are considering using a toxicant or other pesticide, first read the label in its entirety. Labels will contain information on how to apply a product safely, under what circumstances, and any precautions you should take. However, labels also contain other information that can users determine if they should use a product. This information is key in preventing pesticide exposure to people and the environment. In fact the label is a legal document. The pesticide user is bound by law to follow all label directions. Label directions for mole baits instruct users to keep pets out of treated areas and not to use the product above ground. Bait must be applied directly into moles’ tunnel systems. Following these directions will greatly reduce, or even eliminate, the exposure risk to pets. What might be the consequences if your dog or a neighbor’s dog mistakenly entered your yard and went digging around in a treated area?

To determine this we can calculate how much bait a dog would have to consume to reach the average lethal dose. The more technical term is the LD50 dose which is the individual dose that kills 50 percent of a population of test animals. A single worm mole bait weighs approximately 5g since a package of 20 worms has a weight of 100g.  With 0.025% active ingredient, each worm would contain 1.25 mg of bromethalin. Thus, an 11lb (5kg) dog would need to consume 18 to 19 worms to reach the average lethal dose using the 4.7 mg/kg level for technical grade bromethalin, or 9 to 10 worms for the 2.38 mg/kg level in bait. Recall, these rates were listed in the Merk Veterinary Manual. The amount of bait consumption would be more for larger dogs. The average lethal dose is just that – an average. Some dogs would die with lower dosages and some with higher dosages within a specified timeframe.

It would be extremely unlikely that a dog could find, dig up, and consume the number of worms to reach or even approach the average lethal dose. Consider the following:

  • How many worm baits will you use? According to label directions, worm baits are placed underground every 5 to 10 feet in active subsurface runways. Worms may be placed in the deeper underground runways. Limiting their use to only active runways reduces the amount of product applied. The label directions outline the procedure for identifying active runways.
  • Applying the product according to label instructions (in underground active mole tunnels) helps minimize the risk of accidental ingestion. However there are additional strategies to prevent accidental ingestion of the bait, including: applying the product in areas inaccessible to pets or installing barriers, covering the application sites with pavers, and supervising the pet’s use of the yard (especially important for dogs that like to dig). Allow at least two weeks (or longer under dry conditions) for breakdown of any uneaten worms.
  • Toxic baits placed in runways breakdown over time. That is, a treated area is not treated forever. This is a direct quote from one manufacturer, “Uneaten worms typically remain intact up to 14 days in mole runs. The amount of time it takes for the Mole Killer worm to degrade depends on soil type and the weather. Frequent and heavy rain or high temperatures may accelerate worm degradation. The active ingredient takes longer to degrade.”
  • Toxic baits may be combined with other methods. For example, you may choose to limit use of toxic baits only in areas where the soil type or tunnel structure make trapping difficult.

In the end, it is up to the individual user on whether or not they choose to use toxic baits to get rid of moles in their yard. If you do choose to use them, read the label in its entirety. In the case of mole toxicants, the label clearly states that pets should not be allowed in treated areas. If you are not confident this is possible, then alternative control options are likely a better option for you.


Resources
Pesticides and personal safety (pdf), Purdue Pesticide Program
Pesticides and wildlife (pdf), Purdue Pesticide Program
Moles, The Education Store, Purdue Extension resource center
Adjuvants and the Power of the Spray Droplet: Improving the Performance of Pesticide Applications, The Education Store
Purdue Extension – FNR: Ask An Expert, Video, Purdue Extension –  Forestry and Natural Resources YouTube channel

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


Garlic mustard is an invasive herbaceous plant that is shade tolerant and can invade our forest understories. In its second growing season it produces a flower which releases many seeds. In the video below, Purdue Extension forester Lenny Farlee will share what options we have to help control it.

Resources
A Woodland Management Moment, Playlist, Purdue Extension – Forestry and Natural Resources Youtube Channel
Invasive Species, Playlist
Woodland Stewardship for Landowners, Playlist
Investing in Indiana Woodlands, The Education Store, Purdue Extension resource center
Invasive plants: impact on environment and people, The Education Store
Woodland Invaders, Got Nature? Blog

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


Posted on June 12th, 2020 in Gardening, How To, Land Use, Wildlife | No Comments »

One of the challenges of living, even in urban areas, is dealing with white-tailed deer and browsing damage that they can cause. In this video by Purdue extension wildlife specialist Brian MacGowan, he will show you how to protect you newly planted trees and shrubs from white-tailed deer and other wildlife that can cause damage.

Resources
How to Stop Woodland Animals from Digging in Your Flower Pots, Video, Purdue Extension Youtube Channel
How to Attract “The Fascinating Hummingbirds” to Your Backyard, Video
Woodland Management Moment – Deer Fencing, Video
Tree Appraisal and the Value of Trees, The Education Store, Purdue Extension resource center

Brian MacGowan, Wildlife Extension Specialist
Purdue Forestry and Natural Resources


Do you need to open up your woodlands in order to grow new species of trees/shrubs that need extra sunlight or to make for a better wildlife habitat? Forest openings allows us to regenerate species of trees and shrubs that demand full sunlight and also ensures good diversity of species on your property. In this Woodland Management Moment video, Purdue Extension forester Lenny Farlee talks about creating forest openings.

Resources
Woodland Management Moment – Deer Fencing, Video, Purdue Extension – Forestry and Natural Resources Youtube Channel
Asian Bush Honeysuckle, Video, Purdue Extension Youtube Channel
Forest Improvement Handbook, The Education Store, Purdue Extension Resource Center
Woodland Stewardship for Landowners, invasive species along with timber resources, Purdue Extension-FNR YouTube Playlist
Managing Your Woods for White-Tailed Deer, The Education Store

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


Posted on June 5th, 2020 in Disease, Safety, Wildlife | No Comments »

squirrel

Question: We live in eastern Tippecanoe county and have a couple of adult squirrels that seem to be sick. They act like they are drunk — falling over frequently. We have two apple trees in blossom, and they come and nibble on fallen branches/blooms. As they sit on their hind legs to eat, they fall over on the ground like they are dead. Then after a few minutes/flip around and get up again, only to fall over “dead” again. This has been going on for a few weeks. We also have a baby that is not afraid of people – does not run away from me or our dog. This baby appears to have missing hair/or possible mange? We also had a raccoon in early March that came toward my husband in the yard – was not afraid of him. It did not appear rabid, but did not run away either. We do have several bird feeders, one of which squirrels and chipmunks sit on and eat the bird food. Is what they are eating making them “sick/drunk” or is this something else? I googled and found possible raccoon roundworm? What do YOU think this is — and could these cases be related? How should I dispose of any dead animals, and should I be concerned for us or our dog?

Answer: What you describe could be a number of wildlife diseases. The clinical signs of many of these diseases are often similar and infection can only be determined through specific examinations, tests or lab work. It may be canine distemper. Both squirrels and raccoon can carry canine distemper. The disease is spread by direct contact with body fluids or droppings of an infected animal. Humans cannot get distemper. However, it may also be another disease or a separate disease for each species. Your choices are really to 1) do nothing or 2) contact a wildlife rehabilitator (see below). In Indiana, wildlife rehabilitators have necessary state and federal permits to house and care for sick or injured wild animals. No federal or state agencies will provide care for sick and injured animals.

Since wild animals can carry diseases that are dangerous to people, direct contact with wildlife is discouraged. Just as the case with people, you can’t tell if an animal is sick just by looking at them. Expression of clinical signs of diseases are not the same for every animal. It may also take a period of time for clinical signs to present themselves. An animal that appears perfectly healthy may have a disease, and may be able to transmit the disease.

I could find no specific guidelines for the disposal of dead wild animals. The Indiana State Board of Animal Health lists allowable methods of dead animal disposal, but these do not apply to wildlife, which they specify as creatures not under someone’s care. This is guidance on the DNR website for:

Dead Birds: “According to Indiana State Department of Health guidelines, if you need to dispose of a dead bird, do not handle it with your bare hands. Use gloves or a plastic bag turned inside out over your hand to pick up the bird and dispose of the bird/bag in the trash. You can follow these recommended disposal procedures regardless of the cause of death, if testing is not available.”

Dead Bats: “Do NOT pick up a bat with your bare hands. Any wild animal can carry disease, therefore precautions should be taken if an animal needs to be moved. Wear heavy-duty leather gloves and scoop up the bat with a shovel or container. If the bat is alive move it to a tree branch, away from nearby buildings if possible. To dispose of a dead bat, scoop it into a plastic bag. Place it into another plastic bag, close it securely, spray with disinfectant, and dispose of it in your trash.”

Indiana Licensed Wildlife Rehabilitators (pdf), Indiana Department of Natural Resources – Fish and Wildlife.

Other Resources
Protecting Yourself from Wildlife Diseases: Raccoon Roundworm (Baylisascaris procyonis), The Education Store, Purdue Extension resource center
Indiana Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory
Orphaned Wildlife, Got Nature? blog
Orphaned & Injured Animals, Indiana Department of Natural Resources (IDNR)
Purdue Extension – FNR: Ask An Expert, Video, Purdue Extension –  Forestry and Natural Resources YouTube channel

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


Got Nature?

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