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Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Wildlife Habitat Evaluation and Management

Before I get started with my post today, O want to make sure to make a big announcement about JAKES Day. 

Looking for ways for the whole family to enjoy the outdoors this weekend? Come to Winston Ranch for J.A.K.E.S. Day this Saturday, September 17, 2011! This fun-filled event runs from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.  Admission is $10 and includes an array of activities that focus on wildlife, conservation efforts, and outdoor recreational opportunities in Texas. Children can try their hands at archery, fishing, shooting sports, and much more!

For more information, check out or call the County Extension Office.

Now back to our main topic of the evaluation and management plans.

The evaluation of land is one of the most helpful skills you can learn in the program.  All of the other information we learn (about plants, animals, and preferences) leads to this skill and followed up by how this evaluation determines the management plan for the designated property.   

We learned yesterday that animals must have in their habitat adequate
  • food,

  • cover, OOPS!!!

  • water,
  • and space. 
NO...this kind of space!

Now those pictures are what we might visualize when we think about food, cover, water, and space.  It is not that different for our wildlife.  All of these parts come together to form a habitat.

We even had an activity to emphasize the importance of these habitat requirements.  The main point of this activity was to show how interconnected these parts are to reaching optimum wildlife conditions.  If one part of the habitat is lost or deficient, the wildlife will suffer and cause detrimental effects on the other parts of the habitat.  Not only must the wildlife benefit from the habitat, but also, the wildlife must coexist with the other wildlife species, livestock and humans.  All of these factors must be observed in order to utilize resources properly.

All species have different thoughts when they desire the ultimate habitat.  If each animal were able to create their own habitat they would pick out certain needs related to food, cover, water, and space.  Unfortunately, we can not have each species separated into unique and individualized habitats, so we try to work with a more natural habitat to help optimize the population of diverse wildlife on a piece of property. 

Our focus for our 4H wildlife is to optimize the population of deer, squirrel, quail, turkey, waterfowl, and dove (other animals include pheasant, antelope, and javelina).  I wish there was a way to give all of this information to you on line but it is a course in itself.  I have found a great resource on the Texas Parks and Wildlife site.  I encourage you to check it out.

Now once you have determined the desired wildlife and the needs for this species, you can move on to a management plan.  There are several practices used in our area to help manage a population.  Most of the practices make sense when you hear them.  The difficulty comes when you have species that require different habitats on the same piece of property.  I have learned that is a very objective skill.  Many professional wildlife groups (i.e. biologists, foresters, landowners, etc.) have different ideas of how a piece of property should be maintained.  The best method I have found is to take your time and draw it out.  Then look for overlapping practices.  Always pay attention to details in choosing the optimal plan for the given property. 

A lot of information!  The best thing to do is know your wildlife needs and remedy inadequate food, cover, water, and space issues.  If you can determine the deficiencies in a property, then the plan is 50% complete.  Just fill in the management practices that will remedy that deficiency. 

What better way to "make the best better" then to help maintain a property for ourselves and the wildlife!

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